How your Lifestyle Affects the Brain (Positively and Negatively!)

Did you know how you live your life can have a positive effect or a negative effect on your brain? Last week we talked about how not getting enough sleep could affect your brain, but did you know there are 7 common ways that your lifestyle may be affecting your brain health?

While we may enjoy living the way we do, it could be causing significant health implications.

Let’s take a look at the most common ways that lifestyle can affect brain health:

  1. Being sedentary
  2. Eating a nutrient deficient diet
  3. Being a workaholic
  4. Drinking too much alcohol
  5. Smoking
  6. Taking drugs – pharmaceutical and recreational
  7. Being non-social


Now let’s break each one down!


1. Sedentary Lifestyle

This means you wake up and sit, go to work and sit, come home and sit.  You are sitting all day with minimal movement.

Sitting all day is bad because our bodies were designed to move.  Being sedentary doesn’t fire up the neurons in our brain; let’s just say you are not firing on all cylinders!

Sitting all day restricts blood and oxygen flow to the brain and puts you at risk for a heart attack and stroke.

The more you sit, the slower you get, the less energy your body has and well sorry but you also start to become less of a genius. Our brain needs the activity for the reproduction of brain cells.

What can you do about it? Start moving your body; it’s that simple!

  • Get up from your desk every 90 minutes and go for a quick 5-10 minute brisk walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
  • Stop looking for the closest parking spot to the door.  Park at the end and walk.
  • Turn up the music and get your dance on!
  • Take a nice 30-60 minute leisure walk every night after work instead of turning in to a couch potato.

Look for opportunities every day to get in extra movement, and you’ll be surprised how much energy you have and how much clearer your thinking is.  Bye, bye foggy brain!


2. Nutrient Deficient Diet

Not eating enough foods that deliver you the right amount of protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals can create havoc in the brain.

Being nutrient deficient can lead to depression, anxiety, inflammation in the brain, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, and lack of focus.

Focus on whole foods such as wild-caught seafood, grass-fed beef, pasture raised poultry, good healthy fats (we covered this last week) and a variety of vegetables – eat the rainbow!

If you are eating beets, turnips, or swiss chard, chop up the stems and eat those too, you’ll be getting extra fiber and helping to diversify the good bacteria in your gut!

I recently wrote a post where I went in-depth on what foods that are healing to the brain and the gut.

3. Workaholic

Some pride themselves on working hard and bringing home the bacon, but over time – all work and no play will catch up and cause adverse health challenges, especially in the brain.

First, this causes stress on the body when we go go go and never rest.  Stress raises our cortisol hormone levels, and when cortisol is too high, it can kill brain cells.

Our brain needs to rest, just like the rest of our body and when cortisol is too high, that means our sleep hormone melatonin is too low, and therefore we do not get quality sleep.

If we are not getting quality sleep, then our brains cannot detoxify appropriately as this process happens while we are asleep.  Which leads to depression, lack of focus, slower cognitive functions, mood swings, and food cravings.

So how do workaholics overcome this?

Work smarter!!  The advice is the same as above.  Every 90 minutes get up, move your body, take a break, drink some water and ask someone how their day is.  Taking breaks refreshes you to come back more focus on your work and potentially get done faster.

If you pride yourself on your long hour work ethics but stressed to the max, it’s time to readjust your priorities!! Your body can only take so much and will give you a much-needed ego check but in the form of illness…


4. Alcohol

I have read that one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men can provide health benefits to the body.  But many that drink alcohol don’t just have 1-2 drinks, it’s more like 3-4 and sometimes even more.

So how does too much affect the brain?  It literally impairs it! We can’t walk a straight line, our speech is slurred, our eyes become squinty – blurred vision, and we might not remember what happened aka blackout!

If you’ve ever had one too many drinks, you understand the meaning of a hangover.  Dehydrated, headache, a war in your stomach and you literally can’t think straight for a few days.

Ok that’s extreme but drinking too much alcohol does affect how we think, it affects our energy, our mood and negatively impacts our sleep.

Alcohol is a toxin to our body; our body is forced to deal with the alcohol before processing anything else, it affects our hormones, digestion, cognitive functions and detoxification processes, all in which affect the brain.

If you are going to drink, drink smarter!  Limit yourself to one drink per day, stop at least two hours before bedtime and drink a big glass of water after the drink.

Also, pay attention to how the alcohol affects your body, does your skin start to flush with redness?  That’s a great indicator your body isn’t processing the alcohol well!


5. Smoking

Just don’t do it.  It’s literally a toxic bomb for your brain and body. Some of the damage caused to the cortex of the brain is not reversible, which leads to difficulty in learning and memory loss.


6. Pharmaceutical and Recreational Drugs

How many prescriptions do you take on the daily?

Pay close attention to how prescribed medications make you feel; you have to be an advocate for your own body.

And if your body and brain are being affected by the side effects of the medication, bring this up to your doctor immediately.  Many times drugs can be avoided with diet and lifestyle changes.

Any drugs that alter your state of mind are negatively affecting your brain.


7. Being Non-Social or Introverted

Our brains need and crave social interaction.  Remember being a child and not having anyone to play with?

What did you do?

You created an imaginary friend, and you were social with them.  Or you bugged the crap out of your parents to play with you.

Not having social interaction leads to loneliness, awkwardness when you are in social situations, low self-esteem, low confidence, and high anxiety.

If you are not a social person, ease into it with a good friend or family member.  Make it a point to talk to someone every day. Take it slow and be kind to yourself and your brain!

Making changes to your health and lifestyle can feel hard and very overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be!

You just need a great coach that will be with you every step of the way, empowering you to be the healthiest version you can be!

If you are tired of struggling, ready to draw a line in the sand, and finally get the help you need! Let’s connect!

Schedule a free 30 minutes Strategy Call now!

Schedule a free 30 minute Strategy Call now!