In recent years we've been learning how much of a big deal the brain is. It's a bigger deal than anyone knew 10, or 15 years ago, that's for sure.
The brain, as it turns out, controls everything that we do, from basic life-sustaining functions like breathing and heart rate to complex decision-making and problem-solving. It controls thought, emotions, touch, motor skills, vision, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body.
And with how important it is, we're also learning that by taking care of our brains, we can improve our lives and eliminate some stubborn health and wellness conditions like food cravings, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, and more.
And the fact that we can do all those things with a lot less effort is what makes brain health and taking care of our brains so appealing.
This emphasis on brain care is a form of biohacking.
So, what exactly is biohacking? You might have heard the term and walked away with the wrong impression of what it is.
Biohacking is when you regularly do those things that benefit your brain with the frequency and lifestyle integration that you approach physical fitness with.
When we take care of our brains, our hormones can get balanced, and our sleep, concentration, and self-control can all improve.
Sometimes, brain care alone can bring about changes you never expected because you didn't realize how connected your brain health was to that condition.
The "bros" on social media who have been touting biohacking for a while now, are not the only ones who can benefit from this hacking. Women and everyone with a brain can benefit from doing it.
Because the brain affects so many functions across our biosphere, anyone who struggles with a chronic condition ranging from Lupus to anxiety, to difficulty concentrating and impulse control, should take better care of their body and brain - the combination can leave you feeling and functioning so much better.
Here are six brain-healthy practices you can start doing to biohack your health as well as the supporting science for it.
1. Nourish Your Brain with a Healthy Diet
Nutrition plays a huge role in our overall health, and it does so for the brain too! You want to eat a healthy diet that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other brain-boosting nutrients to be sharp and alert.
Include foods like fatty fish, leafy greens, blueberries, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate in your diet, and avoid junk food and processed foods.
Nutritionally, you want to kick your sugar habit too. That's because sugar is known to cause inflammation in the body and damage to the brain. And get this, sugar is known to age your skin from within. You don't need to tell me twice!
If you struggle with making over your diet for any reason, use our 2-week trial to see how the Vurb Wellness Club can help you stay motivated as you make this lifestyle change.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is not only good for the body but also for the brain because as studies have shown, every time you move your body, a number of beneficial neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, get released into your brain.
Regular exercise is linked to better cognitive function and memory, which means it can improve your focus and concentration to help you be more productive at work.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. You can also mix it up with different types of exercises, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or yoga, to challenge your brain and body in different ways. And to build the habit of exercise and make it something you grow to love or just appreciate and stick to, find ways to make it fun, do it with other people, and make a point to walk more. A daily walk is a minimum you can do to help your brain function better.
3. Get Enough Sleep
During sleep is when the brain does a lot of its healthy activities, including processing memories and repairing itself. The problem is (as I see it anyways) is that we're clueless as to how these nightly functions affect how we function during our waking hours. When we're sleeping, the brain stores new information that it gathered up that day, nerve cells communicate and reorganize, and molecules like hormones and proteins are released.
This is why getting enough sleep is so crucial to our lives! Neuroscientist tells us that not getting enough sleep contributes to our concentration problems, and it affects our mood. So if you're irritable a lot, check on your sleep!
Meditation has been shown to help your brain develop stronger, healthier neural pathways of communication between different areas. We are now learning that even short periods of meditation that focus on compassion and kindness can be very helpful as this help to reframe your thoughts, thus creating new (positive) brain pathways.
Meditation is also great for reducing stress, which can negatively impact brain health. Regular meditation has been linked to better cognitive function, memory, and emotional well-being.
To improve brain health, start with just a few minutes a day and work your way up to longer sessions as your schedule allows. The consistency is more important than the length of your practice. I recommend that my clients start with 5 minutes a day and start them off with mindfulness meditation because of its broad array of benefits. Best gateway *natural drug* ever!!
5. Take Supplements
Certain supplements can help biohack your brain and should be taken daily or when you need them. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, can improve brain function and reduce inflammation. Other supplements like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D can also support brain health.
I personally take nootropics and love what they do for me — these babies help me focus. Of course, this one is a personal choice and veer more in the realm of biohacking than the other items on this list. Talk to a healthcare professional before taking a supplement you're unfamiliar with as they can have interactions with medications or create complications for people with certain health conditions or who are nursing and pregnant.
6. Get Outside
According to an article in Science Daily, MRI scans showed that spending time outdoors has positive effects on our brains. The article went on to share the results of a study where more than 280 scans were taken of the brains of the study's participants. The scans showed that their gray matter (an area in the right dorsolateral-prefrontal cortex, which is involved in the planning and regulation of actions and cognitive control), positively improved.
Probably the most significant news from the study is that it showed that during a single 24-hour period these benefits were evident. Meaning, it's not just overtime, but overnight that these benefits could be detected. The researchers also learned that time spent outdoors had a positive effect on the brain regardless of the other influencing factors.
Biohacking your brain health is a great way to optimize your body and mind. By nourishing your brain with a healthy diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, meditation, supplements, and nature, you can help improve the performance of your brain, which in turn, improves your day-to-day performance at work, school, and for any endeavor where being sharp and focused matters.