2019 Game Plan for Your Health – Brain Health: Don't Just Survive, Thrive!

2019 Game Plan for Your Health - Brain Health: Don't Just Survive, Thrive!

our brains there why we survived they're always working for us keeping everything in our bodies functioning yet our brains also determine our moods and emotions what we give our attention to and our memories and this is what adds richness to our lives this is the difference between surviving and thriving brain health don't just survive thrive I think that thriving is about being engaged with life and really enjoying what we do and so for me it feels like having the energy to meet the challenges that life in the workplace at home anywhere present us but then also having enough energy left over so that we can enjoy just doing what we enjoy doing I think the idea with thriving is that you're taking whatever your abilities are whatever your capacities are and you're really learning to optimize those so I also would say it's in contrast to surviving that's a very low bar people really don't want merely to survive they really want to thrive so I had a period of my life where I wasn't thriving and I've always felt dull and tired and every little bump was an obstacle that had to be overcome and it was a an impediment to feeling like I was achieving what I want to achieve in life we make choices every day that affect the health of our brain and therefore the enjoyment of our lives we can nurture our brains to live our best life through regular exercise the right foods good sleep reducing stress and new experiences let's begin with exercise and why it is so important for our brains exercise has many different effects on brain health all of which are good first of all exercise is going to increase blood to the brain which is important but it also sort of activates system that are engaged in helping us be able to concentrate to focus our attention and to be able to remember things and to learn you also are releasing neurotransmitters that can have very beneficial or pleasurable feelings an increase of a particular chemical called dopamine in the brain that can stimulate pleasure and activating particular pathways in the brain I've gotten back to running and you do get this experience when you run it's an incredible feeling makes you feel good and your brain's responsible for that if your brain is functioning well and we're exercising well that helps us feel more rested we sleep better at night it helps us better focus and concentrate it helps us cope with stress on a regular basis and helps us stay more engaged in the things that are important to us and that are important to the people around us who wouldn't want that your goal is to do something every day your goal is to just want to start somewhere and start getting to the point where do it enough to where it becomes the habit and then it's no longer the challenge that's part of your daily routine Greg likes that is beautiful I've been doing it for like thirty years and it's never stopped until I stay be to stay active and this keep on going I do a lot of Chaeronea work and when it's cold outside when it's warm we like to walk around cameras it's really just getting active it means one step in front of the other put on a pair of walking shoes and just take a few bucks park your car a little further walk in it's good for your body and it's good for your brain regular exercise has a profound effect on our brains and on our ability to thrive now let's see how eating a brain healthy diet allows us to thrive so diet can have both positive and negative impacts on brain health when I think of the standard American diet I think of lots of fried you fill in the blank lots of fried everything from chicken tenders to Oreo cookies the diet that's high and sugar and a diet that's high in bad fats the saturated fats has really rapid effects in the brain to induce changes in the brain that we call inflammation and other types of changes that we think really importantly change how the brain functions what we want to do is decrease inflammation as much as possible and we want to keep our blood sugar regulated so to diminish salt fat and sugar and increase our vegetables fruits and fish the first step that one can take to begin eating a brain healthy diet is really just to make a decision that your brain health is just as important as the rest of your body and physical health we can start to take in good fats like omega-3s that come from fish avocados or nuts and really good oils like olive oils whole grains like quinoa brown rice antioxidants that can be found in dark chocolates or green teas and black teas leafy vegetables can prevent ourselves from being damaged and when our cells aren't damaged then this allows our brain to have proper structure and to have proper function all of these things are going to lead to increased performance I really try to mimic what we do with the athletes even though the coaches aren't on the field competing I think we have the mental side of the game that we're trying to make sure that we we're fueling our brains just as much as they're fueling their bodies just as the right foods protect the brain to up our performance and keep us thriving good sleep is also important to thriving in our lives good sleep is restorative sleep that's during deep restorative sleep that chemicals that build up during the day that could potentially cause problems for us later on in our lives are removed from the brain during deep sleep we also now know that the ability of DNA to repair itself also occurs in the brain during deep sleep so these are really important not just for now and thriving now but also for brain health many years in the future in a short-term context if you're getting enough sleep that next day you're much more focused your memory is more consolidated typically you're much more engaged those are very clear immediate benefits long-term issues are that if you have this chronic sleep deficit it makes you vulnerable for a lot of significant problems including a greater risk of dementia down the road there are many things that you can do to make sure that you get good sleep we want to make sure you're not consuming too much caffeine in the evenings the things that might keep you from getting to sleep you also want to think about how you de-stress and become calm in the evenings so that you can prepare yourself to sleep well good sleep is about routine and for me it's about going to bed at the same time whenever I can and having a routine both before and after I get in bed you need to be deliberate about setting up your sleep environment just like you are about setting up your desk at work or your operating room or your classroom getting enough sleep is extremely important because if I can't get enough sleep or enough deep sleep then I drag for the day I'm not responsive I'm not thinking on my toes actually after watching the video through health plus I have made more of a conscious effort to really pull away from electronics in the evenings at least an hour before going to bed I try to put away my phone I don't check work emails so that way can really decompress we all know that feeling of thriving after we've had a good night's sleep stress is another factor that can greatly affect our capacity to thrive our brains are designed to respond to stress in an acute fashion meaning that we have a challenge we respond to it we're very adaptable organisms and this is really important for meeting the challenges of life so acute or early stress can actually be very beneficial if you were outside and you heard a bear realizing that this was a bad thing to actually escape the sort of fight-or-flight reaction is actually initiated by stress hormones if that stress goes on too long studies actually showed that it kills the neurons in the brain and specifically it damages neurons that are involved in learning and memory we can't stop stress from happening if something Bad's coming down the pike we may not be able to prevent that or stop that but we can control what we do about it and how we respond to it so with chronic stress actually being able to counter that with exercise yoga meditation talking with others can result in improvement there have been many studies now showing that mindfulness and meditation has a beneficial effect on reducing stress mindfulness is the ability to focus one's attention on the here and now mindful has a strong relationship with how we respond to stress there's a lot of techniques many of them involved sitting and being calm focusing on our breathing and letting our body settle when we do that it also lets her mind settle if you've ever noticed when you're under stress or you're worried about something your mind is just going almost like a tornado and when you practice mindfulness it helps us kind of sift through that and settle down let's be more conscious of the emotions you're experiencing and more conscious of how you respond to the stress when it happens Yoga is a practice that requires focus it requires mindfulness it requires patience I have found over the years that that's really sort of provided a kind of a solid support for myself in terms of dealing with stress so we've learned how to cope with stress and we've learned techniques to help keep our brain healthy through exercise through mindfulness through other techniques this provides a huge benefit just because it helps us take a step back in our daily life and helping us realize we can we can deal with this and then you have more time to do all the things that are really important that you really want to do and that's a piece of thriving reducing our stress allows us to thrive because it is so healthy for our brain and did you know that new experiences such as new learning experiences or social experiences can also improve brain health and promote thriving in our lives so active cognitive engagement means that you're intentionally thinking about things and trying new ways of using your brain so your cognition is a combination of your memory and thinking and if you're not intentional and making efforts to use your brain it sort of loses some of its power think about your brain cells which are neurons having to connect with each other and basically over time they connect in a way that's somewhat like scaffolding if you're actively cognitively engaging the scaffolding is actually being strengthened so your networks from brain cell to brain cell getting stronger you can connect more easily quicker you can retrieve things from your memory faster you can react more quickly we should be all about ways to try to challenge ourselves cognitively to stimulate ourselves cognitively and there's so many forms that takes that could be deciding to learn a language that could be deciding to learn to play the guitar or a musical instrument when you're actively engaged from a cognitive standpoint it also benefits you socially so you're able to recall things more easily your attention is better you remember people's names our brains are wired for us to be socially engaged with others and having good relationships with friends co-workers colleagues is just very important for leading a good happy life for a long time we thought that what you the parts of the brain that you use for other activities you also use in social activities and it turns out that's not true you get to activate a different part of your brain when you're interacting socially one of the most interesting things that's been discovered about how to decrease risk for diseases like Alzheimer's disease is that there's a decreased risk when people feel part of a community so staying socially engaged with others is important for brain health today and tomorrow you have to make an effort you can volunteer join a social club do something at your place of worship if you don't put yourself out there you're not going to have the same level of engagement the more we can engage with people around meaningful experiences I think the better off we are experiences are valued over things partly because experiences are a gateway to shared connections making memories that you can talk about that's really what it's about when we focus on the factors in our lives the positively affect our brain health we not only insure our brains keep our bodies functioning optimally we also ensure we are thriving whether it's improved energy mood and memory or the ability to focus and give our attention to what is most important to us we have the power every day to improve our brain health and improve our lives well to keep your brain healthy eat healthy stay engaged cognitively and socially sleep well keep that stress at a minimum and very importantly exercise think in terms of making small changes over a long period of time because the changes you make today are important not just for thriving now but twenty years down the line as well you [Applause]

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