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New Year, New Mind

A new year brings renewed energy for positive change. Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? Does it involve becoming healthier? If it does, you’re certainly not alone. According to an article by NBCNews, data pulled from Google reveals the most popular resolution is to simply get healthy.  But often in our quest for health, we neglect the health of our minds, which is just as important as the health of our bodies.

Clean Diet Yields Healthy Mind

According to the National Institute on Aging, there are three areas of cognitive health that need to be attended to. They are: Sensory Function, Motor Function and Emotional Function. The Sensory Function includes how well you respond to feelings of touch, such as the pain you would feel when you place your hand on a hot stove. The health of your Motor Function is gauged by how well you make and control movement. Lastly, the Emotional Function is how well you respond to emotions. Regularly eating a clean diet, challenging your brain, and surrounding yourself with positive energy all contribute to the health of these three cognitive areas.

Brain diseases and dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are less likely to manifest in those who eat a healthy diet. The National Institute on Aging recommends a healthy diet consist of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean meats with limits on sugar, fats, and salt. Eva Selhub, MD of Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School compares your brain to a car, requiring premium fuel for optimal performance. Premium fuel, Dr. Selhub suggests, is a clean diet consisting of zero processed foods and sugar with the inclusion of fermented foods. Michael Roizen, MD, Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic offers up his recommendation of foods to avoid for a healthier brain. Dr. Roizen suggests avoiding more than 4 grams of saturated fats in a meal, Trans fats altogether and any added sugars. He also recommends ditching gains unless they are 100% whole grain. Both Dr. Shelub and Dr. Roizen make these suggestions specifically for those wishing to give their brain the best chance of maximum performance.

The mind requires exercise just as your body does. To keep your brain sharp, try implementing a daily routine of brain exercises. Exercising your brain is easy; in fact, you probably do it on a regular basis and don’t realize it. Some simple examples of brain exercises include activities like quilting, reading a book, and playing challenging games. It is also important to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

In addition to the aforementioned tips, don’t forget that happiness plays a large part in your mental health. Be sure to surround yourself with positive people and do something that you can be proud of, like volunteering at Hospice Atlanta. Having a positive attitude goes a long way in maintaining a healthy mind.

For 2018, make the commitment to yourself to take care of your mind as well as your body. The restart that comes with a new year is a welcomed opportunity to make this promise to yourself.