Small, everyday habits have a significant influence on the body, including the health of the brain.
Many people would not even imagine the harmful effects of some bad everyday habits. In today’s fast-paced world, people are bombarded with so many impulses that they have very little time to process. In the rush of everyday life, it is easy to become addicted to habits that are actually very bad for the health of the brain, for which in some cases you have to pay a heavy price later.
While good habits can help improve concentration and memory, bad ones cause stress in the brain, which sooner or later can lead to the death of brain cells.
Spending too much time in front of the screen
The time spent in front of a screen desensitizes the reward system of the brain, because dopamine, i.e. the “hormone of happiness”, is released during screen time. If this reward system is overused, it becomes less sensitive and requires more and more stimulation to achieve “joy”.
Dopamine is also crucial in terms of focus and motivation; small changes in dopamine sensitivity can have a negative effect on brain function. According to Dr. Ryan Dougherty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, the more TV someone watches over the age of 35, the smaller their gray matter becomes.
Examining the television viewing habits of 599 American adults between 1990 and 2011, he found that those who spent more than average time watching television had a reduction in the performance of their frontal and entorhinal cortices.
Consuming too much sugar
Most prepackaged foods, especially ready meals and soft drinks, are made with added sugar. The brain does need glucose to function normally, but excessive sugar consumption causes more harm than good in the long term: it can impair memory and has been proven to reduce mental capacity.
It is worth replacing artificially sweetened, sugary foods and drinks with naturally sweet alternatives. For example, snack on fruits or a few cubes of dark chocolate, reduce the consumption of sugary soft drinks, and choose water or mineral water to quench your thirst.
Loneliness and social isolation
Loneliness and social isolation are related to depression and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and can accelerate cognitive decline. According to a July 2021 study, people who are less socially active lose more of their brain’s gray matter, the outer layer of the brain that processes information. It is worthwhile to nurture your social network and to choose social pastimes instead of isolation.
Lack of sleep
Research published in the December 2018 issue of Sleep showed that cognitive skills, such as memory, reasoning and problem solving, decline when people get less than seven hours of sleep per night.
It is recommended to go to bed an hour earlier than usual, thus reducing nighttime sleep, and giving the brain and body enough time to sleep. During the pre-sleep ritual, it is better to read a book, newspaper or magazine instead of watching TV or using your mobile phone.