Saturday, December 10

Seemingly harmless everyday habits that damage your brain


At some point, we all do things we know we shouldn’t do, like have a few too many drinks, eat another dessert, smoke, or skip the gym. We are more or less aware that these decisions can affect the health of our heart, intestine, kidneys, liver, lungs, muscles and joints, among other things.

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However, some of our everyday bad habits can take a direct toll on our brain. We are not talking about alcohol abuse or illegal drug use, which are the most talked about, but about other apparently harmless habits. For example, sleep loss may ultimately be a cause of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Eating junk food can affect your ability to learn and lead to depression.

The worst thing about these connections between habits and disease is that they are a trap: once the brain tissue is damaged, it is easier for that behavior to be repeated. For example, people with depression have less and less desire to move, although exercise is one of the best ways to combat this ailment.

Here are some of the seemingly innocuous everyday behaviors that can seriously affect your brain:

live in the dark

The seasonal depression syndrome that affects many people in northern countries, which receive fewer hours of natural light throughout the year, is well known. Indeed, studies have shown that if we do not get enough natural light, especially in the early hours of the day, the risk of depression and worsens symptoms in sufferers. The lack of exposure to daylight also prevents a good night’s sleep, multiplying the damage.

consume too much news

Constant exposure to anxiety-producing negative news can damage the brain. This news activates the amygdala, the part of the brain where the fear and threat response resides, that is, the fight or flight response. Being constantly on alert produces chronic inflammation, which is one of the main causes of neurodegenerative diseases and depressive disorders.

Listen to the music too loud

Headphones allow you to privately enjoy your favorite reggaeton and are a blessing to the people around you. However, you have to be careful with the volume. Music that is too loud causes ear damage and hearing loss, and this in turn causes memory leaks and can contribute to dementia.

spend too much time alone

Experts are beginning to discover that the psychological fallout from the Covid pandemic is related to a lack of social connections. Interacting with others stimulates neuroplasticity, that is, the creation of new connections and new neurons in the brain, prolongs life and protects against neurodegenerative diseases. Studies have also found that isolation increases the risk of having a stroke.

Too many hours in front of a screen

Staring at screens all day, the computer at work, the television at home, and the mobile the rest of the time, not only increases the risk of depression and anxiety, but also physically affects the brain. Spend the day on Instagram reduces gray matter and white matter (the connections between neurons) in the frontal lobe, where rational and logical thinking occurs.

consuming too much sugar

Sugar cravings are a way in which our body seeks to self-medicate against stress. However, taking too much sugar causes ups and downs in blood glucose levels, which aggravates the situation, producing moodiness, depression, anxiety and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

spend the day sitting

People living in modern societies may spend 10-16 hours a day in a chair, which can affect severely to cognitive abilities. Movement is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, especially for logical and deductive thinking. Exercise produces an increase in BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor), the molecule that causes new connections and neurons to form.

Lack of sleep

Lack of quality sleep has a direct impact on mental energy, memory, and cognitive abilities. When insomnia becomes chronic, failures in memory and brain processing they can become permanent, and increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

It is unlikely that one of these bad habits will leave your brain like Swiss cheese, but the combination and, above all, the repetition throughout our lives, is what makes them dangerous.

* Darío Pescador is editor and director of the quo magazine and author of the book your best self Posted by Oberon.

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