As a neurosurgeon I have treated many brain injuries and illnesses. Often by the time a patient gets to me, their problem has been going on for a while, or at least the seeds of the problem were sown long before. A man who has been smoking for 25 years notices shortness of breath. He is diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon after we discover that the cancer has spread to his brain. A 60 year old woman, 50 pounds overweight with high blood pressure, has a sudden, severe headache caused by a large bleed into her brain. Surgery may provide the cure or play a role in treatment of these problems, but I often wish I had seen these people long before meeting them in the operating room.
Of all diseases those affecting the brain are the most dreaded and feared. We all want to keep our sense of self, our memory and our ability to connect with friends and family as we get older. Can we ensure that we live to old age healthy with sharp minds? Of course not. But we can make it more likely.
Although obvious, it is worth stating that our brain is connected to the rest of our body. The food we eat gets absorbed and travels through the bloodstream. Our hearts pump 4.5 to 5 liters of blood each minute. Ideally, 15% of this blood flows to our brains, carrying 20% of the oxygen we breathe and 15% of the glucose we eat. The same blood carries waste and toxins away.
Caring for our bodies will make our brains function optimally. We do that by eating the right foods, keeping our blood flowing and our lungs exchanging air. There are also actions we can take that specifically target our brains. Here are ten steps we can take toward our goals of staying healthy and thinking clearly into old age. Subscribe and receive an illustrated and more detailed list of these “10 Steps” you should start taking today to reduce your risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
6. Stay mentally active.
7. Manage stress.
8. Protect your head.
10. Avoid unhealthy habits.
Your goal should be to incorporate all of these into your daily life. Maybe you are wondering where and how to begin. Start with small lifestyle changes. Try 10-minute bouts of physical activity. Park your car further from the mall entrance. Replace one sugar beverage with water. You will find that one small change leads to other positive life changes. Take control of your body and brain. My email newsletter, “Say No To Stroke!” examines these ten steps in greater detail. Subscribe and look for the next issue in your inbox.
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Every day…Say NO To Stroke!