The brain is not often mentioned first when talking about lifestyle habits and taking care of oneself. People consider other factors like their heart, lungs, liver, and muscles. However, many of the choices you make regularly have deeper and possibly long-term effects on your brain. It may seem like nothing at the moment, but as actions turn into a habit, the repercussions and risk also increase.
To stay healthy and happy, make sure you read up on these common bad habits that you should avoid.
Eating a lot of saturated fat
Saturated fat is a common ingredient in the most popular and binge-worthy food and drinks, but consuming it too often actually puts you at a higher risk for cognitive problems. The Healthy magazine notes studies that link dementia with people who have diets that had a high consistency of saturated fats. Though you can indulge in a little here and there, consider swapping this out for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
If you think you’re good to go, keep in mind that some of the consumable items with the highest level of these bad fats are arguably the most popular. Significant examples include milk, pastries, lamb chops, bacon, butter, coconut oil, hot dogs, and pies. Some items in that list are perceived as healthier than others and yet still increase cognitive risk with too much consumption.
Fostering negative emotions
Times can be stressful, and it’s valid to feel down in the dumps now and then. That said, wallowing in negativity and encouraging emotions linked to it can actually increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s care is rooted in compassion, but it also relies on ensuring that patients can lay down a routine and functionality before the disease progresses.
Though genetics and other factors are taken into account, your brain chemistry is also affected by the actions that are often informed by your mindset. For instance, research also reveals that lack of social engagement, not getting enough sleep, and opting out of stimulating mental activity directly impact cognitive ability and memory retention.
Spending too much time on social media
Another habit that is relevant today is social media usage. Billions of people have become active mobile phone users, and within the realm of socials and digital connection, users can spend hours simply scrolling through their newsfeed. A recent study published in the National Library of Medicine shows qualitative data showing that extended social media use aggravates mental health problems. People who go through their social media accounts regularly for long stretches have been more likely to have anxiety and depression.
The coverage here is expansive, and frequent social media use is becoming linked to symptomatic psychopathology. It should also be noted that passive use, like scrolling through the feed and liking posts, has a stronger association with depression than active use.
Being a couch potato
Living a sedentary life is already bad enough for many physical reasons, like increased risk for heart disease and obesity. As an additional factor, though, being physically inactive also makes you more likely to get depressed and feel anxious. In a study conducted by the ASEAN Institute for Health Development and North West University, researchers found that the more you don’t move, the more likely you are to feel depressed or get anxious. This risk is also increased significantly when you combine that inactivity with screen time.
So, if you’re spending a lot of time just sitting on your couch binge-watching on Netflix or staying in bed on your phone, consider allotting some of those hours to movement and offline activities.
Watching reality TV
While most health concerns before were related to how long one watched television or how closely they looked at their screens, the issue at the forefront is now the quality of programming. The type of shows you watch can actually affect your cognitive ability and thinking process. Studies featured by the New York Times have long argued the social effects of shows, be they educational or recreational.
Other studies suggest that prolonged reality TV viewing can decrease empathy and increase the likelihood of developing a false sense of reality. On top of that, data revealing lower IQ in younger generations spells the alarming notion that TV makes people dumber.
Though there’s no 100% solution to every health issue out there, preventative care can do wonders for your quality of life. Whether you’re a young teen or entering your senior years, steering clear or avoiding these habits can give you that edge to keep your brain in tip-top condition.