In Summary
  • It is only natural that as one ages, the brain just like the rest of the body organs ages too. However, research shows that our lifestyle can affect our brains leading to premature aging and other defects, writes Beatrice Nakibuuka.

The brain is the most important organ in the human body. It controls, coordinates actions and reactions, allows us to think and feel, and enables us to have memories and feelings that make us human.
There are habits, however, that can harm the brain and according to Dr Edward Ssempiira, a psychologist at Hope and Beyond Rehabilitation Centre, you need to stop these habits or you will ruin your brain leading to memory loss, brain damage and other brain related problems.

Loud music
Hearing loss is linked to brain defects including brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because the brain has to work harder to process what is being said and it is not able to store what was heard in memory.
Dr Ssempiira says, “Listening to very loud devices can permanently damage your hearing in as little as 30 minutes. Protect your hearing to protect your brain by turning the volume up on your device low and do not listen to your device for more than a couple of hours at a time.”

Inadequate sleep
Lack of sleep in adults increases the risk of excessive daytime sleepiness, depression and problems with attention and memory.
“The area of the brain that suffers from sleep deprivation is the hippocampus. If you do not sleep, even for one night, your ability to memorise new information drops significantly. In the long run, you would suffer from depression, stress, dementia and Alzheimer,” he warns.
People who have trouble falling asleep at night should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and watching TV or using the computer in the evening.

Being sedentary
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk for many brain disorders, according to Dr Ssempiira. Physical inactivity is linked to a higher risk of dementia, increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Exercise has benefits for stress reduction, increases oxygen delivery to muscles and the brain. It also improves neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form new connections in response to experience, learning, or an injury.”

Dehydration affects the brain and contributes to cognitive dysfunction making it hard to think and perform tasks. Not drinking enough fluids also negatively affects the ability to pay attention.
Drink plenty of fluids and replace electrolytes lost during hot weather or exercise. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Since humans are social creatures, we need human contact to thrive. It is also vital for healthy brain function. Isolation and loneliness are risk factors for poor mental performance, depression, and faster cognitive decline. People who have friends are less likely to develop brain decline and depression and more productive.
Other habits include eating junk food, not getting enough sunlight and living in a polluted environment.