Miscellaneous 5 MIN READ 210 VIEWS November 27, 2022 Read in Hindi

Brain Damaging Habits That You Should Stop Today

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Brain damaging habits

Recently, there was an infographic that was doing the rounds on social media. It claimed that the World Health Organisation listed seven common habits that potentially damage the brain. Things like watching TV and eating and missing breakfast were listed in it. It was confirmed as false by various news outlets that also verified that the WHO released no such list of brain damaging habits. However, this did spark a lot of interest, and many began to wonder if there could be any habits in their routine that were slowly but surely damaging the brain. 

If you are one of these people, then here is an actual list of the 7 biggest brain damaging habits. 

Top 7 Brain Damaging Habits

The 7 habits listed below are just some contributors to poor brain health. However, these are habits that we all practice without realizing the ill effects that may manifest in chronic health issues at a later stage of life. 

1. Being Sedentary 

We often associate prolonged inactivity with weight gain or poor joint health. But this is one of the most significant brain damaging habits we practice, either by choice or because our routine demands it. A study published in 2019 in PLOS one showed that sitting for long hours makes changes to the section of the brain that is responsible for memory, the medial temporal lobe. 

MRI scans of this brain region showed that the longer hours people sat, the thinner this area was. This was determined as a potential precursor to degenerative disease like dementia. 

What you can do: Walk and move around after every 30 minutes of sitting. You can even set a reminder on your phone. 

2. Being Socially Inactive

Our experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic showed us how important social interaction is. Spending too much time alone or being lonely is a major contributor to depression. It can also put you at a higher risk of cognitive degeneration and accelerated aging. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology suggested that people who are less active socially lose grey matter faster. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for processing information. 

What you can do: Think of at least two people that you can share your thoughts freely. Even if you cannot meet in person, try to have a conversation with them once every two weeks at least. Talking to people that you trust is mentally stimulating and can reverse the effects of many brain damaging habits. 

3. Lack of Sleep 

With so many distractions and excessive access to fresh, new content on the internet, getting adequate sleep is increasingly becoming a challenge. Add to this the stress of demanding jobs, financial pressure and various other issues, and we have alarming statistics about sleep. One-third of adults are sleep deprived. This has a significant effect on cognitive processes like reasoning, memory and problem-solving. Therefore, poor sleep is among the top 7 biggest brain damaging habits. 

What you can do: Stressing about not sleeping enough will not help you either. Instead, start by sleeping one hour earlier than you usually do. Avoid looking at your phone or watching TV as the blue light from the screens prevents restful sleep. Also, avoid eating junk food at night as it not only results in poor sleep but is also bad food for brain. 

4. Blasting Music 

Music should help you unwind and relax. However, when you listen to music very loudly, for as much as 30 minutes every day, it can lead to hearing damage. Studies show that those who lose hearing are at a higher risk of developing cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s disease. Experts believe that the additional stress on the brain to hear eventually damages the cells. This is also known to erase memories of sounds. 

What you can do: Listen to music at a safe volume. If you use headphones, try to minimize the usage to a few hours each day instead of keeping them on all day. 

5. Eating Poorly 

Junk food is bad food for brain. This also includes processed foods that are an integral part of our busy lifestyles. These foods are usually rich in sugar and fat. Now fat, some will argue, is good for the brain. However, you need the right kind of fats to support brain health. Junk food and processed foods contain trans fats and saturated fats that are known to reduce the plasticity of the brain cells. 

Sugar, when consumed in high quantities, may lead to insulin resistance. This reduces the supply of glucose to the brain, which is vital for its function. This leads to brain damage eventually, too. 

Overeating is also one of the brain damaging habits that are being heavily researched. While the relationship between mental decline and overeating is unknown, evidence suggests that it can cause cognitive decline and memory loss at a later stage in life. 

What you can do: Eat foods that are rich in nutrients. For better brain health, foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are highly recommended. The good news is that this includes nuts like almonds and walnuts, which are great substitutes for fatty or sugary snacks when the cravings hit.  Watch your portions and ensure you avoid eating when you are stressed or emotional. 

6. Heavy Use of Social Media 

It is not surprising that social media features among the 7 biggest brain damaging habits. Most of us start the day on the phone and go to bed looking at the phone, scrolling mindlessly through piles of new, fresh content. On average, a person spends close to three hours on the phone. While it seems harmless on the surface, extended periods on social media have severe, detrimental effects on the brain. 

Social media scatters your attention with so much content being delivered by the second. This hampers concentration severely. This is why many heavy social media users display poor multitasking skills. This is because the ability to overcome distraction reduces over time. So the parts of your brain responsible for concentration decline with time. 

There is also evidence to show that the culture of sharing experiences on social media as they happen can alter the way we store memories. It also alters the reward pathways. Every time you receive a notification, your body releases dopamine which makes you addicted to your phone. This is not healthy for your brain, either. 

What you can do: Limit your social media usage to a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes when you want to unwind. If you cannot control it by yourself, you also have applications that help you reduce your social media usage.

7. Negative Thinking 

Negative thinking is one of the most detrimental brain damaging habits. It keeps you in a state of anxiety and stress for extended periods of time. As a result, it increases the deposits of tau and amyloid in the brain. These are the same deposits that are found in individuals who suffer from degenerative cognitive disorders. 

What you can do: Practicing gratitude is one of the most common options to overcome negative thinking. However, do not hesitate to take the assistance of friends, family or an expert if you are unable to control negative thoughts on your own. 

Conclusion

Just as we develop brain damaging habits, we can also inculcate habits that improve the health of the brain. You do not have to make monumental changes from day one. Start slow and change these habits one at a time. When you notice the positive effects that these habits have on other aspects of your life, they will become the norm. 

Remember to take care of your brain. It is delicate but is one of the most powerful tools to help you enjoy a fuller and richer life. 

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