I'd planned to write something very different today, but when this news appeared in my FB feed, creating a link between TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and dementia, I knew it was important to blog about it.
This issue is important so let's get going...
Before I share my thoughts on this, I'm not a doctor. Do your own research. This is not medical advice. This is what I've learnt from my own research and experience. Ask Google to help. There's been a LOT of research and I didn't want to link away from my site to bajillion research docs, so if you're interested in the specifics you can search. What's here is a summary of the key points.
That being said, let's dive into this subject because if you are, or have been, involved in anything from boxing to team sports you need to understand that while the exercise component of that may have done your body good, the constant blows to the head - particularly in the case of things like boxing, and headers in football (soccer) - may have set you up for something far from healthy in future. If so, you need to be really mindful of things like sleep and alcohol consumption to offset those risks. The full article on this is available through the link in the first paragraph if you're interested. Long story short, hitting your head in your 20s - or at any time - isn't great news when you're in your 60s and beyond. If you've already done the damage, though, there's good news. TBIs are far from the biggest issue when it comes to the likelihood of you getting Alzheimer's or other similar disorders, so you can turn the volume down on those to lower your risk.
Personally, I've taken my brain health REALLY seriously since I was a teenager because I had a severe TBI resulting from a car crash when I was 11. I never eat junk food. I don't take drugs. I have never smoked. I eat organic as much as possible, and where I don't I do the research to make sure my food is not genetically modified, etc.
I'm also an omnivore, which reduces the risk. This is important. If you're vegetarian or vegan keep a really close eye on vitamin deficiencies and make sure you sort those out or you're also at a higher risk. That said, if you're an omnivore don't go crazy on the burgers. If you want an idea of the best kind of diet for brain health, it appears to be low meat, high grain, high bean, high carb diets. I know that's not trendy, but I intuitively eat this way. Personally, I avoid wheat and go for oats and rice more. You do have to be a little mindful of the connection between rice and arsenic but I'm a total rice cake addict, and I'm willing to risk arsenic poisoning to gain the brain benefits. The people with the lowest rates of Alzheimer's are from areas with high rice diets. My logic on that one is that if they've made it to an age when dementia could set in, they eat tons of rice, and their brains are rocking... AND they've not dropped from arsenic poisoning, I'm probably OK. I haven't had alcohol in a decade. I've been adding in walking around 2-7 miles daily for the last couple of months. I plan to continue with this.
Having kids puts you at a higher chance of dementia too. The more kids you have, the higher the chance because if you're up at night for months or years to care for them, you're not getting enough deep sleep and that leads to beta-amyloid pathology.
Essentially, if your brain cells aren't being cleaned effectively during downtime (deep sleep and meditation) this can be a side effect, so those of you who are 10X 24/7 work addict hustle monsters are also at a greater risk of dementia, according to recent research. It's worth checking out research pulled together by Brendon Burchard - Live. Love. Matter. on this kind of thing.
On the other hand, if you're a 'no 10Xing for me, dude, I'm chilllll' pot head... you're also in the sh**. Marijuana use over the long term not only increases your risk of dementia due to reduced blood flow to a part of the brain strongly associated with Alzheimers (hippocampus), and earlier onset, but it lowers your IQ. Mind you, you'll probably care about it less since it lowers blood flow to most areas of the brain and just makes you not give too many fox.
So, if you're caught up in the popular crazes around health benefits of red wine and marijuana, do a bit more research. Scientists are suggesting that those using marijuana medically should now be monitored to make sure the good effects outweigh the bad.
Every now and then a glass of Champagne's not going to fast track you to dementia. However, alcohol is way worse of a component than brain damage when it comes to dementia. Alcohol makes you way more likely to get dementia. And you don't have to be a heavy drinker in the stereotypical sense to fall prey to this. Also, red wine does NOT protect you as the alcohol content outstrips any value. In fact, if you usually have a glass of red wine with dinner at night, based on the average size of a home measure, you're over THREE TIMES more likely to get dementia than average and in one study the risk was said to be FIVE TIMES as high with cases of alcohol poisoning. So, if you're passing out drunk at all your risk of dementia goes way up in later life.
TBI just ups your likelihood by 24%. Compare this also to a 45% increase for smokers. TBIs are hitting the news, but the risk is way lower if you've had a TBI than if you smoke or drink. That being said, it's all part of a picture so if you've had a history of addiction OR TBIs you need to act now to reduce your risks.
I do something to train my brain every day. I regularly assess my IQ and other aspects of brain function. This matters to me. I also meditate every day and I monitor my sleep depth. Although the hours of sleep I get every night are sometimes off (my brain works best on 7-8 hours of sleep at this point and I'm at about 6 and a half hours average this month) the amount of deep sleep I get is about twice as much as most other people. That's when your cells get all cleaned up and made awesome. I meditate between once and three times a day for the same reason. I keep an eye on sleep debt and pay it back when it happens.
Take your brain health seriously.
Leave comments below about how this affects you and what you plan to do about it. Also, this research matters so please share this blog post around on social media.
P.S. Who's up for some brain-boosting Chess? I play chess on the interwebs pretty much every day. Was thinking of setting up an Indiepreneur Academy Chess League ♕ and giving away a trophy to the winner at 'The Indiepreneur Academy Awards' at which people can win 'Clockerfly' awards (like The Oscars) for various kinds of awesomeness - including being the best commenter on the blog that year.
This is something I'm also giving out prizes for throughout the year. Here's the first winner of a certificate and prize, so she's our first Clockerfly nominee in that category. Could you be one too? Comment and you may be! Let me know what you think of this post and also where you stand on the chess thing. All ages and abilities - and those with no ability - welcome. We're all flawsome. Let's polish up our flawsomeness together and shine a little brighter. 😀
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