The Body-Brain Connection:
How your Body can keep your Brain Sharp
By Barbara McRae, MCC
Most of us know that there’s a mind-body connection where the thoughts you think impact your body. But did you know that what you do to your body affects your brain? Have you ever experienced a slowing down of your brain when you’re hungry, tired or stressed? Of course you have! As ADHDers we experience this more than most!
Imagine filling your car’s gas tank with garbage in place of the fuel it needs. How do you think that car would perform? That’s right, it wouldn’t get very far!
The same is true for your body. If you fill it with junk, your organs won’t work properly. There may be a delay factor initially, but don’t kid yourself. After a while you’ll notice the sluggishness of your system. When your body and your brain slow down, you’ll have even more difficulty keeping up with accomplishing your tasks.
What we do for our bodies also impacts our brain’s function. In fact, it’s been said that your gut is your second brain; and they’re “connected.” If your gut isn’t getting what it needs, the brain can become depressed or hyperactive.
Your brain needs to have as much stamina as the rest of you. Otherwise, you’ll be too tired to think properly, or you will lack the get up and go to follow through on your ideas. This often results in experiencing increased frustration, which causes even more stress and brain fog.
Heightened body stamina thinking speed, and emotional resilience are possible when you commit to doing all you can to be at your best. If you don’t have your health, nothing else really matters because you won’t be able to enjoy it. You can turn this situation around by cultivating daily healthy habits.
Here are some simple, yet powerful, suggestions that can support your body and brain to be there for you:
Drink Filtered Water
First drink plenty of clean water. The amount you need to drink each day varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb to follow is to divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you would need 70 ounces of water daily. If you also drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, you will need to increase your water intake because caffeine increases dehydration.
A critical reason for drinking plenty of water daily is to make sure your body has a chance to detoxify. (HINT: Keep a reusable bottle of water with you at your computer or wherever you go all day long.)
Eat Nutritious Food
It’s best to eat foods in their natural states. Avoid highly processed foods that are filled with chemicals and preservatives. Cut as much sodium and sugar out of your diet as possible. Sugar may give you a temporary rush of energy, but when it wears off, your energy level will dip even lower than it was in the first place. Filling your plate with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables will help keep you full longer and supply your body with vitamins and nutrients that it needs to run properly.
Choose whole grains over refined ones, which will also fill you up and keep your digestive system running more smoothly. Remember to look for healthy unsaturated fats, as opposed to artery clogging saturated fats. Having a treat once in a while is all right, but don’t make those kinds of foods a habit.
Exercising reduces stress hormones. When you exercise you take in more oxygen which feeds your cells and helps you relax. Exercising also strengthens your heart and lungs and increases your energy, not to mention lowering the risk of several diseases. Experts recommend that you engage in cardio activities, such as walking, running or cycling for 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week, depending on your personal situation.
Let me add that any amount of exercise you are able to fit into your day is beneficial, even if it’s just a few minutes. Taking breaks from your desk to get up and walk around will help your circulation.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Ultra-Mind Solution, Zebras don’t get ulcers because they “relax, stress, relax” unlike humans who are often chronically stressed. For some people, stress is so automatic; they don’t even realize they’re stressed until they change their daily habits. To keep your brain from stressing out, reduce stress by being kind to your body and your brain. This will improve your mood and help you sleep better. All of these things contribute to having the energy and fortitude to attain your important life and work goals.
Remember, the better you take care of your body, the better it will take care of you. So, keep your engine well-maintained! Unlike a car engine which can be replaced, you don’t have the option of replacing your body. You only get one!
Wishing you savvy success!
~ Barbara McRae, MCC
20-Somethings ADHD Expert, Campus Calm™
(c) Barbara McRae