In this latest episode of brain or shine, we’re going to focus on the importance of nutrition, exercise, hydration, and good sleep.
Nutrition: Let’s start with your nutrition. A number of years ago, I took a foundation course on great nutrition. So, here are my top tips.
Generally, I follow the 80:20 rule; around 80% of the time I’ll eat pretty healthy food and I’ll go for unprocessed, fresh and generally plant-based food. Processed food and sugary snacks will give you an energy spike but the energy wears off quicker leaving you feeling empty again.
Next tip is to never skip breakfast. When you wake up in the morning, even if you don’t feel hungry, try and eat a nutritional breakfast. Remember you haven’t eaten for so many hours so, to start your day running on empty is going to affect your ability to function throughout the day. Unfortunately, a bowl of cornflakes isn’t high enough in nutrition to fuel you though. A bowl of porridge with some fruit on top is a top choice for me as is a fresh smoothie with some oats mixed in.
And the third tip on nutrition is to eat little and often. Sometimes if we eat a big meal, it can make us feel really full and really lethargic. However, if we eat small snacks, little and often, and I mean, good snacks, then that could be the key to your focus and wellbeing.
Hydration: After nutrition comes hydration. It may be a well-known fact to you that a high percentage of our body is water and that includes our brains too. So, the best thing to feed it with is water, of course.
Also, please try and avoid things like energy drinks, sugary drinks. Even diet or sugar-free sodas actually include a lot of chemicals, which in large quantities, can affect the brain. There’s a phrase that says drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, and that’s actually quite a loose recommendation, but it’s definitely good advice. So, drink plenty of water to hydrate your brain, and that will help you get optimum functionality from it.
On my nutrition course, all those years ago, I was challenged to replace orange squash with water for 30 days. It was hard at first but I soon realized that I didn’t really like the taste of squash and, it also made me thirsty. If you find water a little boring, try squeezing some fresh orange or lemon into it. Ginger and lime is also one of my favourites.
Exercise: Another key component around wellbeing is exercise. Do something every day, which is going to raise your heart rate above the normal.
If you’re immobile, there are loads and loads of chair-based exercises you can do. In fact, if you go on YouTube, you can also find plenty of free videos.
Maybe go for a walk, a walk around the park or your favorite place and be mindful of what’s around you. That’s not only really great for your exercise plan, but it’s also really, really good for your mental wellbeing.
Most importantly, find something you enjoy doing, something that you can set small goals around and improve your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.
Sleep Hygiene: The last key component is probably the hardest one to advise on, and that is sleep. The average person needs between 7 to 9 hours sleep per night and in order to have great sleep hygiene with a regulated body clock, you need to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time for seven days a week.
Unfortunately, brain injury and fatigue can really, really mess with a sync of our body clocks so, try and create some kind of routine around your sleep patterns, and that will hopefully put things into sync. Only you know what you can work with by experimenting. Perhaps keep a sleep log and that will really help you to find a routine.
So, there’s some lifestyle factor tips for you. I hope they work for you. Remember to eat healthy; the 80:20 rule. What you drink; plenty of water. Exercise; raise your heart rate and regulate your body clock.
Below is a link to a video from our YouTube channel for more tips, hit subscribe for more.