At a time when brain fog is on the minds of many thanks to coronavirus, paying attention to our brain health feels particularly important.
Numbers of Long Covid cases are rising and new research shows brain fog is more than feeling ‘fuzzy’, as the virus actually causes damage to the mitochondria in our brain cells.
These cells account for 95% of our energy for all bodily functions.
Professor James Goodwin of the Brain Health Network says there are things we all should be doing to strengthen the mitochondria in our brain, helping its overall function.
While it’s easy to let daily good habits slip, these are the things he says you should be most mindful of.
Lower your calorie intake (but not your intake of nutrients)
Eating less doesn’t mean forgetting about the quality of what you’re eating.
James says: ‘Aim to establish a healthy calorie range to prevent overeating, with a reduction of about 10% recommended.
‘This will reduce the output of reactive oxygen species, which drive inflammation and cellular damage.’
Avoid a ‘sugar rush’
You already know this one, but do you know why?
James explains: ‘Astonishingly, certain neurons in the brain can actually “feel” a sudden rise in sugar levels and their mitochondria rapidly change shape and structure, which can lead to profound overall metabolic changes, such as type 2 diabetes.
‘Lowering the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars, removes this pressure on our precious mitochondria.’
Even light exercise will do.
‘This forces your brain cells to generate energy, which is especially important as we get older, due to an incipient loss of mitochondria as we age (1–2% a year from middle age onwards),’ James says.
‘Exercise reduces this trend and can even reverse mitochondrial loss.
‘After a period of consistent exercise, mitochondria increase in number, capable of generating more energy.’
Visit a sauna
This is probably the one you’ll enjoy doing most.
‘Research has shown that increasing the temperature of muscle tissue increases the efficiency of mitochondria, recommended two to three times a week for 10–15 minutes at a time,’ James says.
Value quality sleep
Hormones such as corticosteroids, which regulate our mitochondria, are sensitive to disruption from poor sleep.
James suggests trying relaxation and meditation as this can also play a part in keeping our mitochondria healthy, reducing the effects of the stress hormone cortisol.
Try essential oils
James says: ‘Exciting new research has found that Carvacrol, found commonly in the essential oils of thyme, oregano, black cumin, and wild bergamot, has been reported to block the entry of the Covid virus and has anti-viral, anti- inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-moderating properties.’
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