Air pollution + 8 other things that kill your brain slowly

by Life Span


The brain is affected by factors we don’t always look into in our daily lives. Everything from the food we eat, the little bad habits we’ve formed over the years, and extent to which we use the brain: all these factors play a role in the development of our mental power, sometimes boosting our intelligence and sometimes lowering it.

Certain habits have been known to lower intelligence by killing brain cells or promoting mental stagnation but luckily you can learn how not to destroy your most vital organ by avoiding these bad habits.

In order to experience a heightened state of brain function, make sure you avoid habits that inhibit mental health and learn new ways to promote brain function. Any positive change is sure to reflect in you regardless of how many bad habits you have; so start by learning what kills your brain.

High Blood Sugar

Overeating, poor memory, learning problems, depression- all these conditions were linked in a recent study to consumption of too much sugar. These effects point to a larger problem which health experts are only beginning to understand; how sugar consumption affects normal brain function. The U.S Department of Agriculture reports that the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar annually.

This sounds quite alarming especially when you picture what 156 pounds of sugar would look like on the shelves at your local grocery store. Most people have no idea how much sugar they consume because sugar is always present in our diet but health experts recommend a reduction in sugar intake, which you can do by avoiding food and drinks loaded with sugar.

Air Pollution

Your brain uses up significant amounts of oxygen in order to function properly- which can be a problem if you’re constantly exposed to air pollutants. Polluted air impairs the supply of oxygen to the brain, which lowers cognitive function and could also cause actual physical changes to the brain. Air pollution is caused by industrial waste, vehicles, dust, etc, and the pollutants can reach deep areas of your organs, inhibiting proper function of your body.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep allows your body to repair itself- and that means facilitating creation of new cells in all organs, the brain included. Long term sleep deprivation can in fact cause brain damage as new cells are not being generated and the brain loses its ability to communicate properly with the nerve cells. Both short-term and long-term sleep restriction have negative effects on the brain which is why doctors recommend 8 hours of sleep each night to allow the body time to repair itself.

Eating junk-food

What do you think happens to the cells when they’re not provided with healthy nutrients needed to survive? The cells starve and then slowly begin to die! A little bite of junk-food here and there does not affect your brain significantly, but eating unhealthy foods on a daily basis compromises your health and promotes weight gain, making you lose both mental and physical energy. The good thing is you have complete control over what you choose to eat so it shouldn’t be so hard to switch from junk to nutritious foods which promote health and longevity.

Junk-food encourages malnutrition because it tends to kill appetite and it has little nutrition. Your brain requires fuel in order to work properly and this fuel comes from actual nutrients, not fried junk. Bad food destroys organs in the body, and if not monitored, could damage your brain so stay away from it and other habits that kill your brain.

Alcohol and Cigarettes

In addition to causing cancer, heart disease, and myriad of diseases, a new study suggests that smoking may cause gradual cognitive decline in men. The study focuses on NNK, a compound normally found in tobacco, and which becomes carcinogenic when altered by metabolic processes in the body. Unlike alcohol, this compound does not appear to harm the brain cells directly; instead it causes neuro-inflammation, which in turn causes other disorders including multiple sclerosis.

Alcohol may cause a temporary chemical imbalance and even structural changes in the brain when consumed in high volumes over a long period of time. MRIs of most alcoholic patients show decreased brain volume.

Skipping Breakfast

Your mother was right- breakfast is king! If you’re one of those people who simply can’t eat anything in the morning, you may be lowering your blood sugar levels, which also means low nutrient supply to vital organs. Take a few minutes each morning to eat something healthy so your body gets renewed, and experience heightened alertness, high energy and improved productivity at wok or school. Aim for proteins and vitamins to get you that healthy combination needed for strength and mental performance.

Little Mental Stimulation

Your brain works a lot like the muscles in your body- it needs to be exercised, otherwise it won’t be very sharp. This is why most smart people like filling puzzles or playing other mind games. Learn how to play chess, scrabble and other fun games that stimulate the mind and get you working at your best. Creative thinking is also an effective way to stimulate the brain, so find some time for inspiring music and the arts, and see how it changes your way of thinking.

Gluttony and Cholesterol

Not everyone realizes it but gluttony causes more problems than you’d imagine. It hardens blood vessels, restricting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to vital parts of the body- including the brain. Ensure you serve decent amounts so your blood vessels function better, and remember to hydrate so you can excrete toxins from the blood.

Cholesterol builds up in the arteries and reduces blood flow, making it impossible for the blood to receive enough oxygen and nutrients. Saturated fats not only cause heart attacks, they also destroy your brain. A healthy diet and regular should be enough to keep your heart pumping well.

Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

A lot of people -especially kids- don’t realize this but covering your head while you sleep increases the amount of carbon dioxide entering the body, and reduces oxygen in the process, causing damage to the brain. You need fresh air when sleeping to allow proper gaseous exchange so avoid tight fittings when sleeping at don’t cover your head.


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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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