A healthy brain has a largely smooth surface that allows for proper blood flow in the brain. On the other hand, an unhealthy brain has pits and disruptions which restrict the flow of blood, thus leading to reduced or total blockage of blood flow in the brain. Decreased or hindered blood flow can lead to negative consequences on behavior, depending on the part of the brain affected (Burne, 2009).
Causes of Unhealthy Brain
Several factors have been linked to an unhealthy brain. First, it has been related to caffeine and nicotine, frequently used as stimulants. These stimulants have been reported to lead to narrowing of the blood vessels of the brain. Consequently, there is decreased brain activity, particularly in the critical prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes. Damaged to these vital areas of the brain increases susceptibility to depression. Moreover, distortion of the temporal lobes, which is manifested by large gaps in the middle of these lobes, leads to impaired memory, fatigue, and reduced concentration span (Burne, 2009).
Second, the unhealthy brain is associated with heavy intake of alcohol. Excessive intake of alcohol clog brains blood vessels, leading to brain cells death. The cells affected are those in the prefrontal cortex, a section of the brain involved in the control of human behavior. Damaged prefrontal cortex results in impaired judgment, poor impulse control, and elevated risk of developing depressive symptoms. Third, unhealthy brain can be caused by Alzheimers disease. Sticky proteins or plaques, known as beta-amyloid that accumulate between nerve cells hinders the flow of blood. Lastly, an unhealthy brain is related to the use of cannabis, a drug known to reduce blood flow leading to damage and death of brain cells found in the temporal lobes (Burne, 2009).
Symptoms of Unhealthy Brain
Memory loss (amnesia). Memory loss refers to an inability to remember events of information that one will usually be able to recall. An individual may fail to remember something that occurred a few seconds ago or may not be able to remember an event which took place in the past. Amnesia occurs when the brain cells are damaged and destroyed.
Depression. Depression is a state of sadness, moodiness, or a low mood that may persist for weeks, months, or years. It has a negative impact on an individuals mental and physical health. Some of the behavioral symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt; feelings of hopelessness or pessimistic tendencies; persistent anxiety or sadness; fatigue; decreased interest in activities one considered hobbies; low self-esteem; reduced concentration, memory, and indecisiveness; restlessness; insomnia, oversleeping, and early-morning awakening; loss of weight and appetite; suicidal thoughts and attempts; indigestion; aches and pains whose cause cannot be clearly established.
Fatigue. Fatigue is a state of tiredness which is different from weakness. The major distinction between weakness and fatigue is that the latter can be alleviated through rest. Fatigue can either be physical or mental. Physical fatigue is characterized by the inability of the muscles to sustain optimum physical performance and is aggravated by intensive physical exercise. On the other hand, mental fatigue is a transient reduction in optimal cognitive performance. Fatigue is characterized by muscle aches, weakened muscles, headache, prolonged tiredness, indecisiveness and poor judgment, dizziness, irritability, slow reflexes or response speeds, loss of appetite, weakened immune system, blurred vision, decreased concentration, poor eyehand coordination, impaired short-term memory, hallucinations, inattentiveness, and reduced motivation.
Poor concentration. Poor concentration refers to an inability to sustain attention, a condition closely linked to tiredness. A person with impaired concentration may find it difficult to keep his or her attention focused on one thing. For instance, a student having this problem finds it difficult to ignore noises while in class. Additionally, such individuals have enough concentration to focus on two tasks simultaneously. Lastly, they have short attention span they are not able to concentrate on a particular task for a long time without getting distracted.
Poor impulse control. Impulse control disorders involve long-lasting difficulties in a persons ability to regulate his or her emotions. Poor self-control is manifested by dysfunctional or disrupted personal, family, social, and academic functioning. This condition is characterized by engagement in repetitive acts despite detrimental effects associated with such behaviors or acts. People with deficits in impulse control may try to regulate their behaviors, but they are usually unsuccessful because of pervasive increased urge or crave to engage in the repetitive acts.
Prevention of Unhealthy Brain
A healthy brain can be achieved through consumption of certain foods. First, blueberries have been reported to help in the protection of the brain from oxidative stress and also in reducing the effects of dementia and Alzheimers, two common age-related memory problems. Research findings show that diets enriched in these fruits enhances motor skills and learning in animal studies (Sorgen, n.d.).
Another diet which has been found to be beneficial to brains proper functioning is nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, and cashews. Additionally, wild salmon, sardines, and herring, which are enriched in omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy brain. Other foods which promote healthy brain include avocados, which are rich in monounsaturated enhances proper blood flow in the brain and decreases the risk of high blood pressure, a condition associated with impaired mental functioning. Lastly, whole grains which contain omega-3s, vitamin E, and fiber are important in promoting healthy blood flow in the brain (Sorgen, n.d.).
Burne, J. (2009). Are you wrecking your brain? Chilling pictures reveal shocking effects of alcohol, cigarettes and even caffeine on the mind. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1177258/are-wrecking-brain-Chilling-pictures-reveal-shocking-effects-alcohol-cigarettes-caffeine-mind.htmlSorgen, C. (n.d.). Eat smart for a healthier brain. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain#1
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