Brain health may start in the gutPurino/Shutterstock
Science is uncovering more and more info about how the bacteria in our gut, known as the microbiome, affects the brain. “Although we still have much to learn about the microbiome, animal studies indicate that gut bacteria may impact everything from mood to anxiety levels and even impact our response to stress,” Palinski-Wade says. “Since diet has a direct impact on gut bacteria, a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics may help to alter gut health to favorably impact mood and fight against depression and anxiety.” Chemicals in gut bacteria may even have an influence on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, according to research. Learn the signs you have an unhealthy gut.
High blood pressure affects brain functionVoraorn Ratanakorn/Shutterstock
Since healthy brain function is linked with blood flow to the brain, it might not be surprising that studies show high blood pressure has a negative effect on cognition—as well as an increased risk for dementia and stroke. This is another reason to adopt a healthy diet and exercise regimen. “Regular exercise improves cardiovascular function and reduces blood pressure, which may help to protect the brain against damage that may increase dementia risk,” Palinski-Wade says.
Your brain can register subliminal messagesaithie/Shutterstock
Subliminal messages—brief words or pictures flashed on a screen quicker than the conscious mind can perceive—were first used in advertising in the 1950s, but were later banned. Although the validity of subliminal messages has been up for debate, some recent studies suggest they may be effective. In a Yale study, older participants’ self-perceptions and physical function improved after viewing a series of positive messages about aging. In another study, athletes were able to exercise longer when given subliminal motivating messages. Don’t miss these other 30 mind-blowing facts about the brain.