Beauty, Medical & Health Public Relations



The human brain is considered a very delicate part of a human being. The damage to the brain can lead to a number of health complications. These risks can be mitigated by some very basic lifestyle changes says NYC Neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez.



Habits that can hurt your brain 


No Breakfast:  People who do not eat breakfast are going to have a lower blood sugar level. Dr. Hafeez explains that, “This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration over time.  Getting the nutrients that your body and brain need is important for memory.” The studies reviewed in the "Italian Journal of Pediatrics" concluded that those who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their daily recommended nutrient needs than those who don't. One way eating breakfast increases nutrient intakes is by interrupting the depletion of nutrients that the body is constantly using while providing those needed by the central nervous system. This means that the brain and neurotransmitters have all the elements they need to function at their proper levels, which may help in memory and other cognitive functions.


Overeating:  Causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power. That's what brain scientists have concluded after comparing studies of overeating with studies of drug addiction. They've also found that, at least in animals, sweet or fatty foods can act a lot like a drug in the brain. And there's growing evidence that eating too much of these foods can cause long-term changes in the brain circuits that control eating behavior.




Smoking: It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease. Dr. Hafeez says that,”Nicotine is a drug in tobacco, which enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body during smoking. Nicotine stimulates areas of the brain to release neurotransmitters that influence mood, appetite and feelings of pleasure. People who smoke are used to the response of nicotine in the brain and suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. Withdrawing from smoking causes symptoms of restlessness, shakiness, headaches and hunger.” Smoking increases blood pressure, putting the brain at risk of stroke. A stroke occurs when high blood pressure causes the tiny vessels of the brain to break, causing bleeding. The brain cells that are normally fed by oxygen-rich blood die from lack of oxygen to the area. A stroke can cause permanent neurological damage including paralysis, muscle weakness, difficulty speaking or eating, confusion and lack of coordination.


High Sugar consumption: Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere with brain development. 


Air Pollution: The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency. Researchers have known since the 1970s that high levels of air pollution can harm both cardiovascular and respiratory health, increasing the risk of early death from heart and lung diseases. The effect of air pollution on cognition and mental well-being, however, has been less well understood. Now, evidence is mounting that dirty air is bad for your brain as well. Over the past decade, researchers have found that high levels of air pollution may damage children's cognitive abilities, increase adults' risk of cognitive decline and possibly even contribute to depression.


Sleep Deprivation: Dr. Hafeez stresses that, “Sleep allows our brain to rest. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells.” The first known study about the negative effects of sleeplessness was published in 1896. Since then, hundreds of studies have established that sleep loss impairs various cognitive functions and behavior, including arousal, attention, cognitive speed, memory, emotional intelligence, and decision making. These symptoms can start after 16 hours without sleep, and they get worse as time goes on.



Lacking in stimulating thoughts: Thinking is the best way to train our brain, lacking in brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage. 


Alcohol: Could ruin the organs, primarily the nervous system, the liver, and the heart. Dr. Hafeez states that, “It impacts the chemical reactions that take place in the brain.  Alcoholism also kills neurons and reduces the speed with which nerve impulses are transmitted.  When a person drinks beer, wine, or another alcoholic drink, the alcohol quickly enters the bloodstream and is then carried throughout the body. The alcohol gets broken down through metabolism, the process of converting substances we consume to other compounds that the body either uses or removes. Alcohol is distributed throughout the body, affecting the brain and other tissues, until it is completely metabolized.”



Constantly Checking your phone: "A hurtful habit practiced all day long by most of us is the automatic viewing of our phone, without any allowing ourselves to sit with our thoughts," says Dr. Hafeez. "Mindless checking of our screens promotes the expectation of immediate gratification and a difficulty handing negative states of mind organically." A recent study by De Montfort University also found that checking your phone constantly can make you more distracted and forget things more easily.


Spending Too Much Time Inside: Spending all your day inside can not only make you stir crazy, but it can also increase your risk for depression. "Lack of sunlight and vitamin D can contribute to depressive symptoms," says Dr. Hafeez. Along with light, outdoor exercise, even light walking, has been linked to better mental health, from your mood, to concentration, according to Harvard Health.


Lack Of Exercise: By now, we all know that exercise is good for us. It can also prevent memory loss as we age, says a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study sought to determine whether exercise can modify the volume of our hippocampus.  “Neurotransmitters in the brain play an integral role in your mood and state of mind. Among others, the neurotransmitter dopamine is influenced by the amount of exercise you get,” says Dr. Hafeez.


Stay Hydrated: Not drinking enough water also affects our brain. Mild dehydration interferes with our energy levels, mood and ability to think well. Since our brain is mostly water, when we become dehydrated the rest of our body borrows some of the brain’s fluids for other essential processes, causing the cells to wither and shrink. This can also press on our skulls and give us headaches. Suggestions from Dr. Hafeez, “The key is to drink before you feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle with you and eat fruits, which are naturally full of water.”




Recreational Drugs: Most people already know that recreational drugs ‘fry’ the brain, triggering the reward pathway that triggers addiction and results in altered levels of serotonin and dopamine. Recreational drugs such as methamphetamine, heroine and cocaine age your body rapidly, bringing you closer to the rocking chair long before your time because of the effects of the drugs as well as the high concentrations of toxic chemicals in them. Dr. Hafeez points out that, “These drugs also weaken your immunity and make you more susceptible to serious infections. Drugs like Ecstasy and crack can permanently alter moods, excitability, and cause anxiety, insomnia and restlessness while increasing the risk of developing mental illnesses such as depression later in life.”