Understanding the Importance of Brain Health: Your Guide to a Sharper Mind

Understanding the Importance of Brain Health: Your Guide to a Sharper Mind

Your brain is a remarkable tool, the command centre that oversees your entire nervous system. It's responsible for everything from our thoughts and memories to our movements and emotions.

Pretty incredible, right? We think so.

This complex and magnificent organ is the result of millions of years of evolution—making it the highest achievement in the biological world.

Imagine if you could maintain a healthy brain throughout your entire life. Well, that's exactly what we should aim for when it comes to our overall health and longevity. Our brain health takes the top spot on the priority list.

As our population ages, the burden of neurological disorders and the challenges of preserving brain health become more prominent. 

That's why it's absolutely crucial for us to fully grasp what brain health is and why it holds such immense importance.

Understanding brain health empowers us to take charge of our cognitive wellbeing, no matter our age or background. It allows us to make informed choices and take proactive steps to protect and nourish our brains. 

Why? Well, because, we all want to live our lives to the fullest and stay sharp for as long as possible.

So, with that being said, let's dive into a brain-boosting journey, packed with everything you need to know about your brain health, the science behind it, how to spot signs of your brain struggling, and most importantly—how you can elevate the power of your brain to new heights.

Ready to learn more? Read our brain-boosting Smart Guide and elevate your mind.

What is brain health?

Believe it or not, there's currently no one-size-fits-all definition of brain health.

Most existing definitions out there provide a general description of normal brain function or focus on just a couple of dimensions of brain health.

The folks at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have defined (1) brain health as the ability to perform all those mental processes that make us the incredible humans we are.

The key word is cognition—the ability to learn, judge, use language, and remember. It's all about keeping our brains sharp and firing on all cylinders.

SmartFact: The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) have a presidential advisory that defines (2) optimal brain health as the average performance levels among all people at a particular age who are free from known brain or other organ system diseases.

In simpler terms: It's about hitting those function levels without any noticeable decline and having the ability to take on all the activities we want to tackle.

When we look at the brain as a whole, we see that it's one complex organ with multiple levels of function.

These functions impact every aspect of our daily lives, from…

  • Interpreting our senses
  • Controlling movement
  • Maintaining our cognitive health, mental, and emotional processes
  • Regulating our behaviour and social cognition

So, when we talk about brain health, we're really talking about preserving the optimal integrity, mental sharpness, and cognitive function of our brains at any given age—all with the aim of keeping our brains healthy.

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Why does brain health matter?

Simply put, brain health is the literal foundation for your overall health.

Take a study (3), for example, that discovered something truly fascinating: Individuals with brains that can process information quicker and react faster actually live longer.

Balance, coordination, and mobility issues often find their roots in the magnificent brain. 

When our brain health starts to decline, it can affect our physical stability and lead to falls and injuries.

But, research (4) shows that by improving brain health, we can also enhance our balance and coordination skills.

Now, let's talk about pressure—and more specifically—the pressures of everyday life. We all know that life can sometimes throw us a curveball or two.

In fact, three out of four Brits have shared that they've felt completely overwhelmed by the pressures of the past year.

But guess what? A strong, healthy mind is more resilient when faced with these challenges. 

It's not just about feeling relaxed and at ease; it's about equipping ourselves with the mental fortitude to tackle anything that comes our way.

When we let chronic unmanaged tension seep into our lives, it tends to lead us down a path of unhealthy coping habits like smoking, excessive drinking, or overeating. 

But, by prioritising the health of our brains, we can lower our risks of age-related illnesses and other brain health problems that directly impact our quality of life. 

It's all about trying to seize control to create a healthier, happier future. Let’s keep your brain healthy.

What are the signs and symptoms of poor brain health?

Before we dive into taking control of your health with brain support in mind, let's explore the signs and symptoms which can lead to an increased risk of poor brain health.

Here are some of the key indicators which may point towards poor brain health:

Low resilience: Do you find yourself getting frustrated and irritated at a certain time of day, like clockwork?

Brain fog: Do you experience moments when your thinking becomes foggy and tired?

Fatigue: Do you feel a heaviness in your body, like pressure on your nerves, especially on a mental level where any additional thinking seems overwhelming?

Irregular emotions: Are you experiencing mood swings and feeling more sensitive to comments directed at you?

Forgetful memory: Do you often forget names or things you need to do more frequently than you'd like?

Lack of motivation: Do you have the desire to work or take care of yourself, but it just feels like too much?

Food cravings and indulgence: Are you nourishing your brain with the best nutrition, or do you find yourself succumbing to cravings and urges from processed foods, overeating, and at all sorts of times during the day and night?

High blood pressure: Studies suggest that high blood pressure can lead to mild cognitive impairment.

Energy crashes: Do you often experience a dip in energy, especially in the middle of the day, leaving you yearning for a nap?

Disrupted or poor-quality sleep: Do you struggle to get deep, restorative sleep and REM sleep, causing your sleep quality to be low and impacting how you feel and function the next day?

Low sex drive: Does your body feel tired, making the thought of being intimate more burdensome than enjoyable?

Lack of physical activity: Despite your best intentions, do you find yourself skipping workouts and experiencing lower energy even when you attempt to exercise?

Mental health issues: Is finding peace of mind a distant concept, with your mind constantly racing with a myriad of thoughts and issues?

Family history: Has anyone in your family experienced dementia or Alzheimer's disease?

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How can you improve brain function?

Exercise regularly

Multiple studies (5) have shown that regular physical activity not only benefits your body but also your brain. 

It increases blood flow, counteracts the natural reduction in brain connections that occur with age, and reduces the risk of mental decline and Alzheimer's disease.

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity several times a week. Whether you prefer walking, swimming, or playing tennis, find an activity that raises your heart rate and brings you joy.

Get plenty of sleep

This essential component of brain health helps clear abnormal proteins, consolidates memories, and boosts overall brain function. 

Aim for seven to eight consecutive hours of sleep per night, allowing your brain to effectively store and consolidate memories.

 If you struggle with fragmented sleep or suspect sleep apnea might be causing issues, reach out to your healthcare team for guidance.

Eat a Mediterranean diet

Consider following a Mediterranean diet that emphasises plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil.

SmartFact: This brain-boosting diet has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Omega fatty acids found in healthy fats are also crucial for your brain's optimal function, reducing the risk of heart disease, improving mental focus, and slowing cognitive decline in older adults.

Stay mentally active

Your brain is a muscle. And just like any muscle, it needs regular workouts to stay strong. 

Engage in activities that challenge your brain, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, reading, playing cards, or solving jigsaw puzzles.

Engaging in everyday activities like reading and puzzles can give your brain an equally effective workout. And remember, limit your TV time, as it's a passive activity that does little to stimulate your brain.

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Remain socially involved

Social interaction is like a lifeforce-giving elixir for your brain. It helps ward off depression, stress, and loneliness that can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends, and your community—especially if you live alone.

Research has even linked social isolation to brain atrophy, so staying socially active can strengthen your brain's health. It's time to nurture those connections and create a vibrant and supportive social circle.

Keep your blood vessels healthy

Taking care of your blood vessels doesn't just benefit your heart but also your brain. Get regular check-ups for your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, and take steps to keep them within a healthy range.

This includes increasing physical activity, following a Mediterranean diet, reducing your salt intake, moderating alcohol consumption, and saying no to smoking. 

Use the right supplements

Taking the right supplements will help you elevate your mind in a number of ways. Smart supplements—or nootropics—contain ingredients (largely natural) that boost blood circulation to your brain.

The result? A clearer head, sharper focus, better stress management, more energy, and bursts of creativity.  

SmartTip: To discover more about the power of smart supplements and which ones to take, check out our Smart guide to the science behind nootropics

Sharpen your brain the Smart way

Smarten up your health and start happier habits with our two main nootropics—The Calm and The Booster—to improve mood, memory, brain and bones.

We’ve got a range of other products to help you on your journey to better brain health, so be sure to check out the full range.


Smart Protein is committed to sourcing only the best and scientifically-backed research in our articles.

1. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


2. AHA Journals


3. Ncbi


4. Ncbi


5. Mayo Clinic Health System


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