Overstimulated and overwhelmed. Unable to think straight. Stressed out, frazzled, overtired. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. However you choose to describe it, you’re struggling with the impact of impaired brain function. Some of these feelings have become normalized in recent years, but worryingly being in a state of chronic overwhelm can impair our health in a number of ways both in the long and short term. The culprit behind many people’s struggle with impaired cognitive function, memory loss and chronic stress is related to their busy modern lifestyle.
If there’s one thing busy, non-stop schedules tend to impact upon first, it’s our brain health. Sadly ‘brain fog’ and cognitive disfunction have become monikers of modern society and contemporary culture, with burnout celebrated and rest underestimated. Our 24/7 lifestyles overstimulate the brain, giving little time for relaxation and few safe spaces which enable us to unwind and unplug.
With this in mind it’s never been more important to ensure that we support our brain function and in turn optimize our emotional and physical health.
Fortunately there are multiple ancient remedies that are perhaps even more relevant today than ever before as antidotes to the impact of our busy modern lives. Could Ayurveda hold the key to helping you feel brighter, balanced, sharper and more energized?
Taking care of what’s up there
Brain function is so automatic that we rarely stop to think about just how much its health impacts on our overall wellbeing and day to day existence. There are so many things that your brain is taking care of right now, as you read this article. As well as taking in, absorbing and processing the information you see here, your
brain is also taking in information from all five senses, enabling you to breathe, keeping your heart beating, managing our nervous system, allowing us to move – to name just a few. What is remarkable about the brain is that it continues to keep our bodies functioning at a basic level despite the complexity involved, even in times of stress. But this causes other areas of brain function deemed as ‘less important’ to be affected – resulting in several common complaints. The main three areas of concern we hear from our followers include:
Better focus: If you’re feeling distracted and unable to properly focus on one thing at a time, it may be time to pay attention to your brain health. Many people report inability to focus during times of stress or overwhelm, or as a result of chronic stress and anxiety.
Happy and healthy: Rates of diagnosed depression and anxiety are rising year on year. Being in a stressed-out state for long periods of time can deplete our natural resources and cause hormonal imbalance, affecting the brain’s ability to produce ‘happy chemicals’ like serotonin and dopamine.
Increased energy levels: Fatigue goes hand-in-hand with burnout culture. As we are expected to be ‘switched on’ all the time, with insufficient rest periods, we become exhausted. Over time brain function is chronically impaired, impacting on gut health and in turn affecting our physical wellbeing.
To combat these increasingly common concerns and enhance brain health, it’s necessary to go right to the root and look at ways we can support our body and mind holistically.
Good quality sleep is essential for optimal brain function. Our sleep impacts on every aspect of our overall health – from energy levels and digestion to focus and mood. Be sure to practice good sleep hygiene, including getting into a routine, avoiding screens, scrolling and smartphones before bed and cutting down on excessive caffeine consumption.
According to Ayurveda our dosha type can also influence our ability to fall asleep and the quality of our sleep. As a result, there are certain things to avoid and employ for each dosha type to ensure a sound sleep – and all the benefits that brings. Find personalized tips for each dosha type here.
Take care of gut health
Many instances of ‘brain fog’ begin with gut imbalance. Some studies have even shown a connection between depression and anxiety and disrupted gut flora and bacteria. Start by thinking about whether you can identify any outward signs of poor gut health, such as IBS, constipation, flatulence and bloating. Then consider your dosha type and look to introduce gut-healing foods and herbs to your diet to slowly rebuild and restore a healthy gut flora. You can find more here on the blog on digestive health, or shop our supportive Digestive Blend here.
Concentrate on nutrition
When considering how our bodies use energy and calories, few people remember that our brain, rather than physical activity, uses most of the energy we consume from food. As the powerhouse and central computer of the body, running each and every and system and process second by second, our brains need plenty of appropriate fuel to function optimally.
Much of what the brain uses is glucose – but that doesn’t mean you should overindulge on sweet treats which can cause you to crash and burn. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose itself, so stock up on slow-release, whole carbohydrates such as ancient grains, brown rice, sweet potatoes and legumes.
The brain also thrives on healthy fats – so be sure to incorporate plenty of these into your diet. Good sources of healthy fats include ghee, nuts, full fat milk products and avocado.
Sharper focus and a healthy mind with herbs and supplements
In Ayurvedic medicine we have plenty of powerful herbal remedies to support spiritual and emotional health. Many of the herbs we use have multiple purposes, so they can be employed in various different ways to support body and mind holistically. Many will treat both the initial complaint, and some of the surrounding side-effects. Some of the best Ayurvedic herbs for brain health include:
Ashwagandha: Shown in studies to address hormonal imbalances affecting mood and mental health, Ashwagandha mitigates stress for a calmer, clearer mental state. This is a ‘happy’ herb is an adaptogen that can help you to feel lighter, brighter and more balanced.
Brahmi: Brahmi is known for its memory enhancing effects and can help develop sharper focus through soothing the nervous system. Brahmi is a ‘nootropic’ herb, which means it actively repairs damaged neurons to support improved brain function.
Turmeric: All-round superstar Turmeric is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help to support healthy brain function. Turmeric’s healing properties can be found in its curcumin content, which prevents premature ageing in the brain and is even being explored as a treatment for Dementia.
Using multiple herbs in conjunction with on another is recommended for maximum results – but you might like to start with the one best suited to your concern. Be sure to carefully source any herbal extracts, paying attention to provenance and purity. Before taking any herbal supplementation you should always consult your medical practitioner to ensure that you can take them safely without interaction or contraindication with other medicines.
Better brain health with Ayurveda
Taking a holistic approach to better brain health can enhance all aspects of your life, from sharper focus and fewer mood swings to better sleep and reduced stress. We recommend starting slow and small, building up bit by bit to help you to introduce new habits and find out what works best for you.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that are severe, have been present for a prolonged period of time or are of a concerning nature, as always please consult your licensed medical practitioner. For personalised Ayurvedic treatment, seek out a professional Ayurveda practitioner.
Discover our Ayurveda-inspired supplement blends here.