A Healthy Brain Equals Healthier Finances

There are many ways to protect ourselves financially.  One is insurance – be it home, business, or disability.  Another is by being careful with certain risks.  Yet another is carefully manage our career.  The list can go on.

One of the additional ways to protect ourselves is by staying healthy.  Seems obvious, as one needs to be healthy in order to work.  If we can’t work, the cash flow stops.  Also, medical bills can add up quickly.

The thing is, when most of us think of being healthy, I believe we are generally referring to things such as keeping in shape and making sure we have the physical energy to work.  Which, of course, makes sense.  But I think that there is another area which perhaps doesn’t get as much attention as it could: keeping our brain sharp.

Yes, I think that we need to at least consider brain health as a long-term investment.  Of course for our lives in general, first and foremost.  But a side benefit is the impact it can have on our ability to earn money.  Just as our capacity to make money can impaired by physical limitations, it could also be impaired by limitations of our brain.  A healthy brain = healthier finances.

The reality is that plenty of people suffer cognitive decline and brain issues as they get older.  Knowing someone who is dealing with this in old age, it’s very clear to me that it’s a frightening reality that people’s brains can give way sooner than their bodies.  If we can’t function mentally, there are severe problems for us.  Alzheimer’s and other related issues can be scary conditions that simply destroy lives.

Along those lines - for financial but mostly quality of life reasons – here are 5 things we can do to help maintain our mental functioning:

Exercise

There have been studies that have shown that staying active can help reduce some risks of developing alzheimer’s.   Being a couch potato and relatively inactive has other problems, obviously.  But apparently it can have potential impacts on your brain as well.

I don’t know about you, but if I go through periods of inactivity, I can get sluggish.  After regular exercise, and particularly after a good workout, I just feel more alert.

Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

It’s known that antioxidant-rich foods can have a variety of health benefits.  One of them might be helping your brain, too.  Having a good diet with plenty of these foods might help slow the decline of cognitive ability over time.

Personally, I like to add blueberries to my breakfast every morning.  A bowl of oatmeal with ground flaxseed and some fresh berries has become a staple of mine.  Now, I unfortunately have made enough mistakes during the lunch and dinner portions of my diet :)  However, at least I’ve gotten breakfast down pretty good.

Doing a quick search for antioxidant-rich foods is a good start to becoming more informed.

Limit Bad Fats

Those bad fats, which can include trans-fats and saturated fats, can potentially cause problems for our brains.  Things I’ve read seem to indicate that excess consumption of such fats can increase the risks of cognitive issues, and might even cause actual changes at the cellular level.  That doesn’t sound fun!

Again, we know not to eat these things too often.  The next time you consider whether or not to eat that greasy burger with greasy fries, don’t just think of your waistline.  It might be less than ideal for your brain too!

Check nutrition labels, and do your own research.

Be Social

Not everybody is a social butterfly, and some people tend to be introverted.  Others simply don’t care what people think, and tend to have a narrow focus in terms of their inner circle.

Well, from what I’ve read, there is work out there that indicates that having a good social life and a network of friends and family can help delay the onset of cognitive issues.   I have no idea if this is partially innate in some people, in terms of their personalities – or if some are more predisposed than others.  But it does indicate that being socially active might be a good thing.

Watch Blood Pressure

Hypertension, particularly when we are talking about uncontrolled high blood pressure, can lead to real problems for people.  Studies seem to indicate this could be linked to an increase in alzheimer’s risk.  Additionally, this can be linked to vascular dementia, where tiny blood vessels in the brain are negatively impacted.  Oxygen being shut off, with cells dying, can’t be a good thing for memory.

It seems like it would be a good idea to really watch our diet to make sure that we’re consuming food that isn’t negatively impacting our blood pressure.  Additionally, we should probably monitor it regularly.

What it All Means

Well, I think it’s clear that there are plenty of things we could do to help maintain our cognitive function and either prevent or delay future impairment.  I’m obviously not a medical profession, so don’t take any of this as medical advice.  Do your own research, but I’m just passing along some things I’ve read.  This from a person who knows someone afflicted in old age with congitive impairment.

It’s obvious that we can’t do much good for our finances if our brain isn’t working optimally.  It hurts the ability to make money, and it impacts our ability to make sound decisions.  Additionally, having big problems could lead to catastrophic financial costs for oursleves or our family.

Bottom line is that I think it’s good to actively make decisions that consider the health of our brain.

My Questions for You

Do you ever consider the importance of health in terms of finances?

Do you consider brain health as something to focus on as we get older? If so, how do you approach this?

Have you known anyone older who has had such issues?

 

Comments

  1. Christian L. says

    As a former smoker, I definitely thought about the costs of health care as I age. That’s one of the reasons I quit (among the many other great reasons). I spend a lot of time on a bicycle, which I consider pretty good exercise. About eight months ago, I started doing sudokus to keep my brain sharp.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

    • Squirrelers says

      Christian – great stuff, you’re making what seem to be a number of thoughful decisions about health.

  2. says

    It’s weird, but the more I learn, the more I realize that good health habits benefit everything. They make us look good, think good, feel good, get sick less often, and on and on! New research always seems to show that, and so I think research could almost stop on healthfulness, because we all know the truth already. Eat good, exercise and you’ll be healthy in every way!

    • Squirrelers says

      TB – health is so vital. Without it, we have a lot less. I know what you mean about the more one learns, the more clear it is how good health can help other areas of life.

  3. says

    Working at staying healthy can save many thousands of dollars in the long run, and lead to a better quality of life. I think our society needs more basic education of young people in both healthy living and personal finance!

  4. says

    I started my dream quest when I had just lost 35-40 lbs. Perhaps it was a coincidence. I stayed healthy for all these (35) years and so has my finances.

    • Squirrelers says

      krantcents – that’s a real example of how being healthy can help facilitate good finances. Or, at least prevent poor health from harming finances.

  5. says

    I’m definitely concerned about health, less so general health but more like injuries and chronic pain, which can be pretty darn debilitating.

    • Squirrelers says

      Very true about injuries and chronic pain, they can take away functionality and inhibit quality of life.

  6. says

    To answer your question – all the time. In fact, at the moment John and I believe that the only thing that can stop us achieving our next financial goal is health (thankfully we ar both healthy but need to start working on staying that way). Very good point about healthy brains as well – dementia is a horrid disease and I hope there will be a cure soon or prevention will be enough.

  7. says

    I stay in front of the computer for hours. Sometimes, more than 12 hours a day. So I make sure that I get the proper exercise and I eat a well-balanced diet. I care about my health too, you know. And yeah, cliche, but health is wealth. ;)

  8. says

    The reality is that we will almost certainly outlive our “working” years. I want those extra years to have quality. I don’t intend to sit around complaining about how much pain I’m in. Our society has placed a lot of value on the years past “working” but way too many people don’t have anything to put into that vacuum.I will have a lot more options if I take care f myself today.

  9. says

    Actually, your finances are your health. Rich people tend to outlive the poor. The mistake we make, I believe, is that we should focus on brain health when we are young, to still have our wits when we are old. My father lived to be 91 but died of dementia. So I might have a hereditary factor to work on.

    You gave great suggestions in keeping a brain sharp. I would also throw in crossword puzzles and challenging yourself by busting out of a daily routine. As far as your meals, you may need to increase your veggies to make up for lunch and dinner;)

  10. says

    I once read a study that measured test scores of students who had a brisk walk before a test vs. those who did nothing. The walking students outperformed the sitting students each time! Perhaps we should all go for a brisk walk before planning our budgets, investing, or spending!

  11. says

    My father passed away from complications due to Parkinson’s and dementia. It was a bad way to go. I am quite a bit older than my wife, so I have been working to make sure that she knows how to take over our family finances when I pass on. She is very smart (she’s a mechanical/aerospace engineer) but finances are just not her thing. I hope I don’t lose my financial “muscle” for a long time, but the day will come…

    • Squirrelers says

      Bryce – I’m sorry to read of such a difficult passing. Separately, I think it’s good that you’re keeping health and planning in mind for the future. The day comes for all of us…might as well plan for the inevitable and enjoy each day until then.

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