Neuroscientist reveals top 5 things you should avoid for a healthy brain

More sleep, less alcohol -- Here are TikToker Cody Isabel's dos and don'ts to stay healthy.

EXAMINE THE coping strategies that have helped you in the past and try to apply them in the present. (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/VIMEO)
EXAMINE THE coping strategies that have helped you in the past and try to apply them in the present.
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT/VIMEO)

Our physical health affects our mental health directly. Whatever we put into our bodies or put our bodies through later affects our mentality, as well as several aspects of our health.

Cody Isabel, a TikToker with a Bachelor's Degree in neuroscience, revealed the top 5 things he would not do in order to keep himself healthy, both mentally and physically.

@mindbrainbodylab Prioritize these areas of your life instead of ignoring them for 30 days and you’ll change your mental health, physical health and life I promise. Follow to catch all the things I would do to heal your brain as a neuroscientist. #neuroscience #neurosciencetok #fyp #healthy ♬ original sound - Cody Isabel

1. Sleep soundly

"Less hours of sleep equals less hours of life," Isabel explained in the video, which has since gone viral on the social media platform. He said that sleep decreases inflammation in the brain caused by daily living or trauma.

Indeed, the Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine explains that "lack of adequate sleep over time has been associated with a shortened lifespan."

"Numerous studies have found that insufficient sleep increases a person's risk of developing serious medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease," their GetSleep website states.

 The brain (credit: INGIMAGE) The brain (credit: INGIMAGE)

Harvard Medical School additionally confirms the claim that sleep reduces inflammation – or rather, that lack of sleep is associated with inflammation in the brain.

"Sleep deprivation is associated with markers of inflammation, such as increases in inflammatory molecules—includ­ing cytokines, interleukin-6, C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation that’s elevated in people at risk for heart disease and diabetes), and others," they explain in a January article on sleep deprivation.

2. Methodically meditate

Yes, this isn't a don't-do but rather a don't-not-do, but overlooking the double negative, the message is the same: meditation is extremely important.

"Meditation is one of the easiest ways to calm your mind down, decrease anxiety, decrease depression and lower inflammation in your brain," Isabel said. He recommends at least 10 minutes of meditation as part of one's daily routine.

Although the direct connection between meditation and brain inflammation has not been completely tied down yet, several studies have tied mindfulness meditation to the lowering of systemic inflammation and inflammatory diseases.

A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that regular meditation may impact measurable brain circuits that produce inflammatory health benefits. The study claims to provide the first evidence that "mindfulness meditation training functionally couples the DMN with a region known to be important in top-down executive control at rest (left dlPFC), which, in turn, is associated with improvements in a marker of inflammatory disease risk."

"Meditation is one of the easiest ways to calm your mind down, decrease anxiety, decrease depression and lower inflammation in your brain."

Cody Isabel

3. Abstain from alcohol

The next item in Isabel's list is to avoid binge-drinking alcohol. "Alcohol inflames your brain directly and depresses you," he claims. "It's that simple."

Alcohol has been proven in literally hundreds of studies over years and years to be unhealthy and damaging to the body, especially in large quantities.

When it specifically comes to mental health, the UK's Mental Health Foundation states that "Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in your brain and affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviour."

And on the subject of brain inflammation, a study conducted in 2011 by the University of Illinois found that "chronic ingestion of alcohol leads to both systemic and neuroinflammation by activating TLR4."

4. Do you even lift?

Another double-negative!

"I would never get so busy that I can't work out or can't get a workout in," Isabel said. "It releases BDNF, which decreases brain inflammation and increases neuroplasticity."

BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein that helps support survival of existing neurons in the brain and has been proven to be crucial for long-term memory.

According to a 2014 study by Boston University, "Effect size analysis supports the role of exercise as a strategy for enhancing BDNF activity in humans, but indicates that the magnitude of these effects may be lower in females relative to males."

In another study from 2015, researchers from Gayatri Vidya Parishad College of Engineering found that "decreased levels of BDNF are associated with neurodegenerative diseases with neuronal loss, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease."

5. Influential indecision

"Our brains are made to decide things and act things and we learn through failure, so act, assess, adjust is how we learn," Isabel says.

This seems to be more of a behavioral recommendation rather than a hard rule based on health recommendations. While some studies claim that learning from failure is the best method of growth, others claim the opposite.

In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, researchers said, "Our society celebrates failure as a teachable moment. Yet in five studies... failure did the opposite: It undermined learning. Why does failure undermine learning? Failure is ego threatening, which causes people to tune out. Participants learned less from personal failure than from personal success, yet they learned just as much from other people's failure as from others' success. Thus, when ego concerns are muted, people tune in and learn from failure."

Dr. Ayelet Fishbach, Israeli co-author of the study, said that "With more experiments, what we were able to see is that it’s really a matter of self-esteem. It just doesn’t feel good to fail, so people tune out."