Good Brain = Better Balance
Do you wobble if you stand on one foot? How about with your eyes closed? If you walk in a straight heel-to-toe line do you stumble? How about with your eyes closed? If you stand with your feet together and close your eyes do you sway to one side? Do you walk with a wide base gait? Do feel like you’re going to fall when walking down the stairs if you don’t hold the handrail?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have balance issues which may be an indicator of compromised brain health and increased risk of developing dementia later in life.
Balance is governed largely by the cerebellum, the area at the base of the brain that also helps with precision, coordination, and timing of motor movements, and maintaining an upright posture. The cerebellum and Vestibular system are the most active brain structures because they continually process information from gravity which allows people to stand upright. Treatment for balance issues must activate and remap connections in the cerebellum and vestibular system.
A healthy cerebellum is important because it constantly feeds a steady stream of information to the entire brain, which is necessary for overall good brain health and function.
When neurons in the cerebellum or vestibular system are damaged or connections to other brain structures break down many symptoms can develop. This may include balance issues, dizziness, stumbling, and even falling. If the brain has to work very hard to just maintain upright posture it becomes very difficult to perform more complex tasks like thinking, memory, and organizing thoughts.
This can cause problems in other areas of the brain that may seem totally unrelated to balance. These symptoms may include restless leg syndrome, tinnitus, tremors, feeling shaky, hypersensitivity, cognitive decline, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and many more. These are signs the brain is functioning poorly and degenerating too quickly leading to an increased risk for developing dementia or Parkinson’s later in life.
You’re never too young or too fit to work on improving your balance as it’s a great way to help protect and preserve your brain health.
Treatment for Balance Problems
There are several ways to protect the health of your cerebellum. One is to perform balance exercises. Yoga and tai chi are also beneficial. As your balance improves, continually challenge yourself, such as by doing your balance exercises on a wobble board or Bosu ball. Just be safe!
Follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. The brain is very sensitive to inflammation, including the cerebellum. Junk foods, sugars, and processed carbohydrates, lack of sleep, too much stress, lack of exercise — these are all factors that can accelerate degeneration in the cerebellum and the rest of the brain.