What’s your brain health score?
Take this quick test to find out your brain health score.
(We recommend taking it just before, or at the start of your Heights Smart Supplement subscription.)
How do we know how healthy your brain is?
In an ideal world we’d measure both structure and function of your brain, look at blood flow to the different areas, or create a detailed map to see the different parts and how they are connected. BUT these scans are expensive, complex, lengthy, and not very practical to do on your daily commute.
Our simple survey aims to quickly and easily give an indication of your brain health right now; and is something you’ll be able to revisit after your habits and lifestyle have evolved.
The brain health score combines both inputs - the daily behaviours that affect your brain health, and outcomes - some self-reported measures of how well your brain has been functioning recently.
The test focuses on lifestyle behaviours, since these are within your power to change, and have an influence on neuroplasticity - the brain’s ability to grow and adapt at any age.
Higher scores are awarded for:
- Healthy food choices
- Regular physical movement
- Practicing mindfulness
- Strong social connections
- Good quality sleep
- Low alcohol consumption
- Not smoking
It’s very difficult to get a precise measure of some lifestyle habits without asking an awful lot of questions, so we’ve kept things simple by asking you about your satisfaction with things like what you eat and your sleeping patterns. Of course, it’s possible that you might feel satisfied on a diet of junk food or after 2 hours’ sleep, but we have a hunch that everyone has an inkling of what healthier choices are. It’s putting them into practice that is often the hardest part.
We have also included a few specific, easy-to-measure behaviours which are likely to reap rewards for brain health - namely frequent 10+ minute mindfulness practices, regular exercise for 30+ minutes and drinking at least 1.5L water a day.
These are not ‘magic’ numbers. There is no amount of meditation, exercise or water which will guarantee anyone a top notch brain. But research points to more frequent mindfulness practice, exercise and hydration as being beneficial - so the more routine your habits, the higher your scores.
(**If you take prescribed medication or other drugs which are designed to alter brain function, it will be important to consider whether these are influencing your wellbeing independently of your lifestyle choices, when you compare your scores over time.)
Your brain helps you to achieve a remarkable array of activities, including learning and memory, focus and concentration, empathy and emotional control. It interprets all your sensory inputs such as touch, vision and hearing, as well as speech, reasoning and fine control of movement.
We could put you through an intensive barrage of intimidating tests to find out about cognitive function, but what matters to most of us on a day to day level is how we feel.
The brain health score therefore includes aspects of emotional wellbeing which are amenable to change, have been linked to brain health, and are important outcomes in themselves. These include feelings of optimism, focus or lack of distraction (linked to self-control and mindfulness), stress, or anxiety, and a general feeling of get up and go (absence of fatigue). These are all different dimensions of wellbeing.
We’ve also included a single, catch-all indicator of health, known as self-rated health. Your personal evaluation of your health has actually been shown to be a more reliable indication of future health than a doctor’s rating.
Of course, your wellbeing and brain health can be influenced by a huge number of factors which we’re not measuring, including your genetics, your early life, your environment, long term illnesses and acutely stressful situations.
The brain health score is a quick indicator of feelings and function, and the behaviours in your control which have been shown to influence brain health. Boost your score, and the odds are that you’re boosting your brain.
One way to start that journey is with our Smart Supplement, another is to sign up for our weekly email to have brain-healthy tips and the latest neuroscience know-how delivered to your inbox every Sunday.
As a rough guide, here’s how we think you should interpret your score:
0 - 25 - Mission Critical
This is certainly worth being concerned over and we would suggest immediate steps to take control of this.
26 - 50 - Sub Par
Your brain health needs some serious attention.
51 - 60 - Average
No one’s favourite description, let’s be honest, but it’s also a great base to start from.
61 - 70 - Good
There are worse things to be called, and clearly your brain gets a fair amount of attention from your lifestyle, but you can do better. We can help.
71 - 80 - Great
You clearly live a healthy life and make conscious decisions to put your brain first. There’s room for improvement, but you can be proud of your starting point.
81 - 90 - Superb
Your lifestyle choices reflect a dedicated set of choices to sustaining a healthy, happy and high performing brain. We’re impressed.
91 - 100
Exceptional. Keep this up and you might even win a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize. We salute you!