I am sure that there are days when we would all like to have a better brain. Unfortunately, unlike many other organs we have in our bodies we are not yet able to transplant a new brain when the one we have isn’t operating at its peak. So that leaves us with the challenge of taking the best care of our brains as we possibly can, when we can. Which is now. We have had many advances in science in the last decade and now understand much more about the brain than we used to. We know that the brain continues to build new cells and pathways right up until the day we die. So, for those of us who may have misspent our youth experimenting with drinking and marijuana this is great news – all those brain cells we killed can be replaced – hopefully with more responsible brain cells 😊
What is Brain Fitness? It is the state of having a quick, efficient and flexible cognitive processing, likely a consequence of an increased number of neurons, functional connection between neurons and processing speed. Using brain fitness, you can continue to learn well into old age, develop new skills and abilities and alter your behavior and performance.
I said you could rebuild new brain cells, but it doesn’t happen automatically – there are things that we need to do to encourage and facilitate the growth of new brain cells and pathways. There are 3 key ways to keep your brain fit which I am going to touch on today.
The single most powerful thing you can do to keep your brain fit is physical exercise. Scientists have proven that cell replacement doubles or triples through movement. Movement has more impact on your brain fitness doing crosswords, sudoku, Luminosity or any other passive activity. If you think about babies, they explore the world around them through movement – it is our first and most natural teacher yet as we age there is a tendency to move less because it is hard or painful or we are too busy to build conscious movement into our daily lives.
All physical exercise is good and will help your brain, if you really want to boost the brain through movement there are a few things to keep in mind for optimal results. Research has found that movements that integrate both sides of the body in a coherent manner and equally activate both right and left motor and sensor cortexes as well cross the midline of the body are optimal. (Brain Gym and Me- Dr. Paul Dennison).
Movement is the silver bullet to brain fitness and if you remember my previous blog it is also the sliver bullet to physical health. Do you see the trend that is developing here?
Along with conscious movement you also need to feed your brain as you would your body for optimal health, Coincidentally the same food that keeps your body healthy keeps your brain healthy. Food is more than nutrients for our body it informs the DNA in our bodies what to do. If you could ask your genes to say what kinds of foods are best for your health, they would have a simple answer: one-third protein, one-third fat and one-third carbohydrates. That’s what recent genetic research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows is the best recipe to limit your risk of most lifestyle-related diseases. Avoid processed food as it is low in nutrient value, make greens your best friend and banish sugar from your world just for starters and you will feel a difference.
The 3rd component of brain fitness is mindset or what thoughts you hold in your brain and what you tell your brain. Your mindset determines how you will interact with the world around us. If you focus your attention on the negative and on scarcity versus abundance, then your brain becomes a source of negativity for you and the lens through which you view the world. If you focus your attention on the positive and abundance versus scarcity your brain lights up with positivity and the lens through which you view the world is a sparkly and positive view.. Each day we recycle about 70% of the thoughts good and bad that we had the previous day and as we recycle them the truer they become. Learn to recycle the good ones .
In summary your fit brain needs movement , nutrition and a positive outlook . What have you have you done for your brain lately?
If you want to learn more about neuroplasticity check out this video.
If you would like to learn more about fitness for your brain come to my Active Aging Essential Brain workshop. Link to events.