Is Your Lifestyle Making You Stupid?
Do these 3 things to boost your brain
The way we live can literally make us dumber, and lifestyle is proving to be a great predictor of future cognitive decline, or future cognitive enhancement.
There is a war being fought for our minds, our sanity, our intelligence and intellect. Many are losing this battle, particularly as we age, but there are things we can do.
We always thought we could not grow new nerve or brain cells once we reach a certain age, and we just continue on a path of slow decline. The good news is that all of that is no longer true.
I remember so many times hearing the expression ‘use your grey matter’. This was usually my mom or dad imploring me to think. It seems they had it right. The grey matter part of our brain is the hippocampus and this part of the brain linked to learning and memory.
This part of the brain is quite malleable and ‘plastic’, which is good and bad, because we can affect change, as long as the change is for the better, then it’s good.
With leaps and bounds being made in scientific areas of study like neuroplasticity, the picture is not as gloomy as we first thought, and we now know we can arrest and reverse cognitive decline.
Hormones have a profound effect on our physical health, hormones regulate physiology and behaviour. But what are hormones?
We define hormones as:
“… Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. They work slowly, over time, and affect many processes, including:
Growth and development
Metabolism — how your body gets energy from the foods you eat
There is a particular hormone that can stimulate new brain cells and delay ageing and cognitive decline.
This hormone is key to cognition. We are learning so much about a relatively new area of science called epigenetics, and hormones act as epigenetic signals.
What do hormones have to do with mental vitality?
Keep reading and you will find out.
Mental vitality and growth require energy, so it makes sense that for anything to grow, we need to ensure our bodies have the energy to grow, and this is also true for brain cell growth. So the next question is, what affects our energy? Coupled with that is the question where is energy stored for cell activities in the body?
Enter the mitochondria. These structures within a cell are the energy storehouses. This is where our hormone for mental vitality and cognition enters the game. Our hormone in question works by maintaining and preserving mitochondrial function. Leading to brain cell growth.
Now that we know there is a hormone that can assist our brain cell growth through protection and maintenance of energy stores within cells, the next question will be, how do we stimulate this hormone through everyday actions?
Glad you asked, there are three specific actions we can take to stimulate this hormone, increase our energy levels, stimulate brain cell growth and arrest cognitive decline.
The first is exercise, yes our physical exercise stimulates our cognition, and wards off cognitive decline. Gives me a new perspective, for when I watch elderly joggers pass me. I now know that they are, in fact, protecting their cognition and their bodies. From what I have read, aerobic type exercise is best. Running, cycling, swimming. There must be some brilliant triathletes out there, no doubt.
The second action to maintaining healthy cognition through stimulation of the hormone required is intermittent fasting.
There is some powerful scientific evidence on the effects of intermittent fasting for 12 to 48 hours. Intermittent fasting has a powerful effect on brain health including Alzheimer's and also assists other conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
The third action is diet, quantity and quality are important. Nutrients like flavonoids from berries like blueberries and other brightly coloured berries, phytonutrients from leafy green vegetables, all are excellent. Healthy fats are also important for cognitive health, like Omega-3 fish oils from oily fish, like cod and mackerel, herring and sardines, or if you don;t enjoy eating fish, then fish oil supplements are good.
Another powerful dietary compound is resveratrol, found in red wine and red grapes. It is a potent antioxidant and contributes to cognition, but be aware that alcohol has the opposite effect, so one glass a night.
For the greatest effect, do the three above actions together, the synergistic effect is far better for cognitive power.
These three actions work by having the greatest effect on stimulating the hormone that maintains and preserves the mitochondria, which then translates into more energy and neurogenesis, and the growth of brain cells, (as in grey matter) and thus the greater ability to learn and memorise.
Also, very important is a fourth factor, sleep, ensuring you get enough sleep each night.
Beware, though, the negative factors that lead to grey matter decline.
These are stress, saturated fats, sugar and lack of sleep.
Our lifestyles have a profound effect on our brain power.
So recapping, add a diet rich in leafy greens and berries, a little red wine or red grapes, oily fish.Do exercise like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming, and intermittent fasting, while getting enough rest and avoiding sugars and saturated fats. These should all have a positive effect on your cognition now and in the future.