4 Simple Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy
The Three Pound Universe
The fitness of your brain depends upon your health, both emotional and physical. Keeping yourself relaxed and stress free is the best way to keep this most vital organ healthy. The three-pound supercomputer called brain is the oldest marvel of nature. It has survived numerous cycles of destruction and constructions of human civilization since ages. Even now the best super computer assembled by the latest digital assets is nowhere as creative or as resourceful as the intelligence of the ensemble of tiny neurons in the human head.
Brain is an intelligent organ that grows by interaction with the outside world. It is capable of continually adapting. Even in old age, it can grow new neurons. Although diseases frequently lead to cognitive decline, inactivity – both physical and mental – is the most common cause of age-related loss of functioning. In other words, use it or lose it.
Throughout life, your neural networks reorganize themselves in response to new stimuli and experiences. This is what stimulates brain cells to grow and connect with each other in complicated ways. This is the structural basis of your brain's memorizing power and thinking ability. As a product of its environment, your "three pound universe" is essentially an internal reflection of your interaction with the external world.
Warning - Couch Potatoes
All the labor-saving conveniences provided by technology is increasing the population of couch potatoes in the society. A sedentary lifestyle severely deteriorates vascular system, which consequently tell on physical and mental health. The increasing penetration of computers, Internet, TV, and video games along with funding cuts and public apathy is slowly pushing us towards a real health crisis. A recent survey concluded that nearly half of youngsters (12 – 21 years) do not participate in vigorous physical activity on a regular basis.
The tendency to shape itself according to experience – is the most important quality of the human brain. Plasticity is the inherent drive that creates neural networks that gives you adaptability and versatility. Without plasticity you won’t be able to survive in the fast changing world. Lack of plasticity means rigidity – rigidity of attitudes, likes and dislikes, preferences and prejudices. The best-developed human brain is most fluid and most moldable.
The Mind Body Connection
The Neuromuscular Junction
Neurons connects not only among themselves, but to muscles as well. (Otherwise you won’t be able to move any part of your body!). They connect to the muscles at a specialized structure called neuromuscular junction. Here the brain talks to the muscles through a chemical known as acetylcholine. Another chemical messenger, dopamine, fine-tunes precision of the muscular motion. Here is how deep body massage or whole body workouts gives massage to your brain also.
- 750-1000 ml (or 3 full soda cans) of blood flow through the brain every minute.
- The human brain has about 100 billion neurons. Diameter of a neuron is between 4 to 100 microns.
- Once a human reaches the age of 35, he/she will start losing approximately 7,000 brain cells a day. The cells will never be replaced.
- From all the oxygen that a human breathes, twenty percent goes to the brain – 6% is used by the white matter and 94% by the gray matter.
- Your brain is move active and thinks more at night than during the day.
- It is not possible to tickle yourself. The cerebellum, a part of the brain, warns the rest of the brain that you are about to tickle yourself. Since your brain knows this, it ignores the resulting sensation.
- How much does human brain think? An average 70,000 thoughts per day.
- 89.06% people write with their right hand, 10.6% with their left and 0.34% with either hand.
4 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy
The health of your brain vitally depends upon your mental and physical health. Physical health means well nourished muscles, bones and organs as well as strong immune system. Mental health vitally depends on your emotional health. It implies freedom from emotional wounds, set of healthy attitudes and beliefs, and a relaxed and confident mind.
1. Whole Body Workout
If you ever thought how physical exercises are going to help the brain think about the neuromuscular junctions described above. Fitness boot camps where you do a variety of body weight exercises are ideal – your aim is not to develop more muscles but to work through what you already have. Doing a lot of yoga postures briskly is another good alternative. An open outdoor space is ideal so that you can take in plenty of oxygen – a healthy dose of oxygen with blood supply is rejuvenating for brain cells.
There is no evidence that the tongue is connected to the brain.
- Frank Tyger
Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habit of thinking.
- Albert Einstein
The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.
- George Jessel
I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.
- Arthur Hays Sulzberger
This website is the brainchild of my brainchild, Ryan. It is my brain-grandchild.
- Michael Scott
What do you think?
Brain and Mind are just the same thing.
2. Break Your Routine
Falling in the rut (and living there!) is the best way to disrespect your brain. Doing the same things over and over again in the same routine way is adding further insult to disrespect. Doing things in non-routine ways challenges the existing neural network to perform and stimulates creation of new connections. So keep challenging your brain to learn new skills, particularly those you have never tried before.
However, it does not mean that you start walking backwards or start breathing from the mouth and plug your nose!!
There are sane ways to stimulate and challenge your brain. Here are some ideas:
- Try controlling the mouse or TV remote from the other hand,
- Try combing your hair without looking into the mirror or comb using the other hand,
- Switch hand to hold fork and knife and eat,
- Brush your teeth using the other hand,
- Try writing or painting with the other hand,
- Shop at a new grocery store,
- If you normally walk at a slow pace, try walking briskly,
- Take a different route to your office,
- Join a dance class if you can’t dance,
- Can you play guitar? No, start learning. Yes, learn flute or drum.
- Solve puzzles, play chess and brain-games. And so on.
If you felt uncomfortable or awkward don’t worry – that’s how you feel when the brain is learning. When you are doing things habitually, brain goes into neutral. You can invent more such activities, the idea is to do things that force you to break from the routine.
When you do such non-routine activities, apart from feeling awkward you will discover another vital thing – you become consciously aware of what you are doing. You can’t afford not to pay attention if, for example, you are writing with the hand you are not used to. Developing this awareness and sustaining makes you alert and "live".
3. Develop Mindfulness
Mindfulness or mindful awareness is the basic tool for any self-improvement. You can't change anything if don’t “know” what is happening? This “knowing” is important – it is awareness, attentiveness or mindfulness. This is opposite of “absent mindedness”. Developing this faculty of mind automatically helps coming out of the habit of doing things habitually or mechanically.
The traditional way is to practice mindfulness meditation. You can practice meditating on breathing – the natural breathing. It is a very simple exercise that anyone can do. All you have to do is just observe your natural breathing without regulating or changing it in anyway. For learning it more systematically, you may join a 10-day Vipassana Meditation camp of Vipassana International Academy. These free camps can teach you a lot about life and yourself and help you develop healthy attitudes as well.
Warning: Mindfulness is a simple concept - in fact, too simple!!. Yet it is a profound technique that is even being used in prisons around the world.
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
- Albert Einstein
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
- William James
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.
- Steven Wright
I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy next to me.
- Woody Allen
Why is it when we talk to God we’re praying, but when God talks to us, we’re schizophrenic?
- Lily Tomlin
4. Use Brainwave Technology for Brain Development
This is a recent development that is fast picking up and gives you all round and wholesome benefits. Repeated listening to low frequency entrainment audios leads to a mind with heightened awareness. With this awakened mind, you begin to perceive things from a different angle and with new wholesome meaning.
Your entire body becomes charged with a new energy and vitality. Many people also report a significant increase in the sex drive. You are renewed, more alert, and are highly confident – without the pullbacks of the usual fears and anxieties. This enlightened state of awareness is significantly different from the previous “limited mind” which could only do few things in limited ways. So, you have a “new self” now.
What causes the feeling of high and peak experiences? The neuroscientists say that the euphoria or 'high' you experience is caused by the release of endorphins in the brain, which is far more powerful than morphine.
Brain Hemispheric Integration
Studies have shown that people suffering from high stress, anxiety attacks, and insomnia have their left and the right hemispheres functioning out of sync. In other words, their brains are highly lateralized and are not using the full capacity of the full brain. Accessing deeper states of consciousness and lowering brainwave frequencies directly correlate with higher levels of whole brain functioning.
Regular listening to brainwave entrainment audios have been known to increase brain hemisphere integration through creation of new neural pathways between the two hemispheres. In addition, the low frequency entrainment audios also promote release of human growth hormone that decrease with age and other chemicals that promote relaxation and stress relief. Include stress relief and meditation audios in your routine.