Three Essential Needs For Your Brain
Exercise Your Brain
Fall in Love With Your Brain
When your brain works well, you work well. Your brain is commander-in-chief of your body. It's involved in everything you do. So, doesn't it make sense to be good to your brain?
One way to show your brain some much-needed love and attention is to provide it with the following three essential needs:
The Brain Needs Physical and Mental Activity
Your brain loves a challenge. It requires both a physical and mental workout in some form each and every day. The brain is constantly changing. It grows and retracts, it strengthens and weakens making it possible for you to learn from your experiences, adapt to new situations and store unlimited memories.
This brain of yours is an energy hog with one hundred billion cells. Just imagine! Be generous with your exercise routine because regular exercise improves the brain's ability to think.
Walking is highly beneficial, free, and can be done in short intervals and at your own pace. But do be regular and consistent. Exercising your body will help to keep your brain sharp, healthy, and functioning at its very best
Learning to play a musical instrument, speak a different language, paint or even work on a puzzle will supply your brain with mental challenges. Any kind of brain training games will help to stimulate critical parts of the brain. Even games that seem simple and easy will bring great effects.
Tai Chai And Me
I recently joined a Tai Chi class. Let me tell you...this is not for the faint of heart. For one and a half hours I tried my best to keep up with the rest of the class. Even going at my own pace I barely made it. But I'm looking forward to my next class and oxygenating the cells in my body. This includes my brain.
Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a non-competitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.
While you're giving your body a good work out, your brain is improving in the mental department. Exercise makes the brains neurons stronger and healthier. And even stretching helps to release stress which impacts the memory centers of your brain.
Foods To Feed And Fuel Your Brain
In the same way the body can't function without the nutrients it needs, neither can the brain. Our brains need nourishment and like the body, it must have proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It must also have anti-oxidant rich fruits like berries and vegetables to fuel, support and preserve its precious neurons.
- Blueberries - Studies have confirmed that blueberries show increased motor skills in rats. And all types of berries contain high levels of antioxidants that protect brain cells from damage. Yes, a healthy dose of berries regularly can protect the brain from aging.
- Avocados (my favorite) are almost as good as blueberries for the brain.
- Foods that are rich in omega fatty acids like salmon, walnuts and even kiwi fruit can give your brain a boost.
- Whole grains such as oatmeal is wonderful for the cardiovascular system as grains promote good flow to the heart and the brain. For better concentration and focus, the brain needs energy for fuel. Healthy grains will supply this energy.
- Vitamin K found in broccoli provides cognitive function.
- A handful of pumpkin seeds a day provides your daily amount of zinc which enhances your memory and thinking skills.
I don't know about you but I'm trading in my peanuts for pumpkin seeds.
Your Brain Needs Oxygen
When the brain has low oxygen levels in the blood the brain can be impaired and a stroke can occur. Oxygenating the brain well is required to promote brain healing and brain use.
The National Association for Childhood Development describes the pulse oximeter:
" When we go to the doctor they often clip a piece of equipment on our finger called a pulse oximeter. It gives them a general idea of how much oxygen is in our blood. It is so important that it is often referred to as the fifth vital sign. (Vital signs are body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.) The pulse oximeter tells them how well your blood cells are saturated with oxygen."
I recently experienced a problem with my oxygen level reaching a low level during the time that I sleep. This is what I have learned as a result of this problem:
- The brain uses about three times as much oxygen as muscles in the body do.
- Brain cells are very sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels and don’t survive or function well very long without it. (I experienced lethargy throughout the day.)
- The brain is made up of very special cells called neurons, and each of them can do the job of any of the other neurons in the brain. That process gives us the ability to relearn most functions using different parts of the brain. So if we have an injury or a sick part of our brain, we can teach our brain to restructure and control body parts and function with other areas of the brain. That is called brain plasticity.
So, now that you realize the importance of oxygen to the brain is, what are some ways to make sure you get enough oxygen?
Getting Enough Oxygen to the Brain
We need to do as much as possible to get the best circulation of blood to our brain. Let's check out our breathing for starters:
- If we breathe through our mouth, we don't rebreathe the stored carbon dioxide and nitric oxide that circulates blood to the brain. Our brain cells are not being oxygenated. This is exactly what happened to me with my low oxygen levels during sleep. I learned that my "dry mouth", which caused me to reach for water during the night, was caused by my sleeping with my mouth open.
- The carbon dioxide and nitric oxide open up blood vessels in the brain so we can get proper oxygen levels in our brain.
- Breathe from the belly and not from the chest. Thankfully, our bodies automatically use the diaphragmatic muscle when we sleep. But most of us, upon awakening, begin what is called "chest breathing." Learn to breathe from the diaphragm.
The Brain Ages Faster Than The Body
A sharp, calm, high-performance mind needs a fit and healthy brain to sustain itself throughout the day and for the rest of your life. Brain performance data shows that the brain's information processing speed declines significantly faster than the body's physical reaction time or reflexes.
This suggests that our brains may indeed be aging faster than our bodies. *Joshua Reynolds
Another way of looking at this is how at age 60 or even 70 you might have tight abs and firm thighs, yet not able to remember the names of your loved ones. The late U.S. President Ronald Reagan broke his hip at age 89 and in spite of Alzheimer's disease his hip mended like a much younger man's.
Brain, Inflammation, Stroke
Mind Games For Your Brain
The internet is filled with enjoyable games to play. While you're having fun and taking a 'brain break,' why not include some of these games I've lined up for you with the following links:
Any kind of brain training games will help to stimulate critical parts of the brain. Even games that seem simple and easy will bring great effects.
Important Points to remember:
- There are three essential needs for the brain
- The brain ages faster than the body
- Include salmon, blueberries, whole grains and broccoli in your diet.
- Play internet brain games daily to exercise your brain
- Walking, stretching and working out is good for the brain.
The brain is the boss of our body and it loves to learn. In fact, it's designed for continual growth and education. Our brains develop high levels of comprehension well into our late years.
Make your life a social one and make sure your friends keep a positive attitude.
Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.
Edward de Bono
Resources - Helpful and Useful Links
Using the three essential needs for the brain which do you need to improve?
© 2013 Audrey Hunt