Although the brain functioning is extremely complex, your brain health boils down to only five areas. In this article, we’ll consider what these five areas are and what you can do to improve your brain power.
“The human brain is amazing. It functions 24 hours a day from the time we were born, and only stops when we take exam or fall in love.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey
(In every joke there is only about 10% of a joke; the rest is the naked truth.)
Our brain is our body and mind boss. It “controls most of the activities of the body, processing, integrating, and coordinating the information it receives from the sense organs, and making decisions as to the instructions sent to the rest of the body,” says Wikipedia.
The brain is susceptible to damage, disease, and infection including strokes, degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementias including Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia and clinical depression, are thought to be associated with brain dysfunctions.
Neurotransmission is a pillar of brain activity
Brain activity is made possible by the interconnections of neurons – neurotransmission. It is the process when one neuron releases molecules called neurotransmitters to send signals to another neuron. The signal received causes the neuron to initiate an action potential – an electrochemical signal or nerve impulse.
Neurotransmitters are actually chemical messengers which include dopamine, serotonin, GABA, glutamate, and acetylcholine.
Neurotransmission is essential for the process of communication between two neurons. It relies on: the availability of the neurotransmitter; the release of the neurotransmitter by one neuron; the binding of the receptor by the neurotransmitter; the functional response of another neuron; and the subsequent removal or deactivation of the neurotransmitter.
“I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.” ~ Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.
Your brain health boils down to only five areas
It is not fully understood how the human brain works and research is ongoing. The relationship between the brain and the mind is especially difficult to get, it’s still a significant challenge both philosophically and scientifically. However, we perfectly know that to keep our brain healthy, nerves, neurotransmitters, blood vessels, enzymes and hormones have to work together. Even gut bacteria affect our brainpower. But to make it short – healthy brain functioning boils down to five areas:
- Enough of oxygen
- Enough of glucose
- Good night sleep
- Psychological and emotional health
- Brain healthy food
1. You need enough of oxygen for your brain health
Your brain can’t live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. Although the human brain represents only 2% of the body weight, it receives 15% of the cardiac output and 20% of total body oxygen consumption. The brain uses about three times as much oxygen as muscles do.
Even though you can breathe normally, your brain may not be getting enough oxygen. Lack of oxygen in the brain causes poor brain function and increases the risk of vascular sclerosis, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. The brain can be hungry for oxygen for years before dementia becomes obvious.
- Walking is the best way to provide your brain with oxygen. Exercising in a gym won’t do too much good in this respect.
- If it’s possible, open the window whenever and wherever you can.
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle, practice a good posture.
- Standing up straight from time to time can increase lung capacity by 5%.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that increase your blood’s ability to transport oxygen to your brain cells.
2. Glucose is the only source of energy for brain activity
The brain consumes up to 25% of the energy used by the human body, more than any other organ. Under normal circumstances, the only source of that energy is blood glucose. Brain cells can live only a few minutes without it! When the glucose concentration is low (when a person is fasting, exercising, or having limited carbohydrate intake), the brain uses ketones for fuel with a smaller need for glucose. Very low glucose content can result in loss of consciousness.
Carbohydrates plays an active role in your blood sugar levels, so counting carbs as well as sugars is important. Brain cells can’t store energy and require a steady stream of glucose.
“My brain is like the Bermuda Triangle. Information goes in and then it’s never found again.”~ Author Unknown
3. Good night sleep for your brain health
The body physically restores and heals itself during sleep. The brain, especially, requires sleep for restoration. During sleep, most of the body’s systems are in an anabolic state, when body temperature, heart rate, and brain oxygen consumption decrease. While awake, metabolism generates reactive oxygen species, which are damaging to cells. Sleep enhances the clearance of metabolic waste products, some of which are potentially neurotoxic, from the brain and may also permit repair.
Circadian rhythm (often referred to as the circadian clock or the biological clock) controls processes that re-occur daily; it tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, and eat. The internal circadian clock promotes our regular sleep at night.
Numerous studies suggest that poor sleep is linked to many health problems including anxiety and depression . It turns out that perhaps the single biggest contributor to our collective sleep disorders is the use of different electronic gadgets (especially computer monitors) in the evening and energy-efficient light bulbs. These devices emit light of a blue wavelength, which tricks our brains into thinking that it is daytime . Blue light at night disrupts the brain’s natural circadian cycle, which is crucial for our health [3, 4]. Blue light is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with night-time.
What you can do
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day.
- If you work a night shift or have to do a computer job at night, use blue-blocking glasses, a simple and easy way to solve this problem.
“Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea.” ~ Frederick Saunders
4. Psychological and emotional health
Psychological and emotional health is extremely important for your brain proper functioning. Do whatever works for you (talk to a friend, go for a trip, read a book, watch a comedy …) to recover your mental balance. Because stress washes out many essential nutrients making your body too weak to fight back, make sure you compensate for any shortfalls with your diet.
5. Brain healthy foods
To be continued:
Your brain health boils down to only 5 areas (Part II)