Tips to grow your brain

I’ve long been interested in neuroplasticity (how the brain structure can actually be changed) and neurogenesis (how new neurons can be created in the brain) so I read many articles on the latest neuroscience research and discoveries.

Building new neurons and neuropathways can act as safeguard against the ageing diseases like Dementia. Just like our bodies need to move to stay strong and flexible, so too, does the brain need its workout.

For example people who can speak more than one language seem to be able to delay Dementia by several years. This appears to be down to the switching from one language to the other. This is yet another reason why I need to keep practising my French, although I wonder if mixing the two in the same sentence, known as Franglais, might be a step too far!

Neuroscientists have also found that the following habits can help the brain build new neurons: eating food rich in omegas (3,6 and 9), caffeine, blueberries, sex and even eating foods that really need chewing. Yes I know I dropped ‘sex’ amongst food but after all they are very much linked!

As an Anxiety Recovery Coach I know that in order to distract the brain away from anxiety, the Primary Motor Cortex must focus elsewhere. In doing so it will help building new neurons, and if done often enough, will ultimately change the brain structure.

When you think about it, anything new we’ve had to learn was doing exactly that. It’s just people tend to get stuck in a rut as they get older instead of expanding their skills and being challenged by all kinds of new things.

In his book Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human  Kent University professor Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid shows that running outdoors is best for boosting the brain. It seems that negotiating that sudden pile of rocks in the middle of the path or a tree stump in the way, helps create new brain cells to make information uptake easier. A protein called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)  is released and this is great for helping new brain cells grow.

Learning other physical skills like dancing or mountaineering will also help so keep trying new things in your life, get out of a rut and start building those new neurons, it can only be a good thing on so many levels!