Here are 3 rules to build a better brain with an added bonus of how to take it to the next level!
1. Move that Body! Yep, the general rule of a body in motion tends to stay in motion also works with the brain. Movement is food for the brain. Tiny receptors in the joints send powerful stimulating input up to the cortical tissue where it activates and charges the brain cells called neurons. With each firing, these neurons get stronger and more efficient.
Any form of movement will work. Even movement when it seems stagnant. I'm referring to practices like yoga and meditation. During these activities it seems like not much is happening because there's little motion to be seen. In actuality, a great deal of activity is happening within the cells and especially up in the brain. Walking, bike riding, running, weight lifting all serve as brain stimulation
NEXT LEVEL: Alter the workouts and routines. You can get even more bang for your buck by consistently changing your routines. Keeping the muscles doing different things in different orders and at different levels all changes the signals moving to your brain. Each new signal is another form of fuel. Keep it new, fresh, and engaging and your brain will be rewarded.
2. Eat Fat. Most neurons in the body are wrapped in a sheath of fat called the Myelin. Myelin serves to insulate the nerve and speed its processing and movement of information. More myelin means quicker connections and faster response times, something we all wish for and hope continues throughout our lifetime.
This is crucial because these healthy nerves wrapped in fat block or inhibit nerve fibers carrying messages of pain. Pain fibers are slow (relatively speaking) while myelin wrapped fibers are fast. With healthy fibers, they outrace the pain fibers and even block them in their pathway. It's called the pain gate and you use it whenever you bump your shin on the coffee table and then rub it furiously.
This same speed critical in daily life. At work and need to be at the top of your game? Having healthy myelin wrapped nerves transmits info and connects those neurons extremely fast getting you greater work in less time.
NEXT LEVEL: The best type of fat for this process is Omega 3s. Great sources for these omega 3 fats include salmon (eat once per week), egg yolk, flax meal, and grass fed beef. If these sources are hard for you to get then supplement using a quality brand from your local health store.
3. Read and Play: Watching our daughter play makes it easy to see how just having fun helps us learn. We're active, engaged, creative, positive, curious, and exploring. The same goes with reading. A fiction tale activates the creative right side of our brain filling it with imagery and activating our imagination. Different stories from different times takes this even further challenging us in a new way.
So much of our day is spent grinding through school, work, to-do lists, and responsibilities. These are mostly left brain activities. Reading and playing help stimulate the right side of the brain restoring balance and giving some needed rest to the left hemisphere. The downtime itself is incredibly helpful and finding balance makes life more enjoyable while providing brain boosting input.
NEXT LEVEL: Much like with movement, the brain loves new things. Try a different genre of book, take a class in something you've always been interested in but never done, join a rec soccer or softball team, or just run along with your kids on the playground. Each new activity and experience fuels your brain and creates new circuits. Both crucial elements of prolonged brain health.
Just 3 general rules can drastically improve the health of your brain. Get moving, eat some healthy fats, and spend time each day reading and playing. Even small amounts of time given to these basic concepts goes a long way in building a better, healthier, happier brain.