Our brain is the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence. It interprets the senses, initiates body movement, and controls our behavior. We have learned a lot about the brain, although most scientists agree that what we know about the brain is the “tip of the iceberg.”
#1- The Human Brain is Thirsty! The average adult brain is about the size of a cantaloupe, weighs just less than three pounds, and is described as having the consistency of tofu. Our brain is made of water, fat, and cholesterol. Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, lack of mental clarity, stress, and sleep issues. So, is it reasonable to accept that we must keep ourselves hydrated? According to the Women’s Brain Health Initiative, staying hydrated boosts brain power,
- When the brain is not performing at its best due to dehydration, we can lose the ability to concentrate or experience mood swings.
- Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and long-term memory recall because water works as a nutrient for our brain.
- A study from the University of East London noted a greater improvement in attention span for people who drank more water.
Q: What can we do to avoid dehydration?
A: Possible answers:
- Six-eight glasses of water per day
- When taking medication, start with a full glass (it helps you remember you need to drink more water)
- Take sips-you don’t have to drink a full glass all at once
- Replace a dry snack with a low-fat cup of soup or other foods like fruit
- Flavor your water with a lime or lemon or your favorite tea
- Coffee and tea can count, but experts recommend limiting your intake of caffeinated drinks
#2-What’s Good For The Body is Good For The Brain
While only containing about 2% of your body’s mass, your brain burns about 17% of your body’s energy and 20% of the oxygen in your blood, producing about 10-23 watts of power when awake – enough to light a bulb.
Exercise helps the brain reorganize and boost willpower.
- What’s good for the body is good for the brain. Scientists believe there is a link between exercise and mental alertness, in a similar way that happiness and activity are related.
- Exercise feeds the brain with oxygen and blood flow.
- Exercise can result in an elevation in cognitive performance. Compared to couch potatoes, those who exercise regularly outperform in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, and problem-solving. They also tend to be happier, less stressed, and less anxious.
Q: What forms of exercise are good for our brains?
A: Possible answers:
- Moving naturally- gardening, tending to animals (walking the dog), helping another person
- Aerobic Exercise-walking, jogging, swimming, cycling
- Weight Training
- Yoga-new movements, new brain pathways, moments of reflection
- Tai-Chi-new movements, new brain pathways, moments of reflection
- Dancing generates the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin and provides opportunities for reflection and even recall of memories.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise five to seven days weekly. What else fuels our brain? Sugar! Harvard Medical School says, “the brain cannot be without sugar.” Although the brain needs glucose, too much of this energy source can be bad.
#3- We Use Our Whole Brain
It’s a myth that we only use 10% of our brains at any time. Neurologists confirm that our brain is always active.
We once believed that humans used only 10% of their brain capacity at any time, suggesting that if we could use the other 90 percent, we might unlock amazing abilities. It remains unclear where this myth originated and how it spread so fast. With the advancement of technology, we have learned that nothing could be farther from the truth.
The idea of tapping into unclaimed brainpower has always been very attractive.
According to Medical News Today, “brain scans have shown that we use almost all of our brain all of the time even when we’re asleep — though patterns of activity, and the intensity of that activity, might differ depending on what we’re doing and what state of wakefulness or sleep we are in.”
“Even when you’re engaged in a task, the rest of your brain is occupied doing other things, which is why, for example, the solution to a problem can emerge after you haven’t been thinking about it for a while, or after a night’s sleep, and that’s because your brain is constantly active.”
#4- An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks
Is the statement “an old dog can’t learn new tricks” true? No, it's not. Our brains never stop working. Scientists once told us that once you hit adulthood, your brain has lost all ability to form new neural connections. This ability, called plasticity, was once considered confined to infancy and childhood.
Current studies now show evidence of human neurons making new connections into adulthood.
Q: What are the benefits of plasticity or neuroplasticity? Brain neuroplasticity has many benefits, allowing our brain to adapt and change.
A: Possible answers:
- The ability to learn new things
- The ability to enhance existing cognitive capabilities
- Recovery from strokes and traumatic brain injuries
- Strengthening areas where a function is lost or has declined
- Improvements that can boost brain fitness
#5- Your Brain Is a Random Thought Generator
In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research on human thoughts. They discovered that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts daily.
Here is the scary part: 95% of those thoughts are the same repetitive thoughts as the day before, and about 80% are negative. Can we eliminate negative thoughts? Absolutely-there are things we can do every day to spend more time focusing on the positive.
- Identify what is bothering you-write down your negative thoughts.
- If you can’t identify what is bothersome, connect with a counselor, minister, or psychologist to help define the problem.
- Figure out if there is a way you can resolve these issues, and if so, create a plan.
- Some issues are out of your control. Identify those and figure out how to best maneuver a resolution.
- Plan your day-write in your Gratitude calendar or journal; highlight the scheduled activities or events.
- Stay involved with other people, and don’t isolate yourself.