Before we discuss the three things your brain needs let’s look at how badly your brain needs them and how important they are to your survival.
Your brain weighs only about 3 pounds which represents about 2% of your total body weight. Amazingly though it consumes 25% of the glucose that your body converts and 25% of the oxygen you breathe in. Does that seem a little unbalanced maybe even selfish to you? It does to me at first glance but the truth is your brain earns every bit of energy it takes away from the rest of the body.
Imaging running up a flight of stairs; unless you are a trained athlete you will quickly run out of oxygen and begin to pant. When panting isn’t enough to keep you running you have to stop and recover- let the lungs catch. What if that happened to the brain?
You think and think and concentrate until your brain can’t keep up and you have to stop. Your brain runs every other part of the body; not only could you not think, your heart would stop pumping, your lungs stop breathing, your eyes stop seeing, your ears stop hearing and your skeletal -muscular system stop working and you would collapse. If you had been thinking about how to get away from an approaching tyrannosaurs you would be in a serious mess.
So accolades to our brains for being able to work 24×7, multitasking billions of details and orchestrating our beings for years. Now the issue becomes how many years?
Science is in agreement that our brainpower peaks in the mid twenties then starts to decline. Research also shows that at age 55 our brain power has been reduced by 50% of what it was in the mid twenties. The decline continues and accelerates, and by the time we are eighty 33% of us have been diagnosed with some form of dementia, like Alzheimer’s or AAMI. At age 85 the percentage increases to 50%.
Because medical science is letting us live longer brain decline is becoming more prevalent and more of a problem. We have to start targeting the brain with what it needs to stay vital and functional our entire lives not just until retirement. So what does your brain require to stay in the game?
Relief- it is important for your brain to wind down and rest. Cortisol is a chemical your body produces when under stress; it is deadly to the brain. When you don’t let the brain escape from the pressure cooker on a regular basses the stress hormone builds up and the neurons and neurotransmitters break down. The brain will compensate for the damage buy dipping into reserves but with out a dipstick to measure what’s left your brain can and will fail. You would think that rest, and resting the brain specifically would be easy but it takes effort.
Exercise- use it or loose it. Research has proven that the more you stimulate and use your brain the better it becomes and the longer it lasts. Games and puzzles that make you think are great but don’t let them become routine or you will defeat the purpose. Creative tasks like quilting or building bird houses force you to think. Learning to play a musical instrument, learning to dance or fly fish are great. Things that are new and different forcing you to think and figure things out will build and preserve your brain for years.
Nutrition- the brain needs nutrition, and it is becoming more obvious each year that what we feed the brain needs to be brain specific nutrition. Fish really is brain food, so are broccoli and brussels sprout, nuts and beans; not your typical Mickey Ds lunch fair. It really is hard to eat everything you need to maintain mental and physical health. Even if you start today on a brain specific diet will your body ever be able to process enough nutrition to maintain your brain let alone restore it?