Growing New Brain Cells: The Art of Neurogenesis

Our brains grow new cells every single day!

The importance of neurogenesis is discussed below, as well as what you can do to make the most of this exciting phenomenon.

NeuroScientist Sandrine Thuret - NeuroGenessis


What is Neurogenesis?
Neurogenesis is the growth or creation (genesis) of neurons (neuro).

From the time we are born until about the age of 28, neurogenesis occurs at a rapid rate. These new neurons set the stage for how we see the world and how our brain makes new connections – in other words, the way in which our brains are wired.

Until recently, scientists believed that neurogenesis does not occur in adults after this age and that is the view most of us adopted while growing up. This is simply not true.

The adult brain does indeed grow new neurons, all the time and every day. If we did not grow neurons and make new connections, we would never learn anything new or hold a memory of the things we already know. Even the aging brain produces new neurons on a daily basis, yet the rate of production becomes slower.

4 Quick Benefits Of Neurogenesis
The Hippocampus is one of the main areas of the brain where neurogenesis occurs constantly. It is estimated that we create ±700 new neurons in the Hippocampus every day.

Improving your ability for neurogenesis will improve the functioning of this area of your brain, which comes with a few noticeable benefits:

1. Improved mood
From a neurological perspective, depression equates the inability to grow new neurons in the Hippocampus.

As stated above in the video, the majority of patients with chronic depression also have difficulty with neurogenesis. It follows on naturally that promoting neurogenesis will reverse depression and enhance our overall mood.

The Hippocampus also happens to be involved in regulating our mood, emotions and how we perceive the world.

We need neurons to experience emotions and to feel good. Neurons work by sending signals to our brain and body that allow for those feel-good chemicals to be made. If we have damaged neurons or a lack of neurons firing off connections in this area, we will effectively stop ourselves from feeling anything.

2. Memory
In studies quoted above, impairing neurogenesis in the Hippocampus interfered with memory.

The Hippocampus is responsible for short-term memory and holding in information that pertains to us on a day-to-day basis. It is also involved in spatial recognition, helping us to remember how to navigate through known territories, like the city you live in.

Short-term memory and neurogenesis play roles in helping our brains to identify the subtle differences between doing the same thing yesterday and today, disallowing memories to become confused. This is particularly crucial in Alzheimer’s Disease, where neurogenesis is impaired, and any sequence of memories they recall becomes confused.

Not only will neurogenesis keep all these parts of our working memory intact, but it will improve the quality of our memories regarding length and details.

3. Intelligence
Many new connections form in the brain due to the neurogenesis occurring in the Hippocampus. This works hand in hand with learning, as we need more neurons and connections to take in new information.

However, the Hippocampus does not operate separately from the rest of your brain. It is constantly feeding signals back and forth between several areas of the brain, such as the pre-frontal cortex.

In this way, neurogenesis is intimately involved with improving your intelligence level with an enhanced capacity for logical reasoning, creative expression, self-control, learning new skills and memory.

4. Longevity
When one looks at the aging brain, it becomes clear that neurogenesis is slowed down.

This becomes ever more obvious in the case of Alzheimer’s Disease and other common ailments associated with aging. Connections inside the aging brain suffer from the lack of neurogenesis until ultimately the brain withers away to nothing.

This is because nerve cells do not last forever and also ultimately why we should be focused on making new ones!

Enhanced neurogenesis will allow for your brain to work for longer which will, therefore, increase your lifespan.

5 Ways To Enhance The Growth of New Brain Cells
When given enough sustenance, stimulation and protection, the brain begins to flourish.

The following five actions will do just that and allow for neurogenesis to occur.

1. A Balanced Diet
The brain needs adequate sustenance to grow new brain cells and to make new connections. This sustenance comes from eating a balanced diet.

Your diet can be divided up into three different sections to help you power your brain:

Nutrients

The best advice for eating a balanced diet is to adhere to a rainbow principle.

In other words, use the color (and flavor) of different foods as a way to get in the variety you need. Frozen berries or superfood supplements are an excellent way to add more variety to your eating habits.

Prioritize green leafy foods in your diet first, as these contain the most minerals and vitamins, which forms the backbone of your brain’s nutrition.

You should be eating these more than anything else in the day, but if you lack the time, a green powder supplement can make all the difference!

Foods rich in Sulfur activate our ability to detox and provide us with more energy, which is necessary for neurogenesis to occur properly. These include foods from the cabbage family, the onion family, and the mushroom family.

Fats

Our brain needs fats to build nerve cells and to protect them.

Without the right fats, we would also not be able to absorb all the nutrition above. Short chain fatty acids that have not been altered or degraded are considered the right fats for health.

It is essential to have the right balance of Omega-3 Fish Oils for the brain. Try to eat fish high in fats like salmon 2-3 times a week or consider getting an Omega-3 supplement.

Extra virgin coconut oil is ideal for cooking and has a high smoking point, meaning it can be heated without causing too much damage.
Olive oil is the king of all raw oils, helping to protect your brain and keeping those nerve cells in tact for longer.

Protein

We get our protein from meats, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts and a few vegetables (like aubergines). All of these contain helpful fatty acids and nutrients which encourage brain growth and muscle development.

For the brain to thrive, opt for grass-fed free-range meat and try to (once again) eat a variety. Organ meats, red meat, fish and plant protein should all be consumed in turns throughout the week for the best results.

2. Intermittent Fasting & Caloric Restriction
Science has proven that restricting your caloric intake as well as spreading it out across the course of the day will improve neurogenesis.

Caloric restriction has multiple benefits too. The Ketogenic Diet is based on this principle and has been proven to activate the BDNF pathway of the brain. This extends our lifespan and gives us more available energy. Eating less often also enhances this phenomenon.

For better neurogenesis, eat smaller meals at more frequent intervals and cut down on the number of calories you consume overall.

Starch, sugar and many refined foods have a high level of calories. These foods have also been linked to reduced neurogenesis as well as decreased satiety, nutritional absorption and multiple disorders that detract from our lifespans. Avoid these.

3. Exercise
Exercising has been shown to enhance neurogenesis!

Rats who ran on wheels had on average about 60% more neurons in their brains than those who lived sedentary lifestyles.

Using our bodies also uses our neurons and encourages the brain to form new connections. At the same time, it oxygenates the body which in turn provides more energy that the brain can use to make these new connections and grow new brain cells.

4. Learning New Skills
Every time you learn something new, you are taking control of your neurogenesis. This new skill requires new neurons, connections and new information to dock.

Playing a musical instrument, learning how to draw or paint, or starting up a new hobby are all ways to stimulate neurogenesis!

Try some art therapy and explore pure color as a means of stimulating the neural connections in your brain.
5. Avoid Toxins & Stress
The brain will flourish when you give it sustenance and stimulation, but it also needs to be protected from your environment.

In today’s world, the environment around us is full of toxins and pollutants, which we breathe in, apply topically and ingest all the time. These toxins, in combination with stress, start to eat away at our brains resources, slowing down and ultimately preventing neurogenesis.

There is no escaping all of it, but there is a lot we can do to avoid most of it:

Start with replacing your food with non-GMO organic food and avoid all the chemicals, toxins, artificial additives, and heavy metals added to refined food.

Move on to replace your cosmetics and self-care products with organic ones to minimize polluting your system.

Filter your water, both what you drink and bathe in.

This water filter works up to 15 times more efficient than standard water filtration systems, removing large amounts of metals such as Lead 99.1%, Chromium 97.2%, Copper 95.2%, Fluoride 93.5% and Chlorine 96.6% just to name a few.

Take time to deal with stress. Meditation and time out for relaxation are very important for healthy living!



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