Neurogenesis, or the process of increasing the brain cells, is a fairly new discovery. For the longest time, medical science believed that brain cells, once destroyed, can no longer regenerate, and the brain stops creating new cells. However, this is not the case, and there might be ways of improving brain power through neurogenesis.
Can you increase your brain cells?
Most of the cells in our body regenerate relatively quickly.
For example, whenever we have a cut or a scrape on our skin, the body works quickly to repair our skin, and after a few days, any cuts or scrapes that we might have had are fully healed.
Another example is our liver, which can fully regenerate itself if it suffers damage. In fact, a person can just have about 40-60% of their liver remaining and it can fully regenerate over time.
In contrast, we used to believe that our brain cells no longer regenerate once we become adults. Coupled with the fact that neurons die off naturally as we grow older, the prospect of not having new brain cells can be worrying.
However, according to researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, our brains produce about 700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus. It seems like such a small amount compared to the billions of neurons we have, but it’s still significant.
The hippocampus is the part of our brain responsible for our memory, learning, and emotions. This is also the part that gets affected the most by diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
This means that if we can somehow trigger neurogenesis, we might be able to restore, or at the very least, slow down cognitive decline.
How can you trigger neurogenesis?
Scientists have discovered various ways of improving our brain function, and potentially triggering neurogenesis.
Here are some of the things that you can do:
Staying active and engaging in exercise is very important when it comes to our health. And when it comes to increasing brain cells, aerobic exercise in particular was found to be very effective.
This means that exercises such as jogging, swimming, or even brisk walking can improve neurogenesis.
Researchers even found that sustained aerobic exercise worked much better compared to high-intensity exercises when it comes to increasing brain cells.
Older people in particular can greatly benefit from an active lifestyle. Not only can it help keep them strong, fit, and healthy, it also helps improve their brain function, and can mitigate the effects of cognitive decline.
Have a healthy diet
Aside from exercise, a healthy diet is also very important. A healthy diet means eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating less meat, processed foods, oils, and sugar.
In addition, foods such as blueberries and dark chocolate, which are rich in flavonoids, can help increase brain cells. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, as well as fatty fish such as tuna and salmon can also improve neurogenesis.
By focusing on eating these types of foods, you can help kickstart your brain’s ability to regenerate.
Manage your conditions
Health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, and being obese or overweight can lead to problems that affect the brain.
If you have any of these conditions, it would be best to manage them well in order to prevent these problems from getting worse. This can be done by following the tips above, as well as following your doctor’s advice regarding your conditions.
Engage in “neurobics”
Neurobics refers to brain exercises that have been found to stimulate the brain and improve memory. Researchers found that playing 3D video games in particular have been effective when it comes to improving memory performance.
Even simple tasks such as using your non-dominant hand to do things can actually improve your brain function.
Doing something spontaneous or out of the ordinary is also a form of neurobics as it engages your brain into trying to learn something new.
Lastly, reducing stress is very important when it comes to creating new brain cells. Try to avoid overworking, or stressing yourself out over little things.
Take some time to relax, take a break from work, or engage in different hobbies to take your mind off things. If you have a consenting partner, having sex can also improve your brain’s ability to regenerate neurons.
By following these tips, you should be able to maintain or even improve your brain function as you grow older.
Learn more about the brain and nervous system, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.