The brain is a remarkable organ that truly makes us what we are. Some scientists like to mention opposable thumbs as what separated us from the beasts, and others mention bipedalism (walking upright). But our brains have the ability to plan, and interpret, and abstract. It allows us to learn how to things we were not necessarily meant to do, such as sing like birds, and things no other animal ever attempted, such as dancing. But high performance comes with a price, and the brain is the most demanding and complex of all our organs, the lengthy colon and sturdy skeleton notwithstanding.
In “Maximize Your Quality of Life,” Tom Matt dedicates several chapters to the physiology of the brain, and several more to how exercise and practice can enhance its abilities to think. But this article will be an abridged version to entice you to learn more. When it comes to your brain, the more you know, the better off you will be.
The brain craves glucose and cholesterol. The glucose is its fuel, and the cholesterol helps the myelin (the nerve fiber sheathing) improve the ability of electrical signals to transport. In a sense, we think what we eat. You can improve your brain’s ability to think, recall, and process information by eating a balanced, nutritious diet. That won’t necessarily make you smarter, unless you do something useful with your improved capacity.
Blood Sugar Balance
One of the trickier things to achieve nowadays is a diet that does not include too much sugar. That matters because our bodies have a mechanism to manage the blood sugar levels. When it is too high, insulin is released, and the sugar is moved off to fat cells. If you ever feel dim witted, unable to think, or sleepy after a meal (and who hasn’t?) it’s likely because your previous meal triggered your insulin. That lack of blood sugar sends a very clear signal to your brain: have the body eat more food. It can be a vicious cycle.
It’s also tempting to eat “diet” food that is low in cholesterol. Too much LDL is considered unhealthy, but if there isn’t enough available for your heart and your brain, it can cause it’s own version of pandemonium.
Waste Not Want Not
The nerve cells, synapses, and myelin covered nerve fibers will all go to waste if we don’t put them to use. In Tom’s interviews with experts on brain health, one concept stood out above all others — the best thing you can do for your brain is to challenge it with mental exercise. Physical activity not only sends oxygen and glucose for fuel, the brain activity required helps encourage the development of synaptic connections. Mental exercises as well, such as learning new things, math problems, or solving difficult problems in any field will further strengthen synaptic connections.
Will Power is But a Small Part
I have found in myself that the clarity in thinking I experience lately is what I crave the most. I now exercise and move and practice regularly not because I have a great reserve of will power that I employ to help me do what is best for me; I enjoy the activities because my brain derives benefit, and I am rewarded. I simply want to do all the things I do now. I don’t have to nag myself, and I don’t have to wonder if it’s worth it.
You Can Feel It
That may seem outlandish, and likely deserves more explanation. Our seminar series is designed to provide just that, more detail, and to answer your questions. But if you will challenge yourself both physically and mentally while offering your body the nutrition in needs, you will feel the difference. You will want more of it.