“Your brain – every brain – is a work in progress. It is ‘plastic.’ From the day we’re born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining, as a function of how we use it.” Michael Merzenich
“The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together.” Kurdish Saying
 Exercise and neuroplasticity: Exercise is almost like a soothing salve for your brain. Some benefits of exercise include helping your memory and increased flow of oxygen to brain, which energizes the brain. Exercise is good for both your heart and your brain. Exercise can reduce inflammation in the brain and increase hormones circulating to your brain. For a brief overview on the benefits of exercise to your brain, click here.
Neuroplasticity is the ability to re-draw, re-wire the connections in your brain. What this means is that neuroplasticity is a concerted attempt of neurons to compensate for brain injury/disease. Neuroplasticity ultimately modifies your brain’s activities in response to changes in these neuronal-environments.
There is much positive evidence in animal models of Parkinson’s regarding exercise-induced neuroplasticity. The same benefits are now being tested in humans with Parkinson’s and the results are most encouraging. One of the numerous backlogged blog drafts that will be completed in the near-future is a “Review of Exercise and Neuroplasticity in Parkinson’s”.
“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.” John Ratey
“Neuroplasticity research showed that the brain changes its very structure with each different activity it performs, perfecting its circuits so it is better suited to the task at hand.” Naveen Jain
 Diet and brain food: Your memory is aided by ‘what’ you eat. Harvard’s Women Health Watch makes the following suggestion to boost your memory through diet (click here to read entire article): “The Mediterranean diet includes several components that might promote brain health: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil help improve the health of blood vessels, reducing the risk for a memory-damaging stroke; Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lower levels of beta-amyloid proteins in the blood and better vascular health; Moderate alcohol consumption raises levels of healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Alcohol also lowers our cells’ resistance to insulin, allowing it to lower blood sugar more effectively. Insulin resistance has been linked to dementia.” WebMD summarized the role of diet and brain health in “Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain” (click here to read article).
A large group of women (>13,000 participants) over the age of 70 were studied and the results showed that the women who ate the most vegetables had the greater mental agility (click here to read the article). These results suggest for a healthy brain we should eat colorful fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants; and foods rich in natural vitamin E, vitamin C, B (B6, B12) folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, we should avoid refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. In small amounts, vitamin D3 is almost like candy for your brain.
“Hunger, prolonged, is temporary madness! The brain is at work without its required food, and the most fantastic notions fill the mind.” Jules Verne
“Mindfulness practices enhance the connection between our body, our mind and everything else that is around us.” Nhat Hanh
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou
“You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body.” Shawn Achor
 Sleep: It’s simple; our brains, our bodies need sleep. Many of us battle with less than adequate daily sleep habits. However, it’s really simple; our brains, our bodies need sleep. Much of our day’s success resides in the quality of sleep the night before. The science of sleep is complex but much of it revolves around our brain. We use sleep to renew and de-fragment our brain; and sleep helps strengthen our memory. For more details on sleep science, please look over “What Happens in the Brain During Sleep?” (click here). Alice G. Walton very nicely summarized several aspects of the sleep-brain interactions focusing on the following 7 headings: “Sleep helps solidify memory; Toxins, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease, are cleared during sleep; Sleep is necessary for cognition; Creativity needs sleep; Sleep loss and depression are intertwined; Physical health and longevity; and Kids need their sleep” [click here for “7 Ways Sleep Affects The Brain (And What Happens If It Doesn’t Get Enough)”]. Finally, the Rand Corp. just released a comprehensive study on sleep and the economic burden being caused by the lack of sleep (click here to read the 100-page report).
Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.Thomas Dekker
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. Irish Proverb
A Personal Reflection on the “7 Healthy Habits for Your Brain”: My fall semester is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining; and I cherish doing all of these tasks, I really do. The writing of this blog is a deliberate attempt to remind me what I need to be doing, to re-initiate tomorrow in my daily life. I could explain each point in detail in what poor-brain-health-habits I’ve developed this semester (but I won’t). However, I am printing out the 1-page handout of 7-healthy-brain-habits to keep it with me as I spend the rest of December re-establishing effective habits for my brain; and doing a better job of balancing work with life-love-fun.
“Your body, which is bonding millions of molecules every second, depends on transformation. Breathing and digestion harness transformation. Food and air aren’t just shuffled about but, rather, undergo the exact chemical bonding needed to keep you alive. The sugar extracted from an orange travels to the brain and fuels a thought. The emergent property in this case is the newness of the thought; no molecules in the history of the universe ever combined to produce that exact thought.” Deepak Chopra