As my final research comes to a close, I am ending this part of my journey
with a mixture of JOYful relief and some honest sadness.
I have spent the last 2 years of my life totally dedicated
to learning everything I could get my hands on about the BRAIN.
I have spent countless hours looking into a computer screen, read more books
than I did in my previous 49 years (put together), met some of
the most incredible, brilliant people, made some wonderful new friends,
and climbed an educational mountain
that only a few years ago.... I dared not even dream!
BUT... what I am most excited about, is the opportunity
to share some of what I have learned with all of you.
(Today's BLOG is for anyone who has had a loved one suffer from a BRAIN disorder such as Alzheimer's or Dementia)... there is NEW HOPE!
Our BRAINs are genuinely one of the last unexplored frontiers,
AND... the last decade of technology and research
has brought about incredible new information
that can alter the way we CHOOSE to live our lives.
One of the most exciting discoveries scientists have unveiled over the last decade, (which debunks the old MYTH that our brains, as well as our DNA,
are hard-wired and there is nothing we can do about it) is that...
Neuroscience now KNOWS with great certainty that this is NOT TRUE.
In fact, both our brains AND our DNA are adaptable throughout our entire lives.
image from www.nicabm.com
Neuroplasticity has become a "buzz" word of late, however many of the people I hear using it are doing so incorrectly. Neuroplasticity refers to our brain's ability to reorganize and restructure its pathways and its behaviors. In a nut shell.... it means, our brain's connections are adaptable...... like plastic, hence the word plasticity.
Our brains have over 100 BILLION neurons,
with approximately 10,000 possible connections for EACH of those 100 billion...
THIS MEANS that we have more connections in our head,
than stars in the Milky Way Galaxy!
That's an incredible concept to grasp!!
Each time any of those 100 Billion neurons form a connection
it is called a - synapse.
The image below is a close up of what neuronal connections,
or synapse in the brain, actually look like.
You can see (from the image) that there are many possible options
these connections can make, however....
they are formed based on our habits and behaviors. Once a connection is made... the BRAIN, which is built for efficiency, looks for the quickest way to reconnect information..... therefore, if you've done something multiple times, (GOOD OR BAD) your brain will use that same pathway again, rather than wasting valuable energy forming new connections...
UNLESS YOU FORCE IT TO RECONNECT
by using a new way of thinking.
image from cognifit.com
Our brains are working at ALL times, even when we are asleep. Its continuous connections are burning about 30% of our bodies calories, and using up approximately 90% of our bodies oxygen intake. Hence the reason lack of oxygen is often a cause of severe brain damage. Understanding this oxygen intake has become a KEY component in new research toward Alzheimer's and other brain diseases, including addiction.
Because our oxygen intake improves with MOVEMENT, vast amounts of data have uncovered an incredible connection between exercise and BRAIN HEALTH.
Dr. Max Cynader, Chair and Director of The Brain Center of Canada, says that
regular exercise produces the oxygen levels required to build 1000's of new brain cells.
Dr. Cynader has spent the last 50 years of his life studying the BRAIN and has seen many of the once held beliefs (like we are unable to change our BRAINS with our thoughts) fall by the wayside. In fact, there is MUCH we can do to increase our BRAIN health. One of the most exciting recent studies done with elderly patients looked at their hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with storage of memories, and one of the largest areas destroyed in patients with Alzheimer's Disease.) The findings from this research may be the most low cost preventative way to fight a disease that is ravaging people all over the world. As we age, our hippocamal volume decreases. The deterioration of this area of the brain leads to memory impairment; however, physical activity (enough to expand fitness) showed significant increases in cognitive function and even an INCREASE in the volume of the hippocampus. The study chose 120 older adults, who showed no signs of dementia, and divided them into 2 groups. 60 of them did regular 3x a week aerobic exercise and the others only stretched. These findings have been repeated in other studies and show similar results each time. Regular aerobic exercise 3x a week or more, has the ability to reverse volume loss in the one area of the brain (hippocampus) most closely related to memory loss. It also showed an increase in both gray and white matter of the prefrontal cortex, as well as stronger cerebral blood volume to the brain....all of which are destroyed by Alzheimer's.
image from health.haravard.edu
So... what does this have to do with GRATITUDE... Start today (before you have a problem) and be grateful for the health that you do have... whatever state you are in....
as long as you're not in a morgue, then there is SOMETHING you CAN DO about it!
Be grateful for the opportunity to live in a country where you are able to go outside free from gun-fire and war to exercise.
Be grateful that you have a magical body that is working FOR YOU if only you will do your part to work with it.
Be grateful that its SPRING time and the weather is beautiful and you are able to walk outside to breath fresh air.
Be grateful that you have eyes that can see the trees, ears that can hear the birds, skin that can feel the breeze on your face, and legs.... no matter what shape they are in... that can lift you up and walk you out that door.
image from myhealthunit.com
Many afternoons when I am in my neighborhood jogging, I pass my sweet neighbor who is also outside... with her WALKER!!!!- going up and down the same cul-de-sac as me. She ALWAYS has a smile on her face, is never worrying about those last pesky
10 lbs., and I have NEVER once heard her complain about her mile time.... In fact, she always waves at me and says "Hello Honey, you're sure doin' good!"
It's NEVER TOO LATE... as Maya Angelou said... "When you know better, Do Better." Start today! Take a moment and BUILD a BETTER BRAIN
by creating new pathways and connections in your brain.
Build ones that fosters GRATITUDE, kindness and joy!
Be good to your body, and use exercise as the cheapest
way to fight one of the most destructive diseases in the world.
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!