In a previous article, I introduced the concept and value of our evoling brain as being neuroplastic and as a refresher, neuroplasticity simply means our brain has the ability to adapt and change. Essentially, the brain is a muscle where you either 1) train to enhance it, or 2) waste it and lose it. This is because the neurons within the brain die and are eliminated when not used. Therefore, Dr. Rahul Jandial’s book, “Life Lessons from a Brain Surgeon” presents strategies to keep the brain engaged and stimulated:
- Learn a Second Language
- Use your non-dominant hand
- Unleash its true potential through breathing, sleep and nutrition
Learn a second language
or simply, knowing more than one language is an advantage 1. According to British researchers who found that bilingual candidates showed better abilities to stay focused and concentrate 2. Additionally, bilingual children learn a primary language faster. Lastly, the knowledge of more languages reduces the early onset of dementia 3.
Using your non-dominant hand
It recruits under-utilised portions of the brain. Therefore activities like playing an instruments such as the guitar or piano, or playing sports like basketball, are beneficial 4.
Unleash its true potential
through breathing, sleep and nutrition.
Breathing mindfully for improved emotional control, strengthening the connection between the conscious and subconscious centres, thus altering neurobiology resulting in a calmer and tranquil outlook 5 through 10 to 15 minutes of the following;
- Slow inhale (4 counts)
- Hold breath (4 counts)
- Slow exhale (4 counts)
- wait (4 counts)
Avoid distractions and meditation is essential. Other methods of meditation are like The Ice Man by Wim Hof.
Allows the body to rest but the brain still functions. One of the key functions of sleeping is that the brain packages short-term memories (i.e. what was learnt during the day) to be distributed to other parts of the brain for storage (i.e. long-term memory). This is why sleep improves memory power and problem-solving capacity 6.
The recommended amount of hours of sleep for young children is 8 to 11 hours, and for grown adults it is 7 to 9 hours. Here are some strategies to improve sleep:
- Consistent sleep schedule
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening
- Limit distractions, such as the phone of television in the bedroom
- Limit bright light exposure during the evening, i.e. Dr. Jandial turns off lights around 8pm
Through wholesome foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish, while limiting foods high in fat and sugars 7. The Mediterranean – Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet has been found to reduce neural decline by 50%.
In addition, intermittent fasting is potentially beneficial since ketons are a fuel source for the brain cells which has been foudn to reduce brain cell hyperactivity. Hence, reducing risk of seizures.
Lastly, the pharmaceutical industry’s brain-food or mind-enhancing vitamins are a hoax because only glucose, ketones and oxygen get to the brain readily 8.
Everything the brain needs is built in-house.Dr. Rahul Jandial
Drugs impair the brain if used long-term. However, microdosing of psychadelics have been found to expand neural pathways temporarily to release creativity.
Exploration and Interaction
are important for the growing brain
|Unstructured play and exploration engages and builds new connectinos and different parts of the brain in older adults.||Social interaction stimulates brain activity and maintains cognitive ability.|
The book documents ways of developing and maintaining brain health through actual insights and scientific studies to support these practises at the biological and chemical level.
- The University of Tokyo 2021, ‘Multilingual people have an advantage over those fluent in only two languages’, The University of Tokyo, Japan, viewed 05 June 2022, <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210401112530.htm>.
- Marian, V & Shook, A 2012, ‘The cognitive benefits of being bilingual’, Cerebrum. PMID: 23447799; PMCID: PMC3583091.
- Klimova, B, Valis, M & Kuca, K 2017, ‘Bilingualism as a strategy to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease’, Clinical interventions in aging, 12, 1731–1737. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S145397
- Wood, C 2019, Does Using Your Non-Dominant Hand make You Smarter?, BrainFacts.org, USA, viewed 05 June 2022, <https://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/thinking-and-awareness/2019/does-using-your-non-dominant-hand-make-you-smarter-080919>.
- Zaccaro, A, Piarulli, A, Laurino, M, Garbella, E, Menicucci, D, Neri, B & Gemignani, A 2018, ‘How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing’ Frontiers in human neuroscience, vol. 12, p. 353. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353
- Potkin, KT & Bunney, WE 2012, ‘Sleep improves memory: the effect of sleep on long term memory in early adolescence’ PloS one, vol. 7, no. 8, p. e42191. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042191
- Suni, E & Truong, K 2022, Nutrition and Sleep, Sleep Foundation, USA, viewed 05 June 2022, <https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition>.
- Courchesne-Loyer, A, Croteau, E, Castellano, C-A, St-Pierre, V, Hennebelle, M & Cunnane, SC 2017, ‘Inverse relationship between brain glucose and ketone metabolism in adults during short-term moderate dietary ketosis: A dual tracer quantitative positron emission tomography study’, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, vol. 37, no. 7, pp. 2485–2493. https://doi.org/10.1177/0271678X16669366