Sunday, August 24, 2014

Can Exercise and Diet affect Brain Cells Regeneration?

Until almost 1990s, it was believed that brain cells (neurons) were not able to regenerate (making of new cells), that is once they are mature or damaged; they cannot divide, multiply or recover. But then, a body of evidence supported the fact that brain cell can actually regenerate and grow.

The importance of brain regenerations lies in recovering from brain injuries and preventing or slowing down age-related diseases such Alzheimer and dementia.

An increasing numbers of studies indicate that environmental conditions, life-style factors and daily routine habits (In particular, physical activity and dietary factors), can significantly affect how the brain reacts to challenges.

Keep on reading to find out how exercise and diet affect your brain regeneration.

Exercise for your brain!

In a study done on 120 individuals aged 60-80 years old, it was found that 30-40 minutes a day, three times a week induced regrowth-effect in the brain structure related to cognitive decline –particularly hippocampus and cortex-.[1]

While the same area of the brain continued to shrink; and memory, language ability and attention continued to decline with age in individuals who were sedentary or practiced only stretching tasks.

Scientific findings explaining this effect of exercising on brain cells regeneration by suggesting that:

  • Exercising increases the release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF) that has been observed to play an important role in protecting cells from insult and disease.[2]
  • Exercising combats stress; stress has been shown to cause the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) to shrink.
  • Physical exercise induces biochemical process in the brain that stimulates the birth of new cells. [3]

How to get these exercising benefits for the brain?

No need for vigorous physical activity, or prolonged time of training, moderate intensity exercises 30 minutes a day three to four times a week can help.

Eat right for your brain!

Studies pointed that some dietary factors does affect brains health in variable ways. Factors like: omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, Curcumin, saturated fats, and overall caloric intake; let’s briefly take a look at how each one of these can affect the brain. [2]

1-  Fatty acids: (especially docosahexaenoic acid DHA), improve cognition, plasticity, recovery of neurons and reduce oxidative stress damage after traumatic brain injury.

2-  Vitamin E: as an antioxidant, it reduces free radicals in the brain which would otherwise impede optimal function of neurons and has positive effects on memory performance in older people.

3-  Curcumin: (a yellow curry spice), has been suggested to enhance recovery events after brain trauma.

4-  Saturated fats: too much saturated fats in diet decrease levels of BDNF in the brain and lead in poorer neuronal performance.

5-  Caloric intake: Restricting calories seems to increase BDNF levels and improved neuronal function.

Take Action:

Combination of good diet and exercising showed synergistic effect of regeneration and healing benefits on brain cells, so make sure to cover the basics of a healthy, balance diet, incorporate food groups in your regular diet and build a workout plan of your own that suits your daily life schedule.







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