A functioning brain is necessary for the rest of your body to function correctly. It is an amazingly complex bundle of hundreds of billions of brain cells responsible for everything from your heartbeat and breathing to your memory and senses.
You are born with all the brain cells you are going to get. Because they don't reproduce like most other cells in your body, it's important to take care of the brain cells you have.
Though the categories overlap somewhat, there are different strategies for making your brain healthy, wealthy, and wise.
* Make Your Brain Healthy *
Contrary to what you may have heard, you don't need to consume carbohydrates to fuel your brain. Your body is able to convert protein into the glucose it needs to function.
Your brain actually prefers ketones for fuel; it and your heart run more efficiently on ketones than on glucose. Did you know a ketogenic diet can be used to control seizures? Ketones are formed when your body burns fat for fuel (instead of glucose).
Rather than being harmful, ketones are good for your brain. Sometimes people are confused by hearing about ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous condition experienced by type 1 diabetics whose BGLs (Blood Glucose Levels) are out of control. For most people, this is not a problem.
You've probably heard that fish is "brain food" and that is pretty much correct. What is so good about fish? Mostly the Omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Most of us get too many Omega-6 fatty acids and need to balance them with Omega-3s. Fish can help supply healthy Omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein.
|Another good brain food is the egg. Yes, it contains cholesterol, but that's good!
Your brain needs cholesterol to function correctly. But very little of the cholesterol you eat ends up in your bloodstream.
Cholesterol is so important for your health, if you don't eat enough of it, your liver produces more to make up the balance of what you need.
What do you need to avoid to keep your brain healthy? Things like sweets and starches, rancid and trans fats, and toxic chemicals. Your brain is very sensitive to these things.
It's important to keep your blood sugar at a nondiabetic level, your stress under control, and your hormones balanced to eliminate "brain fog." Exercise is also useful for "clearing out the cobwebs" and adequate sleep helps your brain recover from the things it deals with every day.
Check out the following links for more information about what to eat (or not) and other ways to keep your brain healthy.
The Brain Trust Program
A comprehensive program for brain health by Dr. Larry McCleary
What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie? by Gary Taubes
Read it all, but see pages 9 and 10 for ketone info
The Heart Scan Blog
Info about cholesterol, Omega-3s, and more from Dr. William Davis
The Blog of Dr. Michael Eades
A critical look at nutritional science
Studies Proving the Safety and Efficacy of the Low Carb Diet by Jenny Ruhl
Toward the end of the article is the part about brain health
* Make Your Brain Wealthy *
As I mentioned earlier, our brains contain hundreds of billions of cells, but we don't use nearly all of them. Many of those cells hang around our entire lives without getting much use.
A wealthy brain is one which has many brain cells filled with useful information. In other words: Keep learning!
If you have a health condition, learn all you can about it. Not only will this fill your brain with useful info, it will make you feel more in control to know the facts about your condition. Knowledge is power!
Read for pleasure, too. Reading from a wide variety of sources not only tells you a story or gives you info, it improves your grammar, spelling, and vocabulary skills.
In turn, you may decide to write to teach or entertain others. These days, it is very easy to share your thoughts online with a lot of people. You can start a blog or join a forum. Or write a book or magazine article to be printed on paper. Teaching others is a great way to learn yourself.
Find a new hobby. Challenge yourself to do something you don't normally do. This will put different areas of your brain into use. Some hobbies, like photography or gardening, can also include fresh air and exercise.
|Can't get out much? Be creative from your chair. Even if you don't sell much, creating things to share with others is a good way to use your brain cells.
For example, you can open a Zazzle store to create items for sale. I made this recipe binder and other items you can find through the DARdreams Designs link at the top and bottom of this page.
Check out Susan Alison's article about Greeting Card Universe and how she uses her art to make greeting cards.
Whichever method you choose, fill your brain with knowledge. Nobody already knows it all!
* Make Your Brain Wise *
Filling your brain with knowledge helps to make it wise, but if you can't access that knowledge, it's like getting a "Page Not Found" error message. You know you put the information in there, but your brain refuses to find it for you and it feels like everything is on the tip of your tongue.
It's important to exercise your brain to keep it sharp. Otherwise, connections in your brain get rusty and you get lots of error messages, especially as you get older.
In "The Brain Trust Program," Dr. McCleary gives specific exercises for your brain and tests you can take to see how well your memory is doing. He also discusses Alzheimer's Disease and other health issues that can affect how well your brain functions. (See the links to the book and Dr. McCleary's website above.)
Memorizing poetry, quotations, Bible verses, and anything else that is meaningful to you not only exercises your brain to make it wise, but fills it with knowledge to make it wealthy. Recite what you've memorized periodically to make sure you can still access the info and keep those connections active.
Doing word puzzles is also a good way to exercise your brain and train it to recall things you already know as well as add to its knowledge. There are many pencil puzzle and crossword puzzle books available. You can also play Scrabble, Boggle, and other games with someone else in person or online.
Making your own puzzles can be even more challenging than solving others' puzzles if you do it yourself without using a program to help you. But using a puzzle maker program can be good for your brain, too.
|I love doing crossword puzzles and recently decided to make some of my own.
You will find step-by-step directions in the Sharpen Your Brain by Creating Crossword Puzzles link on the left.
You can see my DARdreams Puzzles through the link at the top and bottom of this page.
You can find many games and puzzles you can use to keep your brain sharp in the links below. Use your search engine to find even more online puzzles, games, and puzzle makers.
The more you exercise your brain, the more responsive it will be to your requests for info!
Big Fish Games
My favorite source for a large variety of free online games (no ads)
Free puzzles from the makers of Penny Press and Dell pencil puzzles
Free online games - Word Slinger is a favorite
A variety of free puzzles and games to do online or print out
Learning Network Crossword Puzzle Archive
Free New York Times crosswords to play online or print out
The Word Puzzles
A variety of free puzzles, including Bible themes, to solve online or print out
Huge archive of free puzzles and games
Squigly's Pencil Puzzles for Kids
Not just for kids! Print out a variety of free puzzles
Free puzzlemaker for a variety of puzzle styles
The scrambled word game
Here are some ideas for memorization:
Here are just a few of the games you can play to exercise your brain and help to make it wise: