We know that children’s brains grow and expand as they grow. On the other hand, adults slowly begin to lose brain cells and matter as they get older. This means that cells begin to die before your body has a chance to repair them. Until the 1990s, it was thought that once brain cells die, no new cells are created to replace them, but the new researches show that this isn’t the case.
Contrary to the early dogma, today we know that the adult nervous system can generate new neurons. All organisms have some cells that continue to divide, adding to the size of the organism and repairing the damage.
Neurogenesis is the process of the formation of new cells in the brain. Recent research into neurogenesis has built on the findings of Joseph Altman in 1962, and it is proven that neurogenesis occurs in adult humans as well. Also, the concept of neuroplasticity is based on Altman’s work. The new neurons are formed from stem cells in the hippocampus (responsible for memory storage and cognition), subventricular zone (where stem cells are created) and olfactory bulb.
To facilitate the process and to keep your brain in optimal shape you should
Exercise on daily basis-exercise on regular basis benefits not only your muscles but your brain as well. In this way you will increase the volume of blood delivered to the brain, stimulating the subventricular zone to create new neurons. Also, the increased blood circulation in the brain increases the volume of the hippocampus, which often shrinks as we get older. Walking for 45 minutes a day has been shown to increase hippocampus size and benefits your health.
Intermittent fasting -this concept is relatively new in health circles. If we expose our body to abstention from food for extended periods, our bodies go into survival mode and cells that would ordinarily die to remain active, extending their lives. Fasting also promotes autophagy (programmed death of cells) to remove toxins that a
Stress reduction-chronic stress causes a lot of problems for our body, one of which is the restriction of hippocampal neurogenesis. This can lead to reducing the level of certain neurotransmitters that contribute to mood and depression. With stress reduction, you can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Diet-certain foods are known as tas neurogenesis promoters:
Green tea-polyphenols are a particular type of antioxidant. One polyphenol found in green tea and known to enhance adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
Tumeric-helps to improve neuroplasticity, cognition, memory, and hippocampal neurogenesis.
Blueberries and raw cocoa
Omega-3 fatty acids- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) fat is essential for normal signaling and function. Sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids results prevent shrinkage of the hippocampus. Dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids include fatty fish, nuts and seeds.
Avoid refined sugar-refined sugars affect proteins and neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for learning and memory which results with memory loss and difficulties with learning.
But we should be careful because new neurons created in adulthood live for a short time and don’t always improve brain function in every aspect. New neurons are not the same as those created in childhood. They are highly excitable but they don’t migrate as other neurons and do not penetrate through all layers of the hippocampus.