We are born with more brain cells than we will ever have again in our lives. As we age, we lose brain cells, and as far as science can tell at this time, our bodies cannot regenerate the neurons in the brain. To preserve health and brain function, it is essential that we protect, nourish and exercise our brains. This is the topic of discussion for my Healthy Brain series.
Although our brains are unable to regenerate dead neurons, scientists have discovered that the brain has an amazing way of overcoming this downfall in order to preserve memory and brain function. This process is called neurotropism. When a neuron (brain cell) dies, there's a gap left between the cells on either side of the dead cell. Nerve transmissions usually travel from one neuron to the other much like electricity does. The healthy neurons surrounding the dead space where the cell once was will reach out with their extensions (dendrites) and stretch across that dead space to create new connections with surrounding neurons. This phenomenon maintains the function of the brains cells so that messages are able to travel across those divides without disruption. You can see some cells in neurotropism in the video below.
Crucial to fostering this sort of brain elasticity is providing the proper nutrition and building blocks the brain tissue needs to survive and thrive. In earlier posts we have discussed the importance of Omega-3 fats, healing a leaky brain and other tips for maintaining a health brain (Healthy Brain Series).
There are other important supplements available through health experts that use botanicals and nutrients for the brain that help to lower inflammation in the brain, improve circulation as well as encourage dendritic growth. These supplements contain some of the following important substances:
- DHA - an Omega-3 fatty acid found in cold ocean fish and sea plankton (vegan) enhances neuroplasticity and reduces inflammation
- Ginko Biloba - a popular botanical for memory enhancement increases blood flow to the brain
- Polyphenols - like luteolin, apigenin, capsaicin and turmeric help reduce inflammation and prevent neurodegeneration
- Huperzine A - a naturally occurring compound that increases acetylcholine activity in the brain, increases blood flow to the brain and suppresses tissue damage
- Vinpocetine - an extract from the periwinkle plant enhances blood flow to the brain and has neuroprotective properties
Before running out and spending money on bottles of supplement it's important to work with a health practitioner that can help you uncover any underlying issues that may be encouraging neurodegeneration. Only then should you be supplementing and supporting the pathways that encourage neuroplasticity and healthy brain function.