Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Quiz: Do You Have a Brain?

Have you already read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness?

Let’s see…brain health and brain fitness

1. Pick the only part of your body that does not con­tain fat:

a. Arm
b. Thigh
c. Brain
d. None

Answer: d) Fats are also present in the brain: in neu­rons’ mem­branes to keep them flex­i­ble. These fats are the omega 3 and omega 6 fat­ty acids mol­e­cules. (Page 32 of the book)

2. Pick the only food prod­uct that doesn’t con­tain Omega‑3 fat­ty acids

a. Tuna
b. Wal­nut
c. Kiwi
d. Jel­ly Beans

Answer: d) Fat­ty acids can be found in cold-water fish (such as mack­er­el, her­ring, salmon, and tuna), kiwi, and wal­nuts. (Page 33)

3. Pick the only food prod­uct that doesn’t con­tain antiox­i­dants

a. Olive oil
b. Milk
c. Nuts
d. Berries

Answer: b) Antiox­i­dants can be found in veg­etable oils, nuts, green leafy veg­eta­bles (e.g., spinach), cit­rus fruit, and berries. (Page 33)

4. Chron­ic Stress can­not:

a. Pre­vent you from being cre­ative
b. Kill brain cells
c. Pre­vent you from sleep­ing
d. Kill liv­er cells

Answer: d) Pro­longed expo­sure to adren­al steroid hor­mones like cor­ti­sol, which is released into the blood stream when we are stressed, can lead to cell death and block the for­ma­tion of new neu­rons. (Page 35)

5. What type of phys­i­cal exer­cise is the best for your brain health?

a. Weight lift­ing
b. Aer­o­bic exer­cis­es
c. Flex­i­bil­i­ty exer­cis­es Read the rest of this entry »

A User’s Guide to Lifelong Brain Health: BrainFit for Life

As the Brain Fit­ness indus­try con­tin­ues to gain momen­tum, and peo­ple explore all the incred­i­ble brain-train­ing tools being devel­oped, we hope that enthu­si­asts don’t take their eye off the impor­tance of the phys­i­cal health of the brain and all the sys­tems it com­mu­ni­cates with. The brain is unique in that it hous­es our cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al capac­i­ties in the form of the mind. It is a ‘cog­ni­tive’ organ that hungers for stim­u­la­tion from new expe­ri­ences and chal­lenges. Many brain fit­ness pro­grams strive to sat­is­fy this need. Yet the brain is also a phys­i­cal organ that plays by many of the same rules as the heart, lungs, liv­er and kid­neys. To stay healthy and per­form opti­mal­ly it requires qual­i­ty nutri­tion, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and opti­mal sleep. The brain, espe­cial­ly, relies on a healthy vas­cu­lar sys­tem to effi­cient­ly deliv­er oxy­gen and key nutri­ents and remove waste. In fact, the brain uses approx­i­mate­ly 20% of the oxy­gen we breathe to sat­is­fy its high-ener­gy demands. Giv­en that the brain only weighs about 2% of the body, we can con­sid­er it an ener­gy hog and we must cater to its needs very care­ful­ly.

Nutri­ents play key roles in brain func­tion. Sev­er­al have shown effi­ca­cy in clin­i­cal tri­als treat­ing cas­es of mood dis­or­ders, cog­ni­tive decline and of course ben­e­fit­ing the phys­i­cal health of the brain. Nutri­ents are both the raw mate­ri­als employed in cre­at­ing new neur­al con­nec­tions and Read the rest of this entry »

Can food improve brain health?

In oth­er words, may some foods be specif­i­cal­ly good for brain func­tion?

For a great in-depth review of the effects of food on the brain you can check out Fer­nan­do Gomez-Pinil­la’s recent arti­cle in Nature Reviews Neu­ro­science (ref­er­ence below). Here is an overview of the state off the research.

Sev­er­al com­po­nents of diet seem to have a pos­i­tive effect on brain func­tion.

Omega‑3 fat­ty acids

These acids are nor­mal con­stituents of cell mem­branes and are essen­tial for nor­mal brain func­tion. Omega‑3 fat­ty acids can be found in fish (salmon), kiwi, and wal­nuts. Docosa­hexaenoic acid, or DHA, is the most abun­dant omega‑3 fat­ty acid in cell mem­branes in the brain. The human body pro­duces DHA but not enough. So we are depen­dent on the DHA that we get from what we eat.

A ran­dom­ized dou­ble-blind con­trolled tri­al (which means seri­ous­ly con­duct­ed sci­en­tif­ic study) is cur­rent­ly look­ing at the effect of tak­ing omega‑3 fat­ty acids on chil­dren’s per­for­mance at school in Eng­land. Pre­lim­i­nary results (Port­wood, 2006) sug­gest that Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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