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Maintaining a Healthy Brain

In all God’s of amazing creation, nothing can match the majestic complexity of the human brain. A materialistic theory of evolution falls flat [1] when it comes to explaining human intelligence – it simply is not possible to imagine something capable of such incredible feats of creativity and comprehension emerging magically from a stew of randomly mixed chemicals.

Nevertheless, the brain is a physical organ – one with miraculous abilities, to be sure, but a physical organ nonetheless. We need to take good care of our brains just like we need to take care of the rest of our bodies, to guarantee that they will function properly and allow us to achieve our full potential as modest but still amazing reflections of God’s glory.

It should be emphasized that achieving our full potential does not mean just keeping our brains healthy enough to ward off the ravages of advancing age. The human mind really is capable of accomplishing astonishing things that go well beyond the enforced mediocrity of the public education system [2], which is designed to train young people to be obedient cogs in the machine rather than intelligent, thoughtful people capable of becoming the next Edison, Einstein, or Jefferson.

The Dietary Basis of Extraordinary Brain Health and Function

It has been commonly observed that the human brain only uses about 10% of its total capacity [3]. This is probably an exaggeration, as much of what goes on in the brain is still somewhat mysterious. However, the basic point that we are capable of much more than we are usually led to believe is certainly true.

But before we can begin to develop our minds more fully, we must first make sure our brains are kept healthy and well nourished. The first thing we must do is make sure that proper blood flow is maintained, as 25% of the body’s oxygen supply is diverted to the brain, even though it only makes up about 2% of the body’s mass. The way we do this is to supply our bodies with the nutrients necessary to help the brain produce important biochemicals that act as vascular dilators. When the arteries, veins, and capillaries are opened more fully, blood can flow more easily to the brain where it is needed the most. Omega-3 fatty acids [4], which are found in supplements; fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring; in flaxseed or flaxseed oil; and chia seeds play an absolutely vital role in providing the chemical substances the brain needs to produce biochemicals called eicosanoids that help open and expand the vascular system so blood can flow with maximum efficiency.

The brain also needs a steady supply of glucose in order to generate the energy necessary to keep the brain functioning smoothly and at full power. When people eat too many carbohydrates, however, this causes extra insulin to be released, driving down glucose levels and depriving the brain of the energy it needs for clear perception, sound reasoning, and creative thinking. When insulin gets overproduced, the body will crave carbohydrates as a way to counteract these effects. This sets up a crash-and-burn cycle of carbohydrate overindulgence and insulin overproduction that inhibits the brain by keeping it in a sort of energy-starved chronic fog. The best way to avoid this situation is to mix carbohydrates and proteins equally at meals, which helps keep glucose and insulin levels in balance.

Finally, the brain needs a substance called DHA, which is vital for the preservation of neural cell membrane health. Fortunately, this important chemical is found in abundance in the Omega-3 fatty acids, which really are the most critical of all nutrients when it comes to the maintenance of optimum brain efficiency and function.

Vital Nutrients for Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are the most well-known and probably most important dietary or nutritional ingredient that people need to maintain a healthy brain. However, there are a number of other supplements that have been found in studies to increase and improve beneficial activities and processes in the brain. The list of these potentially helpful substances includes: [5]

Some of these may be unfamiliar; but there is plenty of good information available out there about these supplements for anyone who wants to investigate for themselves.

When it comes to diet in general, the most important thing to realize is that the chronic conditions that strike people with poor dietary habits – diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and so on – are also associated with an increased risk of dementia [10] and general mental deterioration. Not surprisingly, the brain, like the rest of the body, thrives on a diet that is made up primarily of healthy, natural foods, and it decays from malnourishment when it is forced to survive on the empty calories of fast and processed foods.

Keeping the Brain Engaged and Alive

In many ways the brain is like a muscle, and like any other muscle, it needs plenty of exercise to stay well conditioned and strong. Mentally challenging activities like reading, doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, journal writing, and storytelling all can help keep the brain in peak condition as we get older. Also, the value of physical exercise should not be overlooked – one of the best ways to ensure good oxygen flow to the brain is to maintain good cardiovascular health through stimulating exercise.

Stress causes breakdown in the entire mind-body system, and the health of the brain also suffers greatly from this inner psychological onslaught. Meditation is an excellent way to combat stress and cultivate a peaceful mind, and this is especially true of meditation that appeals directly to God for help and understanding. Meditation combined with prayer [11] will help anyone find the true Source of all wisdom, and when one is in the presence of the Almighty, worldly concerns melt away like a mirage in the desert. Ultimately, the human brain is a small reflection of His profound divine nature, and when we seek His counsel and presence, we are taking the best step we could ever take to help restore full health to this amazing miracle that science identifies as just another organ of the body, despite the fact that it is clearly so much more.

©2011 Off the Grid News