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Introduction to Brain Health and Cognitive Enhancement
Is there anything more valuable to you than your brain?
CerebralHealth.com seeks to provide you up-to-date information to help you protect your most valuable asset.
Over the past 20 years, our understanding of the brain has increased exponentially. As we move further into the 21st century, we are likely to witness tremendous advances in the brain sciences.
CerebralHealth.com is a resource to keep you abreast of the exciting new discoveries in the neurosciences to better help you take care of and maintain the health of your brain.
A central tenet of CerebralHealth.com is the idea that our brains are malleable and go through significant changes during the duration of our lives. IQ and intelligence are not fixed numerical values that forever stay constant. Rather, we can help create and facilitate the development of intelligence through exposure to stimulating environments, proper nutrition, and exercise.
While the nature vs. nurture argument continues to be waged in the neuroscientific community, recent estimates suggest that approximately 50% of intelligence is inherited through genetics. Meanwhile, the other 50% of IQ and the development of intellectual capacities is derived from the environment.
The maintenance of an enriching intellectual environment can lead to an optimal state of the mind and well-being of the brain. As humans endowed with the capacity to create such environments, we can make important choices about what kind of environments we want to immerse ourselves within.
An intellectually stimulating environment can and does take a myriad of forms. We can in large measure control and help mediate the kinds of information that enter our brains. Perhaps one of the most important decisions we can make in our own lives and in the lives of others regards the informational environments we help co-create.
Neuroenhancing environments are often multi-faceted and complex while taking a variety of forms. Examples of neuroenhancing environments can range from the concert hall to the ivory towers to the city streets and to the fun of the playground. The internet and an assortment of digital mediums have also become richly contoured cognitive enhancing environments from which to build the contours of our neuro-self.
A new class of pharmaceuticals is now emerging whereby cognitition and memory is enhanced in healthy, normal individuals as well as those suffering from cognitive deficits of one kind or another including Alzheimer's disease.
Smart drugs, cognitive enhancers, and nootropics are a relatively new class of compounds that are likely to have wide-ranging effects on human society in the distant future and in the immediate years to come. As our understanding of neurogenetics, and the traditional neurosciences continues to advance, we are likely to see powerful cognitive enhancers emerge in the marketplace that may call into question many of our notions of what it means to be a human being.
Considerable ethical debate continues to be waged on issues of cognitive liberty and personal freedom. Questions are being raised in the minds of neuroethicists about the potential ramifications of cognitive enhancement on both the personal and collective levels of human existence. Will cognitive enhancers create a new cognitive elite? Should governments use cognitive enhancers in cases of severe psychosis? Will individuals in a feverishly competitive world be able to choose not to use cognitive enhancers in the future? Who will have access to neurotechnologies? Is it fair to take performance enhancing drugs before standardized tests such as the SAT? Do cognitive enhancers change who we are? What safety concerns are involved? Are cognitive enhancers a short-cut to psychological change and development? Such questions may only intensify and broaden as research continues in this growing field of inquiry, testing, and scientific analysis.
CerebralHealth.com takes a wholistic approach to brain health. While cognitive enhancers of a diverse array may contribute significantly to the development of intelligence and perhaps ultimately wisdom, we must integrate our brains harmoniously with our bodies as a whole. In this respect, exercise of the body facilitates the growth of the mind and vice versa.
Furthermore, the quality of our environment is an essential component to a healthy brain and optimal well-being. Clean air and water, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and meats free from pesticides and polluting chemicals is critical to a fully functional brain. Our brains are organically connected to our immediate environment. Whatever enters through our nostrils, skin, mouth, ears, and eyes impacts the growth and health of the brain.
The brain is an organ of phenomenal intricacy.
Recent estimates suggest that our brains orchestrate the activity
of 1 trillion cells. Approximately 100 billion of the cells of our brains are neurons. Each neuron is connected to
another 10,000 neurons. Neurons communicate with one another via synapses. Neuroscientists are finding that there may be up to 100-500 trillion synapses in the average adult brain. The network between our ears is itself
mind-blowing. Can you fathom the complexity?
Micro algae such as spirulina and chlorella are two of the richest whole foods in terms of brain nutritional content currently available. Spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids, exceptionally high in protein content by weight, and fortified with vitamins and nutrients critical to maintaining brain health.
Fish are excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for a healthy brain. Wild fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Generally, wild fish are to be preferred to farm raised. Fish contain the neurotransmitter precurser Tyrosine that assists in the production of norepinephrine. If you are a vegetarian or vegan who does not consume fish, you may want to consider taking a flax seed supplement to augment your diet.
Fresh vegetables provide the brain with essential nutrients and antioxidants to help nourish and maintain brain cell growth. Organically grown vegetables, free from pesticides and additives, are much healthier for your brain than vegetables exposed to growing practices utilizing harsh chemicals. In one scientific study, rats who were fed spinach showed a much lower decline in age-related mental functions than did their conterparts fed a conventional diet.
Fresh and Organic Fruits are superb souces of antioxidants including Vitamin C. Blueberries, strawberries, and oranges are especially potent brain foods. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are 70% less likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's. The study recommends eight to nine servings a day of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables for optimum brain health.
Nuts and Seeds Walnuts, brazil nuts, and peanuts are high in protein and contain omega 3 fatty acids that are critical to a healthy brain. Brazil nuts contain selenium. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and also contain tryptophan.
Water is perhaps the single best source of nourishment for our brains. Clean and pure water is essential to brain health. Water makes up approximately 85% of the total weight of our brains and can help cleanse the brain from toxins we consume from our environment and other foods we eat. However, it is necessary to be moderate even in regards to our water consumption. Both too little water, and too much, can be problematic. Maintaining a healthy balance of water will help ensure that our brain is functioning at optimal levels of performance.
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