Neurogenesis is the process of building new brain cells.
Up until not too long ago, it was thought that we stopped growing new brain cells in our adult years. Later, this was proven false once we discovered neurogenesis. We actually can build new neurons throughout our whole life; it doesn’t matter if you’re young, middle aged, or old. Now, it’s said that old people may not be able to increase their rate of neurogenesis as much as young people, but the fact that anyone can still increase it is what matters.
Why Increase Neurogenesis?
So why would anyone want to build new brain cells?
That’s a great question, and I’m going to tell you exactly why I believe you should be increasing your rate of neurogenesis.
First off, the brain is one of the most important organs in the body, it’s pretty obvious that doing anything good for your brain should be important, and incredibly beneficial for your health. With a weak brain, is an overall weak body.
But specifically, what does increasing neurogenesis do, and why would we want to do that?
Increasing our rate of neurogenesis is shown to improve our cognitive, emotional, and physical health
High rates of neurogenesis are associated with cognitive enhancements, fast learning, and protection from anxiety, stress, and depression.
Low rates of neurogenesis are associated with cognitive decline, memory problems, stress, and depression.
What Increases and Decreases Our Rate of Neurogenesis?
There are many things that increase and decrease our rate of neurogenesis. Sadly, the world we live in is very neuro-toxic. Many foods that exist in the world are decreasing our rate of neurogenesis.
But this is alright, because we can reduce the toxic foods and activities, and replace them with good ones.
Things That Increase Neurogenesis
Green tea, blueberries, foods high in omega 3’s and healthy fat, learning, aerobic exercise and meditation.
Learning is probably the thing I value most on here. Anyone can learn new things at any time, you don’t have to go out and buy anything for this. It’s very important to constantly be learning throughout our life. When we stop learning, our brains start to shrink, and we start getting all sorts of brain diseases because we aren’t working our brains. Many people after they retire will go watch TV for the rest of their lives, many of them having brain related diseases. So don’t forget that, learn!
This is one I highly recommend. Better yet, you can buy green tea extracts which give you tons more polyphenols than a single cup will give you. The polyphenols in green tea are shown to support neurogenesis, and BDNF levels. There are other health benefits of green tea such as disease prevention, cardiovascular benefits, fat loss, and improvement in immunity.
Another one of these I recommend is doing aerobic exercises. While doing any kind of physical activity is good for the brain and body, studies show that aerobic exercise raises neurogenesis more than any other form of exercise.
Meditation is shown to increase neurogenesis along the entire length of the hippocampus. This is yet another great activity to add into your everyday life. Not only will it help your brain, but it will also relax you, and lead you to making better choices in everyday life; you can’t go wrong here.
Fats make up most of our brain, so wouldn’t it make sense to mostly eat fats instead of carbs? Now you should eat any foods high in fat; only high quality fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s also important to eat foods high in omega 3’s like fish.
I’ve personally noticed a huge change from having a diet and lifestyle that is supportive of neurogenesis. I started meditating more, learning new things, eating foods like blueberries, taking green tea extracts, as well as adding aerobic exercise into my workout routines. I can definitely say that I saw some big changes, especially since I started doing these things while I was being very lazy with life, and not happy.
Trust me, I wouldn’t be sharing this with you guys if I didn’t think this is a big deal. It makes sense scientifically and it works; just try it!
One thing that motivates me to do all of these things too, is to think this: “I’m making my brain healthier, and if I continue to do this, i’m going to live happier!” And who doesn’t want that? When you’re happier and are in a positive mindset, it can even change your posture for the better!
Things That Decrease Neurogenesis
Sugar, oxidized fats, long term consumption of caffeine, and trans fats.
Sugar and Carbs
Two of the big things I think you should moderate are both sugar and carbs, as well as eliminating added sugars. Not only does eating a lot of carbs and sugar decrease our rates, but it also is known to not be good for the body in general, and can pile on lots of fat on your body. All carbohydrates eventually get converted to glucose, so this is why they are together. I’m not saying to not eat any carbs, but reduce them.
You wan’t to remove oxidized fats from your diet. To prevent this, it’s smart to cook at low temperatures with coconut oil, or butter. It’s also very important not to eat any burned or charred meat, overcooked eggs, powdered eggs and powdered milk.
Another big thing you should look out for is your intake of caffeine. Now, I don’t think having caffeine here and there will really do much harm, but long term consumption is said to decrease our rate of neurogenesis. Even low amounts of caffeine that are consumed regularly still decrease our rates. It may be smart for you to start drinking decaff if you’re a coffee or tea drinker.
Can Neurogenesis Help Treat Addicts?
This is a question I often ask myself. I’m adding this section because of my experience with addiction and recovery.
While recovering from an addiction, I’ve learned how it’s important to rewire the brain by undergoing neuroplasticity (the brains capacity to change and adapt). Neurogenesis also works by rewiring neural circuitry, but it’s more about building more neurons. I don’t know exactly what it is, but neurogenesis along with neuroplasticity definitely seemed to help me for my addictions. Nonetheless, neurogenesis is proven to already help you in other ways, so it won’t hurt to add it into your daily life. Staying positive, and having a healthy life will help your addiction regardless if it’s directly making a change in the brain, so keep this in mind.
If you want to learn more about neurogenesis, you can check out this amazing book written by Brant Cortwright, called The Neurogenesis Diet and Lifestyle. This is an amazing book that goes more in depth about everything I’ve talked about in this article. It is very easy to read, so even people who know nothing about this will have a great time reading.
I have personally got into contact with Brant, and we have discussed about brain health. He want’s to help people learn more about this, because it’s so important in our everyday lives.
So I hope you all have learned a bit about neurogenesis, and why it’s so important to incorporate into our lives. Thanks for reading!