Is it possible to Change and Grow your adult brain?

black and white blackboard business chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been following Jim Kwik, who is now a world-renowned expert in memory, brain performance and accelerated learning. Termed as ‘The boy with the Broken Brain’ as a result of a childhood injury, Kwik created strategies to rebuild his brain and now coaches and trains clients such as Nike, Space X and Virgin in accelerated performance skills. He was on the set of the latest Avengers film coaching and supporting the actors through the learning of their lines.

Kwik speaks about enhancing your brain power with simple exercises that have been backed by research, one of which I would like to share with you.

Juggling

Learning to juggle has been proven to change white matter in the brain. Having been taught that neuroplasticity essentially ends as we approach adulthood, it has been incredibly empowering to learn how new science in so many ways is now proving this wrong. The brain has the capacity to change, grow and adapt. Arguably our ability to adapt is the reason we have survived as a species.

Researchers have scanned the brains of Taxi drivers and Jugglers before and after they acquired the skills needed to carry out their tasks.

London Taxi drivers are known for their encyclopaedic knowledge of the city including 25,000 streets of London and thousands of landmarks. ‘The Knowledge’ as it’s known can take 2-3 years to acquire. It was found that this incredibly difficult learning process caused structural changes in the brain with a resultant increase in nerve cells in the hippocampus, the area primarily responsible for memory.

blue classic car near westminster palace

Photo by Bruce Mars on Pexels.com

Learning to juggle is a much simpler task and has been shown to alter the white matter of our brains, with fascinating evidence of the adult brain pruning and refining its wiring system to operate more efficiently as a direct result of this learned skill.

Credit: moneyminiblog.com

This capacity to rewire different neural circuits in an adult brain absolutely blew me away and more and more research is coming out to back this up. Always keen to try different ways to enhance my own brain capacity and support my parents in their mental health and longevity…I began a mini-experiment of my own.

I sat down with my parents discussed the research and explained to them the process of juggling as explained by Jim Kwik (process outlined later).

Two months on, going from just being able to throw one ball in the air and catching it, my incredible father has mastered juggling 3 BALLS and I am so thrilled every time he shows off his new skills; living daily proof before my eyes that he has expanded his brain capacity and rewired his brain.

Genius.

My mum and I are works in progress. Mum is doing really well to juggle with 2 balls which is still a big leap forward… I’m, well let’s say I have a lot of catching up to do.

Want to change your brain with an easy exercise? Give it a go and share and have a competition with those around you to see who can get to juggle 3 balls and keep them in the air the longest.

PROCESS: Learning to Juggle

Equipment: 3 old socks each one rolled up into a ball

-I thought I’d use a few stones that I had to hand, bad idea on 2 counts. One they made a lot of noise constantly falling on the wooden floor and two…it really hurt when a stone accidentally landed on my head. You’ll know what I mean when you start this.

Location: Standing over your bed or a table or sitting down on your bed or floor

-I got very fed up of constantly and I mean constantly having to pick these socks off the floor. Much easier if I started off closer to the floor or near a surface at waist height.

STEP ONE:

Imagine a rectangular frame in front of you with your head in the middle

Hold one sock in your right hand and while your head is central follow the sock with your eyes as you gently throw it to the top left corner of this imaginary frame

And catch it as it falls straight down towards your open left hand.

Practice this daily trying to get a good height on the ball over your head as you throw it diagonally up and catch it in the other hand.

STEP TWO:

Now take a sock in each hand and as you toss one in the air and it reaches the top then throw the other one.

This takes practice but does come together with time

STEP THREE:

Now try with two socks in one hand and one in the other… this link may help you with added pictures and videos.

https://www.wikihow.com/Juggle

Let me know how you get on.

Remember each time you practice you are changing your brain and helping it rewire more effectively.

Happy Brain Training.


“Study first to show that low-carb diets can improve arterial blood flow in as little as four weeks”

FINDINGS:

In this study, a group of men and women were put on low-carbohydrate diets and important health parameters monitored.  After  4 weeks, researchers found that the men lost more WEIGHT and the women showed more ARTERIAL FLEXIBILITY.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN:

1 out of 3 adults in America and 7 million in the UK  live with higher than normal blood sugar levels,  a condition known as ‘pre-diabetes’.  Pre-diabetic women run an increased risk of heart disease.

Heart disease is reported as the primary cause of death in both the U.S. and UK.

This study gives us hope and shows that we can have a direct influence on this life-threatening risk and reduce the chances of developing heart disease by choosing a  carbohydrate-restricted diet.

Although the specific mechanisms are unknown at this stage,  this study has shown a link between food choice and better artery health and in the long run better heart health.

Possible first step:   Cutting out or at least reducing intake of highly refined carbs would be a significant step towards achieving better artery and heart health and longevity!

Click here to see my post on adding leafy greens to your diet.

FUTURE POST:

” Are all carbs bad for you?”

 

JOURNAL SOURCE:

Syed-Abdul, M.  et al. (2018) “Effect of carbohydrate restriction-induced weight loss on aortic pulse wave velocity in overweight men and women” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.  DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0113


Can adding leafy greens to our diet affect how fast we age?

Findings :

A recent study has suggested that eating 1-2 portions of green vegetables daily may have an effect on our cognitive decline.

The study found those who ate a higher proportion of green vegetables showed better brain function over 5 years with better memory and fewer signs of dementia.

What does this mean for us:

Through our daily food choices we may be able to have an influence on our ageing process. By actively trying to find a way to add greens to every meal we may be able to slow down how fast our brains are ageing, preserve memory for longer and reduce the risk of dementia.

Take away:

If we aim to incorporate greens into every meal, we can then easily manage 2 portions a day at least.

1 portion = 1/2 cup of cooked greens or 1 cup of fresh.

pexels-photo-399629

Ideas :

BREAKFAST

  • Try adding lightly steamed or wilted baby spinach to your morning smoothie or your breakfast eggs.

LUNCH

  • A leafy green salad with your choice of protein (beans, hummus, egg, fish, chicken) and good fat (extra virgin olive oil, seeds, nuts, avocados).
  • Add dark leafy greens like watercress or rocket to your sandwich, roll or wrap.

DINNER

  • Add a cup of chopped broccoli to your main dish which could be a stir-fry, curry or pasta sauce.
  • Use frozen spinach if it’s easier and its certainly better than no greens at all.
  • Consider a cup of dark salad greens such as watercress or rocket with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil as a regular side to your meals.
  • Or lightly steamed broccoli as a side dish drizzled with olive oil.
  • Use dark lettuce leaves as wraps and instead of burger buns.

pexels-photo-616835

Please note:

High nutrient greens such as kale and spinach can cause an unfavourable reaction in some people.

This is due to compounds called ‘Oxalates’ which can bind to calcium to the blood and cause muscle weakness and stomach pain.

Lightly steaming spinach, broccoli and kale reduces this effect.

Journal sources :

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263222

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15852398

Do share any great ideas you may have to help us get more greens into our daily diet.