You’ve probably heard this several times before: when it comes to the brain, you need to take into consideration the use it or lose it brain development principle.
The human brain is like a muscle after all. You have to use it or lose it.
The question is: is there any truth to this statement? And if yes, what’s the science behind it? Let’s find out.
Your Brain and Control
One of the most threatening feelings one could possibly experience is probably the feeling of losing it all —
When you’re living a normal life, and then you realize, you seem to get less and less control…
When you find yourself suddenly scrambling for memories of the things you did recently…
Or when your brain seems to process ideas significantly slower than usual.
When the brain’s cognitive function weakens, things can get a little out of control. And for a reason:
Our thoughts and actions are all directed by our brains.
But to slip out of control every once in a while, like occasionally forgetting things, or struggling to do simple arithmetic, should not be cause for concern.
I know people (several of them), who have had the same experience at some point in their lives. And I have to admit that I, myself, experience these “inconveniences” every once in a while.
These experiences come in varying “intensities” and frequencies, of course. But the problem appears to worsen when people go around the age of forty or older.
When inconveniences transform into something else…
But here’s the thing, the problem arises when these “inconveniences” transform into something worse –
When the normal way of thinking and recalling things seem to become more taxing – so much so that the details (details that we usually know so well) are buried deep inside that seemingly inaccessible part of the brain.
So, what could be the science behind this? And is there a way we could reverse the process? Let’s find out.
Is it possible to prevent age-related brain deterioration?
So, heré’s the good news: we can slow down age-related brain deterioration — possibly even reverse it.
In fact, there are a group of seniors, usually aged 80 years old and above, who are collectively called cognitive super-agers for maintaining strong brainpower despite their old age.
But here’s the thing: our brains and all of their faculties consist of very complicated systems.
That’s why it’s difficult for medical experts, researchers, and scientists to accurately pinpoint what truly separates the super cognitive thinkers from ordinary people.
But if there’s one principle that stands out (and we should pay attention to), it’s the Principle of Use It or Lose It on brain development.
Let me explain.
The human brain and brain plasticity.
According to VeryWellMind.com:
Brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity, is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience.
Isn’t it amazing how powerful our brains are?
What’s more, we can sharpen our brains and keep them in excellent health through “training.”
And by training, we mean learning new abilities and skills.
Let me explain.
As you acquire new skills, there seems to be a re-modeling happening within your brain. The more you practice – it seems – the more these improvements happen.
When the brain’s faculties are working properly through practice, your brain accommodates and adapts to the acquisition of the skill.
In other words, the more you use your brain, the better it gets at processing new stuff.
However, the opposite happens when there’s very little activity going on inside the brain:
If the brain continues to function on auto-pilot mode, it will gradually deteriorate.
And get this: the deterioration starts as early as 30 years old.
Use It or Lose It Brain Development Principle: Why does it matter?
The concept behind brain plasticity is simple:
If you want to retain your brain’s normal cognitive functions up until, say, when you’re a hundred years old, then you should keep learning on a regular basis.
Challenge yourself, too. Above all, continue to be creative.
That way, you can take advantage of their brain’s abilities while still in a very productive phase.
But other than practice, there are also a few things you can do to keep your brain healthy. Read on to know more.
Nutrition and brain health
We all know that diet plays a significant role in how you look, feel, and perform. But did you also know that your diet has an impact on your brain’s health?
Nutrition plays a significant role in your cognitive function, so it’s a good idea to ensure that your diet is as healthy as possible. Just as you can’t build a sturdy house on an unstable foundation, you cannot build a healthy brain on unhealthy eating habits.
Boost your memory, improve your focus, and improve your overall brain health by following these tips:
Avoid too much sugar.
We all know sugar isn’t good for us. But the problem isn’t just limited to the number of calories it contains. When we eat too much sugar, our brain’s ability to function correctly can be compromised. It can weaken our overall immune function, too.
Make sure you get enough Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to cognitive impairment among older adults.
Since it is important for supporting brain health, be sure to include B12-rich foods, such as eggs and dairy products, in your diet.
Eat more greens.
Eating greens isn’t just a great way to help you stay in shape, but it can also help you boost your brainpower. Vegetables, especially leafy ones, are an excellent source of vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene that help support brain health.
Improve your Omega-3 intake.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, mostly found in fatty fish, such as salmon, cod, and tuna, can help support brain health. These essential fats can also be found in some plant sources like walnuts, brussels sprouts, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our bodies (and brains!) need them to function, but we can’t make them. This is why we must incorporate them into our diet through foods or supplements.
Are you eating food that can boost your brain health? Do you consistently use your skills and abilities?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are on the right track towards a triumphant battle against brain deterioration.
Factors that contribute to cognitive decline and how you can prevent it
The brain is very similar to a computer.
The more files are saved on a computer, the more bandwidth, and processing power it takes to run programs and execute commands.
The presence of “chatter,” as experts call it, makes it more complicated for the brain to process everything at once. That’s why, as we age, we tend to make slower decisions.
But there are a few ways we could do to slow down cognitive decline.
For one, we could give our brain the stimulation it needs to inhibit natural degeneration brought about by age and other factors. Here are some of them:
Take time to work on things that truly interest you.
Because let’s face it: when you work on things that you are truly passionate about, it will become easier (and much more enjoyable!) for your brain to process it.
Challenge your brain regularly.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. A puzzle, a word game, or even a strategic board game will do. Or if you’re feeling confident, you take some time off and write the things you’ve been wanting to write.
The brain thrives in challenges; that’s why you need to give it enough simulation so it would veer away from risks of deterioration.
Read tons of materials.
As the “use it or lose it” brain development principle states, you have to use your brain as much as possible to keep it healthy. So, go ahead, and read books, novels, newspapers, magazines, journals – and even comics – as many as you can!
It is entirely up to you whichever material you will choose. What matters most is that you get to use your brain skills and imagination as you read.
Your mind is like a theatre.
Think of it this way: your brain, along with all its equally complex faculties, is like a theater. It’s home to many of your collected abilities, learned concepts, developed skills, varied tools, and unique techniques.
To orchestrate the perfect theatrical performance, you need to have everything in place, so there’s perfect coordination. Without coordination, things will fall apart.
In the same manner, the coordination within the brain is pivotal in keeping your cognitive abilities intact. Consistent practice is a must.
Learn, re-learn, and unlearn.
Use it or lose it. Read books, play instruments, play sports –
If you want your brain to stay healthy, regularly engage your brain in active learning, re-learning, and even unlearning.
Remember, the more stimulated it is, the lesser the risks of brain deterioration. Also, the sooner you do this, the better it will be for you and your brain health.
Use it or lose it; it is now entirely up to you.
Want excellent cognitive functions when you’re 60 and older?
My advice: use it or lose it.
If you have been stimulating your brain, kudos to you! You are already several steps ahead in preventing brain deterioration.
If not, it’s never too late.
How about you?
What activities do you love doing to stimulate your brain? Leave your thoughts below!
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