Is it possible to grow new brain cells? Read this article and find out.
Your Brain’s Inner Cosmos
There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and there are the same amount of neurons in your brain.
Neurons are brain cells that receive electro-chemical signals from the brain and nervous system. They’re the units of communication that are linked to each other through thousands of connections called synapses. These connections ultimately create the entire network of your brain.
All of your habits, self-images, paradigms and thought loops are neural patterns engraved into your brain.
There’s the famous quote:
Neurons that fire together, wire together
The more you do something in a particular manner, the more you begin to associate it with who you are and the more automatic it becomes. It’s the neuroplasticity of habits.
Neuroplasticity and Brain Cells
Before the 20th century, it was thought that the early periods in your childhood development determine the majority of your brain’s neural networks and that they stay relatively unchanged for the rest of your life.
New research over the last few decades in neuroscience, however, has shown that the human brain is actually very plastic and adaptable to change even in adulthood.
This is called neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to restructure and replace many aspects of itself.
Growing a Better Brain
Neuroplasticity is a crucial aspect of healthy brain development and maintenance.
- It’s going to improve your cognition and intelligence
- It has longevity benefits as it protects against neurodegeneration
- It will make you more adaptable to change and stressful situations
Improving neuroplasticity fundamentally starts with learning new things and gaining skills that you previously didn’t have. It’s about creating different patterns into your brain so that you would stay flexible and fluid in your thinking.
Can You Grow New Brain Cells Answered
Neurons and brain cells are the components to synaptic connections and neuroplasticity.
Previously it was also thought that brain cells can’t be regenerated and you’ll start to lose your cognition as a natural side-effect of aging.
Fortunately, neuroplasticity also showed that you can indeed grow new brain cells and stimulate neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis takes place in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain that governs learning new things, storing long-term memories and experiencing emotions.
If you want to have a healthy and sharp brain for the rest of your life, then you need to do the following:
- Protect your currently existing brain cells
- Expose yourself to neuroplasticity as a habitual thing
- Facilitate the growth of new neurons
- Prevent your new brain cells from dying again
I’m now going to go through these points and give you some activities that you can use to become smarter, more creative and have a healthier brain.
How to Protect Your Brain Cells
We’ve all heard the story that your nerve cells can’t be rejuvenated, which turns out to be false.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t start burning through your brain cells like it’s Black Friday.
Protecting your brain cells is actually more important because you need to remove the downside that’s dragging you down before you can set yourself free and start flying.
The biggest thing that kills your brain cells is too much stress.
- Not getting enough sleep – Sleep deprivation inhibits neurogenesis[i]
- Oxidative stress from the environment, food and other toxins
- Too much physical stressors and lack of recovery
- Emotional turmoil and psychological traumas cause a similar response in the body as physical stressors
To protect your brain cells from dying, you need to take stress managemet seriously and make it an active part of your routine.
Neuroprotection for Your Brain Cells
- Spend time in nature because it exposes your mitochondria to negative ions that recharge your cells
- Improve the natural quality of your surroundings. You want to limit your exposure to environmental toxins like air pollution, heavy metals, contaminated water, mould growing in your house, and junk light.
- Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are toxic to the body and they definitely kill off brain cells.
- Sugar can also decrease neurogenesis because of glucose metabolism.
- Consume flavonols – flavonols and other antioxidants help to protect your brain and body from oxidative stress[ii]. Foods high in flavonols are colourful fruit, vegetables, particularly berries such as blueberries, cranberries and cherries, but also dark chocolate.
- Meditation improves your sleep and reduces anxiety. It’s been also shown that mindfulness based practices like meditation increase grey matter size in the brain[iii]
- You should be less busy as well because busyness is not the same as productivity. Being busy means you’re simply overwhelmed by the things you have to do and you’re unable to manage your time. You’re probably doing stuff that really aren’t important at all and you lack perspective. If you want to know how to clearly define your goals, how to get more sh#t done, and remove the constant hassle from your life, then check out my Empowered Morning Routine Video Course.
But let’s carry on with stimulating neurogenesis. Let’s start off with diet.
Here are ways to grow new brain cells with your diet.
Foods to Grow New Brain Cells
- Get enough omega-3s – the Western diet is very omega-6 dominant, which promotes oxidation and inflammation. Adequate omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been shown to promote neurogenesis, improve symptoms of depression and mental health problems[iv]
- DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and the most crucial one for the brain. It improves cognition and can actually repair cognitive decline[v]. So, take your fish oil, eat wild salmon and seafood.
- Reservatrol is an antioxidant that’s linked with longevity and anti-aging but it’s been found to have effects on neurogenesis as well[vi]
- Turmeric is also great for neurogenesis. In fact, turmeric can help to regenerate a damaged brain and improve neurological disorders[vii]
- Green tea has a compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that’s linked to the growth of new brain cells [viii]
- Eat a ketogenic diet. Your brain actually thrives on ketones as they have neuroprotective benefits and the ketogenic diet is very good for your cognition. Ketones can provide up to 70% of the brain’s energy demands[ix] and they protect against oxidative stress[x]. (How to start a ketogenic diet)
- Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting turn out to be great not only for fat loss and longevity but also for neurogenesis. Decreasing your calories increases the neurogenic hormones inside the hippocampus[xi] and in rats fasting has been shown to increase the proliferation of cells in the hippocampus by 30%[xii]
Now, let’s move away from nutrition and direct our attention to other neuroplasticity activities that make your neurons grow
How to Grow New Brain Cells and Stimulate Neurogenesis
- Having sex is amazing for triggering the production of endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good hormones that give us pleasure, improve our mood and attention
- Exercising also unleashes a tidal wave of endorphins. It also increases a protein called brain-derived nootropic factor or BDNF, which stimulates the growth of new neurons and synapses. So, does exercise really make you grow new brain cells? It sure does.
- Exposure to natural sunlight will make your body produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for cardiovascular health and other metabolic processes. It also increases BDNF. Here’s an incredible combination – go exercise outside in an enriched environment with new things. Do some training you haven’t done before like Crossfit, gymnastics, bouldering or just go for a hike. It’s going to trigger novelty and neurogenesis at the same time.
- Learning new things and facing novel situations increases neuroplasticity because you’re forced to consciously walk different pathways in your brain. This forces you to create new connections and in so doing grow new brain cells.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) stimulates parts of the brain with a magnetic field generator which has been shown to increase hippocampal neurogenesis in rats[xiii]
- Transcranial Direct Stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to increase homeostatic neuroplasticity with long term effects[xiv]
Just growing new brain cells doesn’t mean that you’ll have them for life – you have to maintain and cultivate them constantly
How to Prevent Your Brain Cells From Dying
The main message is that you need to bring in some variety into your environment, your activities, your nutrition and routines.
Most importantly, you have to challenege yourself physically as well as mentally daily as to keep yourself sharp as to say.
There’s the saying – “what you don’t use, you’ll lose” and that’s definitely true for your fitness, mindset and neurons.
- So, eat your chocolate, add in some blueberries, maybe some sour cream with some cinnamon.
- Go do bodyweight balancing exercises while reading a novel or don’t eat anything for 3 days.
And in the mean time, get the Body Mind Empowerment Handbook free e-book to learn about the fundamentals of health and performance.