For a very long time people believed that an adult brain is not capable of generating new brain cells. This meant that we had only the amount of brain cells which we acquired when we were born. However, this dogma was broken by the latest research of scientists which revealed that new brain cells can be generated during our lives.
Neurogenesis is a process that can create new brain cells named as neurons that develop in the hippocampus. This is a part of the brain accountable for regulating emotions, learning information and storing long-term memories.
According to Dr. Amar Sahay who is a neuroscientist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital the development of new brain cells can better cognitive function, improve the ability to learn and keep good memory. Furthermore, the growth of new neurons can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease, treat and prevent depression, and reduce anxiety.
However, in order to gain all the amazing benefits from the formation of the new brain cells we need to keep the old ones in good shape. Certain habits can influence on the health of the brain cells and cause damage to them like the following aspects:
What damages our brain cells?
Diet which is packed with processed fats, sugar, and refined grains shrink the brain. According to a 2015 study performed in Australia on the influence of the western diet on the size of the hippocampus, it was revealed that the hippocampus is smaller in persons that consume plenty of junk food.
Not enough sleep
According to a released study on mice in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that staying awake for too long kills brain cells in mice, and this refers to people as well. Lack of sleep destroys a particular type of brain cells known as locus ceruleus which take a vital part in keeping us awake and alert.
Too much stress can harm brain cells over time, therefore try to manage stress by practicing meditation or yoga, in fact any activity that offers to you relaxation.
If you try to avoid the above mentioned things, then you are improving your lifestyle for which your brain cells will be thankful.
How to develop new brain cells?
According to Dr. Sandrine Thuret, another neuroscientist at King’s College London humans can develop new brain cells via neurogenesis which can be stimulated in several ways:
The consumption of certain foods can boost the development of new brain cells, like the following ones:
This root is very beneficial for the process of neurogenesis, but as well as can regenerate a “damaged brain” and help repair neurological conditions, according to a recent study released in Stem Cell Research & Therapy.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids promote the growth of neurons. Foods loaded with these acids are avocados and fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring. Likewise, you can include nuts, flaxseed or linseed oil, and chia seeds.
These berries have their name due to their color-blue, which comes from anthocyanin dye, a flavonoid that is being related to neurogenesis. This was confirmed by a conducted study at the Human Nutrition Research Center of the Department of Agriculture at Boston’s Tufts University in the United States.
Dark chocolate has in its content flavonoids which help in the development of new neurons.
This tea contains a compound known as epigallocatechingallate (EGCG) which is associated to the growth of new brain cells, as per performed study in Mexico in 2016.
Stimulate the brain
If you stimulate you brain the neurogenesis of the hippocampus gets boosted. Cognitive stimulation means learning new skills, travelling, trying new things, interacting with other people, and to keep coming out of the comfort zone.
Neurogenesis can be promoted by performing endurance exercises on regular basis like walking or jogging. Namely, jogging stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5, which in turn promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain protein that stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses.