In 1928 a professor Ramon Cajal claimed that in the brain the nerve paths are something fixed, ended, immutable. Everything may die, nothing may be regenerated. He believed that where all other cells in the body regenerate, the brain cells, were unique in the fact that they did not renew!
This has been followed and believed ever since, that is until recently and now research has proven that brain cells do regenerate and this is called, Neurogenesis.
What the researchers discovered was that within each of our brains there exists a population of neural stem cells which are continually replenished and can differentiate into brain neurones. Simply stated, we are all experiencing brain stem cell therapy every moment of our lives.
As you might expect, the process of neurogenesis is controlled by our DNA. A key role in creating new neurones is a specific gene which appears to control the production of a particular protein. This protein is given the amazing title of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Studies reveal that there is decreased BDNF in Alzheimer’s patients, as well as in a variety of neurological conditions including epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
So, this sounds interesting and hopeful, but it gets better. Many of the factors that influence the DNA code/trigger to produce BDNF are affected by our chosen life style. Most are already well known, diet, health and fitness.
Some Myths and Truths
Truth: The brain keeps growing new brain cells your entire life. This process of neurogenesis is how the brain upgrades itself and enhances your quality of life.
Myth: Your brain stops growing in your early twenties. After that you only lose brain cells.
Myth: Ageing means cognitive decline and memory loss; after middle age life is just one gradual downhill slide into decrepitude.
Truth: There is great variation in people’s rate of neurogenesis.
Truth: Your rate of neurogenesis is tied to the quality of your life.
Truth: You can increase your rate of neurogenesis by three to five times at all ages, young, middle aged and old. You can operate at a higher level of brain function in your twenties and thirties, in middle age as well your sixties, seventies and beyond.
Myth: Your genes determine how you age and how long your brain stays sharp.
Myth: You reach your mental peak in your twenties and thirties. Nothing can be done to make you sharper once you’re middle aged or beyond.
Myth: Depression is a biological illness caused by low serotonin levels. It requires lifelong SSRI drugs to treat it.
Truth: You can operate at a higher level than ever before believed possible. At any age you can be smarter,, remember more, be more vibrant, alive, free of depression, and resistant to stress. When you increase your rate of neurogenesis, the potential of your brain is unknown, but the potential is increased!
To be able to increase Neurogenesis is to improve your entire life, how you think, feel, function and act. I believe that more than this, it may help to slow, stop, or even reverse the signs and symptoms of dementia.
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