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The answer is most definitely yes.
It used to be thought that no, you couldn’t, but science has proven that’s just not true. And I’ve experienced changes in my brain over the past few years, so I know it’s possible. So how do you go about doing this?
1. Learn something new
If you want to see brain change in action, learn something new. You know your brain has changed because you can do something, or recall knowledge of something you didn’t know before. You’re able to do that because your brain created new cells, and new transmission, or neural pathways to connect old cells with new cells, so the new information can be retained and used.
When you build new brain cells, you are building new brain. When you have more brain to use in later age, you have more brain to depend on should a form of dementia kick in. There was a study done on nuns who donated their brains post death. During autopsy it was found that they had the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, beta amyloid plaque, in their brains, but didn’t show symptoms of dementia. It was concluded that due to their lifestyle of being life long learners, hey just had more brain tissue, and thus were able to tap into that extra tissue, rather than depending on the disease tissue.
2. Think different thoughts
I know this might sound simplistic, or hokey, but it’s more challenging than you may… think. The brain is wired for efficiency. This is why we tend to perform the same behaviors over and over. We eat the same foods, drink the same beverages, get out of bed the same way every morning, etc. Because of the wiring of our brain, we can get through our days with relative ease.
The same goes for the way we think about things. We have our set opinions, something outside of us triggers our senses, we typically go down the same thought route, regurgitating the same attitudes and opinions. But you actually do have the power to change this. If you like the way you react to certain things, great! But if you don’t, all you have to do is think different thoughts about it.
That might sound difficult, but it truly isn’t. Our brain makes it seem noisy and messy and like quite the feat to do this, but in reality all it takes is changing one simple thought, and then training our brain to think it.
3. eat for brain growth
When it comes to eating for brain growth and health, it’s just as important to subtract foods as it is to add foods.
Foods that can cause brain degeneration (breakdown) are flour, refined grain (like white rice), refined sugar, processed meats, processed cheese, hydrogenated fats, and alcohol. If you’re having trouble not eating these foods, it might have something to do with the thoughts you’re thinking about them (see number 2).
It’s actually pretty simple to eat for brain health and growth. If it’s a whole food, you’re probably doing O.K. This means fresh veggies, especially leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage, fresh fruits, fresh meat, a whole grain like whole brown rice, or quinoa, beans, lentils. You can also include coffee and chocolate (85% or higher cocoa content). Organic dairy can be included if your body tolerates it, but watch out for sugar bombs like flavored yogurt.