12 Amazing Facts About Your Brains…!
Did you know that not drinking enough water can make your brain shrink? And that learning another language can prevent Alzheimer’s? Here are 12 things that directly affect your brain:
Whether you’re checking an email during a conference call at work, or just trying to read those last few pages as you finish your lunch. Multitasking is something we’re all guilty of. But, studies have shown that multitasking decreases our productivity by an average of 40%. Our brains don’t actually multitask; they switch back and forth rapidly from one thing to another. Because your brain physically incapable of doing more than one thing at a time, multitasking destroys the neural connections that your brain uses to relay information. As a result, chronic multitaskers experience-on average- a ten-point decrease in IQ. Chronic multitaskers experience-on average- a ten-point decrease in IQ. Think you’re one of the lucky few who can multitask effectively? Well, you may want to think again. Recent studies have shown that only 2% of people are genetically predetermined to be able to multitask effectively. Unfortunately, without the help of a nifty MRI scanner, there’s no way to tell if you’re one of that lucky 2%. In other words; chances are you’re just another victim of the multitasking delusion.
11. Body Language
The way we move our bodies affects how others see us as well as our own moods and habits. For instance, a study at Ohio State University in 2003 found that our opinions can be subsconsciously influenced by our physical behavior. When participants in the study nodded in agreements or shook their heads to signal disagreement, these actions affected their opinions without them realizing. The same study also showed that when participants hugged themselves, they were sometimes ableto reduce their physical pain. Things can happen even when we change our posture. For example, when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general. A slow, slumped walk, can do the exact opposite and drain us of our energy. Amy Cuddy in her famous Ted Talk, says that posture actually changes our hormone levels.Taking up a power pose, or expansive pose, actually decreases your cortisone levels and increases testosterone. So if you want to take advantage of these proven benefits to live a healthier and happier life, try to remember and sit up straight!
Consisting of about 73% water, your brain is the thirstiest part of your body. Water is to the brain as air is to the lungs. But despite being such an important part of the brain’s function, it is estimated that upwards of 66% of people in the World are dehydrated. And that’s bad news, because recent studies have shown that it only takes 2% dehydration to affect your brain’s executive functions. Too little water can actually cause the brain to shrink, and result in lower mental capacity. The negative effects of dehydration are so severe, that some scientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease is actually a result of long-term dehydration. Go ahead. You probably want to take a water break.
Depending on the genre you listen to, music can also influence your personality. For example, Country Music fans tend to be hard-working and outgoing, while Classical Music fans tend to be more creative, and introversive. In one study people were able to accurately predict the personalities of others based solely on their musical preferences.Music can also improve your memory. Listening to familiar music stimulates the hippocampus- the part of your brain that deals with long term memory; and can help you recall things you otherwise would’ve forgotten. It also expands your working memory; allowing your mind hold on to more things at once.
Now this next one is enough to make you wish you’d paid closer attention in all your language class in High school. Neurologists are discovering that learning a second language can actually psychically reshape the brain, and result in better cognitive function, with its benefits ranging from the very old to the very young. Children who learn two languages test better in tasks relating to focus, and attention switching. Older people benefit from the effects of language on the brain as well. Other studies have shown that learning a second language reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and one in particular showed that the ability to speak two languages delays the onset of dementia by an average of 4.5 years.
If there’s one thing that almost all of us have in common; it’s a love of sugar. We love the stuff. An average person in developed countries consume anywhere from 110 – 130 pounds of sugar every year (may vary couple pounds, depending on their diet)… Why is sugar so addictive? Because it hijacks the reward system in your brain, causing it release the feel-good chemical, Dopamine. In fact, our brains release so much dopamine when we eat sugar, that it’s just as addictive as drugs, or alcohol. But while sugar may taste good going in, too much of it can cause some serious neurological disorders. Excessive consumption of this treat has been linked to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Epilepsy, ADHD, and Mood disorders. Sugar also impairs our ability to learn and memorize new information. Eating a standard American diet of highly processed, and sugary foods increases your risk of developing anxiety and depression. Suddenly, that triple chocolate Ice Cream Sundae doesn’t sound quite as tempting. Does it..?
It turns out that reading can significantly increase your creative abilities. When you read about new places and events, your brain believes that YOU have experienced them. This is particularly true of metaphors. When we read a metaphor, the part of the brain that activates when we actually touch something lights up. It seems that old saying about how reading a book can take you anywhere, has more truth to it than we realized. A recent study showed that half an hour of dedicated reading reduces stress levels by 68%, far more than even listening to music. It seems that immersing ourselves in a good read takes our minds off of muscle tension, and other stress related factors. Reading also makes us more empathetic toward the feelings and emotions of others. And not just in a cliché walk in someone else’s shoe kind of way; I mean it literally allows us to feel others’ emotions, with the appropriate pain and happy receptors going off in our own brains. So, Don’t miss any of my posts..!
By increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise makes you happier and calmer, increasing overall brain function. Exercise also encourages the release of endorphins-more of those feel good brain chemicals- so you walk away from your morning workout not only looking good, but feeling fantastic. In addition to bettering your mood, regular cardiovascular exercise can make your brain bigger-literally. Studies have shown that following a regular exercise routine increases the overall mass of the brain, as well as the number of brain cells. Scientists believe that this is due to the fact that physical exercise stimulates a process called neurogenesis; where new neurons are created.
We all know that having a positive outlook on life can be extremely helpful, but what you may not have realized is that optimism may actually be necessary for our survival. One study revealed that optimism greatly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease among elderly people. Other benefits include longer lifespans, lower stress levels, and better overall brain function. While the benefits of optimism are well documented, researchers have yet to understand the exact connection between positive thinking and good health. It’s possible that people who have more positive outlook on life are more like-able, and as result have better social lives; something that is well known to have increased health and longevity. It may also be due to the fact that optimistic people tend to be more active, and physically fit. Whatever the case, all it takes is a small adjustment in your thinking can lead to a much happier-and healthier-brain. Now that’s what I’d call a silver lining.
There’s nothing better than a good night’s rest. A healthy adult needs to get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. However, Developed country people at large seem to suffer from either too little or too much sleep. That’s right; there is such a thing as too much sleep. Believe it or not, too much sleep is just as bad for you as too little sleep. Studies have shown that getting too little sleep has some severely negative effects on the brain. For one thing, it disrupts the neuropathways that direct information from one part of the brain to another. Not getting enough sleep can also result in less effective mental filtering, making it more difficult for your brain to sort out useful information, from the more trivial stuff. The tricky part is that there’s no magic number for how much sleep you should get. As a rule, you should try to get enough sleep to keep you energized for the whole day-without artificial stimulation. And yes; I do mean coffee. Find your perfect sleep schedule and your brain will thank you.
2. Playing an Instrument
In addition to being a fun way to occupy your time, learning to play an instrument is another great way to improve your brain. In one study, people who knew how to play an instrument were shown to be significantly better at auditory discrimination-that’s the brain’s ability to make sense of language sounds. Learning to play an instrument also improves your fine motor skills. Researchers have also found that musicians have better vocabulary, and nonverbal reasoning skills. It is easier for them to understand and analyze information as well as recognize patterns and similarities in shapes and colors.
1. Gut Bacteria
Researchers are beginning to understand the link between the bacteria in our guts, and brain health. A healthy adult has about 1 trillion bacteria lining their intestinal tract. That’s about three pounds worth of bacteria that your body NEEDS in order to work properly. Without the right amount of those little fellas in your gut, your brain wouldn’t be able to perform its everyday functions. Don’t believe that these bacteria are absolutely vital to your health? Well, this may change your mind; the number of bacteria in your intestines outnumber the rest of the cells in your body 10 to 1. Because the bacteria in your gut is necessary in helping your body digest vitamins, it’s presence or absence has been linked to obesity, fatigue and mental illness. The lack of the proper amount of gut bacteria has been shown to result in neurological disorders like Autism, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and even schizophrenia. So, as crazy as it may sound, taking care of the bacteria in your gut is definitely in your brain’s best interest…
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