● There are around 86 billion neurons in the brain. Neurons = brain cells
● There are as many as 15,000 connections per neuron in a healthy adult
● Which means there are as many as 1 quadrillion neuronal connections in the brain
● Electrical signals are transmitted between neurons 5-50 times per second
● The brain contains approximately 400 miles of blood vessels (Link)
● 25% of the energy in the body is used by the brain
- The brain is not a rubbery tissue mass like we often see. Live brain tissue is actually much more soft, similar to the consistency of Jello or soft gelatin.
- The brain is not a single structural mass, it is comprised of several independent tissue regions joined only by fragile connections.
- The inside surface of the brain is not flat, it has many edges, ridges, and valleys.
- Brain tissue does not have pain receptors.
The nutrients we provide the developing brain are critical. Nutrition greatly affects the structure and function of brain cells, especially in the early years when the brain is growing faster than it ever will. By supplying the brain with proper food, activity, and education, the brain is able to grow strong so it can pay us back later. It’s no secret, prenatal vitamins are some of the most important nutrients that the developing brain ever gets, but brain development doesn’t stop at birth, and neither should proper nutrition. The incentive is better cognitive ability in the future.
The final checkpoint for brain tissue development happens around age 25 with the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that influences attention, behavioral maturity, decision making, and strategic problem solving. Surprisingly, this lobe of the brain is not complete until we are nearly 25 years old. All the more reason to lead by example when around developing brains, because you never know who’s brain you’re influencing.
● 60% of the dry-weight of the brain is made up of fat (Link)
● 73% is made of water (bc water is found in every cell – even fat cells) (Link)
● 50% of neuron membranes are made of DHA (the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain)
● 25% of the body’s cholesterol is found in your brain (Link)
Chronic stress is bad for the brain.
- Stress and depression both decrease neuronal connections, and decrease brain size (Link). This can affect many aspects of brain function including memory, and could even cause premature aging.
- Short term, stress/anxiety causes the release of certain chemicals in the brain that increase heart rate, blood, pressure, and glucose availability. In large quantities these neurochemicals have been linked to weakened immune system, depression, fatigue, and heart disease (Link).
Reduce Stress & Change the Brain.
- Omega-3’s for emotional well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids are well studied for their improvement of symptoms including depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and aggression. (Link)
- Meditation reduces brain shrinkage. Meditation has been shown to increase thickness of brain tissue in various areas of the cortex (Link). Being that cortical thickness decreases naturally with age, meditation may be able to offset age-related tissue degeneration.
- Study shows that meditation increases gray matter in regions of the brain associated with emotion regulation, memory processes, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. Significantly, the study was done on participants who had no prior history of meditating. (Link)
You are born with nearly all the brain cells you ever need. Since neurons don’t multiply over time, the process of learning actually occurs through a process where the brain creates more connections between cells.