How do we increase brain power?
One of the ways to increase brain power is to protect the coating, otherwise know as the myelin sheath, that surrounds the axons of our neurons and that sheath should have a strong fatty structure.
A neuron (brain cell) is made up of a cell body, dendrites, and an axon. Neurons communicate with other neurons to process information and conduct various processes in the body by sending signals (neurotransmitters). The axons transmit signals.
The myelin sheath, which surrounds axons, is made up mostly of fat. The fat provides a protective structure that strengthens the myelin sheath facilitating strong signalling.
Signals sent from a neuron to another neuron (via the axon terminal) happens across what is called the synapse, which is essentially the gap between neurons.
Brain Power Signalling – Your synapse is Instagram and your axon terminal is a data connection…
Think of the synapse as a social media platform. We’ll use Instagram for our platform. So, you use Instagram for instantly uploading images or videos because you’d like to relay a message of some kind. Uploading images/videos requires a data or wi-fi connection. The axon terminal is the connection that allows you to upload. Now if something goes wrong with your connection uploading will be delayed and you may see that little symbol that keeps swirling until the image/video finally uploads.
If the myelin sheath deteriorates signalling across the synapse becomes weak and the end result isn’t good. Weak signals make communication between neurons slows, i.e how you process information slows….your brain slows. A turtle is now transporting your signals. You have turtle brain….or a very crappy data/wi-fi connection.
So your data or wi-fi connection must be strong for quick uploads. Same applies to neurons. The myelin sheath, which is a protective coating for the axon, must be intact to effectively transmit signals.
Myelin sheath deterioration happens naturally as we age but not naturally to the point of losing our faculties all together. You can minimize the deterioration. How? By giving your brain power building the fuel it needs to thrive and by cutting out things that have the opposite effect.
There are many things one can do to increase brain power, but for now we’ll focus on one of those things – Omega 3 Fatty Acids, specifically DHA.
DHA which is an Omega 3 Fatty Acid is scientifically proven to protect myelin sheath.
Where do we get Omega 3 fatty acids from to improve brain power?
Fish! Cold water wild fatty fish to be specific is the best source. Now of course you have to consider the fact of our oceans being depleted of fish, so if you’re going the fish route choose wisely. Source your fish from suppliers practicing sustainable fishing methods.
Some great fish choices include mackerel, sardines (I love sardines!), wild salmon, herring and anchovies.
Eggs – Yup eggs! Eggs are a power house of nutritional value and they have brain power building DHA.
Eggs also contain choline which is another critical component of myelin.
Algae – For the vegans, vegetarians and other non-meat lovers, algae is a good source for DHA.
Here’s a fun fact to one-up us meat eaters – the main source of food for fish is algae!
ALA – We can convert ALA to DHA, but we don’t do this very well. However to give our friendly vegans another notch on their belt, studies have shown that vegans are much better at converting ALA to DHA. Some sources of ALA include olive oil and flaxseed. Have the former cold pressed and the latter as flaxseed oil to get the most benefit.
I’ve been going on and on about DHA of Omega 3 fatty acids for building brain power, but what about EPA. EPA is good for your brain but it’s benefits mainly lie in it’s anti-inflammatory properties which is ESSENTIAL for reducing brain inflammation which will affect brain power signaling.
All the sources of DHA mentioned also contain EPA.
We have billions of neurons and trillions of synapses. Nourishing our neurons with the right fuel is key to maintaining their strong structure so that signals are transported through the synapse quickly instead of in slow motion. One of the simple ways to do this is to maintain that fatty structure of the myelin sheath. Fuel your brain with DHA to build power!