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Brain was initially thought as an organ with finite amount of cells. Furthermore, we were taught that once brain cells are dead, no new cells can be regenerated anymore. We were wrongly led to believe that after young adulthood, our brain can only go one way – degenerate.

Thankfully, we have known now through various observations and studies that our brain is indeed far from static organ. Our brain is not only able to regenerate, it also can mould, modify and re-model according to what and how we handle it. It has been said that our brain is the biggest muscle in our body. We can build muscles andamazingly we can build our brain too.

The fact that our brain is very flexible in its responses to our conducts has givenrise to the concept of brain plasticity. In our previous article we have understood that brain decides who we are. In this article, we will look how we can decide how our brain behaves and in turn decides who we are.

Obviously the first step in ‘deciding’ how our brain behaves is by avoiding substances which can directly kill our brain cells. Number one killers of our brain cells are definitely alcohol and sugar. We all have seen how an intoxicated person can behave in a very strange ways. Eventhough most of the time this effects is only temporary, frequent ‘poisoning’ will eventually make the brain injuriespermanent.This is often shown in the decreasing intelligence and odd behaviour of the affected person in their latter life.

Sugar is affecting brain the same ways albeit in lesser severity. Dementia is a condition where our brain lostits logical ability to process information as well as retains them. Dementia now has been called as ‘brain diabetes’ due to the theory that sugar causes dementia in the same way as sugar causes diabetes.

Other than anti-oxidants and methylation agent supplements, one of the recognised ways to heal or re-model our brain is by doing creative brain activities. These for examples are studying, mathematical games, playing puzzles, learning new skills, reading, thinking and writing. There are even documentations of how a person doing specific task (for example, drawing clock faces) can eventually leads to an improved certain brain functions.

However there is one factor above all else which is not only able re-model our brain, but can actually regenerate our brain cells. In fact, this is probably the only way human can generate brain cells without help from drugs. You may not suspect this but yes, the answer is physical exercise!

Studies have shown that during physical exercise our brain will produce a substance call ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is responsible in increasing the number of brain cells as well as connections between them. Researchers have actually proven that the size and weight of brain of a person with active lifestyle is substantially more than a person who leads sedentary lifestyles.

Without BDNF our brain even at the best of care will have to deteriorate as part of normal aging. However increased BDNF productions will not only prevent senility, it also increases intelligence of the person as he gets older.

Article contributed by: Dr Rizin H Kusop. MBBS, MSc (Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Aesthetic Med), Dip. Family Med. ( Source is available upon request.

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