5 Ways to Care for your Brain
My aim here is deceptively simple: to let you know how amazing your brain is, and to inspire you to take care of it.
Your brain is one of a kind; an unfathomable universe.
When people talk about alternative realities, someone will say maybe we’re all just brains in a giant vat, all connected up. It’s never maybe we’re all just hearts connected up; or maybe we’re all just twisted intestines.
Maybe your body is just a life-support system for your brain. Legs carry it around; hands feed it info and do its bidding. Lungs gather oxygen to keep your brain alive, the gut gathers nutrients to keep it alive, the blood transport these and more, and so on.
Your brain is a small lump of fat, about 1½ Kg, with some protein added and glucose and oxygen to keep it going. Yet this little lump of fat (of tofu consistency) mediates your experience of love, hate, pleasure and pain; and all you learn, think and feel. With it, you appreciate beautiful art, music, theatre, sports, ideas, stories and other brains. It stores details of your past and propels you into the future with hopes and dreams. It makes decisions in the present. It somehow houses your self-awareness and processes your total life experience.
The numbers in your brain are staggering: 100 billion neurons each with over 40 million proteins and up to 10,000 connections to other neurons. There’s 100 trillion to potentially 1 quadrillion connections in your brain creating an info capacity of 1,000 to 2,500 terabytes. (1 terabyte holds 2 million textbooks.)
5 senses get info to your brain. Your ears detect >300,000 different frequencies. You have ½ million taste receptors, more than 100 million optic receptors and a nose which can detect a trillion different odours (1,000,000,000,000!). On your skin sit 200,000 temperature detectors, 500,000 touch receptors and 4 million or so pain receptors.
Your brain tells your body to get into action. It has the communication network outdoing a global superpower, it uses about 180,000Km of nerve fibre, to connect to every organ, muscle, blood vessel and receptor.
Unknown factors permeate our brain. We’re grappling with important questions: What is consciousness? Where is the mind? How does the presence of a chemical translate to the experience of pleasure? How does looking at a great painting get translated into a feeling? How do we understand music? Why does music move us? Where’s that screen that shows us what our eyes see? Why do we dream? What is the imagination? How can we imagine things that don’t exist? How do thoughts arise?
Ummmm. We have theories, but errr … we don’t know.
Awesome. Amazing. Stupefying. Worth caring for.
Care for your amazing brain in 5 easy ways: AEIOU.
Avoid excessive head hits, alcohol, drugs and screen time. If you’re ever concussed, get it checked out; limit alcohol; cut out cigarettes and drugs; and limit screen extremes which can shrink important parts of your brain.
Exercise is great for your body and brain. Physical and intellectual. For brain exercise, learn a language, a musical instrument, a sport, read, read, read, or get to know new people and get to know old friends deeper.
Intake is complex, there are so many diets. For your brain, think in terms of nutrients as well as fuel. Fish for essential fatty acids and fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetables are always good: blueberries, broccoli, nuts and more.
Other people are always a challenge for your brain. Be with them. The brain is wired for connection, love and empathy. It hates loneliness. Go for
Less text-talk, more live-talk.
Less screen sex, more intimacy.
Less solo computer action, more social interaction.
Finally, Unwind. Relax, chill, kick off your shoes, make yourself at home, take it easy. Laugh, listen to music, talk, dance, sing, pat a dog, commune with nature. Do these with friends and family.
 Montag, Christian, et al. "Internet Communication Disorder and the structure of the human brain: initial insights on WeChat addiction." Scientific reports 8.1 (2018): 2155.