Health trivia

Health trivia: the human brain

The human body is full of wonder. Did you know your body contains:

  • enough iron to make a 3 inch nail,
  • enough sulfur to kill all the fleas on an average dog,
  • enough carbon to make 900 pencils,
  • enough potassium to fire a toy cannon,
  • enough fat to make 7 bars of soap,
  • enough phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and
  • enough water to fill a ten-gallon tank?

The amazing human brain

Your grey and white matter is full of surprises! Read on to learn more about one of the most complex and mysterious organs in your body.

  • The average adult brain weights about 3 pounds – or about 2% of your body’s total weight – but it needs 20% of your total energy and oxygen intake to power it.
  • Albert Einstein’s brain weighed only 2.71 pounds, about 10% smaller than average.
  • Your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity, enough to power a low-wattage LED light.
  • No one knows the exact number for sure but it has been estimated that we have about 86 billion brain cells, also known as known as neurons.
  • 73% of your brain is water. Make sure you always stay hydrated because it takes only a 2% drop in hydration levels to affect your brain function, like your memory and cognitive skills.
  • Your brain is the fattiest organ in your body. Around 25% of your total cholesterol is situated in your brain! More than half of your brain’s dry weight is fat.
  • Researchers have found that cholesterol is a key factor required for the creation of memories and learning. The creation and maintenance of the connections between brain cells – known as synapses – is entirely dependent on cholesterol.  Low levels of good cholesterol is linked to memory loss and dementia.
  • Your fatty brain needs the right kind of fat for development and performance. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), particularly omega-3, are important for both cognitive function and moods. However, EFAs cannot be synthesized by our body and must be obtained from diet. Good sources include oily fish, chia seeds and flaxseeds, as well as good quality supplements. 
  • According to research done at Cambridge University, the order of letters in a word doesn’t matter much to your brain. As long as the first and last letters are in the right spot, your brain can rearrange the letters to form words as fast as you can read. This is why you can easily make sense out of this jumble of letters:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. 

  • Are you reading this on your Apple iPhone? Guess what, according to BBC documentary Secrets of the Superbrands, a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner found that Apple products stimulate the same parts of the brain activated by religious imagery in people of faith!
  • There is a “second brain”: Your gut contains about 100 million neurons and the flora of bacteria that live inside your intestines constantly affects your thoughts and feelings. Our gut microbes synthesize major brain chemicals such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine! Gut and Psychology Syndrome, also known as GAPS, was coined by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, a British neurologist. This term reflects her belief that there is a critical link between learning disabilities, the foods and medicines that we take, and the condition of our digestive system — for a healthy brain. 
  • For a long time it was thought that humans cannot grow new brain cells beyond the age of 3, until new research in the late 1990’s showed that neurogenesis continues to occur in adult brains!  This brings hope for future cures for brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

How to maintain a healthy brain: the IMI way

IMI Founding Director and Naturopath Graeme Bradshaw shared the following advice to help you keep your brain healthy.

“Researchers have shown that there are things we can do to stimulate the growth of brain cells and thus stay sharp mentally as we age. Brain re-growth also opens up the possibility of the reversal of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Overcoming chronic inflammation could be the key to brain regrowth and also the prevention of other illnesses,” Graeme says.

Eating your way to a healthy brain

Let’s start with diet, we know that sugar is inflammatory.  Reducing refined carbs like white rice, bread, pasta, as well as grains is a good idea because our body sees them as sugar and they cause our blood glucose to rise along with insulin issues. We also know that polyphenols in berries and green tea can preserve memory and cognitive skills. The spice turmeric offers anti-inflammatory properties and also helps neurogenesis.”

“Other key nutrients for optimal brain function include the B complex vitamins (B6, B12, Folate) in active form, vitamin D3, magnesium, zinc, iron, and omega 3 oils.”

Lifestyle for brain health

“Making sure you get enough sleep and maintain a healthy stress level can go a long way in slowing brain ageing. Exercise and sleep also help to optimize your insulin levels.”

Avoid environmental toxins

“Environmental pollutants can cause chronic inflammations. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum are neurotoxins, meaning they destroy nerve tissues.  You can find helpful tips for reducing toxic exposure here. It is also important to maintain a good level of the detox molecule called glutathione.

Tackle chronic infections

“Doing the above can go a long way in managing inflammation and keep your brain and body healthy. However, you need to make sure you remove any infections you may have. Chronic infections such as herpes, candida, sinusitis, and periodontal diseases have been shown to associate with Alzheimer’s.

“Infections can cross the blood-brain barrier or transport through the cranial nerves to reach the brain and cause inflammation. Many gut infections can also lead to an inflamed brain. Fortunately, there are many tests nowadays to help you discover if you have these infections, as well as effective, natural ways to cure them.

How we at IMI can help

“Consult a qualified naturopathic medicine practitioner if you believe you may have any chronic infections. Proactively, you can take a DNA test that assesses your genetic vulnerabilities and health risks. Your practitioner can then help you with a personalized nutrition and lifestyle plan for good health, longevity and even DNA damage repair.”

What to do next

At IMI, we are committed to delivering peace of mind with the purest, high-quality supplements. We’ve worked hard to source the best clinical grade and practitioner recommended herbs and supplements, so you don’t have to.

Simply visit our dispensary in person or buy from IMI Supplements Online.

To make an appointment to see Graeme Bradshaw or another naturopath at IMI, call 2523 7121 or submit the enquiry e-form.