boost brain power

9 Ways to Boost Brain Power — Guest Post by Dr. Charles Stone

This is a guest post by Dr. Charles Stone. Photo and links below. The Apostle Paul wrote that the Christian’s body is the “Temple of the Holy Spirit.” The human brain is a marvel of creation. Sr. Stone holds an Executive Masters degree in the Neuroscience of Leadership. — Brian

God gave each of us a two-pound dynamo called the human brain. It’s truly the most amazing physical object in the universe. Yet, many people (and leaders) don’t take care of their brains and later in life they pay the price.

However, we can boost our brainpower and keep our brains healthy and humming along with 9 simple choices.

First, Some Sobering Facts About the Brain

  1. Our brain’s overall volume decreases by 5% per decade after the age of 40.
  2. Dendrites at the end of our brain cells (think of the roots of a tree) begin to decline starting in our twenties. The more ‘bushy’ our dendrites, the better and more efficient our brain processes information.
  3. Gray matter (brain cells called neurons) also begin to decline starting in our mid-20’s.
  4. The insulation (called myelin) that wraps around the tail of a neuron (called an axon) thins as we age. The thicker the myelin the faster the electrical impulses travel along the axon. And faster is better.
  5. The receptors for the neurotransmitter chemical called dopamine decrease as we age. This chemical plays a major role in attention, learning, and reward.

These brain changes lead to memory loss, decreased attention, slowed mental processing, and lessens our ability to learn. However, even with these sobering facts, we can reduce the rate of cognitive decline and keep our brains healthy by applying these 9 choices.

9 Ways to Boost Brain Power

  1. Get moving
    • Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. When we exercise, a chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is released and it keeps our neurons healthy. Some call it the brain’s Miracle Grow.
  2. Use it or lose it
    • Think of your brain as a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. The more we use our brain, the more we create something called cognitive reserve, the brain’s savings account. As we age, the more cognitive reserve we have developed, the more capacity the brain has to reallocate functions to other regions of the brain from regions that may not be working as well.
  3. Make lots of friends
    • Staying connected to others in community helps keep your brain fresh.
  4. Volunteer/serve others
    • People who volunteer have a much less chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and have less stress. Prolonged stress on the body can actually shrink our brain, especially in our memory center.
  5. Keep your devotional life strong
    • At the end of our chromosomes lie tiny end caps called telomeres, much like the plastic sleeves at the end of our shoelaces. Scientists have discovered a positive correlation to the length of these end caps and longevity. In studies of those who regularly meditate, their chromosomes consistently have longer telomeres. So a daily quiet time may help you live longer.
  6. Don’t veg in front of the TV
    • In some sobering new research, scientists discovered that watching too much TV can alter the brain structure of children in areas related to verbal intelligence. So, monitor the amount of TV you watch.
  7. Eat your spinach
    • A healthy diet is crucial for brain health. Foods such as dark leafy veggies, blueberries, green tea, and those rich in omega-3 fatty acids (the brain’s building blocks) bode well for a healthy brain. Some supplements such as MCT oil, vitamins E and B, and CoQ10 may also boost brainpower. Learn more here about some of the best brain supplements.
  8. Learn something new
    • The brain loves novelty. When we learn something new (learn a new skill or develop a new hobby), we actually encourage the growth of new brain cells.
  9. Get adequate sleep
    • When we sleep the brain is quite active. It consolidates what we learned that day into long-term memory and helps grow new neurons in our memory center (the hippocampus). Sleep also clears out a deposit called beta-amyloid that accumulates in Alzheimer’s disease.

Take care of your brain and it will serve you well. Since the brain is part of the body, we should heed the words of the Apostle Paul.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Cor. 6:19 (NIV)

If you are interested in how brain insight can help improve leadership, check out my last book , Brain-Savvy Leaders: the Science of Significant Ministry. 

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Dr. Charles Stone has an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His most recent degree is an executive masters in the neuroscience of leadership from The Neuroleadership Institute.

He has served for 37 years in ministry, 24 of those years as a senior pastor. He currently pastors West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada, a multicultural congregation with over 1,000 attendees. He founded StoneWell Ministries to serve pastors and churches through coaching and consulting. Many of his articles have been featured in magazines such as Outreach, Leadership Journal, REV, New Man, and In Touch and his blog posts have appeared on sites such as Pastors.com, SermonCentral.com, ChurchCentral.com, and Churchleaders.com. Charles and his wife Sherryl have been married for 36 years and have three adult children.

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