The brain is the most fascinating and important organ in the universe, estimated to have an astounding 100 billion neurons and more connections than there are stars in the universe. Did you know that it is your brain that decides to get you out of bed in the morning or to hit your snooze button? In fact, your brain manages the stress in your life and relaxes you so that you look vibrant, or, when left unchecked sends stress signals to the rest of your body and wrinkles your skin! It’s important to understand how brain health principles can impact your health.
Here are 10 brain-centered principles that will change everything in your life.
1. Imaging changes everything.
After looking at over 135,000 brain scans on patients from 120 countries, we know that when physicians don’t look at how the brain functions, they guess at what is wrong, and that can hurt their patients. Without imaging, physicians miss important causes of trouble, such as brain injuries, toxic exposure, and infections. People end up misdiagnosed and on the wrong treatments.
2. Your brain is soft, about the consistency of soft butter, and your skull is really hard with many sharp bony ridges.
Brain injuries can ruin your life, but few people know it because very few mental health professionals ever look at the brain.
3. The brain is the most complicated organ in the universe.
Even though your brain is only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20-30% of the calories you consume and 20% of your blood flow. It is the most expensive real estate in your body.
4. When your brain works right, you work right; and when your brain is troubled you are much more likely to have trouble in your life.
With a healthy brain, you are happier, physically healthier (because you make better decisions), wealthier (also because you make better decisions) and more successful. When your brain is unhealthy, for whatever reason (brain injuries, drug abuse, obesity, sleep apnea, etc.), you will be sadder, sicker, poorer and less successful.
5. Your brain is involved in EVERYTHING.
This includes how you think, how you feel, how you act and how well you get along with other people. Your brain is the organ of intelligence, character, personality and every single decision you make.
6. If you knew a train was going to hit you, you should get out of the way.
Alzheimer’s disease starts in the brain decades before you have any symptoms. Treatment is likely to work early and very unlikely to work late. According to research from GE, 75% of the population would want to know if they had a pending brain issue, even if they couldn’t do anything about it. We believe there is a great deal you can do to stave off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia if you know, early on, that your brain is vulnerable. We think everyone should be scanned by the age of 50 (like getting a colonoscopy) to get an early jump on potential problems.
7. All psychiatric illnesses are not single or simple disorders in the brain.
They all have multiple types that require their own treatments. Based on our imaging work it is very clear that giving someone the diagnosis of “depression” is exactly like giving them the diagnosis of “chest pain.” No one gives the diagnosis of “chest pain,” because it doesn’t tell you what is causing it or what to do for it. Giving everyone the same treatment for chest pain makes no logical sense, and we believe that the same is true for psychiatric illnesses.
Depression is a symptom—not a disease. It has many causes, and each case requires its own treatment. In our work, we have described 7 types of anxiety and depression, 7 types of ADD, 6 types of addicts and 5 types of overeaters.
8. Many things HURT the brain.
(Drugs, alcohol, brain injuries, obesity, sleep apnea, hypertension) and many things HELP the brain (new learning, great nutrition, coordination exercises, meditation, fish oil, a healthy community).
On average, we lose 85,000 neurons a day. Your behavior is either accelerating or decelerating this process. Understanding this principle means brain aging is optional. You actually have a choice in how fast your brain ages!
9. Work hard to boost your brain’s reserve.
Brain reserve is the extra function and tissue to deal with whatever stress comes your way. When we’re born, we typically have a lot of brain reserve, especially if our parents took good care of themselves before and during pregnancy. If we aren’t very careful, life steals our reserve (stress, brain injuries, lousy diets, etc.). At some point, either due to bad habits or aging, brain reserve becomes depleted and symptoms develop (memory problems, depression, fatigue, irritability, etc.)
10. Getting well is not just about being symptom-free, it’s about boosting brain reserve, which requires 3 simple strategies:
• Brain envy (you have to really care about your brain)
• Avoid anything that hurts your brain
• Engage in regular brain healthy habits