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Brain

Comprising of over a 100 billion nerves, the human brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body. The brain is a soft jelly like substance that floats in a sea of cerebrospinal fluid which protects it from shock and injuries. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells, blood vessels and fluid called neurons. Neurons form a highly complex communication system in the brain. There are more than 12 billion neurons in the brain and each neuron network is connected with around 1,100 other neurons.

The brain is made of three main parts: the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. The forebrain consists of the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus. The midbrain comprises of the tectum and tegmentum. The hindbrain is made of the cerebellum, pons and medulla. The cerebrum has a folded like appearance called the cortex which contains around 70% of the 100 billion nerve cells. The folding of the cortex helps increase the brain’s surface area thus allowing more neurons to fit inside the brain.

Facts of Organ

The only organ without nerves

The human brain is the only organ in the body that does not have nerves despite it being a vital unit of the central nervous system. Since there are no nerves, the brain does not experience the sensation of pain.

The brain consumes 20% of the body’s energy

The brain is only 2% of our total body weight yet it consumes about 20% of the energy created in the human body. It requires this energy for fueling the nerve impulses and maintaining the health of the brain cells.

100 billion neurons in the brain

The number of neurons present in the human brain is nearly a 100 billion which is 15 times the total human population on earth.

The brain is the fattest organ of the body

The brain is considered to be the fattest organ in the body as 60% of the brain is composed of fat. This is also the highest concentration of fat in a single organ of the human body.

Functions of Organ

Command center for nervous system

The human brain acts as the command center for the nervous system. Much of the brain’s job involves receiving information from the body, interpreting it and then guiding the body accordingly. The brain is made up of a number of specialized areas, all of which have designated jobs. The brain is the control center of all physical and mental bodily functions. It also performs some essential operations including controlling the heart rate, breathing, hormone release and maintaining blood pressure.

Anatomy

Cerebellum:

The cerebellum also known as the little brain is located just under the cerebrum. It plays a vital role in motor control aiding in coordination of posture, balance and muscle movements. Though the cerebellum comprises of only 10% of the total weight of the brain, it contains over half of the brain’s neurons - cells that transfer information via electrical signals.

Brainstem:

The brainstem is responsible for important life functions such as heartbeat, breathing, coughing,sneezing, swallowing, body temperature, digestion and blood pressure. It connects the cerebrum and cerebellum with the spinal cord. The brain stem comprises of the midbrain, pons and medulla.

Hypothalamus:

The hypothalamus is that part of the brain that produces many of the body’s essential hormones. These hormones govern important behavioral functions such as sleep, sex, hunger, temperature control, thirst and mood. Though small in size, the hypothalamus performs many important functions of the body such as behavioral, endocrine and autonomic functions. However, the main purpose of the hypothalamus is to maintain the homeostatic balance in the body.

Pituitary gland:

The pituitary gland is often referred to as the master gland since it controls most of the hormone glands in the body. It is connected to the hypothalamus by the pituitary stalk and secretes hormones that promote muscle growth, control sexual development, fight disease and respond to

Pineal gland:

The pineal gland secretes a hormone called melatonin which regulates the body’s internal clock and maintains the circadian rhythm. It is also believed to play some kind of role in sexual development.

Thalamus:

The thalamus is a tiny structure in the brain that is located over the brain stem. It is connected to the midbrain and the cerebral cortex by a dense network of nerve connections. It delivers sensory and motor signals to the cortex and plays an important role in regulating sleep, pain sensation, attention, memory and alertness.

Food Tips

Wholegrains:

Like the rest of the body, the brain also requires energy. The ability to concentrate on things comes from a steady supply of energy which is delivered in the form of glucose to our brain. Wholegrains have a low-GI, which releases glucose very slowly into the bloodstream so the brain has a continuous supply of glucose thus increasing mental alertness.

Oily fish:

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) like Omega 3 cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through a diet comprising of oily fish. Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in ready-made form which allows the brain to use it easily. Low levels of DHA levels are linked to smaller brain volume and higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Other good sources of omega 3 fatty acids include pumpkin seeds, soya beans, walnut oil, linseed oil and soya bean oil.

Tomatoes:

Low levels of lycopene and zeaxanthin leads to poor cognitive performance. However, tomatoes are loaded with these two antioxidants which protect the brain against the kind of free radical damage to cells that causes dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

 Vitamin rich food:

Foods rich in B vitamins such as B6, B12 and folic acid have been shown to reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood. Higher levels of homocysteine signal an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, stroke and cognitive impairment.

Pumpkin seeds:

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which makes them a super brain food. Omega 3 acids are known to improve brain function. Pumpkin seeds also contain significant amounts of zinc, which is vital for enhancing thinking and memory skills.

Broccoli:

Broccoli is rich in Vitamin K and lignans, a phytoestrogen that increases cognitive skills and memory. Broccoli also contains large amounts of glucosinolates, a compound that halts the decline of acetylcholine in the brain. Low levels of acetylcholine are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Sage:

Sage contains an antioxidant called carnosic acid which is known to combat free radical damage in the brain. This antioxidant increases the body’s production of glutathione and improves blood circulation to the brain thus preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and other mental diseases.

Walnuts:

Walnuts are the best nuts for brain health. They contain high concentrations of DHA which protects brain health in newborns, maintains brain health in adults and prevents cognitive decline in old age. Walnuts are a great source of vitamin E which prevents cognitive decline Vitamin E traps free radicals that damage the brain cells causing Alzheimer’s.

Eggs:

Egg yolks are packed with vitamins A, B12, D, E, choline, folate and selenium, besides other essential nutrients making them one of the best foods for the brain. The choline present in eggs is used by the brain to make acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that improves memory and maintains communication among brain cells. Vitamin B12 is also essential to prevent dementia.

Blueberries:

Blueberries are known to reduce the effect of brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheime's Blueberries contain flavonoids, which enhance cognitive functions, learning ability, reasoning ability, verbal comprehension and memory. The regular consumption of flavonoids can help slow down the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s.

Avocados:

Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fat, which increase healthy blood flow in the brain thereby preventing a number of mental diseases. They also reduce blood pressure, which reduces the risk of developing hypertension or a stroke.

Cruciferous Vegetables:

Cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts contain the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein that protect the brain from the toxic effects of free radicals. High intake of cruciferous vegetables can lower the risk of dementia and other age related diseases.

Lifestyle Tips

Exercise regularly:

Exercise is very important for the proper functioning of the brain. Exercise increases the heart rate which in turn pumps more oxygen to the brain. This nourishes the brain cells and halts the onset of many age-related illnesses. Regular physical exercise increases the gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is crucial to memory.

Quit smoking:

People who smoke are at higher risk of developing strokes as cigarette smoke interferes with the blood supply to the brain.

Sleep:

A good night’s sleep ensures mental alertness while lack of it could lead to mild cognitive impairment over the years. Lack of sleep can lead to an increase in a protein called amyloid that is high in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Exercise grey matter:

Learning new things and indulging in complex thinking strengthens the connections between nerve cells. So even if the signs of Alzheimer appear, the brain is able to resist the damage. Therefore, for a healthy brain it is advisable to keep exercising that grey matter.

 Take care of mental health

Loneliness, depression and stress are bad for the brain. Stress management is crucial in determining the health of the brain. Brooding over stressful things prolongs the harmful effects on brain cells.

Eat healthy:

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lower in fats and sugar is good for the brain. A high calorie diet loaded with fat and sugar can block the arteries in the body including the brain. Studies have also shown that trans-fats impair memory and lead to cognitive decline.

Diseases and Conditions

Herbs

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Bacopa(brahmi)

Bacopa(brahmi)

Brahmi, also known as water hyssop is a commonly used ayurvedic medicine. It is used in the treatment of stress, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, pain ailments like back pa...Read more

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a potent antioxidant which increases blood flow to the specific organ and prevents it from damage. Ginkgo Biloba is seen to provide relieve from muscle pain, PMS related symptoms, improve memory problems, anxiety. It ...Read more

Gotu kola

Gotu kola

Gotu kola is an herb belonging to the parsley family which reduce inflammation, blood pressure of the veins and enhance collagen production. It is used for wound healing, varicose veins; infections like cold, leprosy etc psychiatric d...Read more

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

The most powerful medicinal herb known for its restorative purposes.The herb promotes sleep, balances the nervous system as well as enhancing vigour and vitality of an individual.

Read more

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Holy basil, commonly known as tulsi is a popular ayurvedic herb with a strong peppery taste. It is used to treat the common cold, influenza, bronchitis, asthma, ear pain, headache and digestive disturbances. It is also used as a topic...Read more

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