Brain Health Myths, Truths, and Enhancers (Like Prevagen)

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Brain - Photo by: dierk schaefer - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

The brain is an integral part of our existence – affecting our ability to analyze, create, ruminate, and communicate. But amid all of the information about brain health, it’s difficult to know what’s real and what’s a myth. Let’s sort through it all and get to the truth. There’s one truth that you might not realize: a supplement called Prevagen that looks very promising for brain health.

Prevagen is a brain-boosting nutritional supplement, an oral pill that has been clinically shown to help with mild memory loss associated with aging.*

Here’s evidence to consider:

  • In a computer-assessed, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study, Prevagen improved certain aspects of cognitive function over a 90-day period.*
  • In a clinical trial, a subgroup of adults with mild, age-related cognitive impairment taking just one Prevagen a day over 90 days were shown to improve in measurements related to memory.*
  • Researchers report that Prevagen improves memory* and supports healthy brain function,* a sharper mind,* and clearer thinking.* Interestingly, Prevagen contains apoaequorin, an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish.*

Debunking the myths about brain health

It’s exciting news, isn’t it? We’re all hoping for a healthy brain in old age. Let’s learn more about our precious brains, sort through the myths, and find steps that will truly help the brain stay healthy.

MYTH: People are either right brained or left brained.

Your analytical or creative tendencies might lead you to believe the theory of the right and left brain, and it’s true that some functions are more closely linked to one region of the brain. But no one is completely left or right brained. Every task is performed better when the entire brain is at work.

MYTH: Male and female brain differences affect learning abilities.

It’s true that each gender has a unique brain structure. But there’s been no research on how these differences affect the ability to learn new skills. These activities involve networks of neurons, and any gender-based differences in brain structure have a minor effect on function at most.

MYTH: The fate of our brains is governed by genes.

The human brain is very plastic, which means that our lifestyles and behaviors play the biggest role in how our individual brains evolve over a lifetime.

MYTH: Video games are the best form of brain training.

It’s true that video games engage the brain, which is positive. But research has shown that many other forms of brain activity can stimulate the brain better.

MYTH: Brain training doesn’t work.

Scientists at the Stanford University Center on Longevity issued a report stating that computer-based “brain games” don’t improve general cognitive performance in everyday life or prevent cognitive slowing. However, a larger group of scientists at the U.S. Institute of Medicine issued a statement to the contrary – stating that brain games do have merit.

MYTH: If your heart is healthy, your brain is healthy.

It’s true that the health of the heart and brain are linked, but these are separate organs, each with independent functions and dysfunctions. Scientists advise people to nurture their brain health as carefully as their cardiovascular health. That entails focusing on brain-specific nutrients and exercises that will enhance overall health, including brain health. 

MYTH: Most people use just 10 percent of their brain capacity.

That’s an urban legend promoted by a 2011 movie called “Limitless.” Researchers have dispelled the 10 percent rumor, finding that all regions of the brain function at various times, depending on the task.

MYTH: Your brain has a “brain age” that can be reversed.

There’s no such thing as reversing your “brain age.” The truth is that certain brain functions improve with age, while other functions decline. Lifestyle also affects overall brain health in old age.

MYTH: Playing classical music makes a baby smarter.

It’s called the “Mozart effect” and is a hypothesis based on one small study conducted in 1993. Since then, no other studies have shown this to be true. While your baby may enjoy classical music, there probably won’t be brain changes (beyond a calming effect). A baby’s brain needs good nutrition to develop optimally.

MYTH: Every child learns differently.

This refers to the concept of “visual learners” compared to those who learn by listening. This concept has not been validated in studies. A British panel of neuroscientists advised parents and educators to be skeptical of these claims, as they are untested.

MYTH: Your brain can only learn one language at a time.

Children have learned both English and French simultaneously. They do not confuse one language with the other, and they don’t develop more slowly. The brain regions don’t get overloaded while processing this new information. On the contrary, educators have found that when young children learn two languages, they develop a better understanding of language and its structure.

MYTH: Brain cells die as we age.

To some extent, this is true. Brain cells will die during a lifetime. But research shows that the brain also creates new brain cells throughout our lives, even in old age. In the past, many have believed that adults have a certain number of brain cells and never make new ones. However, newer evidence shows that the human brain is also capable of neurogenesis, which means that it continues to make new cells throughout life, even as we age.

Keeping Your Brain Healthy and Working Optimally

Despite all of the myths about brain health, there’s also plenty of truth on how to nurture a healthy brain. As you age, there are many things you can do to maintain brain function. Here’s some advice based on the latest science from Harvard Medical School:

TRUTH: Exercise regularly.

Using your body’s muscles helps your brain as well, research shows. When animals exercise regularly, the brain is fed oxygen-rich blood. Exercise is also known to promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain and stimulate new connections between the brain’s nerve cells. This activity keeps the brain more adaptive and efficient, which improves brain function.

More benefits from exercise include improved cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar and reduced stress levels. You’ll also lose weight. All of these improvements are beneficial for both the heart and brain.

But you don’t have to run a marathon. Simply walking, biking, or going to the gym will work. Exercising regularly is the key. Make it a habit, and find ways to make it enjoyable. A little exercise every day adds up.

TRUTH: Eat healthier.

You are what you eat, as the saying goes. Your brain needs good nutrition, just as your body does. Research shows that people who eat a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop cognitive impairment.

Start a new shopping (and eating) habit focused on vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, olive oil, and plant proteins like tofu. Learn how to fix a few dishes that you find satisfying. This will take effort, but it’s essential to your brain’s and body’s well-being. A few simple recipes is all you need.

TRUTH: Food feeds a child’s brain.

A child’s brain is a hungry organ – the first organ to absorb nutrients from the foods they eat. So make sure that you feed children foods that benefit their brains. These foods have specific nutrients that nurture young brains: salmon, eggs, peanut butter, whole grains, oatmeal, berries, beans, colorful veggies (tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach), low-fat milk, yogurt, and lean beef or a meat alternative.

TRUTH: Avoid tobacco and excess alcohol.

It’s critical to avoid tobacco in all of its forms. As for alcohol, limit yourself to one or two drinks a day. Why take a chance with your brain?

TRUTH: Get social.

Social connections have been linked with brain health and longer life expectancy. Regular communication helps keep your brain engaged and in good shape. Find groups that share your special interests, or join other community groups. The bigger your social network, the more your brain will benefit.

TRUTH: Stimulate your brain

When you use your brain, you exercise it. Research on mice and humans shows that brain-stimulating activities help the brain build new connections between nerve cells. This may help the brain develop new brain cells, keep brain cells “young,” and build a reserve that protects brain function as we age.

Likewise, encourage children to engage in brain-stimulating activities. At any age, it’s great to read, work on puzzles and problems, take courses, or learn to paint or play a musical instrument. You’re never too young or old to engage in brain exercises

TRUTH: Prevagen can help

Focus on making the brain-boosting lifestyle changes that we’ve outlined here. 

And to boost your odds even further, take Prevagen daily, knowing that you’re doing all you can to keep your brain healthy. Do it for your loved ones, and do it for yourself. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

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