Showing posts with label Brain Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brain Health. Show all posts

Evolution of Human Diet and Human Brain

Human Diet has changed a lot during past few million years and some major changes were made just few thousand years ago after evolution of agriculture. But does those changes have any impact on development of our brain. Human are the best race on earth and ruling the planet only due to superior brain. Nutrition plays an important role for our health and brain, and understanding the evolution of human diet can help us better understand this topic.

There is a belief that we are not evolved to eat what we are eating today. Here we will try to evaluate that how much of such belief is valid. A few scattered tribes of nomadic hunter-gatherers are still living on our planet and they are still using the same diet as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Researches on these people found that they don't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease. Does it mean that diet of those nomadic hunters is still best for us ?

Evolution of Human Diet

  • From Stone-age (2.5 Million Years ago) to prior to Agricultural Revolution (10,000 Years ago) all humans evolved to eat food collected by hunting and fishing. [1]
  • Our direct ancestor Homo erectus used to cook meat using fire around 1 million years ago. [2]
  • Neanderthals evolved from Homo erectus around 250,000 years ago used to spice up their diet with herbs. [2]
  • According to a controversial hypothesis by primatologist Richard Wrangham, 1.9 Million Years ago Homo erectus were found to have very small teeth, a small body and a much larger brain. There changes were attributed to cooked food. According to Richard Wrangham, Homo Sapiens could not have been formed without cooked food. [2]
  • Dairy products, beans and cereal grains were introduced into our diet after invention of cooking and agriculture.
  • According to some researchers, apes (who are considered our direct ancestors) used to depend on plant based diet only. Evolution towards human species started when they started eating calorie rich meat. It made their gut smaller and brain got sufficient energy to grow bigger over time. [1]
  • Agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago and we started to grow crops. [1]

Why did humans started agriculture ?

  • Agriculture provided us a reliable source of food, that we can store for years.
  • It gave us relief from risky hunting schedule.
  • Cooking made cultivated vegetarian food easily digestible and made us extract enough energy from that.
  • It made humans settle at a location instead of roaming all over and grow their families.
  • After evolution of agriculture the birth cycle get reduced to 2.5 years from 3.5 years, which increased human population.
  • Agriculture made humans a social animal.
  • It gave us sufficient time and opportunity to develop other skills which evolved our intelligence.
  • Most of the scientific developments in human history happen only after evolution of agriculture. So it must be the key.

In the process of evolution humans have changed their diet a lot from veg to non-veg and then back to a combination of both. Now humans are eating a wide variety of food. We have got both types of teeth which suits both veg and non-veg diet. Instead of giving logic to say that our diet is better, we should understand that humans developed due to these changes in diet and we are fit to eat any type of diet, depending on what is available around us. You can't expect a person living on poles to survive on vegetarian diet as it is not available there.

Note: Today no vegetarian is dying due to lack of nutrition and they are getting sufficient calories to power up their brains. Non-vegetarians have got their own logic and vegetarians have their own logic to prove their diet better. But the truth is that we eat what our families have eaten from past few generations. Even if you tell someone that their genes tell that their ancestors were nomadic hunters, he/she won't start eating like them. It is because our present beliefs, religion and emotions won't allow us do that.


Can our Brain turn Genes ON and OFF as per need

Our Genes make us and decide a number of physical traits of our body. But genes do much more than just deciding our height and color of eye. Some genes makes us resist from some diseases while some make us prone to them. All of our body cells contain same set of genes, but still brain cell looks different from muscle cells. It is due to the fact that some genes are turned ON in one type of cell while different set of genes are turned ON in other.

When a gene is turned ON, it produces certain proteins which are used by body for some specific task. This process of generation of proteins is called Gene Expression.

Recently some researchers focused their research on a capability of our body to turn genes ON and OFF depending on the need of body. The process of turning genes ON and OFF is called Gene Regulation. Some diseases can be controlled if we can turn genes ON and OFF through some medicines. It is a topic of in-depth research to find how only genes in cells of a specific organ can be turned ON and OFF treat a disease. It is utilizing capability of our own body to treat a disease.

How Genes Work

Our DNA is a group of 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are home of the genes. According to an initial estimate our genes can create more than one million different proteins. RNA copies the protein code from DNA and employs the cell to create a protein. Some non-coding RNA, which are not used in protein synthesis are employed to tell these proteins where to go and what to do. This process not only creates our body but also helps in maintaining it. This process in in the root of all complex process of our body. We can't even "think", if this process don't happen in our body.

Brain and Genes

We the humans have got around 20,000 genes in our body. One-third of these genes are always active in our brain, which makes us what we are. They make us how we move, think, feel and react. Proteins developed by genes in brain cells make them able to communicate with each other. Genes active in our brain are responsible for our whole personality.

Even two identical twins will have different personality, in spite of the fact that they have got identical DNA and Genes. It is because our gene expression differs. This difference in  gene expression is due to our different experiences of life. No two people can have similar experiences, even if they grow up in similar atmosphere. The air we breathe, the TV show you watch, the people you speak to, the game you play, the subject you study, the diet you eat, the diseases you suffered from, the physical activities you do, changes your gene expression. No matter how similar we look, our brain is different from inside, as our gene expression in different. Our experience in real life can turn some genes OFF and turn some other genes ON. That's why some childhood experiences can impact the behavior of a person for lifetime. Even the experiences that we face in mother's womb can affect our genes, as most of our brain develops during those nine months.

Can our brain turn genes ON and OFF as per need ?
You may say that our brain turns genes ON and OFF as per need, but the truth is that our brain is itself made by these genes. Genes can regulate how our brain work. However normal metabolic activities are controlled by our brain, and some visible changes in our body are always controlled by brain. Our brain might be responsible for Gene Regulation in other parts of body.

Some experts believe that diseases like Diabetes and Blood Pressure can occur due to both genetic and environmental risk. If you have understood genes in depth then you would agree with the fact that our environment can change gene expression and regulate it. Here the term environment means both our diet and lifestyle.
If a born genius does not get an environment to nurture his/her talent, then the genes responsible for making him/her genius will get suppressed and not express their full potential. So a good environment is must for human development.

Conclusion : What i have understood as per my grasping power about genes is that our environment controls it, not just our brain. So a better environment can lead to better health as the bad environment changes our gene expression and make us suffer from different diseases.

Do we really use just 10% of our Brain ? Myth vs Fact !

A number of people believe that humans just use 10% of their brain on average. Those who have have higher IQ might have crossed this average percentage. A normal person world easily believe this theory, as we have a tendency to believe in super humans with super intelligence, and it is not possible if all of use 100% of our brain. Else there will be no difference between a normal person and Albert Einstein. But the truth about this theory is totally different.

Do we really use just 10% of our Brain ?

Homo Sapiens (or today's Man kind) is made after evolution of millions of years. In this process of evolution we got some new abilities as per necessity and also lost some feature if they were of no use any more. We are still evolving today but the it is not visible in one generation or two, it takes thousands of years to notice any visible effect. Today we have a perfectly balanced body and every organ has a use according to present environment. If you believe this theory then you must agree think twice before agreeing to "10% of brain" theory.

How may we get a brain 10 times the necessity. It is simply a wrong fact. Those who found it, either did some wrong analysis or believed in the fact that we are successors of some alien species that came to earth a long time ago and we are yet to know full potential of our brain.

Real Science is that that believe on facts, not on any preconceived notions. A number of people keep believing in the 10% of brain theory without questioning it.

From where do we get this 10% of brain theory ?
Before we answer this question you must know that The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research did a survey in 2013 and found that 65% Americans believe that just 10% of our brain is used by us in a lifetime. However now this brain usage percentage has increased to 35% in some cases but still this myth is surviving and will not come to an end anytime soon.
Timeline of origin of 10% brain theory

  • Harvard psychologists William James in 1890 told audiences that people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential, which was taken as a plausible clause by educated people of that time.
  • In 1929 a book "Mind Myths: Exploring Popular Assumptions About the Mind and Brain" was published which contained a chapter on 10% brain myth.
  • In 1936, American writer Lowell Thomas added a falsely precise percentage and said that Professor William James used to say that humans use just 10% of their brain.
  • In the 1970s, psychologist and educator Georgi Lozanov proposed a teaching method called suggestopedia with a belief in its base that humans use just 5 to 10% of their mental capability.
  • Some people also believe that in late 19th century and beginning of 20th Century when early brain researches were going on, scientists were unable to find the functions of a large part of brain. It lead to a misunderstanding that only 10% of brain is used by humans.

 Today the truth is known that 100% brain is used during a day. However it is possible that during one particular task only 10% brain is active. But a large percentage of population still thinks that we use just 10 to 35 percent of our brain.

Facts that will make you believe that we use 100% of our brain.

  • The very first fact is that we evolved and got only that much capability which is necessary. Getting a brain with 10 times of normal capability is something unnecessary and impossible to develop under the normal biological process of evolution.
  • Death during childbirth was often associated with large skull size. If our brain is really unnecessarily large then we should have lost it by natural selection and mortality rate during child birth would have been less.
  • Every person with a brain damage (either accidental or stroke) always loose some capability due to loss of a part of brain. However some lucky people may get their lost capability back due to neuroplasticity if the that was not a major brain damage.
  • Some recent researches based on brain scans confirmed that all parts of brain remain active all the time. Some parts remain more active during a particular task, but we can't take any part of brain as non functional.

Every part of brain has got a function, either physical, mental or emotional. Some parts of brain just handle our internal metabolism. All functions of brain are really very hard to know as some of these parts make us think, make us dream, make us plan. Our brain can take us to a scene decades before and can also make us think of that future when we will not be here. Whatever we look, we are much more than that. The fact that we don't utilize our full potential is true, but nature has granted us with power to do much more in our life with a brain of three pounds.

After reading this article you must stop believing that extra 90% brain can give psychic powers to you some day which is falsely advertised in a number of sci-fi movies. Your views on this article are most invited in the comments section. 

Human Brain vs Computers - Something Unbelievable

You won't be same after reading this. Nature has granted us with a immensely powerful computer fitted in a very tiny space with very less power consumption. You can't even utilize its full capability in several lifetimes. The more we use our brain the more it learns and become more efficient by practicing the same task again. If you want to know the power of your brain compared to modern computers in a terminology that you understand then read this complete article.

What is there in our brain ?

  • Our brain have 80 to 100 billion neurons.
  • Same amount of Neuroglia, also called glial cells. These cells protect and insulate neurons, provide nutrition, remove dead neurons and destroy pathogens.
  • Neurons are found in 26 different sizes.
  • Size of neurons varies from 4 microns (.004 mm) to 100 microns (.1 mm). Their length may vary from few millimeters to few feet.
  • 400 miles of Capillaries to provide blood and nutrition to them.
  • Each neuron makes 5000 to 10000 connections with other neurons.
  • So there are 500 to 1000 trillion connections in our brain. 

Brain compared to Computers

Even the best computer in world can't reach the capability of brain. However you may not fit a pendrive in your skull to store some movies in it, but your brain can remember things faster than any super computer. The memory of our brain has the capability to store much more data than any super computer on earth till now.

  • Memory Capacity of Brain:  According to Paul Reber, Professor; Director of Brain, Behavior, & Cognition at Northwestern University, our brain can store upto 2.5 Petabyte (which is one million GB). This much memory is enough to play continuous video on TV for 300 Years.
  • Processing Speed: A neuron can fire upto 200 times per second. For 86 billion neurons it makes 17.2 trillion action potentials. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, Neuroscientist, our brain processes 400 Billion bits of information per second, but yet we are aware of 2,000 only. All of our senses send 11 million bits of data per second to the brain but it can process only upto 60 bits of data per second. It is possible only if you compress 11 million bits into just 60 bits (just like we make zip files in computers). Such compression technology is not yet possible for man made computers.
  • Power consumption: If we use the same memory as our brain and same processing speed in a computer then it will use 1 gigawatt of power, which will need a nuclear power plant. But when it comes to our brain, it uses less than 20 watt of electricity in the form of electrical impulses between neurons. Our brain is just 2% of our body weight but consumes 20% of our calories and 25% of oxygen. In resting state our body needs 1300kcal of energy which is equal to 63W of energy. 20% of this consumption is just 12.6W . So 12.6 watt can be stated as power consumption of brain. This much efficiency is impossible to imagine in any man made machine.
  • Serial Processing and Parallel processing: Some researches found that our left brain do the serial processing tasks while right brain do the parallel processing tasks.

Interesting facts about Brain

These fasts will make you believe more in superiority of human brain compared to any computer.
Cognitive Reserve (brain's cache memory): It increases in size with a person keeps learning new things all over his life. When such person takes rest from busy life after retirement, his or her cognitive reserve remains same and his efficiency in mental tasks remains much better than the people of similar age group.
Neuroplasticity: It is a feature of our brain to learn new things and repair its circuits in case of a damage due to accident or stroke. Previously it was thought that brain can't repair it self after a certain age, but now we know that brain can repair itself through neuroplasticity.

A computer can be programmed to do one particular task much better than a human brain. For example a supercomputer can beat a chess grandmaster, but the same supercomputer can't store visual memories, language skills, cooking skills, thinking ability and most important emotions. Human brain is a capable to control the human body to do any physical or mental task or a combination of both. So these two things are not comparable at all. Man often try to challenge nature, but nature is something to be known, not something to beat. We need to learn a lot from the nature. Thats why we call it mother nature.

Neuroplasticity - The key to Brain Fitness

Previously it was believed that brain develops only during childhood and no changes can occur inside brain after reaching adulthood. But now this concept is found wrong after we found about "Neuroplasticy", an important feature of human brain to makes changes in its circuit according to the needs of a person. It not only helps in learning and mastering a skill but also in recovering from a brain injury. Once you read more about neuroplasticity, you will be amazed to find that you have got one of the most amazing self-learning, self-repairing and self-cleaning computer in your brain whose learning and remembering power is much more than what you think.

What is Neuroplasticity ?

Our brain is huge collection of neuron cells. These neuron cells make connections between themselves, just like a circuit in an electronic chip. Different circuits are made and dedicated for different tasks. The more you need a circuit, the more easily accessible it becomes. What ever you learn intentionally or unintentionally is stored in your brain and is recalled when necessary. The least used or unnecessary memories either remains least accessible or some other circuit is formed using those neurons. The more you use a circuit, the more powerful and efficient it becomes. A mathematician can do complex calculations just by using his brain while a normal person world need calculator for that. But the same mathematician may not play a guitar, while a professional guitar player can do magic with that. Some skills need just our eyes, mouth and brain while a different skill need coordination between our ears, hands and brain. Different circuits in brain are developed and made efficient till we remain alive as per our daily needs.

How to utilize neurolasticity to keep your brain fit ?

You must have heard the proverb "Practice makes a man perfect". It implies perfectly on your brain. The more you work with your brain, the more efficient it becomes. Its learning ability increases with its usage. It makes you more efficient in a task, if you practice it several times. You can become  a master of any language, any subject, any dance, any music, anything just by practicing it. The more curious you remain all over your life, the better brain you will have by the time your life will come to an end. You attitude towards learning new skills will only help you at an old age. Those skills that you learn in your life might not always help you in your life, but they will exercise your brain. Your brain neurons or the circuits won't get rust and they will be used whenever necessary in your life only if you keep using them.

Stress and Neuroplasticity

Stress can kill neurons and the connection between them can also be damaged. So it is necessary to remain out of depression and stress. It is possible with a good lifestyle, balanced diet and learning attitude. Too much thinking about negative topics of your life can make you depressed or stressed. Try not to fall prey to depression by keeping yourself busy at such times. The neuroplasticity feature of your brain can be paused or damaged by depression or stress. Due to the same reason you can't learn new skills if you are in stress.

How neuroplasticity help you recover from brain damage ?

Sometimes people loose some of their brain functions due to accidental damage or medical conditions like stroke, which damages some neurons or the connection between them. Some of these brain functions might be recovered through neuroplasticity. It happens naturally with a little patience and practice. When we practice again and again, our brain makes a new circuit with the help of remaining neurons for that lost function. It can happen only if there is no damage to the target organ and the nervous system.

Nature has granted us with enormous possibilities, we just need a little dedication and practice to make ourselves perfect for any task.

How does Porn harm your Brain Body and Life !

Watching porn is just an addiction like smoking and drinking. Fun fact is that people are not aware of that. If you are also one of them then it is better to read this complete article before you watch some porn again on internet. Pornography got popular in past few decades at a very high speed due to invasion of internet in our daily lives. However porn was there even before internet in the form of pictures and videos, but that was less accessible and people don't use to keep them in their mobile phones. This porn is not only corrupting our social life but changing the way we think. You will understand this thing as you reach the end of this article.
We will tell you the harms that porn has done in two sections. First section contain only the easily visible effects on body while the later sections contain some deeper information about porn addiction an its effect on brain and social life.

How porn harms your Body ?

While i was searching for answer to this question, i found a lot of website telling the good effects of masturbation as it is the direct effect of watching porn. Watching too much porn means too much masturbation. However some say that masturbation is healthy but there is a some difference in opinion between different writers. What i understood is that Masturbation is healthy if it is not an addiction, else it will make one's body weaker than before. Those who masturbate a lot after watching porn often complain of weakness in legs at the end of the day. Some common notions in society is that porn addicts have one arm stronger than other as they use it during masturbation. But this factor can't be proved because one arm is always stronger than other. All right-handed people use their right hand for most of the tasks such as writing, throwing or to do anything with a precision, which makes it stronger than the other. Apart from this physical effect some believe that masturbation makes a person more skinny and cheeks start to shrink. Some people believe that masturbation weakens your bones and joints and joints start to make sound like an old age person. After masturbation your body needs rest and long sleep, and if you don't get it your body will show some signs of it. Some sports coach often advise their students to abstain from sex or masturbation to keep that energy for their competition.

How porn harms the social life ?

Those who are addicted to porn try to remain alone so that they get enough time for their addiction. It cuts them from from social life and causes a decrease in confidence level. Sometimes such people often face depression and inability to talk to other gender as porn remain in their mind all the time. Some teenagers also find porn a reason behind poor grades in their academics. These poor grades can also become a reason behind low confidence during other phases of life.

How porn harms our Brain and Social Life ?

You must have hear the proverb, "Practice makes a man Perfect". You will understand its implementation now. Our brain learns from our basic senses of seeing, hearing and smelling. This process continues for whole life (not just the schooling phase). Watching porn engages our two senses with full concentration, i.e. eyes and ears. Even if you watch with no volume, you use one sense with full concentration. Even if you watch it for a minimum 15 minutes per day, then it is sufficient to make changes in your brain.
In normal consequences sex binds a person to other (usually a man and a woman). It makes some changes in our brain and creates a bonding with the one you were intimate with. But when it comes to porn, you create that bond with pornography, not will something real. Our sexual behavior affect that part of our brain which is responsible for our social behavior as well. So pornography can easily affect our social behavior by changing the way we see ladies in a social circle. The more you watch pornography, you will start feeling differently for the women. Overall impact on our brain is that instead of creating a sensual and intimate image of just your girlfriend or wife, porn enslaves your brain to fit every women under that image. Even if you try to not think so, your mind will say that there is no harm in just thinking. But the reality is that your thinking will be visible in your unintentional behavior, which affects your social life.

Just like we fight against other addictions, we need to understand the severity of porn addiction and save our close ones from falling prey to it.

How to Exercise your Brain (Increase Memory and Thinking Skills)

Usually we think that exercise are only meant for our body. But do you know that physical workout is also beneficial for your brain. Physical workout not only increase the blood and oxygen supply to muscles in the body but also to the brain. It increases the memory retention power of brain. Always remember that a healthy brain resides in a healthy body.

Here we are going to mention some easy tings that you can do exercise your brain. These exercise don't include dumbbells, but some thing that we do in our daily routine and make our brain strong. These exercises increase our memory and thinking skills. Here are some brain exercises.

 1). Sleep Properly

Sufficient and proper sleep recharges your brain. If you don't sleep properly then your brain can give the optimum performance.

2). Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships makes your brain happy. And a happy brain can work better. Its just like being tension free. You might have noticed that you work better when you are tension free. Our relatives and friends are sometimes major cause of our tensions. So try to have healthy relationships with family and friends.

3). Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables contain various minerals and nutrients which are essential from brain growth. These minerals are not present in other food items.

4). Vitamin B and Omega-3

Vitamin B helps in taking oxygen to our brain and protects our brain from free radicals. Various types of Vitamin are responsible for various brain activities. Vitamin B 3 for Brain Enhancement, B 6 for manufacturing of neurotransmitters, B 12 for overall health of Brain. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are also known to be beneficial for brain health.

5). Laughter (Reduce Stress)

Laugh at Yourself, it reduces your stress level. However you can laugh at any thing (its always better). Personally i have subscribed to a comedy channel. Laughter reduces stress and helps your brain in thinking better.

6). Meditation

Meditation is known as best natural way to increase your brain power. Some meditation experts say that normal person use only 13% of its brain. But this percentage can be increased by meditation, which results in improvement in all types of skills.

7). Red Wine in Moderation

Red wine contain antioxidants and chemicals that protect our brain. 1 glass daily for women and 2 glass for men is a good amount for your brain.

8). Cry when necessary

If you want to cry then do it when you are alone at your own place. Good crying also heals your brain and improves blood circulation in your brain.

9). Change Environment

This thing include a number of things. You should visit other cities and have fun after every six months. You may also take different routes to work. Go on a long drive whenever you feel bored. Don't go to same restaurants every time. Chane the furniture settings in your house.

These activities also exercise your brain:

  • Reading Newspaper
  • Solve Puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku
  • Read Philosophy
  • Writing articles
  • Participating in a healthy debate
  • Learning new languages
  • Don't miss breakfast
  • Don't Overeat
  • Mimic Others
  • Morning Walk, Workout, Swimming, Running

Brain Damaging Activities that you should Stop

Brain is the most important part of body. It controls the whole body and regulates the organs and complete metabolism inside our body. Even if a part of our brain stop working properly, it will result in some disease or complete failure of some organ. Some of our daily activities do harm our body. Most of us do these activities unintentionally. We should try to stop doing these brain damaging activities.

Brain Damaging Activities that you should Stop

Missing Breakfast

Missing a breakfast means lower blood sugar at the beginning of the day. Due to low blood sugar lesser nutrients reach our brain which results in brain degeneration. If you skip breakfast regularly then you brain might be great risk.


When we eat blood and oxygen supply to our stomach increases and its reduced to other parts of body. Its also reduced to our brain as well. As long as we eat and the time till its digested, our brain activity is lowered. That the reason that we feel sleepy after having a heavy diet. But we don't always get an opportunity to sleep after a meal. If you use your brain after having a heavy diet, you are damaging your brain. Thats why over eating is dangerous for your brain. Over eating also hardens your brain arteries and damages the brain.

Smoking / Air Pollution

Both Smoking and Air Pollution reduced the oxygen supply to our brain, which is a major oxygen consumer of our body. It results in shrinking of some parts of brain and may also result in Alzheimer's Disease.

High Sugar Consumption

When sugar level is high in our body, then our body organs and brain can't absorb the proteins and other nutrients from blood properly. Thus consumption of high sugar interferes with the brain development.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleeping is a medicine for our brain. Just like every machine, it need some rest after day long working. A good sleep not only recharges its battery but also improves the memory. But if you don't sleep a minimum 6
hours sleep, then you are damaging your brain and will start loosing memory sooner or later. Our brain cells start dying if we don't sleep properly.

 Sleeping with Head Covered

This habit reduces the oxygen supply to our brain while sleeping and results in brain damage. Even if you use to have a better sleep by taking the sheet over your head, just try to get rid of this habit. You might try to use something to cover your eyes only.

Using Brain during Sickness

If you use your brain during sickness you will help it in damaging it. During Fever or Sickness our body consumes the most of the oxygen and other nutrients to fight with the disease. You brain is already in lack of oxygen and other nutrients at that time. If you use brain at that time then your will damage it.

Lack of Intellectual Talking

Intellectual talking is like an exercise for our brain. As unused machines get rust, similarly unused brain also degrades. So we should do intellectual talking to sharpen it.

Lack of Thoughts

Thinking also improves our brain. But lack of thoughts may also help in degrading its performance.