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Brain Health

By Haripriya J Kungumaraj


A healthy brain is the first step to being a healthy person. Exercising one’s muscles can keep the body healthy, but exercising the brain brings peace of mind. The brain is no different from the body; it needs to be addressed just as much, if not more. Individuals need to know the impact of food, exercising, and reading on the brain, such as the shrinking of the brain due to the consumption of processed food, the development of the brain that physical exercise causes, and the ability to increase brain power by reading.


One’s diet, especially the consumption of processed food, has a huge impact on their brain. According to the article, “How to Build a Better Brain,” processed food “may interfere with brain plasticity, making processed foods an especially potent threat for the developing brains of kids and teens” [2]. This is evident from the fact that the chemicals and hormones involved in the process of manufacturing processed food can affect one’s brain from a very young age. The prolonged consumption of such foods can have an accumulated effect by shrinking the consumer’s brain.


A recent study also suggests that “physical activity has multiple brain benefits, encouraging the birth and growth of new brain cells and the extension of blood vessels that supply oxygen and blood sugar to brain cells” [3]. This is because when one exercises, the muscles take charge of the body instead of the brain and send signals to the brain for it to develop. When one does not exercise, the size of the neurons in the brain remains small instead of elongating and making new connections. Exercise is as important to the brain as food is to the body.


Additionally, the brain is the only organ not fully developed at birth. Ninety percent of critical brain development happens in the initial five years of life. Reading to one’s child every night starting from a very young age can further their child’s brain development and future potential beginning from the earliest months. Evidently, Brian Specktor reports that “children as young as six months who read books with their parents several times a week show strong literacy skills four years later, score higher on intelligence tests, and land better jobs than non-readers” [1]. This happens because when people reads books, it forces their brains to think critically and make new connections. When these new connections are made, the brain is forced to forge new pathways. As time passes, these networks that have been created will promote fast thinking and work against cognitive decay.


When one considers the all-around development of the brain, it is important to know the effects of particularities such as the type of food consumed, the physical activity engaged in, and reading habits.


References

  1. Specktor, Brandon. “Word Power.” Reader’s Digest, Sept. 2017, pp. 68–72.

  2. Harrar, Sari. “How to Build a Better Brain.” Reader’s Digest, Sept. 2020, pp. 60–72.

  3. Winter, Catherine. “10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day.” Lifehack, 17 Mar. 2020, www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-reading-why-you-should-read-everyday.htm

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