Healthy Living Magazine

How to Grow New Brain Cells

By Geoff Griffiths @mmatraining1980

MMA is a new sport, established in the 90s (although Vale Tudo & NHB fighting has been around a lot longer).

It’s still a bit of an unknown, in terms of the long term health implications.

With ex-fighters in their 40s, like Big Daddy Gary Goodridge, developing a range of quite severe brain & mental health problems; if you’re a fighter, you should be doing everything possible to protect your brain from unnecessary damage.

The technical term for being ‘punch drunk’ is – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

At the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, where the bulk of the research is being done, they describe CTE as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.” The tau protein builds up and disrupts normal brain function, leading to symptoms such as “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”


Can You Grow New Brain Cells?

“Bring me problems, not solutions” I hear you say. And yes, yes you can grow new brain cells, which is good news for anyone competing in a contact sport.

Here’s some foods & supplements that can help you do this:

Lions’ Mane Mushrooms

Mushrooms are amazing. Their consumption either results in some kind of agonising death, or in the case of chaga, reishi, cordyceps & lion’s mane mushrooms – some kind of significant health benefits (except for the white button mushrooms, which are shite, boring & don’t do much).

By increasing the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), lion’s mane results in the formation of new neurons/brain cells.

Research on Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (AKA Hericium erinaceus):

Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.

In conclusion, the aqueous extract of H. erinaceus contained neuroactive compounds which induced NGF-synthesis and promoted neurite outgrowth in NG108-15 cells. The extract also enhanced the neurite outgrowth stimulation activity of NGF when applied in combination. The aqueous preparation of H. erinaceus had neurotrophic but not neuroprotective activities.

Other studies on lion’s mane mushrooms:

For MMA fighters and other athletes, it’s also worth being aware that lion’s mane mushroom can enhance the immune system. It also has potent anti-cancer properties.

Incenditally, magic mushrooms (psilocybin mushrooms) can also generate new brain cells (ref) and treat depression (ref).

Huperzine A & NSI-189

Huperzine A and NSI-189 are both proven to increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus – the area of the brain which is related to emotions.

Huperzine A increases the amount of acetylcholine in the brain; which in turn results in the growth of new brain cells. Study here.

You can increase the effect of huperzine A on the brain by taking it with green tea.

NSI-189 is being researched as both an anti-depressant & a cogntive-enhancer – it actually increases the size of the hippocampus in just 28 days of use. It may prove beneficial to victims of stroke (ref) and those with nerve damage.

Royal Jelly & Fish Oil

Like NSI-189, royal jelly may protect the brain, and act as an anti-depressant (ref). A natural supplement (from bees), royal jelly might be a good supplement for those wanting to avoid synthetic supplements like NSI-189.

Nutritionists recommend consuming 2000 mg of royal jelly per day for brain health. It is important that your royal jelly contain at least 6% 10-HDA.

Last but not least – fish oil is also a great supplement for those looking to protect their brain (ref). You can obviously get fish oil from your diet, but avoid farmed fish, especially fish that is smoked – smoked, farmed fish is arguably one of the most toxic foods there is (ref).

Aerobic Exercise & New Brain Cells

Research on animals suggests that sustained, moderate or low intensity aerobic exercise is more effective than high-intensity exercise when it comes to generating new brain cells.

Prevention is Better than Cure

To protect your brain in the first place – Don’t drink alcohol after a fight or sparring session!

When alcohol reaches the brain, it disables function by damaging the connective tissue at the end of neurons (ref). This is the last thing you want after getting punched in the head!

Drink water post fight, and take an anti-inflammatory such as meriva curcumin –  as it has potent ‘neuroprotective’ effects (ref).

Avoiding stress is another, potent way to protect the brain. So the Diaz brothers may be on to something – smoking blunts every day!

Diet & take Supplements at your own risk. For informational purposes only.

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