How to Stop Our Brains from Stagnating? We Can Grow Gray Matter, Improve Memory and Enhance our Brain Connections at any age!
Dr. Simone Ravicz on Health Professional Radio Interviewd by Neal Howard – Producer / Host /www.hpr.fm (Transcript from the radio show)
Must our brains stagnate, shrink and cease to function as we grow older? “ABSOLUTELY NOT, THINK AGAIN!” proclaims guest Simone Ravicz, PhD. In fact, we can grow gray matter, improve memory and enhance brain connections at any age. Even better news: we can retrain our brains to reduce anxiety, conquer stress, fight off depression, tame anger and increase happiness, productivity and success.
Neal Howard: Hello, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host,Neal Howard. It’s our pleasure to have you in the studio today with us, Dr. Simone Ravicz. She is a brain coach and certified business and life brain coach. She is also a speaker and an author. She’s the author of several books, her latest one being “Brain Bliss: Seven Ways to Help Your Brain Help Yourself”.
And we’re going to be talking with Dr. Ravicz about brain functions, some of the misconceptions about the brain, exactly what the brain’s role is, and how we can maybe stave off some of the effects of aging. How are you doing today, doctor?
Simone Ravicz: I’m doing great. How are you?
Neal: I’m doing good myself. My brain seems to be working pretty decent today.
Simone: Did you give it some caffeine this morning?
Neal: Matter of fact, I’m giving it some right now. [Laughs]
Simone: You know, in actuality, caffeine is actually good for the brain.
Neal: Really? I’ve heard mixed things about that. Let’s talk about that a bit. When you’re talking about, well, caffeine being good for the brain, what exactly is the brain’s role? What are some of the misconceptions about what the brain’s role is? Exactly, what’s good for the brain and what’s not?
Simone: Oh my, gosh! That’s a huge question to start with. Let’s see. Well, the brain – we look at the system now not just as the mind-body, which was the newer way to look at our systems. For the last 30 years or so, the mind-body has been important.
And now we’re looking much more at the brain-mind-body, because of technology that allows us to see much more about what is actually going on in the brain. And that has assisted us in helping us understand the brain.
Neal: When we’re talking about the brain and how it relates to, say, our physical health, I mean the brain is an organ and it’s part of the physical makeup. But when we think of the brain, a lot of times, we don’t think about it like we think about exercising our biceps or our ABS.
Simone: Right. Exactly, you’re exactly right. And one of the reasons for that is one of the myths about the brain until recently was that something called the blood-brain barrier prevents nutrients from passing into the brain. So, what would be the point of focusing on nutrition for the brain? However, now we know that that is not true and that nutrients certainly do pass the blood-brain barrier.
And another myth – you had mentioned myths or misconceptions – of the brain was that it was generally – you grew up, there was some brain development in your infancy and childhood and a few changes in adolescence, but then that stopped, and that from about the 20s on, gradually, and then increasingly in the 40s and the 50s, there was a decrease in the size and the functioning of different parts of the brain.
Now, we know that there is neuroplasticity of the brain, which means, actually, it’s as if it were plastic. We can continue to develop nerve cells, neurons, throughout our lives and we can enhance the size and the functioning of our brain throughout our lives, if we do certain things.
You had mentioned exercise, which is actually a huge part of taking care of your brain. A lot of studies have shown that exercising helps to increase the size of the hippocampus, for example. That’s the part of the brain responsible for memory and that’s the part, as we’re aging, that if we do nothing in terms of exercise or other activities, tends to shrink quite a bit. But we can combat that with exercise and the other specific activities I discuss in “Brain Bliss: Seven Ways to Help Your Brain Help Yourself”.
Neal: Now, when you’re talking about the brain, and how it’s affected as we age, I’ve been under the impression that as we age, there is really nothing that we can do to slow down, well, dementia, or the loss of memory, or even Alzheimer’s. If we have the ability to create these brain cells in this neuroplasticity, as it’s called, why is it that we have to keep exercising our brains in order to not experience dementia or things of that nature?
Simone: Because the natural process is that they would die off as we age; the brain, the processing of the brain… and a lot of it is due to two things. One of them is called oxidative stress. You may not have heard of that, but you probably have heard of antioxidants.
Neal: Oh, yes, yes.
Simone: Okay, so antioxidants are important in the foods we eat because they help combat oxidative stress, which happens in the brain. The second thing is that the brain also suffers from destructive inflammatory processes. So, we want to eat anti-inflammatory foods as well. We want to consume those to stop a lot of the deterioration of the brain.
Neal: We started, in recent years, hearing about different drugs and supplements that people are taking, not related to just food consumption, that are supposed to enhance brain function and stave off dementia and loss of memory and things of that nature. Are those drugs and supplements misrepresenting their effects?
Simone: Well, a lot of supplements have… you know, most supplements are not passed by the FDA. They haven’t really been studied. We don’t have all of the regulations and double-blind studies we need. So, people have to be very careful when they’re talking about supplements. Supplement that do seem to be highly effective for the brain, however, are Omega 3s.
Now, it’s best if people eat the fatty fish, however, a lot of people don’t like that, me included. So, Omega 3s are a supplement that is good for the brain health. And we want to stay clear of a lot of other types of fat though, like saturated fat, because people who eat saturated fat… a lot of studies show that they have a greater mental decline than those who consume lesser of the saturated fats.
One study showed that women who consumed the greatest saturated fats were 60% more likely to have a greater mental decline than those who consumed the least saturated fats.
Neal: As far as your understanding is concerned, are some of the laws that we’re seeing being passed and measures to remove fats from our foods, and fast food restaurants, and other eating establishments – are any of these factors being taken into consideration with these laws?
Simone: Well, I think they are trying to take them into consideration, and I think it’s for the best. You’re going to have people calling me a socialist for that. But I think any way that we can improve the quality of our food, it’s important that we do so.
And you can just look around you on the streets, at people walking around. We were just surpassed by Mexico as the fattest nation, but there’s a huge problem with overweight people in the U.S. and they experience a lot of problems from their being overweight, including interference with their brain functioning.
Now, I’m not saying that they are less intelligent or anything of that nature, but there seems to be some interference in certain brain functioning with some of the people who are overweight.
Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. We’ve been talking today to Dr. Simone Ravicz. She’s a certified business and life coach, a speaker and an author. Her upcoming book, Brain Bliss: Seven Ways to Help Your Brain Help Yourself, will be available on Amazon. We’ve been talking about some of the misconceptions about the brain and its functions. We’ve also been talking about ways that we can relieve some of the stress surrounding our daily lives through tapping and also EMDR. It’s been great having you with us here today, doctor.
Simone: Thank you so much. It’s been my pleasure to be here.