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How To Effectively Increase Neurogenesis?
What is Neurogenesis?
Simply put, Neurogenesis is the term used to refer to the creation of new neurons in the brain. Increased neurogenesis can help support memory, mental clarity, recall, reduce anxiety and even assist with depression. Let’s find out how to increase neurogenesis.
A common myth is that the growth of new neurons in the brain, or neurogenesis, no longer occurs as an adult. This could not be more wrong. Studies in 1961 confirmed in two cases, that neurogenesis was still present in the hippocampus of both adult mice and cats [R]. Thus, we now know that that neurogenesis can occur in two locations of the adult human brain; the subventricular zone, or SVZ, as well as the hippocampus [R]. However, it is still unclear what the exact function of SVZ is in humans.
Stem cells and precursor cells (similar but more restricted compared to stem cells) play vital roles in neurogenesis as well. They act as blank slates which are able to develop into new neurons and brain cells [R].
Neurogenesis in the hippocampus can assist in various manners. The hippocampus has a key role in the learning process as well as memory, spatial navigation, and the regulation of emotion [R]. The hippocampus is also one of the first areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Cell loss in the hippocampus leads to confusion and memory loss in the early stages of the disease [R].
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
Ways to Increase Neurogenesis
Exercising can increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus as well as hippocampal volume [R, R]. Running has also shown to double the number of new cells in the hippocampus of mice [R]. Another study also found that exercise increased hippocampal volume in 120 elderly adults with dementia [R].
One of the main causes of neural decline is related to a lack of stimulation or learning. Learning new skills, especially something challenging, can increase the survival rate of neurons of the hippocampus [R]. The hippocampus has also been shown to decrease in size with age. It’s also been shown that engaging in complex mental task, the hippocampus experienced less decrease in size [R, R].
Better Sleep To Promote Neural Growth
Sleep deprivation has shown to increase stress hormones which as a result can reduce neurogenesis. Improving sleep quality as well as the amount of sleep per night will assist in lowering stress hormones and result in better neurogenesis.
Again, stress plays a big role in decreased neurogenesis. By providing the body and mind with a calm relaxed state, neurogenesis can be increased due to the reduction of stress hormones present [R, R].
Food can also play a key role in increasing neurogenesis. Foods rich in flavonoids such as blueberries, cocoa and green teas, can help assist in protecting the brain as well as help neurogenesis due to the accumulation in the hippocampus [R, R, R ].
Diets can also play a role in neurogenesis as seen with ketogenic diets[R].
Foods rich in Omega-3s, Resveratrol and anti-oxidants also help assist in neurogenesis
Nootropics have been used for years to help improve cognition, focus and general brain health. Nootropics, both natural and synthetic, also assist in increasing neurogenesis as well as BDNF and NGF levels which are crucial for neurogenesis [R, R].
The following nootropics can help in increasing neurogenesis:
- Choline Sources (CDP-Choline, Alpha GPC, Centrophenoxine)
- Ashwagandha (Adaptogen)
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- C60 (Carbon 60)
Various other nootropic compounds have also been shown to increase BDNF, NGF and Neurogenesis with neuroprotective properties as well.
Increasing neurogenesis is not all that hard if you are conscious of your daily habits, diet and supplementation. Thus, keeping your brain young and fresh well into your golden years is easier than ever.