Dr. Oz starts out today’s show by talking about our brain and how many of us believe myths about the functions and how it actually works. Deepak Chopra is on the show to talk about these myths and to tell us how he thinks we can all have a Super Brain that will make us immune to diseases like Alzheimer’s and prevent memory loss as we age. Chopra is always talking about meditation and the benefits to our bodies and health. His studies look at how we can prevent diseases and lose weight with the power of our minds.
Chopra’s most recent research is a study about how to improve our brain power and actually rewire our brain to keep it working properly as we age. Think about how our brain works. When we are young, it is like a big empty file cabinet and we soak up information like a sponge. As we get older, the file cabinet gets full and it can be harder to access stored memories. Chopra says we have two types of memory, felt and fact. The study with Harvard University looked at unlocking the Super Brain to actually grow new and more powerful brain cells. Chopra actually co-wrote a book called the Super Brain with Dr Rudolph Tanzi to address this subject.
So what are some common myths about our brains? First, most of us believe that we lose brain cells every day and they can never be replaced. Chopra says that this is untrue and we can actually improve the cells we have and grow new ones by doing simple exercises and eating a proper diet. Oz has talked about brain foods before and how we can retrain our brain.
Second, many of us think our brain is hardwired and cannot be changed. Oz and Chopra both agree this is a myth. People who have had brain damage can learn to use other parts of the brain to replace the broken areas. Chopra says if we just try little things like using our other hand to write with and changing our habits, we are actually rewiring the way our brain works. Chopra says that about 2% of us have a predisposed mutation that puts us at risk for Alzheimer’s. He says that we can help offset this condition by starting brain exercises early in our lives.
So what about the two types of memories? Fact memories are not a powerful as felt memories. It is like we have two files systems and felt memories get more resources. Chopra says we can actually improve how we recall facts if we associate them with an emotion. It is kind of like having a backup or double storing the information we get every day. He says this will improve our memory over time and we will see a change.
Chopra mentioned nutrition and how it can help prevent memory loss at the beginning of the show. Now Oz asks him for his “super foods” for a “super brain.” First, Chopra says that Wheat Germ is important because is lowers our levels of homocysteine. That is the amino acid that is responsible for inflammation. Andrew Weil talks constantly about how inflammation is a root cause of a range of health problems. Chopra says we need this daily and we can easily add it to salads, yogurt, or cereal.
Second, Black Currant is a big booster for the Hippocampus. The hippocampus has been proven to play a large role in how our brains fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s. Third, Acorn Squash is high in folic acid and is a proven memory booster. Finally, Sage will actually increase blood flow to your brain. Chopra recommends we add it to our meals or we can take Sage Extract Oil mixed with water.
Chopra talks about the benefits of meditation and he says that there is scientific proof that people who meditate daily have a brain age about 10 years younger than their actual age. Just like Andrew Weil, Chopra says that meditation is a key in staying healthy. I can see how this works as we need to lower our stress levels and many of us are always in a rush or on the go. Chopra gives us a simple way to meditate anywhere. Just sit straight in a chair or on the floor, imagine yourself at the age you would like to be (This is called your Biostat), and repeat this mantra: “Every day in every way, I’m increasing my physical and mental capacity. My biostat is “name your age you want to be”. I look and feel a healthy “put in your age”. The key here is to focus your brain and calm you thoughts. It will lower your stress and less stress means better health.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Oz