What if you could actually change the wiring of your brain to keep your mind young? In his book Super Brain, Deepak Chopra, MD, one of the definitive experts on the power of the mind, reveals his plan to help you unleash your mind’s anti-aging powers.
According to Deepak Chopra and his coauthor Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, a neurogeneticist at Harvard University who specializes in Alzheimer’s research, most people simply allow their everyday brain, or “baseline brain,” to work unconsciously. In other words, we let our brain do its daily work without maximizing its full power. However, by consciously taking control, you can transform your everyday brain into a super brain.
Definition of a Super Brain User: A fully aware creator using the brain to maximum advantage. Your brain is endlessly adaptable and you could be performing your fourfold role – leader, inventor, teacher and user – with far more fulfilling results than you now achieve.
In his book, Dr. Chopra identifies the three brain myths preventing most adults from accessing their super brain.
Three Brain Myths Exposed
Myth #1: You lose millions of brain cells daily that can never be replaced.
Truth #1: You can increase brain cells as you age.
Most people think that as they get older, they lose more and more brain cells forever. But in fact, key areas of the brain involved with memory and learning continue to produce new nerve cells every day. So while it is true that you’re losing brain cells each day (tens of thousands, by the way, not millions), you are also constantly replacing them. This process involves neurogenesis, meaning creating more neurons, and synaptogenesis, which means creating more connections.
Today, neurological research shows that by being aware of your thoughts through conscious choice-making and other techniques, you can increase brainpower and ward off Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss. Practice building new nerve cells by learning something new every day. For instance, learn a new word or a foreign language word daily.
Myth #2: Brain hardwiring can’t be changed.
Truth #2: You can rewire your brain to stay young.
When memories are formed, they travel through the hippocampus, which “organizes” them and sends them off for storage in the cerebral cortex. When the brain is impacted by memory loss, these connections between the nerve cells in the hippocampus start to weaken, shrivel up and die.
However, new research shows that other nerves in the brain can be redirected to help rebuild these nerve cell connections, thus delaying memory problems. Take charge and rewire your brain by practicing simple mental exercises. For instance, instead of using your dominant hand to draw a picture or button your coat, use your opposite hand once in a while.
Myth #3: Memory loss with age is irreversible.
Truth #3: You can reverse and prevent memory loss.
Memory loss was always thought to be inevitable with age, but this is false. First off, memories associated with emotions are much stronger than fact memories, which it is why it is always easier to retrieve felt memories such as falling in love. On the other hand, when an adult misplaces their keys, we often refer to these lapses as instances of age-related memory loss. In reality, this occurrence is usually due to a simple lack of attention. As you get older and lead a busier life, you simply tend to be more distracted.
According to Deepak Chopra, the highest form of human intelligence is the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself. So next time you want to record a memory, ask yourself, "How am I feeling right now?" Then watch yourself in the experience. If you actually watch yourself putting your keys down, you’ll never forget where you put them.
Foods and Herbs to Build a Super Brain
Beyond mental exercises, Deepak Chopra believes that diet plays a huge role in brain health and is one of the most critical steps in accessing your super brain. Here are three super brain-building foods and three super herbs to maximize your mind’s anti-aging powers.
Super Brain-boosting Foods
Try to eat one of these three foods once a day to protect against Alzheimer’s and memory issues.
Wheat Germ - The embryo of a wheat plant, wheat germ is loaded with B-complex vitamins that can reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Sprinkle wheat germ on cereal and yogurt in the morning, or enjoy it on salads or popcorn with a little butter.
Black Currents - These dark berries are jam-packed with antioxidants that help nourish the brain cells surrounding the hippocampus. The darker in color, the more antioxidants black currents contain. These fruits are available fresh when in season, or can be purchased dried or frozen year-round.
Acorn Squash - This beautiful gold-colored veggie contains high amounts of folic acid, a B-vitamin that improves memory as well as the speed at which the brain processes information.
Super Brain-boosting Herbs
Amalaki - Also known as Indian gooseberry, the amalaki's juice contains 20 times more vitamin C than orange juice. Research has shown that amalaki reduces inflammation and enhances both long- and short-term memory. It is also a detoxifier that helps improve digestion. You can find it in jam form at health food stores. Eat 1-2 teaspoons of amalaki jam each day, on a cracker or toast for breakfast. Amalaki is also available as a powder.
Sage - Sage helps prevent the loss of mental function that comes with age by increasing oxygen to the brain and helping improve concentration. Available both fresh and dried, sage adds flavor to soups, poultry and vegetable dishes, etc. Or you can take sage as an oil extract, available at health food stores. Take 30 drops per day to help build a super brain.
Deepak Chopra’s #1 Secret Behind a Super Brain: Meditation
To keep your brain young, practice mediation. Meditation helps you relax, cope with stress and improve your overall health. This is because whenever you close your eyes and go inward, even for a few minutes, your brain gets a chance to reset itself. Decades of research have shown that meditation can actually decrease your biological age by approximately 12 years.
To keep your brain young through meditation, follow the 3 steps listed below. Or watch Deepak Chopra’s mediation demonstration.
Step 1: Sit up straight, close your eyes and become aware of your breath.
Step 2: Visualize the age you want to be. (Choose a biological age within the last 15 years of the age you are now.) This becomes known as your “biostat,” your set point in consciousness. Just as a thermostat adjusts the temperature in a room, your biostat adjusts the psychology and biology around the biological age you have chosen.
Step 3: Repeat the biostat mantra for several minutes: “Every day in every way, I am increasing my mental and physical capacity. I look and feel a healthy ___ years old.”
Practice this technique five times a day: When you first wake up; before breakfast, lunch and dinner; and before you go to sleep. The more you do this exercise, the more the perception of your age will become a reality.