How many strings does your guitar have?

February 25, 2012

Brain, Nutrition

Your diet should also be a symphony of foods that includes protein, vegetables, fruits and even carbohydrates.

 Stephanie Reese, Ph.D. — 

Do you play a single-stringed guitar? How about a piano with a single key? Think of a guitar with six strings — you need them all for the sounds they make.

Your life should not be limited to a single string, either. To give your life melody, you, your body and your brain need variety.

Take exercise. Spending all your time on a bench in the gym may enable you to eventually press 400 pounds, but you will look silly if you ignore the rest of your body. Your workout plan should balance exercise for your body with exercise for your brain. After all, there are many different machines in the gym, but the brain helps run the body and those muscles.

Your diet should also be a symphony of foods that includes protein, vegetables, fruits and even carbohydrates. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may cause quick weight loss, but these diets can affect your brain performance. Research at Tufts University showed that a low-carb diet can quickly affect your memory, reaction time and visuospatial skills. Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for proper function of the brain and nervous system; more than half the fat in the brain is saturated.

The nutrients found most abundantly in animal fats and organ meats — including choline, cholesterol and arachidonic acid — are critical for the development of the brain and the function of receptors that modulate thinking and behavior. Your brain needs energy in order to think and grow, and carbs and good quality fats help provide it. Do not omit these important “strings” from your diet.

Your brain also needs a robust blood supply that provides oxygen. The harder the brain cells work, just like muscle cells, the more they demand nutrition. Specific brain-training exercises can deliver more oxygen and glucose. Our brains have an amazing ability to supply extra blood preferentially to those parts in active use. Extra blood supply over a period of time means that you build new neuron connections. And when you exercise those new connections, they become permanent.

A six-stringed approach is most effective. Combining brain technologies improves the effectiveness of the orchestra. While most of us can use improvement in both body and mind, people have seen a synergistic effect when both are used together.

So do not just rely on a single string. If you want to improve your brain performance or just need to address a specific issue, such as memory, look for someone who knows how to play a complete tune.


Stephanie Reese, Ph.D., practices at The Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz., the only medical clinic in the U.S. that offers BrainAdvantage, a breakthrough in simplicity and effectiveness for brain training. or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.

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