23 Jun The True Super Nutrient for Your Brain!
There is not a day that goes by without a new super food or supplement being branded a miracle for its effect on the health of your brain. Whilst these discoveries are always interesting and sometimes true, many of us fail to realise that one of the most effective nutrients available to us doesn’t require any discovery, is free, easy and hugely powerful: Movement – it helps us in more ways than we may think.
The benefit of movement or exercise is something that is widely accepted but perhaps not widely understood. Most people think about the results of exercise being stronger muscles and a fitter cardiovascular system, which is completely accurate, however many people never consider the neurological benefits as a result of moving the body.
Movement is actually in essence a nutrient for the brain and is required for the healthy development of children but also for continued healthy function in adults. With each movement we make, we generate a nerve impulse, this impulse tells our brains where our body is in space and is called proprioception or movement sense. The importance of this information is clear, we must know where are body is in space to help control any movements we wish to perform and to function successfully as an animated mammal in our environment. However this proprioception or movement sense is being shown to have far more influence than simply telling us how we are moving, rather it appears to help regulate many different areas of brain function in a positive way and the importance of the development of a functioning proprioceptive system in children is already linked to the ability to concentrate, learn, read and write.
New links are being found within the brain that show that movement helps to neurologically regulate a whole host of brain processes and that proprioception may help to regulate stress reduction, pleasure, happiness, thinking, learning, immune function, organ function, musculoskeletal function, and overall cell functioning. John Ratey has written extensively on these subjects in his books ‘A users guide to the brain’ and ‘Spark. How exercise will improve the performance of your brain.’ (Click here to see his books)
Evidence is mounting that the nerve pathways and physiological processes that are stimulated through the movement of joints and muscles are especially important in enhancing learning outcomes in children and adolescents. These positive effects seem to last for 2-4 hours after exercise, indicating that movement and exercise should play a crucial role in the school curriculum.
Most of us feel that when we move and are active we feel alert and when we sit still we feel more numbed or dull but often we don’t think about why this is….well it appears that the positive influence of movement it is far more complicated and wide reaching than simply getting our blood pumping or boosting endorphins. Movement appears to neurologically stimulate the brain like electricity charging a battery!
As chiropractors our job is to help ensure your body is capable of producing these movement nerve impulses or proprioception. By correcting alignment and flexibility issues and supporting them by improving strength, adjustments to the spine and extremity joints help to improve the level of proprioception generated in the effected area. One reason that chiropractors focus on spinal correction is because of the 50% of the spinal cord that transmits movement sense, 90% of those nerves come for the spine and spinal joints. Therefore lack of motion of the spine can have a huge effect on the regulation of this neurological process.
If the spine isn’t working properly then we are suffering a loss in proprioception and our brain and body physiology suffers as a consequence. Removing areas of dysfunction in the spine therefore not only improves our ability to perceive and control movement of our body but also improves the supply of this vital brain nutrient.
With health impacts such as these, maintaining the alignment and flexibility of your body and spine is essential and movement should be your brain’s number one daily supplement!
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This video above is 15 minutes long but well worth the watch. It is informative, evidence based and inspirational.