Fun February Facts: Feb 8th was the day Sandford Fleming first proposed Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute in 1879, The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce in 1910 and was the birthday of James Dean in 1931.
The brain goes through a lot each and every day as hormones, neurotransmitters and other substances interact through millions of chemical reactions and energy transfers. One of the side effects of all this action is a build up of residue that slows down and clogs the fluid surrounding the brain. This brain junk and free radicals are oxidants that can deteriorate the brain tissue and connections if not cleaned out regularly.
Brain health, although incredibly complex, dynamic and influenced by many things, is largely determined by how well the body cleans out the brain residue. Therefore one of the best ways to keep the brain healthy is to support the cleaning systems that help remove all the junk that builds up throughout the day and overnight…
Part 1: The Three Musketeers of Brain Sanitation
Melatonin, DHEA and Oxytocin: The three biggest antioxidants in the brain that fight for freedom from brain gunk.
Melatonin, aside from its powerful role in inducing sleep, is the most powerful antioxidant in the brain. It is the key player in keeping the streets of your brain clean and well functioning. It is released at sunset (cued by the changing hues of light) to about midnight, but only in the presence of darkness and absence of blue light. If you want to maximize your melatonin, keep the lights down after sunset, limit your electronic exposure and get to bed early.
DHEA is next in the brain clean up crew. Known mostly as one of the master steroid hormones in the body, DHEA is the precursor to the sex hormones (estrogens and testosterone) and stress hormones (cortisol). It also serves a tremendous antioxidant role in the brain so if you have problems with DHEA you’re missing out on a big player in brain health. If you want to maximize your DHEA, watch the stress in your life, as excess stress robs your brain of DHEA to feed the other hormone chain to deal with stress.
Oxytocin is the third musketeer in brain health. Known as the bonding hormone, oxytocin is released into the brain when we connect to other people and helps the brain combat and organize the panic around hormones and other environmental adaptations. Physical contact and touch are the biggest stimulants to the release of oxytocin, which is also important in the formation of intimacy and feelings of closeness.
These three compounds are the antioxidants* that most powerfully neutralize brain byproduct and get things cleaned up. Boost these musketeers and rev up your brain cleanup crew, helping keep things healthy and pure.
*Interesting note: Contrary to popular belief the most important antioxidants in the brain come not from food but from our day to day behaviors.
There’s much more to keeping your brain healthy which I’m going to explore in later posts but this can be a great place to start.
– Turn off bright lights at night and go to bed early.
– Watch your stress and practice stress reduction whenever possible.
– Touch, hug and connect to people.
Thanks for reading, have a great day!
P.S. Up next in Brain Health 2
we look at building new brain connections.
[…] Brain Health 1 covered the 3 main brain antioxidants (melatonin, DHEA and oxytocin) which are the crucially important but often neglected clean up crew. Part 2 moves onto some more practical application. What can we actively do to preserve or improve our brain health? […]
[…] Brain Health 1 covered the 3 main brain antioxidants (melatonin, DHEA and oxytocin) and Brain Health 2 covered how to keep the brain stimulated and make new connections. Part 3 looks at what to feed your brain for optimal function. […]