The quiet hub

I held a brain once. It was huge. Think about it. The brain fills at least two thirds of your head. Thats a large area, even if youre pin headed. I have a good-sized head so I imagine the mass of my brain to be that of a forty-dollar Pottery Barn candle. I never thought brains were such large units until I held one on a tour of the pathology department at Brigham Womens hospital in Boston where my sisters friend is the head. Holding the brain, which was also quite heavy, put me on a path to wondering how it works, why it works, and what I can do to keep mine working up to and perhaps past par. I have a brain; my cat has a brain do hornets have brains? If hornets have brains, they must be teeny tiny, so how in the hang is it possible a hornets brain works? How is it possible a human brain works? Check this out FINGER FOODS! My brain, for some reason, told, or wanted for me to write, FINGER FOODS! What the hell within those worm-like, puddy looking, squiggly things that make up a brain goes on to make me write, FINGER FOODS!? Why are my fingers feeling cold as I type? Why dont they feel warm? Is there a link to the rooms temperature and how my fingers feel that dictates my fingers can only feel cold, or, could something go on wrong with my brain that would make my fingers feel warm in a cold room, even though my fingers would indeed be cold? If Im standing on railroad tracks my brain tells me it could be dangerous. If I hear a train whistle, Ill step away from the tracks, no? Yes. But what in the name of cripesly hell happens up in that claymation brain of mine that produces the result of me stepping away? Im sixteen working at a pizza parlor learning to throw the dough. I start out poorly, but with time Im able to throw a pie like Old Italian men from the Bronx. Muscle memory gained through repetition is the reason I can learn to throw a pizza pie, but what part of my thudish, squiggly, worm-like brain houses this so called muscle memory? I hear someone say, youre egging me on, and I know what she means, even though I dont know why it should mean what it means. (What do eggs have to do with persuasion?) I see a cloud formation the shape of a woodchuck. I close the car door on my pointer finger knuckle and it hurts. A look from one actor to another on screen can elicit from me deep feelings of emotion. My brain is responsible for my experiencing tralilion kazillion things. But how does it work? Does anyone out there really know? Muscles I understand, to the degree that I understand them. Theyre a flesh type thing, attached at the ends, theyre rubbery, they expand and contract, they need to be fed and used or theyll atrophy. A mans muscles are at peak strength somewhere between 25 and 45 or so. They can repair themselves I feel them work and I can feel them. I know a little bit about the heart. Its a muscle so its not unlike a bi or tricep in many ways. The heart has valves, and big-time culverts heading in and out carrying blood and oxygen, and it beats of course hopefully. It can be repaired in some ways, transplanted, and though we often claim it does, it cant actually break in two. I can feel it working. Bones? Marrow filled, drink your milk, they break, splinter, crack, repair. Eyes? Dont know what theyre made of but I know they should be checked every three years. I know they work with light and are put together somewhat like a camera lens, and I need to protect them from objects large and small, the smallest being the point of a pin, the largest being the sun. I see my eyes. Whats your fathers name? (answer) Youre exactly right! But why are you right? Because your brain has his name stored, filed, planted, molded, or something, somewhere. How ever your brain knows your fathers name doesnt matter, its a mystery. I do though want to know what I can do, if anything can be done, to make and keep my brain healthy, so I did some research, and I want you all to know, I rarely and in fact dont think I have ever done classic research for a column, or anything else for that matter, so you see, this brain health thing is quite important to me. (Information via Majid Fotuhi, MD, Phd.) The most common cause of memory loss is stress and anxiety. Second is depression, third are medical issues. The tenth or eleventh cause is Alzheimers. Ninety percent of adults who complain of memory loss dont suffer from Alzheimers but instead have depression, stress, anxiety, fatigue, and or lack of sleep. Im aware of the positive effect exercise can have on my health, but I have wondered how, if it does at all, exercise directly helps the brain. Dr. Fotuhi writes, It improves your heart function. This means that your heart can pump the blood better and profuse your brain with a rich supply of blood. Exercise too increases growth factors, which are proteins that naturally nourish the brain cells. Now when I workout Ill keep my brain in mind. A short list of foods that are rich in antioxidants contribute to brain health: Spinach, Oranges, Beets, Avocados, and especially Blueberries and other berries. Ha ha, the only food in that list Im not crazy for are Avocados, and I like them fine, I just dont eat them too often. Of course fish is a big winner for health in general and the brain loves its share, they say, three servings a day. B12 rocks for the brain too. I learned what I already knew, but didnt know I knew it and that is, the brain needs just about the same things the rest of you body needs to stay healthy. Yes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, poor diet, and even watching too much TV, are all no nos when it comes to keeping your brain healthfully working. Your brain is the quiet sibling, but no less a hub than your heart. So get up off the couch, slug a can of beet juice, take some B12, throw away your TV, get a job you love, and youll be in the money if youre wanting to keep your mind as sharp as your muscles are toned and your bones are boned. What is happening up in that brain of mine? Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act The Logger. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at rustyd@pshift.com. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com

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