Brain Awareness Week
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was started in 2011 as a global campaign designed to raise awareness and public support for neuroscience, as well as a platform to advocate for adequate science funding for education, research, and discovery.
Officially, Brain Awareness Week occurs once a year in March, and this year’s BAW was held March 13-19, 2017. However, events and activities are held year round and can be publicized on the BAW website, which is a great place to get ideas or to learn how to begin events in your community.
The website has some suggestions for community events and classroom activities. The site includes a section for educators to help plan activities. These can be used for refresher activities or to explore new topics as well.
Programs are in place worldwide to inspire community organizers, students, scientists, and volunteers to teach and learn about brain science and health.
The Science Olympiad is an academic competition for the sciences that is attended by competitors from across the nation. It starts at a regional level and leads up to the national tournament held during BAW. About 7,000 teams from 50 states compete in 46 events. The national level provides unconventional opportunities for students. Events are designed to mimic real scientific settings, from “making and tending fake wounds, to building a motor-powered monoplane out of rubber.”
Fun Brain Facts
Here are some fun brain facts, but you learn much more at the events.
- The brain is the motor of the human nervous system, and it controls our thoughts, motion, memories and decision-making.
- Evolution has shaped the human brain and many of its properties are still largely a mystery to scientists.
- Billions of brain nerve cells send and receive information throughout the body.
- Proportionately, our brains are three times as big as the brains of other mammals.
- An adult human brain weighs three pounds. It represents 2% of the body’s weight but uses 20% of its energy.
Foods To Eat To Improve Brain Health
Something to keep in mind now especially as brain affecting diseases like Alzheimer’s increase, is the health of a brain. Brain health can also be stimulated by activities as well as the types of foods that we eat. These superfoods help maintain brain health as we age and can be added to your daily diet to keep your brain healthy.
Blueberries are great for reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries improve learning capacity and motor skills in aging rats. Eat as many blueberries as you want in your daily diet. At least one cup a day is recommended in fresh, frozen or freeze-dried form.
Deep-water fish, including salmon, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids essential for brain function. Wild salmon is plentiful and not too expensive and, it is cleaner than farm-raised salmon. Omega-3s contain anti-inflammatory substances and can be found in fish such as sardines and herring.
The recommended serving of wild salmon is 4-ounces, two to three times a week.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have a lot of vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E slow down cognitive decline associated with age. Enjoy an ounce a day raw or roasted nuts and seeds. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, buy unsalted nuts and seeds.
Best types of nuts include Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts. Best types of seeds are sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seed. In addition try incorporating nonhydrogenated nut butters like tahini, peanut butter, and almond butter.
Avocados have a lot of monounsaturated fat, which facilitates healthy blood flow. Avocados can lower blood pressure. Hypertension impacts cognitive ability, while lowering blood pressure promotes brain health. Avocados are high in calories, so add 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado as a daily side dish.
Having an awareness of what the brain does for us is important and it is also just as vital to have a healthy diet that nourishes your brain’s function and vitality.