Article Content

From Jordan's Desk - Brain Drain

They say a mind’s a terrible thing to waste, but it’s happening all around us. What’s worse is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Brain drain and brain shrinkage is happening due to lack of sleep, our stressed-filled lives, coming up short on vitamin B12, prolonged pain and other reasons Here’s a rundown of some of them:

Insomnia: A study published in Biological Psychology indicates that chronic sleep disruption correlates with smaller gray matter in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus regions of the brain. In other words, that’s brain shrinkage in the left orbitofrontal cortex of the brain which includes areas related to pleasant stimuli evaluation and the brain’s resting state. Gray matter, by the way, is an outer layer of the brain that is rich in nerve cells and crucial to information and memory processing.

Stress: This brain drain not only can shrink your brain cells, but it can also age your immune system. The effects of stress on the brain can impair decision making and attention. Bruce McEwen, head of the neuroendocrinology laboratory in Rockefeller University in New York City says, “Stress hormones act on the brain to remodel it and change it. The brain of a stressed animal or human being is a different brain. It has different capacities, and it may be more anxious and have less ability to pay attention or learn or remember." There is good news, though. Exercise can help repair damage done by stress.

Being overweight: UCLA neuroscientist Paul Thompson says that the brains of obese people look 16 years older than their healthy counterparts, while those of overweight people look eight years older. Thompson was the senior author in a study that concluded that obese and overweight people have significantly less brain tissue than people of normal weight.

Vitamin B12: Coming up short on this important vitamin can adversely affect brain function. Studies suggest that there is a link between those who have a history of low levels of B12 and shrinkage of the brain. Interestingly, brain drain was exhibited in those whose B12 levels were just slightly below normal but well above the level that causes anemia. Every cell in the body needs B12 and it’s water-soluble, so you can’t take too much. The truth is that we probably don’t get enough of it.

Pain: Those who have chronic pain experience brain drain, too. For example, a study of the brains of those with chronic backaches were between 5% and 11% smaller than those who did not suffer from pain. Study leader A. Vania Apkarian of Northwestern University says that study results suggest that those with constant pain lose gray matter equal to an oversized pea for each year of pain. 

Additionally, mental/emotional unhealth, unhealthy blood pressure levels and more can drain your brain, but you can take steps to avoid undue brain drain. Eating right, exercising regularly, minimizing stress, getting adequate rest and managing your weight can all go a long way to support brain health.

After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

Perfect Food RAW Meal RAW Protein

TVC Singles
Have a Question About a Garden of Life Product - Call Us at 1-866-465-0051