About your brain

Human Brain

The human brain contains approximately 86 billion neurons

The brain accounts for around 2% of body weight, yet uses 20% of the body’s energy

During early childhood the brain uses around 50% of the body’s energy

For the brain to maintain optimal function, three main cell types - neurons, astrocytes and microglia - must all work correctly. While astrocytes and microglia are important in supporting the function of neurons, it is the neurons themselves that are directly associated with memory, learning, and cognitive function.

These neurons transmit information from the body’s senses (such as vision, smell, touch) via sensory neurons, and then process this information by sharing it across different areas of the brain. The brain then sends signals to the body via motor neurons (to muscles, and organs such as the heart and liver) where physical responses, such as muscle movement, take place.

For neurons to work optimally, three broad conditions must be met:
  • As neuronal signalling is an energy demanding process, there must be adequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain
  • When neurons process information from the body - either to respond to, or store as memory - they make many new connections with other neurons in distinct areas of the brain. This process is greatly aided by the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in their membranes, which make them more flexible and able to connect with their neighbouring neurons
  • Levels of waste products and toxins should be removed rapidly, and the inflammatory status of the brain should be maintained in a low state

Why is this important?

These processes are potentially modifiable, and can be supported through different lifestyle factors. At Brain Health Network, we want to help people make sustainable lifestyle change to maintain a healthy brain. Find out more on our Simple Steps page.

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