What is Neuroplasticity?

Did you know that we can train our bodies and minds to change the way we automatically respond to our environment? A fancy word used to describe this phenomenon is neuroplasticity, or the ability for the nervous system to change its response to stimuli via changes in structure or function. Our brains are neuroplastic, which provides so many with such hope, especially to those who feel they are a slave to their emotional triggers or those who have suffered from brain injuries.


We must understand how we can promote neuroplasticity, so we can take action in the betterment of our brain and neurological health! Several important factors that contribute to neuroplasticity are:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Belief Systems
  • Sleep and circadian rhythm
  • Use of creativity
  • Having a sense of purpose
  • Stress management


When we eat foods that promote the health of our brain and the integrity of the blood-brain barrier we are optimizing our ability to promote neuroplasticity. Such foods that promote a healthy brain are colorful fruits and vegetables of different varieties, healthy fats, and adequate high-quality protein sources. Foods that are rich in a phytochemical, anthocyanin, which gives foods a rich purple pigment found in berries, purple cabbage, and black rice enhance brain function as well! And of course, we must be mindful of the quantity of processed and sugary foods that are making their way into our meals. A diet rich in starchy carbohydrates is known to reduce cognitive function, create insulin resistance, and most importantly slow mitochondrial function. Eating in a way that promotes mitochondrial health also promotes cognitive function, as our mitochondria play a key role in neurological function and energy production!



When we exercise and move our bodies, we are able to enhance the expression of genes that promote cognitive function, improve memory, and increase neurological health. Exercise enhances nitric oxide production, improves blood circulation, and increases oxygenation to the brain. Exercise is shown to delay development of Alzheimers Diseases, which is associated with decreased brain volume. Exercise allows angiogenesis, or blood vessel growth, structure and functional changes to the brain. Tai Chi and Qi Gong improves body awareness and promote neuroplasticity through the use of breath synced with movement.


Sleep is so necessary when it comes to brain function and promoting neuroplasticity. If we are not breathing properly when we sleep, due to an obstructive airway, breathing through the mouth versus the nose, sinus issues, or sleep apnea, we deprive our brain of adequate oxygen. If we are not receiving oxygen and are frequently waking in the night, even subconsciously, our bodies are robbed of necessary cellular cleanup mechanisms that enhance brain function. The mitochondria, or powerhouse of the cell, which produce energy in the form of ATP, require oxygen in order to function properly. Not only does the mitochondria promote energy for brain and bodily functions, but the mitochondria is also responsible for neurotransmitter release and balanced neurological function. With excess oxidative stress and sleep deprivation, mitochondrial function declines, thus the capacity for our brains to function properly with optimal neuroplastic potential. What can you do about this? Make sleep a priority, sticking to a normal circadian rhythm, aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Make a visit with a provider on our team to discuss your sleep patterns and rule out potential sleep disorders if you suspect this may be an issue for you!


The mind itself, of course, plays a tremendous role in the physiology of our brain and neuroplasticity. The mind consists of thought patterns that drive emotions and responses to stimuli, which are ultimately governed by belief systems. We encourage you to check in not only with the health of your belief systems, but also whether the thoughts you think are rooted in your core values. When we spend our days ruminating on destructive thinking patterns, we are wiring our physiology, and thus our responses, in a toxic manner. Thoughts can be just as toxic to the brain as chemicals, so it is important that we develop practices and mindfulness strategies that allow us to check in with our thoughts consistently, and weigh them against our values. Are your thoughts supporting or contradicting your values and beliefs? Are the beliefs you hold about yourself and others healthy? Emotions definitely have to be felt and given the space to be held, but when we choose to suppress or leave them undealt with, they can begin to take a toxic root in our minds, and are often released in unpleasant actions that contradict our values. Schedule a consultation with Mind-Body Medicine Practitioner, Geny Moreno, in order to discover tools to develop greater self-awareness and emotional resilience.


We are wired in such a beautiful manner that we have the capacity to change the structure and function of our brain through physical and mental lifestyle changes. It can be challenging to navigate through this process alone, which is why as humans we are wired for community. Here at TCLM, we have a variety of group educational programs where members have life changing opportunities to learn valuable tools, develop skills, form meaningful connections, and improve resiliency in order to heal. Give us a call to discuss your options!







Lin, Tzu-Wei, et al. “Physical Exercise Enhances Neuroplasticity and Delays Alzheimer's Disease.” Brain Plasticity (Amsterdam, Netherlands), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Dec. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296269/.


“Neuroplasticity.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/science/neuroplasticity.


Irwin M, Pike J, Oxman M. Shingles immunity and health functioning in the elderly” tai chi chih as a behavioral treatment. eCAM. 2004; 1(3) 223-232.


Wall, RB. Tai Chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction in a Boston public middle school. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 2005; 19: 230-237. 


McCance, Kathryn L., Huether, Sue E., Brashers, Valentina L., Rote, Neal S., Pathophysiology The Biological Basis for Disease in Adults and Children. Seventh Edition. ISBN: 978-0-323-08854-. St. Louis, Missouri. Elsevier Mosby. 2010.



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