How aging affects the brain:
As we age, our brains shrink: especially in the frontal cortex the area for memory formation and storage and lesions form in the white matter. According to the National Institutes of Health, biological aging is not tied absolutely to chronological aging. That means it may be possible to slow biological aging and even reduce the possibility of suffering from age related diseases such as dementia. With that as a goal we have compiled information and research from a number of sources. We're sure some of this is not new to you but some of it will be, so stick with us and learn some surprising things.
How your lifestyle affects your brain health and longevity:
I once asked one of my favorite Patients ( aged 97) about her secret to a long active life and a sharp brain. Her answer “ When you’re green you’re growing, when you’re ripe you rot. I try to learn something new every day”. That in a nutshell is one of the primary recommendations of most institutions doing research on aging. So whether it’s puzzles or classes, find something you’re interested in and pursue it. The key thing is the interest. Your brain knows if you are bored!
Diet - There is no such thing as the perfect diet. People have allergies and sensitivities. My most general recommendations are a variety of fruits and veggies with good quality proteins and fats from fresh unprocessed sources. Your brain needs both protein and fat in reasonable quantities. Call us if you would like more personalized recommendations.
Sleep - Alzheimer studies have shown a high correlation between insufficient sleep and brain pathology. During sleep circulation increases allowing for detoxification and clearance of plaque formations. 7-8 hours seems to be the magic numbers and naps don’t count. A lot of people resort to Benadryl (diphenhydramine) but that also has a close correlation with Alzheimer’s, possibly due it’s side effects causing dehydration. We can help you attain that magic number of restful sleep hours without drugs if you need help.
Exercise - Do I really need to tell you about the benefits of exercise? If you’re doing it keep going. If you are not exercising, find something you enjoy and do it, whether it’s walking, dancing, gardening or whatever. It’s the fountain of youth for your brain as well as your body. Any kind of movement enhances circulation for your body and your brain. I specifically want to tell you about something called Forest Bathing. It’s mindfully walking in nature. Walking with your mind engaged to see, hear, feel and sense the world around you. You receive the benefits of exercise and stress relief at the same time.
Stress - If you want to keep your memory and brain functional you can’t ignore the presence of stress in your life. Stress hormones are particularly damaging to your brain speeding up the aging process and some changes are not reversible. We usually start by strengthening the adrenals, your body’s stress management system. Supplements can be used to decrease your stress as can meditation and exercise. A favorite of mine is a practice called earthing. Sitting for 10-20 minutes with your bare feet touching the ground is a very simple way to decrease your stress and even lower your blood pressure
These lifestyle changes are all interactive so the more you incorporate into your daily life the more profound the change will be. Exercising reduces stress but also helps you sleep. Better sleep strengthens your adrenals to help your body deal with stress.
We have more brain health tips to share with you! Be sure to come back for Part 2 of this blog where we will share our top brain boosting supplements for preventative brain health.