Brain Support

Brain Support

The brain is vital for the involuntary functions that keep you alive, healthy and happy, as well as more complex aspects of who you are, like your intelligence and personality. It’s got over 100 billion cells including neurons. Neurons are responsible for sending messages within and to and from the brain at a rate of about 322 kilometres per hour.

We used to think that brain aging was caused by a progressive loss of neurons, starting at birth. But Caleb Finch, a Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences, claims that most, if not all, of your neurons can stay healthy until you die, unless you have a specific disease that causes their loss. So then what is responsible for this terrifying degeneration?

“Those who ‘use it, don’t lose it’ as quickly”, reports an article from the University of South California. Research has found that adults who attended college had better brain function than those who didn’t. And animal studies indicate that challenging the brain promotes the growth of brand new neurons. This implies that we may actually be able to increase the number of neurons we’re born with by exercising our brains. It appears that keeping the mind active is similar to lifting weights – brain connections that are used over and over again become broader and stronger.

This may explain why although your memory declines from your 20s or 30s – indicating a loss of mental flexibility with time – other cognitive abilities do the opposite. Prof Salthouse says that accumulated knowledge and skills, like general knowledge and vocabulary, increase until we’re at least 60 years old.

Looking after your body can also help keep you mentally sharp. Evidence indicates that going for a brisk 45-minute walk just three times a week reduces loss of brain function with age. Maintaining a lower weight may help too.  Research suggests that sleeping for 8 hours each night could protect against memory loss.

Stress, anxiety and depression diminish mood as well as brain function. The hormone cortisol is produced by your body during times of stress. A little cortisol is great for memory, but a lot negatively affects the neurons in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for consolidating memories). A recent study found that elderly individuals who were more vulnerable to stress and anxiety had more chance of developing AD. Stress and anxiety appeared to interfere with ability to process and store new information and was linked to a faster drop in cognition.

Controlling your stress and anxiety levels using natural medicines help. Exercise, yoga and engaging in activities you enjoy may also help relieve stress and boost mood.


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