Let me start this post by stating that I am not a medical professional. If you are concerned about your health see a doctor, but if you are interested in proactively protecting your brain this post may help.
I am a 57-year-old man with the same concerns as other mature adults. However I have taken the time to understand most of the major medical challenges associated with aging and I take daily action toward mitigating the risks.
As a result of my professional and personal activities I am often approached by people with health related questions. I find it odd that many people have a general understanding about their physical health and yet little to no practical knowledge about their brain health.
From my experience many of us folks on the Far Side of Fifty are, at least occasionally, concerned about our brain health.
Every forgotten date or name is a sign of full-fledged dementia and the fact that we forget where we put things is a sure sign of aging.
While diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s and dementia are terrible the real tragedy is that most of us can take action toward maintaining our brain health but simply don’t.
The socioeconomic impact of brain diseases is already considerable. Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that, by 2018, the global cost of brain diseases will be in the order of $1 trillion US. Given that the number of people effected by dementia related disorders is expected to double every 20 years the human and economic costs of this issue is staggering.
You can take action against Alzheimer’s and dementia!!
At this stage my advice to people worried about their brain health is;
“Forget worrying about dementia and Alzheimer’s and focus on learning instead.”
If you are truly concerned that you are losing cognitive powers by all means go see a medical professional and have a complete checkup but I have always focussed on trying to be proactive so here are several scientifically proven ways to maintain brain function.
There is no doubt that there are both genetic and environmental factors involved with brain disease so to a certain extent your brain health is a matter of luck. However science has proven that, for the majority of us, our ongoing daily activities have a profound effect on our brain health. Studies strongly support the idea that, regardless of age, the very activities that support or enhance our learning capabilities are the very same activities that ward off mental decline and diseases of the brain.
In broad terms your brain is a lot like a muscle. A well-used brain is strong and healthy, while an inactive brain can become weak and sickly.
If you want to avoid cognitive decline turn off the television, get up off the couch and try these intelligence boosting activities instead.
I have talked about the importance of physical activity literally hundreds of times. If there is a miracle cure for many modern diseases this is it. Exercise not only makes your body strong it strengthens your brain as well. Exercise is proven to increase the flow of oxygen, glucose and nutrients to the brain. It also enhances neuroplasticity which is associated with higher brain volume and increased intelligence. Finally physical activity promotes neurogenesis which is the process through which new neurons are created.
Learning music, a second language or even taking art classes are all proven ways to increase your overall learning capabilities. In fact the more you learn, the more you increase your ability to learn. Of particular benefit are learning activities that combine focus, concentration and memory with complex physical activities are particularly good for your. While THIS article from the Guardian specifically talks about the benefits of learning music studies have shown that learning dance and martial arts are great substitutes for music.
Conversely failing to use your brains learning power impedes its ability to absorb or recall new information.
A healthy diet.
A healthy diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, such as omega 3 and 6 is a great way to boost your learning capabilities, The healthy diet should also be low in sugars, processed foods and refined flour.
Check out THIS webpage from Dr. David Perlmutter to learn more.
If you are unconvinced about the importance of diet check out the following quote from his website. The message is clear; watch your carbohydrate consumption!!
“The risk of dementia in those at the higher end of the scale in terms of carbohydrate consumption increased by close to 90%. Those whose calories came more from fat were found to have a reduced risk of becoming demented by around 44%. Higher protein consumption was also associated with reduced dementia risk, by around 21%.”
Look for new experiences.
Instead of staying in your comfortable routines try going to new places, experiment with new activities, talk to new people and even try new foods. These are all great ways to enhance your brain power. Researchers in Buenos Aires proved that when adult mice were exposed to stimulating environments their brains created new cells and then integrated them into existing neural networks. Evidence supports the theory that people, when exposed to new experiences, enjoy similar benefits.
A final question for you.
Do you have a plan to keep your brain healthy?
Given the evidence regarding brain health what is your plan?
Are you going to remain sedentary and stuck in a rut praying that dementia doesn’t come knocking or are you going to be proactive.
Remember that, like all things, staying mentally healthy takes a bit of work.
As always thank you for reading Success on the Far Side of Fifty. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.