If you want to increase brain power for yourself as you age it's about food, exercise, habits,some surprising things like your GI tract health & supplements
Facts about the "aging" brain:
First let me review with you some brain facts that most people (heck, most doctors) don’t know. Each decade after 30, we lose a minimum of 3 and up to 5 IQ points. But we CAN GET THEM BACK.
Concentration skills (Attention)
Memory “consolidation and storage” skills
Neural transmission speed (how fast we think and retrieve information)
Brain cells (which we now are discovering can be re-sprouted from brain stem cells----new data and how cool is this?)
And even 20+ years before developing Alzheimer’s we start accumulating the toxic substance called amyloid (but we are now finding that we also can prevent this-more in a bit!)
Let's start with lifestyle practices to prevent dementia with the most common type being Alzheimer's:
Are you eating correcting and exercising? And what about your mood? Studies show that people who suffer from depression are more prone to developing Alzheimer's due to the function of dopamine and other neurotransmitters responsible for mood but also for memory consolidation and storage. WE cover how to improve your mood naturally by replacing the "happy brain chemicals" with neurotransmitter precursors which are harmless supplements, when used correctly and sure do the trick!
Three main issues which greatly accelerate physical (including LOOKS) aging and a decline in brain health are as follows:
This should be looked at as a "reverse" phenomenon, since the fewer anti-oxidant rich fruits and veggies you consume, the worst off you are!
Regarding oxidative stress:
You will also be worse off if: you fly a lot, are in the sun a lot, live in "a city," (and are therefore exposed to considerable pollution). Eating processed foods also adds to the problem as does smoking and being overweight or obese. To learn how to slow inside AND outside aging, oxidative stress must be managed. We do that very easily in module oneof our program. If you’d like to fix that problem NOW then just go here and get an AWS Red Superfood and an AWS green Superfood. And get a shaker cup at a health food store. Each day, fill the shaker cup with cold water, add one scoop of reds powder and greens powder, one TBSP of juice, shake, refrigerate so it’s nice and cold to use as a breakfast drink. I start my day off with this drink and my supplements.
We are referring to chronic inflammation here, which is something we usually just "don’t feel" until an inflammatory disease "gets us".
It's not hard to reduce your own body’s inflammation, you just need to first and foremost eat anti- inflammatory foods AND at the end I’ll give you some more tips on how to reduce inflammation which of course causes BRAIN INFLAMMATION as well.
Some of the causes of chronic inflammation are:
Eating processed foods, fast foods, and starchy foods
Drinking straight fruit juice, and foods containing sugar
Are you eating "better" with age? (Meaning cutting out inflammatory foods and eating anti-inflammatory foods) If not, the bottom line is that the worse you eat and (by definition) the more you then weigh, the more inflamed you will be. And the chicken-egg story here, is the more INFLAMED you are, the more WEIGHT you gain and the harder it is to lose. As a result, you keep putting on the pounds, which makes you MORE INFLAMED.
AND meanwhile your skin and BRAIN ages faster. (I wrote skin because your skin’s appearance is a reflection of your internal inflammation and is what people tend to notice on themselves versus noticing other things.) How to reverse/slow aging of the brain has a lot to do with diet and weight. And there are "neuro-toxins" we don't think about such as alcohol-each drink is death to some brain cells-unfortunate but true. (But some evidence points to some neuro-protective effects of omega-3 fish oils prior to consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol). And each surgery we need to have general anesthesia for-same thing. And there are environmental toxins as well which should be "cleaned out" regularly which we do in our program.
Lastly let me explain glycation.
This is when your blood sugar in the morning (fasting) is higher than about 85 and maybe as low as 80-the research keeps evolving on what the exact number is. This doesn’t mean diabetes. This just means what we call glycation which makes ALL cells, including BRAIN CELLS stiffer and less responsive. We DO know for sure that when someone is diabetic,with blood sugars in the morning consistently high,that they have a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer's-THAT is clear.
What next-of course, Exercise!
Now…this is the next thing you MUST do!! Exercise not only carries oxygen to the brain, it also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals. There is a direct correlation between non-exercise and Alzheimer’s , so if this isn’t a part of your life, I always tell patients to adopt a dog: that dog needs a daily walk!
What about loss of restorative sleep with age and other sleep problems-does that matter?
YES! It sure does!
Sleep is needed for memory consolidation with the key components of this occurring during the deepest stages of sleep. If you are having issues with falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night, thus upsetting REM sleep (where all the good stuff happens) or you are awakening unrefreshed you have a “sleep issue”. Your brain will not age optimally until this is fixed. This is another long and complicated topic which I just can’t cover adequately for you in this one series. However if you identify where the problem is, there are articles in my blog in the sleep category which will be helpful to you.
Other assorted brain fitness tips:
Are you seeking out people who are funny? You should…laughter is crucial for brain health. If you don't send jokes on email and don't receive any just google a good source and share the laughter! (Email me please-I love jokes!). Stress should be managed as well. To give you a brief synopsis on the physiology of that-stress increases cortisol which in turn depresses the immune system which is crucial for brain health. If your stress isn’t controlled then look for THAT category in my blog and also on my Youtube channel.
Any sort of brain exercise will work, whether it’s playing a musical instrument,doing puzzles or doing "my grocery list trick". Want to hear my trick? I never use a list: I just think of what I need and remember the number of items. I don’t leave the store without the right number.
Good relationships with people AND pets are also great for brain health. Yes, you are getting the message that I DO want you to adopt a dog!
What else to increase brain power as you age, rather than see a decrease?!
Your immune system as well as your GI tract (which is associated with immune health) should be properly tuned for optimal brain health. Most adults don't think they need anything other than a little yoghurt for a source of pro-biotics, if anything at all for optimal GI tract health. First of all, pro-biotics don't work without pre-biotics and second of all, yoghurt has nada in terms of what anyone needs,even if they eat it all day.
What about brain supplements?
There are a variety of supplements with the most well known and multi-functional being curcumin, although that is just the start of the conversation. Curcumin, a derivative of turmeric will dissolve amyloid, stimulate neural stem cells and is anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective. There is a lot more information in my "brain module" and you can start by going to this page, seeing some videos, and getting your free 5 part series on brain health. Some supplements are controversial and I have chosen to discuss only those which are proven to do one of the things or one to two of the things noted at the very beginning of this article. It would be dangerous to list everything I use because I always assess exactly what someone needs and the other supplements and medications they are taking. (Example-ginkgo biloba should not be used if someone is taking anti-coagulants, nor should fish oils). So: I hope this was helpful and informative and if you have questions just find me at my web siteand ask!
Kimberly Crawford,M.D., F.A.C.P.M.,A.B.A.A.R.M.
Board Certified: Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (A4M) and Internal Medicine