We often take for granted our memory and brain function, however as aging occurs our brain function diminishes and needs to be kept in good health just like any other part of our body. With an aging population it is important to take steps to protect brain function and to prevent degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects approximately 5% of the population under 65% however estimates up to 45% of the population over the age of 85 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Although the causative factors of Alzheimer’s disease are vague, brain health obviously plays a large role in overall development of the condition as well as general memory degeneration.
The good news is there are many ways to keep the brain active and in good shape. The most important factor to keep the brain healthy is circulation. The brain has extensive microcirculation that is prone to plaque buildup in the same way as the heart. As brain circulation diminishes, so too does brain function. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy diet which pays particular attention to avoiding unhealthy fats from junk foods and fried foods whilst at the same time consuming healthy fats from cold pressed oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Smoking is also a major contributing factor to reduced circulation within the brain.
Exercise for the brain comes in two forms. Traditional physical exercise is important to maintain healthy circulation, however exercising the brain with brain exercises is important. Keeping active mentally with interests, reading, crosswords and puzzles are excellent ways to keep the brain active. Several new applications exist to exercise the brain, which are based on memory and calculation exercises.
In addition to a healthy diet, exercise and keeping the mind active several natural medicines can be used to improve brain function. The most well know herbal medicines are Gingko Biloba, Brahmi, Gotu Kola and Ginseng which assist to stimulate brain function through improved circulation. Minerals such as zinc and magnesium have been shown to be important for brain function as have B vitamins. The amino acids tyrosine, carnitine and tryptophan can also be useful in stimulating brain function.
Interestingly caffeine has been shown to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in elderly over the age of 65. Two to three cups per day delayed the onset by up to 5 years. The mechanism is not well known, however the key seems to be related to the stimulatory effect on the brain.
Regularly stimulating the brain and maintaining good circulation are the most important factors in maintaining healthy brain function. So keep the brain active and in years to come you will benefit. ‘If you don’t use it, you will lose it’.
- Solve Brain Games and Enhance Your Brain Power (medindia.net)
- Exercise may be the best medicine for Alzheimer’s disease (eurekalert.org)
- After Decades Of Failed Drugs, The Best Way To Stave Off Alzheimer’s Is Exercise (medicaldaily.com)
- 7 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (abcnews.go.com)
- Exercise Cuts Alzheimer’s Disease Risk (medindia.net)