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Published On: Sat, Sep 6th, 2014

Growing Older Yet Wiser: The Secrets of Brain Longevity

You want to stay healthy as you get older, and part of that means keeping your brain in shape. As we age, it’s natural for our brain to start to slow down. Many of us experience slower reaction time, slower thinking processes, and the most unfortunate of us suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. But, there are things you can do to help protect your brain right now.

Get a Full Hormone and Micronutrient Test Done

Your hormones and micronutrient status will tell you a lot about your brain-age. Why? Nutrients are used by the brain for every critical function, and hormones help control the aging process. Making sure that these levels are optimized will help you stay sharp, even as you turn gray.

Human brain Image/NIH

Human brain
Image/NIH

If you’re found deficient in any micronutrient, your doctor can order IV nutrition, sometimes called a “Meyer’s cocktail,” which will replenish your body with the nutrients it needs, plus additional nutrients to help heal any damage that might have occurred due to a deficient status.

From there, it’s up to you to make diet and lifestyle changes to keep yourself from becoming deficient again.

For hormones, there’s little your doctor can do aside from helping you make dietary and lifestyle changes and administering experimental hormone replacement therapies.

Get Out And Move

Moving around will help keep your brain active – especially if you’re using that brain to help solve mentally challenging puzzles. Plus, moving will keep your body healthy too. So, try to get at least 30 minutes of movement a day to start. Now, 30 minutes isn’t going to work miracles. Ideally, you would spend at least 4 hours of every day moving and then a good amount of the day resting.

Quit Bad Habits

Quitting bad habits will also help you preserve brain health. If you have a drug problem, for example, it’s likely that you’re doing damage to your brain. Rather than blame yourself or let yourself become a victim, seek out good drug detox programs, right your ship, and live the life you were meant to live.

Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for brain health. Blueberries, for example, help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related diseases like dementia.

Diets that are rich in blueberries have also shown to improve the learning capacity and motor skills in aging rats.

Wild salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are anti-inflammatory and help protect the brain.

Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, and high vitamin E levels in aging individuals is associated with slower mental decline.

Avocados have beneficial effects similar to blueberries, and are a rich source of potassium and other minerals that are essential to good health.

Workout More

Working out isn’t just good for your body. It’s good for your brain too. Exercise can cause new stem cells to grow, new mitochondria to grow, and help slow down the aging process. It has beneficial effects on depression, the nervous system, and mental clarity.

Running, for example, releases endorphins that can help calm you down while giving you a powerful shot of your body’s natural painkillers. Lifting weights not only builds stronger muscles, but it can also forge mental toughness as you squeeze out that final rep, refusing to give up.

Drink Less

Drinking less is yet another important way to preserve your brain as you get older. Alcohol is deadly to brain cells, but its metabolites, especially acetaldehyde, is damaging to the liver and all body systems. To get rid of this potent toxin, your body must produce numerous enzymes like cytochrome p450. In addition to this, the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione, must be upregulated in the liver.

However, acetaldehyde drains the body of glutathione and excess aldehydes accumulate in the liver, causing damage. This damage isn’t contained to the liver, however. It can also affect the brain.

So, moderate your alcohol consumption, make sure you take in plenty of antioxidants from your diet, and see your doctor if you have trouble controlling how much you drink.

Guest Author :

Kevin Martel’s research in brain health extends across many common health concerns. From mental illness to Alzheimer’s research, he often blogs about keeping brains healthy and what to do if health starts to deteriorate.

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