Your Brain Health & Aging Explained by Raleigh Chiropractor
Well everyone typically talks about heart health in February for Valentine’s Day. I thought I would be a little rebellious and switch it up and talk about your brain health and aging.
I came across a research paper from June 2018 in Cellular Metabolism titled Hallmarks of Brain Aging: Adaptive and Pathological Modification by Metabolic States (Now if that title doesn't make you want to curl up by the fireplace and read I don’t know what will). So let’s dive into some of the findings.
First, between the years 2000-2013 deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke decreased by more than 10%. However, deaths from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's increased by 70%! In the next 30 years, those diagnosed with Alzheimer's will go from the current 5 million people to more than 12 million people. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every 4 seconds globally. While there is a genetic component to brain aging, it is known that there are multiple factors that significantly play a role in the development of the disease.
Aging of the Brain Explained by Raleigh NC Chiropractor
Among the factors that cause rapid aging of the brain, three of the most significant were: chronic stress, being sedentary and having an overindulgent lifestyle.
Chronic uncontrolled stress increases our cortisol levels which compromise the ability of neurons to function properly. Stress kills brain cells and has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Our current diets which are often high in sugar and fats create neural inflammation and oxidative damage to brain cells.
The brain imaging studies in this research found reduced grey brain matter volume and reduced white brain matter integrity, as well as reduced functional connectivity and brain activity in obese individuals, particularly those with abdominal fat and insulin resistance.
So what are a few things the research suggests we should be doing to foster healthy brain aging and significantly reduce our risk of developing a brain disease?
- Intermittent energy restriction-(intermittent fasting) Intermittent fasting- Having a 12-16 hour time each day, with no food, improves cognitive and motor performance and can protect brain neurons from dysfunction and degeneration. Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower insulin resistance, reducing oxidative stress and enhancing glucose uptake into skeletal muscles. I mentioned this a while back in another email but the literature keeps showing new benefits to restricting our calories.
Aerobic Exercise- Regular aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise reduces insulin resistance, reduces inflammation, and stimulates the release of growth factors that affect the health of brain cells. Aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training and muscle toning exercises did not appear to have the same results.
Mental Stimulation/Brain games- Brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells, developing neurological plasticity/adaptability and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss. Suggestions include: word puzzles, math problem games like Sudoku, reading, learning a new language or learning a new instrument, as well as drawing or painting can work to stimulate your brain. The best brain exercises break your normal routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways. In other words, if you read this and go I do the cross words every day I am fine, it would be better to mix it up and do something you don’t normally do to teach you something new and create new pathways.
I hope your 2019 is off to a good start and that you use a few of these suggestions to improve your health and wellness this year and beyond. I look forward to serving you and being on your health care team. Thanks again for letting me be your Raleigh Chiropractor.
In Good Health,
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