Video: Secrets to Protect Your Aging Brain
Just a few weeks after my 64th birthday, I discovered an interesting video. The timing couldn’t have been better.
The topic: maintaining brain health as we age. This video has tips, based on research, for preserving or improving memory and reducing brain inflammation, which is a culprit in cognitive decline.
“Daily lifestyle habits have a much bigger impact on your longevity than your genes,” Dr. Gary Small, former director of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, explains in the video.
Did you know that Indian people have less dementia, because they eat so much turmeric in their curries? Or that a brisk 20-minute walk every day lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? Most people know that yoga, meditation and tai-chi reduce stress, but did you know that stress is, according to Dr. Small, “the enemy of healthy aging”?
His message is encouraging: there are things you can control to help you live a good life in old age. “It’s easier to protect a healthy brain than to repair the damage,” he said.
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“Daily lifestyle habits have a much bigger impact on your longevity than your genes,” Dr. Gary Small, former director of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, explains in the video.Or so we would like to believe. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is inherently good, but I worry a bit that people will come to believe that they can control any outcome and that their relative with dementia should just have taken better care of herself.
Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.
Healthy habits are good for the heart and the brain. Indeed, most things that help one help the other: not smoking, regular exercise. Unfortunately, while the effect is very real, it is modest. We still have to come up with better answers for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. (And Biogen’s new drug is NOT the answer.)
I think stress has a lot to do with brain aging. My family member has severe dementia. His primary job was CEO of a construction company, he was responsible for many employees. He also had 11 children, so I’m sure there was quite a bit of stress in his life. I agree with needing better answers to Alzheimer’s.
My personal opinion is that diet and exercise are the two key factors. Diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases are huge risk factors for Alzheimers AND can largely be reversed through the right diet and enough exercise. Generally, a low carb diet with minimal processed foods seems to work.High intensity exercise releases something called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic) which seems to be very protective of brain health. Sprinting, weight lifting, intervals and things like that are great.I'm 61 and I lift weights 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. I run, bike, or row another 3-4 days a week. I'm lucky in that I love to exercise. It reduces my anxiety, boosts my mood, and almost never feels like a chore. I eat a diet low in sugar, breads, and processed foods.Only time will tell, of course, and nothing is guaranteed. The best we can hope to do is to reduce our risk.
The hypothesis is that appropriate diet and exercise will protect us from Alzheimer’s Disease. It is being tested as we speak.