In the last ten generations, human life expectancy has doubled. But this brilliant triumph of progress and medicine also has its dark side: living longer has made us more prone to brain deterioration that prevents us from enjoying old age in optimal conditions. In an increasingly health-conscious society, preventing our brains from aging worse than our bodies have become a significant concern.
A healthy lifestyle is as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body and can minimize cognitive decline as you age.
Both the heart and the brain need good blood circulation, but in some people, the veins become narrowed or blocked throughout their lives in what is called atherosclerosis and are the cause of many heart attacks or thrombi. According to this report, risk can be minimized with a healthy lifestyle, a good diet, or saying goodbye to smoking.
Is it important to have a healthy brain?
Having a healthy brain is very important for good physical and mental health. It is a fact that when people begin to age, this organ changes, and so does the way it performs its functions.
Cognitive decline is one of the most feared consequences of biological aging, as it is a condition that is inevitable.
The functions of the brain are multiple. For example, it controls and regulates most body and mind functions. Most of them are vital, such as breathing or holding the heart rate, through sleep, hunger, or thirst, to higher functions such as reasoning, memory, attention, control of emotions, and behavior.
Tips to get a healthier brain
A healthy brain can pay attention, receive, and recognize information through the senses, learn and remember, communicate, solve problems and make decisions, control mobility and emotions. And cognitive impairment can affect any of these aspects. Here we share some tips for you to consider caring for your brain when you get older.
Keep the mind active with new challenges
The first and most obvious advice is to keep the brain active. It is logical to assume that brain training can preserve cognitive abilities in better shape as we age. However, leaving this as generic advice can be misleading. Research reveals that not all activity is equally valid. For example, one study subjected a group of 221 people over the age of 60 to a particular activity for 15 hours a week over three months. After this period, the researchers assessed the effect on the participants' memory.
The results showed that memory improved in subjects whose task was learning photography and digital editing or quilting. At the same time, the same was not true for those engaged in activities such as cooking, playing games, traveling, reading magazines, or solving hobbies.
The study results showed that it is not enough to "do something" or seek entertainment. Instead, activities should be chosen that take the person out of their comfort zone and challenge them mentally.
Although claims abound about the benefits of any kind of simple mental task, such as doing puzzles or crossword puzzles, reading, or going to the movies, more advanced studies suggest that only activities that provide real cognitive stimulation are beneficial.
Physical activity helps general health and is vital for maintaining a healthy brain, as using your muscles also helps your mind. Similarly, exercise helps keep blood pressure under control improves blood cholesterol levels and sugar levels, directly affecting the heart and brain.
Eating less and better
It's not about starving ourselves, nor about becoming anorexic. Nowadays, everyone has a few extra pounds to spare. Because we eat much more than we should. In the seventies, some studies were carried out with rats and mice, in which it was proved that when these animals were reduced by 30% the caloric intake of the food they received daily, they lived longer. However, the diet was balanced and contained the necessary amount of fats, proteins, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. In those experiments, it was seen that eating less food reduced the body's oxidative stress, which reduced the production of free radicals, the main culprits that cause us to age and that damage protein, lipids, and the DNA of cells.
Reducing oxidative stress is vital for the brain, a susceptible organ to oxidation; paradoxical as it may seem, it needs a lot of energy to function. The reactions that release that energy generate many oxidative chemicals. In addition, brain tissue contains a large amount of oxidizable material, especially the fatty membranes surrounding the nerve cells. Eating less also causes new neurons to be produced in the hippocampus, increases contact between neurons, and activates and promotes cellular repair mechanisms.
And the benefits of reducing caloric intake do not end there. It also slows down the activity of specific genes that harm neurons. On the other hand, it awakens dormant and whose functioning is beneficial and protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. In addition, fewer calories protect us from diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other neurodegenerative diseases and reduce cancer risk.
Not living alone
We are social beings. We have survived throughout evolutionary history because we were in groups. Our brains were forged as we forged bonds with other individuals. We have an enormous cerebral cortex, the so-called social brain, to relate to increasingly complex communities of people. So, if we want to have excellent mental, we must have social relations with others. Being socially integrated maintains a high mental capacity and protects us against dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
It is relevant to share our lives with someone to have a constant dialogue and an emotional interchange. On the contrary, living in isolation diminishes mental capacities and accelerates the process of age-related decline.
Adapting to social changes
It is essential to know how to adapt to the changes since this implies facing new things, learning, and memorizing constantly.