By: Deedra Mason, ND – nutraMetrix® | Director of Clinical Education & Research

What is the difference between age-related memory decline, and something more serious? Where is our ounce of prevention? vs. a pound of cure?

As we advance in years, our nervous tissue needs a little more time to ignite. It’s a small amount in the beginning- As time goes by, the time it takes to fire the neurons seems to gap wider and wider. What you may notice is a subjective slowing of the mental process. The time it takes to bring, what used to feel like a current event, now feels longer. Some will notice changes earlier than others, due to their lifestyle choices. It is no surprise to find out that gut health, exercise and sleep habits are intimately linked to better mental focus and brain aging.

Another theory is the theory of over or hyperstimulation. Our threshold or tolerance for the pace of our thoughts or the amount it takes to get a thought out changes, leaving us frustrated and feeling old. While it might make you feel better to say it’s merely the result of a life well lived, and learned for that matter, or even the abundance of the word we live in. This over stimulation is evidence of declining mitochondrial function and mental status in the face of significant environmental risk factors.

Whatever your theory, memory decline and problems with mental focus are considered a normal part of aging.

But do they need to be? Where do you fall on the longevity spectrum?

There are steps we can take to healthy aging. First, we have to understand what we are trying to combat. There are three goals to restore the youth of your brain.

Reduction, Restoration & Recovery

Maintaining optimal brain activity begins with reducing or neutralizing damaging free radicals that limit mitochondrial function, or limit oxygen/blood flow to the brain. Mitochondrial function can be compared to the battery in a remote control device. When its reserve is getting low we get limited connectivity with a signal and see energy output be vastly different than when the battery is fully charged. The same is true for your own internal battery; little mitochondria that power each one of your cells. The charge necessary for these biologic batteries are things like coQ10, niacin, amino and fatty acids. To restore brain health, think about reducing oxidative stress that impacts the mitochondria by supplementing with the proper combination of antioxidants and fatty acids.

Restoration of a youthful brain requires a discussion about Lifestyle. Diet and exercise habits, especially in later decades of life, is a vital concern in those looking to support healthy brain aging. Lifestyle can be greatly impacted with some simple, yet vital interventions.

Research continues to reveal nutrition is vital to support and promote brain function especially as we age. The American diet is vastly deficient in key nutrients that support and restore brain function. The science behind botanicals and nutrients is growing. Essential nutrients like Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are all beneficial in the prevention of age-related memory loss. Lipoic acid, Acetyl-L-carnitine, and plant derived antioxidants, like resveratrol, are the focus of personalized medicine today looking for age management solutions. New studies on Curcumin, Selenium and Omega III fatty acids are showing promise in the care and prevention of age-related decline in mental focus and fortitude.

Exercise boosts memory and thinking skills. Exercise has a substantial benefit in mediating insulin resistance, decreasing inflammatory end products of metabolism called cytokines, and stimulating production of brain growth factors, which are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

“Play” is key to recovery and a healthy immune system. Exercise can also improve sleep and therefore may be linked to improved mood, reduced stress and anxiety. Problems in each of these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment regardless of your decade of life. Specifically, exercise and brain stimulation have decreased rates of depression, alcohol abuse and co-morbid cognitive health concerns in older populations.

Utilizing things like Probiotics, Vitamin D, b-Glucans and Exercise together has shown improved recovery in cognitive as well as mental-emotional decline.

Regardless of your age, it is prudent to assess your battery levels and consider steps you can take to being present in the “here and now”, while you take steps towards your own longevity.

References:

J Clin Invest. 2013;123(3):951-957. The role of mitochondria in aging. Ana Bratic, Nils-Göran Larsson

American Journal of Physiology Vol. 305 no. 15 September 2013; Endothelium-dependent control of cerebrovascular functions through age: exercise for healthy cerebrovascular aging; Virginie Bolduc, Nathalie Thorin-Trescases, Eric Thorin

Progress in Lipid Research; Volume 53, January 2014, Pages 1–17. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) from genesis to senescence: The influence of LCPUFA on neural development, aging, and neurodegeneration; Carola I.F. Janssen , Amanda J. Kiliaan

Neuropharmacology Volume 96, Part A, September 2015, Pages 11–18; Immune dysregulation and cognitive vulnerability in the aging brain: Interactions of microglia, IL-1β, BDNF and synaptic plasticity Susan L. Patterson

TRENDS in Neurosciences Vol.25 No.6 June 2002; Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity; Carl W. Cotman Nicole C. Berchtold