Self Growth

Brain Health or how to avoid spending the last 15 years of your life in a wheelchair

Your brain health might be the last thing on your mind as you are enjoying (or not) the end of the year festivities: take a step back and think a little. Our ability to appreciate life’s many enjoyments depends on our brain health. Anything sensory activity, such as the taste of the food, the smell of […]

Brain health

Your brain health might be the last thing on your mind as you are enjoying (or not) the end of the year festivities: take a step back and think a little. Our ability to appreciate life’s many enjoyments depends on our brain health. Anything sensory activity, such as the taste of the food, the smell of a flower, the touch on your skin, even the experience of an orgasm, or any creative activity, which all contribute to the very experience of life, are entirely brain based.

In fact, everything we’ve ever experienced, or done or are experiencing now or will in the future depends on our brain health and its proper functioning.

With that in mind, please allow me to repeat myself again (brain degeneration??) that our real challenge is not so much how long we will live but if we will be able to do so without mental decline. While this seems totally inappropriate and even might seem morbid to some, it’s the simple truth. Once you understand this simple truth, you now have the choice of graceful ageing.

Brain health and ageing = neurodegenerating or not neurodegenerating?

Lots of us associate and totally accept normal ageing with the decrease of brain health and functions. Sure, there is a growing market out there for nursing homes, medications for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and laxatives. And, as my sense of glamour struggles with visualizing an ageing man swallowing his Viagra while undoing his diapers, the “magic” pill has surely erected huge profits besides most obvious male attributes.

Many assume that the pains, aches and sometimes embarrassing declines they experience as they age are unavoidable because others are also going through the same changes. But, what’s common isn’t necessarily normal.

Studies on the healthiest elderly population on the planet show minimal cognitive loss and good brain health even amongst in their 90’s. These data suggest that cognitive decline is not automatically correlated with advanced age. By 2015, 850,000 British will be diagnosed with dementia at a total cost of £26 billion, and that number is projected to grow to 1 million by 2025. The figures are way greater in the USA. Are you saying that planet earth will be populated with a growing number of un-operational people affected by devastating diseases, I leave you to imagine the picture …

What’s more, conventional medicine is hopeless when it comes to diagnosing and treating these conditions and there is NO cure. So if you want to age well, PREVENT this from happening by minimizing neurodegeneration and protect against common (but not normal) conditions associated with ageing. Decide to take matters into your own hands.

What is your brain health telling you?

You had more neurons (brain cells) the day you were born than you’ll ever have for the rest of your life. Brain tissue does not regenerate. From the time you are born, you start losing neurons, and whatever is lost is gone forever. However, neurons have the ability to form new connections with other neurons to preserve function. Neurons create dendritic branching, where the threadlike extensions of a neuron reach out and form new connections with other neurons. But of course the more brain cells that are lost, the fewer neurons there will be available to create new connections. So while plasticity can prevent loss of function to a certain extent, it’s not the only answer.

3 early signs of declining brain health (neurodegenerating)

  •  Fatigue promoted by brain activity

You are getting tired much quicker while performing an activity that is demanding on the brain such as studying, processing data or driving. Tasks you were able to focus on for hours are now becoming tiring after 30 min. Your neurons have lost the ability to make ATP, energy.

  • Depression

The frontal cortex (involved with goal formation, planning and higher level thinking) actually atrophies. Antidepressants that do nothing to improve the health of the brain environment are often limited in their effect.

  • Poor digestive function

Ok: quickly here. We know that the brain operates by constantly receiving input from receptors, and sending outputs in response. The main output pathway is the brain stem, and especially the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls the various digestive processes from the secretion of pancreatic enzymes and stomach acid to gall bladder contraction and intestinal motility. Therefore, if your brain is not operating well, you will experience digestive problems. Also other symptoms such as cold hands and feet, brain fog and toenail fungus may appear.

All right and 3 of the main problems seniors complain of are?

Depression, fatigue and digestive problems: all signs of neurodegeneration and brain health decline.

What causes neurodegeneration?

Well we all age and we have to accept it for one but we also can prepare for it. The following factors are very much likely to increase your brain health degeneration:

  • High blood sugar (Alzheimer’s is now sometimes referred to as “diabetes of the brain”)
  • Hypoxia (reduced oxygen, often due to poor circulation)
  • Chronic inflammation (poor diet, toxicity, autoimmunity, leaky gut, etc.)
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Altered methylation (leading to high levels of homocysteine and hormonal issues)
  • Alcohol: when it comes to brain health and plasticity I am afraid that even “Grands crus classes” are NOT beneficial.
  • Brain injury.

Most of these are self inflicted and can be prevented with a proper diet and lifestyle. Yes you will not escape your responsibility when it comes to your brain’s health.

Anti-ageing: fix your brain

Nowadays anti-ageing is all about botox, plastic surgery, hormone replacement therapies and hormone creams. I was horrified to read that now botox may even be considered as an anti-depressant while other studies would tend to demonstrate that actually the rate of anti depressant consumption seems to be following that of botox. Personally I do not think that these quick fix activities do anything at all to slow down neurodegeneration and improve brain plasticity, which is the ultimate goal of any true “anti-ageing” program. In other words using these methods, you may still end up in a nursing home with a younger looking edge over the other fellows but be just as dysfunctional!

Brain Health

Brain plasticity can be improved following these guidelines:

– Have a proper diet, I could write an entire book, and in fact I am in the process of writing it. This website is full of articles on the subject. Avoid sugar, processed foods, grains.

– Make sure you get enough micronutrients and vitamins especially those involved in oxygen deliverability (B12, iron & folate) and prefer natural sources than synthetic ones, once again eat your greens.

– Supplement in omega 3 to improve fatty acid balance. DHA has been proven to improve brain health and function while reducing inflammation and neurodegenerative conditions.

  • Take care of your the gut. Decrease inflammation by taking probiotic or kefir and once again have a proper diet.
  • Stay mentally fit. If your neurons do not get stimulated they will atrophy and die. I am sure you can see the difference between busy elderly and those who watch TV all day long.
  • Improve blood flow to the brain by exercising. stress management is also key to brain health.
  • Not getting enough sleep can sabotage brain health in just about every conceivable way.
  • Have social connections, have exchanges and confront ideas.
  • Surround yourself with young and mind challenging people.

Finally, certain plants and nutrients protect against neurodegeneration, prevent and even reverse neuroinflammation and preserve brain function.

It is important to identify the underlying mechanism behind the problem before rushing into taking supplements. The key is to first and foremost improve your diet and lifestyle. Exercise your body and your brain.

Brain health is the key to ageing well. You’ve only got one brain but neuro plasticity also means that you can reverse brain degeneration. Now you know you can now prepare for the brain you will have tomorrow.

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Aude Seynt Martin

Written by Aude Seynt Martin

Aude is an ex corporate Lawyer with a passion for health, self development and independence which lead her to give up her former career to help others through health.

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