Welcome to this edition of Anti-Aging News. This month we focus on new research about mind and memory.
In my recent research I have found that several neurologists who are active in research and treatment of persons with age related cognitive decline, senility or Alzheimers are taking a new direction in both their research and treatments.
1. Peter Whitehorse,MD, Ph.d., a researcher and former spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry has cut his ties to the drug companies and their 'search for a cure' approache to Alzheimers. He has 'gone public' with a new book, "The Myth of Alzheimers".
If you know of anyone with age related cognitive decline or if you have a secret fear of Alzheimers being in your future, I recommend reading this book.
You will find Whitehouse's message encouraging. And the book is readable. Whitehouse is one of those rare researchers
has published a book that 'lay readers' can understand.
2. There are an increasing number of studies that have uncovered the specific things you could do in each decade of your life to ensure that you do not suffer late age cognitive decline.
Whether you are in your forties, fifties, sixties or seventies you can strengthen your brain. Scientists remind us that our brains are 'flesh and blood' - and that just as our daily actions can affect our cardio health, so too we can affect our brain health.
One of the startling research results is that aerobic activity [walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming etc] is highly beneficial to the brain. For years we have heard that physical activities which raise our heart rate, is good for cardio health. But now researchers have found real correlation with aerobic activity and our brain function as we age.
In May 2008 French scientist published a study that said, in part;
"Preliminary evidence from observational and interventional studies in humans suggests a positive and robust effect of chronic aerobic exercise on several brain functions across the entire lifespan. Physical activity and exercise might also serve to reduce the risk of age-associated neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases."
No one seems to know the specific reason for the improvement of cognitive function as a result of regular aerobic activity.
There are a number of explanations that are discussed:
a. Aerobic activity increases blood flow to the brain.
b. It may have a positive effect on Human Growth Hormone - HGH has major influence on many elements of 'aging'
c. Most aerobic activity is requires integrated rhythmic movement of left and right side of the body... and so right and left brain activity is stimulated. This is very different from TV watching [mostly right brain] or reading [mostly left brain]
Most aerobic activity helps integrate our brains.
d. Aerobic activity decreases stress. All stress produced Cortisol, a substance that shows particular toxicity to brain cells. There are so many studies of this neurologists are now counseling adults in their 40's and 50's who are experiences 'memory problems' - misplacing keys, forgetting names etc. that the stress hormone Cortisol is likely to be the cause. Cortisol is toxic. And modern life is full of stress because there is so much data coming in all the time.
What to do? Here are three things that you can do.
First, reduce ambient brain stimulation. Shut off background radio and TV. Give your brain a bit of rest so your cortisol production slows.
Second, increase your physical activity. Take a walk after lunch or supper. If you commute, park a few blocks from the job. You will save gas and help your brain. Take the stairs whenever possible. Dance in the kitchen every night. If you shop at the mall or a mega store, walk the perimeter before you begin to shop.
Third, do some stress reliving activities EVERY day. Sing - If you commute shut off the radio and start singing. What? Well, start with happy birthday - everyday someone in the world is having a birthday. Sing patriotic songs, folks songs, hymns anything that can be sung with gusto. Sing for at least 20 minutes of your commute.
Take up Tai Chi, ball room dancing, drawing, painting, wood carving. Play a non-competitive sport. Sing in the house. Dance for 15 minutes every day. Meditate.
Any activity that takes enough attention to shut down you mind's chatter and constant thinking will help reduce your stress [and the amount of toxic cortisol you produce.]
None of these three brain helping activities are difficult to do. In the beginning it may take some effort to remember to do them. But those who will follow through and make them a habit will have a big payoff. You will not even have to wait until you are 'old'. Many adults find that their memories begin to improve after a few months. But the big payoff will come as you age.
There ARE things you can do to reduce the chances that you will suffer mental decline as you age.
That's it for this month. If there is a particular topic you would like me to cover in one of the upcoming issues, just hit reply to this post and tell me. I want to make this newsletter 'just what you are looking for'.
Thanks for reading....