will be affected by Alzheimer’s
by the time they reach age 90.
Here’s what you can do
to keep your brain sharp and healthy!
I recently attended two meetings about brain health. My post doctoral research was directed at finding non–invasive methods for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, and having this background has made brain health a topic of continued interest for me.
Today’s researchers believe that 60% of all Americans will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reach the age of 90 years. We all need to have as much of an understanding of brain health as possible and do what we can to protect our brains!
Can Your Brain Get Smarter as you Age?
There are cognitive changes during normal aging which is called “Age-Associated Memory Impairment” or AAMI. AAMI begins to affect us around 40-50 years old and is a relatively small cognitive loss involving primarily our short-term memory. We normally lose about 3600 brain cells per hour. Wisdom, judgment and language skills generally remain stable. AAMI is associated with normal aging and is not a sign that Alzheimer’s disease will occur. A simple example of this would be going into the kitchen and not remembering what you were going there to do (something that happens to each of us from time to time)!
In the past, we thought that this normal brain aging was a given and something we had to accept. Today we have a better understanding of the brain.
I was taught as a student that the brain developed with a specific number of neurons or brain cells, blood vessels and synaptic junctions, end points or terminations of the nerve cells with other cells. However, it is now known that within the brain we have the ability to form new blood vessels (angiogenesis), new nerve cells (neurogenesis) and additional synaptic junctions throughout our lifetime.
There are a couple of key activities we can do to optimize cognitive function during brain aging which result in angiogenesis, neurogenesis and new synaptic formations.
Sweating for Your Brain Can Keep Your Mind Razor-Sharp
Research has shown that physical activity and exercise decrease the risk of cognitive impairment by increasing angiogenesis and neurogenesis. Additionally we now know that intellectually engaging activities increase neurogenesis and uniquely increase neuron synapse formation.
It is so very important to remain both mentally and physically active throughout our lives because it enables us to keep the Age-Associated Memory Impairment at a reduced level.
Beyond the AAMI there is also dementia which is the continued and progressive decline in memory and intellect. Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of 70% of all dementia cases. Only ten percent of Alzheimer’s disease has a genetic linkage while a startling ninety percent is from other or unknown causes. The genetic or familial form occurs prior to age 60 and that of the unknown cause or sporadic form starts after 60 years of age.
In my next posting I will discuss the pathology or the disease process of Alzheimer’s, and natural solutions for healing the brain and keeping your mind sharp!
by Jim Harris ~ Jim is a nutritional consultant, and a graduate from the American Naturopathic Medical Institute; Jim recognizes that our bodies have the innate capability for self-healing — especially when the correct information and energy is supplied in combination with the correct food, supplements and herbs.
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