The neuroscientist explains why with age we lose our clarity of mind and how to stop this process.
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What changes occur in the brain with age
Surely you think that aging inevitably affects the functioning of the brain and there is nothing to be done about it. This is not entirely true. Yes, you cannot turn back the clock and increase your level of intelligence and education. But the clarity of mind in old age is also affected by lifestyle. And it doesn’t matter when you started to stick to it – at 30 or 50.
Over time, toxins accumulate in the brain – tau proteins and amyloid beta plaques. Their appearance is correlated with the onset of aging and a decrease in cognitive functions. This is a natural process, but many factors exacerbate the situation and accelerate it. For example, stress and neurotoxins – alcohol, a qualitative and quantitative lack of sleep.
The property of the brain that allows it to develop throughout life is called neuroplasticity. She has three mechanisms: synaptic connection, myelination and neurogenesis. For healthy aging, neurogenesis, which is responsible for the birth of new neurons, is most important. In mature people, this process is no longer as good as in infants and children.
How to help the brain stay young
1. Make your heart beat faster
Aerobic exercise, such as running or brisk walking, is positive you can grow new brain cells. Here’s how affect neurogenesis. Study Sustained aerobic exercise increases adult neurogenesis in brain2016, which was conducted on rats, showed that endurance exercises – high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight training – give the best effect. Although other types of physical activity also have benefits.
Try to devote 2.5 hours a week to cardio exercises. It is preferable to exercise in the gym, park or just outdoors. Avoid busy roads: air pollution suppresses No exercise-induced increase in serum BDNF after cycling near a major traffic roadneurotrophic factor of the brain – it stimulates the growth of the number of nerve cells. So under such conditions there will be little benefit.
If playing alone is not for you, consider team activities. For example, table tennis. Social interaction also has a positive effect. Social interaction plays a critical role in neurogenesis and recovery after stroke on neurogenesis. Especially in table tennis, you develop hand-eye coordination. It leads Changes in gray matter induced by learning — revisited to structural changes in the brain, and they to a number of cognitive benefits.
So, experiments have confirmed Angela Rippon: What I’ve learned about the science of staying young: the development of coordination and socialization simultaneously increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex in those parts of it that are associated with social and emotional well-being. But it becomes very important with age.
2. Change your eating habits
Proven calorie restriction Calorie restriction protects neural stem cells from age-related deficits in the subventricular zone and time Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health when you can eat, as well as interval fasting Evidence that brain-derived neurotropic factor is required for basal neurogenesis and mediates, in part, the enhancement of neurogenesis by dietary restriction in the hippocampus of adult mice contribute to neurogenesis. Study Chronic Intermittent Fasting Improves Cognitive Functions and Brain Structures in Miceon rodents showed that intermittent fasting improves cognitive function and brain structure. In addition, it reduces the symptoms of metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.
Reducing sugar in your diet helps reduce Strategies for Reducing or Preventing the Generation of Oxidative Stress negative effect of oxidative processes in brain cells. This greatly reduces Role of oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been proven that one-day fasting on the water improves Hungry stomach hormone promotes growth of new brain cells the functioning of the brain and stimulate neurogenesis.
Consult with your doctor and try one of the following:
- Once a month, carry out one-day fasting.
- Two days a week, consume 50-60% less calories than usual. Do this for two to three months or on an ongoing basis.
- Every day for two weeks, consume 20% less calories than usual. To conduct such courses three to four times a year.
- Determine the period when you are allowed to eat: for example, from eight in the morning to eight in the evening or from noon to eight in the evening.
3. Pay particular attention to sleep.
Sleep stimulates the “cleansing” of the brain by the glyphatic system. It removes accumulations of toxins – tau proteins and amyloid beta-plaques, which are mentioned above. Moreover, if a person does not sleep enough, his memory worsens.
Researcher’s say Lack of Sleep Impairs Emotional That one waking night takes a few points of your IQ. Therefore, try to sleep for 7–9 hours and do not refuse an afternoon siesta if you need it.
Of course, the need for sleep is individual. And here’s how to get sleep fast for your comfort. If you naturally wake up on weekends at the same time as on weekdays, most likely everything is fine. If you stay in bed for a long time or sleep a lot during the day, then something is very likely to be wrong.
Try in the evenings to practice yoga nidra, or the practice of conscious relaxation, – scientists have established Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial that it improves the quality of sleep. There are many videos on the Internet with which you can start practicing.
Choose any action from the above and start working hard with it until it becomes a habit. Then move on to the next and so on. You will find that in a year you will feel healthier, more energetic and more motivated than now. Even though you’re one year older.