How To Make Your Brain 20 Years Younger

This can benefit adults of any age.

This can benefit adults of any age.

Regular exercise, such as walking or cycling, can make your brain 20 years younger, research finds.

The older someone is, the more they have to gain from a little exercise.

However, even 20-year-olds can improve their brain power by doing some exercise.

Both young and old were able to improve their ‘executive function’ over six months.

Executive function is the ability to pay attention, achieve goals and control behaviour.

Exercise also makes the brain thicker and healthier, the study showed.

Dr Yaakov Stern, study co-author, said:

“As people age, there can be a decline in thinking skills, however our study shows that getting regular exercise may help slow or even prevent such decline.

We found that all participants who exercised not only showed improvements in executive function but also increased the thickness in an area of the outer layer of their brain.”

Cortical thickness

The six-month study included 132 people aged 20 to 67 with below average fitness levels who were otherwise healthy.

They were split into two groups: one did stretching and toning while the other did aerobic exercise four times a week.

People chose aerobic activities that suited them, from cycling, walking on a treadmill, to using an elliptical machine.

The results showed that aerobic exercise improved thinking skills in comparison to merely stretching and toning.

Both twenty-year-olds and older people benefitted — but it was older people who had the most to gain.

Dr Stern said:

“…the people who exercised were testing as if they were about 10 years younger at age 40 and about 20 years younger at age 60.

Since thinking skills at the start of the study were poorer for participants who were older, our findings suggest that aerobic exercise is more likely to improve age-related declines in thinking skills rather than improve performance in those without a decline.”

Those who exercised also developed greater cortical thickness in the left frontal area.

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Stern et al., 2019).

Memory Loss: This Supplement Slows Brain Shrinkage By 50%

The supplement halves the rate of brain shrinkage.

The supplement halves the rate of brain shrinkage.

B vitamins halve the rate of brain shrinkage in people with mild memory problems, research finds.

High doses of B vitamins — folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 — taken over two years were also linked to better scores on tests of memory and thinking.

Around 1 in 6 people over 70 have mild cognitive impairment.

About half of these people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s within five years.

Professor David Smith, study co-author, said:

“It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.

Today there are about 1.5 million elderly in UK, 5 million in USA and 14 million in Europe with such memory problems.”

The study gave 168 volunteers over 70-years-old either a placebo or high doses of B vitamin tablets for two years.

Brain scans showed that brain shrinkage was reduced by 50 percent in people who took the B vitamins.

Lower rates of brain shrinkage were also linked to better scores on cognitive tests.

Professor Smith continued:

“These are immensely promising results but we do need to do more trials to conclude whether these particular B vitamins can slow or prevent development of Alzheimer’s.

So I wouldn’t yet recommend that anyone getting a bit older and beginning to be worried about memory lapses should rush out and buy vitamin B supplements without seeing a doctor.”

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:

“These are very important results, with B vitamins now showing a prospect of protecting some people from Alzheimer’s in old age.

The strong findings must inspire an expanded trial to follow people expected to develop Alzheimer’s, and we hope for further success.

We desperately need to support research into dementia, to help avoid the massive increases of people living with the condition as the population ages.

Research is the only answer to what remains the greatest medical challenge of our time.”

Subsequent to this study, carried out in 2010, other studies have questioned whether B vitamins can benefit Alzheimer’s — but research in this area continues.

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE (Smith et al., 2010).

These Fruits And Veg Reduce Cognitive Decline Risk The Most

The fruits and vegetables that provide the highest protection against cognitive decline.

The fruits and vegetables that provide the highest protection against cognitive decline.

Certain fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidant flavonols appear to protect against cognitive decline.

Flavanols, which are a type of flavonoid, are found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, as well as in tea.

Consuming around one cup of dark leafy greens each day is linked to retaining stronger cognitive abilities with age.

Kaempferol and myricetin

A flavanol called kaempferol was linked to the highest level of protection by the research.

Typical foods that contain high levels of kaempferol include beans, tea, kale, spinach and broccoli.

Another flavanol called myricetin was also protective, although not quite to the same extent as kaempferol.

Typical foods that contain high levels of myricetin include wine, tea, kale, oranges and tomatoes.

Quercetin, which is found in tea, apples, kale and tomatoes was also protective, but at a still lower level.

Dr Thomas M. Holland, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s exciting that our study shows making specific diet choices may lead to a slower rate of cognitive decline.

Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way for people to take an active role in maintaining their brain health.”

Slowing cognitive decline

For the study, almost 1,000 people were divided into groups based on the amount of flavanols in their diet.

The group consuming the most flavanols got 15 mg a day — the amount that would come from a single cup of dark leafy greens.

Study participants were tracked over an average of 7 years and given regular cognitive tests.

These revealed that people who consumed the highest levels of flavanols experienced the slowest decline in their cognitive abilities.

The study’s authors explained:

“Results suggest dietary intakes of total flavonols and several flavonol constituents may be associated with slower decline in global cognition and multiple cognitive abilities with older age.”

As with any correlational research like this one, the study cannot prove that there is a link, merely that there is an association.

Related

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Holland et al., 2022).

The Vitamin Deficiency In The Brain Linked To Dementia

The study looked directly at levels of this vitamin in the brain, about which little is known.

The study looked directly at levels of this vitamin in the brain, about which little is known.

Higher levels of vitamin D in the brain are linked to better cognitive function and less decline with age, a study finds.

Indeed, adequate vitamin D levels have repeatedly been linked to lower dementia risk (1, 2, 3) by research.

One study has even suggested that adequate levels of vitamin D could prevent almost one-in-five cases of dementia (Navale et al., 2022).

However, the link remains somewhat controversial, with other studies finding no connection (also: Owusu et al., 2018).

This research, though, looked directly at vitamin D levels in the brain, about which little is known.

Professor Sarah Booth, study co-author, said:

“This research reinforces the importance of studying how food and nutrients create resilience to protect the aging brain against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.”

Vitamin D markers

The study, which tracked the cognitive health of 290 seniors, analysed their brain tissue for vitamin D after they died.

Dr Kyla Shea, the study’s first author, said:

“Many studies have implicated dietary or nutritional factors in cognitive performance or function in older adults, including many studies of vitamin D, but all of them are based on either dietary intakes or blood measures of vitamin D.

We wanted to know if vitamin D is even present in the brain, and if it is, how those concentrations are linked to cognitive decline.”

The researchers found that people with higher levels of vitamin D in their brains had better cognitive function.

However, they found no link between vitamin D markers and other physiological signs of Alzheimer’s.

This means it is difficult to pinpoint the mechanism by which vitamin D might be beneficial.

Dr Shea said:

“Dementia is multifactorial, and lots of the pathological mechanisms underlying it have not been well characterized.

Vitamin D could be related to outcomes that we didn’t look at yet, but plan to study in the future.”

How much vitamin D?

Despite these findings, it is not recommended to take high levels of vitamin D as a preventative measure.

Recommended doses are 600 IU per day for people under 70 and 800 IU for those over 70.

Dr Shea said:

“We now know that vitamin D is present in reasonable amounts in human brains, and it seems to be correlated with less decline in cognitive function.

But we need to do more research to identify the neuropathology that vitamin D is linked to in the brain before we start designing future interventions.”

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Shea et al., 2022).

This Spicy Food Doubles Memory Loss

This ingredient is linked to double the rate of memory decline and problems with thinking.

This ingredient is linked to double the rate of memory decline and problems with thinking.

Eating a diet spiced with chillies is linked to an increased risk of dementia, research finds.

People who eat more than 50 g of chillies per day suffer double the rate of memory decline and problems with thinking.

The decline is even greater for chilli eaters who are slim.

The findings come on the back of some positive coverage for spicy foods, including linking them to longer life, lower blood pressure and other benefits.

Dr Zumin Shi, the study’s first author, said:

“Chili consumption was found to be beneficial for body weight and blood pressure in our previous studies.

However, in this study, we found adverse effects on cognition among older adults,”

The study included over 4,000 Chinese adults who were tracked over 15 years.

The spicy foods tracked included both fresh and dried chilli peppers, but not black pepper or capsicum (often known as sweet peppers or bell peppers).

Dr Shi said:

“Chili is one of the most commonly used spices in the world and particularly popular in Asia compared to European countries.

In certain regions of China, such as Sichuan and Hunan, almost one in three adults consume spicy food every day.”

The active ingredient in chillies is capsaicin, which is what produces the burning sensation when consumed, or when coming into contact with any tissue.

Capsaicin has been linked to weight loss as it is thought to speed up the metabolism and increase fat loss.

The study was published in the journal Nutrients (Shi et al., 2019).

5 Common Prescription Drugs Linked To Memory Loss

Prescription drugs taken by millions of people around the world can affect memory.

Prescription drugs taken by millions of people around the world can affect memory.

Memory loss is not always a result of ageing.

Here are five types of drugs that can affect memory.

1. Antidepressants (tricyclic)

The older type of antidepressants — known as tricyclics — have been linked to memory loss.

Some of the drug names include:

  • desipramine (Norpramin),
  • imipramine (Tofranil),
  • clomipramine (Anafranil),
  • and doxepin (Sinequan).

Around half of people taking them report problems concentrating and one-third say they have memory loss.

2. Anxiety drugs

Benzodiazepines include drugs marketed under the names Valium, Ativan, Klonopin and Xanax.

These drugs are often prescribed for anxiety and other mental health issues such as OCD, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unfortunately they are also linked to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s.

Dr Helene Alphonso, a psychiatrist and Director of Osteopathic Medical Education at Texas University, said:

“Current research is extremely clear and physicians need to partner with their patients to move them into therapies, like [modern] anti-depressants, that are proven to be safer and more effective.”

3. Statins

Statins are prescribed to many people to keep their cholesterol in a safer range.

The Food and Drug Administration lists memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion as possible side-effects of the drug.

Some people do report memory problems when taking them, but the studies conducted so far are inconclusive.

Statins include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor),
  • lovastatin (Mevacor),
  • fluvastatin (Lescol),
  • and pravastatin (Pravachol).

4. Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers slow the heart rate and are used to lower blood pressure.

They are also prescribed to those with congestive heart problems.

Typical names include:

  • Carvedilol (Coreg),
  • atenolol (Tenormin),
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol),
  • and propranolol (Inderal),

Beta-blockers, though, may also cause the loss of emotional memories.

They have even been tested as a way of treating post-traumatic stress disorder because of their ability to block emotional memories.

Again, though, the studies are not conclusive.

4. Sleeping aids

People who cannot sleep are sometimes prescribed so-called ‘Z-drugs’.

These include:

  • Zolpidem (Ambien),
  • eszopiclone (Lunesta),
  • and zaleplon (Sonata).

The ‘Z-drugs’ have been linked to memory loss: especially losing the ability to make new memories.

They have also been reported to cause strange behaviours like driving or cooking with absolutely no memory of the event.

What are the alternatives?

Where possible consider a psychological therapy or applicable alternative to using these drugs.

Naturally, you should always consult your physician before making changes to your medication.

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This Breathing Exercise Reduces Alzheimer’s Toxins In The Blood (M)

People in the experiment who did this breathing exercise — both young and old — had lower levels of amyloid beta circulating in their bloodstreams.

People in the experiment who did this breathing exercise -- both young and old -- had lower levels of amyloid beta circulating in their bloodstreams.

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A Common Early Sign Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s causes degeneration in part of the brain that controls this function first.

Alzheimer’s causes degeneration in part of the brain that controls this function first.

Excessive napping during the day can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

Scientist tended to assume that people with Alzheimer’s disease are drowsy during the day because of poor sleep at night.

Research has now shown, though, that it is due to the degeneration of neurons that maintain wakefulness.

The tau protein, one of two proteins involved in Alzheimer’s, is responsible for the critical neurodegeneration.

Alzheimer’s causes degeneration in this part of the brain first, which is why daytime napping without night time sleep problems is an early sign of dementia.

Professor Lea T. Grinberg, study co-author, said:

“We were able to prove what our previous research had been pointing to—that in Alzheimer’s patients who need to nap all the time, the disease has damaged the neurons that keep them awake.

It’s not that these patients are tired during the day because they didn’t sleep at night.

It’s that the system in their brain that would keep them awake is gone.”

Many of the key neurons are in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that is central for wakefulness and arousal.

These neurons are so important as they affect a large number of other critical nerve cells.

Mr Joseph Oh, the study’s first author, explained:

“You can think of this system as a switch with wake-promoting neurons and sleep-promoting neurons, each tied to neurons controlling circadian rhythms.

It’s a small number of neurons but their computational capabilities are incredible.

When these cells are affected by disease, it can have a huge effect on sleep.”

The conclusions come from a study of 33 patients with Alzheimer’s that were compared to normal controls.

Dementia and sleep

Many other studies have found a link between dementia and sleep.

People who sleep for too little or too long are at a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Indeed, people who sleep more than 9 hours a night have double the risk of developing dementia, one study found.

However, those who sleep for between 5.5 and 7.5 hours per night do not see declines in their cognitive health, even when suffering the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Those sleeping longer also have lower brain volumes.

Also, getting less REM sleep — the phase in which we dream — is linked to dementia.

During sleep the brain cycles between periods of deep sleep and then up towards shallower periods of sleep in which we tend to dream, whether we remember those dreams or not.

During REM sleep the eyes move rapidly from side-to-side (hence Rapid Eye Movement Sleep).

The study was published in JAMA Neurology (Oh et al., 2022).

The Sleeping Pill That Reduces Alzheimer’s Toxins (M)

If poor sleep is contributing to dementia, then sleeping pills may be beneficial.

If poor sleep is contributing to dementia, then sleeping pills may be beneficial.

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