By Frank Tabino | Category: ANTI-AGING SUPPLEMENTS, NUTRITION
Scientists believe that both physical and mental aging can be delayed. Our present life expectancy of 70-80 years is far below what it could be. It is entirely possible that one day, humans will live much longer. Perhaps, even past 120 years and still be fit enough to enjoy life, and I mean both physically and mentally fit. The health of your brain will determine longevity and the quality of your life more than any other aspect of your being. You might be able to compensate for an arthritic knee, but without healthy cognitive function, life is limited. The good news is that we now know there’s a lot you can do to help keep your brain healthier as you age. Researchers now believe that the combination of exercise, a well-balanced diet and the addition of targeted specific nutritional supplementation will help improve healthier, more youthful brain function.
Exercise Can Help your Heart & Your Mind
A number of decades-long studies have been performed with hundreds of thousands of individuals who have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease; like people who smoke, have high blood pressure, diabetes or clogged arteries. The studies showed that these individuals also have an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Each factor raises the risk from 20 to 40 percent. Having all four factors more than doubles the risk. In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined data from the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, a long-term, federally funded study of how vascular and other factors might increase the risk of dementia. Researchers examined data from more than 2000 participants and found that older men, who walked less than one-quarter mile each day, had nearly twice the risk of dementia as men who walked more than two miles.
1. Exercise is also an excellent way to lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics and pre-diabetics. Data from the Rotterdam Study showed that non-insulin dependent (Type II) diabetes nearly doubled the risk of developing dementia.
2. Staying active, as we age, is critical to our quality of life. A group of studies show that older adults, with dementia or cognitive impairment, who engage in programs involving such physical activities as walking, strength and flexibility training, or mild aerobic exercise benefit in terms of physical fitness, cognitive function and behavior.
3. Exercise Your Mind. Just like your heart and lungs, your brain needs oxygen and exercise. Exercise may be the most-important thing you can do to keep your mind sharp, alert, young, and capable. When you use your mind, you will feel more emotionally and physically invigorated. By regularly engaging in the right activities, you can increase your memory, improve your problem-solving skills and boost your creativity. According to a recent Associated Press article, brain scans show that when minds are constantly challenged, more blood flows into infrequently used neural regions, connections form where few existed before, and more oxygen reaches little-used zones of the brain.
In an article published by a leading neurological journal (NEJM), researchers looked at data gathered from more than 500 older adults. They found a reduced likelihood of dementia in those participants who regularly exercised their mind. Researcher found that only those “new and unique” activities…like reading a novel, playing cards or board games, solving crossword puzzles or learning to play a musical instrument reduced the likelihood of dementia.
4. Activities in which no new skills were learned, such as watching television or playing games like tic-tac-toe, had no effect on slowing mental decline.
The Healthy-Brain Diet
There is strong evidence that the rate of cognitive decline is influenced by diet. Recent findings displayed a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in elderly African-Americans and Japanese living in the United States than those still living in their native countries. These findings lead scientists to hypothesize that diet is a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and the acceleration of cognitive decline. A Meta-analysis of data collected, from 18 different studies involving populations of people 65+ years of age, from 11 countries, found that high-fat and high-calorie diets have the highest correlation with Alzheimer’s disease and accelerated cognitive decline. Other high-risk factors include alcohol, salt and refined carbohydrates. In addition, it was found that fish consumption reduced the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
There is also growing evidence that links longevity with lower caloric intake. Excess calories and fat promote oxidative stress, which damages cell membranes, proteins and DNA. They also accelerate deposits of a protein, called amyloid beta in brain tissue, a significant biomarker for cognitive decline. In a recent study, participants who ate a diet with more than 40% of calories derived from fat raised their risk of developing Alzheimer disease by a massive 29 times.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fat phobic. Fats, including the demonized saturated fat, are a necessary part of a healthy diet. You just need to balance your intake of carbohydrates, protein and fats. As a nutritionist, most people who consult with me usually need to replace some high-fat foods with plant-based foods. The benefit of a plant-based diet is the abundance of dietary fiber and antioxidant nutrients. It is well-documented that diets low in fiber and antioxidants are linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and cognitive decline.
Super Supplements for Brain Anti-Aging
Harvard researchers reported that women who ate the highest amounts of leafy green and cruciferous vegetables performed better on cognitive tests than women who ate less of these foods. Researchers believe that the B vitamins, especially Folic Acid, help support brain health. Folic acid has been extensively researched for its brain protective powers and has brought some impressive results. There was a recent European study conducted on 818 cognitively healthy subjects, age 50 – 75, who took either a daily dose of 800mcg of folic acid or a placebo for three years. After three years, the Folic Acid group scored 5.5 years younger than their chronological ages on memory tests and nearly two years younger on tests of cognitive speed. To ensure that you get the sufficient amount of Folic Acid, I highly recommend our recently reformulated multi-vitamin, Daily Essentials with Lycopene, which now contains the recommended study dose of 800 mcg of Folic Acid. You can read more about “Daily Essentials” in the centerfold sales area of this newsletter.
The majority of research concerning cognitive decline suggests that increased levels of oxidative stress or antioxidant deficiencies increase the risk factors for cognitive decline. Most of the resulting free-radical damage can usually be prevented by the body’s natural defenses. However, these defenses weaken with age and increased oxidation contributes to accelerated cognitive decline. Of all the antioxidants researched, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) has emerged as a superstar. Researchers call ALA “the universal antioxidant” because it is both water and fat soluble; ALA can scavenge both water-type and fat-type free radicals; unlike most-other antioxidants that go after either one or the other. What makes Alpha Lipoic Acid so impressive, in preventing cognitive decline, is its ability to regenerate other antioxidant, like Vitamins E, C and CoEnzyme Q10 that are so essential for cognitive health. A maintenance dose of 600mg of ALA will help keep your antioxidant levels high.
Omega III Essential Fatty Acid – DHA
Omega III essential fatty acids are the number one deficiency in our westernized diet. Experts agree that unless you’re eating the right kind fish several times per week, or supplementing your diet with quality fish oil, you are not getting enough DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is a major component of brain tissue and the turnover of DHA, in the brain, is very fast. Decreases of DHA in the brain are associated with cognitive decline while aging and the onset of Alzheimer disease.6 Many studies have confirmed that DHA is required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults and adding supplemental DHA in the diet supports cognitive function. These same studies show deficiencies of DHA are associated with cognitive decline in adults and learning deficits in children.
Choosing the right fish oil supplement can be difficult. I know that some of you have tried fish oil supplements but didn’t like the “fishy after-taste.” If that was your experience, you were not taking a fresh, quality grade fish oil. It took me some time, but I found the freshest, purest and most-concentrated fish oil supplements in the world. And guess what…they don’t taste like fish. Nordic Naturals fish oil products, from the cold ocean waters of Norway, are enhanced with 100% natural strawberry flavor in the oil and soft gelatin capsules, through an exclusive and patented flavoring process. Nordic Naturals Pro DHA is an excellent source of DHA, with natural levels EPA, the heart-friendly omega III fatty acid from fish.
I recently posted a radio show with research-scientist Dr. Robert Berger, Ph.D. on the subject of cognitive function. The show, “Cognitive Function: The Ultimate Anti-aging Challenge” how some import tips on maintaining cognitive function. Stop by the website and listen. There may be some tips that can make a difference in your quality of life.
1. Abbott, Robert D.; White, Lon R.; and others. “Walking and Dementia in Physically Capable Elderly Men.” JAMA Sept. 22/29, 2004; 292 (12): 1447 – 1453.
2. Ott, Alewijn; Stolk, R.P.; van Harskamp, F.; Pols, H.A.; Hofman, A.; and Breteler, Monique M. “Diabetes Mellitus and the Risk of Dementia: The Rotterdam Study.” Neurology Dec. 10, 1999; 53 (9) 1907 – 1909.
3. Heyn, Patricia; Abreu, Beatriz; and Ottenbacher, Kenneth. “The Effects of Exercise Training on Elderly Persons With Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Meta-Analysis.” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation October 2004; 85: 1694 – 1704.
4. Verghese, Joe; Lipton, Richard B.; Katz, Mindy J.; and others. “Leisure Activities and Risk of Dementia in the Elderly.” New England Journal of Medicine June 19, 2003; 348 (25): 2508 – 2516.
5. Kang, Jae Hee; Asherio, Alberto; and Grodstein, Francine. “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cognitive Decline in Women.” Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, July 17 –22, 2004, Philadelphia, Penn. Abstract published in Neurobiology of Aging, July 2004, Vol. 25, S2: p. S313.
6. Horrocks LA; Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25