When it comes to brain health, brain aging is of course what we want to slow down as much as possible. Brain aging entails progressively having less blood flow to the brain, with the nerve cells shrinking and a brain volume that becomes smaller. This impacts your memory and ability to focus.
In a recent Lifespan podcast with Dr. David Sinclair and co-host Matthew LaPlante, it is mentioned that “the volume of the brain after the age of 40 reduces about 5% per decade.” The good news is that “the brain ages slower than the rest of the body” and there is a lot we can do to tackle this problem whether it’s consuming enough polyphenols, increasing BDNF in a variety of ways, selecting a few brain training exercises, and many other things.
Polyphenols are those brightly colored antioxidants found in foods like blueberries, raspberries, green tea, red cabbage, coffee, and cacao, to name a few. Polyphenols help shield your brain from stress and free radical damage while aiding with bettering learning and memory. When it comes to slowing down brain aging, along with several other strategies, unprocessed polyphenol-rich foods help maintain your BDNF levels high.
BDNF is a protein that enhances your existing brain cells and makes new ones. BDNF also aids with maintaining your brain resiliency. As the years go by, it’s common to lose BDNF, which may affect brain health, memory, and focus. The good news is that you can actually boost BDNF with a great number of simple daily habits:
- Everyday movement and exercise
- A regular meditation practice
- A simple yoga practice
- Good quality sleep (especially deep sleep)
- Intermittent fasting
- Social connection
- Adequate sunlight exposure
Brain Training Exercises
As mentioned in a previous post, choose fun, creative intellectual activities/hobbies to keep your mind sharp such as reading, writing, problem-solving, and/or musical training. I also like to play brain training games on BrainHQ and Lumosity. And the Duolingo app is a lot of fun to practice a language with! Nerve cells are like muscles — you can prime them so they can become stronger and perform better. Brain exercises can aid with staving off memory loss.
Have you tried dual N-back training? It’s a form of progressive brain training that boosts your problem-solving abilities, memory, and imagination. Something to try for sure. As Brant Cortright, Ph. D. states, “Each brain requires special nourishment, and we must experiment with different activities to find out what works for us, what we enjoy doing, and what our optimal engagement is.” Cognitive decline can be slowed down in so many different ways.
Until next time!
“Brain Health: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Brain Young and Strong.” Dave Asprey, 12 Nov. 2019, daveasprey.com/brain-health/#ref-list. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.
Lipman, Dr Frank. “How BDNF Keeps Your Brain Healthy and How to Boost Yours.” Frank Lipman MD, 17 Jan 2022, drfranklipman.com/2022/01/17/how-bdnf-keeps-your-brain-healthy-and-how-to-boost-yours/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2022.
Sinclair, Lifespan with Dr David. “Lifespan with Dr. David Sinclair – the Science of Keeping the Brain Healthy | Episode 7.” Google Podcasts, 16 Feb. 2022, podcasts.google.com/Accessed 27 Feb. 2022.
Sperlazza, Courtney. “8 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young as You Age.” Bulletproof, 2 June 2021, http://www.bulletproof.com/supplements/age-immune/brain-health-2/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2022.
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