Health

Published: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 6:54:32 PM

A fit mind: How to prevent serious ARCD

Regular activity, like walking, will help maintain good blood pressure and prevent diabetes, two conditions closely associated with ARCD.

Regular activity, like walking, will help maintain good blood pressure and prevent diabetes, two conditions closely associated with ARCD.

When there’s no cure, prevention is as good as gold.

Age Related Cognitive Decline (ARCD), has received much more study in the past decade, because the world’s population of folks over 50 is literally booming.

Nearly everyone who reaches the half-century mark suffers from some degree of ARCD.

It can be as mild as “Why did I come in this room?” or “Where did I put my keys?” Or it can be more serious, turning into a pre-dementia state by age 65.

A few drugs have been developed that can lower the degree of mental decline or even help delay some of the symptoms, but there is no current cure.

There are, however, numerous methods of prevention. If you value your brain, it’s important to start protecting it.

No matter how old you are, here’s information that’s been learned from hundreds of scientific studies.

First, know that your brain uses a huge amount of energy, a disproportionate amount compared to other parts of your body.

To repeat an old cliche, it takes energy to make energy. You’ve certainly heard that exercise increases blood circulation, improves the heart and respiratory systems, and helps work off fat. All four of those exercise benefits help prevent or lessen the symptoms of ARCD.

Studies have shown that people who get little activity or who are obese suffer more from mental decline as they age than those who are fit and active. Personal habits also affect the onset of symptoms. One big discovery is that chronic brain inflammation is a big marker for the condition.

Chronic low-level brain inflammation can be caused by such habits as cigarette smoking, eating a non-nutritious diet dependent on fast or processed foods, poor sleep patterns and obesity. In fact, brain inflammation is now believed to be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Regular activity will also help maintain good blood pressure and prevent diabetes, two conditions closely associated with ARCD. It doesn’t even have to be hard physical activity; even moderate exercise has been shown to reduce mental decline by 35%.

New studies also show that both testosterone and estrogen help keep the brain functioning. But before purchasing and self-medicating with these now available hormones, get checked. Have yourself tested to see if you actually have natural low levels of these hormones.

A physician can order the tests for you, and prescribe the right combination of hormones in the right amount. Don’t fall for the heavily advertised pop testosterone pills aimed at the male psychology. Women and men need both hormones, and only a medical test will show how much is needed.

Other supplements can also help prevent ARCD. Perhaps the most important is the B complex of vitamins. They’re extremely important for brain and central nervous system function.

Ageing can prevent the efficient absorption of nutrients from food, so supplementing vitamin B, especially folic acid, can help prevent the symptoms of mental decline. However, the full B complex is required for the body to use any one factor of it.

Fish oil helps supply the brain with omega-3 fatty acids, which control many parts of thought and attitude. Fish oil also helps ease depression, which is also closely connected with mental decline. That decline will go back up to more healthy levels when depression is cured, either by exercise or medication.

The “gray matter” of the brain is actually a type of fat, called phosphatidylserine. You can actually buy this substance and take it to help keep your brain from literally shrinking, as the brain normally does with age. There have been numerous clinical trials showing that taking “PS” orally will help retain brain power.

Finally, the brain itself must be exercised to improve its function. One of the best ways to work the brain in middle age is to learn a second language.

This forces the brain to think in a different pattern, forcing the development of new connections between brain cells, improving mental function. — McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, senior, age related cognitive decline

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