It is a known fact that with age, your memory usually worsens. What are the causal factors behind the human brain’s degeneration? How do you ensure your brain functions normally as you age?
Dementia is a general term used to describe a group of related symptoms that affect your memory, thinking, and social skills, to such an extent that it interferes with your ability to cope with daily life functions.
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Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of progressive dementia in older adults. This disease affects memory, thinking, and behavior.
Poor memory, resulting from aging, is very common in our present society. It leads to the decline of cognitive functions, including memory, language comprehension, executive abilities, and verbal IQ. If the decline of language skills or cognitive functions causes negative impacts on your daily life, you should consult a doctor.
5 factors that speed up the degeneration of the brain
1. Chronic diseases
Diseases such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease all contribute to the decline and proper functioning of your brain. Such diseases will eventually damage the blood vessels of the brain due to poor blood circulation, vascular sclerosis, and brain inflammation.
Smoking and drinking can also lead to chronic diseases and will eventually damage the brain. Equally, any untreated, prolonged depression will speed up the degeneration of the brain.
2. Head injuries
Car accidents and various sporting injuries — such as from boxing or playing American football — that cause head injuries will affect and damage the neural cells and their connections leading to blockages.
3. Lack of physical exercise
A lack of daily exercise will cause a lowering of oxygen in the blood as it circulates throughout the body leading to unfavorable growth of neurons.
4. Lack of mental exercise
Maintaining your desire to be creative, resourceful, and inventive all reflect problem-solving and brainstorming abilities. These qualities all help to exercise the brain and keep it functioning at optimum conditions. A lack of these abilities will endanger the health of your brain.
5. Excessive screen time
Watching TV and the use of computer and mobile phone screens have become an obsessive pastime for people today. Individuals, both young and old, have become habitually and in some cases excessively attached to these devices in their daily life. The question is: “How damaging is this to the brain?”
Studies have shown that in the middle-aged population, the volume of gray matter in the brain, where neurons are stored, is directly related to the amount of time you spend watching TV. Comparing those who never or seldom watch TV to those who frequently or moderately watch TV will show a decreased cognitive function of about 6.9 percent in 15 years.
Why does watching TV damage the brain? This is because when you watch TV, you are fed with all kinds of information. This pastime requires no brainstorming or problem-solving whatsoever. This constant sitting for prolonged periods of time will lead to poor blood circulation. The brain will worsen bit by bit in this condition, whereas socializing with friends and family and communicating in real time keep the brain alert and active.
5 ways to boost memory and sharpen the brain
1. Aerobic exercise
Jogging, swimming, and dancing can increase the volume of the hippocampus and enlarge the volume of the brain. The hippocampus is a crucial area for daily learning of new things and storing short-term memories. It is also an area where neuronal regeneration is comparatively active.
2. Exercise the brain
Activities such as reading, working on sudoku puzzles, or playing chess are better than watching TV. They maintain the cognitive functions of the brain and lower the risk of dementia.
3. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
Choose activities that require moderate brain power and physical strength, such as house chores, gardening, and traveling. These are recommended for the elderly to keep them physically and mentally active.
4. Cultivate hobbies
Comprehensive stimulation of different parts of the brain is like a balanced diet, providing essential nutrients. In addition to physical activities, you can listen to music, sing, and paint — all of which stimulate the brain, keeping it healthy and active.
5. Eat healthily
A daily balanced nutritious diet, exercise, and rest are necessary for physical and mental wellbeing as you age.
5 good foods to include in your diet
Studies have shown that those who eat more fish have healthier brains. Fish that contains Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and herring, is an excellent source for maintaining your physical and mental health.
2. Green vegetables
Green vegetables are rich in Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. These help to metabolize cysteine, decrease the oxidation of cells, avoid risks of vascular disease, and prevent memory loss and eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Green tea is rich in catechins, which help activate neuronal regeneration, maintain the number of brain cells, and keep brain function normal. Green tea refreshes the mind while keeping the brain alert.
Eggs are nutritious and rich in Vitamin B12. They keep the brain healthy and prevent it from shrinking.
Pumpkins are rich in glutamic acid, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter and can increase the activity of the neurons, therefore elevating the metabolism of the neuronal cells in the brain.
Translated by: Audrey Wang
Edited by: Tahnia Smith