June 8, 2022
It happens to the best of us, from astronauts to acrobats and, yes, even us healthcare marketers. The synapses just aren't firing as quickly as they used to, and we find ourselves looking all over the place for our reading specs perched on top of our heads.
Over time, there is a build-up of toxins in the brain that correlate to aging and cognitive decline. And some factors can accelerate the process, like stress, lack of sleep, and the habitual gin and tonic. Guilty, your honor.
So, is cognitive decline inevitable? Perhaps. But there are strategies we can use to stave off the march of time and its effects on our brain.
Here are a few:
Do something new. Neuroplasticity, the function that allows our brains to develop, has three mechanisms: synaptic connection, myelination, and neurogenesis. The key to resilient aging is improving neurogenesis--the birth of new neurons. Neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that lays down memories and occurs when we experience new things. The more novel activities you incorporate into your life, the more you encourage neurogenesis. And that’s a good thing for your old noggin. Try learning a new language, picking up a musical instrument, or finding a new hobby.
Get off the couch. Daily aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk, can spark neurogenesis. Shoot for at least 30 minutes for maximum benefit.
Watch your calorie intake. Excessive calories take their toll on both our bodies and our minds. Eat leafy greens, berries, and fish, which have positive effects on the brain. And take it easy on the refined sugar; it's not good for your gray matter.
Get some sleep. Sleep helps promote the brain’s neural “cleaning” system, which flushes out the build-up of age-related toxins in the brain. We all know that when we're sleep-deprived, our brains don't feel like they're firing on all cylinders.
Hang out with friends. Being socially active boosts positive chemicals in our brain and keeps it “tuned up.”