I listened to an extremely fascinating talk by Dr. John Arden, author of many Brain Based therapy books at the 2017 Neuroscience Training Summit. His talk was focused on the health effects of adverse childhood experiences and how we are able to change negative health consequences through various activities.
I am going to share with you 6 steps to reduce the effects of aging on your brain. Before I get to those 6 steps let me explain first the theory of epi-genetics and how the environment, our thoughts/beliefs and behaviours impact aging and therefore our brain health.
Epi-genetics is the study of how outside factors impact our gene expression without altering the actual DNA. Some outside factors may include stress, having a loving family, having access to clean water, education, positive friendships, proper diet, amount of exercise. I will try to simplify with examples.
- Let’s say diabetes runs in your family and the genes are carried by your DNA. Just because your DNA carries these genes does not mean you will get diabetes per say. Your DNA is not destiny.
- Another example is identical twins. Although they have the exact same DNA, they are 2 different people. Why is that? We can turn genes on or off based on outside factors and lifestyle.
How can we turn genes on and off?
Think of your DNA like shoelaces. At the end of the shoelace is a plastic protection. Its job is to protect the lace from unraveling. DNA has the same thing, and the plastic pieces are called telomeres. We can lengthen or shorten our telomeres based on our lifestyle and environment.
There are many important proteins and enzymes in the body that protect the telomeres from shortening. If we want to slow down the aging of the telomeres we need aerobic exercise. That is the most effective way to protect against aging.
There is a pandemic of obesity and childhood obesity that is having all kinds of negative health consequences. Obesity suppresses our good immune system and increases chronic inflammation, which impacts the presence of these good proteins which leads telomere shortening and results in: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, autoimmune disorders, addictions and dementia.
As mentioned, I am going to focus on 6 tips to protect the brain from aging and resulting in dementia. The reason is that scientists are now considering dementia as Type III diabetes. The aging process affects our ability to “birth” new neurons, which are important parts of our nervous system. If we are not regenerating and birthing new neurons, our brain is shrinking. As shrinking continues, we get early onset dementia and then Alzheimers.
Before I give you the 6 tips, here is my DISCLAIMER. I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. Should you consider implementing any of these tips, please speak with the appropriate healthcare provider on how to do this safely.
Tip 1: Exercise: (see a physiotherapist) 30 minutes daily of aerobic exercise.
Tip 2: Fasting: (see Doctor or Naturopath) There are many different types of fasting
Tip 3: Fewer Calories Consumed (see a Naturopathic Doctor): a proper well-balanced diet is key
Tip 4: higher Omega 3 Intake (see a Naturopathic Doctor): not all supplements are created equal. You need a high quality supplement that has been tested for heavy metals
Tip 5: Weight-loss (see a Naturopathic Doctor)
Tip 6: Challenging your Brain: Regenerating the brain requires new and challenging experiences. Reading something that is a bit challenging to understand, learning a new language, building something or puzzles are great ways.