How to Keep Our Brains from Aging Prematurely

Whether it involves diet, exercise, or a special beverage every day, we are always looking for new and natural ways we can slow the aging process.

Aging is natural and affects everyone. And, while it can contribute to the number of years we live on earth, what if we could slow this process to extend our lifespan or make the best out of our later years?

Interestingly, as time has progressed, the human lifespan has been increasing with it; though, we aren’t necessarily living healthier lives as we reach the age of a centenarian (someone who reaches 100 years old)1.

Here, we’ll break down some of the best natural methods you can use to try and slow the processes associated with aging and boost brain health in your later years.

Reduce Inflammation

One of the best ways you can improve the aging process is by taking control of inflammation in the body.

Inflammation causes wear-and-tear on the body and can cause organs to work harder than they should.

There’s this term called inflammaging, which basically means that as our age increases in number, so does the amount of low-grade inflammation in our body2,3.

The body’s ability to trigger a natural immune response weakens as it ages, which is why it is especially troubling for people in their later years if they happen to catch a cold or influenza (the flu)4.

Some of the best ways to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system are by getting out for regular exercise5, like a 15-minute walk every day, and by eating a healthy diet filled with antioxidant compounds—these include dark-colored berries (e.g., blueberries) as well as vegetables like red cabbage, kale, and spinach6.

To make things easier, supplements have been formulated specifically to support the immune system, which can be very helpful in maintaining a sufficient immune response to combat viruses and illnesses as you age.

Supplements That Support Healthy Cognition

As our age increases, our ability to think fluidly and abstractly can decline.

Fortunately, there are natural ways we can boost our ability to think and process information—collectively referred to as cognition—which can help combat the process of aging on our brains.

For example, ginseng gintonin is a relatively well-known compound but has only recently been shown to help protect the brain against age-related dysfunction.

In a review of several studies, it was found that gintonin can provide a “neuroprotective” effect. This essentially means that this compound can protect against inflammation, cell death, and oxidative stress in the brain7. All of these can contribute to cognitive decline.

As well, it was found that gintonin protected against the effects of toxic agents associated with memory disorder and blocked the effects of these agents on tests of memory in rodents7.

You can easily add ginseng to your diet through supplements that have been formulated to boost energy and support processes associated with mental focus and attention.

There may also be some benefit of taking omega-3 fatty acids to help with cognition, as one study found that omega-3s can improve cognitive function in older adults with coronary artery disease8

Another study looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on telomere length in the cell9.

Telomeres are sort of like a “cap” on DNA that tend to shorten with age. Importantly, it is thought that telomeres can provide an indication of aging10, and that preserving their length can slow aging to an extent.

Interestingly, it was found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids prevented telomeres from shortening, providing evidence that omega-3s may have some anti-aging effects10. However, the evidence about this relationship remains controversial to date11.

Nevertheless, there are many benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids, which can be derived from various forms of fish and eggs12 as well as supplements.

Become Mindful to Reduce Stress

Psychological stress (i.e., work, family, and social stress) can significantly contribute to the aging process13.

This is why it is very important to learn how to manage emotions as we age.

In fact, one study suggests that utilizing strategies that involve mindfulness can promote resilience to challenges associated with aging14.

Another study even found that mindfulness-based training can help reduce cholesterol levels15, which demonstrates that psychological stress may very well influence cardiovascular health, and which also further supports a potential link between psychological stress and age-related disease.

Some of the best ways to promote positive mental health are to stay connected with friends and family, get physically active (i.e., go for a walk or jog), learn a new skill, or take up a new hobby (i.e., a musical instrument or gardening), and get in tune with your emotions (i.e., mindfulness)16.

You can read more about engaging in mindfulness here.

As always, consults your physician before making any significant changes to your diet and/or lifestyle.

 

Author: Brett Melanson is a PhD Candidate in Behavioral NeuroscienceHis interests primarily reside within the life sciences with an emphasis on stress-based psychopathologies.

 

References
  1. https://www.statnews.com/2017/02/14/living-longer-living-better-aging/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33771720/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34229694/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/flu/flu-in-elderly-symptoms-complications#takeaway
  5. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00164.2004
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-antioxidants
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33007419/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33675344/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24342530/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34200513/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32305302/
  12. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34226536/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34053836/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33719899/
  16. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/

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