How to Look After Your Brain as You Get Older
As we age, many of us will expect to become more forgetful. What we might not realize though is that we can also expect to see our IQ diminish. ‘Fluid intelligence’ (the ability to wrestle with an abstract concept and produce a useful answer) is negatively correlated with age, meaning that the older we become, the slower we get.
What’s more, is that age brings the risk of numerous neurological diseases from Alzheimer’s, to Parkinson’s, to dementia.
But is this inevitable? Or is there in fact a way to slow down and prevent age-related cognitive decline? Read on and let’s discover some of the best things you can do for your brain…
Use it or Lose It
Simply, the best way to prevent your brain from deteriorating is to use it more. The more you challenge your brain, the more you will produce the necessary neurotransmitters that encourage plasticity and that keep you learning and keep you nimble.
One of the big problems as we get older, is that we tend to stop learning new things or subjecting ourselves to new experiences. This can actually lead to the brain becoming less malleable and adaptable – the connections that you no longer use will be ‘pruned’ and the ones that you do use will become strengthened, making it hard to ‘learn new tricks’. Just like an old dog!
This will also reduce the amount of neurochemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine you produce. The result is that you become less interested in new things, less motivated and generally less cognitively nimble.
What’s also highly important is to move your body more. The brain is actually designed primarily for moving the body and this is the primary way that it learns about its environment. The more you move around and the more you challenge yourself to learn more motor movements, the more your brain will grow and strengthen.
This has actually been demonstrated in studies – where it has been seen that people who move less as they get older will become more likely to see decreases in fluid intelligence.
You knew this was coming – nutrition is also highly important if you hope to boost your brain power and keep it optimal as you age. The role of good nutrition is to fuel your brain with all of the micronutrients it needs to perform optimally – that means amino acids to repair damage, saturated fats to help with communication through the brain and vitamins and minerals to help synthesize neurochemicals and enhance signals throughout the brain.
If you go long periods without getting nutrients in your youth, this can end up causing cumulative damage that will affect you once you’re older. For these reasons, it’s absolutely essential to keep feeding your brain with the best nutrients and to avoid things like alcohol that you know are bad for it. Also important is to find antioxidants, which will help to protect the brain from damaging free-radicals that can form tumors.
Look after your brain in your youth and it will take care of you when you’re older!