New research: Lack of exercise could be causing cognitive decline
New research may be a persuading factor in getting you hitting that treadmill even harder, as a new study from UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute suggests that the lower the fitness levels the faster the deterioration of vital nerve fibres in the brain. This deterioration results in cognitive decline, including memory issues that are characteristic of dementia patients.
“Exercise improves circulation to the brain and helps with blood sugar control too. So, it stands to reason that lack of exercise could speed up brain ageing,” explains Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor, Cassandra Barns. Heading to a group exercise class is a great way to socialise and boost your endorphins. Cassandra adds, “Getting the balance right is important when it comes to exercise. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which makes us feel happy and relaxed afterwards. Getting enough exercise can also help us sleep better, which then helps us to cope with stress.”
Apart from getting your heart rate up to deter memory loss, what are other brain saviours?
Find the rhythm
There is a range of techniques to keep your brain alert that doesn’t have to be paper-based cognitive tasks. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the U.K’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s (www.marilynglenville.com) says “Walking in a new park or taking up line dancing fires up new neural pathways that keep your brain in touch. Needing to remember the steps in a dance is also a wonderful workout for your brain – learning the flow and rhythm of the music stimulates cognitive activity, while learning and performing the steps is great for both your memory and your physical fitness. Active learning is the perfect complement for doing jigsaws, Sudoku and crosswords.”
Think about Type 2 Diabetes
Rates of long-term mental decline are steeper in those with Type 2 diabetes than those with normal blood sugar control, according to a study. The research highlights that efforts to delay the onset of diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels could prevent subsequent progression of brain function decline. If you have Type-2 Diabetes it’s essential to try and control your blood sugar levels, which CuraLin diabetic supplement can help with.
“CuraLin [RRP £59, www.curalife.co] is a specially formulated dietary supplement containing ten herbs and plant extracts traditionally used to support insulin sensitivity and help keep blood glucose under control. A word of caution, however: if you’re being treated for Type 2 Diabetes, consult your doctor before changing your diet or exercise or starting a supplement,” explains Cassandra.
Sleep your way to better brain health
“Too little sleep increases your risk for Alzheimer’s because beta-amyloid protein is cleared away during sleep when your cerebrospinal fluid washes out toxins from your body,” explains Dr Glenville. This basically means that the shorter you sleep, the less time your body has to get rid of beta-amyloid plaque build-up, which is toxic to neurons in the brain and can eventually cause Alzheimer’s.
B vitamins to boost brain health
B vitamins play an important role in fighting against age-related cognitive decline, according to research. Most B vitamins can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat and fish. Vitamin B12 however, is found only in animal foods, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may be lacking in this vitamin. Try Natures Plus Source of Life Garden Vitamin B12 (£17.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk). “It provides an effective dose of B12 in the active form of methylcobalamin, meaning it can be easily used by the body. It also provides a range of other B vitamins, which work together with vitamin B12 to give us energy,” explains Cassandra.
Your sleeping position matters
“When you sleep on your side, your body seems more able to remove the build-up of so-called ‘brain waste’ chemicals, such as beta- amyloid proteins, that are thought to contribute to Dementia and other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s,” explains Dr Glenville.
Soak up the sunshine
“Vitamin D receptors have been found in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain. These areas are involved in forming new memories and processing information. Try and expose yourself to direct sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day to optimise your vitamin D levels, and to make sure you’re keeping your levels topped up daily try Quest Nutra Pharma’s Once A Day Sunshine D (£5.22, qnutrapharma.com).
Small challenges can make all the difference
Dr Glenville suggests the following simple games to give your brain a workout, “Counting backwards from 100 in 2s, 3s or 4s is a good one, and you can make it harder by doing something else at the same time, such as tapping your foot. Or try the ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ game – think of a theme, such as ‘food’, and name as many items relevant to the theme as you can in one minute.”