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How To Keep Your Mind Sharp and Healthy

Aug 14, 2008
One good telltale of our real age is our mental capacity. We expect that as we become grandmas and grandpas, our intellectual performance can never be the same with its prime years. But why does this happen? And what can we do to avoid thinking like we are old-aged already?

The Aging Process
Our neurons are non-regenerative. That means they do not divide to reproduce more of its kind. Once they die, they can't be replaced with another one. As we age, these brain cells of ours start to reduce in size and in number. This reduces our ability to call to mind some things that we have learned, including those in school, and even those details when we were younger.

A neurotransmitter called acetylcholine also declines as we age. This neurotransmitter is directly involved in memory and conveying of messages from a cell to another one. Moreover, because of the stresses that we have, the hippocampus, our memory bank, diminish in function.

As we get old also, we develop plaques and tangles that accumulate between and within neurons, respectively. Plaques are proteins that mount up in between neurons while tangles are fibers that grow within the brain cells. Too much of these two are thought to kill nerve cells, like in Alzheimer's Disease, an age-related disease.

In addition to this, substances are created as a result of our lifestyle and environmental pollution. These substances called free radicals can damage our DNA and impede the production of energy which can cause early cell death.

Stay Sharp
To delay the signs of aging with regards to our mental capability, we should make a number of things a habit.

As they say, stress is inevitable in everyday life because we need it to overcome large and small obstacles. But, of course, stress has a lot more negative effects than good ones. So, avoid too much stress. According to some studies, stress does not only make you look older, it also accelerates the degeneration of your brain.

Those who are easily stressed have higher risks to cognitive impairment than those who are not. You should examine yourself and determine the best ways in which you can cope with the obstacles of the day. Praying is one of the best examples. Planning ahead of time can reduce possible stress. An hour of it can even reduce two hours of your working time.

To stay sharp, one must also have adequate sleep. A new research in Massachussetes General Hospital shows that adequate sleep can help you think well. Adequate sleep helps the brain collect different bits of information and have correct interpretation of them. On the contrary, if you sleep less than the required number, you would most likely have a bad performance and mood problems.

Another thing we should regularly do to preserve our brain functions is to meditate. Doing it actually improves attention, learning, and memory. Regular meditation can also help you slow down the shrinking of our gray matter. For the younger ones, a thought of it is quite ridiculous because meditating is just for the oldies. But a new study has shown that people who meditate earlier in life have better attention in their succeeding years.

One can't end a roster of anti-aging recommendations without mentioning about eating right. It is true when the say that an apple a day can make you okay. Apples are rich in flavonoids that helps protect the brain cells from free radicals. These fruits also contain a good number of antioxidants that do not only make your skin look young, it also raise the levels of the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that diminishes as we age.

Just for review, this neurotransmitter is very important for our memory and the ability of the neurons to transport messages from one to another.
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