HEALTH CENTER

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Brain Health- Use it or Lose it! by Tina de los Reyes

Tina 1We all know the time-old saying, “Use it or lose it.” Who knew this applied to the brain? As technology progresses, researchers and physicians are able to learn more about it. While there is still no complete cure for dementia and other degenerative brain diseases, there are many ways to prevent them. A recent study, “Successful Brain Aging” enumerated ways such as: caloric restriction, exercise, stress reduction, and brain enrichment to maintain healthy brain function.

Diet

An apple a day certainly doesn’t keep the doctor away, but proper vitamin and food intake will!  A healthy diet which reflects the appropriate level of calories for metabolic function, can improve learning, memory, and cognition, while simultaneously reducing spine loss and Parkinson’s-like motor deficits. Also, a healthy consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin C will decrease the rate of cellular decay.

Exercise

We all love a “buy one, get one free” deal. That’s what you’re getting when you exercise! Regular exercise is beneficial because not only does bone density, muscle mass, and metabolism increase, but also fat and blood pressure decrease. In addition to this, just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week can improve cognitive brain function. It stimulates the brain and slows down the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Stress Reduction

Of all of the factors, this one may be the hardest to change, but it is so rewarding once you do! Stress can cause a release of glucocorticoids which may be toxic to your neurons at high levels. This causes the progression of dementia, and a decrease in your cognition level. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take three deep breaths or step outside for a moment of calm. Furthermore, a reduction in stress will lower your blood pressure and help fight heart disease and diabetes.

Brain Enrichment

Many people choose TV viewing as a source of fun. A better alternative is to play a fun game to stimulate your brain. A 2009 neuroscience study revealed that playing 30 minutes a day of Tetris (a puzzle video game) can increase grey matter of the brain and slow down degeneration. Critical thinking games such as Tetris, Sodoku, crossword puzzles, and word searches can increase concentration and memory, while decreasing the progression of brain diseases.

Recent studies have coined the term “technology dementia.” This is the loss of brain function due to excessive phone/internet usage. The constant stimulation from technology has hindered our ability to focus or memorize certain facts. This lack of “brain enrichment” is detrimental to our health.

Conclusion

Rather than reaching for a big bowl of ice cream, eat the yogurt and fruit.  A better alternative to hanging out on the sofa, is heading to the beach for a walk.  Instead of road rage, hit the road and take a yoga class! When you want to sit on the internet while you watch TV, a healthier alternative is to turn off the TV and play some Tetris. Your brain will thank you later.

Sources

“Is Tetris Good For The Brain?” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 01 Sept. 2009. Web. 17 July 2013.

Mora, Francisco, MD, PhD. “Successful Brain Aging: Plasticity, Environmental Enrichment, and

Lifestyle.” (2013): n. pag. Dialogues-cns.org. 2013. Web.

Ryall, Julian. “Surge in ‘Digital Dementia'” Www.dailymail.co.uk. N.p., 24 Jan. 2013. Web.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.