Your brain continues to work
Think your brain is too old to learn new tricks, let alone keep cognitive decline at bay? That’s faulty reasoning. Research featured in the journal Cell: Stem Cell reveals that neurons continue to form in the part of the brain where memories are processed in your 40s, 50s, and even your 90s. “Your brain health is a lifelong investment,” says Dr Teresa Liu-Ambrose, a specialist in cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. “The more regularly you engage in behaviours that are good for the brain, the more resilient your brain may be in the face of ageing and disease.”
Put that pedometer to use. People who started walking 10,000 steps or more daily in midlife had younger brains – about 2.2 years on average – than people who didn’t exercise, according to research in JAMA Network Open. Plus, getting fit at this age helps guard against depression as a senior, notes a study in JAMA Psychiatry.
This all occurs, in part, because exercise reduces inflammation and stimulates the release of chemicals that spur the growth of brain cells and blood vessels in the brain. “It also promotes the sense of well-being, reduces stress, and improves sleep, all of which helps keep the brain healthy,” says Liu-Ambrose.
People who consume approximately one serving of leafy greens a day are cognitively 11 years younger than those who rarely eat them, according to a report in the journal Neurology. Researchers believe lutein, a pigment found in kale and spinach, could be the reason. An earlier report published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that lutein helps beef up grey matter in the part of the brain associated with memory. And since the brain stockpiles lutein over your life span, the more you eat over a longer period of time, the more your brain benefits.