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Health for 50s and Over: Keeping Our Faculties Young – These Will Help

We have more resources in our favour than ever before despite modern-day aging factors!


4 Simple Ways To Help Keep Alzheimer's Out Of Your Future


Exercise, a good diet, and mental challenges are great for your brain individually. Together? They'll make you unstoppable, at least according to animal studies. Here, ranked from most-research-backed to least, are the things to focus on.

1. Exercise 3 hours a week.

You've experienced it yourself on a mind-clearing walk: Moving your body is really great for your brain, both now and years from now. Majid Fotuhi of NeurExpand recommends keeping your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes at a time. In one study, people who increased their three weekly walks from 10 to 40 minutes expanded their hippocampi by 2% after a year—the equivalent of getting 2 to 4 years younger above the neck. Exercise increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that's essentially fertilizer for the brain.

2. Meditate 10 minutes a day.

Too much cortisol is toxic to hippocampus. Basic mindful meditation is an effective weapon against it (as is exercise). Fotuhi trains his patients to start with a simple 5-5-5 routine: Sit up straight, close your eyes, and inhale slowly for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 5. Do this for 5 minutes. Stay with the count and the movement of your breath, even if your mind wanders. Practice this twice a day—or, if you're stressed all the time, 3 or 4 daily.

3. Get 1,500 mg of omega-3s daily.

People who have higher levels of DHA and EPA (found in fatty fish) also have (surprise!) a larger hippocampi.

4. Memorize something every day.

Growing your brain might not be as simple as signing up for Lumosity—in fact, Fotuhi and a host of other neurologists find such arbitrary games to be ineffective—but making a habit of memorizing things will tone your hippocampi. Med students whose hippocampi were measured before and after they prepped for the boards substantially expanded their hippocampi after studying. People who learned to juggle (which is essentially memorization of physical movements) showed an increase in gray matter after 3 months. UCLA neurologist Gary Small recommends cross training, too.

"Your brain loves variety," he says, so challenge it whenever you can.

Increased social interaction helps, as does learning a new skill or language.

Never Forget Another Name

When you meet someone new, what are you fixated on? Yourself: What kind of impression you're making, your handshake, if you are making eye contact or have spinach in your teeth. That's why the new acquaintance's name never gets locked in. You can change that. Pick out one or two things about the person—a trait, where they're from (e.g., "Steve with the big beard is from Boston"). To keep his brain firing, neurologist Majid Fotuhi plays this game with himself whenever he lectures in front of a large group. He interacts with the audience and tries to memorize up to 50 names—and usually succeeds. "Now I can't not do this trick when I meet someone one-on-one—I don't even have to try anymore," he says. "My wife, who always used to say she was bad at names, never forgets anymore, either. It makes people feel good, and we're building synapses in the process."

Expanding our Hippocampus yields results against onset of Alzheimers.

This should be a standard procedure Worldwide!

A Harvard-trained neurologist Majid Fotuhi has commenced a NeurExpand Brain Center in suburban Washington. He's getting some remarkable results helping people grow their brains—82% of his patients see measurable advances in cognitive function, and most experience an expansion in brain size, he says. There's good reason to believe that this is something we all should want to do.

What drives middle-aged people to clinics like Fotuhi's: those mild to major memory gaps that make us fear we're slowly going crazy. Most of us turn out not to have dementia but, rather, to be stressed out, hormonally affected, or even just paralyzed by fear of forgetting. We do all have shrinking hippocampi, however, and Fotuhi will ferret out the main exacerbating reasons for this before recommending a plan to reverse or slow the problem.

Cognitive decline is cognitive decline; it all leads somewhere bad if it can't be reversed, and everyone wins if it can. Take Pascale Meraldi, a landscaper in Baltimore, who thought she was developing early-onset Alzheimer's at 51. "When I would try to speak, I couldn't recall words," she says. "I thought I was losing my mind." Fotuhi's read: She was distractingly busy and deeply stressed—and making toxic her hippocampi with cortisol overload.

The incredible decades-old discovery that underlies his program: While the hippocampi may shrink (and already have for most of Fotuhi's patients), they can also expand quite easily. By now, a raft of research has shown that in response to healthy behaviors, the brain can react like an exercised muscle, growing bigger and stronger, at any age. This is central to Fotuhi's work, since research has established that people with bigger hippocampi tend to have a lower risk of dementia.

"The hippocampus research may not be entirely there yet," says Small, who writes about these issues in his new book, 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain, "but, frankly, I don't want to wait 10 years for the studies. There's enough suggestive evidence to get started now."

In unpublished research, Fotuhi found that the majority of patients who've taken part in NeurExpand's prescribed 3-month program saw measurable gains in hippocampus size and cognitive function. Many had come to him with symptoms of dementia.

"I saw a patient whose sister wanted me to confirm that she was not competent and needed to be put in a nursing home," he says. "She was 69 and forgetful and confused, and was basically watching TV all day every day. After she spent 3 months working with the brain fitness program team, the scans showed that her hippocampi had grown about 8.6%, which amounts to having reversed the age of her brain by about 17 years. Now she has improved so much, she wants to go back to work."

Given my mild forgetfulness, Fotuhi also recommends memory exercises using playing cards (see above). Directly challenging my short-term memory, he promises, will help those baby neurons that my brain produces take hold and mature.

Given time to spread, this could be the way of the future. Cheers to Majid Fotuhi for this wonderful discovery.

Adapted from an article:

The Thrilling New Science Of Alzheimer's Prevention That Could Change Everything


The interplay of early-life stress, nutrition, and immune activation and how this can sometimes relate with cognitive decline issues

Early-life adversity increases the vulnerability to develop psychopathologies and cognitive decline later in life. This association is supported by clinical and preclinical studies. Remarkably, experiences of stress during this sensitive period, in the form of abuse or neglect but also early malnutrition or an early immune challenge elicit very similar long-term effects on brain structure and function. During early-life, both exogenous factors like nutrition and maternal care, as well as endogenous modulators, including stress hormones and mediator of immunological activity affect brain development. The interplay of these key elements and their underlying molecular mechanisms are not fully understood.

We discuss how these different key elements of the early-life environment interact and affect one another and suggest that it is a synergistic action of these elements that shapes cognition throughout life. Finally, we consider different intervention studies aiming to prevent these early-life adversity induced consequences. The emerging evidence for the intriguing interplay of stress, nutrition, and immune activity in the early-life programming calls for a more in depth understanding of the interaction of these elements and the underlying mechanisms. This knowledge will help to develop intervention strategies that will converge on a more complete set of changes induced by early-life adversity.

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