Aging may result in severe effects on the brain and lead to cumulative damage and the impairment of cognitive functions. This paper reflects on the strategies that can slow these effects and provides evidence of their effectiveness. The report concludes that although some of the processes associated with aging are inevitable, it is possible to maintain their outcomes and improve the individual’s physical and mental state.
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Strategies for the Reduction of Brain Aging Effects
Aging is a natural process that may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline. The reason for this link is that with age, various changes occur in the human brain. They include the shrinking of certain parts of the organ, the reduction of communication between neurons, a decrease in blood flow, and an increase in inflammation (National Institute on Aging, 2017). These changes may result in problems associated with memory, multitasking, and attention. However, it is possible to prevent and slow the effects of brain aging.
One of the possible methods that can be used is diet. The study by Morris et al. (2015) shows that the combination of the Mediterranean and the DASH (Dietary Approach to Systolic Hypertension) diets may slow cognitive decline caused by aging. Individuals’ nutrition plan should include green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, nuts, whole grains, and beans. In addition, vitamin E, flavonoids, folate, and carotenoids are suggested as the means of neuroprotection. Wahl et al. (2017) add that the low protein and high carbohydrate diet may decrease brain aging as well.
Another method that can slow the effects of aging on the brain is exercise. Szalewska, Radkowski, Demkow, and Winklewski (2017) report that regular physical activity affects neuromuscular functions positively and is beneficial for individuals’ physical and mental state. The most effective types of exercise are high-intensity aerobic programs that may be combined with strength training. The study shows that six months of regular physical activity may result in the enhancement of executive functions, cognition, and mental flexibility (Szalewska et al., 2017). A year of weekly exercise may lead to an improvement in cerebral blood flow and an increase in hippocampal volumes. In addition, individuals can utilize resistance training to enhance brain insulin signaling.
Cognitive training is one of the effective methods for slowing brain aging. According to Li et al. (2016), training may lead to the suppression of reduced lateralization, a decrease in gray matter changes, the induction of plastic changes, and the enhancement of functional entropy. Twenty-four sessions of cognitive exercises showed that affect functional connectivity and brain structure positively, leading to the improvement of older individuals’ attention and memory.
Finally, another possible method of slowing the effects of brain aging is stress reduction. Mecocci et al. (2018) report that oxidative stress, which can be caused by chronic fatigue and depression, is positively associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. It means that it is vital to prevent exposure to stress to decrease the effects of aging. Possible methods can include the utilization of breathing exercises, yoga, and mental health therapy.
Aging may result in memory loss, the inability to concentrate, and associated diseases. To slow the effects of aging on the brain, an individual may adhere to a specific diet and regular exercise, as well as undergo cognitive training. In addition, it is vital to reduce exposure to stress. Although the process of brain aging is inevitable, it is possible to prevent the development of adverse outcomes of it.
Li, T., Yao, Y., Cheng, Y., Xu, B., Cao, X., Waxman, D.,… Wu, W. (2016). Cognitive training can reduce the rate of cognitive aging: A neuroimaging cohort study. BMC Geriatrics, 16(12). Web.
Mecocci, P., Boccardi, V., Cecchetti, R., Bastiani, P., Scamosci, M., Ruggiero, C., & Baroni, M. (2018). A long journey into aging, brain aging, and Alzheimer’s disease following the oxidative stress tracks. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 62(3), 1319-1335.
Morris, M. C., Tangney, C. C., Wang, Y., Sacks, F. M., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., & Aggarwal, N. T. (2015). MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 11(9), 1015-1022.
National Institute on Aging. (2017). How the aging brain affects thinking. Web.
Szalewska, D., Radkowski, M., Demkow, U., & Winklewski, P. J. (2017). Exercise strategies to counteract brain aging effects. In I. R. Cohen, A. Lajtha, J. D. Lambris, R. Paoletti, & N. Rezaei (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (pp. 69-79). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Wahl, D., Cogger, V., de Cabo, R., Biet, S., Simpson, S., & Le Couteur, D. G. (2017). A low protein, high carbohydrate diet attenuates brain aging and improves spatial memory in mice. Innovation in Aging, 1(Suppl 1), 579.