Unfortunately, human life is transient and will not last forever. For those of us lucky enough to make it to our golden years, we will not only see a decline in our physical appearance but also a decline in our cognitive performance as well.
Brain aging is caused by the decreased functioning of the brain over time. As individuals grow older, there is actually a literal shrinkage of the brain that occurs.The weight of one’s brain decreases by roughly 5% every decade after one hits 40 years old. This most likely occurs because of the death of one’s brain cells. Brain cells die all the time when we are young, but the only difference is that our brain is able to generate them as fast as they are dying. When we are older, however, this is no longer the case.
Blood flow also decreases as one grows older. Blood carries oxygen and if the brain is not getting enough blood then it is also not getting enough oxygen.The brain requires huge amounts of oxygen to function properly, and as one begins to age the oxygen supply is significantly depleted.
The aging of the brain is also caused by damage to brain matter and brain cells that occurs over the course of one’s lifetime. One of the biggest causes of cognitive decline is stress. Individuals who have undergone high levels of stress in their life are at risk of suffering from age-related mental disorders earlier in their lifetime.
How Does Stress Cause Brain Damage?
The body and brain are both negatively affected by stress. When individuals are stressed out, high levels of cortisol accumulate in their body. Cortisol increases glutamate production, and glutamate is deadly for brain cells. Glutamate is actually able to create free radicals, and free radicals attack the brain vigorously. The more brain damage one has, the faster they will face the effects of brain aging.
How Can Brain Aging Be Combated?
Just because brain aging is an inevitable reality, does not mean that we have to be left completely defenseless against it. There are many steps that we can take to prevent or at least slow down this aging from occurring.
The most important step that can be taken to help one’s brain remain healthy, is to consume the correct diet. Consuming brain food and food that is great for repairing brain damage caused by stress can really help in the long run.
One of the most common problems that occur as a person ages is impairment of memory.Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E can improve memory and prevent this decline. Fish, nuts and leafy greens are absolutely phenomenal because they are rich in antioxidants and can help reverse brain damage.
Not only should certain foods be included in the diet, but certain foods should also be excluded. Red meats should be limited significantly throughout the week as they have been linked to causing a buildup of constituents in the brain which leads to poor brain functioning. Eating the right food can help prevent or at least slow down the aging of the brain.