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5 Things You Should Start Doing To Prevent Cognitive Decline Now (It Starts In Your 30s)

It might be surprising to hear, but changes in our brain linked to cognitive decline can even start to begin as early as our 30s… This discovery emphasises...

It might be surprising to hear, but changes in our brain linked to cognitive decline can even start to begin as early as our 30s…

This discovery emphasises the need to proactively care for our brain health much earlier than we might have previously thought.

Awareness and proactive steps in midlife are essential to minimise cognitive decline as we age and reduce the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. While genetics play a small role, lifestyle choices have the most significant impact on the health of our brain.

In this article, we’ll outline five proactive, research-backed strategies that anyone can adopt to take charge of their brain health and help protect their cognition well into older age.

 

5 Ways To Prevent Cognitive Decline

 

1. Focus on building muscle mass

The fascinating connection between muscle and brain health has only recently been unveiled.

Research now shows us that gaining muscle mass through regular strength training can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by influencing the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and the release of special protein molecules called myokines.

BDNF is a crucial element in brain health, known for its role in supporting existing neuronal connections, fostering new neuronal growth, and promoting “synaptic plasticity”, all of which are essential for learning and memory retention.

Physical exercise that stimulates muscle growth increases the production of BDNF, thereby enhancing these neuroprotective effects.

Increased BDNF levels are particularly beneficial in the context of Alzheimer's, as they can help counteract the effects of brain atrophy and the decline in neural function associated with the disease. (1) (2)

Furthermore, the role of myokines released during muscle contraction extends the benefits of physical activity to brain health. These amazing protein molecules have been identified for their anti-inflammatory properties and their ability to facilitate communication between muscles and the brain. By reducing systemic and neural inflammation, myokines contribute to a lower risk of developing chronic inflammation-associated diseases like Alzheimer's.

Additionally, some myokines have been shown to directly influence cognitive function by promoting the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain vital for memory and often affected early in Alzheimer's disease. (3)

 

2. Get enough sleep to detox your brain

Have you ever heard of the glymphatic system? This system acts as a waste clearance pathway, responsible for flushing out toxins and metabolic substances that accumulate in the brain during waking hours.

Sleep plays such a pivotal role in preventing cognitive decline, partly through the activation of this glymphatic system, a unique brain-wide process that occurs predominantly during sleep.

One of the critical substances removed during this process is beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer's disease when it clumps and accumulates abnormally. By effectively clearing beta-amyloid and other harmful compounds, the glymphatic system helps to protect the brain from neurodegeneration and supports cognitive health. (4)

Adequate sleep also helps regulate mood and stress, factors that can affect cognitive function if unbalanced. Therefore, maintaining regular, quality sleep is a fundamental strategy in safeguarding mental sharpness and preventing cognitive decline. Try aim to get 8-9 hours per night.

 

3. Make sure you’re getting enough magnesium

The mighty mineral magnesium plays a vital role in supporting cognitive functions and preventing cognitive decline.

This essential mineral is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including those necessary for proper brain function. Magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitter activity, which facilitates the transmission of signals between nerve cells in the brain.

Adequate magnesium levels contribute to the maintenance of synaptic function and plasticity, which are critical for learning and memory.

Research suggests that magnesium deficiency may lead to increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, factors that are associated with the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. (5)

Several studies have shown that a higher dietary intake of magnesium is linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline. (6)

It’s hard to get enough magnesium through diet alone these days, due to depleted soil conditions, therefore, it’s recommended to supplement with a high-quality magnesium product like Jennah Organics Magic Magnesium.

 

4. Keep your blood sugar levels stable

Keeping blood sugar levels stable is essential for preventing cognitive decline, as fluctuations in glucose can significantly impact brain function.

Consistently high blood sugar levels, as seen in diabetes, can lead to something called “glycation end products” that damage neurons and impair the transmission between them. This damage can contribute to the development of cognitive disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (7) (8)

Additionally, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can deprive the brain of its primary energy source - glucose, leading to reduced cognitive functioning and symptoms such as confusion and decreased alertness.

Therefore, managing blood sugar through a balanced diet, and regular physical activity is an essential foundation for maintaining healthy cognitive function.

 

5. Get enough omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a non-negotiable nutrient for long-term brain health.

These essential fats, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are important structural components of brain cell membranes and are vital for maintaining healthy neurons.

DHA, abundant in the brain's neuronal membranes, plays a crucial role in boosting neurotransmission, which is essential for learning and memory. (9)

Research has consistently shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, a contributor to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Furthermore, studies indicate that higher levels of omega-3s are associated with reduced brain aging and a lower risk of developing dementia. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, through foods like fatty fish or supplements, is thus considered a beneficial strategy for preserving cognitive functions and delaying the onset of cognitive decline. (10) (11)

 

Final Thoughts

We hope you're feeling empowered and motivated to take proactive steps toward maintaining your brain health!

The connection between our daily habits and our long-term cognitive well-being is undeniable, and by adopting practices such as regular physical activity, ensuring quality sleep, and boosting our intake of nutrients like magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids, you are setting the stage for a sharper, more resilient mind.

Remember, it's never too early or too late to start. Every small change you make today can have a profound impact on your mental clarity and help ward off cognitive impairments like Alzheimer's and dementia in the future.

 

 

Written by Zaheera Swing - Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist

(BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD)

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