Are you are afraid of losing your mind as you age?
The #1 fear I hear from my clients is focused on their aging brains. What’s happening and what can they do?
How many of you are afraid of losing your mind as you age?
I know I certainly am. We look around at our own family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers and we see their cognitive function diminishing as they age. The stats are becoming frightening.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- The lifetime risk for Alzheimer’s at age 45 is 1 in 5 for females and 1 in 10 for males.
I don’t want to become a statistic, do you?
Let’s spend a minute in science to highlight some of the changes going on within the brain as we age:
Physical changes to the brain include:
- After the age of 40 the volume of the brain decreases and continues to decline as we age.
- The brain has a decrease in the synaptic connections with other neurons in the brain that affect sending messages and interpretation.
- Communication between neurons become less effective.
- There are metabolic alternations in the brain include mitochondrial and oxidative damage.
- Waste products and neurotoxic proteins due to reduced clearance commonly occur resulting in impaired cognitive functioning.
- Blood flow in the brain has been found to decrease.
To make matters worse injuries, infections, our diets, poor sleep and inflammation all affect the degree and rate of those changes.
This may paint a somewhat bleak picture, however we are starting to learn about how to support the aging brain. The goal is to protect us from cognitive decline and prevent the onset of dementia type conditions.
There are many ways to support our aging brains. Here are 5 commonly accepted strategies.
5 Keys for a Younger Brain
- Eating Differently
Healthy fats – As we age, we need healthy fats for the omega-3 fatty acids that help boost our memory, our learning and are building blocks of our brains. Olive oil, nuts, seeds are common sources.Protein – As we age, we need an increased amount of protein to support our muscle mass and to help our brain neurons communicate. The general recommendation for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (you can also multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 to get a rough estimate). For those who are 40 and older, when muscle begins to atrophy, the protein recommendation rises to about 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, according to experts. Things like nut butters, fatty fish and some protein shakes can support this goal.Colorful foods – Eat the rainbow is a common phrase and a good rule to follow.Blood sugar – We also need to watch our blood sugar and insulin levels. Fasting has become a popular method and can be helpful when done correctly and when it fits your personal biological needs.
- Move Daily
This can come in many forms. Walking, swimming, riding bike, yoga whatever you enjoy doing will help your aging brain. Move with a friend which also increases your social connections further optimizing your aging process. Science is also finding that adding HIT workouts (high intensity training – think of this like short bursts of speed to the exercise you are doing) is also beneficial to our brain health. It can be as simple as adding two 30-second bursts of fast walking to your regular walking program.
- Challenge Your Brain
Do puzzles, games or whatever will stimulate your mind. I was told once to do whatever you didn’t enjoy or were not good at doing to focus on that activity. That would include math problems for me. I understand the concept and even a few minutes every day over time will support our aging brains.
- Social Connections
We are learning so much about the importance of having others in our lives especially since COVID. The social isolation and lack of togetherness has taken a toll on all of us really amplifying the importance of these connections. Make it a priority to get together with neighbors, friends, family, or even talking to others at parks, restaurants. I think we will find everyone is looking for connections, and we just need to be willing to engage and start the conversations.
- Our Mental Health – I think we’re all aware of the mental health crisis in our country. Mental health has taken a plunge over the past several years due to a multitude of issues from COVID to PTSD increasing depression and anxiety that challenges us and touches all of our lives.
Unfortunately, as we age, our mental health tends to decline even further which is why this mind section is my favorite area of aging.
I am finding this area doesn’t get much attention but is also the hidden jewel to our overall health and aging.
The Brain is a Muscle and Needs a Workout
Most of us do some physical fitness, but what do you do for your mental fitness? I usually get blank stares from people, and the answer I receive is “nothing.”
Consider thinking about the brain as a muscle because it really is.
Just like lifting weights for our bodies, we can also strengthen the brain through exercises. It is vital, it works and can prevent us from becoming a dementia statistic as well as preventing depression, anxiety and improving our overall cognition.
Our left brain is:
- our thinking brain
- our analyzing part of our brain
- our thoughts derive here
Our left brain is called our thinking brain where we analysis things and where our thoughts derive. Did you know we have about 60,000 thoughts every day and the majority of them are negative?
Additionally, this is also where our saboteurs live which beat us up daily and this is unconscious to the point we are not even aware of this. Things like self-doubt, poor self-worth, judgment of self and others all talk to us from this part of our brains.
Our right brain is:
- home to our intuition
- our instincts live here along with and our joy and peace, etc.
- where we spend very little time as most people spend most of their time in their left brains
How Do We Change This?
The first thing is increasing our awareness of our left and right brain. In the aging program we practice strategies to:
- increase our awareness of our thoughts and the saboteurs that bring us down
- apply steps to free us from the voice in our head
- live more from our right brains
The brain is amazing, but we don’t realize just how powerful we really are. Take a look at a short study revealing the power within us.
The summary of the study:
The goal was to test finger strength in 3 different groups.
- One group physically did the finger exercises against resistance daily.
- The second group did nothing.
- The third group did the finger exercises in their MINDS only.
At the end of the study, the group that did nothing received no benefit. No surprise there.
The group that did the exercises physically improve their finger strength 30%.
But what was amazing is the group that did the exercises in their minds ONLY saw an improvement in their finger strength of 22%!
That should rock your world to know that. We should be asking ourselves, what else can I do? It tells me that within each and every one of you lies this mostly untapped ability and being to heal, restore and improve our own functionality as we age.
The concept of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity has transformed what we now think about the brain. We used to think the brain couldn’t change, and now we know differently.
I can’t get enough of Joe Dispenza’s work as he has brain scans, and his workshops are life changing for many. He is showing the brain changes/rewiring through meditation and brain practices.
It’s basically the ability to tap into our wholeness because from this place we can support our aging brains, manifest and optimize the brain instead of living through brain decay.
At the end of the day, we can either let the mind and brain run amuck or step in and take charge.
Realize you’re not stuck into any old genetic programming. You are a powerful being who can age well throughout your entire life, mind and body!
Know you are an amazing being and within your brain lies untapped abilities just waiting to be utilized to thrive throughout your life.
Send me an email and let me know how I can support you.
I look forward to working with you.
In optimal health, Dr. Jenny