How do we understand the complex network of the brain and how to keep it sharp as we age? We do know that exercising the neurons in the brains circuitry can improve your memory and possibly stave off dementia.
Neurons, the functional building blocks of your brain, communicate using a combination of electrical and chemical signals. The 86 billion neurons in your head are constantly active. Even though the brain doesn’t account for much of your body weight, it uses 20% of your body’s energy to function.
It’s not enough for your brain cells simply to fire in the same patterns over and over. From moment to moment, throughout your life, your neurons need to rewire themselves based on your genes and experiences. The differences in the connections between neurons are what make each of our brains unique.
There are many things you can do on a daily basis to keep your neurons firing strong. Most importantly, stay in good physical health. Exercising and eating a healthy diet have shown they help the brain at a cellular level. Exercise enhances the growth and survival of new neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain essential for long-term memory.
You know you need to workout to keep your body in shape. Your mind is no different. Learning and practicing any challenging skill, for example, a second language, reading, doing crossword puzzles or even juggling, can change the structure of your brain for the better.
This type of mental stimulation can delay cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease, although there’s evidence that once the symptoms of dementia begin, they progress faster.
Also, stay connected with friends and family, several studies have shown that being part of a larger social network can reduce the cognitive effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The fact that the brain is always changing gives us the opportunity to shape those neural connections through our behavior and environment. But beneath all of those factors lies the unchangeable role of genetics.
How do genes and your environment interact in normal aging, let alone result in diseases such as Alzheimer’s? Neuroscientists are still looking at the effects of lifestyle choices. Scientists are still striving to understand how to keep the brain youthful.
Manhattan Wellness Group promotes health and well being through chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.