These Lifestyle Factors Will Shrink Your Brain

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We all know that health issues such as diabetes, obesity, elevated blood pressure and smoking put a tremendous strain on the body. But did you realize that living an unhealthy lifestyle can even lead to brain shrinkage and impaired cognitive function?

Chronic inflammation Linked to Brain Decline

Research in the journal Neurology highlights a potential connection between midlife inflammation markers in the blood and cognitive decline in later years. The study suggests that certain inflammatory biomarkers, commonly used to assess heart disease risk, might also indicate a risk for reduced brain health, including memory impairment and brain shrinkage.

The findings revealed that individuals with elevated levels of three or more inflammation markers performed worse in memory tests and exhibited around a 5% reduction in brain volume in areas linked to Alzheimer’s disease, such as the hippocampus.

While the study is observational and does not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between inflammation and cognitive decline, it aligns with other research indicating chronic inflammation in people with dementia.

A healthy lifestyle can help mitigate chronic inflammation influenced by stress, poor diet, excess weight, and lack of physical activity.

Nice to know, right?

In addition to making those lifestyle adjustments, you can also supplement with turmeric, which is VERY anti-inflammatory.

Sleep and Brain Health: A Study on Sleep Duration and Dementia Risk

study involving 29,545 middle-aged individuals found that both too much and too little sleep could be detrimental to brain health.

Specifically, sleeping more than 9 hours or less than 6 hours each day was linked to reduced brain volumes, including in critical areas like the grey matter and hippocampus. These sleep patterns also correlated with poorer cognitive performance in areas such as memory, reaction time, and fluid intelligence.

Additionally, the habit of daytime dozing was associated with smaller brain volumes and lower cognitive scores.

This research suggests that maintaining a balanced sleep schedule could be crucial for preserving brain health and potentially delaying the onset of dementia as we age.

Cardiovascular Health in Midlife Linked to Brain Aging: A Study by UCL Researchers

Another study published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity revealed a significant correlation between cardiovascular health in midlife and brain aging, finding that individuals with poorer cardiovascular health at age 36 exhibited signs of accelerated brain aging later in life.

This phenomenon was more pronounced in men compared to women of the same age.

Notably, individuals with poorer cardiovascular health at ages 36 or 69, as well as those with increased cerebrovascular disease, showed signs of worse brain health.

This aligns with previous findings by Professor Schott, indicating that high blood pressure in midlife can lead to poorer brain health in later years.

Poor Health in Midlife Leads to Brain Shrinkage

Findings from a Framingham Heart Study indicate that ailments such as diabetes, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and smoking are also linked to a reduction in brain size.

This shocking finding was extracted from a study that has been ongoing in a Massachusetts town since 1948.

The Aging Brain

The brain undergoes a number of changes as we age. Between the ages of 20 and 90 the brain loses an average of 5-10% of its weight, grooves widen and hard clusters of dying neurons form on the surface. Changes in chemical interactions cause cognitive challenges over time.

But the Framingham study showed that diet and lifestyle plays a rose in decreasing brain size; high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, obesity and smoking are all factors in brain health.

The brains of people with the noted risk factors also had problems with thinking and dealing with a wide variety of things.

The study concluded with:

“Midlife hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and obesity were associated with an increased rate of progression of vascular brain injury, global and hippocampal atrophy, and decline in executive function a decade later.”

Making Lifestyle Changes

The good news is that making lifestyle changes can reverse or at least decrease the risk of both brain shrinkage as well as damage to the cardiovascular system.

Simply by managing your weight, not smoking, eating healthful foods and exercising, you can easily cut your risk of countless ailments.

As more and more physicians warn patients of the findings in the Framingham studies as well as of other known health complications from living an unhealthy lifestyle, it is hoped that people will take note and make the changes necessary to live a long and productive life.

Author: Mike Barrett
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