The impulses that give us our ability to think, express ourselves, maintain our physical being are the mind/body/spirit interface.
The anti-aging movement would certainly have no appeal if we could not take with us into those extended years our most precious possession-our mind.
Illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are frightening prospects for the older population. While we are more likely to suffer from memory loss and cognitive decline as we grow older, this mental decline is not inevitable.
The past two decades of scientific research into the causes of brain disease have given us extraordinary insights into how we can successfully address both the symptoms and the causes of brain-aging.
Uniting neurology and nutrition we now have strategies the can slow, prevent, and even reverse brain dysfunction.
The Brain Conducts Our Human Orchestra
The brain is a complicated, well-organized matrix of intricate nerve endings communicating every thought, orchestrating every action, creating every emotion. Billions of electrical impulses travel back and forth through this matrix every second directing upward of 15 million possible chemical reactions. This brain energy operates in mineral, electrical, chemical, magnetic, and emotive wavefields. The frequency, amplitude and wavelengths of these transmissions vary with states of alertness, mental and physical activity, external stimulus and internal environment.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals required to send the impulses from one cell to the next in harmonious fashion.
Anything that interferes with ability to make, send or receive these chemical messengers will prevent the brain from functioning effectively.
Why The Brain Deteriorates With Age
Brain cells require a supply of specific nutrients to maintain their membrane integrity, to clear out waste products, to manufacture cellular energy and neurotransmitters, and to scavenge free radicals. Any deficiency in the supply of these nutrients will adversely affect neurotransmission.
Studies on brain-aging have shown a significant decline in important neurotransmitters in those with age-related cognitive impairment. The most important of these is acetylcholine-the main neurotransmitter needed for memory and learning. Almost all people with Alzheimer’s show a marked deficit of acetylcholine. Maintaining healthy neurotransmitter, especially acetlycholine, levels is the centerpiece of any brain enhancement strategy. Our anti-aging protocols include safe, effective “smart nutrients” that promote cellular energy and enhance production of neurotransmitters.
Poor circulation is another factor in brain-aging. The brain requires a steady supply of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients to function. 25% of all blood pumped by the heart goes to the brain, thus any deficiencies in the circulatory system will put the brain at risk. About 20 percent of all cases of serious mental decline in the elderly are circulation-related. Decreased blood flow contributes to general mental lethargy and to the slow degeneration of the brain by starving the neurons to death.
If you are interested in brain health, maintaining good cerebral circulation is imperative. Attention to exercise, blood pressure, and selected natural nutrients that improve circulation are important aspects of our brain longevity strategies.
In each of our cells including our neurons, there is an area known as the mitochondria. This is the energy-producing center of the cell. For brain longevity, the neurons must maintain a constant supply of energy to protect against cell loss.
The mitochondria are especially vulnerable to free radical damage because of their heavy oxygen utilization. In a healthy mitochondria neighborhood there are plenty of free radical scavengers, anti-oxidants maintaining damage control. A few of the more important ones are vitamins C and E, beta carotene, super oxide dismutase, glutathione, Co-Q 10, selenium, zinc, lipoic acid, melatonin, and acetyl –L- carnitine. However, if the anti-oxidant pool is in poor supply – the mitochondria have no defense. Once enough oxidative damage is done to the mitochondria by free radicals, the cell dies. Free radicals directly kill brain cells. Patients with Parkinson’s disease have been shown to have severely impaired anti-oxidant activity in the substantia nigra area of the brain allowing for unchecked free radical destruction those brain cells.
Anti-oxidant levels in the brain tend to decrease with age. Testing for free radicals, assessing and enriching your anti-oxidant status is an important component of your personal anti-aging program.
Hormone imbalances that may begin as soon as the mid-thirties also have a detrimental effect on brain function. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a neuro-steroid produced by our adrenal glands. Brain tissue contains five to six times more DHEA than any other tissue in the body. (People with Alzheimer’s have almost half the amount of DHEA than their age-matched peers). DHEA stimulates the production of key brain cell messengers and the formation of branches that connect cells. DHEA is necessary to balance the potentially destructive forces of stress hormones, especially cortisol. As we age, rising levels of cortisol and declining levels of DHEA set the stage for memory decline and cognitive impairment.
Additionally, inadequate levels of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, thyroid, growth hormone, and pregnenolone have all been implicated in cognitive decline, loss of libido, mood disorders, impaired memory and communication problems.
Any comprehensive brain longevity plan includes assessing and restoring healthy hormone levels. At our clinic, we stress periodic evaluation and counsel on the use of natural intervention when appropriate.