A more sensible lifestyle could be key not just for longevity, but also to keep our brains alive and kicking, it seems.
Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting along with vitamin and mineral intake, increase resistance to disease, extend lifespan, and stimulate production of neurons from stem cells.
Animal studies conducted at the National Institute on Aging Gerontology Research Center and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine also showed that fasting enhances synaptic elasticity, possibly increasing the ability for successful re-wiring following brain injury.
These benefits appear to result from a cellular stress response, similar in concept to the greater muscular regeneration that results from the stress of regular exercise.
Additional research suggests that increasing time intervals between meals might be a better choice than chronic calorie restriction, because in the latter case both sexual and brain performance might be affected.
Physical exercises are perhaps another building block of an enduring brain. Exercises stimulate regeneration of brain and muscle cells via activation of stress proteins and the production of growth factors.
Only the rider is while exercise considered drudgery might not be beneficial in neuronal regeneration, physical activity engaged in purely for fun is far more effective that way.
Also one should not plan a marathon or a demanding work session during a fasting period as short-term cognitive and physical performance is not boosted by fasting, due to metabolic changes including decrease in body temperature, decreased heart rate and blood pressure and decreased glucose and insulin levels.
Another recent finding, stemming from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and Iwate University in Japan, reports that the herb rosemary contains an ingredient that fights off free radical damage in the brain. The active ingredient, known as carnosic acid (CA), can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer's and from the effects of normal aging.
Although researchers are patenting more potent forms of isolated compounds in this herb, unlike most new drugs, simply using the rosemary in its natural state may be the most safe and clinically tolerated because it is known to get into the brain and has been consumed by people for over a thousand years. The herb was used in European folk medicine to help the nervous system.
Bruce N. Ames, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that a daily dose of 800 mg of alpha-lipoic acid and 2,000 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine could boost the energy output of mitochondria that power our cells. Mitochondrial decay is a major factor in aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes. Elderly rats on these supplements had more energy and ran mazes better.
Omega-3s fatty acids DHA and EPA found in walnuts and fatty fish (such as salmon, sardines, and lake trout) are thought to help ward off Alzheimer's disease. (In addition, they likely help prevent depression and have been shown to help prevent sudden death from heart attack).
Turmeric, typically found in curry, contains curcumin, a chemical with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In India, it is even used as a salve to help heal wounds. East Asians also eat it, which might explain their lower rates (compared to the United States) of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, in addition to various cancers. If curry isn't part of your favorite cuisines, you might try a daily curcumin supplement of 500 to 1,000 mg, writes Rebecca Sato on Galaxy website.
Another Indian contribution to prevent brain degeneration could be meditation, for it helps reduce stress. After all, it has been shown chronic stress shrinks parts of the brain involved in learning, memory, and mood. (It also delays wound healing, promotes atherosclerosis, and increases blood pressure.