Understand the importance of brain health
Brain health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and a growing body of research highlights its importance in determining our cognitive abilities as we age. The factors that contribute to maintaining brain health and protecting against cognitive decline are multifaceted and encompass elements such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a healthy gut microbiome. Of particular interest is the intestinal bacteria known as Asaccharobacter celatus (A celatus), preliminarily linked to executive function.
The impact of a healthy lifestyle on cognitive function
A cohort study published in JAMA Network found that a higher lifestyle score, indicating a healthier lifestyle, was associated with better cognitive function in older adults. Data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project used in the study showed that factors such as physical activity, diet, and cognitive activity contributed to this score. The study concluded that a healthy lifestyle can provide a cognitive reserve that maintains cognitive abilities, regardless of the common neuropathologies of dementia.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices and Cognitive Decline
Another study published in JAMA Neurology echoes these findings and suggests that healthy lifestyle choices can slow cognitive decline even in older adults with neuropathologies such as dementia. These healthy lifestyle choices include being physically active, eating healthy, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. Evidence consistently shows that a healthy lifestyle provides numerous cognitive benefits and can reduce the risk of dementia.
Physical activity, cognitive stimulation and brain health
Physical activity and cognitive stimulation are integral parts of a healthy lifestyle that can improve brain health. These activities help increase cerebral blood flow, improve heart health, increase brain activity, and increase brain volumes. They can also prevent neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Experts recommend 150 minutes of physical activity per week, spending time with friends and family, and performing cognitively stimulating tasks to safeguard cognitive function.
The role of diet in maintaining optimal brain health
Eating a balanced diet is another cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle that can protect cognitive function. The composition of the gut microbiota, influenced by diet, may play a crucial role in maintaining optimal brain health. For example, a certain gut bacteria, A celatus, may have a positive effect on executive function.
Frailty, pain and cognitive function
A cross-sectional study conducted in Korea explored the impact of frailty severity and severe pain on cognitive function in community-dwelling older adults with arthritis. Interestingly, the study found that severe pain alone does not significantly affect cognitive function. Therefore, to predict high-risk groups and provide appropriate interventions to prevent cognitive decline, it is essential to assess both pain and frailty severity.
Lifestyle factors and dementia pathology
Scientists at Rush University Medical Center investigated whether dementia-related brain pathology modifies the association between healthy lifestyle choices and cognition in later years. Their findings indicated that healthy lifestyles were associated with less near-death cognitive decline, independently of brain pathologies related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Lifestyle factors, such as physical activity and diet, are also associated with less cognitive decline, independent of the influence of vascular disease.
Resilience to dementia through a healthy lifestyle
As dementia affects more than 55 million people worldwide, with 10 million new cases each year, a study published in JAMA Neurology highlights the urgent need for more research into reducing the risk of developing dementia. The study found that people who have a healthy lifestyle may be more resistant to brain changes that can cause dementia symptoms. Therefore, a higher lifestyle score based on five lifestyle factors was related to better overall cognitive functioning as a person aged.