Friday, January 13, 2012

Think About It, Will You?

Your brain is a powerful, powerful thing.  It thinks, reacts, considers, remembers, judges, determines, solves, computes, as well as a host of other things.  It's the reason you're breathing, walking, lifting that heavy weight, and of course eating that healthy meal.  But did you know that as you age, your brain tends to shrink?  It actually decreases in volume and cognitive ability!  Yikes!  It's an inevitability, but the good news is that you can easily give yourself a fighting chance in your golden years if you just consider your health a little more thoroughly.  

Did you know that being obese is actually dangerous to your brain?  That's right!  Not only are you straining your heart, muscles, liver, kidneys, bones, and ligaments, but also that organ which keeps you thinking clearly.  Research has proven that obese people have smaller brains than people of "normal" weight.  YEAH!  THEY'RE ACTUALLY SMALLER!  Crazy, eh?  Believe me, a smaller volume of brain cells in critical areas is not something you want.  It will affect your ability to problem solve, remember, and in general think clearly.  This problem only gets worse as you get older, and in your golden years, size does matter.  You want as BIG a brain as possible, with the most possible ability to think and remember clearly.  The bigger the effective volume of your brain, the lesser chance of getting cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's.  Lose that spare tire, and gain some of that witty spark back!

And this preservation of your brain comes with another little fun twist.  It's been shown that people with greater muscle mass, in general, retain greater cognitive function as they age!  WOW!  Those gym trips aren't just giving you the guns after all!  It turns out that a healthy amount of muscle mass will preserve a greater flow of blood through your cerebral passages, leading guessed it...more thinking power!  Less muscle= poor cerebral blood flow = brain damage/deterioration throughout your life. 

Lifting those weights also helps to build NEW blood passages throughout your brain, which will allow nutrients to penetrate deeper into critical brain tissue, actually encouraging "neurogenesis" or the creation of new brain cells!  Remember way back when, when you heard all those people tell you that brain cells can't regenerate, and what you have is what you've got, no matter what?  Well that's a bunch of hooey!  Your brain is constantly remodeling and adapting to your current life situation.  Once it stops, you're in trouble.  Support neurogenesis through exercise and healthy diet, and you'll keep better brain function as you age.  

So what's the final word?  Lose that spare tire, and hit the gym a few more times each week.  You'll not only get that beach body, but you'll be quite the sharp thinker for a long time to come.  

Good Luck!

References:  Braverman, Eric R., and Dale Kiefer. "Combating Age-Related Brain Deterioration."Life Extension Oct. 2011. Print.

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