Ultimate Signs of an Aging Brain
When you think about aging well, what does it look like? Are you able to run? Touch your toes? Move around unassisted? Do you want radiant skin? Clear eyes? A nice smile?
Lifespan and healthspan are two different discussions. You can lengthen your life span and live to be a hundred, but what’s the benefit if the last twenty years are spent in a cognitive haze?
Transneuronal degeneration is when neurons lose a degree of intracellular proteins and can no longer maintain their normal transmembrane potential. This is the pathological process that creates the cognitive decline we see in Alzheimer’s and dementia. The loss of intracellular machinery leads to neurons that are quick to be excited, and also quickly fatigued.
As we age our brains begin to shrink, especially in the frontal cortex which is the part of the brain that handles reasoning, personality, decision making, and social behavior. Memory decline is another symptom we associate with aging and may be caused by the brain attempting to compensate for other areas experiencing weakened functions.
It’s important to know that while chronological aging is as irreversible as time itself, it is possible to reverse biological age and reduce the possibility of suffering from dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases
Promoters of Neuronal Degeneration
Age itself is never the reason for a disease, rather, it is the snowball effect of all the variables in a person’s life that attributes to the length of their healthspan. Like any machine, the brain and body will break down from constant wear and tear without maintenance.
In the case of neuronal degeneration and the many diseases it leads to, there are a variety of factors that can accelerate the process:
- Lack of Neuronal Stimulation– A lazy brain tends to stay a lazy brain.
- Inflammatory Responses– Eating a diet full of inflammatory foods puts your body in a constant state of inflammation, which can lead to neuron degeneration and death.
- Microglia Activation – Microglial cells are your immune system’s trash collectors. They’re responsible for clearing out cellular debris and mediating immune responses in the central nervous system. If your body is in a constant state of chronic neuro-inflammation (the underlying cause of most neurodegenerative diseases), too many microglia are activated at once, leading to more inflammation and neuron death.
- Blood Sugar Dysregulation – It’s well-documented that people with Type-2 diabetes have a higher chance of developing neurodegenerative diseases due to insulin being neuro-protective.
- Methylation Imbalances – Methylation is the atomic process that essentially turns on and off your biological systems. It helps your metabolism, DNA production, neurotransmitter production, liver health, detoxification, and so much more. When this process becomes imbalanced, serious health problems can arise.
- Deficiency of Nutrients– Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ward off cognitive illnesses. Many studies show “a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids supports cognitive processes in humans and upregulates genes that are important for maintaining synaptic function and plasticity in rodents. In turn, diets that are high in saturated fat are becoming notorious for reducing molecular substrates that support cognitive processing and increase the risk of neurological dysfunction in both humans and animals.”
Signs of an Aging Brain
Most researchers agree your brain starts to show its first signs of degeneration around age thirty with beginning signs of cognitive decline after fifty.
The earliest signs of an aging brain are:
- Fatigue when performing cognitive activities such as driving, reading, and learning.
- Depression, a sign of unhealthy neuron activity or imbalanced neurotransmitters.
- Poor digestive function as around 90% of the brain’s output is responsible for keeping the digestive system functioning properly.
Moderate signs of an aging brain are:
- An inability to focus or concentrate.
- Difficulty learning new tasks.
- Chronic constipation as a result of intestinal overgrowth and digestive enzyme insufficiency.
- Increased blood pressure, increased resting heart rate, and poor blood flow resulting from overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system.
Significant brain aging may cause:
- The inability to work professionally due to cognitive difficulties.
- An inability to appreciate life.
- An inability to perceive your own neurological loss.
- Increased difficulty in finding directions.
And severe brain aging, correlated with neurological disease, may cause:
- Uncontrolled bowel movements
- Bowel obstruction and inability to digest food.
- Inability to smell, taste, or develop social relationships.
- Total dependence on family and medical staff for daily functions.
On Thursday, we'll dive into how to prevent neurodegeneration...
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Advisor, Longevity Insider HQ
* Today's content is provided by the Institute for Human Optimization (www.ifho.org).