Aging

Overview

Aging profoundly impacts the brain by causing deterioration of cellular membranes and neuronal processes. Visible shrinkage has been observed in various structures of the brain: the thalamus (sight, hearing, and the sleep-wake cycle), the nucleus accumbens (mood regulation, pleasure, fear perception), and the hippocampus (short and long-term memory). In other words, age-related cognitive decline occurs in tandem with shrinkage and degradation of various brain structures. Therefore, conserving cognitive health into late life requires early and aggressive intervention to preserve a youthful and functional brain.

Physical exercise is widely known to maintain cognitive function in humans. Innumerable studies have demonstrated that moderate to high intensity aerobic or anaerobic exercise for as little as three minutes induces sharp increases in brain activity. Many findings also highlight the importance of leading a generally active lifestyle in order to promote and protect overall brain health. This phenomenon arises from synaptogenesis - the formation of new brain synapses. This is the hallmark physical effect of mental training and can be used to bypass breakdowns in neural networks arising from age-related or pathological deterioration in brain circuitry.

Cognitive dexterity with advancing age, therefore, requires constantly pushing the brain to new limits in order to evoke changes that encourage new connections, just as physical activity maintains flexibility and strength. This becomes clear when considering that individuals with mentally challenging vocations appear to be at significantly decreased risk of developing disorders related to cognitive decline.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Cognitive capacity declines as one's age progresses. A variety of noticeable symptoms can arise, such as forgetfulness and decreased ability to focus or solve problems. Depression, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease can result if left unchecked. The severity of cognitive decline depends upon many well-known factors, including oxidative stress, hypertension, declining hormone and neurotransmitter levels, excess body weight, chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, suboptimal nutrition, and many other lifestyle habits. Thankfully, most of these factors can be significantly controlled with nutritional interventions, lifestyle modulation, and cognitive training. These approaches have been shown to decrease and to potentially reverse age-related cognitive decline.

Medical Treatment

While various drug therapeutics have been studied in hopes of preventing cognitive decline, evidence for their support is equivocal at best. Some drugs may provide limited benefits for brain health by synergizing with dietary changes, supplement intake, and increased physical and mental activity levels.

How We Can Help

Each physical and mental task that we perform stimulates a massive network of approximately 90 billion neurons interconnected by 1,000 trillion synaptic junctions.

Regular stimulation of these pathways directly influences our ability to learn by enhancing continued neuronal growth. An active lifestyle incorporating regular cognitive stimulation, wise dietary choices, and appropriate nutritional supplements has proven to be the most effective means for preserving and enhancing cognitive function at any age.

The exceptionally high rate of metabolism in the brain makes it particularly responsive to the nutritional content of the diet. A standard American diet, typified by excess consumption of simple carbohydrates and saturated fats, is a highly negative influence on early cognitive function. This is also the easiest factor to modify by simply changing dietary intake. At Divine Design, we utilize proven methods of neuronal stimulation, caloric restriction, dietary modification, and proper vitamin and mineral supplementation to effectively limit cognitive decline by means of increasing neuroprotective compounds and antioxidant sources.