Neurodegenerative diseases are very debilitating conditions, which are still incurable, affecting people of all ages, resulting from the progressive degeneration and/or death of neurons, the cells responsible for the functions of the nervous system.
Humans are born with approximately 100,000 million neurons, which, with the passage of time, some are lost and die. Our body is only capable of producing a very small number of new neurons.
Neurodegenerative diseases are not all the same and will depend on which neurons die or degenerate. Among the various types of diseases affected by dying neurons we can highlight: Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Multiple Sclerosis.
Scientific research has suggested ways of keeping the brain healthy to prevent or control symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases; stimulating the mind and keeping the brain active throughout life can delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Maintaining a healthy brain is thus largely in our hands.
It is estimated that only 30% of brain aging is genetically programmed. The aging process of the remaining 70% relates to environmental impact over time, which, in turn, depends almost entirely on factors that we can control.
Daily physical activity, especially aerobics, even if just for 10 minutes at a time. Exercise helps maintain and improve memory and mood as it increases blood supply to the brain, stimulating neuron function. There is evidence that physical exercise decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Taking a daily walk, cycling or swimming are suggestions for an active lifestyle.
Exercise the mind
Stimulating the mind with innovative activities and experiences that challenge the brain and activate new neural pathways; mental exercises such as puzzles, games, problem solving. Learning new things enable new brain connections and richer neural networks help create a “mental reserve” to help preserve brain function over time. Exploring unfamiliar terrains such as learning a foreign language or a musical instrument seems to be an important help in keeping the brain healthy.
Interact with others and participate in social activities. Having a strong social network is related to overall health and longevity. Interacting with people, in their variety and unpredictability, is a great mental exercise.
Perception of self-esteem and self-efficiency
Research suggests feeling that there is a purpose to our lives and that we can make a difference maintains cognitive abilities. For some people, spiritual or religious activities can help promote a meaningful life.
The brain works best when we have balanced meals. Without a balance of nutrients, the brain cannot function at its full potential.
Stress and sleep
Managing stress and finding ways to deal with periods of heightened tension as well as getting enough sleep (about eight hours a day) will keep the brain well-fed and oxygenated.
Article submitted by the HPA Group