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2007-02-20

Three ways to brain longevity

According to Dr Dharma Singh Khalsa, president and medical director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Foundation International, Tucson, Arizona. Dr Dharma Singh Khalsa is also author of Brain Longevity (1997), Meditation as Medicine (2002), and Food as Medicine (2004), "your brain needs three different kinds of exercise to thrive best". These are mental exercise, aerobic physical exercise, and mind/body exercises.

Mental Exercise

When you do hard thinking, like when you learn to play the piano, do cross-word puzzles, solve sudoku puzzles, learn new things, brain cells are stimulated to send out microscopic filaments called dentrites to establish new connections with one another. It also stimulate the growth of glial cells which are the brains "housekeepers" that support the metabolism fo cells that do the thinking and keep the brain nerve pathways clean.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and that stimulates the release of nerve growth factor, a vital hormone that restores damaged neurons and boosts the levels of the brain's neurotransmitters that the brain needs for thinking and memory. Neurotransmitters are messengers chemicals.

Aerobic exercises are brisk physical activity that requires the heart and lungs to work harder to meet the body's increased oxygen demand. Aerobic exercise promotes the circulation of oxygen through the blood. Examples of aerobic exercise include running, swimming and cycling.

Mind/body exercises

Mind/body exercises are related to ancient Eastern religious practices. "They regenerate the brain by increasing energy levels and boosting the ability to concentrate by 20 per cent or more." Types of this form of exercise include meditation, deep-breathing, and listening to meditative music.

Other factors affecting the longevity of the brain include stress. The brain thrive best when stress-free. Stress causes damage that is slow and subtle and builds up over a lifetime. So try to eliminate stress from your life.

Dr. Khalsa also advocate keeping the fat intake to below 20% of the total calories. Fat promotes brain deterioration just as it promote deterioration of the heart and arteries. It clogs the vessels that carry oxygen and glucose - the brain's energy fuel - to millions of neurons and produces free radicals - the highly reactive and destructive chemicals that scar and kill brain cells.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter. Are all kinds of fat as bad? If not what kind of fats does he recommend?

Peter Chen said...

It wasn't mentioned in the article, but I would expect it would be to avoid saturated and trans fats and take monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

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