Why Do You Always Feel Like Your "Brain Isn't Enough"? Seven Dietary Habits to Slow Brain Aging
Editor's Note: Decreased memory, slower brain responses, lack of concentration... Do you often feel like your "brain isn't enough"? In this issue of "Golden Health Garden," our editors discuss the reasons behind accelerating brain aging and how to take care of your brain to keep it "young."
The Journal of the American Medical Association once stated that, in general, the human brain starts aging around the age of 30. After the age of 40, the body's metabolism gradually slows down, brain cell functions decline, and physical strength, memory, and reaction time decrease. Cognitive abilities and physical coordination are not what they used to be. After the age of 60, the brain shrinks at a rate of 15% per year.
Five factors that accelerate brain aging:
Diabetes: Diabetes can cause microvascular sclerosis and increased blood viscosity in the brain, leading to long-term ischemia and hypoxia. This results in faster brain aging compared to the general population. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis can also accelerate brain aging.
Smoking: When smoking, nicotine from cigarettes can reach the brain within 10 seconds of inhalation and remain active for 20 to 40 minutes. Nicotine damages blood vessel walls, promotes atherosclerosis, reduces oxygen supply to the brain, impairs logical thinking, and accelerates brain aging. A study in the United States showed that smoking one pack of cigarettes reduces life expectancy by 2.3 hours.
Air Pollution: The brain is the organ with the highest oxygen consumption in the body, using 500 to 600 liters of oxygen per minute on average. Polluted air lacks sufficient oxygen to support brain function and contains harmful substances like nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, which can enter the brain through respiration, leading to decreased memory or depression and accelerating cognitive decline in adults.
Overeating: After overeating, the body directs a large amount of blood and energy to the digestive system to process excessive food. This reduces the brain's energy supply and results in ischemia, damaging brain cells.
Staying Up Late: An irregular lifestyle disrupts the body's normal biological clock and metabolism, affecting brain function. Staying up late keeps the brain in an excited state, and delayed rest prevents the brain from receiving sufficient repair, damaging neurons. A joint study in the UK and France found that irregular rest and frequent night shifts can harm cognitive abilities.
Keeping Your Brain Young:
Aging is a natural process, but when you notice poor sleep quality and increased fatigue, it means your brain has started aging. It's time to slow down the aging process with a healthy lifestyle.
Focus on Child Nutrition: Research in many countries has shown that breastfeeding promotes a child's intellectual development. The "Chinese Residents' Dietary Guidelines" recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months old. Infants aged 7 to 24 months should continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing complementary foods rich in iron, starting with iron-rich pureed foods. Children and adolescents should develop good eating habits, avoiding picky eating, having regular meals, drinking milk daily, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular outdoor activities.
Read a Book Every Week: People with rich, mentally stimulating lives tend to age more slowly. Reading and thinking stimulate synaptic connections in the brain, delaying the aging process. Regular readers have higher cognitive reserves, which can buffer against aging and help the brain resist diseases like dementia.
Exercise for 30 Minutes Twice a Week: Going out twice a week for 30 minutes of activities like Tai Chi, brisk walking, or other outdoor exercises not only benefits brain blood circulation but also positively affects cholesterol control and blood pressure regulation. Older individuals should exercise within their limits, with light sweating being sufficient. Starting exercise for brain health is best done early, but it's never too late to begin.
Consume Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Delaying brain aging can be achieved by consuming foods rich in flavonoids or carotenoids, such as drinking tea in moderation and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Many elderly individuals avoid meat and egg yolks to prevent disease, but this is not advisable. Meat contains cholesterol, which is beneficial for myelin sheath formation in nerve cells, and egg yolks are rich in choline, which supplements the brain's nutritional needs.
Get Adequate Sleep: Many people notice a decline in energy and physical strength after staying up late. It's essential for everyone to ensure they get enough sleep. The "7 hours of sleep" saying doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. Generally, teenagers should get 7-9 hours of sleep, pregnant women should aim for 8-9 hours, and children should sleep 10-12 hours per day. Sleep duration can vary depending on individual circumstances, but as long as you wake up feeling refreshed and comfortable, it counts as effective sleep.
Maintain a Positive Outlook: A cheerful mood affects hormone levels and increases metabolic rates, ensuring adequate blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Sometimes, we need to cultivate reverse thinking and look at things optimistically. For example, if you break a bone in a fall, instead of dwelling on how unlucky you are, think of it as just a fracture and that you haven't lost a precious life.
Seven Dietary Habits to Slow Brain Aging:
As bodily functions decline, cognitive abilities in the elderly also slow down. Did you know that adhering to seven dietary habits can delay cognitive decline in the elderly?
Control Caloric Intake: Controlling calorie intake can reduce the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It's not advisable for the elderly to drastically reduce calories, and they should gradually reduce calorie intake. Caloric intake should not stay below 1200 calories per day for extended periods, especially for lean individuals. Starting with increased consumption of vegetable salads and vegetable soups or using smaller plates can signal to the brain that you haven't eaten less.
Consume at Least 5 Servings (100g Each) of Fruits and Vegetables Daily: Research from the "Chicago Health and Aging Project" involving 3,718 volunteers aged 65 and older found that consuming more fruits and vegetables can slow the decline in cognitive abilities. The six-year study showed that seniors who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily had a 40% lower risk of cognitive decline compared to others. Healthy elderly individuals are recommended to consume 300-500g of vegetables and 200-350g of fruits daily.
Use Rich Natural Spices: Various plant spices can enhance the flavor of meals and reduce the use of oil and salt during cooking. Many plant spices contain antioxidants and have disease-preventing effects. In your daily life, consider using natural spices like onions, garlic, pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, mint, cumin, etc., instead of excessive oil, salt, and sugar.
Marinate Meat Before Cooking: Many foods contain fats, proteins, sugars, and other components that undergo complex chemical reactions at high temperatures, resulting in the production of toxic and harmful substances like advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Processed meats, sausages, processed meats, fried foods, and grilled foods contain particularly high levels of AGEs. Consuming these foods excessively can exacerbate brain aging damage. A useful tip to reduce AGEs is to increase the water content in food. For example, before cooking fish or meat at high temperatures, blanch them in boiling water or marinate them (e.g., using rice wine, vinegar, soy sauce, etc.) to allow moisture to penetrate the meat.
Eat Deep-Sea Fish Once a Week: Fish living in deep-sea waters produce more omega-3 fatty acids to withstand the cold. Seniors who consume deep-sea fish occasionally can reduce inflammation in the body and brain.