With aging, a slow decline in cognitive functions is observed and so the brain gradually becomes less and less fast and efficient. Observing a healthy lifestyle and keeping the brain in constant training is the best strategy to preserve it young and efficient.
The continuous discoveries of modern medicine and the improvement of socio-economic conditions have led to a constant increase in life expectancy. In addition to many advantages, this has led to an increase in pathologies connected to it, including those affecting the Central Nervous System. Dementias represent one of the most difficult challenges in the medical field as there are no therapies capable of reversing it. The latest research foresees a doubling of Alzheimer’s disease cases every 20 years and by 2050 the number of people affected by this condition to reach 115 million in western countries.
The mechanisms that guide the aging of the nervous system are not yet fully known and scientific research is trying to shed light on its causes. Genetics, age, gender, nutrition, educational level, physical activity, environmental and cardiovascular risk factors, excess of alcohol, saturated fat and salt are elements which have an impact on the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease. Some of these factors are modifiable, some are not.
A document developed by the “World Council on Dementia” identified nutrition as the key factor in preventing the degeneration of our nervous system. Among the main ingredients involved, we find:
- Omega-3, in particular DHA and EPA. The right amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in particular Omega3, helps to maintain normal blood pressure, blood triglycerides and neuronal function;
- Polyphenols. They are substances much studied for their antioxidant activity. In particular, the polyphenols in olive oil contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress;
- Group B vitamins. These are a group of vitamins each with specific characteristics and functions which, working in synergy, help to keep our brain efficient. Among the other B vitamins, vitamin B1 contributes to normal psychological function and normal functioning of the nervous system; vitamin B2 also contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and to the protection of cells from oxidative stress; vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to normal psychological function.
- Vitamin E (tocopherol) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). They are compounds with antioxidant power (they contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress) which allows to counter the oxidation processes of polyunsaturated lipids. Thus, they help to control the large amount of free radicals that are constantly produced by our brain and that cause aging;
- Intestinal bacteria. The mechanisms by which the intestinal flora manages to influence distant areas of the body are not yet fully understood; it is hypothesized (but the scientific results are not yet unambiguous) that their continuous dialogue with the intestinal immune system and the release of substances that, once entered the bloodstream, manage to reach all the districts of the body, play a key role, even the most distant ones. Their role is so promising that a drug that treats Alzheimer’s disease has recently been experimentally approved by acting on the composition of intestinal bacteria.
With aging, a slow decline in cognitive functions is observed and thus the brain becomes less and less fast and efficient. It is a gradual process, which takes years, and once established does not go back. Observing a healthy lifestyle, supplementing nutritional deficiencies and keeping the brain in constant training is the best strategy to preserve it young and efficient.