Brain Power Translates to Staying Power

 

We keep hearing about how life expectancy has increased, and today’s retirees are living longer than ever. However, longevity behooves that we (1) take measures to retain good health and mental acumen as we get older and (2) develop a long-term financial strategy to provide for ourselves and our loved ones in retirement.

We can help you with the latter, and here are some new studies that may help you with the former.

Recent research has found that the brain can actually grow new nerve cells through a process called neurogenesis. The hippocampus section of the brain — which is responsible for learning, memory, mood and emotion — generates up to 700 new neurons per day. In fact, scientists have discovered a clear link that patients given anti-depressants generate a higher level of new neurons, which are directly responsible for improving mood.

While neuron production tends to decrease as we age, there are factors we can control to help increase production: learning, physical activity and specific factors related to diet, such as restricted caloric intake, intermittent fasting, consuming flavonoids (found in blueberries and dark chocolate) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon). Soft foods (as opposed to crunchy foods) also have been found to promote neurogenesis.

[CLICK HERE to view the Ted Talk, “You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How,” from BCG Perspectives, October 2015.]

Other studies have demonstrated positive brain changes associated with higher levels of daily physical activity and fitness. In addition to keeping muscles and joints fit, exercise also improves oxygen circulation and the nerve processes that improve memory and brain functions as people age.

Scientists say it doesn’t take much; simply that we continue to be active throughout the day. For example, get up and move around every hour that you’re awake.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Getting closer to understanding how exercise keeps brains young,” from Harvard Health Publications, Sept. 4, 2015.]

Another phenomenon that impedes brain functionality is sleep deprivation, which is common among adults at every age. A sleep-deprived brain thinks slower, reacts slower and is prone to poorer decision making. Furthermore, lack of sleep can impact mood, and people who consistently lose sleep are more likely to experience depression.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sleep and Melatonin,” from National Sleep Foundation, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sleep and Sound,” from National Sleep Foundation, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Have Insomnia? Researchers Identify Brain Circuit Responsible for Wakefulness, Sleep,” from MedicalDaily.com, Dec. 26, 2015.]

Finally, you can help optimize your brainpower by cutting down on refined sugar consumption. While it’s well known sweets aren’t good for our waistlines, they can also be detrimental to mental sharpness and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Let’s face it: If we’re going to live a long time, we want to maintain a high quality of life. The decisions you make regarding health and nutrition are in your hands, but if you ever have questions about keeping your finances in good shape, feel free to give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Giving up Refined Sugar Changed My Brain,” from Fast Company, Sept. 1, 2015.]

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