“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”
Today, we are living -- and working -- longer than at any other time in human history. Yet the incidence of diseases that damage cognitive functioning and memory, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and age-related cognitive decline, is on the rise. Given these facts, it’s no wonder brain health has become such a hot topic in recent years. For those who continue to work into their 60s and beyond, maintaining cognitive health is even more crucial; any lapse in cognitive function or memory can have dire effects on both quality of work and productivity.
The brain is the control center for the entire body. It governs movement, thought and an infinite number of bodily processes while enabling us to interpret and interact with the outer world. An optimally functioning brain is essential for healthy cognition and memory, and to effectively navigate through life.
Today, we are living longer than ever -- but what joy can be obtained from “living to a ripe old age” if your cognitive function suffers in the process? As the human lifespan continues to increase, maintaining cognitive health and memory will become even more of a focus in our society.
Oxidation and Inflammation: Your Brain’s Worst Enemies
As we age, our bodies and minds are inevitably affected by two inescapable processes: oxidation and inflammation. Unfortunately, our delicate brains are especially susceptible to these twin ravages of time. Oxidation is a natural process that occurs when oxygen is metabolized in the body. Though necessary for life, oxidation creates harmful by-products called free radicals. Free radicals damage healthy cells and tissues, and excessive amounts have been linked to accelerated aging, arthritis, glaucoma, heart disease and certain cancers. In the brain, free radicals attack nerve cells and have been implicated in degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
When tissues and cells are under attack or become damaged, it triggers a protective response in the body called inflammation. Acute inflammation can be beneficial and is an important part of the healing process. However, long-term or chronic inflammation is detrimental to overall health and has been pinpointed as the root cause of a variety of diseases. In the brain, inflammation has been shown to contribute to conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia, autism, ADHA and dementia.
Modern Life Provides New Challenges for Brain Health
Although modern advancements allow us to enjoy longer lives, they are also part of the problem when it comes to preserving cognitive health and memory. In fact, we are more vulnerable today to the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation than our ancestors were. Side effects of human “progress” like environmental toxins, air pollution, medication, diets high in refined sugar, preservatives, hormones and chemicals in our food and high levels of stress all increase our body’s toxic load and accelerate the rates of oxidation and inflammation in the body.
If you’re concerned about preserving cognitive health and memory, it’s never too early to begin. In recent years, numerous powerful natural ingredients have astonished scientists with their neuro-protective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Supplements like astaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, carotenoids like lutein and lycopene and plant extracts such as the spearmint extract Neumentix™ are but a few of these.