Like all our organs, our brain does not escape aging. Our memory, our ability to reason and understand begin to decline from the age of 45, according to a study presented by Inserm. We are talking about cognitive decline : cognitive performance declines over time.
For this phenomenon to occur as late as possible (and to a lesser extent), it is essential to take care of your brain on a daily basis.
“To keep a young, agile, adaptable brain, there are several essential keys: diet, physical activity, sleep, preservation of the integrity of our 5 senses, reduction of the state of stress, social life, the discovery of new activities (exercise your mind). It is this vast program that we will put into practice together, step by step over the pages”, explains Dr Michèle Serrand, geriatrician about his new book published on September 22, 2022, I take care of my brain (ed. Thierry Souccar).
“It is possible to find and keep the brain of your young years and for that, I offer you an action plan in 4 weeks”, introduces the expert.
To keep a young brain, take care of your intestines!
food is the ba-ba to keep a healthy brain. Indeed, Dr. Serrand points out that our brain represents approximately 2% of our body weight, but consumes 20% of its energy. This energy is provided by food. “So what we put on our plate directly influences the productivity of our brains”.
It is above all the quality of our gut microbiota which will affect brain health. “A dense and highly diverse microbiota will be one of the keys to keep a young brainwith good memory and thinking skills”, completes the author.
To be precise, in the digestive tract there are no less than 1013 micro-organisms, which is as many as the number of cells that make up our body. This set of bacteria, viruses, parasites and non-pathogenic fungi constitutes our intestinal microbiota (or intestinal flora). You should know that these will have a protective function.
“We now know that our brain and gut are in constant interrelation“, reminds Dr. Serrand. Taking care of your brain will therefore not take care of your microbiota. You can achieve this through food.
Brain and microbiota: bet on the Mediterranean diet
To pamper your small intestinal bacteria, it is recommended to adopt a balanced diet. Many studies have proven that the mediterranean diet (also called “Cretan diet”) was ideal. It will be a question of betting on:
- lots of plants: colorful fruits and vegetables
- virgin oils (such as olive oil)
- animal products in moderate quantities: favor fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines) and white meats (poultry).
- all seasonal!
You should know that the Mediterranean diet has been the subject of numerous studies and publications since the 1970s. Studies show in particular that adopting this diet can protect the brain from aging, by slowing the decline of cognitive abilities and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Regarding the effect of the Mediterranean diet on the microbiota, it is explained by its high content of vegetables with fibers. Bacteria in your gut feed on these fibers. These “good bacteria” release short chain fatty acids (carb fermentation). Know that these fatty acids help maintain an excellent health intestine.
Stress, physical activity and sleep contribute to mental well-being
The stressful events wear out, in the long run, the organism and expose to various diseases. The brain is not left out since stress has been shown to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
A scientific review, published in 2016, in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatryhas shown that chronic stress and anxiety promote depression and even dementia.
We can act on the level of stress and thus protect the brain. Dr. Serrand advises learning to let go by taking more time for yourself. Two proven techniques are meditation and mindful breathing.
Quality sleep is essential for your brain health
“A voucher sleep is vital for your body and especially your brain. Why ? When we sleep, the brain works a lot: it sorts information during the phases of paradoxical sleep, it eliminates waste accumulated during the day and improves memory. It is therefore essential to have a satisfactory quantity and quality of sleep”, describes the geriatrician. To guarantee quality sleep, leave your screens out of the bedroom, make sure to go to bed at regular times, have a light dinner at least two hours before bedtime and get plenty of daylight in the morning.
“By monopolizing your thoughts, physical activity allows a beneficial airlock during which you think much less about your personal worries, you release beneficial endorphins for your body, you consume some of the adrenaline produced in excess during times of stress, “explains Dr. Serrand.
Several studies agree that physical activity also helps toimprove your memory and cognitive abilities (learning, storage, planning, problem solving).
Stimulate your brain with a rich social life
It is essential to develop your social relations to maintain all your cognitive faculties. “Many studies show that maintaining quality relationships leads to better health, both physical and mental and cognitive,” says the doctor. Conversely, social isolation and loneliness act like chronic stress by causing an increase in stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). Cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, cognitive disorders are also more frequent in the event of isolation, and unfortunately mortality is higher.
How to stimulate the brain?
Stimulating the brain regularly is key to delaying cognitive decline. This allows you to maintain good brain health and all your abilities. Scientists have proven that some activities even make it possible to fight against several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
To achieve this, make games (cards, checkers, scrabble, number games), go to concerts, have fun, sing, dance… All the pleasures of life are also beneficial to your brain and your morale, which goes hand in hand.