Sure you’ve mulled over the state of your liver from long nights involving dubious amounts of Jägerbombs, or stomach ulcers from skipping meals, but few people in their twenties would’ve given much thought to brain health. After all, conversations still come with ease, you can still remember what you had for dinner last night, and your motor movements are just fine, thank you very much. What could possibly go wrong?
According to Dr. Shawn Watson — Canadian neurologist and founder of Senescence Life Sciences — apparently, a lot. Brain health is no longer exclusively reserved for seniors to worry about; it’s something that people need to start thinking about at a far earlier age. And we’re talking about those in the early 20s here. After all, that’s right about when your brain begins its ageing process. By the time you hit the big four-zero, you’ll start to notice significant differences in cognitive performance.
Senescence Life Sciences formulated EDGE, a supplement specifically designed for 30 to 55 year-olds to combat the mental struggles of modern-day working lifestyles and be more focused at work.
To develop to formula, he looked at the cellular and molecular levels of neural ageing (i.e. how a single brain cell changes with time), and sieves out botanical compounds that halts brain cell damage for the supplements he co-developed with some of the top neuroscientists in the field.
But as Dr. Watson admits, just like many successful weight-loss journeys, supplements are not magic pills that do all the hard work. There’re also a couple of tweaks you should make that could turn your brain health around. Here are five lifestyle hacks that would make a considerable difference.
No we’re not talking about exercising the mind with Mahjong here. According to Dr. Watson, physical exercise has been proven in multiple clinical trials to improve brain health, learning abilities, memory, and processing speeds. Scientists believe that exercise might alter the biology of the brain in ways that make it more receptive to new information, otherwise known as plasticity. Any activity is recommended, especially those that involve aerobic and strength training. So the next time you hit the gym, know that your abs aren’t the only muscles that are getting a good workout.
While some foods have the ability to boost brain health, Dr. Watson recommends a balanced diet instead of a specific one. This is because genetics place a big role in how you’re predisposed to handling certain foods. He also recommends looking towards the food pyramid, while cutting out excessive sodium, sugar and processed foods for a healthier brain.
A lack of shut-eye does more than make you an insufferable grouch with premature wrinkles. It literally massacres your brain cells. Studies have shown that sleep loss can lead to irreversible damage to a particular cell called the locus ceruleus, which is important for keeping you alert and awake. Those constantly working late nights or shift work are also at risk of brain cell degeneration due to disrupted circadian rhythms.
In more bad news for smokers, the habit also jacks up the rate of brain cell damage in the hippocampus — a region involved in memory — significantly, which might explain why smokers craving a puff might experience cognitive problems. The main culprit here’s nicotine, which causes the production of new brain cells to drop by 50 percent, while increasing the deaths of those already present. That’s one more reason to cut down or quit those cigarettes.
Of course, if your lifestyle doesn’t allow the luxury of more sleep, a trip to the gym, or balanced meals, the best thing you could do is to give your brain health a little boost with the right supplements. Gingko and omega oils are great holistic options for the entire body, but unless you’re up for consuming copious amounts of the nut, you’ll want something more targetted. Ginseng extract, Asiatic pennywort, Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA), Selenium and Vitamin E — all great stuff for the brain, mind you — are found in Edge, which protects the brain from cellular damage, while sharpening focus and memory for alertness at the workplace.