Weighing in at just three pounds, the brain is the most complicated and least understood organ in the body. Although the brain is only 2 percent of the body’s weight, it uses a whopping 20 percent of its oxygen supply, as well as 20 percent of blood flow. Protected by the skull and bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, the brain controls countless tasks every minute of every day. While most of us think of the brain as the center of our consciousness and house for our memories, it’s so much more. The brain regulates your body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. It also directs your muscles and nerves so you can walk, stand, and sit.
To accomplish all of these tasks, this amazing organ contains approximately 100 billion nerve cells known as neurons. A neuron is similar to an on/off switch. It is either in the off position or it is on, shooting an electrical signal through a long fiber in a nerve cell known as an axon that transports messages to other cells. When the signal gets to the end of its axon, it stimulates tiny sacs that release chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters then jump across a gap called a synapse and attach to receptors on the neighboring cell. At any given moment, hundreds of these neurons are sending messages to various parts of your body via the spinal cord, causing a multitude of voluntary and involuntary reactions.
Under normal circumstances, this relay system works incredibly well. But sometimes, things can go awry and the neurotransmitters can’t make the leap from one neuron to the next. When this happens, it can affect your mood or your ability to think and remember. And it seems to happen more frequently as we age.
Until recently, brain aging was thought to occur because neurons died or stopped functioning. Neuron-scientists believed that you were born with a certain number of neurons and, as you got older, some of these neurons were lost. But new research shows that the neurotransmitter dopamine controls the formation of new neurons deep in the center of the adult brain. Once born, they move to areas of the brain associated with higher brain function. Yet, even though you’ll form new neurons throughout life, it doesn’t mean that your brain won’t change as you age. Over the years, brain weight and volume decrease. In fact, between age 20 and age 90, the brain loses 5 to 10 percent of its weight.
Your lifestyle matters, too. According to a recent study of more than 1,300 middle-aged people taking part in the Framingham Offspring Cohort Study, chronic health conditions like diabetes and bad habits like smoking can accelerate shrinkage. And a poor diet can contribute to cardiovascular disease that can reduce blood flow to the brain. This causes the brain to utilize oxygen and protein less efficiently than it once did. In addition, the aging brain loses some of its ability to protect itself from inflammation and free radical damage generated by harmful habits. But making healthy changes now may help protect your brain from future harm. With Kyolic’s brain health trio Brain Memory, Brain Focus, and Brain Energy, you can support not only healthy brain function and memory, but also overall focus and performance as well. So don’t forget to keep not only your body, but your brain healthy and sharp!
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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.