Brain Decline At 45 Possible (VIDEO)

First Posted: 01/05/12 06:44 PM ET Updated: 01/06/12 07:28 PM ET


Memory, reasoning and comprehension skills can start to decline at age 45, research published Thursday suggests.


The findings go against previous research that had found cognitive decline starts after age 60 — and highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle in protecting the brain from dementia, researchers say.


For the study, 5,198 men and 2,192 women aged 45 to 70 were tracked over a 10-year period beginning in 1997 for signs of cognitive decline. Cognitive memory, aural and visual skills and vocabulary were assessed — and participants experienced declines in all areas except vocabulary. Study participants, who were all civil servants, were tested three times during the 10-year period. Educational backgrounds were taken into consideration.


Men aged 45 to 49 experienced a 3.6 per cent decline in mental reasoning and women in the same age group had a decrease of 3.6 per cent.


Men aged 65 to 70 had a mental decline of 9.6 per cent, while women in the same age group had a 7.4 per cent drop.


The researchers said that good cardiovascular health achieved through sensible eating, a healthy body weight and normal blood pressure can help prevent dementia and rapid cognitive decline. They emphasize the value of a healthy lifestyle at a younger age, given the study's findings.


The study was published Thursday in The British Medical Journal.


Here are foods to help sharpen your brain:
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  • Brain-Boosting Foods

  • Avocado

    Avocados are a great source of 'healthy fats' as well as a good blood circulation booster. This is important when it comes to brain power, as it enhances the blood flow to the brain, maintaining healthy brain function.

  • Oily Fish

    The essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines, herring, trout and mackerel, as well as walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid crucial to maintaining a healthy nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity. For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

  • Whole grains

    Whole grains improve circulation and help regulate glucose levels in the blood as the steadier the glucose levels, the easier it is to concentrate. This is why it's important to eat breakfast in the morning, as it not only revs up the metabolism, but keeps your sugar levels balanced as well as protecting against diabetes and heart disease.

  • Sugar

    Sugar is the brain's preferred fuel source, however before you reach for the table sugar, it's glucose that your body needs. The body metabolises glucose from the sugars and carbohydrates in food. That's why a glass of something sweet offers a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability. Too much sugar on the other hand, can result in impaired memory, so go easy on the sweet stuff and consume enough to boost your brain power.

  • Caffeine

    Like sugar, caffeine perks up the brain but if you have too much, it can have negative effect on your mental state. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up feeling. But beware, the effects are short-term and if you overdo it, the brain can go into overdrive and make you more jittery than sharp thinking.

  • Nuts And Seeds

    Nuts and seeds are great sources of antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. A good intake of vitamin E is linked to preventing poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains. Pumpkin seeds are especially good for boosting brain power, as a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.

  • Blueberries

    Blueberries and strawberries contain antioxidants, which are thought to protect brain neurons from damage, build communication receptors between each brain cell, and flush out waste. They also help protect against age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. Blackberries are also a great brain booster, as it contains Vitamin C which has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility.

  • Sage

    An unlikely contender, the humble sage has long had a reputation for improving memory. Although its recommended to try sage oils, try and sprinkle some sage into your diet.

  • Vitamins

    Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body, which is higher in those with Alzheimer's. Vitamin B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are also good vitamins to stock up on when looking to boost brain power.

  • Tomato

    Tomato's contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

  • Broccoli

    A great source of vitamin K, broccoli which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.

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Filed by Arti Patel  |