These 3 Factors Make Your Brain Age Faster

These 3 Factors Make Your Brain Age Faster

It’s no secret that neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, are on the rise. Various factors contribute to the diagnosis of such conditions, but certain lifestyle considerations increase a person’s risk of memory loss or accelerated brain aging. Researchers  from the University of Oxford identified three lifestyle factors that increase the rate of aging and cognitive decline. This article will explain what they found. 

About The Study

Nature Communications published the recent study, during which researchers looked at the brain scans of about 40,000 people over the age of 45. These participants belonged to the UK Biobank database. The primary area of interest was how genetic and lifestyle factors impact areas of the brain that are vulnerable to the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease

  • Genetic factors: usually classified as non-modifiable, but lifestyle habits may influence whether or not certain genes turn on. 
  • Lifestyle: considered a modifiable risk factor because you have the power to change your habits and choices. That can ultimately increase or decrease the likelihood of developing a certain disease or illness. 

3 Risk Factors That Age The Brain Faster

Study authors noted three things that drove earlier degeneration of certain brain regions. These factors were: traffic-related air pollution, type 2 diabetes, and the frequency of alcohol intake. Interestingly enough, both traffic-related air pollution and alcohol intake have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. 

  • Air Pollution: You do not have full control of the amount of the air pollution you are exposed to on a daily basis. As a society, however, we can work to reduce the amount of pollution we produce. According to emerging data, exposure to pollution over time increases the risk of dementia.
  • Diabetes: Previous studies have linked type 2 diabetes to an increased risk of dementia by as much as 60%.
  • Alcohol frequency: Drinking alcohol, especially too much alcohol, can damage the brain. A 2023 study included over three million people in Korea and found that sustained heavy drinking increased the risk of dementia by 8%. Researchers noted that limiting alcohol consumption reduced the risk by 8%.

What differentiated this study from previous studies was the why factor. These factors are so dangerous to brain health because they target the brain’s weak spots. 

How Do Genetics Influence Cognitive Decline?

There have been some findings about the relationship between genetics and the way the brain ages. Most of this information is useful in research settings, and not in individuals. Certain genes, for example, code for immune and inflammatory recommendations to protect the most vulnerable parts of the brain that influence poor brain aging. Those genetic factors are also connected to some modifiable factors, so lifestyle improvements may help you overcome genetic predispositions to early brain aging. Such modifiable categories include blood pressure, body weight, smoking, depressive mood, inflammation, sleep, social patterns, physical activity, and education status. 

How To Protect The Brain And Prevent Dementia

Based on the findings in this study, the researchers encourage the following actionable recommendations to protect the most vulnerable parts of the brain:

  • Invest in an air purifier: Although you cannot control the pollution outside the home, you can help keep the air inside the home as clean as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to invest in an air purifier. Just make sure that you get one with a HEPA filter because they are the best at removing particles from the air. 
  • Increase your fiber intake: Researchers note that people who eat high-fiber diets are less likely to have type 2 diabetes. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that works to stabilize blood sugar and promote healthy digestion. Only 5% of American adults consume the recommended daily amount (RDA) of fiber. Women should consume between 21-28 grams per day, while men should consume 30-38 grams per day. Get more fiber by focusing on fibrous foods, such as lentils, avocados, beans, chia seeds, and other fruits and vegetables. 
  • Limit your alcohol intake: Alcohol is a known toxin, especially in regards to cognitive health. You don’t have to completely avoid alcohol, but mindful consumption is best. Reserve a drink or two for special occasions and spend less time indulging just because.



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