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Rejuvenating Aging Brains

Young blood may hold a key to rejuvenating the brains of elderly people.  Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD at Stanford University, has been studying aging in mice.  In this research, the blood of young mice was shared with older mice.  The older mice then began to exhibit signs of rejuvenation, including an increase in neurons, increased neuronal activity, and reduced brain inflammation.  The older mice became smarter and performed more like the younger mice on cognitive tests.  And just as interesting, when the younger mice received blood from older mice, the young mice behaved more like old mice.  This research was summarized in Scope from Stanford Medicine in July 2022.

The findings from the mice research have been applied to humans in a clinical trial.  In this research, plasma from young people was given to people with Alzheimer’s.  Significant functional improvements were exhibited in the Alzheimer’s patients.  While we may be years away any practical benefits to humans from this study, there are things that all of us can do in the short term to slow the effects of aging including cognitive decline.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, over 40% of dementia cases were attributed to 12 risk factors, most notably hypertension (stress), obesity, and physical inactivity.  The effects of stress can be greatly reduced by getting at least 8 hours of sleep, by meditating daily, by being active, and by taking up hobbies and activities that offer respite from the stressors of daily life.

Physical activity kills multiple birds with one stone.  It improves cognition, reduces stress, and aids in weight loss.  And you don’t have to become a marathon runner to gain the benefits of exercise.  Simply walking every day for 20 minutes will burn calories, increase physical fitness, and improve your overall mood.