While millions of us have resolved to make 2011 the year for getting our bodies into better shape, an expert on neurological fitness suggests we also make this the year to get our minds into tip-top condition.
“With Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases now starting to affect adults in their 30’s, it’s never too early to begin a simple program geared to maintain brain health and stimulate cognitive function,” says neuroscience researcher Mark Underwood.
Mny researchers now believe brain health and memory can be positively influenced by simple things we can do physically, mentally, and nutritionally, says Underwood.
• Stay physically active.
Regular activity, not necessarily planned exercise, seems to relate to brain fitness. Activities like gardening, dancing and cleaning could increase chances of maintaining brain health.
• Challenge your brain.
Calculate, do word search games and crossword puzzles, and go to lectures, concerts and museums. Learn a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.
• Stay socially active.
People who are active in clubs and social networks may hold up better cognitively than those who are less socially active.
• Feed your brain.
The brain and nervous system are comprised of 60 percent fat, so ensure your diet is rich in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in coldwater fish, fish oil, and flax oil. Google “brain foods” on the computer and try a few.
• Lower brain calcium levels with supplements.
Proper levels of calcium within the neurons are required for optimum brain function. As we reach middle age, brain calcium levels begin to rise because our bodies stop producing a protein responsible for regulating calcium concentration within the cells.
“Too much calcium in a neuron will ‘short circuit’ it and it stops working,” says Underwood. “When millions and millions of neurons become over-calcified and stop working, an individual can feel blank, forgetful, slow-witted, and begin to experience symptoms sometimes associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”
Underwood and fellow researchers have discovered that a protein produced by jellyfish is able to lower calcium levels in the neurons and thereby restore normal function to the human brain and nervous system.
“When individuals are given a dietary supplement containing this special “calcium binding protein” their memory returns and they feel alert and focused,” says Underwood.
Underwood’s company, Quincy Bioscience, is developing a prescription drug for treating Alzheimer’s patients based on the therapeutic action of the “calcium binding protein.”
While research and development for the new drug is underway, the company has made the calcium binding protein available to consumers as a dietary supplement called Prevagen.
By increasing physical activity, proper nutrition, and lowering brain calcium levels, Underwood says most adults will notice a definite improvement in alertness and cognitive ability within 90 days.
Mark Underwood is neuroscience researcher and co-founder and president of Quincy Bioscience in Madison, Wisconsin. Mark is responsible for researching the “calcium binding protein” found in jellyfish and developing it for use as a calcium regulator in the human nervous system. He is the author of the book “Gift from the Sea.”