From Life Extension Foundation
Life Extension Update Exclusive 05-31-06
Lifestyle changes improve cognitive function in just two weeks...
A report published in the June, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry revealed the conclusion of UCLA researchers that adopting a healthy longevity lifestyle program involving memory and physical exercises, an optimal diet, and stress reduction amounts to increased brain efficiency among its practitioners after 14 days.
The study included 17 men and women aged 35-69 with normal memory performance scores. Eight participants were assigned to the following daily regimen: memory exercises such as crossword puzzles and brainteasers to stimulate the brain, walks to improve physical fitness, five small meals per day including abundant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and low glycemic carbohydrates to provide an optimal diet, and daily relaxation exercises to manage stress and help decrease the release of cortisol, a hormone that can impair memory.
The remaining 9 participants practiced their usual lifestyle routines. The subjects completed cognitive performance tests and self-assessments of memory before and after the study period, and received positron emission tomography (PET) scans to evaluate regional cerebral metabolism during mental rest.
After two weeks, the group following the healthy longevity lifestyle program was found to have a five percent decrease in brain metabolism in working memory regions, which means that their brains did not have to work as hard to accomplish tasks. Participants in the improved lifestyle group also had better verbal fluency, which is controlled by the same brain region. The control group demonstrated no significant changes in any of the areas evaluated in the study.
Lead researcher Dr Gary Small, who is a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior stated, "We've known for several years that diet and exercise can help people maintain their physical health and live longer, but maintaining mental health is just as important. The UCLA study is the first to show the impact of memory exercises and stress reduction used together with a healthy diet and physical exercise to improve brain and cognitive function."
"The research demonstrates that in just 14 days, simple lifestyle changes can not only help overall health, but also improve memory and brain function," Dr Small concluded. "Our next step is to assess the individual effects of each lifestyle strategy, which may help us develop an optimal combination.”
Christopher Wiechert, C.N.C.
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