I found the brain health article “Healthy Brain Requires Work” by Marissa Cevallos reprinted in the local newspaper interesting for several reasons.
First, it refutes the myth that once a brain cell is lost, it is lost forever. Research now shows that the brain has the ability to grow new cells, specifically the cells involved with memory. This miraculous regeneration can be accomplished through exercise, and the more intense the exercise, the greater the ability to grow new brain cells. Exercise is good, strenuous exercise is even better.
Second, the article describes how stress and depression can be detrimental to brain health by killing neurons and preventing the growth of new brain cells. Continuous and prolonged stress leads to depression, and a state of depression is “fertile ground for Alzheimer’s.”
Reading this article immediately brought my mother to mind. She was physically fit and active, exercising almost daily with a vigorous 5-mile bicycle ride, constantly maintaining her home and always on the go. In her case, exercise wasn’t enough to fend off Alzheimer’s disease. But the information about stress and depression was right on target where my mother was concerned. Her entire life was extremely difficult and stressful, and I know she suffered from depression in the years leading up to her confirmed Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I can definitely see how this state contributed to her illness.
To achieve a brain healthy lifestyle, it is not only important to commit to an exercise program, but also to maintain mental health through stress reduction and wellness of mind and soul. It’s a tall order indeed, but something I’ll keep in mind as an individual genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease.