Tuesday June 25, 2019

Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health

Our research suggests that merely having a larger social network can positively influence the ageing brain

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Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health
Study: Having More Friends can Improve Brain Health. Pixabay

Having more friends and strong social connections may slow brain ageing, preserve the mind and improve the quality of life, new research suggests.

According to the study, brain function in the hippocampus–brain area associated with memory, emotions and motivation–markedly declines with age, even in the absence of dementia. Exercise and social ties are known to preserve memory in this region in people.

“Our research suggests that merely having a larger social network can positively influence the ageing brain,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Kirby from the Neurological Institute at Ohio State University-Columbus, the US.

In the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the team studied two groups of mice aged between 15-18 months for three months, when their natural memory declines.

While one group lived in pairs, which Kirby refers to as the “old-couple model”, the other group lived with six other roommates, a scenario that allowed for “complex interactions”.

Their memory was tested by making the mice recognise a toy, such as a plastic car which had been moved to a new location.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The results showed that mice who were living in a group had better brain health and memory.

“With the pair-housed mice, they had no idea that the object had moved. The group-housed mice were much better at remembering what they’d seen before and went to the toy in a new location, ignoring another toy that had not moved,” Kirby said.

Further, examining the brain tissue of the mice showed increased inflammation in the pair-housed mice–a biological evidence of eroded cognitive health.

“The group-housed mice had fewer signs of this inflammation, meaning that their brains didn’t look as ‘old’ as those that lived in pairs,” Kirby said.

Future research should explore the molecular explanations for the connection between socialisation and improved memory and brain health, she noted. (IANS)

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Diet Rich in Calories Cause Brain Health to Deteriorate Faster

High calorie diet causes brain health to decline faster: Study

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Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Kepler, NASA, tissue
A researcher takes a tissue sample from a human brain at the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s UK Tissue Bank, at Imperial College London, Britain June 3, 2016. An appendix, often considered useless, seems to store an abnormal protein, which if it makes its way into the brain, has been found to become a hallmark of Parkinson's. VOA

The unhealthy habits of modern-day living with a diet high in calories may cause brain health to deteriorate faster, according to an Australian study published on Thursday.

Compared to 50 years ago, people currently consume an average of around 650 extra kilocalories each day, which is equivalent to a fast-food meal of a burger, fries and a soft drink, said the study’s lead author, Nicolas Cherbuin of the Australian National University (ANU).

“People are eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little-to-no exercise,” Cherbuin, who is a professor at the ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, said in a statement.

“We’ve found strong evidence that people’s unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise for sustained periods of time puts them at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes and significant declines in brain function, such as dementia and brain shrinkage,” he added.

Maintain the level of calories to 1600 a day by eating the right amount of portion of the healthy foods
Britain urges people to reduce calories intake to 1600 a day. Wikimedia Commons

According to the study, 30 per cent of the global adult population is either overweight or obese, and over 10 per cent of the world’s adult population will have type 2 diabetes by 2030, reports Efe news.

The expert pointed out that while the link between this type of diabetes and the deterioration of brain function has long been known, research shows that the loss of neurons and their functions begins “much, much earlier”, indicating “a clear association between this brain deterioration and unhealthy lifestyle choices”.

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“People eating too much of the wrong kind of food, particularly fast food, is the other big worry,” according to the expert, who warned that advice for people to reduce their risk of brain problems, including their risk of dementia, begin too late, mostly when people are in their 60s or later.

“The damage done is pretty much irreversible once a person reaches midlife, so we urge everyone to eat healthy and get in shape as early as possible – preferably in childhood but certainly by early adulthood,” Cherbuin said. (IANS)