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Black Tie Health and Wellness 1

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Black Tie International Magazine: Wellness
Discovering Your Fountain of Youth




DISCOVERING YOUR FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

By

Bennett S. Flaum, PsyD & Mitchell P. Flaum, PhD

 

“ There is a Fountain of Youth: It is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”   Sophia Loren

 

The quest for the Fountain of Youth  has a long history. According to popular legend, fifteenth century explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon  set out to find the fountain in the first European expedition to Florida. It was believed at that time that by drinking from its water, one could restore their youth and vitality.

The search for the Fountain of Youth continues to this day. However, we now turn to magical elixirs developed by scientists in pharmaceutical laboratories, hoping to find the right potion to rejuvenate us. Some turn to pills, others to blood transfusions or injections of numerous chemical formulations.  Indeed, our society has evolved into one that clearly worships youthfulness and abhors and fears the aging process.

Beyond the obsession with maintaining a youthful physical appearance,  is the terror of facing the ravages of cognitive decline associated with the aging process. Clearly , we have all at some point borne witness to such decline amongst friends, relatives and colleagues,  manifesting itself in the form of Alzheimer’s  disease or other senile dementias. The ultimate question remains as to what is within our power to control as we get older, inasmuch as the aging process is a natural part of our biological genetic destiny? More specifically, how do we maintain a fit brain with a robust memory function?

Indeed, one of the greatest concerns among the current baby boomer generation is preventing brain degeneration  and avoiding  memory atrophy and loss. There is increasing evidence that we can slow down this process, at the very least, by focusing on the proper diet and nutrition, in addition to keeping the brain properly oxygenated by maintaining a regular cardiovascular exercise regimen. Of course, this requires the proper supervision by a licensed physician. The following is but a brief survey of some research-based discoveries of what substances can help us to maintain our own inner Fountain of Youth.  The list includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids.

VITAMINS

The B vitamins such as folic acid, B6 and B12 appear to help maintain normal cognitive function . B vitamins may work by protecting us from the effects of homocysteine, which can kill brain cells. Furthermore, research findings found a high 9incidence of folate deficiency ( a B vitamin) in patients with dementia. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and kale are a good source of Vitamin B  .

Vitamins A, C, and E are all forms of natural antioxidants. Antioxidants  are substances that help neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals,  chemicals which are produced daily in the body as a normal by-product of our digestive and metabolic processes. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are a good source of Vitamin C, and carrots have high levels of Vitamin A. Vitamin E can be found in foods  such as nuts.

MINERALS

In various studies, it was found that deficiencies in calcium, magnesium and zinc were related to cognitive impairment. Milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium, while various fruits and vegetables are good sources of magnesium and zinc.

HERBS

Various herbs have been utilized by people as a natural anti-aging regimen. Amongst the most popular is ginkgo biloba, an herb that people claim helps improve memory and cognition. While no definitive evidence firmly proves this, it is believed that ginkgo biloba inhibits the formation of of beta-amyloid, a protein that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

AMINO ACIDS

Amino acids , which are what proteins are made of, appear to help regulate brain functioning. In particular, glutamate plays an important role in learning and memory, while tryptophan derivatives were found to be deficient in the hippocampal region of the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Other chemical substance have also been examined in terms of the role that they play in optimal brain functioning. In particular, choline supplementation,  a chemical involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter (brain chemical messenger) acetylcholine,  appeared to significantly improve cognitive functions in senile mice. Furthermore, Acetyl-L-Carnitine was also found in various research studies to help improve memory.

In addition to physical exercise , as well as dietary and nutritional supplementation, another element to add to our Fountain of Youth arsenal is the regular mental exercising of our brain. Providing ourselves with novel and stimulating mental activities appears to keep our brains younger and more vibrant. Consider learning a new language or taking up a new hobby. Travel to a new destination, and indulge your senses with new experiences. Try new foods, listen to new music, read books, do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or other mentally challenging activities. Finally, do not underestimate the crucial  importance of maintaining nurturing and  supportive relationships,  to enrich the quality of our emotional as well as mental lives by the level of stimulati

 


 




 

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