When people talk about “staying young,” most think about skin anti-aging or maintaining a fit and tight body. But there’s one thing that’s mostly forgotten – the brain.
When it comes to our brains, the more wrinkles we have, the better. Wrinkling is the brain’s way of making more space for neurons to connect. With more space for connection, the brain functions better, sharper.
This mental sharpness is often attributed to youth. That’s why the elderly are usually portrayed in the media as being forgetful. While not all senior citizens struggle with memory and other cognitive function, brain aging is a real thing. And there are two things that make your brain age faster: smoking and drinking.
Relative Brain Age (RBA)
Two people born on the exact same day can have differing brain ages. Your relative brain age is the age of your brain as compared to people who are the same age as you.
In the study conducted by Arthur Toga of the University of Southern California, they compared participants’ relative brain age to observe the effects of smoking and drinking on the brain.
The researchers used MRI scans and using brain volume as a measurement. This includes observing the size of the white and grey matter. Interconnected nerve fibers, which are electrical impulse transporters, make up the white matter. Grey matter, on the other hand, relies on healthy cognitive functioning to stay alive. When your brain ages, these two matters shrink.
How Alcohol Affects Your Brain
This study found that people who are regular drinkers have RBAs older than those who seldom drank. Per 1g of alcohol you consume in a day, your brain ages by 1 week! Frequent drinkers’ brains are then older than same-aged participants by five whole months.
How Smoking Affects Your Brain
Prof. Togo’s study found that smoking has an even worse effect on your brain. Per 1 pack of cigarettes you smoke in a day, your brain ages by 1.5 weeks! Habitual smokers’ brains are then older than same-aged participants by about 6 to 7 months.
Other Factors That Affect Brain Aging
Genetics plays a part in brain aging. People who inherit a gene that makes them predisposed to developing dementia will, of course, have a bigger chance of having impaired cognitive functions faster.
The researchers, however, found a “hack.” Those who exercise and do brain-intensive activities regularly, even with the dementia gene, slowed down cognitive decline. This means quitting drinking and smoking can keep brain deterioration at bay longer.
Brain-intensive activities include learning a new skill, putting together a puzzle, immersing yourself in a new culture, or simply reading.
Swearing off alcohol and tobacco will not bring back the lost white or grey matter. But the study also found that people who exercised and kept their brain active clocked over the brain matter they currently have. What would usually be done with more brain matter, they were able to do with less, after having gone clean.
Your Next Best Move
If you are a regular drinker, a 1-pack-a-day smoker, or both, it’s not too late to save your brain. As the researchers proposed, living a healthy and cognitively active lifestyle is your best bet at keeping your brain young.
If you don’t know where to start, try our 21 Day Full Body Cleanse. This program will help you get the necessary exercise you need for a young brain. On top of that, you will get 30 days’ worth of professional-grade supplements to flush out harmful toxins from your cells. You’ll also learn how to cook healthy meals with free recipes. Brain exercise is also covered because you have 2 free health ebooks to read! And throughout the whole program, you’ll have access to expert support 7 days a week.
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