Brain health; Physical
Brain Health collectively comprises Cognition, Memory, Emotion and Behaviour (Mind Health or Mental Health).
Your brain matures as an organ by the age of 25, however exercising your brain and challenging it, helps it to maintain and improve it throughout your life.
The Okinawa Centenarian Study
Established in 1975, the Okinawa study and its over 1000 participants have made important contributions to understanding the aging process and longevity. The Okinawa study set out to understand how this group lived for so long and in such good health.
Importantly, rates of Alzheimers among the Okinawa group were more than 10x less than control groups in the US.
The study was one of the first to highlighted the positive impact of ongoing social interaction, good diet and exercise and linking these factors to improved brain health and extended lifespan. The study continues to this day, take a look here at the latest publications.
Your brain can regenerate!
All of us will loose neurones as we get older, however this does not mean that your cognitive ability needs to be affected.
The processes of Neuroplasticity and Neuroregeneration mean that it is possible to be as sharp in your 90's as you were in your 20's.
What is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that happen as a result of new experiences. Because of the plasticity of the brain, also referred to as neuroplasticity, the brain can “rewire” and “re-organize” itself after brain damage as new connections are formed and neural pathways to damaged brain areas are terminated.
Neuroplasticity primarily occurs through processes called sprouting and rerouting. Sprouting is the creation of new connections between neurons, or nerve cells. Rerouting involves creating an alternative neural pathway by deleting damaged neurons and forming a new pathway between active neurons.
How does Neuroplasticity work?
We know that the neurons communicate with each other using electrochemical signals. These signals are transmitted through a structure in the neuron called the synapse. Stimulating the neural pathways through a repetitive, memory-forming cognitive function (such as studying or practicing) strengthens the synaptic communication between neurons.
Additionally, the brain has the ability to create new synapses. While neuroplasticity can occur naturally as we undergo different experiences, changes in the brain can also be activated through neuroplasticity exercises and cognitive training.
“Until recently, neuroscientists believed that the central nervous system, including the brain, was incapable of neurogenesis and unable to regenerate”.
Dr. Prem Pilay
MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Edinburgh)
FAMS (Neurosurgery), FRCS Canada (Neurosurgery)
However, stem cells have now been discovered in parts of the adult brain (specifically the hippocampus), and adult neurogenesis is now accepted to be a normal process that occurs in a healthy brain. Stem cells mature into new neurones via the process of Proliferation, Migration and Differentiation.
What is Neuroregeneration?
Adapted from: Segi-Nishida, Eri. (2011). Exploration of New Molecular Mechanisms for Antidepressant Actions of Electroconvulsive Seizure. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin. 34. 939-44. 10.1248/bpb.34.939.
The exact triggers to adult neurogenesis remain unproven, but the benefits are obvious. Neurogenesis is critically important for overall brain health and seems to play an important role not only in cognitive repair but in general brain health and longevity.
Depending on where exactly neurogenesis occurs in the brain and throughout the nervous system, its bio-effects differ. For example, growing new brain cells in the hippocampus seems to directly improve memory and learning.
My body is getting older,
how can i keep my brain healthy?
The Finnish Geriatric Intervention to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) was a landmark study.
Over a course of 2 years 1200 participants experienced interventions consisting of: nutritional guidance; exercise; cognitive training, social activity; and management of chronic conditions, particuarly controlling metabolic and vascular risk factors.
The primary outcome was cognitive performance improved, along with the secondary outcomes of reduced risk of dementia, disability, depression and an improved quality of life.
This was a landmark piece of research because it was the first time that all these lifestyle interventions were included in one study. The FINGERs study is a key inspiration for huru and gives us strong conviction that together, the huru interventions will improve not just your cognitive health, but your overall health and wellbeing.
We have listed below the key "interventions" that help keep your brain healthy.
(Miia Kivipelto et al. 2013)
How huru can help
A number of ‘interventions’ have been shown to support brain health. Many of them are things we do naturally as part of our daily lives, however it is easy to fall into bad habits. A hospitalisation, the death of a close friend or relative, caring for a family member, or a change in living arrangements can all be traumatic events that cause us to stop taking care of ourselves.
Loneliness is one of the leading predictors of negative heath outcomes in old age and should be avoided however possible. Most at risk are those who are older, physically and socially isolated and lack confidence with digital products. This is where huru can help, supporting greater social contact with friends and family. huru provides both tools and a framework for healthy living that make it easier for us to support our family members when they need it most.
The last year has been particularly tough for everyone, with limited or no opportunity to see loved ones in person. Those that are digitally isolated have been at a significant disadvantage here. This has been one of our core motivators to develop the huru platform, making sure that nobody, no-matter their living situation or comfort level with technology is without the tools to stay social with those closest to them.
To share the latest developments in neuroscience and clinical psychology
To translate research into everyday, simple to follow interventions that improve our health
To share personalised insights and give you the ability to measure the effectiveness of these interventions
“Neurones that fire together, wire together”
- Dr Prem Pilay