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Chiropractic care, exercise and good nutrition keeps you young.

Posted Nov 11 2009 10:02pm

I have noticed over the years as a chiropractor that people who exercise, have good nutritional habits and receive regular Chiropractic care are is great shape.  Have you ever noticed that people who are in good physical shape are in better mental shape? I see that in my office especially with the older population of people. And from an evolutionary perspective we are better equipped to adapt to stress and change if we are mentally and physically in shape.

Exercise and good nutrition benefits the brain in two major ways. First, it helps generate new brain cells. And second, it strengthens the connections between those cells, providing more mental agility and actually allowing the brain to stay young even as the body ages. There has been scientific research showing that the body continues to make new brain cells later in life. The general assumption was that around 50 we stop making new cell but now it is understood  that neurogenesis (making new brain cells) can occur throughout life even as we advance into old age.

However, neurogenesis doesn’t occur at an equal rate in every person or throughout the different times in one’s life. Among the variables affecting the rate of production is exercise. Each time a muscle tenses and relaxes, it releases various chemicals into the body. Among these is a protein called IGF-1 that helps to organize the production of other chemicals that prompts brain cells to reproduce with remarkable speed. The more of these chemicals there are the more brain cells grow equipped to process new information. A brain with little of these chemicals closes itself off to new information and memory tend ot suffer as well.

It is all well and good to have lots of new cells but they need to connect together to work together. Exercise also aids in maintaining and improving these connections, the synapses. Researchers have found that the positive impacts of exercise on the brain come quickly. In under an hour, improvements in mental fitness often kick in, with synapse firing more efficiently. The bad news is that the benefits of exercise tend to fall off fairly quickly. People have to keep at it and these days Americans often don’t place much of a premium on physical fitness. We may be getting not only slower, but also slower on the uptake.

If the allure of remaining mentally sharp into old age isn’t enough to get you off the couch, think about this: recent studies suggest (not proved) that some of the same benefits may also slow the onset of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, good results don’t require an extreme amount of exercise. Even just a few hours a week of brisk walking can help sustain body and mind. Any amount of exercise is better than none. I will also add that diet and sound sleep are also extremely important for mental alertness. There are many ways to stay healthy, active and mentally sound. And isn’t that what we want as we live longer.

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