A recent study indicates that native South Americans who live a pre-industrial lifestyle have a slower rate of brain aging than the average Westerner.
Healthy Lifestyle Aids To Slower Rates Of Brain Aging
The study focused on the Tsimane people, who live in a remote area of the Bolivian Amazon and numbered around 16,000 people. They make their living by farming, hunting, collecting, and fishing, leading a life free of processed foods, sofa time, and streaming.
Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and blocked heart arteries are all frequent ailments among elderly Tsimane individuals, as per a previous study.
The latest study attempted to see if the Tsimane also fared better on a measure of brain health called age-related atrophy, which is the decrease of brain tissue. This was true, according to the researchers.
The findings indicated that middle-aged and older Tsimane individuals had less brain shrinkage than Americans and Europeans on CT scans.
According to the findings, their brain-shrinking rate may be around 70% slower.
A certain amount of brain shrinkage is normal as people age, but a rapid decrease is associated with an increased risk of dementia and physical limitations.
It’s unclear why Tsimane retain brain volume as they mature. According to the main researcher Andrei Irimia, their excellent cardiovascular health may be the reason. He works at the Southern California University, L.A. as an assistant professor of gerontology, neurology, and biomedical engineering.
Generally speaking, scientists feel that what is healthy for the heart is also excellent for the brain. As per the research, good habits such as frequent exercise, a health-conscious diet, and avoiding tobacco are associated with a decreased risk of dementia.
The Tsimane are the ultimate example of this, with physical exercise being ingrained in their daily routine from an early age. Their diets, according to Irimia, are high in fiber and unsaturated healthy fats while being low in sugar, preservatives, and saturated fat.
Still, he cautioned, it was not a certain certainty that Tsimane adults’ brains would be superior to Westerners’.
This is because the populace is constantly exposed to diseases, and their bodies have high levels of inflammation, which may hasten brain shrinkage.
To investigate the topic, the researchers gathered 746 Tsimane individuals ranging in age from 40 to 94 and transferred them to Trinidad, Bolivia, for CT scans of the brain.
The findings were matched to brain scans from two earlier studies, including individuals from the United States and Europe.
However, while the Tsimane demonstrated reduced brain tissue loss, it cannot be believed that this is due only to improved heart health, as per Rebecca Edelmayer, who is a senior director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago.
She pointed out that the study did not assess individuals’ cardiovascular health or inflammatory markers to determine if they were connected to brain volume. It also did not evaluate people’s actual memory and reasoning abilities.
According to Edelmayer, there is strong evidence linking better heart and blood vessel health to cognitive advantages, but other variables, ranging from environmental exposures to genes, may also impact brain aging and dementia risk.
The Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring clinical research to see if the integration of treatments, including nutrition, exercise, cognitively stimulating activities, and improved control of cardiac risk factors, might halt mental loss in older persons who are thought to be at high risk.
One of the partnering facilities is Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. As per Shannon Halloway, who is an assistant professor at the university, the latest findings back up the idea that what’s healthy for the heart is good for the brain.
However, Halloway, whose own study focuses on exercise, believes that good behaviors may do more than increase blood flow to the brain. She discovered that older persons who are more engaged in their daily lives, such as gardening and cleaning, have larger brain volumes.
When individuals are less sedentary and walk about more, they may have greater opportunities for mental and social stimulation, as per Halloway, and it’s probable that these characteristics are also at work among the Tsimane.