​Maintain Cognitive Function and Avoid Common Age Related Deficits

Oct 11, 2016 by Dr. Jess Goodman | health, lifestyle, fitness, diet

Cognitive Decline & Aging

Around 30-40% of adults over 65 have the type of cognitive loss some regard as a normal consequence of age — a measurable decline on memory tests with a feeling that you're not quite as sharp, that your focus and concentration aren’t as good as they used to be. This impairment is not as severe as the cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer's, but it affects a person’s ability to function and feel confident.


What You Can Do

Step one to maintain cognitive function and avoid age related deficits is to understand how brain function is maintained. The fluid surrounding the brain, flowing through passages and caverns deep within the brain and streaming along the full length of the spinal cord, is known as Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF). Four times every day every drop of CSF is replaced. Cells lining CSF filled caverns continuously absorb and secrete CSF. CSF is crystal clear, pure and quite beautiful. CSF is kept in a pristine condition to protect nerve cells of the brain from exposure to toxic metabolic wastes and other impurities. For CSF to be filtered and kept pure it must be circulated effectively through spaces deep within the brain.


Breathing

CSF circulation depends on pressure changes related to breathing. These pressure changes drive CSF in a circuit up the spine and through the brain. With each inhalation there is expansion of the chest cavity that decreases pressure within the chest cavity. This drop in pressure drives air into the lungs, blood into the heart and pumps CSF. These rhythmic pressure changes are dependent on expansion of the chest wall, descent of the diaphragm muscle, stretching of the pelvic floor tissues, mobility of the joints connecting the ribs to the spine and flexibility of the spine itself.


Aortic Stiffness and Core Mobility

With aging and increasing stiffness of the spine, chest, abdominal and pelvic structures, there is decreased mobility of the core areas of the human body. This can be described as decreased Core Mobility. With decreasing Core Mobility there is less ability to generate pressure changes with each breath. This affects movement of air, blood and CSF. With decreasing Core Mobility, CSF circulation is not as vigorous. With decreasing Core Mobility CSF circulation, CSF accumulates impurities and brain function slowly declines.


It's All Connected

The most important thing to remember is that many parts of the body work together to allow each breath to act as a bellows like pump, propelling CSF along the spine and through the brain. Exercise that works the entire body arms, legs and spine, will be effective. Yoga and Tai Chi have for centuries promoted stretching along the spinal axis as important to maintain health and brain function. Walking and hiking are the simplest way to work the entire body at once, with a turn and stretch of the spine occurring with each step. Elliptical machines, rowers and other exercise equipment are also effective. Pilates, Yoga and Tai Chi are focused on Core Mobilization and efficiently improve CSF circulation. Meditation, with a focus on sitting with a balanced spinal posture and deep, diaphragmatic breathing is also a good way to enhance CSF circulation.


Aortic Stiffness has been shown to quantify risk of death from all causes, to identify young individuals at risk of cognitive decline and to predict risk of Dementia. The Aorta is located immediately in front of the spinal column. Aortic Stiffness is a way of measuring stiffness of the spine and Core Mobility. Aortic Stiffness has been proven to improve with exercise.


iheart Internal Age is a fingertip pulse sensor and mobile app that uses a 30 second test to measure Aortic Stiffness. It used to require very expensive and complicated equipment to measure Aortic Stiffness. iheart is the first device able to give everyday people an ability to use Aortic Stiffness to assess health and brain function.


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Author: Dr. Jess Goodman

Dr. Goodman is the President and Founder of VitalSines, Inc. Jess is a Physician in General Practice with experience in worn personal health monitoring electronics development and deployment. He is passionate about giving individuals better ways to visualize, monitor, and manage their health.