Regular exercise makes your brain larger, according to a study from the University of Illinois (Journal fo Gerontology, November 2006).

With aging, your brain becomes smaller. This study showed that 60 to 79-year-old men who exercised regularly actually had their brains grow larger. Study participants who did only a stretching and toning program had their brains shrink.

If you feel you are losing your ability to reason or think clearly, or if you suffer mood disorders such as depression, ask your doctor to do blood tests for homocysteine, folic acid, pyridoxine and vitamin B12. If these tests are normal, you should get tests for thyroid function, cholesterol and other causes of arterial damage.

You can suffer from B12 deficiency even if your blood levels are normal. When you body lacks B12, your red blood cells do not mature properly and are much larger than normal, and
homocysteine accumulates in your bloodstream, damaging your arteries and brain cells.

Having low levels of B12 can damage every nerve in your body including your brain, to make you forgetful and impair your ability to reason and solve problems. If you are low on B12, taking folic acid supplements or eating food heavily fortified with folic acid may cost you IQ points.

A study from Tufts University showed that people who have low blood levels of B12 can suffer nerve damage, and those who also had high blood levels of folic acid had far more nerve damage than
those with normal levels (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2007).

Your doctor should also check for diabetes, which can damage blood vessels that supply the brain, heart and other organs. Diabetics may suffer loss of memory long before they are
diagnosed as having diabetes.

While we await further studies, protect your memory with a lifestyle that will help you avoid diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Control your weight, eat a wide variety of plants, limit refined carbohydrates and get plenty of exercise.

Via Reuters