Saturday, August 18, 2007

Aging - Antioxidants and Cognitive Brain Function

"Pedro can do it better because he's younger"

As I'm getting older, in my late 40's now, I often hear that statement. My age group seem to accept the fact that the younger ones are better in their cognitive abilities. Solving puzzles, learning musical instruments or whatever challenges there are that involves brain function.

Brain cells communicate with each other

Our billions of brain cells communicate with each other through chemical neurotransmitters. If these neurotransmitters and the chemical transporters where the signals are carried become damaged, loss of mental agility may occur. The more we age, the more of these cells become damaged. This is one reason for the loss of cognitive skills.

Loss of brain cells which also occurs normally may also be a reason for degrading cognitive skills but scientists have put more weight in loss of communication between brain cells.

Nutrition connection

Scientists believe that oxidative stress plays a major role in damages done to brain cell communication. The food we eat, especially those rich in antioxidants, can help protect our brain cells from oxidative damage.

The antioxidant capacity of food is measured in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).

With lesser damage, our cognitive cells may be in top shape even as we grow older. That equates to a more productive life.


So far, researches have been done in mice. Eight weeks of a mice's lifespan is equivalent to ten years in humans making the results to be observed and examined in a shorter period of time.

Mice fed with antioxidant rich foods far exceeded the mice fed with normal diet in terms of their cognitive abilities.

Hopefully, the results of their studies will also apply to humans.

What foods contain high in antioxidants?

Fruits and vegetables of course. The general guide is - the darker the fruit color, the more antioxidants it contain. Some of these are acai, blueberries, black currant, grapes, watermelon, etc.

To slow down the degradation of our cognitive abilities, we need an antioxidant rich diet - that is if the mice study can be applied to humans.

Maintaining our cognitive abilities could help us meet life's challenges more efficiently.

You may also want to read:

Antioxidants and Exposure to Radiation
Antioxidants and Secondhand Smoke
Antioxidant Lycopene Can Treat Many Diseases
Meditation Can Give You a Lift