These days, millions are spent in the quest to look and feel younger, but there isn’t much focus on helping your brain stay young on the inside. Recent research from Australia finds that there is something you can do to help keep your brain at least six months younger, and you’re probably already making these healthy choices.
Physical activity, stress management, and eating a balanced diet of whole foods is one of the best ways to keep your cardiovascular system healthy, which has cascading effects for the rest of the body. Managing blood pressure is an important component of heart health, and a new study suggests that it’s actually helping to reduce aging in the brain. If you think considering your blood pressure is just for the older crowd, you’ll be surprised to find that high blood pressure in adults 30+ years old has doubled all around the world.
This study followed almost 700 middle-aged, healthy adults for twelve years with brain imaging and blood pressure data which gave a snapshot of how “old” their brains were. Changes in brain health started even with the normal ranges for blood pressure (120/80). Researchers found that the most protective changes were seen in blood pressure readings closer to the low-normal end (110/70). Participants in the study who had elevated blood pressure (around 135/85) had brains aged by more than six months compared to those with readings on the low-normal end.
Due to the blood pressure elevations becoming apparent over age 40, researchers believe that the effects on the brain may be starting many years earlier, perhaps even in the 20’s. The cumulative effects of higher blood pressure may start to affect the brain over time, so getting a head start on monitoring blood pressure in healthy young adults may be one way to reduce the aging process in the brain.
Blood pressure can be tricky to manage because of individual body physiology, and lower ranges of blood pressure can cause symptoms for some people. Your doctor can help you find the best blood pressure range for you without getting too low, which can be equally as detrimental for some people as being too high.
Nicolas Cherbuin, Erin I. Walsh, Marnie Shaw, et al. Optimal Blood Pressure Keeps Our Brains Younger. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2021; 13 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.694982