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J Physiol. 2016 Aug 15;594(16):4485-98. doi: 10.1113/JP271270. Epub 2016 Jan 6.

Promoting brain health through exercise and diet in older adults: a physiological perspective.

Author information

1
Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
2
Centre de Recherche et d'Innovation sur le Sport, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France.
3
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
4
Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
5
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
6
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
7
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
8
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
9
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
10
Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
11
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

The rise in incidence of age-related cognitive impairment is a global health concern. Ageing is associated with a number of changes in the brain that, collectively, contribute to the declines in cognitive function observed in older adults. Structurally, the ageing brain atrophies as white and grey matter volumes decrease. Oxidative stress and inflammation promote endothelial dysfunction thereby hampering cerebral perfusion and thus delivery of energy substrates and nutrients. Further, the development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles contributes to neuronal loss. Of interest, there are substantial inter-individual differences in the degree to which these physical and functional changes impact upon cognitive function as we grow older. This review describes how engaging in physical activity and cognitive activities and adhering to a Mediterranean style diet promote 'brain health'. From a physiological perspective, we discuss the effects of these modifiable lifestyle behaviours on the brain, and how some recent human trials are beginning to show some promise as to the effectiveness of lifestyle behaviours in combating cognitive impairment. Moreover, we propose that these lifestyle behaviours, through numerous mechanisms, serve to increase brain, cerebrovascular and cognitive reserve, thereby preserving and enhancing cognitive function for longer.

PMID:
27524792
PMCID:
PMC4983622
DOI:
10.1113/JP271270
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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