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It is what's on the inside--your heart, your lungs, your brain matters. Unfortunately, we are living longer but our health span- the stretch of time when we're healthy enough to actually enjoy life -is not gaining much ground. Much of the decline that we experience as we age is not a necessary function of aging. It's a result of our expectations and mindset. We expect to fall apart, so we allow ourselves to fall apart.
What if you decided to stay 35 years old forever? New science suggests that you can turn back the clock or slow down on the ravages of time.
Your fittest brain cells survive your 20s. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study that around age 25, the human brain starts slowly decreasing in size. Your mental capacity may be shrink right along with it. As your brain starts to shrivel, its white matter becomes less efficient at nerve signaling. Your working memory short-term ability to reason, comprehend, and retain information may gradually begin to slip.
Playing with balls may help your brain bounce back. In a 2009 British study, people who practiced juggling for 6 weeks strengthened the structural integrity of their white matter. The benefit was linked to time spent training, not proficiency. Practicing a new skill may encourage the formation of myelin, the white matter that helps conduct nerve impulses, the scientists say. Try another pursuit that combines learning with physical activity. Changing up your normal routine and try something new. This stimulates our brains.
You have never touched a cigarette and you always avoid secondhand smoke but your lung function may have declined by the time you blow out the candles on your 40th birthday. Your lungs hit their peak around age 25. It is not until your mid-30s that aging kicks into high gear. Your alveoli, the tiny air sacs in your lungs that allow oxygen to cross into your bloodstream and carbon dioxide to exit, begin to lose surface area. This makes your lungs less efficient at transporting oxygen and the result is you may find it harder to breathe during exercise.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition study found that people who consistently took in two daily servings of low-fat dairy, such as reduced-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, showed fewer signs of disease-related lung damage. Credit the vitamin D in fortified dairy products. Vitamin D may help improve lung function, the scientists say. In addition, milk is loaded with vitamin A, which is thought to switch on genes involved in the production of new lung tissue. Aim to eat two or three servings of fortified dairy a day and you will be taking in up to 10 micrograms of vitamin D and up to 455 micrograms of vitamin A.
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