What your middle-aged brain says about your health: A 15p supplement could help memory and halt decline

The midlife crisis has always been a hot topic for comics, and it’s easy to see why: the emotional pitfalls that accompany the period between 40 and 60 are endlessly relatable.

However, there is more to this transition period than buying a convertible.


A new review of human and animal studies suggests that middle age marks a shift in brain aging.

“Middle age is associated with specific and modifiable risk factors for future risk of dementia,” wrote the study’s authors, who include neuroscientist Yvonne Nolan of APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork.

During middle age, the brain undergoes major molecular, cellular, and structural changes, and many of these changes have been linked to cognitive decline, which has also been shown to accelerate during middle age.

Middle age is associated with changes in the volume of the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory

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The authors found strong evidence to suggest that the human brain undergoes nonlinear structural and functional changes during middle age that have implications for cognitive functioning, and variation in these processes could explain individual trajectories in cognitive aging.

Structurally, middle age is associated with changes in the volume of various brain structures, shrinking of the hippocampus (a brain structure involved in memory and learning), and decreased connectivity between different parts of the brain.

The expression of some genes in the brain also changes in middle age: genes related to inflammation are increasingly expressed while some genes involved in the production of proteins that play a role in the synapses of neurons s ‘ express less, the researchers found.

Meanwhile, scientists are trying to unravel the mystery of menopause and its potential impact on cognition.

Studies have found that women tend to have higher levels of a protein called tau that is thought to cause cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease compared to men at the same stage of the disease.

The underlying biology is unclear, but one study found that women with early Alzheimer’s disease who started menopause early or prematurely before age 45 tended to have higher tau levels than women who started menopause later. late

Other studies find that the expression of X-linked genes is associated with higher levels of tau.

All of this begs the question: What can be done to prevent future brain decline?

Increasing your fiber intake seems like a good place to start. Two studies published last year found that the more fiber people tend to eat, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in old age.

Supplement on a table New research suggests that a daily fiber supplement could help improve brain function in people over 60 Getty Images

Adults are recommended to consume around 30g of dietary fiber each day for overall health benefits.

However, the latest figures suggest that in the UK, the average fiber intake for adults is 18g, 60 per cent of what it should be.

Supplementation could help compensate for this deficit. A commercially available plant fiber supplement called inulin has been shown to improve memory and overall brain function in people in their sixties in as little as 12 weeks. And it’s only 15p.

The study showed that the simple and inexpensive addition of prebiotic plant fibers that help healthy gut bacteria grow to the diet can improve performance on memory tests associated with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Woman getting ready to exercise in the park

Exercise in middle age has been linked to improvements in thinking and memory, and reduced rates of dementia

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Regular exercise in middle age may also protect against future cognitive decline, numerous studies suggest.

In a study published in the journal Neurology,Scientists linked high levels of physical activity in middle age (more than 150 minutes per week) to better brain health in later life.

This included fewer cerebrovascular injuries at the end of life.

According to the NHS, adults should aim to:

  • Do strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) at least two days a week.
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week
  • Spread the exercise evenly over four or five days a week or every day
  • Reduce the time you spend sitting or lying down and break up long periods of inactivity with some activity

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