A new study by Tulane University and other academic institutions found that getting sick frequently may speed up the aging process of the brain and heighten the likelihood of developing dementia or other forms of cognitive decline.
The study involved investigating aging male mice and examining the long-term effects of intermittent inflammation on brain function and health.
The researchers found that moderate inflammation caused by a cold or flu, when experienced repeatedly and intermittently, affected the mice’s cognitive abilities and disrupted communication between neurons.
These findings are important because they suggest that repeated exposure to infections could have adverse impacts on brain health in humans.
The study highlights the importance of prioritizing health and taking preventative measures to avoid infections, particularly in populations at risk for cognitive decline, such as the elderly.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this study’s findings are especially relevant, given the concerns around the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the brain.
The team emphasized that staying healthy and infection-free should be a top priority.
Additionally, future studies should focus on understanding how and why infections impact the brain and explore strategies to minimize those effects.
In conclusion, this study suggests that taking care of our health and avoiding infections is critical to protecting our brains as we age.
The findings underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep, to reduce the risk of infections and cognitive decline.
How to prevent dementia
While there is no surefire way to prevent dementia, there are several strategies that may help reduce the risk of developing it. Here are some tips:
Stay physically active: Regular exercise can help maintain good blood flow to the brain and support the growth of new brain cells.
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, that are associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Keep your brain active: Challenging your brain with mentally stimulating activities, such as puzzles, learning a new skill, or playing an instrument, may help build cognitive reserve and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough restful sleep is important for overall health, including brain health. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Manage chronic conditions: Chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, can increase the risk of dementia. It is essential to work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively.
Stay socially engaged: Maintaining social connections with friends and family can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and promote overall well-being.
Avoid harmful substances: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug abuse can all increase the risk of developing dementia.
It’s important to note that while these strategies may help reduce the risk of developing dementia, they cannot guarantee complete prevention.
If you or a loved one is experiencing memory problems or other symptoms, it’s essential to talk to a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you care about cold or flu, please read studies that COVID-19 infection may boost antibodies against common colds, and this new discovery may help stop flu forever.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s.
The study was conducted by E.B. Engler-Chiurazzi et al and published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
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