Regular readers know how strongly I feel about including exercise in our daily life. This is not just for weight control, but because our bodies are organic machines that need to move and be maintained. In addition, exercise also benefits the brain.
A study done at the Karolinska Institute found that seniors who had high glucose levels, but did not have diabetes, were 77 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The study took over nine years and covered 1173 individuals over the age of 75.
As reported in the book, Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “As we age, insulin levels drop and glucose has a harder time getting into the cells to fuel them. Then glucose can skyrocket, which creates waste products in the cells – such as free radicals – and damages blood vessels, putting us at risk of a stroke and Alzheimer’s. When everything is balanced, insulin works against the buildup of amyloid plaque, but too much encourages the buildup, as well as inflammation, damaging surrounding neurons.
“Exercise increases levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which regulates insulin in the body and improves synaptic plasticity in the brain. By drawing down surplus fuel, exercise also blosters our supply of BDNF, which is reduced by high glucose.”
Wikipedia says that In neuroscience, synaptic plasticity is the ability of the connection, or synapse, between two neurons to change in strength in response to either use or disuse of transmission over synaptic pathways. Plastic change also results from the alteration of the number of receptors located on a synapse. There are several underlying mechanisms that cooperate to achieve synaptic plasticity, including changes in the quantity of neurotransmitters released into a synapse and changes in how effectively cells respond to those neurotransmitters. Since memories are postulated to be represented by vastly interconnected networks of synapses in the brain, synaptic plasticity is one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory.
BDNF is a crucial biological link between thought, emotions and movement.
So, it seems that exercise does in fact reduce our chances of Alzheimer’s. Eat less; move more; live longer. In addition to that, as you know from yesterday’s post, exercise also decreases our risk of mortality.
Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) to read further on this subject.