Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Your Personality Affects Aging and Brain Health

As people age, certain parts of the brain are susceptible to macroscopic infarcts which are small areas of dead tissue that is caused by blockage of blood flow. If a person has many of these areas, they are at risk for developing dementia, disability and other conditions associated with old age.

When we hear about blockages of blood flow, we think of exercise and a healthy diet to promote proper circulation and blood flow.  This is not necessarily the case with brain health.  A recent study performed autopsies on adults who were around eighty years old when they died.  The adults who had been characterized as positive and having a purposeful life from psychological evaluations taken when they were alive had significantly less macroscopic infarcts than people who were depressed or negative.

Modern medicine tends to focus on the physical body and the physical things we can do to create health.  Yet, this study shows that mental well being plays a significant role in preserving one's health.  Ayurveda has always held that health is a mind and body job with both of these factors being needed for real vibrancy.  Clearly, this study confirms the necessity of intangible factors like happiness and fulfillment for complete health.

Many people go to doctors complaining about not feeling well.  Tests are performed, but sometimes no physical sign of disease is found.  This is when some deeper exploration needs to be done.  Further, a person should not be dismissed as having a problem that is all in their head.  The body has real physical symptoms (maybe even areas of dead brain tissue as the study shows).  If medical treatment encompassed both the body and the mind and had a treatment plan for both, then the health concerns of people would be better served.  While Ayurveda has always known this, it is nice that science is coming to learn it one study at a time.

Stay healthy & well,

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