Your brain is a complex organ that sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout your body . Thanks to billions of neurons and kilometers of nerves that travel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, your brain can process sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. Within this impressive organ are several sub-structures that control different parts of the body. For example, the hippocampus, amygdala, and neocortex areas are responsible for processing stimuli, forming memories, and keeping them stored for later recall. The frontal lobe (the largest region of the brain) is the primary part of the brain responsible for your personality (characteristics and decision-making). Keeping your brain healthy is important, as doing so can help improve longevity and the risk of certain neurological conditions. It can also help you extend your life through cryonics.
As you age, the brain slowly begins to shrink and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. . This can lead to an increase in blood pressure, higher risk of stroke, and a decline in overall memory . Older adults may have difficulty multitasking or paying attention to certain tasks. The speed of recall can slow and neurodegenerative diseases become more prevalent. This involves the gradual decline of function of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system over time. Unfortunately, these alterations are not currently curable and can have several complications. While there is a genetic factor to some neurodegenerative diseases, there are measures you can take to keep your brain healthy.
One of the best ways to maximize brain health over time is to exercise regularly. Exercising has several different benefits. Many people already know it can help improve blood flow and fight depression, but it also has a direct relation to dementia. Studies show that people who get regular exercise are less likely to experience decreasing mental function over time and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease . This is likely due to the increased blood flow, which could help keep brain connection strong as we age.
For the best results, try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise per week. This can be through power walking, jogging, swimming, or even playing your favorite low-impact sport. The more you move (within reason), the bigger the impact.
Everything you eat impacts how your body (especially your brain) functions. There’s a reason that so many nutritionists have deemed certain foods as “brain food.” One of the best diets to follow for optimal cognitive function seems to be the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that individuals who follow this meal plan tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t . Although the reason for this is still being researched, omega fatty acids seem to play a big role in cellular vitality and function.
However, since research hasn’t been able to define with certainty which diet is the best, brain health can be improved by eating plenty of plant-based foods, fish, healthy fats (olive oils and nuts), whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid consuming too much red meat and limit salt intake for the best impact on mental clarity and reduced cognitive decline.
Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain brain health and mental function. That’s because every night during restorative sleep, your body gets to work clearing excess abnormal proteins that can cause mental fog . Sleep is also the time when your brain transforms short-term memories into long-term memories, which is important for recall as you age.
Although many people say they can function on six hours of sleep or less, this is unlikely for most. You need between seven and nine hours of consecutive sleep each night in order to give your brain time to cleanse, refresh, and revitalize itself for the next day. Segmented or interrupted sleep causes disruptions to these processes, which is probably why you have a hard time concentrating after inadequate amounts of sleep. It’s also been shown that sleeping over the recommended nine hours can be just as bad as not sleeping enough , so aim for the sweet spot in between.
Although your brain isn’t technically a muscle, the same mentality applies—use it or lose it. You need to exercise your brain using stimulating activities, puzzles, or games in order to keep it healthy over the years. This can be as simple as reading a book before bed instead of watching television, filling out crossword puzzles, or even engaging in stimulating conversation with your peers. By partaking in these types of activities, you can help stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even encourage the formation of new brain cells altogether .
Negative emotions tend to be correlated to negative cognitive function . While this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lasting effects, it can increase your tendency to live an unhealthy lifestyle and therefore, decrease brain health over time. One aspect of mental health is getting enough social interaction with friends and family. Staying isolated for too long can increase the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can actually increase your risk of memory loss over the years . Try to connect with your friends and family whenever possible, even if it’s just through the occasional phone call or FaceTime. If you find yourself struggling to socialize, try to join a club or group that shares the same interests or passions as you do. Social activity can help strengthen brain health and improve the overall quality of your life.
Cryopreservation involves lowering your core body to sub-freezing temperatures, thus pausing all biological processes. While cooled, your body is perfused with cryoprotective agents (CPAs), which is essentially a medical-grade antifreeze. This helps prevent the formation of ice crystals, which would otherwise cause damage to cells and tissues. The lower the ice formation, the higher quality the cryopreservation. After your body has been perfused, it’s gradually cooled further and further until you reach the glass-like amorphous state of vitrification. At this point, you can be preserved indefinitely in a cryogenic storage dewar.
Having a healthy brain, especially in regards to its vasculature, at the time of your legal death could increase the chance of a high-quality cryopreservation because it helps facilitate a smooth distribution of CPAs. This is because anything that makes it more difficult for cryoprotectants to reach even the most peripheral parts of your brain can reduce the quality of preservation. If atherosclerosis (an arterial disease characterized by plaque buildup) is present, the risk of blood clotting increases and CPAs travel more slowly through the body and brain. This can increase the time it takes for your body to be perfused. The longer this process takes, the higher the risk of ice crystal formation.
Taking proactive steps to keep your brain healthy (and avoiding bad lifestyle habits) can increase your quality of cryopreservation. However, even if you had a neurodegenerative disease or lived a pretty unhealthy lifestyle, Tomorrow Bio will still move forward with your cryopreservation. We don’t know what future technology will be capable of, so who’s to say what diseases will be curable or to what extent damage will be reversible. All we can do is continue researching and stay optimistic about the future.
Your brain is where your memories are stored. It’s what makes you, you. Your personality, decision-making processes, character traits, and even the way you move are all by-products of the neurons firing from your brain to your body. This means it’s one of the most important things to care for as you age. By taking the above steps to keep your brain healthy and active over time, you’ll reduce the risk of preventable neurodegenerative disorders and help increase your quality of cryopreservation. If you’re still new to cryonics, don’t worry! We’re happy to tell you all about it in a one-on-one call with a Tomorrow Bio representative. You can also sign up to be a member today, or connect with other members of the biostasis community on Discord to share healthy ideas and discuss all things cryopreservation.