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The Brain Shrinks by Five Percent Beginning at 45, Experts Say Banish the Distractions

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Aging shrinks the brain by about 5 percent between age 45 and 60. AARP writer Sari Harrar notes that, while that might sound small, it could help explain why the ability to pay attention and tune out distractions begins to decline before age 50. “Around then, your brain also has to start coping with the full catastrophe of midlife,”

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Taking care of your health, staying active, and consuming foods that promote concentration can all help you improve your concentration. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Taking care of your health, staying active, and consuming foods that promote concentration can all help you improve your concentration. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Ted Zanto, an associate professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, said aging shrinks the brain by about 5 percent between age 45 and 60.

Additionally, while AARP writer Sari Harrar noted that might sound small, it could help explain why the ability to pay attention and tune out distractions begins to decline before age 50. “Around then, your brain also has to start coping with the full catastrophe of midlife,” Harrar penned in a column for AARP’s magazine.

She noted further in quoting neuroscientist Denise Park, “Rebellious kids! Aging parents! Work! Money! Menopause! Throw in constant interruptions from our digital devices, and you might start feeling overwhelmed.”

Dr. Mahmud Kara, the creator of KaraMD, said in an email that tuning out distractions often is easier said than done.

However, Dr. Kara offered some ways to limit the noise.

“Creating a routine that works best for your lifestyle is essential,” Dr. Kara asserted.

“For example, if you know that you are a ‘morning’ person and focus best within the first few hours after you wake up, use that time to focus on the tasks that take priority for the day.”

Dr. Kara continued:

“Once you develop that routine, stick to it day after day so that it becomes a habit.”

Working out regularly provides many physical, mental, and emotional well-being benefits. For example, recent research has revealed that exercise is good for the gray matter, offered Jim Powell, the co-founder of My Speech Class.

“It turns out that aerobic activities that get the heart pumping can also keep the brain working in tip-top shape for longer,” Powell remarked.

“Peak oxygen uptake is associated with increased gray matter volume, which suggests that cardiorespiratory exercises known to improve aerobic capacity may help slow down a decline in gray matter. Some of the most popular and effective cardiorespiratory workouts include running, cycling, swimming, and even brisk walking.”

Health experts noted that the brain does possess wondrous plasticity, and individuals can help it adjust and refocus by taking up a few simple, healthy habits.

“Weight loss has been linked to increased memory and concentration. According to researchers, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are typically caused by obesity, are thought to harm the brain,” said Theola Tinny, co-founder of VinPit.

“Researchers believe that once people regain a healthy weight and the problems that come with it, their cognitive disorders will fade away,” Tinny added.

“Also, our surroundings have a huge impact on our ability to concentrate. Decluttering your home or tidying your workstation is well recognized for making your mind feel more ordered, liberated, and able to think more clearly. You may alter your environment to make it more conducive to sustained focus,” Tinny continued.

She said physical activity, dietary choices, and weight are all factors that might affect the ability to function and concentrate.

“If you skip breakfast, for example, you are unlikely to be able to accomplish duties to your full potential by midday due to hunger sensations,” Tinny concluded.

“Taking care of your health, staying active, and consuming foods that promote concentration can all help you improve your concentration.”

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

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