Maintaining Cognitive Health
Chris D. Meletis, ND (with permission from cpmedical.net, access pin: 587556)
This is the fifth part in a series addressing the most common health concerns as we age. Previous parts have discussed cardiovascular disease, weight loss and blood sugar. In this installment, I will discuss cognitive health and the steps we can take to improve brain function as we age. Cognitive health is vital to independence, productivity and quality of life. The thought of losing cherished memories and the ability to be self-reliant makes dementia one of the most feared age-related conditions.
Cognitive health is dependent upon the proper function of brain cells—not only neurons but also cells known as astrocytes and microglia. Created primarily through differentiation of neural progenitor cells, neurons are electrically excitable cells that process and transmit information by electrical and chemical signaling. This signaling occurs through synapses, which are specialized connections with other cells. By releasing neurotransmitters that bind to specific chemical receptors, each neuron influences the action of other neurons in the brain, the peripheral nervous system and throughout the body. The type of receptor activated by each neurotransmitter determines the effect upon the target neuron.