Ageing Brain Boosts Up With Exercise 1 : Dr. P D Gupta

Author : Dr. P D Gupta 

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (INDIA), Email:, Cell: 080728 91356

Generation of neurones 

Progressive damage of brain (neurodegeneration) due to old age and memory loss are common phenomena. As we understand that only an extremely small proportion (less than 5%) of neurodegenerative diseases are caused by genetic mutations. The remainder are thought to be caused by the following:

A build-up of toxic proteins in the brain

A loss of mitochondrial function that leads to the creation of neurotoxic substances

So far there is no remedy to check this. However, recent laboratory experiments have shown that memory loss in old age can be restored to some extent. Seven years ago, Walker and her colleagues screened the blood plasma of mice that had exercised on a running wheel in their cages for 4 days, versus mice that had no wheel. The team identified 38 proteins whose levels increased after the exercises. One in particular caught Walker’s eye: selenoprotein P (SEPP1). This protein, which transports selenium to the brain and has antioxidant properties, more than doubled after the rats made to do exercise.

A good workout doesn’t just boost your mood—it also boosts the brain’s ability to create new neurons and replace them with newly generated neurons.. But exactly how this happens has puzzled researchers for years. Neurodegeneration is a slow and progressive loss of neuronal cells in specified regions of the brain and is the main pathologic feature of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc Parkinson's disease. Alzheimer's disease. Huntington's disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

During exercise, mice produce a protein containing selenium that helps their brains grow new neurons, Bárbara Cardoso, a nutritional biochemist at Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute, Australia. Found this protein in Brazil nuts, grains, and some legumes. On feeding this protein—improves verbal fluency and the ability to copy drawings correctly in older adults.

 In 1999, researchers reported that running stimulates the brain to make new neurons in the  portion of the brain involved in learning and memory. But which molecules were released into the bloodstream to spark this “neurogenesis”(Formation of new neurons) remained unclear.

In order to prove their hypothesis, Walker’s team added either of two forms of selenium—sodium selenite (found as a salt in water and soil) or selenomethionine (found as an amino acid in the diet)—to a dish filled with cells that give rise to new neurons. In just 14 days, the number of these “neural precursor cells” doubled. When the researchers injected sodium selenite directly into the mice’s brains for 7 days,  

Now Scientists know that “It’s the first time a substance that is usually in the diet has been found to have such a relevant and clear effect in neurogenesis,” To find out further whether selenium can help the aging brain, Walker’s team added selenomethionine to the drinking water of 18-month-old mice (the equivalent of 60-year-old humans). After nearly 1 month, the number of new neurons in the rat’s brain had doubled.

 Finally, the researchers investigated whether selenium could help reverse the cognitive deficits that result from brain injury. They injected a molecule into the mice’s hippocampus to cause a stroke like lesion that destroys neurons and hurts memory. The lesioned but treated mice performed just as well as normal mice on a suite of memory tasks. The untreated lesioned mice, on the other hand, failed to recognize objects as new, and they had a hard time remembering locations where they had received a shock the day before.

Take home

In order to keep your brain always active

Eat Brazil nuts, grains, and some legumes daily especially in old age.

Do exercise every day

(The author has his own study and views)