The secret to becoming a 'super-ager'

They're the folks we all wish to be: Seniors who not only reach a ripe old age, but do it in style.

They're called the "super-agers." They haven't lost a step physically -- and mentally, they're sharper than folks half their age.

For years, mainstream medicine has insisted that it's just plain dumb luck. You're either born with "super-ager" genes, or you're doomed to reach old age feeling like you've been hit by a train.

That is, if you even make it that far.

Well, my friend, I've got news for you today. The super-agers are starting to give up their secrets -- and it turns out that one of the most important keys to reaching old age with a sharp mind is something entirely within your control.

As we age, the brain shrinks a little bit... but it's not the same for everyone.

Some folks shrink faster than others, while a few lucky souls -- the "super-agers" -- see almost no shrink at all, especially in the all-important hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex.

In the new study, the seniors who had the least brain shrink were the super-agers, and they were super in every way.

They didn't just ace memory tests. They did better than folks 40 or 50 years younger!

Think that can't be you? Think again -- because there are easy ways to stop your own brain from shrinking, so that you have a shot at becoming a "super-ager" too:

  1. Fish Oil: You know you need omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. But they're also so critical to brain function that a study a couple years back found that folks with the highest omega-3 levels have 0.7 percent more volume in the brain. That may not sound like much, but that's the equivalent of TWO FULL YEARS of aging... wiped out by fish oil!
  2. B Vitamins: Like omega-3 fatty acids, these nutrients are critical to brain function. Like those omega-3s, most people don't get enough. Studies have shown that a mix of B6, B12, and folic acid can slow the brain shrink that comes with aging and even boost cognition. Combine it with that fish oil I just mentioned for even bigger benefits.
  3. Exercise: There's no two ways about it. You can't keep your mind sharp if your body isn't fit. Even light activity increases oxygen flow to the brain, which can slow or even stop brain shrink. One study earlier this year found seniors who get regular movement have brains that seem literally years younger as a result.

Don't worry; you don't have to run a marathon or do jumping jacks until you're ready to faint. Just pick an active hobby you enjoy. Hiking, biking, tennis, gardening or even a daily walk will do the trick.

For a more personal approach to brain health and becoming a super-ager, make an appointment to see me here at my clinic in the San Diego area.

Not in the area? I can also offer advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.