A new study of 1256 elderly people affirmed that people who have a positive outlook suffer from far less memory loss than their worried peers. At the initiation of the study, all participants completed surveys about their negative emotions. Then, every year for 12 years, they were assessed for cognitive impairment. At the conclusion of the study, the subjects who tended to maintain a negative outlook had more memory loss than the more optimistic subjects. In fact, those indicating the highest degree of distress at the outset were 48 percent more likely to develop memory loss than those subjects who were the most positive.
According to Robert S. Wilson, PhD, a senior neuropsychologist at the Rush University Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, “These findings suggest that, over a lifetime, chronic experience of stress affects the area of the brain that governs stress response. Unfortunately, that part of the brain also regulates memory.” Dr. Wilson points out that about 10 to 15 percent of those with mild cognitive impairment will progress to Alzheimer’s Disease.
The obvious question that comes to mind is, “If true, how does stress damage memory?” The answer may be found buried in the introduction to another study. According to research on free radicals and lung tissue published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, it has been shown that exposure to stress situations can stimulate numerous pathways leading to increased production of free radicals. It is well known that free radicals generate a cascade, producing lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation, DNA damage, and cell death, and contribute to the occurrence of pathological conditions. Stress may also impair antioxidant defenses, leading to oxidative damage, by changing the balance between oxidant and antioxidant factors. Both immobilization and variable stress are followed by an increase in lipid peroxidation, measured in plasma and in brain structures. Translation: the fats in your brain tissue go rancid.
So we see yet another reason for regular supplementation with a full spectrum antioxidant formula.
Interestingly, a previous study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that psychological stress was a definite risk factor for coronary heart disease in men. Again, from the free radical/antioxidant point of view, one might wonder if acute crises trigger the free radical cascade that subsequently damages the cardiovascular system.
What does all this mean? Will you lose your marbles if you worry all the time, or only if you have occasional bouts of hysteria? And if you do have life crises, are you automatically at risk for a heart attack? Most likely, your risk factor depends on how you handle life’s inevitable difficulties. Plenty of studies, these included, make clear that you’re better off staying on the sunny side no matter what, if you can do so.
Get yourself a support network to help you through stressful times — probably one reason why women didn’t have the same cardiovascular problems men did when confronted with stress. It helps to do some form of stress reduction practice, such as yoga, meditation, regular exercise — whatever works for you –to eat an antioxidant rich diet and, absolutely, to supplement with a full spectrum antioxidant.