The brain shrinks after 30. Next steps toward mental clarity 2023

As we age, our bodies decrease, but did you know our brains shrink too?

Age-related shrinking should not cause alarm. However, you can start boosting your brain health now.

Brain shrinkage

“It’s in your 60s or 70s that we start to see more promenade atrophy or changes in the brain happening, both in normal aging and in disease-related,” says Dr. Charles Bernick, staff neurologist at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Most studies show that brain volume starts to change in your 30s or 40s.

Brain volume usually decreases with aging. “Brain weight decreases 5% per decade after 40,” he says. “That’s from cell loss, fiber degeneration, and cell volume reduction.”

Brain shrinkage causes

Age-related brain atrophy differs from disease-related shrinkage. Bernick warns that excessive brain shrinkage may indicate a disease process like Alzheimer’s or vascular abnormalities in the brain.

Memory loss, difficulties in problem-solving, and word-finding are signs of brain shrinkage related to natural aging.

Bernick says atrophy is only discovered when memory or cognitive function decreases. To detect shrinkage or atrophy, brain imaging is recommended.

Symptoms would prompt an MRI brain scan for atrophy. He believes automatic techniques can also assess if quantities are older than predicted.

Ways to improve your Brain Health

While you can’t stop normal brain aging, you can improve your brain health and lower your chance of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Methods include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Diets that are rich in antioxidants, such as a Mediterranean diet
  • Staying mentally engaged
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Attending to other vascular risk factors, such as monitoring and managing blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes 
  • Refraining from smoking

Bernick calls the data on brain health supplements like creatine and omega-3 “murky at best.”

He advises eating well and acquiring vitamins and minerals. First, eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Supplements are only needed if you’re lacking in vitamins or minerals.

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