Most of us ladies go out of our way to avoid wrinkles, especially once we hit our thirties. We avoid the sun. We eat skin-friendly foods, like avocados, salmon and olive oil. We finally give up our social smoking habit. And we start to realize that five vodka sodas in one night doesn’t exactly leave us fresh-faced and dewy come morning. But did you ever stop to think about what your wrinkles might be saying about your health?
According to a recent story by Dr. Douglas Fields in the Huffington Post — “Brain Aging: The Truth is Skin Deep” — there’s new research that indicates that the state of your skin indicates the state of your brain. The more wrinkles, the more rapidly our brains are aging.
Like skin, the rate at which your brain ages depends on both genetics and external factors. And there’s considerable overlap between that factors that cause both the skin and the brain to age rapidly. Hormones play a sizable role, and a deficiency has been attributed to dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment. Environmental factors also play a role, particularly excessive sun exposure. While we’ve all seen the premature leather-face ravages of not applying our SPF, that very same sun damage stimulates the body’s immune response, which triggers inflammation — a big factor in premature brain aging, including Alzheimer’s disease. And finally, there’s a biological reason that skin and the brain age at similar rates: both sets of cells develop from the same embryonic tissue.
So what can we do to keep our brains as young as possible? Fields says that both physical and mental exercise can help. And you’ll do well to stay away from the cause of premature brain aging: alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, exposure to toxins, stress, infection and injury. As with most things related to longevity, it’s part healthy living and part genetic lottery.