Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Gray matters

 Gray matters

Former Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala was in joking mood as usual while giving  a farewell speech in a party organised in honour of retiring CS Shri Pravinbhai Laheri and welcoming new CS Shri Sudhir Mankad at CM Residence of Gujarat in 2005. His hairs were total grey and Pravinbhai had partly grey and partly black. He said that the grey hairs are the indicator of the loss of internal gray matter, the brain. With that parameter he had lost the total gray but Pravinbhai still held it, therefore he shouldn’t retire but continue using his balance stock. Laheri Sir did it, served the GoG for some more years, and still associated with Somnath Temple Trust and few NGOs as well as writes a column in a newspaper. Are you thinking of your grey? (Lol). 

Human brain is made of gray and white matter. The gray matter is made up of neuronal cell bodies (soma), one of TR brain components essential in maintaining strong and healthy lifestyle. It plays a huge part in important functions of voluntary movement and sensory perception, as well as memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. White matter consist of myelinated axons, which are long relays that extend out from the soma, form connection between brain cells. The white fatty myelin insulates axons, letting the signal within travel far faster, enabling the nerve cell function that is essential to normal motor and sensory function. Both the matters are spread throughout the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). 

Neuronal cell bodies are abundant in the cerebrum, brain stem and cerebellum.  The outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex, consists of columns of gray matter neurons, with white matter located underneath. This area is essential to many facets of higher learning, including attention, memory, and thought. The cerebellum is essential for motor control, coordination, and precision.

Hardening of blood vessels preventing oxygen and other nutrients reaching the white matter results into the destruction of the white fatty myelin coating around axon, leading to motor or sensory disruption. In progressive multiple sclerosis, axonal damage is followed by neuron death, which is irreversible.

As we age, the brain starts shrinking, loses neurons about 0.2% to 0.3% every year called neurodegenerative disease. It affects memory and executive functions. Millions of old aged people therefore suffer from Alzheimer’s frontotemporal dementia. The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are directly related to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia bigra.

How to mitigate?

Improve the “aerobic capacity” to improve oxygen intake and supply of nutrients to all cells 24x7 is the key of good health of all organs including the brain. Life and death is a fight between oxygen and carbon dioxide. Therefore, one has to focus more on oxygen flow and remove obstacles coming in its way. 

1) There is a link between cardiorespiratory fitness and brain health. Peak oxygen uptake can improves volume of gray matter. Running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, pranayam, etc, are cardiorespiratory workouts. Must be part of daily routines. 

2) Good heart pumping can keep the brain working in tip top shape for longer. Maintain walking schedule daily to maintain the LVEF. 

3) Yogasanas and light toning up exercises are good to maintain the elasticity of the blood vessels so that the food supply chain of glucose and oxygen to each cell is maintained. 

4) Mindfulness is necessary along with the movements. Meditation improves gray matter which is associated with learning and memory. Other benefits of meditation include focus, emotional control, reduced stress levels, and improved immune system.

5) Extra boost of Vitamin B helps the brain. It slows down age related atrophy. It gives better results with good Omega 3 level. Antioxidants prevent or delay cell damage by removing the free radicals (ROS- reactive oxygen species), the unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. Live in pollution free environment, improve intake of food supplements and antioxidants to improve level of Vitamin B and Omega 3, and to remove the free radicals. 

Don’t see the grey in the mirror. It is mostly the outcome of chlorinated water and shampoos. But do check the condition of gray inside and mitigate the fall by modifying life style and improving aerobic capacity. 😊🌹


8 March 2022


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