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Now that you know your brain can be older than your chronological age, you may be wondering how that happens. One of the things that make a brain age prematurely is the buildup of “brain trash” and toxins. Brain trash is a by-product of the work your brain cells do.

Brain Trash
  • A byproduct of the work your cells do
  • A 3lb. brain makes 5lb. of trash per year
  • The more built-up trash, the “older” the brain

Your brain cells are like a hustling, bustling Manhattan. Just like a city gets dirty, your brain does too—filled with residual waste from chemical reactions, environmental toxins, old, damaged cells, and that are no longer needed. Your three-pound brain makes five pounds of trash a year. Normally, it’s recycled or flushed out, but if not, the trash can buildup, causing diminished focus, loss of productivity, and a drastic reduction in overall energy. Simply put, the more trash, the “older” the brain.

There are several ways that your brain gets rid of trash. One way is through sleep. Dr. Nedergaard, a neuroscientist, was trying to understand how the brain repairs itself after an injury. She wanted to investigate how sleep played a role in the repair process. While in deep sleep, her subjects experienced a phenomenon that seemed like something out of a horror movie.

She observed that the brains of the sleeping subjects shrank down to 65 percent of their normal size. Once the brain reduced in size, it began to pulsate in a dynamic rhythm.

Further research discovered that the shrinking process squeezed out the trash, waste, and toxins from the brain cells and created space into which the garbage could drain. Once the debris was squeezed into these empty portals in the brain, while the volume of the brain was still reduced, fluid from the spinal cord plunged into the brain for a brainwash.

In the next section, “How Brain Health Can Affect Your Finances,” we’ll look at specific costs related to brain health.

Brain Trash
  • A byproduct of the work your cells do
  • A 3lb. brain makes 5lb. of trash per year
  • The more built-up trash, the “older” the brain

When Brain Trash Builds: Plaques and Tangles

Many different types of trash can build up in the brain. Plaques and tangles are the two most common forms of brain trash found in Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques and tangles can stop communication between nerve cells which can be a part of what causes memory loss. 


Author Headshot

Dr. Marc Milstein is a leading scientific researcher on neuroscience, health, and happiness. His insights provide science-based solutions to keep the brain healthy, lower the risk of dementia, boost productivity and maximize longevity. He earned both his Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry and his Bachelor of Science in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from UCLA. 

Dr. Milstein’s new book “The Age-Proof Brain” has been a #1 best seller on Amazon in several categories, including, Aging, Longevity, and Neuroscience.

Talk to your financial professional about how brain health could affect your finances


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, who is not affiliated with Hartford Funds. If you are concerned about your brain health or cognitive function, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor or a healthcare professional, who can evaluate your cognitive function and provide recommendations for management and treatment, if necessary.

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