Slow brain leads to slow muscles for those over 40

We all know that many of the physical feats we were able to perform in our 20s aren't quite so easy in our 40s. But as it turns out, that could have less to do with your body and more to do with your mind.

New research indicates that brain decline has a direct effect on how quickly you can perform even the most basic physical acts. No matter how fit or toned your muscles may be, if they're not getting signals from your brain quickly, they can't act quickly. It's that simple.

For your brain cells to act quickly, they need to be well insulated with a substance called myelin. Myelin binds to the brain cells and nerve fibers and has a lot to do with how well electrical impulses are carried.

According to the study's lead researcher Dr. George Bartzokis, a neurologist from UCLA, the decline in the amount of myelin in the brain is one of the reasons why "it's hard to be a world-class athlete after 40."

The purpose of this study was not to figure out how to extend the playing time of star athletes, but to find one more clue in the battle against Alzheimer's disease.

Most people who have a neurological disease like Alzheimer's have a buildup of amyloid plaque, a toxic protein that impairs the function of your brain cells. Bartzokis reasons that, like muscle action, memory relies on the same electrical impulses. He has done previous research that indicates that there could be a gene that's linked to Alzheimer's that could retard myelin repair.

Bartzokis doesn't think this physical drop-off translates to an immediate mental decline at the same age. He thinks that myelin "fray" starts at about age 50 in the areas of the brain which control high-level thinking. Returning to the star athlete analogy, Bartzokis said at a later age someone like Michael Jordan can be "Michael Jordan the big-shot business man, but not Michael Jordan the super-duper basketball player any more."

But there's hope: there are some basic health tips that will help keep your brain full of myelin. There are no surprises here: as I'm always telling you, mind and body are inextricably linked, so maintaining physical health keeps your mind sharp:

1)Stay active; both physical and mental activity can speed myelin repair.

2)Pump yourself full of omega-3 fatty acids - they may be as beneficial for myelin levels as they are for heart health

3)Beware of elevated stress and hormone levels, which could damage myelin.

EPA rockets new water regulations out the window

In a development that will surprise absolutely no one, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declined to protect the nation's drinking water supply from contamination by the chemical ammonium perchlorate.

Don't expect to see a limit put on this stuff anytime soon, either. The reason? I'm willing to bet it has something to do with the fact that both NASA and the Department of Defense routinely dispose of the substance - used in both rocket fuel and the manufacture of munitions - by diluting it and dumping it on the ground.

The EPA argues that percholate has been found in less than one percent of American water supplies. One percent may not seem like much, but it still represents more than 150 municipal drinking supplies. And when you factor in that the substance has been linked to incidence of thyroid problems in both children and pregnant women, even one percent seems like too much.

Once again, when push comes to shove, you can always bet on the engines of government bureaucracy to put their own interests and needs before that of the public - even when it comes to the issue of dangerous chemicals in the drinking supply.