Thank you to Jan Dougherty for taking the time to share some valuable information as we enter into Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
“Eat your fruits and vegetables, go out and play with your friends, do your homework and get a good night sleep.” Does this sound like familiar advice that your grandma might have given you when you were a kid? Well, it turns out that grandma may have been onto something she didn’t know would also help improve your brain health!
Middle aged and older Americans fear developing Alzheimer’s disease more than any other health condition. And this fact is making us pay greater attention to growing scientific evidence that lifestyle may play an important role in the delay of symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Grandma knew that what we eat matters. Scientists tell us that “eating the color of the rainbow” means consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables in our diet. But we’ve also learn that limiting red meat and eating more fish is beneficial as well. Going out to play with our friends produced two benefits: exercise and socialization. Studies conclude that about 30 minutes per day of exercise (by breaking a sweat) can greatly improve our heart and brain health. And being with others is essential to our well-being throughout life. We’re never too old to enjoy a brisk walk, game of tennis, golf, or pickle ball with a friend; and now we’ve done what grandma told us to do.
Sure grandma wanted us to do our best in school but I suspect she knew that we should never give up learning and trying new things. While grandma didn’t know that learning new things developed new neuropathways, I bet she told others “if you don’t use it, you will lose it.” Whether keeping up with the news, taking a class, planning a trip, a family meal, or balancing the checking account, these activities require brain power and are critically important for even our oldest adults!
Finally, we all know that getting a good night sleep helps us to perform better the next day. But now science has taught us that sleep actually cleanses the toxins built up in our brain during the day. In essence it is a restorative time for a healthy brain.
In this new era of brain health, there is much that each of us can do to improve brain health. It’s never too late to heed grandma’s advice!
Jan Dougherty, Special Projects Consultant