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Archive for the ‘Brain Health’ Category

Have you ever had any of these experiences?

**You walk into a room and forget what you wanted to do.

**You want to drive somewhere but you can’t remember where you left the car keys.

**You’re shopping and you see one of your close neighbors, but you can’t remember his or her name.

These are but a few examples of what are commonly referred to as “senior moments.” Many people who have these forgetful moments fear that they might be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but the fact is that almost everyone, especially starting around the age of 50, has these experiences.

Factors that can worsen memory loss are:

**Lack of sleep

**Uncontrolled high blood pressure

**Excessive use of alcohol

**Medications

**Loneliness, anxiety and depression

Just as aging affects our bodies, it also causes changes in our brains. Memory lapses are some of the more obvious changes that we will all experience.

Although we can’t keep our brains from physically aging, we can be proactive to slow down those changes. The following are my recommendations to keep our brains as healthy as possible as we age:

**Concentrate, pay attention and use mental images to help remember things.

**Maintain a positive attitude and continue to find purpose in life.

**Remain physically active with some form of regular exercise.

**Stimulate the brain by doing puzzles and word games, reading and conversing.

**Maintain adequate sleep. A regular brief nap is very beneficial.

**Eat a healthful, balanced diet.

**Avoid alcohol, or at least limit its use.

**Get organized. Use calendars, notes and lists to jog the memory.

**Do not isolate yourself. Remain socially active with family and friends.

**Relax through yoga, meditation and prayer.

The bottom line is that we all experience occasional memory loss. This is part of the normal aging process. Senior moments usually cause only minor annoyances, occasional slips and inconvenience and are no cause for worry or concern. If your moments become persistent, worsen or interfere with daily activities, however, you should see your doctor so your symptoms can be evaluated.

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Be Good to your Brain

Throughout the general media, much is being said these days about improving and maintaining good health. Most of this information tends to emphasize our physical health, such as preventing conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, etc. There is much less information, though it is equally important, about keeping our brains healthy, especially as we age.

Although the current literature about maintaining brain health is geared toward the elderly population, the information in this article is important for the entire population. No one is too young to start thinking about keeping his or her brain as healthy as possible.

The following are suggestions anyone can take to promote a healthy brain:

• Maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This can be done by treating or preventing conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart and blood vessel disease.

• Exercise. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week will help to increase your heart rate and boost the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. (Even a small amount of exercise is better than none.)

• Weight control. Try to maintain what your doctor figures should be your ideal weight to help avoid conditions that include heart disease, diabetes and overall stress and strain to the body.

• Watch your diet. Try to eat more of what is referred to as the “Mediterranean diet.” This diet avoids saturated and trans fats and emphasizes lean meat, fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, healthy fats such as canola and olive oil, nuts and legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.

• Consider taking omega-3 supplements. These are important fatty acids that are beneficial to the brain and can be bought at pharmacies and health food stores.

• Avoid unhealthy behaviors. Don’t smoke or use any tobacco product. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is now considered to be no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks for men.

• Get adequate sleep. Seven hours or more of good sleep per day is deemed necessary to maintain a healthy brain.

• Stimulate your mind. Challenge your brain with memory tasks, learn new information, engage in frequent social interactions and pursue a variety of stimulating activities, such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, card games, and so on.

• Don’t worry — be happy. Think positively, learn to tolerate uncertainty, spend time with upbeat people and try to improve your feelings of self-worth.

Some people, unfortunately, will have an abnormal deterioration of their brain function because of bad genes, illness, or diseases over which they have no control. However, current research shows that the previously mentioned suggestions could be beneficial in maintaining a healthy brain.

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