Island Senior: Caring For Your Brain

Posted January 21, 2021 at 5:30 am by

Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, MD book cover

“Island Senior” is a reg­u­lar col­umn on the San Juan Update writ­ten by Peg­gy Sue McRae.

Neu­ro­sur­geon and well-known CNN Chief Med­ical Cor­re­spon­dent, Dr. San­jay Gup­ta, MD. was recent­ly fea­tured in the Blue Zones online newslet­ter regard­ing his new book, Keep Sharp: Build a Bet­ter Brain at Any Age

The Blue Zones is a con­cept based on world­wide longevi­ty stud­ies fea­tured in a pre­vi­ous Island Senior arti­cle, Island Senior: Tips From the Blue Zones For Hearty Longevi­ty.

Those of us who have helped care for our own par­ents or grand­par­ents suf­fer­ing from demen­tia have all the more rea­son to be con­cerned for our own brain health.

The good news is there are things we can do to main­tain a well-func­tion­ing brain.

Dr. Gup­ta explains, “There are things we can do that involve lifestyle changes that could absolute­ly delay the pro­gres­sion of demen­tia and even reverse it.” Lifestyles mold­ed on the Blue Zones sup­port good brain health.

If it’s good you the heart, it’s good for the brain,” says Dr. Gup­ta. In oth­er words, get­ting exer­cise and eat­ing a healthy diet helps keep your brain alert. Even mod­er­ate move­ment through­out the day will help. Less red meat or processed foods are a dou­ble win for both your heart and your brain. Berries are espe­cial­ly good brain food. While blue­ber­ries have a well-known “super­food” sta­tus Dr. Gup­ta says, “Dive into berries.” All kinds of berries are good brain food.

When it comes to activ­i­ties like play­ing the piano or doing cross­word puz­zles, prac­tice may make per­fect but it’s change, get­ting out of your com­fort zone, that can keep your brain agile. Try some­thing new to keep your brain sharp.

Get­ting a good night’s sleep is also crit­i­cal. Sci­ence is con­tin­u­al­ly learn­ing more about the impor­tance of sleep. While we sleep our brains process mem­o­ries from the day and brain “clean­ing cells” actu­al­ly remove tox­ins. Our brains go through a sort of “rinse cycle” at night.

Final­ly, social inter­ac­tion is good for our brain health. Dr. Gupta’s pre­scrip­tions for one of the best things you can do for your brain is to take a brisk walk, with a close friend, who you can tell your prob­lems to. Says Dr. Gup­ta, “The expe­ri­ences you have through empa­thy, through these con­nec­tions with peo­ple, is all nour­ish­ing the brain as well.” 

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