A healthy brain is a happy brain

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I am afraid that I spend way too much time obsessing over my body and pay too little attention to what’s going on between my ears. With a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, this is probably not an area I should be taking for granted.

I read with great interest articles that offer advice on different things that may help to fend off Alzheimer’s, whether it’s a food, a supplement or a “brain exercise” to keep my brain from withering away.

And there’s good news! Brain exercises require a lot less effort than body exercises!

I have long looked forward to the day when I could be a cranky old woman who said and did whatever I pleased. I’m getting really close to reaching that goal now and need to keep my brain in peak condition; I want to enjoy being cognitively crotchety during my golden years.

So, without further ado, here is the first installment of five tips for buffing up your brain:

1. Drink two cups of gotu kola tea daily. Gotu Kola is an herb said to regulate dopamine, the chemical that helps protect brain cells from damage by free radicals, boosts pleasurable feelings, and improves focus and memory. Dopamine sounds like my kind of chemical.

2. Put some cinnamon on that oatmeal and start eatin’! My love for oatmeal is well-documented and now it turns out that it’s not only good for your heart – it also scrubs plaque from your brain arteries! Add the cinnamon to keep your blood sugar under control, which may improve neurotransmission.

3. Read, read, read! Picking up a good book or reading the newspaper will not only cut down on boredom, but frequent reading is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. I am reasonably certain that obsessive blog reading qualifies here.

4. Get out the board games! Whether you like Yahtzee, Pictionary, Scrabble, or Boggle (the personal favorite of both me and Peggy Hill), board games are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. They activate strategic, spatial, and memory parts of the brain, and require you to socialize, which can help form new neural pathways.

5. When you look around, really look. Stare straight ahead, and now—without moving your eyes—see if you can make out what's at the periphery. Do this regularly and you'll stimulate the neural and spatial centers of the brain, which can atrophy as you age.

So that’s it – the first five. So far brain exercises don’t look all that tough. I think I’ll make some tea and get started on that new book I’ve been wanting to read. Those mundane household chores will just have to wait – I’m doing important brain work!


MizFit said...

ironic you say this as I was kinda kept awake last night by the exact same thoughts...AND I did a magazine column on brain fitness last year.

today? Im gonna drive different routes to places I always go.

challenge my cranium.

thanks for the morning reminder.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

That's a great idea, mizfit. I practically sleep through most of my driving.

Vikki said...

Not sure if you've ever read Dr. McCleary's book "The Brain Trust" but if you haven't I would highly recommend it. It's an easy enough read, not one of those high science books that make your eye glaze over before you finish page one...giggle But the whole purpose of the book is brain health. It even includes brain exercises.
I now have your exercises down for me to work on too. Some of which I had never tried.
BTW thanks for dropping in on my blog, I hope you like the dijon pork chops as much as we do. Drop me a note and let me know

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Thank you for the book recommendation, Vikki - I'll be sure to check it out! If I can remember. :)