As the executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), I am always on the lookout for brain-healthy foods. I scan grocery aisles for chocolate bars with more than 70 percent cocoa, feel that I’m stimulating my brain when I down my morning coffee and even feel virtuous when drinking a glass or two of red wine. Turns out all my assumptions have been wrong.
En español | An AARP survey on brain health has found a significant gap between what people believe is good for their brains and what they actually do to preserve their cognitive function. The survey, of more than 1,500 adults over age 40, found that although 98 percent said maintaining and improving brain health was very or somewhat important, only about half are participating in activities — such as exercising, eating a healthy diet and reducing stress — that have been shown to protect cognitive health. Nearly 4 in 10 surveyed also said they have noticed a decline in their ability to remember things over the past five years.
After an afternoon swim at the local postage-stamp sized pool in Earlville, Iowa, my younger sister (age 7) and I (age 9) would return to our grandmother's house ravenously hungry. Most of the time, Grandma served us a steaming bowl of cabbage, carrot and potato soup, made with three vegetables abundant in her garden. We devoured the soup, along with warm bread slathered in butter and glasses of cold milk. To this day, I credit my grandmother with teaching me to enjoy cabbage. (I even like sauerkraut.)
Those who have lived to be 100 have some advice for you young whipper-snappers in your 50s who want to reach the century mark: Sleep longer and eat a more healthful diet.
In the New York Times online today, there is a story on a recent study that found that strength training actually helps older women (aged 65-75) sharpen their minds - as well as their muscles! A win-win!
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