Keith Hautala

Brain Needs Proper Diet and Exercise, Too

Published: Jun 7, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 7, 2011) — The following column appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday, June 5. 

 

Brain needs proper diet and exercise, too

Ward off effects of aging with fresh fruits, ‘neurobics,’ activities

By Dr. Greg Jicha

SPECIAL TO THE HERALD-LEADER

 

Healthy brain aging is a concern for all of us. It’s normal to struggle with small things such as recalling names — and we all experience some slowing of the thought processes with advanced age — but everyone hopes to avoid serious cognitive impairment.

 

Some cognitive difficulties, such as Alzheimer’s disease, have underlying pathological causes that we are still working to understand, but we know that brains can also lose function simply through poor physical, mental and social health. Many of the causes of cognitive decline are preventable.

 

Just as we create exercise regimens for the body, we should create a routine for brain health.

As a general rule, what is good for heart health is good for brain health. Getting regular exercise, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight all promote a healthy brain.

 

People of all ages, par ticularly seniors, benefit from leaving the house, engaging in learning activities and having an active social life. It is important to commit to a schedule that encourages all of these healthy-brain-aging activities.

 

Summer, in many ways, is an ideal time to set up a routine for healthy brain aging. Warm weather offers the opportunity to get physical exercise through gardening and walking. Many community organizations offer summer classes in dance, photography, art, music and other hobbies.

 

Summer also is the season of farmers markets and fresh produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain compounds called plant polyphenols. These compounds, which help plants fight off disease, have been observed in animal models to extend lifespan by promoting general cellular health. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and red wine are all good sources of polyphenols.

 

Anyone interested in healthy brain aging also can practice “neurobics.” These “aerobics for the brain” are activities that can be thrown into the daily schedule on a whim. Examples include taking a different route home, shopping at a different grocery store, or purposely driving or walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood.

These simple activities activate the problem-solving areas of the brain as the person navigates unfamiliar territory.

 

Social engagement is key for seniors, who might find their social circle shrinking as friends and relatives move, develop serious illness or die.

 

Senior centers offer great resources for social activities. Something as simple as gathering with others for a regular card game can help keep the cognitive functions of the brain sharp. For some seniors, moving into a senior-living community is ideal, because it provides increased opportunities for structured activities and socialization with peers.

 

Through socialization, hobbies, lifelong learning, healthy eating, physical activity and challenging their brain on a daily basis, most people have the capacity to achieve healthy brain aging.

 

I have seen some patients reverse mild cognitive impairment simply by adopting a healthier lifestyle — so it’s never too late to encourage healthy brain aging.

 

Dr. Greg Jicha is an assistant professor of neurology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine and UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

jicha_gregory-3.jpg
July
 
 
1
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
2
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers
Wed
3
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
4
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
5
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
6
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Artful Sunday: Benday Dot Day
Sun
7
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Mon
8
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
9
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers
Wed
10
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
11
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
12
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
International Youth Water Justice Summit
Sat
13
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
14
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Mon
15
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
16
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers (with Dr. Greg Jicha)
Wed
17
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
18
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
19
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Color Water Balloon Fight
Sat
20
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Summer Salon: Landscape as Subject with Tom Barnes, Photographer
Sun
21
EPIC Ministry Weekly Gathering
Mon
22
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
23
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers
Wed
24
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
25
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Fri
26
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sat
27
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Sun
28
 
Mon
29
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Tue
30
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Get Moving - A Walking Group for Caregivers (with Mary Crowley Schmidt)
Wed
31
Landscape/Mindscape: Selections from the Wells Fargo Collection
Thu
 
 

Repeats every day on May, June, July, August every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday and on the first Sunday until Sun Aug 17 2014 .
Tue, 07/29/2014

Repeats every day on May, June, July, August every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday and on the first Sunday until Sun Aug 17 2014 .
Wed, 07/30/2014

Repeats every day on May, June, July, August every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday and on the first Sunday until Sun Aug 17 2014 .
Thu, 07/31/2014

Fri, 08/01/2014 - Wed, 09/03/2014

Reset Page