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.

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July
 
 
 
 
 
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Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
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Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
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Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Fri
2
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sat
3
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sun
4
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Independence Day - Academic Holiday
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Mon
5
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Tue
6
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Wed
7
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Thu
8
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Fri
9
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
FAMILY DAY WORKSHOP
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sat
10
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sun
11
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Mon
12
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Tue
13
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Wed
14
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Thu
15
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Curator Tour
Fri
16
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sat
17
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sun
18
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Mon
19
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
UK Women's Forum Board Meeting
Tue
20
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Wed
21
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Thu
22
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Fri
23
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sat
24
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sun
25
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Mon
26
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Tue
27
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Wed
28
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Thu
29
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Reading Fairy Tales
Fri
30
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sat
31
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Birdhouse Display and Auction
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Lawrence Tarpey: Figures & Grounds
Eugene Meatyard & Duane Michals: Camera Drama
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 

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