We received a casual invitation from a friend to come hear him play at a little cafe out our way. His exact words were, “if you’re not doing anything interesting, and wanna come hear some mediocre music, we will be there from 5:30-7:00. ”
How could we resist? The band was better than he said and played music everyone enjoyed. On a break, he sat with us and we asked why he was playing bass rather than drums. He said he was learning a new instrument as “brain exercise” and we talked about that.
Old ideas held that you were born with all of your brain cells and aging (and other delightfully bad habits) diminished them. Period. New research shows that we can create new brain cells, and there are three ways to give these new cells the support they need:
- Learning new things
- Exercising regularly
- Our diet
I heard that sigh. But the produce aisle is the one place where the more you eat, the healthier you will be! Just increase your fruit and veggie intake to 5-6 servings a day. Easy. The superstars are:
- Blueberries, which boost neuron signals and help with memory and cognitive skills (you will be able to recognize and remember your kids when you’re old).
- Spinach, which just shows that Popeye was right. It builds muscles and your brain, helping avoid confusion and lack of focus.
- Apples. One a day will keep both the doctor and Alzheimers away.
A study on rats found that those fed a diet rich in spinach, blueberries and strawberries were “able to reverse age-related deficits in neuronal and cognitive function.” (Journal of Neuroscience, 15 Sept. 1999) If the rats can get younger and smarter, then so can I.
Add to your diet: Wild-caught fish, Walnuts and Flaxseed. All are excellent sources of Omega-3 fats that are essential to our grey matter and improve memory. Eggs are rich in choline, a B vitamin. Grass-Fed beef is rich in both zinc and iron which help overall brain health, memory, and concentration. Iron also enhances the distribution of oxygen throughout our bodies.
I generally choose what I eat wisely; nutrient-dense foods with an occasional binge…the 80-20 rule. The cleaner I eat, the better I feel. I became brutally aware of the difference when I fell off the wagon during the holidays.
Eat well. Exercise regularly. And learn something new.
Then again, should we choose not to bother, we won’t remember or care anyway.