Brain Health


Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon writes in CNN Health article that though ‘our memory fades as we age but it doesn’t have to‘ because it could remain sharp with simple everyday efforts. “Memories make us feel alive, capable and valuable. They help us feel comfortable with our surroundings, connect the past with the present, and provide a framework for the future” writes Dr Gupta.

Unlike most any other organ in the body, our brains are not pre-ordained to wither away, lose power, blunt their edge or, worst of all, become forgetful. [..] People tend to have a limited view of what their brains are capable of doing as they age, and the power they have to make themselves better, faster, fitter and, yes, sharper.

Dr Sanjay Gupta in CNN Health

Some research has demonstrated that certain infections raise the risk of cognitive decline or a dreaded form of dementia. But Dr Gupta suggests such prospects should motivate us to ‘redouble our efforts to control overall risk factors for dementia and make our brains as resilient and sharp as possible, and there are tools to do this’.

Referring to countless studies Gupta writes that the brain simply prefers a body in motion and a mere 2 minutes of activity every hour can boost brain health more so than anything else they could possibly be doing right now.

“Exercise wouldn’t necessarily be thought of as the cure, but rather inactivity as the disease. Just move. Every time you are about to sit, ask yourself: Could I stay standing instead?”

According to Dr Gupta, one of the best things you can do for your brain: Take a brisk walk with a close friend and discuss your problems. “These strategies may sound extraordinarily simple and perhaps quaint, but they work. As someone who has had a love affair with the brain since I was a teenager, I admit that I’m biased, but I whole heartedly believe that all roads to health and happiness start with the brain. Your brain is command central for itself and the body, and it is possible to make your brain sharper than it has ever been in the past. Do not accept the false idea that brain decline is unavoidable,” Dr Gupta adds.

Mayo’s Tips for a Healthy Brain

In the Mayo clinic Heath system, Donn Dexter, M.D. (a neurologist in Eau Claire, Wisconsin) recommends the following five tips to slow any decline in memory as we grow older.

  • Exercise regularly: Keeping a regular exercising or physical activity routine provides beneficial effect to the brain. Such activities increases blood flow to the brain countering some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occur during aging, in effect reversing some of the problems. Aim to exercise several times per week for 30–60 minutes.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Studies have shown that sleep helps clear abnormal proteins in the brain and consolidates memories, which boosts overall memory and brain health. It is important to get seven to eight consecutive hours of sleep per night, not fragmented sleep of two- or three-hour increments. Consecutive sleep gives your brain the time to consolidate and store your memories effectively.
  • Eat a Mediterranean diet: A Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil is considered ideal for brain health.
  • Stay mentally active: Our brain is similar to a muscle — you need to use it, or you lose it. Through reading or puzzles challenge providing enough workout to our brain. Finally, don’t watch too much television.
  • Remain socially involved: Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress that contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends and others.

“While many organs do wither and decline with age, the brain is different, and it is well within your reach to stay cognitively intact into old age. I have seen it over and over again in patients I’ve treated and people I’ve encountered in my work as a journalist,” writes Dr Gupta in CNN Health.