by Bob Sparrow
As we continue to wade through this era of ‘house arrest’, as a society we have become sedentary bingers. We sit at home and binge on food, binge on drink, binge on computer time and binge-watch the latest Netflix series. How is this affecting us physically and mentally? Significantly!
While we here at From A Bird’s Eye View don’t pretend to have the panacea, we will pass along some information that might be helpful in keeping you physically and mentally sharp . . . or sharper. Caveat: If you are not sharp to start with, reading this will not make you sharp.
The information herein comes from a book I recently finished entitled, Keep Sharp, by Sanjay Gupta, MD (brain surgeon). It’s currently a ‘best seller’ so perhaps you’ve seen it or even read it (sorry for the redundancy here if you have). It’s directed mostly at those of us older folks, who are concerned with dementia, but the principles of a healthy brain apply to all ages. To be honest, there is a lot of scientific stuff in the book that can get a little tedious, but it helps frame what you should be doing, both mentally and physically to Keep Sharp.
The book first asks the question, “Are you at risk for brain decline?” Gupta list 24 items that could make you at risk. Here’s a few:
- Are you over 65?
- Do you sit most of the day?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you take meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol?
- Do you have a smoking history?
- Do you lack social engagement?
- And of course, does Alzheimer’s disease run in your family?
Yep, I too found myself ‘at risk’.
He also lists a number of myths about the brain, among them:
- Dementia is an inevitable consequence of old age
- We use only 10% of our brains
- A crossword puzzle a day keeps the doctor away
Here’s a brief summary of the five things Gupta suggests to keep your mind sharp no matter what your age:
- Move – improve your cardio, strength, flexibility, balance
- Discover – take a class, learn a language, play games, develop a strong sense of purpose
- Relax – sleep needs to remain constant throughout life (You don’t need less as you get older). Regarding sleep:
- sleep aids like Nyquil and ‘PM’ formulas are linked to higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
- stick to a schedule
- avoid long naps
- don’t be a night owl
- eliminate electronics before bed – computer/tablet/phone screens contain ‘blue wavelengths’ that suppress melatonin.
- Nourish – what’s good for the heart is good for the brain
- cut sugars
- eat fish/more Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- reduce portions
- Connect – Crosswords get a B- for their ability to boost brain function, connecting with others, face-to-face, in person, gets an A (Understand that we’ve had some restrictions in this regard).
Not in the book, but something that I’ve found good for brain health, is a download called Lumosity. It is a series of games and challenges that help keep the brain sharp. After completing a number of the challenges, you can see where your brain ranks with other people in your age group. The download is free, but the Premium package (recommended) is about $60 a year.
If this helps just one person become ‘sharper’, then I apologize to the rest of you for this waste of time.
How ever you do it – hope you all keep sharp!
Post Script: Not so much as a public service, but because I have nothing else to do, I’ve created a 6-page summary of the book, including all the ‘at risk’ categories, all the myths about the brain, more detail on the 5 categories for keeping sharp, including the Top 10 secrets of slumber, as well as more detail on diet and exercise. If you’re not someone who will buy and read Keep Sharp, but would like this summary, just let me know in the comment section of this post and I will email it out to you.