Retirement and Dementia

Dr. Paul Nussbaum, the Chief Scientific Officer at Fit Brains, shares his valuable thoughts on the topics of Retirement and Dementia:

It’s ironic how people work their whole lives toward the goal of retirement but when it does come, many suffer anxiety and depression towards the idea of having nothing to think about or do.

For many years I have spoken and written about my resistance to “retirement” the way the policy and concept is positioned and treated in the United States. It is true that there may have been good intent with the idea of retirement, but my guess is that nobody considered the health implications for the brain. This becomes increasingly important when we know that a passive, isolated, lonely, and segregated brain will atrophy when we stop working.

Retirement certainly does not have to be a time of passivity. Indeed, many people at all ages retire to a different and even busier life than when they were employed. However, a recent study of nearly a half-million people by the French government’s health research agency found that people who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

It is believed work is related to physical activity, socialization, mental stimulation, all things known to be good for the brain and three of the five major pillars of Dr. Nussbaum’s Brain Health Lifestyle ® (see www.paulnussbaum.com)For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2% according to the study.

The major finding is supportive of the “use it or lose it” theory and I will simply add to that by saying you should “use it in new and complex ways or lose it.”  The answer is not to delay retirement to have a healthy mind and fulfilling life, it is the importance of keeping your mind and body active even after retirement.  Keep a personally relevant reason for getting up each morning, and feel good about your daily contributions to those around you.

Strive to be relevant, useful, healthy, and active every day in your life.  For the days that aren’t as busy as others, you can still keep your mind active and stimulated with the Fit Brains Trainer app!

Top 10 Brain Foods

You are what you eat” — that’s a saying we always hear!  However, most people think about how food affects the body, but not the brain.  The brain needs proper nutrients just like the rest of your body.  It actually needs more energy to operate properly than other organs!

Here are 10 brain foods you can incorporate into your daily diet to maintain a healthy brain:

 

1. Salmon – Improves brain tissue development, fights cognitive decline.
2. Blueberries – Improve memory, reduce stress, reduce age-related declines in motor function and coordination.
3. Avocados – Increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure to maintain effective mind functioning.
4. Flax Seeds – Build and protect neurons, aid the processing of sensory information.
5. Coffee (in moderation) – Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia…and of course, gives you a brain energy boost!
6. Nuts – Improve memory and mental clarity, fight insomnia.
7. Whole Grains – Promote cardiovascular health, which improves circulation flow to the brain.
8. Tomatoes – Eliminate free radicals in your body, prevent age-related cognitive diseases.
9. Eggs – Provides energy for your brain, improves memory.
10. Dark Chocolate (in moderation) – Increases focus and concentration, improves your mood!

 

What foods do you eat to keep your mind active & healthy?  Leave a comment and let us know!

The Importance of Caring for Self

For nearly 15 years I have had the pleasure of working on a brain health lifestyle ® that includes five domains: (1) physical activity, (2) nutrition, (3) socialization, (4) spirituality, and (5) mental stimulation.  This lifestyle is underscored by a fundamental understanding that the human brain can be shaped for health and that what we do is very important to our overall emotional and cognitive wellbeing.

Over the 15 years, I have thought about what my brain health lifestyle ® really is tapping into. I believe the most basic and critically important aspect of initiating a brain health lifestyle is the power of paying attention to oneself, taking the time to understand that you have the power to shape your life for quality and balance.

Lifestyle is an established pathway to health and wellbeing. The paradox is that even though most people know and believe a healthy lifestyle is important, there is very low compliance to following such a healthy lifestyle. The question is why do we not do what we know is good for us? After speaking to nearly 60,000 people over the past decade, I believe compliance with a healthy lifestyle will increase if first, people are educated on why they should follow such a lifestyle and second, the change in behavior must be seen as personal!

I believe in educating everyone on the connection between lifestyle and the impact on the brain. Once somebody understands how the brain reacts to your own behavior there is a type of “light bulb” that goes off and things start to make sense. Often, we are simply told what to do and we are not provided with the why behind it. Also, the message can be powerful if it is personal and not perceived as academic or clinical.

The most critical factor in leading a consistent brain health lifestyle ® is your ability to care for yourself, to give yourself the necessary time every day to understand your emotional, cognitive, and relational balance. By checking in and knowing yourself, you will have the ability to make small changes to get back into balance and achieve real brain health and wellness.

 

 

Stress Damaging to the Brain

Following up on my previous blog on the brain and the importance of keeping peace and harmony in the brain is a new study that indicates stress can cause damage to the brain.

Living a stressful life has been found to atrophy the cortex of the brain, the critical part that processes information consciously. Stress also can cause damage in areas of the brain the regulate emotion.

A lead researcher with Yale University observed 100 healthy participants using MRI scans while they answered questions about potentially traumatic life events, including the loss of loved one, job or home. The authors found a direct relationship between the experience of stressful life events and structural changes in the brain. This supports other research on chronic stress and structural changes and functional changes, particularly memory function in the brain.

Overall, the growing body of research on the impact of stress on the body and brain demands we all take time to care for ourselves and create periods of the day that are stress free.

Latest on Omega-3 Supplements

You may have read or heard about the recent study and news that Omega-3 supplements have no significant effect on reducing cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease. Findings were published in the September 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A meta-analysis pooled from 20 randomized studies including more than 68,000 patients concluded that supplementation did not reduce the risks of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction or stroke.  The authors opined that the findings do not justify the use of Omega-3s as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or guidelines supporting daily Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid administration.

Authors and clinicians suggest that even though supplements may not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, there is evidence they help reduce triglyceride cholesterol levels. Clinicians also indicate it is important we maintain a plant-based diet with Omega-3 rich fatty fish as part of a heart-healthy Mediterranean-like dietary strategy that hold benefits most likely beyond individual supplements.

It is important to differentiate disease prevention from health promotion. Because something does not prevent a disease does not mean it is not healthy. Omega-3s in the form of food consumption remains health promoting. Even supplements continue to help with unhealthy cholesterol reduction. We should engage in health promoting behaviors including diet, exercise, and stress reduction even if such behaviors do not prevent disease.