As you go gray, focus on gray matter [Tampa Tribune, Fla.]
(Tampa Tribune (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 26--From "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1931) to "Inception" (2011), Hollywood always has been fascinated with what goes on in the human brain. But sci-fi doesn't do justice to the astounding 3-pound supercomputer between your ears. It has 100 billion neurons and 1,000 times that many connections. So it takes some TLC to keep it in tip-top shape. That's why it's so exciting that recent research reveals how to enhance your intellect, strengthen perception and protect your gray matter over the long haul.
Start with your 'tude, dude. When you think of yourself as "older" and associate aging with declining abilities, you're five times more likely to test positive for dementia than if you have a youthful sense of self. Luckily, you're never too old to renew your inner youthfulness. Three sure-fire ways: Touch and be touched -- hugs, intimate contact or massage stimulate feel-good hormones; learn one new thing a day, as it keeps the brain young; and meditate 10 minutes daily to build resilience and manage neuron-damaging stress.
Build neurons and muscles. Physical activity stimulates the growth of new neurons and new connections between them. That preserves your memory and overall cognitive function.
Get some fat-isfaction. Your brain reacts to the fats you eat, and a new study found saturated fats (in meats and dairy) KO brain function. But cognitive, verbal and memory skills are amped up by monounsaturated (olive oil) and polyunsaturated (canola and safflower oil) fats, omega-3s in walnuts, and DHA in fish and omega-3 supplements.
LeBron James sweats it out with the Heat -- and drinks a gallon of water a day during the playoffs to make sure he's well-hydrated. (You probably shouldn't drink that much; water intoxication can be lethal.) But for those of us who chose not to take our talents to South Beach, knowing what and how much to drink isn't so simple.
First, you hear, "Drink eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day." Then reports say that's nonsense. On TV, ads trumpet the virtues of sports drinks, but new research gives them the thumbs down. You hear coffee dehydrates you. Wait, now it doesn't.
Well, we've got an oasis of good advice on hydration.
Why hydration matters: Good hydration helps prevent constipation, exercise-related asthma, elevated blood glucose and protects against heart damage.
How much you should drink: About 22 percent of the water you consume comes from food. The rest should come from liquids such as coffee, tap water and juices with pulp.
What you should drink: Unless you are exercising in hot weather, avoid sports drinks and liquids with added sugar and drink only as much coffee as your nerves and stomach can handle. The rest Good old pulp-filled fruit and vegetable juice, and lots of water.
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