Ten Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Brain

Guide to Brain Health and Wellness

Results also showed the positive effect of an enriched environment upon brain structure occurred across the life of the animal. Weighing but two to four pounds and made up of nearly 60% fat. Tarentum: Word Association Publishers . Nearly forty years ago research demonstrated that rodents and non-human primates exposed to “enriched environments” had larger brains. Interestingly. the area of greatest brain development occurred in the hippocampus. Paul 2003.About The Human Brain.Brain Health and Wellness. and behavior. there remains debate regarding a similar effect on the 1 Nussbaum.. or negative) on animal brain development. neutral.. physical activity. The human brain represents the single greatest system in the universe. This is a special time in our evolution as the human brain is under tremendous scrutiny regarding its potential and capacity. this wonderful integration of brain cells and supportive cells produces our every thought.1 These three factors contributed to the positive effects of environment on brain development and if absent. There are three primary factors important to the enriched environment: socialization. a region of the brain important to memory and learning. can delay or stop the normal development of an animal’s brain. and mental stimulation. emotion. more brain cell connections (synapses). While there is no doubt about the environmental effects (positive. and new brain cell development (neurogenesis).

Recently. Building a robust and healthy brain has the wonderful benefits of not only achieving health for the central nervous system but also delaying the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Remember. Further. the same three critical factors socialization. the human brain is the greatest information processing system! As more research demonstrates the unlimited capacities of the human brain many of the traditional ideas regarding the brain will be replaced with more enlightened characterizations. . this research suggests the hippocampus in the human to have the same wonderful capacity to develop new brain cells. research has demonstrated the human brain to have the same capacity for development as the rodent brain. Interestingly.human brain. A lifestyle for brain health promotion should be considered a lifelong process and one that has benefit at any age. Turning again to the animal model of brain development. physical activity. a human brain that has the capacity for development is also a system that can be nurtured and developed. and mental stimulation represent a foundation for a lifestyle towards brain health. This is most likely not coincidental as the hippocampus is necessary and fundamental to learning and acquisition of new information. The “Ten Tips for Brain Health” listed here represent critical ingredients of the lifestyle and are born from the three critical factors of an enriched environment reviewed earlier.

Ten Tips For Maintaining A Tip 1: Don’t Smoke Smoking represents a major risk factor for cancer. so establish a good working relationship based on the understanding that you are the boss of your body. We must develop a proactive attitude toward maintaining our health and take responsibility to change those aspects of our lifestyles that are minimizing our longevity potential. Tip 3: Exercise Regularly Exercise and physical activity continue to emerge as primary components of a healthy lifestyle at any age. 25 percent of its output goes to our brains . maintaining efficient blood flow to our brains through regular exercise promotes . Aerobic exercise. Every time our heart beats. heart disease and stroke. and parents might use a “tough love” approach with their children to make sure they don’t even start. Remember. weight training and recreation are critical not just to our cardiovascular health but to our brain health. Nonsmokers might consider taking an empathetic approach to smokers who are trying to quit. Tip 2: Follow Your Physician’s Advice Your relationship with your physician is critical to your health. These leading causes of death represent an ongoing concern for all Americans. that as a consumer of health services your doctor is your employee. as well. Our physicians can help guide this process.quite a large market share! Clearly. though.

once stated that every time “we lose an elder from our village. Kofi Annan. Tip 6: Develop Your Spirituality Evidence continues to emerge that prayer is a health-promoting behavior and that attendance at formalized places of worship may have more significance to our health than we understand. it becomes clear that we can learn from others. New learning translates to neurophysiological growth and to mental stimulation in the same . you should pay close attention to how much you eat. start by walking around the block tonight and build from there. yoga. health. with little understanding of how to have fun. Tip 4: Reduce The Overall Calories You Consume Daily We Americans tend not to under consume anything -including food. and eat only 80 percent of what you intend to consume at every meal. the secretary general of the United Nations. Follow the advice two physicians gave me: Never go to bed stuffed.Healthy Brain. Praying or meditating daily can help us combat the stresses of life and focus on the challenges ahead. we lose a library.. provided you get your daily nutritional needs from the USDA’s food pyramid.” If we begin to think of everyone as a library. We need more time to socialize. we need to be engaged and to be social. Novel and complex stimuli are health-promoting for the brain. Tip 5: Socialize And Have Fun We Americans specialize in stress. though. relaxation procedures and prayer have neurophysiological bases.. This finding has yet to be demonstrated in humans. Tip 7: Engage In Mentally Stimulating Activities “Mental stimulation” refers to the ways our brains respond to stimuli in the environment. celebrate and laugh! Some of us have walls around us that keep other people away. If you don’t exercise regularly. Meditation. However. They help to alter our existing inner balance for the better. Yet the leading factor for longevity in animals is caloric restriction. As humans.

is itself a health-promoting behavior at any age. Our friends and family help us stay active and involved in the fabric of society. exist within the family. they provide much health and human enrichment across the lifespan. And intimacy. Tip 9: Seek Financial Stability Research clearly demonstrates that having some money late in life correlates with better health. Although it is important to allow elders to choose more passive lifestyles. and the less money we make the faster we need to get started! Tip 10: Engage Family And Friends Developing and maintaining a social network of relationships is important from a health perspective. and from engaging in pursuits that are initially hard for us! Tip 8: Maintain Your Role And Sense Of Purpose Retirement as it is presently envisioned in this country is not good for the human brain. We can benefit from being challenged. which benefits from environments rich in novel and complex stimuli. . a practical tip for maintaining lifelong health is to hire a financial planner and begin a savings plan that will provide some money late in life. many may benefit from an understanding of the importance of actively participating in society and finding personally relevant roles and senses of purpose. from child to parent to grandparent. We are never too young or too old to begin saving.way that aerobics translates to cardiovascular health. from learning information and skills that we do not yet understand. broadly defined. Our nation might consider prioritizing social engagement across the lifespan from a brain-health perspective. Therefore. Our roles in life. Financial planners do not consider themselves to be health promoters. Retirement by definition reinforces disengagement and passivity. but they are. They can provide us with emotional support and can nurture trust.

About The Author This brochure was prepared for the MetLife Mature Market Institute by Paul Nussbaum.org.aarp. provides research. MetLife is a leading provider of long-term care insurance to individuals and group sponsors. Ph. long-term care and the mature market. CT 06880 www. The MetLife Mature Market InstituteSM is the company’s information and policy resource center on issues related to aging. nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. Virgin Islands.paulnussbaum. engages in legislative. MetLife Mature Market Institute 57 Greens Farms Road Westport.MatureMarketInstitute. It has staffed offices in all 50 states. and its Web site. special products. AARP Segunda Juventud. retirement. The Institute. published bimonthly. the District of Columbia. its corporate customers and business partners. aging. He is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist with more than 20 years experience in the care of older persons suffering from dementia and related disorders. staffed by gerontologists. its quarterly newspaper in Spanish. It provides information and resources. Puerto Rico. NRTA Live and Learn. and services for its members. assists members in serving their communities. He also travels across North America providing workshops. www. www. A more detailed overview of brain health can be found in Dr.(NYSE: MET) is also the exclusive provider for the AARP endorsed Long-Term Care Insurance Plan. and the U. Nussbaum at ageon@zoominternet.S. consultation and information to support Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. and consultation on a variety of topics dealing with brain-behavior relations.D. AARP Bulletin. Inc. its monthly newspaper. and offers a wide range of unique benefits.net).com MatureMarketInstitute@metlife.com 203-221-6580 phone 203-454-5339 fax . training and education. MetLife. seminars. its quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators.com About The Sponsors AARP is a nonprofit. and human development. These include AARP The Magazine. Nussbaum’s new text Brain Health and Wellness (order by phone 1-800-827-7903 or email Dr. regulatory and legal advocacy.

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