By Gina Noe
MADISON COUNTY —
The brain is the boss of our bodies. It runs the whole show, allowing us to use our senses, interact with the world and understand our surroundings. Our brain allows us to think, feel, act and get along with others.
But like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. This means that the health and function of the brain can improve with proper brain exercise. Brain exercise includes mental stimulation and social and physical activity.
Mental stimulation is about staying curious and involved. You can remain mentally active through reading, writing, playing games, keeping up with technology, attending events or through activities such as gardening.
Social activity should stimulate the mind and body, provide emotional support and contribute to personal relationships. You can be socially active at school, in the work place or while volunteering. Clubs, cultural activities and travel are also outlets for social activity.
Exercise does not have to be strenuous for a healthy brain. The USDA recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days per week.
Exercise that is heart healthy, such as aerobic activity, is also brain healthy. Such physical activity helps to maintain blood flow to the brain and encourages new brain cells.
Exercise also protects against heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
In addition to brain activity, a healthy well-balanced diet is a key component to brain health. Adding foods like blueberries, nuts and fish to your diet can help nourish your brain. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, however you generally need only about one ounce a day.
A brain-healthy diet that contains antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and is low in calories and sodium can help lower the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lastly, brain health depends on sleep. It is critical to be well rested, both physically and mentally.
On Monday, Jan. 27, the Madison County Cooperative Extension Service will host “Nourish Your Brain” at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
If you have ever walked into a room and forgotten why you are there, this lesson is for you. This presentation is about nourishing your brain with food and activities.
The lesson will include brain exercises, tips on building your memory and samples of brain-healthy foods.
Join us for this fun and informative class by calling 623-4072. The class is free, but seating is limited, so call soon.
The Madison County Extension Center is located at 230 Duncannon Lane, between Richmond and Berea.
Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.