The ageless brain

Updated: Apr 29 2007, 05:30am hrs
IF you cant remember why you walked into the room (or picked up this newspaper), dont worry. Youre probably just getting older. During your 30s, the blood flow to your brain begins to decrease, making it more challenging to remember events or details as well or as quickly. Despite the decline in mental abilities, your intellect remains the same, as does your ability to grow intellectually and emotionally.

The brain and body are intimately related, so whats good for one is also good for the other. And thats diet and exercise. The brain requires a continuous source of fuel from the foods we eat, so start each day with a nutritious breakfast and continue with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, recommends the American Dietetic Association. Studies indicate that green leafy vegetables, fruits like blueberries and strawberries and fatty fish aid short-term memory and delay dementia. Along with eating a well-balanced diet, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels low to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Both illnesses contribute to dementia and Alzheimers disease.

The brain operates on the use it or lose it principle, says Carol Dallas, a neurotherapist. Depending on what we use or dont, the network of highways carrying information in the brain can be reduced to a few roads and sidewalks, she says.

So, eat your veggies, add folate to your diet (this B vitamin helps slow cognitive decline in older people. Good sources of folate, aka folic acid, include fortified breakfast cereals, dark-green leafy vegetables, asparagus, strawberries, beans and beef liver), and get vitamin E and C. Studies suggest that, when taken together, these vitamins may lower the risk of Alzheimers. Food sources include oranges, grapefruits, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, bell peppers, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, spinach and turnip greens.

Also, stay connected. Join a book club or a volunteer group and interact with the world around you.

NY Times