Sarah Lock, executive director of AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health, recommends five types of food we all need to be eating on a regular basis to keep our brains in tip-top shape:
Berries (whole, not juice)
Fresh vegetables (bring on the greens)
Healthy fats (think olive oil)
Nuts (they’re high-calorie, too, so limit your intake)
Fish and seafood
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Practice innovative thinking.
“Our brain is wired to see things in new ways and to be figuring out things,” Chapman says. So while memorization is fine, “the brain gets jaded the more things we do on rote. Innovative thinking in our world that’s always changing helps keep mental independence. Our brain is built to do this until the day we die.”
A few tips: Thank someone using different words. Think of a different way to formulate a subject line or the contents of an email. “What’s a way to reframe a conversation with a family member,” she asks, “to see things from a broader perspective?”
Take a technology timeout.
“Take a respite. You’ll see a quick rebound and guess what? You haven’t missed that much,” Chapman says. “If we were to take away technology from meetings, we could end them in 20 minutes. People say, ‘You don’t understand. Clients expect me to respond right away.’ I say, ‘No. They’re paying for your brain.’ “
Believe in your brain.
Our brain system starts slowing down as early as our 40s, Chapman says, “but only because we let it.” True, some people will develop Alzheimer’s, especially because the population is aging. But, she adds, “on average, 87 percent of people won’t.” And if we’re genetically prone to Alzheimer’s but have taken care of our brains, we’ll have reserve to maybe push back the symptoms by, perhaps three to five years, she says.
“Healthy lifestyle factors can mitigate the onset, but we don’t necessarily know exactly how long,” she says. Even without that knowledge though, “Why wouldn’t we build brain reserve? We save for investment retirement.
“The way we’re going to solve all the world’s issues is our brainpower. For economic and emotional well-being, it’s all in our heads.”