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Ask the experts: How can I keep my brain sharp?

June 05, 2010

Q. How can I keep my brain sharp?

A. Ita Kavanagh, a registered nurse, is employed to do health teaching medication management at the Washington County's Commission on Aging's nutrition sites once a month. This year, Kavanagh has been doing a series called "Know the Body," breaking down each of the body's major systems.

She offer some tips on keeping the brain sharp:

o Learn something new

The idea is to challenge your brain, Kavanagh said.

"So if you're going to challenge your brain with word games that's good, and then you become good at that - that's fine, that's a good thing," she said, "but you need to go on to do something else to change it around a little bit."

These things don't have to be complicated. Kavanagh said it could be as simple as learning to write with your left hand or trying a new board game.

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o Get moving

You want to get good circulation of blood to your brain, as you would the rest of your body, Kavanagh said.

"That's the main thing for exercise keeping all your tissues profuse with healthy blood," she said.

o Get some sleep

Poor quality sleep damages brain health, Kavanagh said. A good night's sleep helps the brain reset. Kavanagh said poor sleep health increases depression and intensifies other medical conditions.

"Sleep is very important," she said.

o Consider taking a multivitamin and eat well

"Lots of doctors will put seniors on a multivitamin now because as your body ages, it's less able to utilize certain nutrients," Kavanagh said.

She said that multivitamin covers the bases, making sure you've got a good reserves of nutrients. "Even if you've got a healthy diet and are trying your best and know all the rules, your body may not be able to utilize it and that's where the multivitamin helps."

o Follow your doctor's orders about health

"Most physicians by far encourage healthy diet and exercise," Kavanagh said.

Proper nutrition to gives the brain cells what they need and proper circulation rids the waste from the brain tissue.

"That's the best way to maintain the brain," Kavanagh said.

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