Saturday, July 23, 2016

BRAIN: Preventing memory lapses

Exercise, get enough sleep, decrease stress, eat a Mediterranean diet, avoid head trauma, challenge your brain with puzzles or learning new skills, get enough Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, and get involved in the community.
That was the prescription for reversing brain atrophy that my doctor, Dr. Mary-Anne Ost, outlined in a fascinating lecture at the Jenners Pond retirement community in West Grove on July 22.
Dr. Ost started her talk by saying that the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in maintaining a person's memory, atrophies by 0.5% per year starting at age 40. A disturbed murmur immediately spread through the room as people calculated whether they had any hippocampal tissue left.
But she then went on to outline how research has shown that you can slow and even reverse the decline by taking the steps I mentioned in the first sentence. I was delighted to see that I have most of them covered; in fact, after the talk I went straight to the gym and later that evening did a particularly challenging crossword puzzle.
The audience had numerous questions after the talk, mostly about how various medications might help or hinder brain health.
I enjoyed the lecture very much. Dr. Ost said that given the prevalence of concussions in equestrians -- and the negative impact head trauma has on the brain -- she'd like to give the talk to horse people locally.
A few days after the talk I saw a friend of mine who is also a patient of Dr. Ost's and told her how interesting the talk was. "Oh, I forgot about that!" she exclaimed.

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