Monday, May 4, 2009

Dodge dementia with healthy habits

The University of Missouri Extension office in Greene County issued this news release:

The last thing any person wants to think about is losing their memory.
But according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, the best way to keep your memory at peak performance is with exercise and healthy eating habits.
“The bad news is that our brain reaches its peak of functioning when we are still in our twenties. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to help maintain your memory. It starts with healthy habits,” said Roberts.
A recent study published in the April edition of the “Nutrition Action Health Letter” shows the importance of exercise.
Women who walked for 1.5 hours per week scored better on memory tests two years later than those who walked less than 40 minutes per week.
“Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that the gray matter of the brain increased after just six months of a brisk walk for 45 minutes three times per week,” said Roberts.
Habits that benefit the heart also benefit the brain. Belly fat in middle age has been linked to three times the risk of having dementia compared to those with a trim waist.
Belly fat is also linked to a higher risk for diabetes.
“Avoiding type 2 diabetes is important for a lot of reasons not the least of which is memory. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of cognitive decline,” said Roberts.
High blood pressure during mid life is a risk factor for dementia.
“It is thought that high blood pressure causes tiny strokes that are completely undetectable until an autopsy is completed. It is thought that these small strokes do damage to the brain that results in dementia,” said Roberts.
There is also research that shows a morning cup of coffee can also keep your mind young.
“We have known for years that caffeine revs up the brain in areas tied to short term memory and attention. Some recent research with mice shows that mice that had the human equivalent of 500 milligrams of caffeine did better on memory tests than those that did not receive caffeine,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

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