You Can Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

by Janet Simpson Benvenuti

Getting Alzheimer’s disease is not inevitable with age. In a recent TED talk, Dr. Lisa Genova, neuroscientist, Massachusetts native and author of several books including Still Alice shared five ways you can avoid cognitive impairment.

You likely know the first four.

1. Get a good night’s sleep;
2. Follow the Mediterranean diet;
3. Exercise several times a week; aerobic exercise is best with strength training to enable fitness; and,
4. Lower your stress levels through prayer, yoga, or meditation.

What often surprises people is the fifth preventative: Learn something new. Exercising your brain through new experiences builds synaptic capacity. Lisa referred to the now famous Nun Study, research that followed the lives of 678 nuns who generously agreed to allow their brains to be autopsied upon their passing at ages 75 to 107. To their surprise, the researchers found that several nuns’ brains had the telltale Alzheimer’s lesions yet these women displayed no evidence of cognitive impairment while alive. Why? Their brains had ample capacity because of a lifetime of learning.

Watch the video. Share this post with your friends and family. Then join me in learning a new language using an app like Duolingo. Au revoir und auf wiedersehen.

c Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Circle of Life Partners Goes to Italy – The Food

italy_rome_1280px[1]by Jan Simpson Benvenuti

As summer begins, I am mindful of the three tenets of healthy aging: food, fitness and family, each of which got my renewed attention during a recent trip to Italy with my husband and children.

Have you been to Rome? The Romans may drive wildly, but they certainly know how to prepare and enjoy food. Recently, a scientific study in Spain confirmed what Italians have known for centuries: the Mediterranean diet, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil and red wine, does indeed extend life and delay the onset and advancement of disease.  Our favorite restaurant, La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali,was a family-run trattoria near Piazza Venezia and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the entrance hidden in an alley as narrow as my son is tall. The owner welcomed us warmly and offered to select the five courses and wine for our dinner, portions small by American standards, but sufficient to satisfy even my son’s 6’6″ frame. We lingered between courses for conversation and laughter, the pacing of the meal as unhurried as the Sunday dinners of my childhood. In addition to our trending slow food movement in America, I’d like to propose a slow dining movement.

In the States, you should expect to see increased attention to good nutrition as the health care system moves toward creating medical homes and boomers strive to maintain their health. Specialists, such as oncologists, have long included nutrition as part of the healing process, but you don’t need a hospital stay or a serious illness to find guidance.  Watch as:

  • Primary care practices, such as Iora Health, and neighborhood clinics add health coaches and nutrition counseling
  • Grocery stores offer nutritional guidance, such as the Stop-and-Shop near my home where one may schedule  appointments with a nutritionist on Thursdays
  • Private nutritional coaches, like friends at Weiser Choices, expand their coaching practices
  • Employers add group fitness and health coaching such as ShapeUp to their wellness programs

I’m still waiting for the time when it becomes routine for physicians to hand patients a stack of recipes instead of writing a prescription for yet another drug. Until then, I recommend a trip to Italy.

Ciao!

©Circle of Life Partners