Jane Brody Shares What Works and What Doesn’t to Maintain a Healthy Brain
The good news for brain health? A Mediterranean diet and a daily glass of wine are A-OK. The bad news? Cheese, ice cream, and red meat, which should only be consumed moderately. So advised New York Times personal health columnist, Jane Brody, to a crowd of mentally sharp (and hoping to stay that way) Greenwich residents at the Friends of Nathaniel Witherell luncheon on November 7th at Greenwich Country Club.
“Don’t be discouraged by ‘senior moments,’” said Brody. “My advice is to relax. The aging brain may work a little slower, but forgetting names or misplacing keys doesn’t necessarily mean you have dementia.”
How best to navigate “senior moments?” Brody shared her favorite tricks. “Write everything down. Check the calendar before you schedule something. Remember that the normal brain on overload is bound to forget things,” she says.
The Friends of Nathaniel Witherell welcomed Jane Brody back to their fundraising luncheon after her last appearance, which garnered good reviews. Brody is a real crowd pleaser. She is witty, forthright, knowledgable, and fun, and she always shares great advice. This year’s luncheon was a big success and raised significant funds to support the work of the Friends of Nathaniel Witherell.
“We’re grateful to Jane Brody and our luncheon committee, led by chairwoman Caralyn Stevens, for making this year’s event such a success,” says Scott Neff, executive director of the Friends. “With their support and our event sponsors, including Medline, Morrison Community Living, Select Rehabilitation, and Wernert, we were able to meet our goal to fund important quality of life programs for Greenwich seniors.”
Jane Brody also let the crowd in on a big secret: all those brain boosting supplements, gadgets, and games? “Save your money,” she cautioned. Turns out the efficacy of such supplements can’t be substantiated, and the gadgets and games can’t really ward off brain disease. While there’s no surefire way to prevent dementia of Alzheimer’s, Ms. Brody says there are ways to keep your brain in the best health possible.
“Challenging your brain to learn new things keeps it healthy,” she says. “Also try to do activities with other people.” Brody notes that aging brains continue to produce as many new brain cells as young brains! So, she advises that everyone live a life they, and their brain, will enjoy. Some other tips include:
- Eat a Mediterranean diet—lots of green, leafy vegetables, olives, nuts, olive oil, low-fat dairy, fatty fish, and berries.
- Indulge in caffeinated drinks, like coffee and tea; they are good for your brain.
- Eat less meat, cheese, ice cream, white bread, and pasta.
- Get lots of sleep as sleep is critical. Older adults who don’t get enough sleep have higher levels of the brain protein that causes Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In closing, Brody assured the crowd that the aging brain has its advantages over the younger brain. “People with mature brains have better judgment, rational decision-making skills, and an ability to screen out negativity to have a healthier perspective on life.”
Photo caption: Larry Simon, David Ormsby, Jane Brody, Robert McDonald.