You don't have to be a child trapped in an adult's body, like Tom Hanks in "Big," to think young. You can cultivate your memory, quick recall and mental sharpness even if you can't fit all your candles on a birthday cake. For sustainable brain power, what matters most is what you do with your "think tank," not just before, but also after, age 60.
That's a revolutionary idea. The old battle plan to combat a fading memory was to use tricks to help you cope. Well, humbug! You want brain maintenance, not indulgence. The key to a clear-headed old age is physical activity, good nutrition, mental challenges and social connections. And the latest research shows how right we are:
Move it or lose it. Physical activity helps prevent loss of gray matter and promotes the growth of neurons that process thoughts and shuttle memories. Walking 15 minutes a day is good; better is six days a week for 30 minutes a stroll; best, 10,000 steps a day.
Groove it or lose it. Turns out dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control info, especially memory) decreases with age, but sexual activity increases its levels! So cuddle, kick up your heels and make memories together.
Grill it or lose it. Lean, mean, thinking machines are fueled not by oil and fat (saturated fat actually kills memories), but by lean protein (never fried) and fiber-rich, 100 percent whole grain, salad-loving, broccoli-munching daily feasts. Add DHA-omega-3's, turmeric, caffeine and aspirin (if your doc says), and you'll remember those fun parts!
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.