Boost Your Brain Power

11/19/2008 ORLANDO, Fla. Delki Wright started sewing when she was in her teens. At age 80, she still sews six hours every day.

"It really helps," Delki Wright told Ivanhoe.

It sounds simple, but sewing might be what's kept her mind sharp.

"Some things may seem repetitive like sewing, but you're actually creating something every time you're sewing," Liana Dawson, M.D., a neurologist at the Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla, explained to Ivanhoe.

Experts say we're not all doomed to a future of fuzzy memories. Plasticity is a growing theory that the brain is always changing. Every time you learn something, neural connections are made. The average brain cell makes about 10,000 connections, or synapses.

"The more new things you do and the more learning that you do, the more you are keeping it, and I call that, 'use it or lose it'," Dr. Dawson said.

To boost brain power, start at the grocery store. A diet rich in folate can cut your Alzheimer's risk by more than 60-percent! Asparagus, beef, spinach and walnuts are good sources. One glass a day of alcohol may also slow the progression of dementia. If you need a nap after all of that, researchers say go ahead!

Sleep deprivation affects concentration and disrupts short-term memory and a common sleep disorder -- sleep apnea -- can kill brain cells by cutting off oxygen.

One of the best ways to build brain power is exercise.

"Yoga especially helps me out a lot," Dan Francofort, an avid gym-goer who recently lost 65 pounds, said. "It kind of clears my head."

Researchers found adults who exercised four times a week for four months grew cells in their dentate gyrus, an area vital to memory. For an even more mind-stimulating workout, try a dance class.

It takes two to tango and sometimes to stimulate the mind. Sexual climax has been found to stimulate more than ten parts of the brain!

This list won't stop the clock, but it could help keep your memories alive.

Dr. Dawson also recommends practicing repetition to help remember new things. Also, pick up a brain booster game like Nintendo's brain age to work your neurons.



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