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Worried about staying sharp as you age? Dr. Gupta’s book is for you.

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Beth NIeman, Footnotes
Published 9:26 a.m. MT April 4, 2021

Brain health is the topic of “Keep Sharp: Have a Better Brain at Any Age,” a new book by Sanjay Gupta, MD. Sharing some of the exciting developments of brain research in recent years, Dr. Gupta informs readers of new discoveries you can put into practice to boost your own brain health. I was pleasantly surprised that the practical ideas he shares are easy and inexpensive for most people to achieve — if they are aware of them.

Dr. Gupta spotlights five areas to concentrate on to benefit brain function as we age: physical activity, purposeful living (have goals to keep you learning and challenging yourself), adequate rest, nutrition, and connection. Let’s look at each of these:

Physical activity. Dr. Gupta says, “When people ask me what’s the single most important thing they can do to enhance their brain’s function and resiliency to disease, I answer with one word: exercise.” Why? He says, “Exercise is the only behavioral activity scientifically proven to trigger biological effects that can help the brain.”

Sense of purpose. Not only the body but the mind needs stimulation. Enriching experiences and activities create a “cognitive reserve, or brain resiliency.” Doing daily crosswords or other brain puzzles is not the whole answer, according to Dr. Gupta, but learning something new about whatever interests you is very beneficial, whether that is cooking techniques or taking art class. “You can study how to computer code, take salsa dancing or write a novel,” he says. 

Sleep/relaxation. “People who tell you they can get by on four hours of sleep do not know what they are talking about,” asserts Dr. Gupta, adding that “sleep is not a state of neural idleness. It is a critical phase during which the body replenishes itself . . . from brain to heart.”

Nutrition. Dr. Gupta believes personal physicians rarely address nutritional needs with patients, and as a result patients rely on incomplete or false information from questionable sources instead. For instance, he says, the term “superfood,” a popular term in recent years, “has no medical meaning whatsoever . . . it’s a marketing term the food industry uses to sell more products.” The reality is, according to Dr. Gupta, “a heart-healthy diet is a brain-healthy diet.” He recommends readers stay “S.H.A.R.P.” and remember to “Slash sugar, Hydrate smartly, Add omega-3s, Reduce portion sizes, and Plan meals ahead.” (While his book isn’t a diet book, it does contain guidelines readers can follow to implement such a plan according to their own tastes.)

Relationships. “There is plenty of science to back up the fact we need social connection to thrive, especially when it comes to brain health,” writes Dr. Gupta. “Enjoying close ties to friends and family, as well as participating in meaningful social activities, may help keep your mind sharp and your memories strong.”

If you’d like the full details about Dr. Gupta’s recommendations, borrow his book from Carlsbad Public Library. The library is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and now on Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.currentargus.com/story/opinion/columnists/2021/04/04/worried-staying-sharp-you-age-dr-guptas-book-you/7074525002/

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