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Tickle Your Hippocampus and Keep Your Brain Sharp!

20 Feb

A seminal study of nuns published a while ago in the journal Neurology collected  long-term data on more than 600 nuns in Minnesota, and found that 21 percent of them had lesions and plaques in their brains -- key markings of memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's -- but nonetheless lived their lives with no outward signs of disease.

The nuns who had internal signs of Alzheimer's but no symptoms had happier and more positive outlooks on life, were good with linguistics and had better dietary and exercise habits.

Mehmet Oz says about this, "What this shows is that we can do an awful lot to change how our brain functions."  Here are his tips for keeping your brain sharp: 

  • Do brain boosters

  • Daydream

  • Be optimistic

  • Get lost on purpose

  • Hit your threshold - do the Times crossword, followed by intervals of intense exercise

  • Take Algal DHA - a vegetarian form of Omega 3 fatty acids that is sold over the counter in health food stores

Dr. Majid Fotuhi, a prolific brain researcher who runs the Center for Memory and Brain Health in Baltimore, says you can tap into your brain’s ability to rejuvenate by “tickling your hippocampus”, which otherwise tends to shrink with age, not to mention diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke and Alzheimer’s.  (The hippocampus is the part of the brain that deals in long-term memory.)  

How to tickle the hippocampus?

  • Challenge your memory by memorizing numbers, names, exotic nomenclatures

  • Be creative

  • Strengthen your heart by moving your body

  • Laugh a lot

  • Eat smart, preferably a Mediterranean diet (click here for yummy recipes along these lines. )


So that’s all I have to say.   Fight the slippage, people!!  Shut off the GPS and get lost!  Try to remember what you know before dashing to Google!!  

Calculate without the calculator!!

All best,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award