Move, Learn, Eat, Connect, and Rest

I’ve been writing, yes. And this blog is supposed to be geared toward writing, yes again.

But good readers make good writers, and since I’ve been doing some heavy duty reading lately, I’m taking the time to share a little something about Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Keep Sharp.

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Gupta’s book on keeping our brains aware and sharp. At first, I thought Yeah, yeah, I already know about amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, but open to new information, I kept reading and am so glad I did. There was a wealth of recent research that I didn’t know, including more information on how the brain functions, changes, and responds throughout life. In addition, Dr. Gupta provides dozens of sites and references for the reader/listener.

The five pillars of brain health reminded me of truths that I knew to be valid and reinforced my diligence in attaining each. They’re crucial, all of them, and I’ve been preaching about their importance to friends and family for the last two weeks. I’m amazed at the responses, including, “I get plenty of sleep, but I don’t like to exercise,” or “I enjoy walking, but I don’t want to connect with people. I won’t even answer my phone most of the time.”

All pillars are important:

1) Exercise. Just move. Depending on age, physical condition, and interests, you might enjoy going to the gym while your friend prefers a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

2) Discover something new each day. This could be a fact, a skill……….just something you didn’t know before. Just be sure it’s something you’re interested in and/or have the aptitude for. My sister enjoys skimming calculus textbooks. Me, not so much. Not at all.

And about learning, you might consider taking up a new hobby, developing a talent, or getting crafty. Again, make sure it’s something you enjoy. Confession: I purchased a 1,000 piece puzzle of an Angela Harding print a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday, I finally took it out of the box. I think fear of failure is keeping me from picking up a piece of the purple flower; maybe I chose the wrong pursuit.

3) Eat right. There’s nothing I can write that you don’t already know, yet it bears repeating that fruits and vegetables reign supreme. Dr. Gupta recommends drinking a lot of water, too. And no caffeine after two in the afternoon.

4) Connect with others, even if it’s by phone, email, or snail mail. As an aside, today I listened to the beginning of Jordan Peterson’s new book, Beyond Order, in which he mentions the importance of others in the development of a persona.

5) Get sufficient sleep and rest (7-8 hours per night). This can be challenging.

For each pillar, Dr. Gupta provides plenty of facts to back up his claims. I thought of the many people who might be inclined to dismiss his advice. But then, I heard him quote Daniel Moynihan and chuckled: “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Dr. Gupta, a neurosurgeon, has the facts AND the street creds. Presented in an easy-to-follow format, the author’s sound advice is based on research and experience.  

About jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer
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2 Responses to Move, Learn, Eat, Connect, and Rest

  1. Cyndy Parrott says:

    I knew nothing of Dr. Gupta’s book, “Keep Sharp” until your article. Brain health was never anything I thought of in my 20s, 30s, 40s, and early 50s. Now approaching my 60s and recently diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE), brain health is “Priority One.”
    In the 1980s I worked as a CNA in a local nursing home. The unit I covered was called the ICU floor due to the severity of medical issues for these dear, aged residents. They all had some type of brain related issues. One would think after such an experience I would have naturally adopted a lifestyle that would keep my brain sharp. No. It was furthest from my young adult mind. Later, cardiovascular health and cancer prevention became my focus. Looking back, I don’t recall much societal emphasis on preparing for a healthy senior life —especially regarding brain health. Gupta’s 5 Pillars covers just about all bases. From brain to heart to cancer, I can see how that advice works.
    Looks like I have accomplished Pillar #5 by discussing my thoughts here, thanks to your article. I value my brain health. Connecting with others, even by a response to a well written review, does make the brain, and heart, feel so good.


    • jayne bowers says:

      Cyndy, YES! I know what you mean. I too paid more attention to heart and lungs and overall health than to my brain even despite the fact that one of my grandmothers developed Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other experienced some serious dementia. Somehow we think that’ll never happen to us. But then one day something happens to wake us up–a common word you can’t remember, the realization that your brain controls everything about you and that its health affects the rest of the body, a book that catches your eye…you know what I’m saying. This book came along at just the right time with advice that reinforced what I was already trying to do and backed it up with research. I hope Dr. Gupta’s wisdom will help with your TLE and all other brain related issues.


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