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DOCTOR AT THE DESK

Nourishing by Nurturing

"Increasing mental power"
By: Stef dela Cruz, MDNourishing by Nurturing

Aside from feeding the brain, nurturing it is also an important part of mental nutrition. Here’s why: The longer you spend time in school, the more you protect your brain from memory decline when you reach your 40s. (Now you have a reason not to feel bad about staying up late to study for your finals; of course, it’s a bad habit to overdo it.)

According to Valentina Garibotto’s research as published in Neurology in 2008, a person’s level of education creates a good buffer against mental deterioration. The more you learn, the more your brain is “exercised,” leading to what Garibotto refers to as cognitive reserve.

Cognitive reserve is the brain’s extra padding. I’d like to believe that education is like food that fattens up the brain in preparation for periods of mental famine. In Garibotto’s study, brain scans revealed that those who went to school longer could tolerate more damage to the brain before showing any signs of dementia.

Try to be a perennial student: always learn something new, may it be a different language or a novel point of view. Engage in intellectual discussions and in mental exercises such as solving puzzles. And as much as you try to eat healthy to achieve and maintain a healthy body, make sure you eat the kind of food as well as do the activities that fuel the mind.

The person who goes on a diet to look good while depriving the mind of nourishment is forgetting the important fact that being smart is sexy. He is pretty much like a person drinking good wine to get drunk: he is missing the point. Ah, food for thought.
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