Last week, along with my associates Teresa Acs and Holly Allardyce, I attended an event presented by law firm WeirFoulds, titled Mind Over Matter: Living with a Healthy Brain. The session featured two “members” of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI). WBHI is a charitable non-profit with a mandate to “provide education and fund research to combat brain aging diseases that affect women”.
Lynn Posluns is the Founder, President and Board Chair of the WBHI. Dr. Vivien Brown – a recognized leader in the field of family medicine – is a WBHI Board Member and Vice-President Medical Affairs at Medisys Canada.
The session focussed on women’s brain health. Ms. Posluns and Dr. Brown confirmed what many of us know from experience: men’s and women’s brains are different. As such, research and funding dedicated to the study of women’s unique brains is essential.
Ms. Posluns and Dr. Brown served up a mix of good news and bad news. First, some sobering facts:
- 70% of Alzheimer’s sufferers are women
- If we are to reap long-term benefits, the most important decade for physical exercise is our 20’s (bad news only because that boat sailed some time ago); that being said, exercise is important throughout life and it’s never too late to start
- There’s a link between depression and dementia
- People with (type 2) diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s
The good news is there are steps we can take to reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Turns out what’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Although I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, let me remind you that we need to:
- Not smoke
- Exercise both body and brain
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Find healthy ways to manage stress
- Develop and maintain strong social connections
Audience questions included “what’s the latest research on hormone replacement therapy?”, “should I be taking fish oil supplements?” and “does the brain like to be upside down?”. Answers: it depends on the individual; you’re better to eat fatty fish at least once a week; and, if being upside down de-stresses you and calms your mind, go for it.
If you’re interested in learning more about women’s brain health and the work of the WHBI, please visit: Women’s Health Brain Initiative. And for more info on how eating can help keep the brain sharp, visit memory morsels.
Lastly, here’s our favourite takeaways from the session:
Teresa: “my aha moment was learning that you can boost the benefit you receive from learning or doing something new, by learning/doing in a social setting”.
Holly: “it’s better to learn something new, than to stick with the same activity even if it’s something challenging, like bridge”. (Following the presentation, Holly was actually inspired to ask her family for a guitar for her upcoming birthday).
My favourite: coffee, dark chocolate and red wine are good for you Gotta love those anti-oxidants!
Thanks for reading.