As summer turns to fall, the days get shorter, people refocus on school and work and many of us find our social calendars a little emptier. Our suggestion for keeping your social life, well, social? Take a class.
Continuing education classes are everywhere. Check out the library, community center, senior center and even the grocery store for classes being offered this fall. Enhance your skills for an existing passion, like cooking or computer programming, or step out of your comfort zone and try something new, like knitting or tae kwon do.
The wonderful thing about taking a class – an in-person class, online doesn’t count! – is that you’ll connect with other people with similar interests. Whether you take the friendship outside of the classroom or simply enjoy the time learning together, the social interaction is extremely valuable to your brain health.
Research shows that regular social activity promotes creation of new brain cells. So stimulate your brain this fall by signing up for a class or two.
What community classes do you attend?
Plan a romantic dinner for two, featuring with this salad recipe from Elizabeth Somer’s Eat Your Way to Sexy. “This salad features pomegranate, the symbol for longevity, immortality and abundance in China and fertility in Greece,” says Elizabeth. “Pomegranates are rich in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins and phytonutrients. Feeding your body and brain with nutrient foods – now that is sexy!”
Fall Romance Salad (from Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.)
- 2 1/3 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (preferably one infused with pomegranate)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 /2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper salt to taste
- 20 ounces baby greens, such as Fresh Express Tender Ruby Reds
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cups toasted walnut pieces
- 5 tangerines or small mandarin oranges, peeled, sectioned, the pith removed, and cut in half
- 1 1 /2 cups pomegranate seeds
1. In a medium, non-stick saucepan, bring juice to a gentle boil and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, approximately 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. While still warm, add thyme. When cool, add vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, place lettuce. Top with onion, parsley, walnuts, orange pieces, and finally pomegranate seeds. When ready to serve, gently and thoroughly toss with dressing. Makes 8 servings.
Fall is the perfect time to get active outdoors; not too hot and not too cold, the weather is just right. Here are five ideas for making exercise fun this autumn:
- Leaf Walk or Jog: The changing colors of fall foliage provide gorgeous scenery for a brisk stroll or jog. Check out a local park, trail or your own tree-lined neighbourhood.
- Sign up for an outdoor boot camp: Challenge yourself with a new workout in a group setting. You’ll gain benefits from both the exercise and the social interaction.
- Yardwork: Raking leaves, winterizing your garden – it all counts as physical activity! Make it fun by listening to up-tempo music that will inspire you to work to the beat.
- Farmer’s Market: Make a Saturday morning date with a friend to visit a farmer’s market. Enjoy catching up while getting your body moving and exploring the harvest bounty.
- Limber up: Fall is a great time to take your yoga, pilates or tai chiworkout outdoors. Breathe in the crisp air, relax your mind and stretch your body.
What could be better than satisfying your sweet tooth while getting a boost of nutrients and protein at the same time? Indulge guilt-free (in moderation, of course) in this rich and flavorful chocolate espresso tofu mousse from www.youbeauty.com.
“Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, flavonols and iron – all wonderful nutrients for the whole body,” says Dr. Michael Roizen, co-founder of YouBeauty.com as well as co-author of the You series of health books. “You’ll also get protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals from the tofu. This is a great recipe for guests – they won’t know there is a tofu in it if you don’t tell them!”
- 12 ounces extra firm tofu
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 ounces 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon, 2 teaspoon agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
Place tofu in food processor and blend until creamy. Add bananas and process until smooth. Melt chocolate and add to tofu along with remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Place in serving cups, refrigerate until cold and serve.
You may or may not have the voice of angel, but did you know that belting out the tunes – particularly in a group setting –is great for your health? A study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that singing in synch with others, as in a choir setting, creates a calming effect that can be as beneficial to our health as yoga.
The study, which looked at high school choir members, found that the regular, controlled, breathing required for singing helps individuals to relax and calmed their heart rate.
Singing in a choir or group has the added benefit of social connectedness, one of the four pillars of brain health. Senior citizens choirs, where musical ability is not required but enthusiasm is, have become increasingly popular. Well-known Young @ Heart Chorus, based in Massachusetts, has touredthe United States and internationally.
Look for singing groups in your area by doing an Internet search, checking with community centers, and connecting with local choral or music associations. Can’t find one? Start one of your own!
Food is a big part of our lives. We celebrate with special meals, we connect with friends over lunch, we plan a week’s worth of dinners for our families. But at it’s root, food is fuel to help our bodies work. We need the energy, nutrients and vitamins food provides. “The foods we eat should make us feel good,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author of Eat Your Way to Sexy and other titles. “These days, the typical American diet contains too many foods that have the opposite effect – making us feel tired, stuffed and uncomfortable.”
Below, Somer shares some of the foods that she defines as unsexy foods – foods that make us feel badly. “Put these foods on the ‘rarely’ list,” she says. “Indulge occasionally if you must, but take note of how these foods make you feel.”
- Refined grains: “People who eat refined grains are more likely to be overweight,” says Somer. Try replacing white carbohydrates, like bread, pasta and flour with whole-grain alternatives to get a feel-good dose of fiber.
- Commercial snack foods: Chips, cookies, crackers, candy, granola bars, baked sweets are all included here. “Too much processed foods and sugar will you leave you feeling seriously unsexy,” says Somer.
- Meat and full-fat dairy: You don’t need to cut out meat, but you should be wise about what cuts of red meat you choose. “Focus on lean meats (7% fat or less), smaller portions and try substituting fatty fish once in a while,” says Somer. “If you don’t like fish, be sure to take a supplement to get those essential omega-3s.” As for dairy, stock up on low-fat cheese and milk. Add homemade fruit puree to plain low-fat yogurt to avoid a sugar rush.
Tell us, what foods make you feel great? What foods do you avoid?
A recent study at the University of Maryland made a connection between moderate physical activity and protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s researchers suggest that physical activity can help slow age-related shrinking of the hippocampus.
Regular exercise is one of the four pillars of brain health. Even 30 minutes a day can help to maintain a healthy brain.
Looking for ways to add activity into your day? Try these ideas:
- Explore a new part of your neighborhood on foot. Plan a new walking route regularly.
- Dance party! Turn up the tunes and dance it out.
- Plant or tend to a garden – your own or a community garden
- Turn your house into a gym. Hold on to a chair for squats, do bicep curls with water bottles or soup cans.
- Relive your childhood with play – catch a ball, jump rope or play horseshoes.
How do you stay active?
ife’sDHA™ has once again partnered with the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) to celebrate the most beautiful minds in America.
Together we invited people 55 and older to submit an essay or video describing what they are doing to keep their minds beautiful, without letting age be a barrier. Our nine finalists were selected because they’re doing beautiful things with their minds through accomplishment, creativity and reinvention in the second half of their lives. Click here to meet the finalists and read their motivating stories.
To demonstrate the active lives these people are living, we created the “Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential” photo essay exhibit. This exhibit will travel across the U.S during 2014. Below are the dates and locations where you can find this beautiful and inspiring collection of photographs:
April 11-13, 2014
June 10-14, 2014
The The Creative Age, presented by the National Center for Creative Aging
July 12-16, 2014
October 18-22, 2014
November 13-15, 2014
The America’s Brain Health Index is a state-by-state ranking of brain health that delivers the data on the states where Americans are successfully incorporating the four dimensions of brain health into their daily lives and the states where more action is needed.
DSM Nutritional Products – makers of the life’sDHA brand – worked with a group of health experts and researchers, including Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Majid Fotuhi, to determine 21 key indicators of brain health for evaluating the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Check out this infographic featuring the 2014 America’s Brain Health Index:
To find out where your state ranks and learn about simple steps to improve brain health, visit www.beautiful-minds.com.