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Diet, exercise keep brain healthy

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Family Focus – Grace Angotti

March 14-20 is Brain Awareness Week, so start thinking about your brain.
The brain is an amazing organ. It controls all organs and bodily functions, all of our thoughts, emotions and memory, and gives us the ability to be self-aware.
Like other body parts, it is natural for the brain to lose some its sharpness; but it can deteriorate even faster without proper care.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, staying physically active and maintaining a “brain-healthy” diet is important, as is staying socially active and mentally alert.
Physical activity helps blood flow to the brain and encourages growth of new brain cells. Physical activity also maintains a healthy heart, which helps reduce the risk factors that come with dementia, including, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
A brain-healthy diet consists of low-cholesterol and low-fat foods and is rich in antioxidants. These are found in many dark vegetables and fruits, and may help protect brain cells.
Mental activity and stimulation strengthens brain cells, the connections between the cells, and may even create new nerve cells. Education and lifelong learning, staying curious and involved, playing games, and paying attention to your environment are ways to keep your brain active every day.
Social activity can make physical and mental activity more fun. It can also reduce stress, which also can help the brain maintain healthy connections between brain cells. Social activity can include sports, cultural activities, working or volunteering, as well as emotional support, and close relationships.
Amy F. Hosier, an Extension specialist for family life at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, says it’s important to combine all of these activities, because there is no one thing you can do to keep your brain healthy.
Signs of trouble for
credit-card holders
Credit cards are a convenient way to spend money. You can use them to shop online, rent a car, or pay at the pump for gasoline.
But, they also make overspending easy; because they are so convenient, we may forget we are spending actual money. In then end, we may accumulate more credit card debt than we realize.
Below is a list of warning signs that your credit-card debt levels are no longer manageable.
l You can only make the minimum monthly payment;
l You have maxed out or reached the limit on your credit cards;
l You do not know the balance of your credit cards;
l You have opened a new credit card account to be able to make the payments on your old account (not really?);
l You are receiving phone calls from debt collectors.
If you find yourself struggling, you have several options: Contact your creditors to explain your situation. Request a modified repayment plan that works within your budget.
Also consider contacting a reputable credit-counseling service to seek advice for improving your financial situation. But be certain it is a reputable service – most offer their services for free or at minimal cost to the consumer.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, beware of services that charge high up-front or monthly fees for enrolling, those that pressure you to make “voluntary contributions” (another name for fees) or those who require personal financial information, such as bank or credit account numbers, before they will send you information. A reputable service will send their information for free.
Also beware if they try to enroll you in a debt-management plan without first reviewing your financial situation, or if they offer to enroll you without first teaching you to budget and manage your money.
Also, do not agree to make any payments in to a debt-management plan until your creditors have accepted you into the program.

Grace Angotti is Carroll Co. Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to gangotti@uky.edu. This week’s source: “Knee Deep in Debt,” published by the FTC.