BLOG: The Face and the Brain. What I’ve learned about youth, age, and anti-aging.

By Assunta Ng

What would you choose: A beautiful mind or a beautiful face?

Most women would pick a beautiful face, but you might want to think twice after I share my mother’s story with you.

My mother has beautiful skin, and she pays for it by buying expensive anti-aging products. But does it do her any good to have a beautiful face, but a rotten mind? She has flunked many memory tests. She asks about things I tell her about only minutes before. Some of our most precious moments together, she has completely forgotten.

Her sense of time has also faded as her mind deteriorates. She thinks that events that took place in her life two weeks ago actually happened two years ago. Even more disturbingly, she doesn’t remember people who have taken advantage of her several times, nor those who have bent over backwards to help her.

Sad to say, dementia now rules her life and Alzheimer’s is not far away, according to her doctor.

What if my mother had taken care of her brain instead of her face when she was young? What if she invested less money on anti-wrinkle cream, but focused more on programs to keep her brain alert?

Our parent’s generation is not as lucky as the baby boomers’. My mom is not convinced that we can turn the clock back on our brains. They didn’t have a clue about the importance of nurturing a sound mind, whereas now, there is no lack of information through books and the Internet about mental health. Yes, you can be 80 years old and still have a sharp mind.

My mother’s case also changes my perspective and values. I now spend much less on cosmetics and especially shy away from famous brands. Experimentation has shown me that cheaper brands work just as well. Most of my skin cosmetics are from Costco and Target.

Longevity has no meaning if we lose our minds with our loved ones. Sooner or later, we realize that we cannot stop aging no matter how much plastic surgery you want to have. Keeping our beauty should not be the ultimate goal when we age. Our strength and purpose of life matters more.

How to keep your brain young

Exercise is number one on the list, according to a University of Washington Chinese American neurology researcher.

“Exercise helps to produce more (brain) cells,” she said.

Another factor is to actively motivate your brain to learn. You can do this by keeping your mind active by learning a foreign language or playing cognitive games.

What are brain foods?

When I was a child, my mom would cook pig’s brain soup for me during exam times. Chinese culture believes different parts of the animal’s body help nourish the human parts of the body. When I share this idea with the neurologist, she said it would not work.

Is there such a thing as brain food?

According to my research, there is. Foods that are good for your health are also wonderful for your brain. There are a lot of different brain foods, but this is a list of foods that are also in my diet.

1. Be nutty. Talk show host Dr. Oz recommends pecan, cashew nuts, and pumpkin seeds as brain food.

2. Vitamin B12 provides the essentials for your nervous system. You can find it in seafood like raw oysters, crab, and clams.

3. Deep-water fish, including salmon, which is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, are frequently listed as anti-aging foods. If you feel stressed, eating salmon and pistachios help relieve stress.

4. Coconut oil is recommended to cure memory loss. A word of caution about coconut oil, however: it is high in cholesterol.

5. Blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are high in antioxidants and are also considered brain food.

6. Eat Oatmeal.

7. Eat green leafy vegetables.

Remember, focusing on your health is more critical than fighting wrinkles if you want longevity. If you want to have both fair skin and a strong brain, start both early in life, so you can accomplish both and not just one or the other. (end)

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