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Keep Your Mind Sharp
October 15, 2005

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #044, October 15, 2005

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

Keep Your Mind Sharp

Book Review: Freakonomics


Written by Noel McNaughton (c) copyright 2005


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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

You've heard it before... 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'. Maybe you even believe it. But it's not true. In fact we middle-aged and older gentlemen can learn just as well as anyone, and if we are in good physical condition, maybe better.

Hope you find this newsletter interesting and useful.

There are about 1124 words in the articles in this newsletter, which may take about four minutes to read.



Keep Your Mind Sharp

If you are middle aged, you have no doubt by now had some 'senior moments' where try as you might, you just can't think of something you know perfectly well - the name of your dog, or your favourite movie, or even your best friend. I know that is happening to me fairly regularly.

And how about learning new things? Scientists used to think we were born with a certain number of brain cells, and we lose them 'slow by slow' as we age. Wrong. It turns out the brain makes new cells every day. But some folks seem to get into a pretty deep rut, and have a hard time learning or even accepting new ideas.

I read an article in Bottom Line Health the other day that had some interesting information about brain health. Here's a summary of what I got from the article...

What makes for a healthy brain

The number one thing, which is the same thing that keeps our bodies healthy, is exercise. Have you noticed that when you do some hard physical work or maybe play hockey or soccer, or even work out at a gym, you feel better mentally? That's because exercise causes more dopamine and serotonin to be pumped into the system, and those delightful little neurotransmitters make us feel better. They help us pay attention and learn new things more easily too.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain too, which means the brain gets more nutrients, and can think better. Studies have shown that physically fit older men do just as well on mental tests as men decades younger.

What exercise is best for the brain?

For sure you want some aerobic exercise, because that is what gets the heart pumping harder and drives more blood to the brain. Activities that involve complex movements, such as tennis, skating, marshal arts or even ballroom dancing, also seem to improve the brain's ability to process and remember information.

Mental exercise is good too. Use your brain. Studies have found that the more education a person has, which presumably means he is more mentally active, the less likely he is to get Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Or at least he will get it later in life.

Challenge yourself with unfamiliar topics or new subjects. If you are an engineer, try a philosophy or art course. If you spend most of your time reading or sitting in front of your computer (as I do), take up woodworking or music. I play my guitar at a bluegrass jam every Wednesday night, and besides keeping my brain engaged in a different kind of activity, it is all kinds of fun. If you are a carpenter, try reading or sitting in front of your computer.

Diet is important too

As we learned in elementary school, a balanced diet is best. And be sure you get enough of these nutrients:

Protein, which the brain burns as fuel

Omega-3, which you can get from cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines (one of my favourites), mackerel, halibut and herring, and from unhydrogenated oils, such as canola, flaxseed and soybean. Elizabeth and I also take daily supplements of Omega 3 in capsule form.

Iron. If you are a carnivore, like me, you probably don't need to worry because pretty well all meats have plenty of iron. If you are a vegetarian, the best source is dried beans. If you are short of iron your brain will be short of oxygen, and just won't work all that well.

B vitamins -- especially vitamin B-6, found in chicken, fish, liver, eggs and pork... and folic acid, in lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, spinach and peanuts. They fight age-related declines in brain function.

Vitamins A, C and E, which protect the brain from free radicals (unless you have teenagers who aspire to be free radicals, in which case be patient, this too shall pass). If you are not sure you're getting enough of these vitamins, a 'seniors' multi-vitamin can help.

Other ways to keep your brain healthy

Meditation gives the brain a break. I meditate for about twenty minutes every morning, and even though I am not very expert at it (I get a lot of mind chatter) I find just quieting my mind for a few minutes helps me face the day with more focus and less stress.

Spirituality goes along with meditation in my mind. Simply making yourself available for connection with something greater than yourself can bring a sense of peace and a positive outlook that can't be got any other way. If you want some guidance, you might get a copy of my e-book Picking Up The Burning Feather. is likely to be helpful, be it religion or opening up to something greater than yourself. The

The last thing is passion. Having something to be enthused about is the source of much happiness, energy, and plenty of brain activity as you face the challenges of making something worthwhile happen.


Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. John Kenneth Galbraith


If the temperature is zero outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?


Interesting Book: Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, 2005, HarperCollins, New York.

I read this book about a month or so ago, and found it interesting. Dubner, a journalist, and Levitt, an atypical economist, take an intriguing look at cause and effect.

Here is an excerpt from the web site that sums it up pretty well:

"Dubner and Levitt deconstruct everything from the organizational structure of drug-dealing gangs to baby-naming patterns. While some chapters might seem frivolous, others touch on more serious issues, including a detailed look at Levitt's controversial linkage between the legalization of abortion and a reduced crime rate two decades later. Underlying all these research subjects is a belief that complex phenomena can be understood if we find the right perspective. Levitt has a knack for making that principle relevant to our daily lives, which could make this book a hit. Malcolm Gladwell blurbs that Levitt "has the most interesting mind in America..."


On a Septic Tank Truck sign: "We're #1 in the #2 business."


Got your copy of Picking Up The Burning Feather yet? It will help you on your spiritual journey.

Just go to Picking Up The Burning Feather: A Spiritual Guide For Midlife Men.


Just For You: A Free Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning Report

If you are a new subscriber to this newsletter, you will recall I promised you a link to a secret page on the Midlife Men's site where you can download a free 27-page report on 'DIY Retirement planning' by George Slater.

Welcome to the newsletter, and for your free report, go to: DIY Retirement E-Report , and follow the instructions.



Learn to be a Teleclass Facilitator

If you are a facilitator/speaker/professional who gives lectures or workshops, you can do it from home and make money. Teleclasses (also known as teleseminars) using telephone bridge lines, are becoming increasingly popular, and and a very inexpensive way to deliver high-quality training. I took training in teleclass leadership from Teleclass International which I highly recommend.



A Destroyer of Compasses by Wade Bell, published by Guernica Editions, (Toronto, Buffalo and Lancaster UK) $15.00 Cdn

One Man's Mid-Life Crisis Led to Spain. Planning to spend six weeks, he stayed five years.

A book of stories the Toronto Globe & Mail called "an assured and sensual portrait of a culture" with "precise and ironic examples of human idiosyncracy." The review went on to call stories "gems."

Available from Amazon, E-Bay and local bookstores.

I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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