Baptist Health Corbin hosts Noontime Knowledge in Corbin

May 17—CORBIN — At May's monthly Noontime Knowledge event, Baptist Health Corbin and Edward Jones Financial welcomed Jennifer McFarland of Hartford Funds to discuss how seniors can "Retain Your Brain."

McFarland's presentation centered around the various things that one can do to preserve the health of their brain as they age.

According to McFarland, it is entirely possible for one's brain age to not match their physical age. By this, she meant that brain scans can detect the firing of neurons within the brain and utilize data from thousands of other scans to determine the "age" of one's brain.

She said, "Someone who has taken great care of their brain's health may possess a mind that functions as well as a 40-year-olds despite being 85."

"Despite our brains being only three pounds, they produce five pounds of waste each year...It is really important for us to give our brain the best chance at cleansing itself," she continued.

According to McFarland, if the brain cannot properly rid itself of these wastes, then it can lead to a decrease in cognitive function, as well as contribute to the progression of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

The plaques and other waste materials that build up overtime can prevent certain neurons from firing properly, which can be a part of memory loss and a decrease in brain functionality.

McFarland noted that the most vital aspect of maintaining the health of your brain is sleep, and good sleep at that.

Her presentation suggested that most people need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, along with certain other things to make that sleep as restful as possible.

"Short Sleepers," as McFarland put it, are people who require less sleep than others to maintain the same level of brain function. While many people may believe that they fall into this category, approximately only 1% of the global population are true "Short Sleepers."

"So, the odds are that you are not one of those Short Sleepers, and your body needs 7-9 hours rest," McFarland said.

In addition to sleeping for that duration, it is also important to do the following to ensure the best sleep possible: make your room as dark as possible before going to bed; lower the temperature of your room; and receive 10-15 minutes of sunlight upon waking up.

By doing all of these things, the brain can receive better rest as well as improve your circadian rhythm, which is the natural cycle of sleep.

Additionally, McFarland also noted that it is important to follow a healthy diet, primarily citing the negative effects that a diet full of processed foods can have on the brain.

McFarland recommended following the "80/20 rule," which states that if you follow a diet of 80 percent whole foods, it is acceptable to have processed foods for the remaining 20 percent.

McFarland further recommended that, in conjunction with a good diet, one should exercise and meditate regularly to not only improve physical well being, but also to encourage a healthy stress response from the brain.

With all of these tips taken together, McFarland ensured that audience that they would have a real, lasting impact on their cognitive function.

The next Noontime Knowledge Event will be held on June 12 at 12 noon at the Corbin Public Library.