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Want to protect your older brain? Start when it’s young

Brain Health Summit encourages all ages to attend.

Story by Lisa Allen

Most of us realize, hopefully in time, that it doesn’t work to try to cram a lifetime of healthy living into the last quarter of our lives. That’s why the staff at Memory Matters is emphatic that all ages  attend the third Brain Health Summit that will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 11 at Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort.

“This event is for designed for everyone in our community. It can help any age because it is about being proactive,” said Debbie Anderson, community education director at Memory Matters, the Hilton Head-based nonprofit that teaches the community about brain health. The summit sold out last year and had a long waiting list. She expects that to happen even sooner this year. Why such strong interest?

“Because people are living longer and there is a large population of Baby Boomers,” Anderson said. “They want to age healthily. People have learned about the toll life choices have made on them. Plus, our understanding of neurology has significantly evolved.”

In short, we know more about how the brain operates and how to protect it from inside and out.

There is room for 475 attendees, but Memory Matters doesn’t want it to get any bigger.

“We want to keep the audience size small enough that it can be interactive. We want people engaged.”

And they will be.

Topics include Energize Your Brain With Exercise with Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist, author, Tedx speaker and professor at NYU; a “Chopped”-style culinary competition led by Chef Kim Baretta, who trained at the Leiths School of Food and Wine in London; learning about brainy food choices with Holly Mlodzinski of Hilton Head Regional Healthcare; how art helps our brain with Ashton Sullivan; and wellness awareness  with Candace Blair of Soul Fire Social.

Jimi Gibson, an award-winning speaker and magician, will demonstrate the impact of playfulness on memory retention in his address, “You Have Magic Power. Use it for Good.” The summit will focus on five things: eating, socializing, learning, relaxing and exercise. But pace yourself.

“It’s important that we work to change one thing for the better. It doesn’t have to be an overhaul; small steps are the best way to get started” she said.

Diet is a great place to start. New research at Weill Cornell Medicine showed that a Western-style diet triggers changes in the brain that might predispose patients to Alzheimer’s disease decades before they show any sign of cognitive decline. Those who ate a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein exhibited fewer Alzheimer’s-related changes to their brains than those who ate a Western-style diet, characterized by high intake of red meat, saturated fats and refined sugar and low intake of fiber. Anderson also suggests people get a free baseline memory screening. Memory Matters can conduct them and provide them to your doctor, by request.

Brain Health Summit 3

When: 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., March 11

Where: Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort

Details: Spend the day with national, regional, and local subject-matter experts who will demonstrate ways to care for your brain health and overall well-being.

Tickets and information: 843-842-6688,