DO YOU know that declining brain health and memory loss are not inevitable parts of aging? At 60, it is not a given that you frequently slide into "senior moments"--forgetfulness and sluggish mind. Yet what your mental state is in your latter years will depend on what you are investing in now in your brain's health.

Few persons are aware of the fact that the brain needs as much care as other parts of the body. While many focus on body sculpting, developing "abs," trimming bulging tummies and thighs, very few invest in their brain health.

Developing a superior mind starts early.

Mothers in the know (a good number, intuitively) invest in healthy eating and living from conception, a reason why children of thinking celebrities and influencers take time out to focus on their "infanticipating." As I pointed out in my previous column, what a parent feeds the child from infancy will determine his/her brain quality, especially IQ.

The dictum "garbage in, garbage out" applies fully on brain health development --from diet and nutrition to social-cultural, psychological and spiritual input. It is not surprising, for instance, that a stellar mind can spring from a far-out interior farming family in the Sierra Madre and make it to Harvard with a little help from an environmental non-government organization working in their upland community. Or a provincial lass from Eastern Visayas to become one of NASA's scientists. If truth be told, I believe while infants, these outstanding Pinoys though poor, were breastfed by their mothers and were fed with a lot of greens, beans and root crops. What you feed yourself, how you live your teenage years through your twenties, thirties, midlife and beyond will determine your brain health in your senior years.

But back to our topic, you can be mentally sharp and maintain your ability to learn, reason, and remember into old age by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, managing stress, connecting with others and challenging your brain.

The question we need to think about is how you can achieve the best brain performance possible for your age. One needs to know when we speak of brain fitness in adulthood, the difference between cognitive fitness and cognitive reserve. If you are serious about your mental prowess, you need to know just where and how memories are stored Why certain brain functions improve with age and more.

To wit, brain health depends on how much care you give it through your overall bodily care. That starts with your food intake and basic needs like sleep. Do you know for instance that high blood sugar is linked to memory loss other than being an indicator of diabetes? Or, how deep, adequate sleep may help wash away beta-amyloid plaques linked to Alzheimer's Disease? How exercise lowers the risk for dementia and boosts the development of new neurons in your brain?

All of the above mentioned mental fitness issues may be summed up in a phrase, cognitive fitness. You may ask, just what are the "givens" of cognitive fitness (COGFIT). Above all, we need to commit ourselves time, resource and energy to develop:

* brain-boosting diets, menus and a list of foods to eat more of and those to avoid

* exercises that help improve cognitive fitness

* habits of improving sleep

* adaptive techniques for managing stress

* ways to stay socially active

* activities to challenge your brain

Quality life at age 50, 60 and beyond starts now with your commitment to brain fitness. For more of Health and wellness tips, see HEALTH EMPOWERMENT HUB (HEH), a page I created on Facebook to provide you access to naturally grown health food--fruits, veggies and other organic products of whole-grain (red, brown, pink & black rice ) poultry, meat, and eggs.