The Brain: Unraveling the Mysteries & Making it Work!

We had the first of our brain health talks at the end of February. Thanks to all the intrepid souls that came out for a fantastic talk by Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, a neurologist from Rush University, aka Dr. A. She is a vibrant and captivating speaker with great and simple instructions for keeping your brain healthy.

• Walk- It doesn’t have to be fast or competitive; it just needs to be done. She suggests that when going to a big box store we first walk around the outside perimeter before beginning to shop. Walking around the neighborhood keeps your brain active and firing, taking a different way home is also helpful. Exercise before 6 pm so you don’t re-energize your body and possibly change your sleep habits.
• Eat less brown, beige and white foods- Eat a rainbow of colors, so simple. The Mediterranean diet is proven to lower incidence of stroke and is very colorful. Any food that is good for your heart is good for your brain.
• Stay active- get out and socialize, go to museums, read books. Participate in Forward Chicago events, do crossword or word search puzzles or play chess, but only if you genuinely like doing them, and you will think better.
• Avoid loneliness and negativity- Loneliness increases stress, so get out and hang around with people you like. If you have friends that stress you out with no payback, sometimes you have to lose them; that applies to family members too. Have an attitude of gratitude. Read books by authors that increase positivity like Wayne Dwyer.
• Stress will kill you- Most heart attacks occur on Monday. While stress is unstoppable and we all have had early childhood and adulthood adverse events, there are things we can do for ourselves. We can meditate to lower blood pressure and increase oxygen through deeper breathing. It can be as simple as taking 10-15 minutes in the morning to sit and be quiet. Listen to what your brain is saying, you do not have to stop thinking, but pay attention to your thoughts and how they change as you meditate more times. You will feel your pulse and breathing change as you learn to quiet yourself.

The talk was very inspiring, we had a good question and answer period and we all left feeling very positive about small but important changes that can be made to help ourselves to be our best selves going forward. Thanks Dr. A! We hope to have her back, watch our calendar for upcoming brain health discussions.

Helene Wineberg


Forward Chicago, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, envisions our neighborhoods as model communities for people of all ages, where residents can age in place while remaining active, engaged and influential.