COLUMBIA Md., March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2014 America's Brain Health Index, released today, reveals which areas of the country have progressed, held their own or lost ground in taking measures to improve their brain health over the last three years. Washington state improved its position to land in the No. 2 spot among the brain-healthiest states in the nation. The state-by-state ranking of brain health is part of a national health education campaign called Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential, a partnership between the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) and life'sDHA™, designed to inspire Americans to develop and maintain healthy, active minds by incorporating key lifestyle factors known as the four dimensions of brain health — diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being.
According to the 2014 America's Brain Health Index, Washington state ranks No. 2 and its strengths include high consumption of fish rich in DHA and DHA-fortified foods and supplements, residents active in mental activities like game playing and reading, and high levels of community participation. Washington does have challenges however, including a relatively low level of religious or spiritual activities and a relatively high incidence of Alzheimer's disease-related deaths.
America's Top Ten Brain Healthy States
The America's Brain Health Index evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on 21 factors including diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being. According to this year's America's Brain Health Index, the top 10 brain healthiest geographies are:
2) Washington state
6) District of Columbia
8) New York
9) New Hampshire
Michael Roizen, M.D., co-founder of Real Age Inc., helped to determine the key indicators of brain health and build the Index with data aggregated from highly credible secondary resources. The categories ranged from consumption of DHA-rich foods, amount of sleep and community involvement, to smoking rates, Alzheimer's disease prevalence and state education rankings.
"Keeping the brain healthy is easier than you realize. Everyday actions such as maintaining a diet including good fats like DHA omega-3 and important nutrients such as vitamin E and lutein, and staying active physically, mentally and socially, are all good ways to influence long-term brain health," said Dr. Roizen.
Celebrating Beautiful Minds
The campaign also introduces America's most Beautiful Minds, individuals fulfilling the four dimensions and achieving amazing things well into the second half of life. Through a national call for entries, adults 55 and over were invited to submit an essay describing how they embody the four dimensions of brain health. Nine individuals, ranging in age from 58 to 90, were chosen as the 2014 Beautiful Minds. Their inspiring stories include an 81-year-old who bikes nine miles to work, an 84-year-old champion swimmer, and a 90-year-old singer of Chinese opera.
Three of the Beautiful Minds are from top-ranking geographies:
- Cheryl Vassiliadis, 60, Hoschton, Ga.
- Judith Mares Lazar, 65, Washington, D.C.
- Leecynth "Lee" Hunkins, 84, New York, N.Y.
Other winners include:
- Renee McClendon, 58, Diamondhead, Miss.
- Bruce Mondschain, 71, Deerfield, Ill.
- C.K. Perez, 81, Chicago, Ill.
- Peter Phildius, 84, Wellesley, Mass.,
- Carol Siegel, 75, Alexandria, Va.
- Pei Chang "Patty" Wang, 90, San Jose, Calif.
"The 'graying of America' is being heralded by many as the second American Revolution, promising dramatic changes in the field of aging. The life'sDHA Beautiful Minds campaign demonstrates that Americans who incorporate the four dimensions of brain health into daily activities can enjoy lives filled with purpose and passion, strength and achievement," said Gay Hanna, Ph.D., M.F.A., executive director of the NCCA.
Did You Know? A Sampling of Brain Health Research
- DHA omega-3 – Recent research shows the importance diet and the omega-3 DHA have in maintaining brain health, including brain volume, which naturally shrinks as we age. A study published in Neurology found people with higher levels of DHA and EPA may have larger brain volumes in old age equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health (Pottala 2014).
- Vitamin E – Just over 90 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin E from food (Fulgoni et al. 2011). Recent studies have found that lower levels of vitamin E in the blood may be associated with the increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (Mangialasche et al. 2012) and vitamin E may positively impact functional performance among participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (Dysken et al. 2014).
- Lutein – New research on lutein, typically known for its benefits to eye health, has found a correlation between macular pigment density and general cognitive function in healthy elderly people (Johnson EJ 2012). A large number of Americans are not achieving adequate levels of lutein in their everyday diets (NHANES 2003-2008) and fewer than half – 41 percent – are familiar with lutein, according to the DSM Nutritional Products' Eye Health Survey.
Americans of all ages who want to join this growing brain-healthy community and find out how other states rank in America's Brain Health Index, meet all of this year's Beautiful Minds, and learn about simple steps they can take to improve brain health are invited to visit the campaign's online information resource, http://www.beautiful-minds.com.
life'sDHA™, a DSM Nutritional Products brand, is a sustainable and vegetarian source of algal DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 important for brain and eye health throughout life. life'sDHA is derived from microalgae and produced in an FDA-inspected facility, from start to finish. life'sDHA is found in numerous foods, beverages and supplements for people of all ages. For a complete list of products containing life'sDHA, visit www.lifesdha.com.
About the National Center for Creative Aging
The National Center for Creative Aging(NCCA) was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to promoting creative expression as vital to healthy aging through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance in health and wellness, lifelong learning and community. Based in Washington, D.C., NCCA is a nonprofit organization with 3,000 members and is affiliated with The George Washington University. For more information about the NCCA, visit www.creativeaging.org.
SOURCE life'sDHA; National Center for Creative Aging