What’s the Matter With Your Gray Matter? More Than Just Brain Strain.

Image result for age memoryIt’s 50 shades of gray for the matter of your gray matter. As you age, little by little you start dropping threads. Then you have to retrace your steps, physically and mentally to force yourself to remember the things you forgot. This is as inevitable as it is normal.

But as in any normal distribution bell curve, there is a range of age-related dysfunction: some people seem to start forgetful, others develop it over time, and others seem to just keep going like an EverReady Bunny.

What makes the difference between those who lose it early, and those who lose it late? Probably 32 factors, only a few of which are even known at this point. Oh great, right? That said, there are things we can do to tilt the needle away from this steep senility Slip-n-Slide. Most people would think I’m going to say brain exercises, crosswords, Sudoku, and other forms of brain strain.

And those are fine, but something else you can do is far simpler. Here’s some data:

Related image

exercise breaks promote attention and improve your ability to learn (STUDY),

they can improve memory and executive function (STUDY),

and “exercise training may be a promising approach to improve [blood flow in the brain], as increases may contribute to the beneficial effects on cognitive functioning observed following increased physical activity levels (STUDY).

Bottom line? Bend the curve in your favor! Hold back the decline as long as you can! And to do that, remember to active every day in every way. Otherwise, you’ll slip faster down that slope. And no one climbs back up a Slip-n-Slide.

Enough Is Enough, But How Much Is That?

Image result for enough exerciseI was going to write a big long post about overdoing exercise, it’s potential bad effects on your heart, and just the impossibility of keeping up with that unless you’re already Joe Athlete. So in stead, I just thought I’d answer the basic questions.

If you’re not running marathons, completing triathlons, or Iron Man competitions do you need to step it up and do more?


If you’re doing some activity, anything really, with only moderate intensity for 21 minutes per day, are you getting the recommended amount of activity?


The bottom line is that the “right amount” of exercise will be different for every person. You need to move while doing something you enjoy. But whether you should do 30 minutes of badminton or 30 minutes high octane spinning turns out to be more about your preference than anything else.

Don’t over-complicate, overthink, and certainly don’t feel like you have to overdo your exercise.  21 minutes per day, moderate activity. Get that in, and you win.


Never Chew On A Tree

Image result for do what you love

“Do what you love, love what you do?”

Even as I write this, it sounds like a cartload of kum bay ya ya sisterhood of the traveling meaningless aphorisms. It just needs Sarah McLaughlin warbling in the background to tie-dyed retro hippies dancing in some field.

That said, and as much as it elicits my mental gag reflex, as far as exercise goes it actually makes sense.

We are coached to think of exercise as a way to crank out the calories you need to balance that forklift sized Portion of Texas fajitas that could feed Rwanda. Calories in, out. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Think of it like the bitter pill you have to take for those 2 margaritas you tacked on to your “working” lunch.

So exercise is presented almost like an atonement you deserve, and definitely not something you should love necessarily. But except for hard core athletes, most people really don’t like this kind of perfunctory, no pain no gain mentality.

In fact, one very Southern woman once looked at me and said, [when you read this, it’s totally better if you do it with a drawl] “Dr. Clower I would rather chew on a TREE than git on that treadmill and bounce my big blobby body here and there for 30 minutes in the gym in front of God and everybody!”


We have to get over that way of thinking, because doing something you don’t like or love is the exact wrong strategy. When you are exercising and hate it, you can create cortisol stress hormones that work against the very beneficial effect of the exercise that you’re trying to achieve. In other words, you’ll get less out of it if you hate it, not to mention the fact that you’ll only do it until your full-sleeve-thin-mint guilt wears off.

But if you find what you love to do and do that, whatever that activity is will happen longer, you won’t create the stress response that works against you, and you’ll more efficiently burn calories. Think about how fun it is to ride a bike, play on a sports team, hike a trail with your family, walk with your friends. WHICH activity matters far less than how you feel about it.

Bottom line? For your activity, find what you love. Do that.

Basil Carrots

Try this dish! You may end up considering having it as a side dish
that is part of your regular rotation. 

You’ll Need

  • 6 medium carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted (or olive oil)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil or 1/4 Tablespoon fresh, chopped


  • Slice carrots into half inch slices.
  • Simmer, covered, in water until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes; drain.
  • Combine remaining ingredients, toss with carrots.


Will Clower Articles

Obesity Link To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Excess weight creates inflammation inside your body.  Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder that leads to inflammatory swelling and pain in the joints. You know how they market Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as “two great tastes that taste great together”? This is exactly the opposite of that.  Each of these feed the inflammatory fire of the other.
Bottom line? Even though they may seem to have little to do with each other, the common denominator between these two conditions is inflammation. And weight control may help ease joint pain caused by this form of arthritis.
Nice article in full, below by Lisa Rapaport @ Reuters Health
People with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity may be more likely to become disabled than their counterparts who maintain a healthier weight, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined data more than 25,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Most were overweight or obese when they joined the study. Those who were severely obese were more likely to report some disability to start with.

Over the course of the study, for up to about 15 years, obesity was associated with more progression of disability.

Their worsening disability “was not explained by worse disease activity,” said lead study author Dr. Joshua Baker of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. “This suggests that obesity causes disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and provides yet another reason for patients to try to take off a few pounds.”

In contrast to the more common osteoarthritis, which happens when cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time, rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder that causes debilitating swelling and pain in the joints.

In the current study, weight loss was also associated with disability, but it’s possible this is because people lost weight due to poor health or frailty as they aged, and not because of a conscious effort to eat right, exercise more and get in shape, researchers speculate in Arthritis Care and Research.

“I would say to my patients that they should aim for a slow, progressive weight loss, associated with increased physical activity, rather then aiming for unrealistic aims such as reaching normal weight,” Finckh said by email.

While obesity may lead to worsening disability for rheumatoid arthritis patients, it’s also possible that some people with the immune system disorder might become obese as a result of this disease, noted Dr. Predrag Ostojic, a researcher at the University of Belgrade in Serbia who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Due to disability and chronic pain, patients with rheumatoid arthritis are less active, and inactivity may contribute in gaining weight,” Ostojic said by email. “On the other hand, obesity may cause joint damage independently of rheumatoid arthritis, by excessive joint loading and accelerated degeneration of the joint cartilage (osteoarthritis), especially on lower limbs and spine.”

“Any weight reduction will have positive effect on functional ability,” Ostojic added. “Healthy weight is ideal, but overweight is also an acceptable target, especially in rheumatoid arthritis patients who are severely obese.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2HEQD7K Arthritis Care and Research, online April 29, 2018.

A Geenie Grants Your Wish You Don’t Want

Okay, bear with me. Let’s just say you’re a normal person leading a normal life with the normal litany of gripes: my KID wanted this dog, but now I have to walk them every day?; if I have to mow this grass one more time I’m just going to pave it and paint it green; AND OMG Philadelphia airport(!!), why do you have to put  every single terminal 5000 miles away in its own zip code??

Then rummaging through your attic one day, you lift up a board to uncover a lamp that had been there probably since the invention of attics. Being dusty, you rubbed at it with some old nasty sham wow in the corner to clean it up a bit, and it starts smoking. You’re like, whaaat it’s a bomb!, spike it, turn to get out of there when you hear a deep sonorous voice.

“Whoa there cowboy. I’m not a bomb. Just a Geenie.”

A Geenie?? Shut up!

“I don’t think you actually want that.”

Right! Sorry, there Aladdin. Can I call you Al?

“No. Not even a little bit.”

[big pause as the nameless Gennie just stares with his big brown droopy eyes]

Alrighty then, I get 3 wishes right?

“Whoa again, you get 1 wish, and I already have it picked out for you.”

One? What a ripoff! What happened to three??

“Geenie’s Union.”

That’s not a thing.

“Oh, it’s totally a thing. We’d gone thousands of years giving 3 wishes until Millennials came along.”


“Yeah, they starting wishing for infinite wishes. They found a loophole. And we were putting in SO much overtime granting silly wishes like job security without actually DOING anything, participation trophies without actually DOING anything, living in their parent’s basement without DOING anything, that we created the new contract. One wish. I pick.”

Damn Millennials.


Wait, so how do you know what my wish is?

“Um, Geenie! I know what you’ve been thinking this whole time. Sooooo …”

At that moment, a cloud of smoke poofed and a sound like Rice Crispies crinkled in the air.

“I’m going to write into my official log that I gave you 30 seconds to get down stairs and onto the couch, because you’re going to need it, and I’m just a nice guy like that.”

My couch?

“Tick tock, brother!”

Giddy with possibilities, this was like Christmas morning. Quickly you settled in and waited the 30 seconds. Nothing. HEY GEENIE, you yell up to the attic, WHAT THE …

“You don’t have to yell. I’ll keep my voice in your head for a bit. And because I like you, I have granted you many of your wishes all in one. You no longer have to mow the yard. You no longer have to walk the dog. And you no longer have to suffer through the endless bad planning decisions of the Philadelphia Airport Authority. Congrats, man.”

You feel awesome! Then, when you try to get up to get the phone to call your wife and try to explain this little X files dream sequence, you realize you can’t move. It just doesn’t work. None of it. You’re paralyzed.

Geenie, wait! Put it back, you plead like George Bailey calling out to Clarence, I want to move. I want to mow and walk the stupid dog and I know zero people want to be in Philly’s airport, but I’d even go there!

“Nope. One and done. Plus, now I gotta go. Union rules.”

But Geenie, I can’t play with my kids any more. Can’t go where I want when I want to. I’ll have to be waited on by others for the rest of my immobile life, I hate this!


Here’s why we need to change how we think about movement. It is a gift and a miracle that, if some tragic magic befell us and we suddenly lost it, we would long for the inconvenience of movement.

Here’s how to start thinking about movement. You move because you GET to, not because you HAVE to. Hold on to that blessing with both hands, because the more you move, the more you will be able to move through your life.

Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” Just seemed an appropriate wrap up to this article.

Ginger, Lemon Scones

These scones would make a nice complement to a relaxing brunch.

You’ll Need
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped, (found in the spice section of store)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda and cream of tartar.
  • Stir in ginger and lemon zest.
  • In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and oil.
  • Fold into dry ingredients until blended.
  • Turn the slightly sticky dough out onto a lightly floured board and form into a rectangle about ½ inch in thickness.
  • With a knife, cut each triangles about 4 inches tall (or so).
  • Re-roll and cut the scraps, handling the dough as little as possible.
  • Place scones onto a baking sheet.
  • Blend water in w egg in a bowl, and then lightly paint the tops of the scones with the glaze.
  • Sprinkle scones with sugar.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and firm to touch.
  • Serve warm.


Tuna Fish Salad

Let’s stock our pantries for eating in the home success. A can of tuna fish is a helpful food to leave in your pantry for those days when you need a quick meal. Try this tuna salad recipe it contains yogurt and is quick and easy to make.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 can Tuna 
  • Plain yogurt
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Additional ingredients (see list below)


Empty the can of tuna into a small bowl.
Mix in just plain yogurt to bind the tuna.
Add additional ingredients to your liking.
Place over a salad or on a bagel or bread.

Ideas for additional ingredients:

Carrots, grated
Green or black olives, diced
Celery, diced
Cucumber, diced
Green or red pepper, diced
Dill pickle, diced
Hard boiled egg, chopped

Will Clower Articles