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Stronger Muscles for Improved Brain Function

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Meathead. Musclebrain. Dumb jock. Like many stereotypes, ones equating strong muscles with less-than-admirable intellectual abilities are off-base. A Finnish study of 338 older men and women (average age 66) found the opposite: Those with stronger muscles had better mental function, including better memory and a greater ability to process and use information.

Exercise that challenges and strengthens muscles helps to reduce loss of muscle with age, and eating protein also makes a difference. Although it’s common for dinner to contain the biggest share of the day’s protein, Canadian researchers found that spreading daily protein among three meals led to stronger muscles among older people, compared to eating the same daily amount at one sitting. At least 18 grams of protein per meal, three times per day, was an optimum amount, and could come from a combination of high-protein foods and protein supplements.