Prepping holiday feast can provide brain boost

Preparing a holiday feast can be quite a feat, but did you know all that busy work provides a boost to your brain?

Getting a lavish meal cooked and served requires planning, execution and coordination.

Cleveland Clinic researchers said organizing and prioritizing is a good test of cognitive skills. It can also help uncover a memory issue in loved ones.

"If your mother, grandmother, father or somebody like that used to be perfect, meaning they had the ingredients and they had the order and knew exactly how to prepare a meal, and now they're struggling, don't ignore it. Don't laugh it off," said Dr. Marwan Sabbagh with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

The Thanksgiving or Christmas table is also an excellent opportunity to talk with relatives about health history.

There is no better place to get detailed information about heart disease, cancer or diabetes among relatives.

"Family health histories are very useful and straightforward. We talk about it naturally at Thanksgiving tables especially and what that does is clue us in to whether we have a risk of a disease that runs in our family," said Dr. Charis Eng with the Cleveland Clinic.

Pay attention to the age relatives got diagnosed. Doctors say health histories can also help you determine which screening tests you may need.

And even though you may indulge during the holidays, experts say the social aspects of family gatherings are good for overall health.

"People who socially engaged are more likely to have a social network, more likely to be happier in general and it's been shown very clearly they have better cognitive outcomes so social stimulation is part of the meal," said Sabbagh.

A home-cooked meal shared with friends and family encourages social interaction and numerous studies show that's important for preserving brain function.
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