The word from the nutritionist

Reading: gym for the brain

Do you know that reading is good because it aids to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and the loss of memory?

According to what has been declared by ISTAT, the Italian readers are only 38% upon the whole population above the age of 14; however, only 10% can declare to be a ‘usual reader’, reading more than 12 books a year. Probably the left 62% of Italian people ask themselves the same question as everyone did at primary school: why should I read?

Even the neurobiologists of the Stanford University have been wondering about it, so they have studied the effects of reading a novel on the brain activities of some students. With this research it has come to light that, even if people think that reading is a relaxing and reinvigorating activity, it stimulates a brain area that is activated by the functions of execution, in other words, those activities that require concentration. Besides, if to delay your physical aging, you can exercise or ask the plastic surgeon for a help, to keep your brain in a good shape nothing is better than a nice book.

The habit of defying your brain with stimulating activities limits the risk of its decline. The researchers of Rush University Medical Center of Chicago proved it: they controlled the activities of thought and memory of 294 volunteers in old age. They had been followed for six years with tests about their reading habits all along their life. After their death, the scientists analyzed their brains with the intent of finding possible signs of dementia, that are unfortunately common in old age, and that can cause a deficit of memory. People who used to practice intelligence activities showed a rate of brain decline 15% lower than those who didn’t use to read or write. Keeping reading in the old age limits the risk of a memory worsening of 32%. Instead, who almost stops reading risks a memory decline faster of 48%.

However, even if when we are twenty years old, feeling that we can do everything, we don’t think that our brain could deteriorate, it’s better to remember that “while reading, we could feel ourselves, with open eyes, as if we were immersed in a dream, deeper and more true than the real life.” (Ezio Raimondi).


Published 04 May 2016