Top Ten States for Good Brain Health? Maryland and D.C. Lead but Rural Dominates

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September 22, 2011; Source: Arizona Daily Star | Arizonans are probably a bit discomfited by the finding from a new research study that the state “lost more brain health” than any other state in the nation between 2009 and 2011. The study was conducted by the nonprofit National Center for Creative Aging, affiliated with George Washington University, and life’s DHA, which obviously sells and promotes DHA Omega-3 products. According to the study, the factors contributing to brain health include:

  • Diet and nutrition: A healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and added sugar but rich in brain-enhancing foods such as good fats like DHA omega-3, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and algal DHA supplements.
  • Physical health: Staying physically active for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week and making wise lifestyle decisions such as getting enough sleep and not smoking.
  • Mental health: Continually challenging the brain through activities such as game playing, creative pursuits like gardening, dancing or painting, or learning a new language or skill.
  • Social well-being: Nurturing human connections and engaging in social activities to give life purpose, such as volunteering.

It certainly sounds as if working with nonprofits, the sector that probably contributes the most to “giving life purpose,” helps brain health. While Arizona dropped the most in terms of brain health, Delaware gained the most. If you live in Maryland or Washington, D.C., congratulations. You’re in a locale where people are doing a lot for their brain health. Look at the rank-order list, though, to see which states could use lots of brain health improvement: 

1. Maryland

14. Florida

27. Kansas

40. Iowa

2. District of Columbia

15. Massachusetts

28. Michigan

41. South Carolina

3. Washington

16. Montana

29. Rhode Island

42. North Dakota

4. Colorado

17. New York

30. Illinois

43. Kentucky

5. Vermont

18. Pennsylvania

31. Arizona

44. Indiana

6. New Hampshire

19. Hawaii

32. New Mexico

45. Tennessee

7. Oregon

20. Delaware

33. Texas

46. West Virginia

8. Utah

21. Nevada

34. North Carolina

47. Alabama

9. Maine

22. Virginia

35. Ohio

48. Oklahoma

10. New Jersey

23. Wyoming

36. Missouri

49. Arkansas

11. Alaska

24. California

37. Nebraska

50. Louisiana

12. Georgia

25. Idaho

38. South Dakota

51. Mississippi

13. Connecticut

26. Minnesota

39. Wisconsin


For those of us who were among the earliest Baby Boomers, the time is probably now or never to pay attention to brain health. It’s good for all of us that working with nonprofits may be one of the brain-healthier things we can do.—Rick Cohen