Welcome to all the new readers as well as long time subscribers. I want this newsletter to fit your interests and concerns. So this month I answer 2 questions raised by readers in the past few weeks.

1. Two questions about bottled water

2. Brains. Can we grow our brains as we age or it it all 'downhill' after 55?

Bottled water - two questions.

First, is bottled water safe?

Studies show that food and drinks stored plastic bottles can contain trace amount of Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical that interferes with the body’s natural hormonal messaging system and has been shown to be linked to breast and uterine cancer, an increased risk of miscarriage, and decreased testosterone levels. BPA can also wreak havoc on children’s developing systems.

The leakage of BPA is increased if the bottle has been dropped, its contents frozen or if the contents have been stored for a length of time. (We may use the water within a week but can you can be sure it has not sat in warehouse storage for some weeks?)

Last month I ordered an all steel water bottle and it has been a gem. Light weight and the steel seems to keep the water cool/cold for far longer than plastic. It is a safer alternative to plastic for those of us who sip water through the day.

Second question, what about the flavored waters that are all the rage?

Suggestions: Check on the caffeine content. Remember that caffeine is a drug - a stimulant found in many 'pain control' substances. It's downside is that it interferes with bone building and should be avoided by anyone concerned about osteopenia or osteoporosis. (see: www.osteopenia3.com for more info.)

If you have a steel water bottle and want a bit of fruit flavor, squeeze in a few drops from a fresh orange or other fruit. You can wash out the bottle at the end of the day and try a new taste tomorrow.

NEW TOPIC: Good news about your aging brain. Researchers have learned that those who are mentally active continue to grow new neurons and brain connections straight though their 90's. And what is interesting is that the older, more mature brain, uses 'whole brain thinking' much more that the brains of young people or adults. (that is one reason why they can be a bit slower processing information - takes few seconds longer to integrate info from both sides of the brain}

After the age of 60, there is usually great development in the 'right brain'. That is why so many seniors start dancing, playing an instrument, reading novels and poetry, writing, drawing, painting etc. (The Elizabeth Layton page on the web site offers a startling example of this.)

If you are past 60 or if you have friends or relatives who are, do consider gifting a trip to the theater, the opera. Try an art or dancing class. (Stores selling craft supplies are really popular and often offer inexpensive 'introductory' lessons.)

An Art Studio in the next town over from me has been offering their facilities to seniors on Tuesday mornings. Free. I attended last month I was amazed both at how many people were there AND the quality of the work they were doing.

So if you are 'coming towards 60, do think of starting to cultivate you arty 'right brain'. If 60 is in your rear view mirror, get started soon. You will find that 'right brain thinking' leaves you more relaxed and happy than organizing or problem solving does. AND using it will encourage the growth of more neurons - thus strengthening your brain as you age.

I would be interested in hearing from readers who do or who will try some sort of 'right brain' activity. What was your experience? any suggestions for others? (Just hit 'reply')

Until next month -