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Posts tagged ‘Brain’

Brain Fitness

All your thoughts, emotions and behaviors begin in your brain.

How do you keep your brain fit? Well, brain fitness has basic principles: variety and curiosity. When anything you do becomes second nature, you need to make a change. If you can do the crossword puzzle in your sleep, it’s time for you to move on to a new challenge in order to get the best workout for your brain. Curiosity about the world around you, how it works and how you can understand it will keep your brain working fast and efficiently. brain Use these ideas to help attain your quest for mental fitness:

1. Play Games Brain fitness programs and games are a wonderful way to tease and challenge your brain. Suduko, crosswords and electronic games can all improve your brain’s speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. You’ll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day — spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.

 2. Meditation Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness.  

3. Eat for Your Brain Your brain needs you to eat healthy fats. Focus on fish oils from wild salmon, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flax seed and olive oil. Eat more of these foods and less saturated fats. Eliminate transfats completely from your diet. We all know that not all fats are created equal. To function well, your brain needs a good supply of essential fatty acids. Since the body cannot produce these fatty acids, you need to get them from food. These fatty acids (known as omega-3) are found in fish oils, nuts, and seeds. The traditional diet of the Japanese, for example, is high in fish, which explains why the Japanese have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. You can get your fats from fish (wild salmon), nuts (walnuts), olive oil and seeds (flax seed). Researchers think that these fats not only help supply oxygen to the brain, but work to protect the membranes of brain cells, prevent damage that causes dementia, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses.  

4. Tell Good Stories Stories are a way that we solidify memories, interpret events and share moments. Practice telling your stories, both new and old, so that they are interesting, compelling and fun. Some basic storytelling techniques will go a long way in keeping people’s interest both in you and in what you have to say.

5. Turn Off Your Television The average person watches more than 4 hours of television everyday. Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more. Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body.

brain muscle6. Exercise Your Body To Exercise Your Brain Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practice balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain.

7. Read Something Different Books are portable, free from libraries and filled with infinite interesting characters, information and facts. Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics and random books. Not only will your brain get a workout by imagining different time periods, cultures and peoples, you will also have interesting stories to tell about your reading, what it makes you think of and the connections you draw between modern life and the words.

8. Learn a New Skill Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook and building an airplane out of toothpicks all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about.

9. Make Simple Changes We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. But the more something is ‘second nature,’ the less our brains have to work to do it. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to the grocery store, use your opposite hand to open doors and eat dessert first. All this will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.

10. Train Your Brain Brain training is becoming a trend. There are formal courses, websites and books with programs on how to train your brain to work better and faster. There is some research behind these programs, but the basic principles are memory, visualization and reasoning. Work on these three concepts everyday and your brain will be ready for anything. So there you have it–train your brain and enjoy the challenge.

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Brain Chemicals

The human body is ridiculously receptive to our diet. From eyesight to energy, from weight to motor skills, what we eat affects all facets of our bodies.  A healthy diet gives energy, helps develop lean muscle, and even enhances sex life. Conversely, a poor diet can have an ill effect on bodily functions.

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Just as the rest of our bodies  is influenced by diet, the brain is no exception. An extremely metabolically driven muscle, the brain constantly needs to be fed…and fed well. Proper diet can benefit memory, boost mood, relieve stress, enhance sensorimotor skills, and maybe even improve IQ.

BRAIN CHEMICAL BALANCE AND WEIGHT/CRAVINGS ISSUES

  1. Brain is where the life resides.  It governs all aspects of health and emotions.  It is like the circuit breaker box of the body—the brain generates and sends electric current throughout the body, fueling the internal systems and orchestrating health.
  2. There are four primary biochemicals that functions differently and determines the brain’s effectiveness by controlling a single aspect of the electricity transfer from brain to body.  These chemicals can positively affect the weight but a deficiency in any of them can lead to food addictions, and then obesity.
  3. Every fruit, veggie, grain, protein or fat is a precursor to one of the brain chemicals.  A better functioning brain frees people from food addictions, provides a stronger metabolism and leads to a thinner body.

DOPAMINE: creates brain power–voltage is the intensity at which the brain instructs the body to work.  Dopamine is the brain’s natural power source, which keeps us mentally and physically energized throughout the day.

~When we lack dopamine, metabolism slows down and unused fuel starts to bulk up in the form of body fat.  The more dopamine we produce, the faster our metabolisms work and we burn more calories and turn less foods into body fat. ~Dopamine also controls how we quantify the feeling of satisfaction we experience when we eat—being able to walk away after one dessert or one glass of wine.  Without the right amount of dopamine, the circuits in the brain does not relay the message that we are satisfied and full, and we keep eating, never emotionally or physically fulfilled with the food we ate.  Low dopamine makes you crave caffeine and foods that will deliver an energy boost—high sugar, fast digesting carbs.

~ Dopamine works like a natural amphetamine, giving us power and controlling our energy.  When there is a dopamine imbalance, body naturally increases production of cortisol for its energy needs, and we know what that does!

Dopamine deficiency can be corrected by teaching the brain to create more of this vital chemical.

~Eat the right foods to create dopamine:

*lean protein

*BROCCOLI, the best dopamine-enhancing food out there!

*Apples, spinach, carrots, egg whites, almonds, salmon and pomegranate juice.

*Spices: basil, black pepper, ginger, rosemary, sesame seeds, cumin, flaxseed, garlic, black and green tea.

~Remove foods that deplete the levels of dopamine: sugar, simple carbs and high glycemic goods.

~Exercise has been linked to stimulating the dopamine pleasure and satisfaction circuits.  Dopamine-enhancing workout should feature aerobic activity followed by weight training as often as possible.

ACETYLCHOLINE: how fast electrical signals are processed from brain to body (speed) is controlled by acetylcholine, which provides lubricants and insulation for muscles, bones and other systems in the form of fat.  If we don’t eat the right kind of fat, we crave foods high in the wrong kind of fats and it will make us fat. But if we eat high-acetylcholine foods, we  reduce the need for bad fats.

Eating the perfect quantities of the right fats will crank up metabolism and increase amount of body fat burned during exercise.

~Eat the right kind of fats:

*monounsaturated fatty acids: olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and egg yolks.

*Polyunsaturated fatty acids: flax, fish oil, salmon, shrimp

~Eat foods with lecithin (nutrient used in the body to synthesize choline): cauliflower, egg yolds, live, milk, peanuts, soy beans, wheat germ

~Spices: sage, thyme, turmeric, allspice, basil, cumin and peppermint

~Aerobic activity can restore acetylcholine.

GABA: determines the pace at which the body and brain function.  If GABA is low, we become unbalanced-poor impulse control, emotionally, physically and mentally “rocky”—need for comfort which we find in food—emotional eating,  temper tantrums and overeating.  Complex carbs are needed to keep your GABA balanced.

GABA is the brain’s calming agent, helps to regulate the nervous system and keeps all other brain chemicals connected.  Living in stress or anxiety results in losing our sense of boundaries so that we crave large amounts of foods.  Stress alters the way the brain contemplates the consequences of actions; GABA deficiency is connected to overeating and lack of portion control.  High-GABA foods alleviate stress and enable us to have better portion control.

~Avoid simple sugars, refined products and white flours which will continue to establish a GABA imbalance.

~Eat fiber-rich foods and complex carbohydrates: beans, bran, brown rice, lentils, oatmeal, peas, whole wheat stuff, yams,

~Boost GABA with vitamin B foods: bananas, beans, broccoli, figs, grapefruit, halibut, lentils nuts, oranges, oats, spinach,

~Spices: caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass, oregano, paprika, poppy seeds

~GABA can be increased with Pilates and yoga.

SEROTONIN: determines the synchrony (balance of movement between the different brain waves). Serotonin is an Off switch, telling our bodies when to shut down and rest.  When serotonin levels are normal, we get the restful sleep we need.  Seretonin is also the brain chemical that allows us to experience pleasure and feel good about ourselves. Low levels of serotonin will alter our thinking, and then cause a host of food-related problems because of depression and lack of sleep.

If serotonin is low, leptin is low as well and the message that we are full doesn’t reach the brain.

~Eat foods high in tryptophan: amino acid needed for those with low serotonin because it induces the creation of this brain chemical: avocado, eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, chocolate, duck, egg, oats, turkey, yogurt, wheat germ

~Spices to increase serotonin: saffron, cinnamon, fennil, peppermint, marjoram, dill, nutmeg, turmeric

~ Physical movement helps to reset the brain and release serotonin.

SUMMARY:

When the four brain chemicals are produced at right levels, body can run efficiently on the energy it gets from food.

By increasing dopamine (power), you rev up the metabolism. –LEAN PROTEIN

By increasing acetylcholine (speed), you forgo the fat cravings.—GOOD FATS

By increasing GABA (rhythm), you get off t the obsessive/anxiety related eating pattern and develop portion control—COMPLEX CARBS.

By increasing serotonin (balance), you give yourself the rest you need.  –REGULAR MEALS,TRYPTOPHAN

So.. DON’T deprive yourself from vital nutrients!!! Carbs are needed, protein is needed and fat is needed!  By having balanced brain chemicals, you will avoid avoid the nasty cravings that lead to salt binging, sugar binging, carb binging, late night binging!

 

By the way, random information for you: Gum is your ally! Research shows that activity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is critical for memory, increases while we chew.

Amazing Facts about your Body

The human body is the most fantastic machine in existence.

While most machines are designed to do only one or two job, all the parts of the human body work so well together that you can do all kinds of different things – many at the same time. Nobody has ever been able to invent one machine that could do even half the things your body can do. And no other machine can think up new ideas, change its mind or make jokes.

Here are just a few interesting facts about your amazing human body:
• Your skin is your largest organ and the only one exposed to the elements.
• As a baby you had over 50% more bones than you do now.
• The majority of all your bones are in your hands and feet.
• All the blood that flows through your body is actually a liquid organ.
• The surface of your lungs is about the size of an average tennis court.
• You’re made up of 100 trillion cells that do a variety of jobs.
• Standing on your head won’t help you lose weight. Food still goes to your stomach.
• Your heart will beat about 3 billion times throughout your lifetime.

Your body machine is a complex organization of parts and systems that generally function cooperatively to keep you in proper working order. Your heart and brain are the CEO partners in charge of operations. Your brain acts as the “brains” and your heart is the “brawn.” No one truly understands all of the many mysteries of the human body.  But we do know it’s no simple task being you. If you think you’ve been busy lately and at the effect of time, consider all the other things your body does every 24 hours.

Responsibilities of the Human Body:

• Your heart beats 103,689 times.
• Your blood travels 168,000,000 miles.
• You breathe 23,040 times.
• You inhale 438 cubic feet of air.
• You eat 3 ½ pounds of food.
• You drink 2.9 pounds of liquid.
• You lose in weight 7.8 pounds of waste.
• You perspire 1.43 pints.
• You give off heat 85.6 degrees F.
• You turn in your sleep 25-35 times.
• You speak about 48,000 words.
• You move 750 major muscles.
• Your nails grow .000046 inch.
• Your hair grows .01714 inch.
• And you exercise 7,000,000 brain cells with each thought-

WOW–that’s all I have to say!

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