5 Tips for Keeping Your Brain Healthy as You Grow Old

5 Tips for Keeping Your Brain Healthy as You Grow Old

People used to think, rather pessimistically, that as you aged, your brain slowed down and it became harder to learn. Losing cognitive ability seemed inevitable, improvement a lost cause. Although your brain ages with your body, and that does pose some challenges, new research in neuroscience is showing this fatalistic mentality is misplaced – there are actually lots of ways to keep your brain healthy as you grow old, and even improve it.

1.    Exercise Your Body

Healthy living tips often point out that physical activity prevents heart disease, keeps your body in shape, and has a whole host of other physical benefits, but did you know it also plays a role in improving brain health? A study of over 1,000 New Yorkers looked at how exercise was associated with memory and cognitive abilities. According to Time, the five-year study revealed that those who worked out regularly slowed their brain’s aging by as much as 10 years. Although this study didn’t show exercise could be used to reverse aging, it definitely adds weight to the idea exercise can be used to keep your brain healthy.

2.    Exercise Your Brain

Although working out your body will boost brain health, that’s not the only exercise you need if you want to keep your brain young. You need to keep your brain active, too. The Alzheimer Association recommends to keep learning, playing strategy-based games, and reading challenging material. Even though you might associate school with childhood or young adults, continuing to take classes throughout your life, or when you’re retired, will give your brain the workout it needs to stay healthy throughout your life and stave off dementia.

3.    Eat Right

Many people have sworn by the Mediterranean diet, but new evidence from the Columbia University Medical Center proves it’s not a fluke – out of 700 people, those who ate lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, whole grains and “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats were much healthier according to the Cleveland Clinic. Brain scans actually showed that those on the Mediterranean diet had more white and grey matter, so they’re more likely to have better muscle control and sharper senses.

This isn’t the only diet that’s been improving brain health. According to the Huffington Post, those concerned about healthy living can also follow a diet called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or a mix between this and the Mediterranean called MND. In any case, all follow common healthy living tips, like eating foods that are more natural while avoiding bad fats like butter and cheese as well as processed foods like fast food and sweets.

4.    Build Social Ties

Having few social connections can get isolating with age, and no one wants to be lonely, but cultivating social bonds may do more than make us feel fulfilled and loved. An article published in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services looked at several studies related to social engagement and cognitive abilities in later life. The evidence adds up, having a supportive group of people around, even if you don’t always engage them, can be enough to reduce cognitive decline. If improving brain health even further is a priority- and why wouldn’t it be- you should go a step further and stay active in your social network by regularly participating in activities. That means you can simply spend time with your family and friends, or even other people by volunteering or anything else that gets you to interact with others.

5.    Master New Skills

When you’re young, everything is new and stimulating, but adults, especially older ones, have already found their niche and settled in. It’s not that they’ve discovered and done everything, it’s just that they’re comfortable with the routine. However, improving brain health means breaking out of that safety bubble and putting yourself out there again to explore new things. A study of 200 people tested whether learning new and challenging skills could improve memory. The study compared memory in people who learned how to quilt or use digital photography against a control group that just met to chat, do simple puzzles, or listen to classical music according to NPR. The more challenging the skill, the more their memory improved.

Protecting your brain as you age should be a top priority, especially since using skills, memory, and training makes up such a big part of a person’s identity. Also, there are many supplements for memory which can be of use. Unfortunately, just like most things in life, the time-tested phrase use it or lose it seems to apply. If you aren’t actively engaging your brain or your body, it starts to wear down and stop performing the way it used to. Luckily, by following these healthy living tips designed to improve brain health, your brain will remain sharp throughout the years.

Related: Dementia risk in the UK going down, suggests study


 

self-love and body transformation

Tips for Developing Self-Love While Transforming Your Body

For those of you just reading this now, as a Food & Body Image Psychologist, I wanted to demonstrate to you that you can go on a Body Transformation AND (learn to) Love Yourself. You can read about this on my previous blog here. 

I’ve been on this Body Transformation & Self-Love journey for almost 8 weeks now with Coach Nadine Dumas, and wanted to share some insights on my takeaways so far from my own experiences. Note that everyone’s experiences would be different since we’re all different individuals with our own histories. 

I am writing in a perspective that will hopefully help you gain tips for how to emotionally and mentally grow on your own SELF-LOVE and BODY TRANSFORMATION journey.  

My idea of a Body Transformation and Self-Love Journey is not about how much weight or inches I’ve lost or showing you my before/after photos because, although this is bound to happen, it’s not the point of it. This is about showing you how to LOVE YOURSELF from INSIDE OUT while your body is transforming. 

Self-love starts with Self-Care

Self- Love Starts withself-Care.jpg

What does self-love actually mean? It’s 2 parts:

1) Self Love is appreciating you (just like you do with loved ones) 

2) Self -Love is action oriented. It’s engaging in action that supports your psychological, emotional, physical, physiological, and spiritual well-being.  In other words, self-care activities.

Take your before and progress photos from a Place of Respect for Your Body

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How many of you cringe, pick apart your body, focus on what else needs improvement about your body when you take your before and/or progress pictures? I know I used to. Even if I could see progress, I would still be picking apart my body for what else needed improvement.

Please don’t do that. You only show your body more disgust and hate. And you know what your body’s doing? Listening to you. And what happens when you treat something with disgust and hate? It won’t love you back. It will fight you back. So in your body’s case, it will fight you back with physical symptoms such as plateauing, weight gain, bloating, digestive issues, illness, and other unwanted symptoms. Emotionally? It will feel heavy, drained, stressed, tired, sad, lonely, exhausted, burnt out, angry, hopeless, shame.

So when/if you take before and progress photos, please focus on how amazing your body already is, no matter what shape/size/weight you are now- this machine that gives you life, the ability to move from place A to B, the ability to breath, to feel, to walk, run, climb, crawl, dance, hug, touch, make love, hold a loved one, write, sing, paint, create, explore, relax, etc. Respect and be grateful for your body, and it will show you love back in the “symptoms” of energy, vitality, positive thinking, mental clarity, great digestive health as well as feeling happiness, purpose, meaning, hope, love, joy, freedom, peace, and so much more!

Eating healthy is self-care, therefore, health eating is self-love. However, it’s only one aspect of self-care.

As part of being in the journey, it’s about putting some attention and focus on my relationship with food for some of the time, but for the most part of my life, have it as something in the background (rather than the foreground). The rest of the time, I’m focusing on all the awesome aspects of my life! Eating foods that nourish my body will give me the brain power I need to serve myself and others, to be a great mom, wife, friend, psychologist, mentor, speaker and give me the ability to grow and challenge myself continuously. Continue reading

Lower my cholesterol

5 Proven Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential substance needed for proper body function but when levels get too high, cholesterol increases the risk of heart attacks. Alarmingly, more than 17% of the adult U.S. population have dangerously high cholesterol. Some medications can reduce cholesterol levels, but there are also natural ways to help achieve the same goal.

Here are five proven ways to naturally decrease cholesterol:

1- Make Fiber Your Friend

Fiber-rich foods such as oats and barley can help lower cholesterol levels. When ingested, they form a gel in the gut which fixes itself to cholesterol-rich bile acids. This pairing prevents the body from absorbing bad acids.

2- Be Choosey About Protein

Opting for leaner meats and protein-rich plant foods can decrease cholesterol in the body. Fish such as wild salmon, sardines, and bluefin tuna (Omega-3-Rich Fish Chart) are great menu items and contain omega-3 fats. Another fine option is consuming  plants which contain protein, including legumes, beans, seeds or nuts.

Equally important is the decrease or removal of red meat from the diet. Red meat has an abundance of saturated fats, which have negative health impacts.

3- Make Small Changes

Ingredients added to food in preparation and presentation can affect cholesterol values. Opt out of using margarine and other processed fats in favor of olive oil in food prep.

Add some spice to a meal to help lower the levels. Garlic, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and coriander all help while also adding some major flavor to each bite. Researchers at Penn State University discovered that adding spices to high fat and oil content dishes actually lowers absorption of these dangerous substances. So spice things up to lower triglycerides.

4- Make Lifestyle Changes

Lowering cholesterol isn’t just about watching what’s ingested and digested: One’s lifestyle can also impact cholesterol levels.

Smoking lowers the body’s “good” cholesterol while also injuring blood vessel linings and raising the risk of blood clots. The good news is that studies have shown that good cholesterol levels can rebound soon after a person stops smoking.

A good dose of laughter also helps. Laughing actually increases good cholesterol which counterbalances the bad stuff. Watching a funny movie, looking at silly cat videos online, and going to a stand-up comedy show are all forms of good medicine.

Learning to take time out and to relax can assist in keeping cholesterol in check. When you’re tense, stress hormones are issued out into the body and destroy other cells. This causes the body to respond by manufacturing large amounts of cholesterol to try to repair the damage. This, in turn, creates a glut of cholesterol in the system. After learning to use relaxation and meditation, your body will rely less on cholesterol for help.

5- Lose Weight

If a person is carrying extra pounds, losing the excess weight can help with cholesterol control. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition detailed 70 studies that have linked weight reduction to significant decreases in cholesterol.

We can’t and don’t want to eliminate cholesterol entirely from our lives and bodies — it is essential for proper body function. The key is to keep it in healthy forms and amounts.

For a person hoping to achieve and maintain this, many approaches can be tried. Medications are available but so are ample natural options for decreasing cholesterol.


Jennifer Landis is a tea-drinking, yoga loving, clean eating blogger, writer, wife, and mother. You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama.

self-care

Will You Get a Passing Grade for Self-Care? Take the Test!

I’ve started to notice a pattern with type-A personalities and overachievers:
We grade ourselves on a lot of things, but rarely on how well we take care of ourselves.
What if there were gold stars given out for how much sleep you got?
What if your corporate bonus was partially dependent on your cardiovascular health?
What if your sugar, caffeine, or alcohol consumption affected your chances for that next promotion?
You may laugh at the thought, but neglecting our physical, emotional and spiritual health can have a significant impact on our ability to function both at work and at home.
Are you brave enough to give yourself a little reality check?
Take Secondhand Therapy’s 2-minute quiz: Will You Get a Passing Grade for Self-Care?
Decide if you need to make some changes…and share with a friend!

If you are looking for more resources on taking better care of yourself, download Secondhand Therapy’s free 30 page eBook:’25 Practical Tips to Move Beyond Survival Mode‘.

Thank you.

JILL DAHL

second hand therapy

energy drink

5 All Natural Alternatives to Energy Drinks

Let’s face it: We all need an energy boost now and then. If you don’t have time to get to the gym (exercise is a natural energy booster) or to take a snooze, you might reach for an energy drink instead. The only problem is that manufactured energy drinks have a slew of side effects, including chest pain, heart palpitations, and seizures. That’s because they often contain excess sugar and caffeine, which has adverse effects on how your body functions. This is highlighted in the article ‘Energy Drinks vs Anti-Energy Drinks‘ by 12 Keys Rehab Center.

For these reasons and more, it’s important for energy-seekers to expand their horizons and start testing natural alternatives instead. We’ve gathered five options for easy and natural alternatives that’ll give you a buzz without the bite. Bottoms up!

Yerba Mate

Hailing from South America, Yerba Mate has been said to have it all: the energy boost of caffeine, the health-improving effects of tea, and the feel-good vibes of chocolate. In fact, the mate leaves used to make this beverage contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and antioxidants galore. In other words, drinking it will boost your energy and improve your overall health, which is more than most manufactured energy drinks can say.

To prepare Yerba Mate, you need a special mate cup designed to make preparation easy. Other than that, it’s made much like regular tea: After adding the leaves to the bottom of your cup, add hot water and let it sit for about 30 seconds. Then, put the mate straw into the leaves-and-water combo before adding enough hot water to make a full glass.

Green Smoothie

green smoothieLove for green smoothies has been widespread for some time now, and for good reason: The inclusion of so many fresh veggies delivers a wealth of vitamins and minerals that you might not otherwise get in your diet. Recipes for green smoothies are all over the Internet, too, so you should have no trouble finding one that gives you the power you need to push through a long morning or afternoon slump. As you get used to whipping up your own smoothies, you’ll probably start experimenting to find a personal, perfect iteration.

As a starting-off point, here’s a recipe for an energizing green smoothie. All you need to do is blend 1 cup of baby kale or spinach with 2 cups of pineapple. Once that’s done, add 1 cup of ice and up to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to complete your cool treat.

Green Tea

The green trend continues with green tea, a widely revered beverage in the world of health and fitness. Most teas can provide us with an energy boost, but green tea has an added bonus: It also contains theobromine, which enhances your circulation to energize you both physically and mentally without overdoing it.

It’s easy to prep, too, and can be done in just about any office that has a hot-water tap or microwave. Steep your tea bag, sip and feel better without any jitters.

Check out ‘Benefits of Increased Blood Circulation‘ by LIVESTRONG.COM

Coconut Water

coconut waterOne common source of fatigue is dehydration – if you’re thirsty, that means you’re already dehydrated. While any one of these beverages will help you fight dehydration and, therefore, boost energy, coconut water is known for its dehydration-fighting abilities. That’s because it also contains carbohydrates, electrolytes, potassium and minerals to get your body hydrated and energized faster than plain old water.

Honestly, though, we can’t knock that as a remedy for low energy, either. Make your way through a large glass and reap the mood-boosting effects.

Kombucha

Kombucha is often touted for its ability to detox your body. Surprisingly enough, this ability is what makes it a great source of energy, too. Unlike other energy drinks, which provide a jolt of energy via caffeine, Kombucha cleans your system so it runs more efficiently, thus providing you with more energy. It’s also chock full of B vitamins, which boost your body’s overall energy along with several other appealing benefits. Check out ‘Top 7 Kombucha Health Benefits‘ by cheeselave.com

See? You don’t need to reach for that energy drink next time you’re feeling less-than-stellar. Instead, whip up or pick up a natural alternative that’s just as effective at fueling you through the day. Cheers to your health!

What’s your tip for picking yourself up when you are feeling less energized? Leave me a comment below.


Jennifer Landis is a tea-drinking, yoga loving, clean eating blogger, writer, wife, and mother. You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama.

relationship with food

A New Take On Body Positivity: Body Image & Food Psychologist Goes on a “Diet”

What?! Roz is going on a diet!? Huh!?

Ok, ok, for those of you who know my work, you know that as a Psychologist, I successfully help people break free from dieting and body image struggles. So why am I hiring someone to “diet” me?

In a previous blog post I wrote called “Can I Still Be on a Diet AND A Journey of Self-Love?“, I talk about a trend I’ve been noticing with my clients and in social media regarding body positivity, which is that when people are in the process of learning to love themselves, they tend to go through a ‘rebellion’ stage from the ‘dieting mentality’. I call this the Pendulum Effect, where dieting, mentality, is based on fear of fat and self-loathing. Then as people break away from dieting mentality, they swing to the other side of the pendulum, which I coined ‘Rebellion Mentality’. Here they tend to indulge in foods that they were not allowed to eat while in ‘Dieting Mentality’. However, they are in the process of self-love so it’s coming from a place of learning to love oneself and breaking food rules. This is a very necessary, healthy, and normal part of learning to love yourself – to break all these food rules that ran their life for years.

I am inspired by people and I love inspiring people. So although I do not believe I need to transform my body as I love it unconditionally, I believe I have the RIGHT to transform my body. As a project to demonstrate and inspire others, I want to show people how to transform their bodies (whether that’s fat loss, muscle gain, or body composition change) with their relationship with food in the background and self-love in the foreground. In dieting mentality, it’s all about being obsessed with food and fear of gaining weight. The missing ingredient is Self-Love.

I have hired Nadine Dumas, who is a health, fitness & nutritional coach, as well as an international fitness model and long time friend to “diet” me. She shares similar values and approach as I do when it comes to  our relationship with food and body. She is all about inside health (balanced hormones, mood, energy, etc.) and has a very balanced approach to food. She has a strong work ethic, a big heart, and is very inspirational in all that she’s accomplished. She is an awesome coach to work with!

BLASTING THE DIET INDUSTRY WITH A MASSIVE DOSE OF “SELF-LOVE”

Now I should clarify, I am not using “Diet” in the same traditional sense that most people know it to be (i.e., rigid, restrictive and from a place of fear of fat, self-loathing, and body shame/hate), rather I’m actually seeing this as a “Nutritional Plan” that will help me meet my body transformation goals. I am of healthy weight and body composition, however, I’d like to challenge my body more with new fitness and health goals (i.e., gain overall strength and power and yes, physically that means I will change my body composition so that I have more lean muscle mass). I want to learn more about my body along the way as I think our bodies are so amazing and fascinating!

I will be counting on Nadine’s expertise in the nutritional, hormonal, physical and physiological areas. I will also use my own expertise in positive psychology, nutritional psychology, and neuroscience to help me transform my body with a massive dose of Self-Love. Continue reading

drink water

The #1 Reason Why You’re Not Losing Weight? You’re Not Drinking Enough Water!

 

thirsty man

Okay, there is nothing sexy about this. All I drink is water. I’ll have a diet Coke if I go out to eat on the weekends to make me feel like I’m not really dieting. But other than that, it’s all water. Now, I’m one of those girls who like to order fruit smoothies with her dinner and drink a tall glass of apple juice with my breakfast. But while dieting, I realized that I was drinking lots of my calories. And trust me, I’d rather apply my calories to something more filling and fun like yogurt, granola or a chocolate rice cake. So I had to cut out the fun drinks. But, guess what?  When I drink water, I lose weight. If I eat right, exercise but don’t drink lots of water, the weight comes off much slower. So that should be motivation enough as to why you should get your drink on.

I try to get in six to eight 16-ounce bottles a day. My goal is to drink a gallon of water daily. However, if I hit 5-6 six bottles in a day, I’m cool with that.  I know it can be tough to get in all that water each day. That’s why I’m sharing 3 tips and tricks that I use to get them in.

Tip #1 – Work Out

run with water bottle
I find that I drink way more water on the days that I work out. I can go through two 16-ounce bottles of water during my workout. I’ll have a bottle with my breakfast and then I’ll force another bottle down right before I hit the showers. That’s four bottles of water – a half gallon of water – all before 10:00am! I’ll down two bottles with lunch and two more with my dinner. There you have it, a gallon of water in a day.

Tip #2 – Put Your Water in a Visible Place

water bottle
One thing that helps is that when I get up in the morning, I’ll immediately put eight bottles of water out on the counter. I do this for two reasons. The first reason I do this is so I can see the water. Just seeing it is a constant reminder to drink my water. The second reason I do this is because I lose track of how many bottles I’ve consumed throughout the day. During the day, I am running after my kids, doing laundry and working on the computer. It’s easy for me to forget how many bottles of water I have already drank. Just a quick look at the counter and I know how many more bottles I need to drink to reach my goal of a gallon a day. Continue reading