Tag Archive: alzheimer’s

  1. Fixing Your Sugary Brain

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    If you’ve ever ordered dessert when you’re already full, or reached for a pint of ice cream when you’re stressed, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating is attempting to use food to boost your mood or feel better.

    And using food occasionally as a pick me up, a reward, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, when eating is your main emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to rip open a bag of Oreos whenever you’re upset, or stressed, or bored—you get stuck in an awful pattern that’s bad for both your brain and your body.

    Not sure if you are an emotional eater? Answer these questions to discover if you may have a problem.

    Emotional Eater Checklist

    *Do you always eat more when you’re feeling stressed?

    *Do you reward yourself with food?

    *Does food feel like a friend?

    *Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

    Taking Steps to Break the Cycle

    Identify Your Triggers. The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for sugary comfort foods? Keep an emotional eating diary. Make note of events or feelings that are happening when you reach for a sugar fix.

    Feed Your Emotions in Other Ways. If you’re feeling down, call someone who lifts your spirits. If you’re anxious, take a walk to burn some of that nervous energy. If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of coffee or tea. If you’re bored, change tasks or read something inspiring.

    Choose a Healthy Lifestyle. Invest in yourself. When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.

  2. 10 Tips to Improve Your Memory

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    Walk into a room and forget why you came?  Can’t recall the name of the new neighbor you just met yesterday?  You are not alone. We all forget things from time to time. Yet, memory loss can be a more serious condition.  While there is not an iron-clad solution to prevent memory loss or dementia, there are a number of brain fitness tips to reduce our risk and improve our memory function.  Try these ten simple tips to boost your memory.   Talk with your doctor when you feel you need help.

    No. 1: Exercise your body

    Physical exercise is still the number one thing you can do for your brain.  When we exercise, oxygen and blood flow to the brain increase which helps to support improvements in short-term memory function and retrieval of information.  Aim to break a sweat every day.

    No. 2: Exercise your mind

    Cross-training is the best way to improve memory function. On Monday, dive into a new book.  On Tuesday, play 15 minutes of brain games.  Try Making Curfew on BrainSpade.com to challenge your visual memory skills.  Continue to tackle new challenges for the remainder of the week – card games, board games, or even trying a new recipe are all part of keeping your memory fit.

    No. 3: Keep it Social

    Maintaining social relationships helps to reduce stress levels and depression, both of which are major contributors to memory decline. Make plans to spend time with friends and family.

    No. 4: De-Clutter

    Forgetting things can be more of a problem if your home is in disarray. Organize papers and throw away things that aren’t needed.  Get in the habit of putting your keys and other important items in the same place each day.

    No. 5: Stop Multi-Tasking

    Resist the urge of tackling multiple tasks at once.  Multi-tasking elevates stress which can hinder memory function. Divide your day into chunks and concentrate for periods of time before stopping to do other things.

    No. 6: Turn Up the Music

    Studies show that listening to music can improve our ability to recall information.  Choose music that lifts your spirits and add that into the mix when you are exercising, cleaning, or working on something familiar.

    No. 7: Eat Your Veggies

    A diet rich in dark-green leafy vegetables is essential for keeping your memory strong.  Find creative ways to add more greens to your diet.  Look for green smoothie recipes as a start.  Dr. Oz has an excellent spinach smoothie which is actually quite tasty: Dr. Oz’s Green Drink.

    No. 8: Spice Things Up

    Countries like India that incorporate a variety of spices into their daily diet, show a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementia related illnesses.  Look for new recipes and menu options that incorporate spices like cumin, cinnamon and ginger into your diet.

    No. 9: Drink Up

    Are you staying fully hydrated?  Our brain is made up of 75% water.  By the time you feel thirsty, you are already a bit dehydrated.   If you don’t enjoy drinking water consider dropping in fresh lemon, basil or cucumber.  Herbal tea is a great option too.

    No. 10: BrainSpade.com

    We would be remiss if we didn’t share that our team of clinicians are hard at work developing new brain exercises and brain teasers to keep your mind sharp, challenge your memory, and boost your spirit. Remember to make Brain Games part of your daily routine.

  3. Preventive Health is the Smartest Thing

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    Although I find it hard to believe, it’s been 26 years since I graduated from nursing school.   That’s long enough to remember having to wear the little Dixie cup caps on our heads during training (mercifully discontinued by the time I entered the work force) and manually titrating IV flow by counting the drops against a second hand on my watch.

    Ah, the not so good old days.  Back then, working a neurology hospital floor, I heard the word “senile” many, many times from the mouths of well-meaning medical professionals.  Elderly, forgetful – aren’t those words synonymous?   We’d sigh and cluck our tongues – there was no medicine to interfere with the inevitable and only nursing homes welcomed the cognitively-impaired in their final years.

    Fast-forward a quarter of a century.  Enter the age of elegant assisted living facilities, brightly-painted memory care cottages, in-home personal attendants, “adult day care” and the like.  But where are the magic medicines and the promised cures to fix the brains of those who forget?  Where is the so-called “Alzheimer’s vaccine” to thwart the projected explosion of the dementia population?

    And when are we going to give up the fantasy that the brain can be “fixed” and focus on what keeps it ticking (like its neighbor to the south, the heart)?    In other words, as more and more research reveals, the brain must get its exercise and take its vitamins, in a manner of speaking, to stay sharp.  Indeed the mantra of brain health has shifted from “wait for a cure” to “don’t wait a single minute longer”. Even skeptical professionals are acknowledging that preventative habits – nutrition, physical exercise, brain exercise, stress and sleep management – are critical in retaining cognitive health.

    I speak to many, many people about dementia, now the most feared disease of all.  Most of them, regardless of age or gender, are ready to be pro-active and want to know more. Especially those who have seen dementia first hand through a loved one’s experience –  a long, protracted journey that can last for years.

    I think it is no coincidence that we are starting to question the very foods we eat, the stresses we impose on ourselves, the pharmaceutical advertising that seems to be everywhere.  My Brain Health classes are full of people with such questioning attitudes.    And together we are looking for answers.

    Blog Post by Guest Author:

    Meredith Patterson, RN, BSN,CRRN

    www.thebrainnurse.com

    www.brainstormmindfitness.com

  4. 5 Ways to Boost Memory Function in Adults

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    “I’m concerned about my memory.”

    Perhaps you are walking into rooms and forgetting why you came.   Or maybe, you find words getting stuck on the tip of your tongue.  Whatever the frustration may be, there are things you can do to support and build stronger memory skills.

    1)      Exercise – When you walk or workout aerobically, you are sending much needed oxygen and blood to the brain.  This helps to optimize your memory function and your overall cognitive skills.

    2)      Socialize – Surprisingly, studies have found that staying socially connected can help improve your verbally fluency skills and support memory skills.

    3)      Play Games – Simple games you might play with your children like Memory Match are a good start.   Brain games are a great way to challenge your memory.  Lights Out is a great game to get started.

    4)      Read – Read and discuss what you read with others.  Reading sends a steady stream of new information your mind for processing and storage.   Find things that interest you and dive in.

    5)      Eat More Fish – Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as trout, tuna and salmon help support memory.  New studies reveal that fish-oil supplements can improve working memory significantly in young adults.

    Most memory problems are mild annoyances that can be improved through mental exercises and lifestyle habits.  If you have serious concerns about your memory, or your family members are expressing concerns please contact your physician.