Tag Archive: brain food

  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. Top 7 Brain Benefits of Drinking Water

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    The human brain is made up of approximately 75% water, so it is no surprise that dehydration has a dramatic effect on brain health.

    Dehydration

    Dehydration takes place when there is a deficit of water and salts that are essential for regular bodily functions.   Mineral imbalances hinder normal brain operation.  Mental fatigue, memory problems, and mental confusion can result when the brain isn’t properly hydrated.  Grey matter in the brain actually shrinks, and chronic long term dehydration can cause the brain to age prematurely.

    How Dehydration Impacts Your Brain

    *   Mental fatigue
    *   Problems with information processing
    *   Mood changes
    *   Premature aging of the brain

    Drinking filtered spring water is the best way to stay hydrated.  If you take your body weight and divide it by two, you will have calculated the ounces of water you need to consume per day.  Soda, coffee, and black tea are acidic beverages, so they don’t count toward your daily hydration goal.

    7 Brain Benefits of Staying Hydrated

    Discover why drinking to your brain health really can make a difference in your life:

    1.  Supports healthy brain cells
    2.  Improves concentration
    3.  Helps to balance mood and emotions
    4.  Improves quality of your sleep
    5.  Maintain memory function
    6.  Eliminates toxins and free radicals from your blood
    7.  Improves blood flow and oxygen to the brain

  4. Searching for Brain Games

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    Have you been searching for some really good (and free) brain games?  The wait is over.  Our team at Brain Spade has spent two years looking at what’s available and how games match up with the latest in neuroscience.   Doctors and researchers agree on a few important points when it comes to brain games.  First, change is what’s good for your brain.  Our human brain benefits from a variety of brain training experiences.   New and different types of games focused in areas like memory, problem-solving, speed, and concentration provide a well-rounded workout.

    Studies show that brain games are just one piece of building a brain-healthy lifestyle.  Exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management are important too.  At Brain Spade, we provide lifestyle tips to help you optimize your brain’s performance.

    Staff’s Picks 

    • Lights OutAn exciting visual memory matching game. 
    • Brain Teasers – Just click on the brain teaser tab at the top for some real stumpers.
    • Double Digits – Reignite your math skills and boost your concentration level.
    • Sugar Sugar – Outside the box thinking has never been more fun.

    Remember that when searching for brain games on the web to look for variety.   Spend time with games that you find challenging.  In just 15 minutes a day you can truly begin to elevate your brain’s level of performance.  And remember, brain games are just one important part of building an overall healthy lifestyle.  Taking a walk, calling an old friend, and even learning to tango can also work wonders for the human brain!

  5. Top 5 Brain Benefits of Eating Fish

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    Fish is not just good for our heart; fish is amazingly good for our brain.  Read on to discover the brain health benefits associated with consuming fish and fish oil.

    1.      Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which help to support memory skills.
    2.      Eating fish helps to reduce depression and reduce anxiety.  Studies show that eating fish 2-3 times per week is effective in balancing mood and stress levels.
    3.      The human brain soaks up Omega-3s like a sponge.  Fish Oil supplements may be a good alternative to your diet and should be discussed with your doctor.
    4.      Eating fish helps to reduce your risk for age-related decline of the brain and reduces your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses.
    5.      Consuming fish such as mackerel, sardines and swordfish help to improve conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

    Talk with your local market to discover what brain-healthy fish they sell fresh.  Look for wild-caught fish wherever possible.  Talk with your doctor about adding fish oil to your diet.

  6. 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

  7. Top 6 Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

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    Wondering if dark chocolate is good for you?  The answer is absolutely – in moderation.  Scientists have recently discovered many positive health benefits you can receive from eating this decadent treat.

    1) Dark Chocolate Improves Blood Flow to the Brain.

    Eating dark chocolate helps send blood and oxygen to the brain, which helps boost concentration and problem-solving skills.  Consuming dark chocolate can also help reduce your overall risk for having a stroke.

    2) Dark Chocolate Keeps Your Teeth Strong

    Dark chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine.  Theobromine has been shown to harden tooth enamel. So unlike most sweets, which can lead to cavities, dark chocolate can actually help protect your beautiful smile.

    3) Dark Chocolate is a Heart-Healthy Treat

    Research proves that consuming dark chocolate a few times each week can actually help lower your blood pressure. Because dark chocolate increases blood flow, it may also prevent blood clots from developing.  More good news?  Dark chocolate can play a role in reducing your risk for arteriosclerosis.

    4) Dark Chocolate Boosts Your Mood

    Dark chocolate includes a number of chemical compounds that help boost your mood. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac because it contains phenylethylamine (PEA).  This is the same chemical your brain produces when you fall in love. PEA causes your brain to release endorphins, which lift your mood and make you feel happier.

    5) Dark Chocolate Helps Protect Against Diabetes

    Dark chocolate helps to increase circulation and protect blood vessels. Flavonoids, found in dark chocolate, also help your body to use insulin efficiently. Finally, dark chocolate is low on the glycemic index, which means it won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels.

    6) Dark Chocolate Helps Fight Free Radical Damage

    Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate helps free your body of free radicals, which can cause damage to cells. Free radicals cause more rapid aging and can lead to cancer.  Consuming a variety of antioxidant-rich foods like dark chocolate can help protect you from numerous cancers.

  8. The Fork versus The Treadmill

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    When time is short… it can be tempting to skip working out.  We don’t have time. We get bored with the same exercise program. An unexpected event happens, and we’re left feeling drained.

    Sound familiar?

    When faced with these scenarios remember:  The fork is more important than the treadmill. You heard right.  When you miss a few workouts, your nutrition program becomes a key factor in determining whether you start heading down a slippery slope or just encounter a small stumbling block.

    What we put in our mouths affects our energy level, mood, and sleep patterns.  Most people gravitate toward sugar, salt and processed food when they fall off the exercise wagon, making their derailment much worse.  They develop an “all or nothing” mentality.

    Sticking to protein, good fats, and plenty of vegetables will keep you in check during these times.  And when you feel good about your food choices you will be more likely to get back up on your “horse” (or treadmill, bike, weights, yoga, etc.) again much sooner.

    Article by Lisa Lineberg, Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist,  BS in Exercise Physiology

  9. Dehydration and Your Brain

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    The human brain is made up of approximately 75% water, so it is no surprise that dehydration has a dramatic effect on brain health.

    Dehydration takes place when there is a deficit of water and salts that are essential for regular bodily functions.   Mineral imbalances hinder normal brain operation.  Mental fatigue, memory problems, and mental confusion can result when the brain isn’t properly hydrated.  Grey matter in the brain actually shrinks, and chronic long term dehydration can cause the brain to age prematurely.

    How Dehydration Impacts Your Brain

    • Mental fatigue
    • Problems with information processing
    • Mood changes
    • Premature aging of the brain

    Drinking filtered spring water is the best way to stay hydrated.  If you take your body weight and divide it by two you will have calculated the ounces of water you need to consume per day.  Soda, coffee, and black tea are acidic beverages, so they don’t count toward your daily hydration goal.

    Article by Tracey Fox. Tracey is a nutritional specialist.

  10. Understanding Leptin and the Impact on Your Brain

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    Did you know that hunger is regulated in our brains?

    The hypothalamus controls appetite and is responsible for maintenance of body weight.  Leptin, a hormone produced in our fat cells, sends a signal to the hypothalamus that you are full.  The result is you stop eating.  When adequate leptin is not present or the receptors on the brain are not working correctly the result is overeating.

    How can you maintain proper leptin levels?

    One way is to monitor fructose consumption.   Have you ever noticed that you can eat sweets and never seem to get full?  Too much fructose makes your brain resistant to leptin.  The largest concentration of fructose comes in sodas, juices, energy drinks, and sweets.  Other hidden sources include ketchup, salad dressings, bottled sauces, and most pre-packaged foods.

    Avoiding high-fructose foods and beverages will keep your brain sharp so you can push away from the table when you are full.

    Article by Lisa Lineberg, Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist who holds a BS in Exercise Physiology