Tag Archive: lifestyle

  1. What is Brain Fog?

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    Your mind may feel like the fog has just rolled in, and you wonder if it will ever roll out again.  Do you ever feel like a word is on the tip of your tongue?   Or perhaps you walk into rooms and can’t recall what you were there for.   Imagine if these symptoms persisted over weeks or even months.  Brain fog refers to feelings of mental confusion or a lack of mental sharpness.

    Symptoms of Brain Fog

    *  Forgetfulness
    *  Feeling detached or depressed
    *  Mild difficulty with word finding
    *  Processing information more slowly

    Brain fog is not considered a formal diagnosis because testing is not clearly defined.  Women may complain of these symptoms during menopause, particularly during the peri-menopausal period.   Periodic changes in cognitive skills for women are believed to be related to hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, shortly after childbirth and during menopause.

    There are also other causes for brain fog, or the mild cognitive decline, that frustrate so many people during periods of their adulthood.  Brain fog may lower self-esteem and can sometimes lead to depression if not properly addressed.

    10 Causes of Brain Fog      

    *   Exposure to toxic metals
    *   A copper imbalance in the blood – birth control pills can make this condition worse
    *   Dehydration
    *   Food Allergies or Poor Nutrition
    *   Hypoglycemia
    *   Thyroid imbalance
    *   Poor diet
    *   Stress
    *   Artificial sweeteners
    *   Fibromyalgia

    If symptoms of brain fog persist, be sure to consult with your physician to rule out potentially treatable causes of brain fog.   Talk with a friend or family member about your symptoms and frustrations – this can put your mind at ease and allow you an outlet to vent.   Finally, challenge your brain in new ways each day.  Simple activities like crosswords, brain games, physical exercise and music can help energize your mind and ease your symptoms.

  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. 9 Tips for Training Your Brain Today

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    While nothing has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, there is abundant research showing we can delay the onset of mental decline by building a brain-healthy lifestyle.  Here are some tips to training your brain today.

    1.  Sleep. Sleep defragments your brain and organizes information you’ve learned during the day.

    2.  Focus. Quit the multi-tasking. It not only lowers your productivity but it may increase your risk for dementia when you are older.

    3.  Exercise in small bursts. Take the stairs. Walk the block. Try a tango class. Exercise is still the number one thing you can do for your brain.

    4.  Play games. Games are good for your brain and variety is key. When you tackle new problems, you form new neural pathways.

    5.  Meditate. No tie-dye T-shirt required. Clear your mind and focus on positive things.

    6.  Make time for fun. Laughter enhances creativity and lowers stress. Your brain thrives on fun.

    7.  Drink more fluids. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already slightly dehydrated.

    8.  Target your working memory. Make a point to push yourself to store details quickly. Work on names and faces to start.

    9.  Be aware that your brain makes mistakes. When solving a problem, ask yourself what the big picture really looks like. Are you afraid of change? Experiment more.

  5. Are Games Good for Your Brain?

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    Video games can be fun, even addictive – but are they good for you?

    Gaming involves both motor and cognitive skills.  A recent study of surgeons showed that video games improved fine motor skills.  In fact studies show that your game-playing surgeon may do a better job sewing up your torn ACL than a non-gaming surgeon. Just three hours of gaming a week was associated with faster, more accurate surgery skills.  Military data shows that game training improved reaction time. Gaming requires concentration & dexterity, so these results should not be surprising.

    What about mental skills? A study of 65 year-old gamers showed working (immediate) memory and attention increased after 5 weeks of training. In another study with experienced gamers, multi-tasking and attention improved.  Why do we enjoy gaming so much? Gaming tickles our brain’s reward center, causing release of the highly stimulating neurotransmitter dopamine.

    So is gaming good for you? It is clear gaming has benefits. We don’t know how much gaming skills transfer to real life situations, but we’ll know more soon. Gaming is a hot research area.  Gaming may not be for everyone, but it can be an excellent addition to a balanced, brain-healthy lifestyle.

    Article by Rick Brucato, M.S. Neuroscience

  6. 3 More Reasons to Walk

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    Walking is the most popular form of exercise.  No question, it’s great for heart health and weight management.  But walking has a number of other health benefits that will have you lacing up your sneakers and heading for the door.

    Walk to Protect Against Dementia
    Walking improves blood flow to the brain which can reduce your risk of dementia.  University of Pittsburgh researchers found that seniors who walked at least 6 miles per week had less brain shrinkage than people who did not exercise.

    Walk to Lift Your Mood

    Regular brisk walks not only help improve your mood, they may also reduce symptoms of depression.  Walking with a friend is a great way to stick to your workout routine.

    Walk to Manage Chronic Pain
    Sounds strange perhaps, but walking can actually reduce pain from arthritis.  An Australian study noted that people that walked just 1.5 miles three times each week reported that they had less pain and felt better in general.

    Tip – Download some upbeat tunes to your Ipod.  Studies show that listening to fast music helps boost endurance and effort.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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