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A Healthy Diet And Exercise Helps To Make A Healthy Brain – These Will Make A Difference!


Building Healthy Habits For A Healthy Brain - See Te Difference These Make

Three Key’s To A Better Brain

Almost everyone experiences some degree of changes in memory and brain function as they age.  This can range from simply misplacing keys or taking longer to recall the name of the neighbor you run into at the grocery store, to more serious types of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.  Women may especially notice cognitive changes around the time of menopause, when hormone-related “brain fog” can become a bothersome and annoying complaint.  The upside to all this is that the brain responds well to the healthy choices we make in our lives.  Three new studies point to the various ways we can positively influence our brain, memory, and thinking as we age.

1. Healthy Fats, Healthy Brain

Mediterranean diet for the win, again!  It is well known that the Mediterranean diet is excellent for improving heart health, longevity, and cancer outcomes.  A new study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry now shows that the diet also improves brain function.  In this study, Spanish researchers looked at people between ages 55 and 80 years old who were at high risk for heart disease.  They found that participants who were placed on a Mediterranean diet with added healthy fats (either olive oil or mixed nuts) for 6.5 years did significantly better on cognitive function tests than their low-fat diet counterparts.

So banish the low fat foods from your fridge and go ahead and stock it with extra virgin olive oil, raw unsalted nuts and seeds, fish and other healthy fats like avocados. While you’re at it, don’t forget the  fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and even splurge on the red wine!  Your heart, and your brain, will thank you.

2. Move It For Memory

According to researchers at the University of Maryland, exercise may be more powerful than any drug at improving memory and brain function in those at risk for Alzheimer’s.  During the study, patients (average age 78) with mild cognitive impairment were put on a 12-week moderate intensity exercise program.  After 12 weeks, all participants (including the healthy controls) were found to have improved memory recall.  Brain scans done during these memory tests also showed that the participants’ brains did not have to work as hard as before the exercise intervention to perform similar tasks.  So not only did exercise improve patients’ memory, it also made their brain more efficient at performing its work.

What constitutes a “moderate intensity exercise program”?  In this study, participants walked daily on a treadmill for a total of 150 minutes per week, at a speed where they were breaking a sweat but could still carry on a conversation.  If walking for about 20 minutes per day for only 3 months was enough to improve these patients’ brain function, imagine what a lifetime of regular exercise can do!

3. A Billion Bugs a Day Keeps the Neurologist Away?

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that make up part of the healthy intestinal environment that is necessary for proper digestive function. Scientists have known for many years that the brain can speak to the digestive system (evidenced by things like “stress stomach” and “nervous diarrhea”).  New research is now showing that this communication goes both ways.  Just as the brain can affect digestive function, the intestinal bacterial environment may affect brain function.

Researchers at UCLA recently studied the brains of healthy women who were fed probiotic-rich yogurt twice daily for four weeks.  Brain scans done before and after the intervention showed that these women had visible changes in midbrain connectivity following probiotic ingestion. Women who were not fed the probiotics did not show these brain activity changes.

What do these brain changes actually mean?  Previous animal studies have shown that altering gut bacteria can influence anxiety levels, stress hormones, and behaviors, but these findings have not yet been demonstrated in humans.  More research is needed to determine the exact effect that probiotics have on the human brain, and how this can be used to positively influence cognitive function.  In the meantime, it is clear that a healthy brain is not all in your head; your gut may be an essential component too!

Source HERE

I've also found these articles for good measure. Hope you enjoy all of them. Remember, only what we put into practice stays with us and transforms. The rest is quickly fades from our view.

Which Change Should You Make First: Diet Or Exercise?

By Lara Rosenbaum

One Strategy Sets You Up For Long-Term Success

If you’re trying to be healthier or lose weight, which should you tackle first: diet or exercise? That's a tricky  question: A new study from Stanford University shows that exercise and diet habits are best maintained when you start them both at the same time.

Researchers divided 300 people into four groups. One group was counseled to eat better and exercise more right away. The second group was told to start eating better first (and try to exercise more later), while the third group was told to first change their exercise habits (and in time try to eat better). A fourth group didn’t make any changes.

Those who’d started exercising and eating well at the same time best stuck to the national fitness and nutrition requirements: 150 minutes of exercise per week and five to nine daily servings of fruit and vegetables, with saturated fats limited to 10% or less of total intake.

Participants who started exercising before dieting also managed to uphold both habits, though not as well. Those who started dieting first only managed to meet dietary goals and couldn’t stick with exercise throughout the year.

“It seems that when starting nutritional changes first, people get so engrossed in the diet part that it takes motivational energy away from the rest of the program,” says lead study author Abby King, PhD, a professor of health research and policy in medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “Whereas when starting with physical activity, people can see visual changes across a four-month period, like clothes fitting better, which may help motivate them to stick with it. And of course when adopting both dietary and fitness changes at the same time, the person would see the most benefits and be more motivated to stick with the changes.”

If you don’t have the time or energy to make both changes, start with exercise first, King advises. Do as much as you can—you don’t have to sign up for a marathon. In the study, researchers suggested brisk walking and outfitted participants with pedometers. “It’s the easiest thing to do. Wear a pedometer for a week to establish your baseline and then aim to increase your weekly steps by 10%.”


3 Ways to Feed Your Brain

By Kalia Kelmenson

I recently saw a friend who had just returned home after visiting his grandmother for her 96th birthday celebration. While she was not as active as she once had been, he told me about taking walks around the block with her every day while he was visiting. Those walks involved interactions with the neighbors, and stories from the neighborhood where she had lived for the past forty years. He described her mind as being “sharp as a tack”.

Living to 96, even in this day and age, is remarkable. To live that long with all of your mental faculties in place, even thriving, is more possible than ever, given what science is teaching us about the ways we can support a healthy brain throughout our lives. Even those who are genetically predetermined to have cognitive issues as they age are not without hope. In her new book, Feed Your Brain (Exisle), Delia McCabe reminds us that only one-third of how we age is genetic, leaving two-thirds under our direct control. She explores the latest research on how to feed the aging brain, and offers a detailed plan to take control of the health your brain.

McCabe is clear that where the brain is concerned, being proactive is crucial. She writes, “If you want a brain that’s going to work well into old age, you need to start thinking about its welfare before you suffer from any mental complaint.” Food, she insists, is the simplest way to support brain health, primarily because it is something you do anyway. The science is clear that how you eat can help your mental clarity, cognitive abilities, memory and ability to learn, and mental health.

McCabe offers the following suggestions for nutritionally supporting a healthy brain:

  • Pay attention to your digestion. Your digestive system is where your body absorbs nutrients from food. If this function is not happening properly, your brain won’t have the basic building blocks to support the connections between brain cells. Identify food intolerances and allergies, eat a variety of foods, and include digestive enzymes and a probiotic to your daily routine.
  • Support your brain with vitamins and minerals. The brain needs many different vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Including a wide range of colours, in the form of fruits and vegetables, at every meal and snack time, will help supply your body with what it needs. A supplement may be necessary due to modern farming methods, foods grown in depleted soil, or major stress.
  • Feed your brain the right kind of fats. The right kind of fat is required to support flexible and elastic covering for the neurons (brain cells), as well as communication between neurons. If the right kind of fat is not available, the coverings and connections become stiff, and mental capacity suffers. Eat different kinds of nuts and seeds, keeping them refrigerated so they don’t go rancid, include an organic, unrefined essential fatty acid supplement to your daily routine, cook with organic coconut oil and grass fed butter, and use organic, unrefined oils instead of margarine or other vegetable spreads.

Your brain wants to function well. When you give it the best fuel for doing just that, you’ll enjoy better moods, clarity, concentration, and learning; and you’ll finally remember where you put your car keys.

Second Brain Enteric Nervous System - Strengthen Your Microbiome

Micro-Organisms – The Connection Between Gut And Brain – Our Second Brain?

Last week we had a little exploration of fermented or living foods, delicious and wonderful for our digestive health. This week I’d like to take a look at one of the major areas of research at the moment in the world of the micro-organism and the gastro intestinal tract. The connection between the GIT and our minds.

A great place to start is the connection that we all understand. At some stage most of us would have experienced ‘butterflies’ in our stomach before an exam or big event. Likewise, during times of high stress or significant change experiencing diarrhoea or constipation is not an uncommon side effect.

On an anatomical level our GIT functions very much like a second brain. Our digestive tract contains approx 100 million neurons in a system known as the enteric nervous system. Most of the chemicals which control the brain are also found functioning within this enteric nervous system. This includes important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, often common targets for conventional mental health medications. The enteric nervous system connects with the brain via one of our major nerves, the vagus nerve. Until fairly recently it was understood that communication travelled primarily from the brain to the GIT. This has now changed as research has shown that the GIT can also signal to the brain and has an important role to play.

A current area of investigation is the human microbiome. Our microbiome is what we would discover if someone was sent in to carry out a census in our digestive tract. What bacteria live in side each our unique environments? Where do they like to live? What do they do for work? How many is there and what do they like to eat? Understanding of each unique bacteria’s function and role in our digestive health is a long way off yet, if ever. Despite that, there is some good evidence showing the our microbiomes effect the health of the GIT and as such also the communications between the digestive tract and the brain.

Scientific investigations with humans and animals have shown many connections between digestive health and mental health. Inflammation of the digestive tract, bacterial overgrowth, leaky gut and dysbiosis (imbalance of digestive bacteria) have all been cited as contributing factors in autism, schizophrenia, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and many other mental health issues. Use of probiotics and fermented foods has shown positive changes in many of these people reinforcing the effect of our GIT on the health of our mind.

Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.

 What is the Gut Microbiome?

Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesising nutrients too. Gut bugs are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism, body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood. There are many factors that influence the type and amount of bacteria we host and although most of us belong to a certain ‘enterotype’ – similar to having a certain blood type – each person has a unique bacterial footprint.

Australian Food And Mood Centre HERE


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