Brain Food Connection We Need to Understand

November 20, 2017

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Our brain acts as the central processing unit of the human body. It is not just thinking but also letting us take care of all the functions in it. For example, it takes care of overseeing heartbeat, breathing, and body movements.

There are many things responsible for maintaining its health. However, food plays an essential role in ensuring optimum performance of our cognitive abilities. Consider your mind as an expensive car that runs on fuel. Now, the quality of the fuel that you use will depend on its performance, longevity, and healthy functioning.

However, like that vehicle you own, if you start putting in low-quality fuel, it will begin to damaging its engine. Similarly, if you start eating things that are not good for your brain, it would not do any good for it.

What Should We Eat to Improve Our Learning, Memory and Thinking Abilities?

Here are some things we must consider eating that enable us to improve our overall brain functions.

Nuts and Seeds

Vitamin E is an essential ingredient for improving our overall thinking ability. They help fight illnesses that can impact our memory with age. Thus, as we get old, we can fight these diseases. Typical nuts and seeds that we should include in our daily staple peanut butter, sunflower seeds, filberts, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, and non-hydrogenated butter. You can take them in raw or roasted form. However, unless necessary, avoid the ones with salt as they can increase your blood pressure.

Wild Salmon

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals recommend eating deep-water fish. Salmon is one such fish that you need to include in your diet. It contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids for healthy mental functions. Wild salmon is recommended because of its cleanliness and supply available in abundance. The omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, these ingredients significantly contribute to improving and maintaining optimum mental health.

Avocados

Avocados are a gift of nature to anyone who wants to improve their brain functioning. It is an ingredient-rich fatty fruit containing unsaturated fats. Thus, these unsaturated fats play a vital role in regulating blood flow throughout the body. Therefore, the increase in blood flow to the mind also contributes to better mental alertness. Avocados also much help in overcoming dangerous illnesses like hypertension. The lowering of blood pressure also helps promote mind’s wellbeing.

Blueberries

The oxidative stress is one thing that we should avoid. However, very few types of foods contain properties which can protect us against it. Blueberries help us overcome such illnesses relating to age, such as dementia and Alzheimer. Doctors recommend eating blueberries because they help improve motor skills, and our ability to learn.

4 Pre-Emptive Strikes for Optimal Health

November 20, 2017

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What would people do if they thought they were going to be attacked by aliens? Build shelters underground? Go into hiding? Good ideas! Your body reacts in much the same way you would to naturally protect you from aliens. In this case, the aliens are pollution, infections of various kinds, and other adverse environmental conditions.

The “protective shelters” in the body are chemical reactions that fight the “alien” attackers, good thing! But an overabundance of these good chemicals can cause inflammation in the body which can lead to familiar conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Asthma, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Type 2 Diabetes, IBS, Heart Disease, Strokes, and more.

Solutions:

1. Eat to prevent – Anti-inflammatory foods – See below, including cooking ideas

2. Exercise Regularly, yes, that’s regularly – Make a date with yourself three times a week for at least an hour to get the minimal benefit. If you don’t see that happening soon, start imagining it. The more you visualize yourself having fun exercising, the sooner you’ll find time to do it.

3. Take Proteolytic Enzymes – Early a.m., before eating by about one-half hour, and late p.m., well after eating. This will clean up the blood in your system, according to many health and digestion experts, including any undigested proteins, many viruses, many bacteria, some chemicals, pollutants, etc.

4. Avoid (just keep the population down) red meats, cow-milk products, wheat, refined sugars, caffeine, processed foods, gluten when possible.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods include:

A. Healthy fats in place of trans-fats. For example, choose olive oil and omega-3 oils like fish oil and refrigerated flaxseed oil. Also Chia-seed oil and Macadamia Nut Oil if you want to get more exotic!

B. Fruits and Veggies – Yes, you’ve heard it all before ad-infinitum. Your goal is eight to ten servings a day. Secret: Kale Chips! Spinach and other green leafy veggies when cooked look like less, but still count for the one-half-cup serving if you are looking at them in their raw state. Use fruit sauce instead of maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, or unsweetened jams and preserves (health section of grocers or health store).

C. High Fiber – another chant you keep hearing… and yup, it’s true. The fruits and veggies will take care of this, too.

Recipe Ideas:

Think veggie-strips, such as zucchini, colorful bell peppers, onions, in place of pasta. Add mushrooms, olives, Italian sausage of choice or whatever you like! Mac and Cheese can be made fun with the same kinds of veggies to cut down on the starch. Think fruit in place of sugars for baking, or making sauces. Think almond meal for flour (health section or store) with just a bit of your other favorite flour thrown in to help it all hold together better. There are some cookbooks available to help you, labeled either gluten-free and low-glycemic or paleo or ketogenic that will give you lots of yummy ideas!

How Do Strong Social and Community Ties Impact Your Health?

November 19, 2017

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I called my friend, also named Lisa, who lives in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation had not only hit Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, but many communities in the Gulf Coast region. According to my friend, who lives on the north side of Houston where they got no flooding except for those who were near a river or large body of water, the worst of the rain is over. People are leaving shelters scattered thought-out Harris County, where Houston is located.

Out of the 6.5 million people in the greater Houston area only about 1.5 million lost power and most all the water is drinkable. No need for ice, a valuable commodity, for many of us here in Charleston who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Hugo. Unlike Houston, Hurricane Hugo, also a category 4 storm, was a direct hit and as a result we not only got the flooding but also high winds. But no one can deny that the Houston area experienced the worst flooding in its history, with some areas getting as much as 50 inches of rain. And because Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was so widespread, it will take years for the region to recover from this natural disaster.

My friend, Lisa, who is originally from Charleston, knows about hurricanes and the emotional roller coaster they bring; the anxiety before the storm of not knowing exactly what is going to happen, the storm itself, the flooding and aftermath once the storm has passed. No doubt, you too, no matter where you call home, are aware of the horrific situation the residents of the Gulf Coast region, north of Brownsville, Texas, are now experiencing. Lives have been lost, people displaced and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. It is one thing to watch the news again and again and be reminded of the destruction and the anguish. But to just absorb the information without acting when we can help can be paralyzing and emotionally harmful.

Animals as well need help and assistance. Donate to the Houston Humane Society, which is helping animals affected by the storm. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, is another charity. You may also want to check out Charity Navigator to further ensure your donations are helping those in need.

How to Safeguard Your Immune System

November 19, 2017

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The immune system of a human body is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body against the attacks by the ‘foreign’ invaders. The term ‘foreign invader’ is used for the bacteria, parasites, fungi and other viruses that can lead to illness through infections. It is the job of an immune system to keep these infectious organisms out and destroy them.

Though unseen, the immune system cells are constantly gobbling up with the bacteria and blocking viruses from invading your cells. Similar to your heartbeat and indigestion, the immune response is a system that functions on its own and you don’t control them. But, there are a lot of practices that can work as your helping hand. Some of such practices are:

  • Good hygiene- The first step to begin with the defence is to keep all prospective germs at bay. How can it be done? By following good personal hygiene habits. Stop infection as it begins and before it begins. Make sure you avoid spreading your infections to others with these simple measures:
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap or use sanitizers 5-6 times a day. Always prepare or eat food after washing your hands and every time you use the restroom.
    • Whenever you sneeze or cough, make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue in order to avoid its germs infect others.
    • Always bandage all your cuts because if left open, it can become septic and harm your immune system. If you have any serious cut or wound anywhere on your body, get is examined by the doctor within due course of time.
    • Do not touch your healing wounds and do not squeeze pimples because doing so allows germs to enter your body.
  • Vaccination or Immunisation- A number of serious infections can be prevented by immunisation. Whereas vaccination is used to cure a sore arm or low fever. The vaccination is generally safe and effective in curing such diseases. And when it comes to the infections, consult your doctor for the immunisation status. A number of health care providers and centres provide immunisation services. Generally:
    • Children should be given all necessary immunisations and vaccinations as and when recommended by the doctors.
    • All adults should make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
    • Travellers should get additional immunisations before their date of journey.
  • Food safety- Mark yourself safe from the causes of food-poisoning not because they are life-threatening but they can lead to serious medical conditions sometimes. For this, you have to prepare and store your food safely. Take necessary precautions to kill germs or to prevent them entering your immune system:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after each time you handle a raw food.
    • Rinse all meat, poultry, and fish under running water before cooking. Rinse all fruits and vegetables under running water before cooking or serving them.
    • Separate raw foods and cooked foods, and never use the same utensils or cutting boards with cooked meat that were used with raw meat.
  • Healthy travel- If you’re planning a trip, make sure you consult your doctor once, for, if your body needs some immunisations and vaccines before you make any travel. Consult your doctor at least 3 months or as early as possible about your journey and ask him about the precautions you have to take during your visit to the place.

6 Healthy Packaged Foods That Save You Time And Money

November 19, 2017

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When choosing packaged foods, it’s important to read the labels. This can be time consuming but worth it. To save time, try focusing specifically on foods low in sugar, low in salt and high in protein. Stay away from anything containing high fructose corn syrup which is an unnecessary sugar additive. Why do we even need sugar in bread? Foods with the fewest ingredients are best. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, chances are it’s not good for you.

Marketing techniques labeling foods as Lite, gluten free, healthy or wheat may not always be the healthiest choice. As an educated consumer you should know the difference. Many so called “wheat” products may not be whole grain or made from whole wheat. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Wheat flour, unbleached wheat flour, multigrain, enriched, and stone-ground wheat flour are alternative ways of saying “refined white flour.”

To save you some time in the grocery store, I’ve compiled a list of packaged healthy foods that can also save you money. Here are 6 packaged foods that I recommend:

1. Canned beans. Opt for the low salt version if you can. Always rinse the beans thoroughly to wash away any unnecessary salt. Try to avoid beans with sauce or refried beans that tend to be high in sodium.

2. vegetables. Plain vegetables without sauces and added salt are a healthy and delicious addition to any meal. Steamables are a great choice when you’re in a hurry or just too tired to cook. They are quick and easy and leave you with little clean up. They can be more expensive, so stock up when they’re on sale. I’ve found them on sale for as little or close to $1 a bag.

3. Frozen berries. Not only are they delicious, but can really save you money. Especially in the winter when berries are out of season and more expensive. Try mixing them in plain Greek yogurt. Or serving them with pancakes or French toast. It makes a natural sweet sauce. Sometimes we thaw them in the microwave, making them a little warm to pour over our pancakes. Try topping them with a dollop of Greek yogurt too. It gives it a taste that’s almost like a crepe.

4. Nut butter. If the ingredient says almonds, you have a winner. It takes some time to stir, but if you store it in the refrigerator, you shouldn’t have to stir it again.

5. Low sugar cereals. Ideally cereals should have less than 6 grams of sugar. Opt for whole grain cereal such as toasted oats and muesli. Unsweetened instant oatmeal can be thrown in the microwave for a quick & healthy breakfast.

6. Canned Tuna fish. Packed in water. This is a quick and inexpensive source of protein. I pack my tuna salad with lots of vegetables like onions, celery, carrots, vinegar, pepper and olive oil mayonnaise (it tastes just like the real thing without adding as much fat and calories).

When choosing pre-packaged foods just remember, marketing can be deceptive. The fewer ingredients, the more natural the product. Look for whole wheat flour as a first ingredient when selecting whole grain foods. Try to stay away from processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar or contain high fructose corn syrup.