Category Archives: brain

Food and health cliches revisited – Wake Forest

An apple a day keeps the doctor away – I always liked that one. While apples boast many health benefits, they do not, sadly, bulletproof us against all diseases.

“Everything our parents said was good is bad,” complains Alvy Singer, the character played by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” his 1977 Oscar-winning romantic comedy.

Green-vegetables

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to what certain foods can do to or for you, it’s probably best to take motherly advice, familiar sayings and other bits of conventional wisdom with a grain of salt.

“There’s some validity to some of them, but many of them are just old wives’ tales or myths that have trickled down over the years,” said Annette Frain, a registered dietitian at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under brain, brain health, carrots, carrots and better vision, chocolate

Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight

If, like many folks, you overindulged during the recent holidays, perhaps this item I wrote back when the blog was still in diapers might be of help.

Besides, I think the brain is amazing and we can’t know too much about it.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Regular readers know that I am retired and have been taking courses from The Great Courses for some time. Lately, I have become fascinated with the brain and how it functions.

The latest class I am studying is “The Neuroscience of Everyday Life” taught by Sam Wang, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. Additionally, Professor Wang is the co-author of the best-selling book Welcome to Your Brain which has been translated into 20 languages.

Here is the best-selling book Professor Wang co-wrote

I have only just begun reading the book, but I ran across a passage on page 36 that I thought would interest and benefit readers of the blog. The following is from a two-page write-up titled Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight.

This is the conclusion of those two pages:
“Early food exposure influences dietary preferences in adulthood, and eating habits…

View original post 179 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, brain function, Exercise, exercise and brain health, overweight, Snacking, Weight, weight control, weight loss

How to Use Your Brain for Weight Control

I took a course in The brain six years ago and was so inspired by what I learned that I posted on it. Thought you newer readers might get something out of it.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Exercise and intelligent eating are the keys to weight control and healthy living. Everyone knows that 30 minutes on the treadmill burns X amount of calories depending on your weight. The role of exercise in healthy living and weight control is straight forward and doesn’t need explaining. The exercise of the brain in weight control is another matter.

In order to understand it, you need to know a few basic facts about parts of your brain and how they function. If you are willing to wade through a couple of basic biology facts, I think you will emerge at the other end with a new tool in the universal ongoing battle of the bulge.

For this subject we need to focus on just two parts of the brain and how they work, together and separately.

The first is the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that is central…

View original post 508 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, brain function, Exercise, Uncategorized, Weight, weight control

Tips on sharpening your brain – WebMD

I write about exercise almost daily and about the brain nearly as often, but I think they really need to be tied together for the best understanding. Also, because we all want to live past 100, we certainly want the old cabeza to fully functional.

WebMD has a nice 12 part slide show  called Tips to stay smart, sharp and focused. If you want to experience the entire show, just click the link above. I am have picked out a few examples for the folks too lazy busy to do the whole thing right now.

brain

Number one is superb: USE YOUR BRAIN  “It’s true: Use it or lose it. Stretching your brain keeps your mind sharp. People who are more active in mentally challenging activities are more likely to stay sharp. Try these:
•    Read a book.
•    Go to a lecture.
•    Listen to the radio.
•    Play a game.
•    Visit a museum.
•    Learn a second language.”
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health

Get the jump on Alzheimer’s and dementia – Rush

Regular readers know that because I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia I have a serious interest in keeping myself safe. And, by extension, you. This isn’t just for seniors.

Rush Medical Center has some very  useful suggestions on the subject.

Do you have the power to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Although some risk factors — age and family history — are beyond your control, increasing evidence from research indicates that you aren’t helpless.

brain

Researchers from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and around the world have found that certain lifestyle choices can protect your brain against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Incorporate the following activities into your life, and your brain could reap the benefits Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, exercise and brain health, Healthy brain

Bad habits that can hurt your brain – WebMD

I  write often about the benefits the brain gets from exercise and how we should make regular exercise a priority as much for our mental health as physical. That is a good positive target.

It turns out that WebMD also has some excellent suggestions for keeping our brains clicking on all cylinders, but they approach from the negative side. Not doing harmful things is also an important consideration in getting to old age with a fully functional brain.

brainexercise

Here is their list of bad habits:

Missing out on sleep. WebMD notes, “… lack of sleep may be a cause of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It’s best to have regular sleeping hours. If you have trouble with sleep, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and electronics in the evening, and start a soothing bedtime ritual.”

I would like to interject here that my Page on How important is a good night’s sleep could be worth checking into. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain damage, brain function

Seniors’ brains benefit from distraction – Study

While I want to live past 100, I also want to have my brain fully functional. So, any piece of information that satisfies that criterion, is music to my ears.

As you age, you may find it more difficult to focus on certain tasks. But while distractions can be frustrating, they may not be as bad as we think. In a review published November 15 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers at the University of Toronto and Harvard University suggest that there may be some benefits to reduced focus, especially in people over 50. Using behavioral studies and neuroimaging evidence, the researchers discuss how being easily distracted can help adults with, for example, problem solving and learning new information.

brain-sleep-wake-neurosciencenews-public

“Different types of tasks benefit from a more broad focus of attention, and this is usually seen in tasks that involve thinking creatively or using information that was previously irrelevant,” says first author Tarek Amer, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and a graduate student at the Rotman Research Institute. “The literature gives us the impression that older adults are essentially doomed as their cognitive abilities decrease, when, in reality, many older adults get along just fine in their day-to-day lives, and we think that shows that aging adults don’t always need to have high cognitive control.”

When people have high cognitive control, they are able to maintain their focused attention and ignore distractions to get things done. But Amer and his colleagues found that people with reduced cognitive control had an easier time thinking of creative solutions to problems, and they were better at noticing patterns in the world around them. These findings also indicated that older adults could outperform their younger counterparts on certain problem-solving tasks, as they were able to broaden their attention more easily. Additionally, people didn’t require high levels of cognitive control for inherent, day-to-day tasks, like walking down the street or learning new information.

In order to explore the benefits of cognitive control, many lab-based behavioral experiments require participants to complete a specific set of tasks, limiting the role of distraction. But the researchers say these experiments have shortcomings, as they don’t explore situations when distractions and reduced cognitive control could be helpful, making the conclusions fairly one sided.

“Many of the tasks that we study in classic cognitive psychology are tasks that require high cognitive control, but these assigned tasks might not accurately mirror what people do in the real world because they limit distractions,” says co-author Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the Rotman Research Institute. “But a distraction in one setting can actually be useful information in another setting, and the more information you have, the better able you’re going to be to address a current problem.”

Amer and his colleagues hope to use this information to determine exactly what tasks can benefit from reduced control in order to better simulate these experiences in a lab. Although they also hope to expand the research beyond the aging population to examine how distractions can be beneficial for people with a range of cognitive impairments, for now they recognize that this understanding of cognitive control is a step closer to understanding the aging brain.

“There is a question about what really sustains performance in old age, and it’s clear that working memory alone cannot provide us with the answer to that question,” says Hasher. “But we think it’s possible that studying reduced cognitive control can help us understand how older adults can still perform independently and successfully in their lives.”

While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page -While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain health, Healthy brain, successful aging

11 Ways Men And Women Think Differently

I will be 77 years old next month. Have had two marriages each of which lasted 11-1/2 years. I have fathered two daughters. My current relationship is in its fourth year and I am still not sure I have a clue about women. I learned a lot from this post. Hope you will, too.

men women

Tony

Our Better Health

Men and women are different. There are some good biological reasons for that. Studies of brain scans of men and women show that women tend to use both sides of their brain because they have a larger corpus callosum. This is the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain and allows women to share information between those two halves of the brain faster than men. Men tend to use the left side of the brain which is the more logical and rational side of the brain. Scans also reveal other interesting ways in which men and women do things differently or process information differently from each other.

HERE ARE 11 WAYS MEN AND WOMEN THINK DIFFERENTLY:

1. PERCEPTION
Women have smaller brains that are more tightly packed with connections. This allows them to perform better at tasks involving the bigger picture and situational thinking. A man’s brain tends to…

View original post 696 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, differences between men and women, Healthy brain

Portions of the Brain Fall Asleep While we are Awake …

I am blown away by the brain and how it functions in our body and allows us to function. Remember, the brain which accounts for about two percent of our body weight burns around 25 percent of the calories we use in a day. This item from Neuroscience News moves the needle further.

When we are in a deep slumber our brain’s activity ebbs and flows in big, obvious waves, like watching a tide of human bodies rise up and sit down around a sports stadium. It’s hard to miss. Now, Stanford researchers have found, those same cycles exist in wake as in sleep, but with only small sections sitting and standing in unison rather than the entire stadium. It’s as if tiny portions of the brain are independently falling asleep and waking back up all the time.

brain-sleep-wake-neurosciencenews-public.jpg

What’s more, it appears that when the neurons have cycled into the more active, or “on,” state they are better at responding to the world. The neurons also spend more time in the on state when paying attention to a task. This finding suggests processes that regulate brain activity in sleep might also play a role in attention.

“Selective attention is similar to making small parts of your brain a little bit more awake,” said Tatiana Engel, a postdoctoral fellow and co-lead author on the research, which published Dec. 1 in Science. Former graduate student Nicholas Steinmetz was the other co-lead author, who carried out the neurophysiology experiments in the lab of Tirin Moore, a professor of neurobiology and one of the senior authors. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, brain function, brain health, sleep

Women multitask better than men – Study

This study from the Higher School of Economics Neurolinguistics Laboratory in Russia puts forward some fascinating observations on the differences between men’s and women’s brains. Ironically, these latest findings seem to support some vintage gender stereotypes.

It has long been known to science that women find it easier than men to multitask and switch between tasks. But identifying exactly which areas of male and female brains respond differently and why has so far been unclear. According to researchers from the HSE Neurolinguistics Laboratory, men need to mobilize additional areas of their brain and use more energy than women when multitasking.

shutterstock_189357353-0-0

Why Men Find Switching Tasks More Difficult
Needing to switch attention between tasks causes stronger activation in certain brain regions in men compared to women.Exactly why their brains function differently in such situations has so far been unclear. Recent research reveals that male brains appear to consume more energy when they need to shift attention. In addition to this, in men there is greater activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal areas of the brain compared to women, as well as activation in some other areas which is not usually observed in women. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under brain, brain function, Uncategorized

5 Ways to keep your memory sharp – Harvard

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen; will be 77 in January. So, I have a lot of senior friends. We have all experienced ‘senior moments’ when we find our memory becoming slightly elusive. Because my family has had Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia I am particularly sensitive to any brain stuff. So I was impressed with the suggestions that Harvard brought forward regarding enhancing our memory.

The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.

1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.

I have posted a number of times on stress. You can find them by searching s t r e s s in the box at the right. If you want one excellent example check out: Super tools for handling stress.

brain Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, Exercise, memory

How Cardiovascular Exercise Helps the Brain

In view of Thanksgiving being right around the corner and holiday parties soon after, I thought it propitious to show you this again.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

With Thanksgiving looming, this is a great time to reaffirm our resolve to exercise regularly. OR, it is the ideal time to resolve to exercise regularly in the coming year and maybe begin to address physical and weight problems that we have neglected.

Regular readers know that I have posted numerous times on the value of exercise not only for our bodies, but also for our brains. On the top of this page is IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT YOUR BRAIN.

If you click on that link you can find a page full of blog posts on the subject.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food. Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food.

And now, the New York Times joins in the fray with Gretchen Reynolds’s article Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain.

View original post 343 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, New York Times

7 Benefits of regular physical Exercise – Mayo Clinic

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.
Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.
The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.
Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

quote-the-sovereign-invigorator-of-the-body-jefferson

1. Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.
Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, cardio exercise, Exercise, sleep, Weight, weight control

5 Hobbies that can make you smarter – Infographic

One of the aspects of living a long and healthy life that goes without saying is that our mind is fully functional. No one wants to life a long life if he is simply drooling into his oatmeal.

What I love about this infographic is that the first thing it mentions is – Exercise. I felt so strongly about this aspect of living that I created a Page on it – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits).

5-hobbies-that-can-make-you-smarter.jpg

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain health, Exercise

7 Habits That Make Your Brain Work Better

Lots of good information here. Because of my family  history of Alzheimer’s and dementia, these positive habits rang a bell with me.

brain

To read further on them, you can check my pages:

Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits)

How important is a good night’s sleep?

I have written a number of posts on dealing with stress. You can check them out by typing in the word s t r e s s in the search box. I recommend the following one which I wrote in 2010 as one of the most useful:

Some super tools for handling stress

Tony

Our Better Health

In a hyper-competitive world overflowing with information, our brains need to be able to keep up and outpace our competitors. Who doesn’t want their brain to process faster, remember more information or be able to come up with elegant solutions to complex problems? Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am. Our brains more or less define our existence and who we are. So how can we get our brains to work better, faster and more efficiently?

HERE ARE SEVEN HABITS THAT WILL HELP IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN FUNCTION:

1. EXERCISE REGULARLY

Exercising promotes blood flow, cardiac health and releases beneficial hormones and proteins into your body. These hormones and proteins protect your neurons, which are the cells that make up most of your brain, and encourage them to multiply and make new connections. Studies have shown that exercise helps you learn faster and remember more information. Further studies have shown…

View original post 617 more words

3 Comments

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, brain function, Exercise, relaxation

Research Reveals How A Single Choice Affects Mental Health More Than Medications

Regular readers know that I have stressed the importance of exercise for the brain. So, it seems a logical corollary that food also affects the brain as well as the body.

nutrition

Tony

Our Better Health

“We need to get serious
about the critical role played by nutrition.”

– Julia Rucklidge, Clinical Psychologist

We pretty much all agree that good nutritional habits are vital to good physical health, yes? But what about mental health? Do good nutritional habits translate to a healthier mental state? On the surface, it would make sense. After all, the food that we eat contains nutrients – and these nutrients are transported throughout our entire body via our bloodstream. We already know that the brain requires nutrients to operate effectively…so, yeah, it makes sense.

But is eating right more important to mental health than prescription medicine?

Ah, this is a bit trickier. After all, pharmaceuticals are research-intensive and science-based products that have undergone extensive trial and error, often over a period of multiple years. These same products have earned the coveted “seal of approval” from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)…no easy…

View original post 690 more words

3 Comments

Filed under brain, brain health, nutrition, nutritional value