We are at an unprecedented moment in history, one in which brain science and technology are co-evolving. We can now hack our own hardware, so to speak, and as a result, our brains don’t need to remain as we’ve inherited them. We’re now just discovering the tools to shape our own destiny. Who we become is up to us.
A new area of science is analyzing which healthy habits best keep your mind and memory unaffected even when a brain scan would reveal the inflammation, free radical damage, and weakened synapse connections that often cause “senior” moments in the 40’s and beyond.
Play Games with your Frontal Lobe
Here is a tip from Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, the co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute at the University of Santa Barbara. Whether you’re deliberating a chess move or bluffing at cards, you’re also giving the frontal lobe, the area of your brain that handles executive function, a workout. “The frontal lobe is particularly vulnerable to degeneration and the effect of aging,” says Dr. Kosik. According to a 2014 University of Wisconsin study, older adults who routinely worked on puzzles and played board games had higher brain volume in the area of responsible or cognitive functions including memory, than those who didn’t play games.
You don’t need fancy computer programs or complicated “brain games” to do it – simple “brain calisthenics” or “aerobics for your brains” that involve new ways of doing everyday things are all it takes. Adding brain calisthenics to your mix of brain healthy pursuits could make an even bigger difference. Your brain is activated by your senses, and you encounter new stimuli all the time. Activities that involve one or more of your senses in a new way, such as getting dressed with your eyes closed, or that combine two or more senses in unexpected ways, such as listening to a piece of music while smelling an aroma, can strengthen synapses between nerve cells and make brain cells produce more brain growth molecules.
What are some ideas of things you can do? Love crossword puzzles or Sudoku games? Try more challenging ones. Are you a lifelong lover of books? Practice fixing things around the house. Cross-train. Get out of your comfort zone. Expect to feel challenged and even a little bit out of your depth- the idea is to push the mental envelope.
Does this really help? In a 20 year long Bronx Aging Study of nearly 500 women and men, those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities, such as games or even dancing, four times a week were up to 75 percent more likely to stay mentally sharp than those who stayed on the sideline.
Some other ways to keep you mind active for a long life are Listening to or playing music, acting and art like drawing, painting and sculpting. Listening to or playing music can activate the motor cortex (touching a piano key or guitar string), the auditory cortex (hearing the notes you make) and the emotional center, or limbic system (feeling moved by a beautiful passage). Circuits and networks are stimulated by these activities, which help keep the brain healthy,” says Dr. Kosik. Older adults who had at least ten years of musical experience did better on cognitive tests, according to a 2011 Emory University study. Acting, also is another way. Learning lines for a production or an acting class engages the hippo-campus, the temporal cortex, and the frontal lobe, says Dr. Kosik. Lastly, in regards to art, when you draw, paint or sculpt, you have to make spatial calculations and focus attention on details Dr. Kosik says. Engaging in these activities helps protect octogenarians from mild cognitive impairment.
So, what does this all mean for you? Obviously there are differences depending where you are starting right now. If you are in your 20’s and 30’s it is never too early to start setting up your mind for the future. If you are in you 40’s, 50’s & 60’s it is not too late to turn yourself around to be able to enjoy the same Long and healthy life.
Source: Readers Digest
Physical activity tones up muscles, protects bones, burn calories and puts a happy bounce in your step, but recently researchers uncovered a new bonus benefit: Exercise acts as a powerful vaccine against the aging process itself.
In a study done by the University of Florida exercise physiologists put healthy people ages 60 to 85 on weight-training programs for six months, then tested for signs of free radical damage. By the end of the study , low-intensity exercisers had a drop in free radical damage, while high-intensity exercisers had a slight increase, and the control group of non-exercisers had a whopping 13 percent rise in free radial damage.
In another study by the University of Florida researchers found that fitting in an hour of activity a day for just three days per week raised levels of an important free radial-fighting compound called superoxide dismutase, produced by muscle cells throughout the body, including the heart.
The scientist suspect that aerobic activities like walking and swimming help heart muscle better defend itself against the cascade of events that lead to a heart attack.
Of course that isn’t the only reason to take a walk. Try a few easy strength-training moves, or add extra bursts of movement to your day because studies show movement can:
Even if you hated gym class and never exercised before, it’s not too late to start. “People who go from no exercise to some exercise receive the biggest benefits,” Dr. Nied notes. Adding some strength-training moves can have big benefits too, he says. “Muscle strength declines by 15 percent per decade after age 50 and by 30 percent per decade after age 70.” He notes. “However, resistance training can result in 25 to 100 percent strength gains or more.”
“There are so many wonderful benefits to the power of physical activity. It is good to know that you don’t have to sweat through a long, tough workout or run a marathon or hit the gym at 5 am to get them. The kind of physical activity that really helps is whatever kind you enjoy and that you do consistently – whether it’s swimming, working in the garden, walking with your friends, taking an easy exercise class or trying something new like tai chi or yoga. You don’t even have to do it for long periods of time. Getting 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening is all you need.” Says geriatrician Sonia Sehgal, MD, an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of California, Irvine.
Sticking with a moderate, doable routine will give you the most anti-aging benefits. Like a flu vaccine that switches on your body’s natural defenses, exercise actually works by unleashing a helpful amount of free radicals in your body. They’re produced naturally by little energy-generating “machines” in your cells called mitochondria. Your body responds to this surge by pumping out more antioxidants and enzymes to mop up these villains. But if you exercise to the point of exhaustion, the burst of free radicals simply overwhelms your defenses.
“When exercise is repeated regularly, the body promptly adjusts so that oxidative stress is eliminated or reduced,” notes Sandra T. Davidge, PhD, of the University of Michigan. “A regular exercise habit seems to have an antioxidant effect.”
The American College of Sports Medicine reports that exercise can dramatically age proof your body: While non-exercisers see a 1 to 2 percent decline per year in all sorts of body functions after age 30, exercisers reduced that decline by 75 percent. “At 90 years old, a non-exerciser will have lost 70 percent of his or her functional ability, while an exerciser will have lost only 30 percent of functional ability- retaining 70 percent of his strength!” the American College of Sports Medicine notes.
I know for me this is powerful information and a sure fire wakeup-call. What kind of activity do you like to do? Swimming? Walking your dog? Working in your garden? It all qualifies and with a bit of activity each day you can reap so many benefits!
Think eating large amounts of meat is the natural human diet? For the majority of the human race most of the large populations evolved eating primarily fiber-rich, low-calorie vegetables, fruits and beans.
People refer to the “caveman” diet (the paleo diet is meant to mimic this) but is it true that we all evolved to eat a meat-centric diet? Many researchers believe that the popular embrace of a Paleo diet is based on a stew of misconceptions. After many studies it was confirmed that actually the “hunter-gatherers” or “caveman” so to speak, often had not much success as hunters and therefore bringing home meat to eat was an exception. When meat was not available much of their food actually came from plants.
It is important to note that diet differed between different areas of the world. If you lived in the Artic region or near bodies of water, fish was a large mainstay of diets during this period of time along with plants and nuts.
Many paleoanthropologists say that although advocates of the modern Paleolithic diet urge us to stay away from unhealthy processed foods, the diet’s heavy focus on meat doesn’t replicate the diversity of foods that our ancestors ate – or take into account the active lifestyles that protected them from heart disease and diabetes.
Many books and articles have been written on this subject, and of course, not everyone agrees exactly what are ancestors ate, and a good part of this is because it varied from region to region, but more importantly everyone agrees on what our ancestors did NOT eat. A big one is processed foods. Processed foods contain non-nutritive fillers, artificial ingredients, and synthetic chemical additives (many of which are banned in other countries due to health effects). Almost all processed food is loaded with refined fructose, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup. There is now even a category system of processed foods. Minimal processing, Semi-processing & Ultra-processing. Ultra-processed foods would be sugary soft drinks, cakes and pastries, burgers, pizza and chips.
Scientists say the main purpose of ultra-processing is the creation of shelf-stable, ready-to-eat products, which are problematic in two ways. First, they are too high in saturated or trans-fat, sugar and sodium, and too low in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Second, they tend to be calorie packed per bite, readily available, often super-sized, and heavily marketed.; which all adds up to overeating by throwing off our normal appetite, hunger and satiety mechanisms.
The moral of the story? You cannot go wrong with whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruit and vegetables.
So return to your nutritional roots by eating lean cuts of meat occasionally, eat nuts and double all of your daily vegetable and fruit portions and cut the serving size of all fats, such as oil and butter and high-fat and high calorie foods, like desserts and fatty meats. It will set you up to live a long and healthy life.
Eat more food, but less calories
The Secret to Good Health: Pile you plate high with vegetables and fruits, add respectable portions of beans and whole grains and limit the high-calorie foods such as cheeseburgers, cream sauces and fatty meats.
The result: Fewer calories, more health boosting antioxidants, and longer, happier and more active independent lives.
There is a place on earth where people live longer than any other. It is in Okinawa.
CLICK HERE to watch a Documentary on Okinawan Longevity and Health
Ounce for Ounce people on Okinawa eat more food by weight than people who eat a western-style diet. They eat a lot of produce and grains and smaller portions of higher-calorie, higher fat foods. It’s the combination of high nutrition and lower calories that gives them a tremendous health advantage. Their risk for dementia, heart attacks, strokes and cancer are among the lowest in the world.
Okinawans aren’t starving. They eat about 1800 calories per day (compared to the average of about 2300 calories for the western cultures). Slight calorie restriction seems to prime the body for survival. Just cutting back by 10% can have a dramatic effect. The theory is that this throws genetic “master switches” so that more maintenance work gets done. Your cells invest more time and energy repairing DNA. There is less oxidation and insulin, the hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar, becomes more effective.
This is not referring to a starvation diet. Simply refocusing your food priorities by eating smaller portions of calorie-dense foods and copious amounts of plant-based foods is all you need to do.
The reason to do this is that High-fat and high calorie meals temporarily flood the bloodstream with inflammatory components, overwhelming the body’s natural inflammation -fighting mechanisms. Digesting food requires oxygen. The more calories you consume, the more your body must digest – and the more free radicals are produced as side effects.
When you find people on earth who are gaining the success that you want to see in your own life, you need to model what they are doing. Okinawans are definitely doing something right, therefore it seems they are on to something.
CLICK HERE to watch the Video
Did you know that if you eat for good nutrition and disease prevention your weight will take care of itself? And in fact, new research shows that the drastic calorie-cutting strategies of your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s can set you up for bone fractures, weak muscles, and weight gain in your 50’s and onward.
Here are 10 reasons why you should not diet, by Author Frances M Bergin her book Woman Afraid to Eat: Breaking free in today’s obsessed World.
1. Diets don’t work. Dieters Do not lose weight in a lasting way.
Dieting causes short term weight loss, continuing no more than six months, followed by weight gain. Often more weight is gained than is lost. (Studies show that people who diet are more likely to become overweight than those who eat normally.)
2. Dieting can cause lasting injury and death.
Sudden death from heart arrhythmia or electrolyte imbalance is a real risk factor. Each year dieting is related to sever health damage and deaths in the United States.
3. Dieting disrupts normal body processes.
Rapid weight loss puts the body into a stressful, defensive state. The body tries to protect itself against weight loss by lowering metabolism, heart rate, temperature and sexual function. In addition, there is a drop in intellectual, emotional and social activity.
4. Dieting causes weight cycling (yo-yoing up and down).
Research shows higher death rates associated with weight cycling.
5. Dieters often feel tired, lightheaded, and have difficulty concentrating.
They may lack essential nutrients, including high quality iron, zinc, protein and sufficient calories.
6. Dieting is the primary precursor to eating disorders.
Many experts believe the increasingly high rate of eating disorders in the United States is due, at least in part, to the high percentage of people who are dieting and restricting food.
7. Dieting leads to binge eating, disordered and chaotic eating.
Dieting disrupts normal eating. Dieters override inner signals of hunger and satiety, so they may no longer know when they are hungry or when they are full, and eat accordingly.
8. Dieting causes food preoccupation.
People who diet spend more time thinking about food and eating. This “Drive to Eat” when food is limited is believed to be a natural survival trait defending against starvation.
9. Dieting diminishes women, and increasingly men and children.
Dieting focuses attention on appearance, rather than self-worth, talent and personal fulfillment. Unfortunately, dieting mothers become role models for dieting children.
10. Dieters put their lives on hold, “waiting to be thin.”
Instead of playing the anticipation game, accept yourself an others. You’re okay, just as you are. Move on to healthy living- live actively, eat well, eat good for you food, feel good about yourself – and let weight come off as a result. You deserve the best, right now.
After reading these 10 reasons it is clear to see that Diets are not in our best interest and lead to many problems now and later in life.
Did you know that we are more obese now than when the low- fat diet craze started in the 1980’s? This is just one example of a diet that has had negative impact on society at a national level.
If you are interested in reading more about the low-fat diet craze and some experts views on the subject CLICK HERE to read some interviews done by PBS under the topic “Did the Low-Fat era make us fat?”
Today I want to share with you some Beneficial ACTIONS that really help you live a longer life as well as having long health.
Having three meals and two or three snacks a day is a great way fit in all the nutrition your body needs – and more. You’ll keep your blood sugar lower and steadier to guard against diabetes and heart conditions associated with blood sugar problems. You’ll avoid big portions and a starve and binge pattern that can lead to extra weight.
When possible, eat organic. But more importantly avoid the common food additives and ingredients that are potent health wreckers: Excess sodium, trans fats, saturated fat, sweeteners and refined carbs. These five raise your blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol, increase your risk of heart disease, put your blood sugar on a roller coaster and even fire up body-wide chronic inflammation which is a powerful risk factor for everything from heart disease and stroke to cancer and more.
In a stunning study that followed 202 women and men for more than 18 years, researchers found that those who practices meditation has a 23 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the study and a 30 percent lower risk of death from heart disease. The best news is that you don’t need to sit alone in a room saying “Om…” (that does work also) Spending time with friends, walking in nature, and listening to favorite music with your spouse can all promote the deep relaxation we all need.
Insomnia – annoying, exhausting, and mysterious – becomes a common experience as we age. Medical conditions, prescriptions and over the counter drugs, eating patterns, exercise habits, time outdoors and your bedtime routine all play important roles in your sleep. Experts say the key is to work with, not against, your changing sleeping cycles as you age.
These are all very important Actions to take note of while trying to keep long health as you live your long life. It is very important to remember it is not too late to start changing your habits and behaviors now. It is not too late to reap the benefits of these changes. You can erase your past! What changes can you make today?
Whether you are in your 20’s, 40’s or your 60’s we all have ideas of what old age means to us, and usually they are probably not great thoughts about what our future holds after whatever number we choose in our head to be “Old”.
Here are some big myths about aging that might just make you change your mind about what your future might hold:
Creaky, achy joints are an inherent part of aging
Myth. A more accurate statement would be that creaky, achy joints are an inevitable part of not exercising. Researchers from Monash University Medical School in Australia assessed 146 women ages 40 to 67 with no history of knee osteoarthritis or significant knee injury, and then compared their findings with the women’s physical activity history. They found that women who exercised at least once every two weeks for at least 20 minutes had more cartilage in their knees, suggesting that they were less likely to develop arthritis.
Fragile bones and a bent posture are inevitable with age
Myth. Nothing is inevitable with age except death! While osteoporosis is definitely a condition that is more prevalent in older people, it is also one that is very preventable. There was a study of 424 female centenarians and it was found that only 56 percent had osteoporosis and their average age at diagnosis was 87. That is not too bad particularly considering that these women grew up in a time long before we understood the benefits of diet and exercise on bone.
Your genes are the most important determinant in how well you’ll age
Myth. If this were the case than identical twins would age identically. But they actually don’t! A major study from European and American researchers evaluated the lifestyle habits and medical history of 40 pairs of identical twins ages 3 to 74. As the twins aged, the researchers found, not only had their health taken different paths, but their genome changed from identical to one that showed several differences. Genetically speaking the oldest pair of identical twins was the least alike.
You might be born with the healthiest set of genes nature can provide; but how you live your life determines how those genes behave over the next 90 years. It turns out what you eat, how much physical activity you get, even your exposure to chemicals can change your genes through a process called methylation.
You lose your creative potential as you age
Myth. In one study of 168 healthy older adults, those who joined a choral group were In better health, used less medication, and had fewer falls after a year than a similar group of older adults who did not join the choral. The singing group also said that they were less lonely, had a better outlook on life, and participated in ore activities overall than the non-singing group, who actually reduced the number of activities they participated in during the year.
Your brain stops developing after age 3
Myth. This developmental myth was overturned in the 1990’s. It created a seismic shift the way researchers viewed aging. No longer could they look at the aging brain as a static thing. Studies show that you brain continues to send out new connections to strengthen existing connections throughout your life – as long as you continue to challenge it. It really is the ultimate muscle in your body.
Your brain shrinks with age.
Myth. In 2002 this was found to be a myth after a study where it was concluded that brain shrinkage may actually be a result of stress and can affect the old or young. Studies showed that the more stress a person was exposed to determined brain or hippocampuses (the part of the brain which controls memory) shrinkage.
Older people are cranky and unhappy
Myth of course! During various research studies it was found that even despite significant physical and mental problems 71 percent of 100 year old’s studied said they were happy, and more than half said they were as happy as when they’d been at younger ages.
So what does this all mean? It means that there is no universal definition of aging. How you’ll age is entirely up to you – and the time to begin writing that definition is today!
Here are the 6 Key Truths of Long Health
“Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about It" - Maude Smith, Age 95
You CAN add more years to your life by living a healthy, optimistic life. 8 years ago scientists hypothesized that the human body, when perfectly maintained can comfortably last 120 years before naturally giving out. Today in 2016 scientist hypothesize this could really be many more years than that with new scientific advances.
Just extra years is not really the goal, is it? The goal in fact is Long Health. Long health means you are energized and creative at any age, be it 44, 58, 72, 85 or 94. A sedentary, painful and lifeless life need not be the inevitable final chapter in our lives. You do not need to accept that the diseases of aging – heart disease, arthritis, insomnia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and so forth, are in your destiny. Long health is living and active, healthy, happy, purposeful life- now and until the last days of your life.
Long health also isn’t achieved by swallowing pills, visiting doctors, or launching yet another formal exercise routine. Achieving long health is a process to be respected and enjoyed. The best path to being happy, energized, and healthy in the future is living happily, energetically, and healthily in the present.
We are all part of a generation now that is redefining aging. We need to throw out the notion that aging is a slow decline towards death, and that your goal is to reach some artificial age threshold, like a marathon where the goal is to merely reach the finish line, enduring whatever torture is causes you on the way.
Some great news is that the past CAN be changed, at least when it comes to harmful habits and activities. It is never too late to make changes and see the benefits of those changes.
I myself have lived a less than perfect life. I have spent too much time in the sun, ate more junk food than I like to admit and have partaken in some other various “Unhealthy” activities in my life, but it is great to know it is not too late to change those habits to healthy ones and reap the benefits of a long and healthy life.
On my next blog I will be covering some Truths about Aging… Also I will be covering some common myths. You will not want to miss it!
Here is one more quote I want to leave with you: “Remember, you don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing”.
Until next time! It’s time to live the life you’ve imagined!
Source: Long Life Prescription by Readers Digest
Clean Eating: A Way of Life
Now that September has crept up on us, it is a good time to look at where we are with our goals for 2016. With four more months to go, we still have time to regroup and charge ahead and still end the year strong. One thing I had hoped to accomplish this year was to eat healthier. After studying many ways of eating one that really resounded with me was the concept of “Clean Eating”.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean Eating is not a diet. It is a way of life. Here are some of the principles of clean eating:
How to eat clean
It is important to know what foods are processed and what foods are good for you. Below is a list of food that should be included in your eating plan.
Unprocessed Foods include:
Minimally processed foods include:
Choose Fresh foods over refined foods
Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of foods should be fresh. This means try and shop the perimeter of your grocery store, and try and spend the most time the Vegetable/Produce section!
Whole grains & Natural Sugars are a hearty option
You can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice, amaranth and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important for your heart and can protect against coronary heart disease. Clean natural sugars are also good in proportion. These include honey, maple syrup and dehydrated sugar cane juice.
Eat Five-Six small meals a day
This usually comes out to three main meals and two or three snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.
Don’t drink your calories
High calorie drinks like specialty coffees, vitamin waters and soft drinks, on average can add an extra 400 to 500 calories a day to your intake. Choose water first, or some unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks include organic milk and 100% fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
It is also recommended that pesticide-free organic food is eaten, to be able to avoid consuming added hormones or chemicals. Also it is important to note that eating clean doesn’t give free reign to eat endless quantities. They may be healthy, but they still have calories!
A Clean eating way of life can help people maximize their energy and optimize their overall health, making it more than just a diet. It’s a lifestyle, with built-in flexibility, meaning it can be adapted to fit most any kind of routine.
I hope if eating healthier is a goal you are trying to reach, you give clean eating a try. Your body will thank you for it!
Giving you the most current and up to date advice on living a longer and active life.
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