Tag Archive for brain health

How to Improve Your Diet and Achieve Optimal Health

Want to improve your diet and achieve optimal wellness? Our clinicians share tips to improve your diet and your mind.

There are simple ways to improve your diet without disrupting your sanity. Eliminating foods can cause panic and stress for most people, but what they fail to realize is it enhances their health. Our clinicians have some helpful tips that you can implement into your life today. » Read more..

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Are You Addicted to Caffeine?

Is your Starbucks habit actually an addiction? The American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists Caffeine Addiction, more specifically, caffeine intoxication and withdrawal as a mental disorder in the new DSM-V. A few cups coffee or soda everyday may not seem like a big deal, but it impacts your brain and body more than you may think. » Read more..

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Is Sugar Making You Stupid?

Your sweet tooth make be affecting more than just your diet. Sugar can actually change your brain—and not in a healthy way. New research shows that certain foods, especially ones high in sugar and glucose, can damage brain health. Your memory, your neurotransmitters, and overall brain structure can be permanently changed with too much of the sweet stuff. » Read more..

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Willpower: Why You Can’t Resist The Donut

willpower

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Do you ever wonder why it’s so hard to have self-control at a morning meeting, when the plate of delicious donuts are practically asking you to eat them? Isn’t it interesting that after the 20th time you have told your child “don’t touch that” they seem to forget and do it anyway?  Saying “no” to the sweet treat or controlling the impulse isn’t just about self-control, it’s more than willpower. You can learn right from wrong, but your brain can be much more powerful than logic.

Think of willpower like a muscle, if it’s not developed fully it can be weak; it can get exhausted by overuse, but just like our other muscles, we can repair it.

“It is as if self-control is a limited resource that ‘runs out’ if it is used too much,” said Chandra Sripada, the lead researcher in a study published last week in The Journal of Psychological Science.

Therefore all the effort in the word can’t keep little Timmy’s hands from reaching to touch the object of his affection or that sweet treat from hitting your lips. Researchers found that increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine can help to reduce urges and increase self-control.

The study, published April 22 in The Journal Psychological Science, indicates that when one has the right balance of these two neurotransmitters it can help prevent the depletion of self-control.  If you overuse the “muscle” the chemicals in your brain are too tired to say no.  Medications or supplementation may be the missing link by giving a boost to specific brain circuits that are often depleted after attempting to maintain self-control for long periods of time.

What is even more interesting and notable is that ones mood plays a vital role in impulsivity and aggression.

Research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) found that loss of self-control is also due to nutrition. When blood-glucose levels dropped, subjects were more likely to act on an urge.

“Self-control requires energy, and that energy is provided in part by glucose,” wrote lead study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“Glucose is made from nutritious intake that becomes converted into neurotransmitters that provide energy for brain processes. Low glucose levels can undermine self-control because people have insufficient energy to overcome challenges and unwanted impulses,” wrote Bushman and his colleagues.

willpower

Wish you or your child could resist the urge to act on their impulses? As you can see it’s more than knowing right from wrong, it also takes a bit of a brain workout to build up that muscle.

  • Test the brain.  A simple urine analysis can show which levels are off, and results will suggest what supplementation will help increase self-control Neurotransmitters.
  •  What you eat effects willpower. What you feed your body affects how much energy the prefrontal cortex has to work with, where many of our impulsive decisions are made.  If you are not absorbing nutrients from the food in your gut, your brain is going to be cloudy.  Making sure that your blood sugar stays balanced, requires eating right and often, this means every 3-4 hours. For more self-control, stick to the foods that you know fuel your brain. Click Here for some great backpack snacks that boot brain power!
  • Talk with your health care practitioner about medications or supplementation that may be impacting your willpower. Notice what is difficult for you to resist, or what you wind up regretting later on in the day.  These actions are examples of what a boost of self-control could help you resist.
  • Repetition.  Although you may not get it on the first try, continuing to say no or practicing a new behavior, instead of the problematic one, can help rewire the brain.  That is, if you have enough power to run the system.

At the end of the day it takes gas and mechanics to keep a car running, the same is true for your brain.  Everyone needs help behaviorally and neurologically to make changes stick.

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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Early Exposure to Mercury and ADHD Link

Resent research from Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts.suggests that prenatal and early exposure to mercury, especially in fish, can contribute to ADHD in children and adults. Pregnant women need to be especially careful because eating fish that contain even low levels of mercury can increase the risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring according to the study. Not all fish have high levels of mercury, and another question to pose researchers is what about in breast milk after the child been born.  Does this contribute as well?

The FDA provides three recommendations for young children, pregnant women, and women of child-bearing age:

  1. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they might contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.  Five of the most commonly eaten fish and shellfish that are low in mercury are: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.  Another commonly eaten fish, albacore or big eye (“white”) tuna depending on its origin might have more mercury than canned light tuna.  So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, it is recommended that you should not eat more than up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
  3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but consume no other fish during that week.

The Above information can be attributed to the Amen Clinic, please look at their findings here: http://www.amenclinics.com/?p=6323&option=com_wordpress&Itemid=204&inf_contact_key=972d5fe3c31939d750f71f4b0b4312828404e3d22caad471f5dc01da1dc35b29

 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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10 Tips for a Healthy Brain

We all want optimal health, one of the best ways to achieve this is through taking care of your most valuable body part: the brain.  By making good choices to maximize your health, the brain and your overall well being benefit.

Try a few of the suggestions below.  If you can add them all, great but start slow, so these changes can be habitual, and become part of your daily routine.

» Read more..

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5 Great Gluten-Free Finds

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

The gluten free (GF) isle at my local health food store has gone from a shelf of tasteless cardboard that appeased my GI tract, to a full array of pallet pleasing products that actually taste, get this…Delicious.  More Americans are eliminating gluten based products due to health concerns.   The term gluten-free is generally used to indicate a supposed harmless level of gluten rather than a complete absence.  So for those with severe celiac, sometimes GF is still not enough for their systems to tolerate. With kids having a food allergy can make them feel insecure around their friends, especially at the lunch table.  No kid I talk to wants to be eating a bland chicken breast or plate of tofu, while the rest of their friends and enjoying a kid-friendly PB&J.  Thank goodness there are GF products out there that look and taste the same. 

If your a carb-lover like me, than the idea of a GF diet can be like a death sentence.  However, with the right products, it doesn’t have to be.  In fact,  I can actually enjoy meals now,  instead of agonizing about how I’m going to feel after indulging in that plate of pasta primavera.  Here are some amazing GF products, that taste like the real thing.

Udi’s Gluten Free Bread:  tastes like its full of gluten but is not!  GF breads I have tried in the past had an odd texture and had to be toasted to taste palatable, you can eat this right out of the bag!

 Blue Diamond Nut Thins: Rice Crackers I eat these everyday, the texture is crisp and the different flavors allow you to have options in the snacking world! 

Pamela’s Simplebites Ginger Snap Cookies one word: DELICIOUS. They taste exactly like Gingersnaps I ate as a kid, full of wheat.  These are great treats for kids and adults alike.                  

Tinkyada Rice Pasta: The texture is RIGHT ON, and it tastes amazing.

Glutino Pretzel Twists:  I actually thought I grabbed a bag of regular pretzels. I could not taste the difference at all- perfect snack. 

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Eliminate Negative Self Talk: 5 Steps

 By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Mistaken beliefs often keep you from achieving your important goals in life, they come from the negative thoughts we have about ourselves.  These thoughts can come from others, negative scripts we have told ourselves, and the mixed messages you hear from the media.  Mistaken believes set limits on your self-esteem and self-worth.  Many times I hear clients say ” I should be _______”, when you focus more on the should’s, ought’s, and could’ves you are selling yourself short and not looking at what you have done and are capable of doing.  Negative thinking and mistaken beliefs need to be challenged to reduce anxiety, decrease depression, and increase well-being.

Try this exercise to help rid yourself of a of a negative believe you have.

ex) People don’t like me

1.  What is the evidence for this belief?  Looking objectively at all your life experience, what is the evidence that this belief is true?   Evidence- in the past others rejected my friendship.  BUT I also have made and maintained many friendships over the years.  My friends and family love me for who I am. 

 2.  Does this belief always hold true for you?  If not, when has it been proven false? This belief only looks at a few circumstances when I was not accepted by others; this has only happened a few times. I also just made a new friend at work.

3.  Does this belief look at the whole picture?  Does it take into account both positive and negative ramifications? If I think this way I wont get hurt by people, but if I think this way I also will be lonely and not make new friendships or form new relationships.

 4.  Does this belief promote your well-being and/or peace of mind?This belief makes me more anxious and does not promote well being.  When I feel this way I am less confident, making it harder to make new friends and be myself. It DOES NOT benefit me.

 5.  Did you choose this belief on your own or did it develop out of your experience of growing up in your family? Experience with a bully in high school and a few failed relationships in my twenties made me feel like others don’t like me.  However, these people were not positive, and were aggressive personalities, perhaps they are not the best judge of my character. Family and long term friends do not feel this way.

Try this exercise when you notice you have an overwhelming negative thought, one that is causing you distress or a perpetuating beleif that is not benefiting you.  Long lasting change and elimination of the negitive self-talk takes time and practice, be patient and determined.

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Study Finds Amino Acids Contribute to Longer Life

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

According to the October issue of Cell Metabolism, mice who ingested water with amino acid supplements lived longer than those who did not receive the enhanced water.  Consuming amino acid supplements is different from consuming proteins containing those amino acids. That’s because they do not have to be digested, and can enter the bloodstream immediately. “They come with no energy cost.” Stated a researcher.  Read more here

Although this study was done on mice, their findings show that ingesting amino acid supplements are helpful in treating affects of aging on the brain, improving coordination, and overall health.  These are amino acids that we may not receive from even the healthiest diets, due to our stress level, genetics, or activity level.

Check out Medical News Today for more health related articles at Medicalnewstoday.com.

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Quick Protein-Filled Snacks

By Emily Roberts

The importance of rotating protein is often under-minded when we are dieting or attempting to get kids to eat whats on their plates.  We often go for whatever is easy and quick rather than whats really beneficial for our brains and bodies.  In our past post The Power of Protein, we talk about the importance of protein and briefly on rotating proteins:

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

Below are some great ideas to get new proteins into your old routine, as well as easy snack ideas for children and adults alike:

Edamame: Instead of chips reach for this heart-healthy, protein filled snack.  With 11 grams for a 1/2 cup, you are doing yourself a favor.  Sprinkle some sea-salt on them, put them in a Tupperware and take them along to the office or in your child’s lunchbox.

Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese: Instead of boring fruit on the bottom yogurt (still a good source of protein) try something exciting like Fage 2% Greek Yogurt, it has 17 grams of protein.  Add a little Agave Nectar and a handful of nuts and you have yourself a perfect snack!  Kids love it with fruit and granola.

Hummus or Baked Chickpeas: Instead of your usual dip or spread try hummus with veggies or baked chips, its a great alternative to or usual spreads.  Kids eat it up, and by adding this in we are getting in protein from a legume, something most of us don’t get unless we are eating beans or lentils.  The snack packs are a great, portable, snack idea or for throwing in a lunch pale. Baked Chickpeas are a fantastic way to appease your crunch and salty cravings and helps to fill you up.

Beef Jerky: Instead of salty chips or rice cakes.  It can be high in sodium, however 1 serving shells out 70 calories and 11 grams of protein, with only 1 gram of fat.  Try a few pieces instead of your usual afternoon snack.  Kids love the chewy texture and its super portable. There are some organic brand out there that are pretty healthy.

Let us know what protien snacks you and your kids like, we’d love to hear them!

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