Tag Archive for focus

Supplements that Improve Focus and Memory

Did you know that supplements can change your brain chemistry? If you ever find yourself having difficulty focusing or concentrating you aren’t alone. These problems plague millions of Americans every day. We rely on our cognition and focus to help us stay alert and alive. The right supplements can not only improve focus and memory but rebuild your brain chemistry.

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Why Snacks Are Good For You and Your Family

Snacks Your Family NEEDS

Many people go hours without eating which compromises your focus and metabolism. It’s often unconscious, until your stomach is an empty pit or your mind is mush. The same is true for many children and teens, especially during the school day. Four hours or more without food is far too long, in fact it depletes their focus and impacts their mood. In order to keep your child sharp and feeling successful during the school day, snacking is super important. » Read more..

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MSG: In Your Child’s Lunchbox

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

With back-to-school in full effect, many parents are packing their rouine lunches or giving kid’s money to buy lunch at school, but do you really know what your child is eating?  Interestingly enough, we notice when kids are eating more prepared and prepackaged foods, often times their behavior gets worse.  Why? Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is added to many “kid friendly” and fast foods. In many ingredient lists is hidden as “flavor enhancer” or “natural flavors”.  MSG increases glutamate levels (glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitters) thus increasing aggression, impulsivity, and decrease the ability to focus. This is not only occurring in our children’s brains, but ours as well.  That bag of Barbecue chips is full of MSG, so is that “natural flavored” cereal bar….Just think about it.

“It taps out our inhibitory neurotransmitters causing inflammation to the brain.” Says Nikki Jackson-Drummond CCN.  This is a normal reaction to ingesting MSG, even for someone who does not have an allergy to MSG. According to Grocery Warningby Mike Adams,” There is no regulation whatsoever on the use of MSG in school cafeterias despite its possible ill effects.  In fact, current trends allow fast –food pizza and hamburger chains to sell their MSG-laden products during the children lunch hour.” Adams says, ” The sudden increase in glutamic acid within the body is rapidly absorbed an can raise the normal blood level of glutamate to eight or ten or even twenty times its usual amount.”

So what’s in your kid’s lunch box?  Popular children’s soups, macaroni and cheese, even products that are labeled “natural” have “natural flavorings added.”  If you are giving your child these foods, or they are getting them at school, the likelihood is that they are increasing the glutamate enough to disrupt your child’s brain chemistry. We have seen some kiddo’s brain chemistry levels plateau or become worse do to diets heavy in MSG foods, without parents even knowing it was disrupting their neurochemistry!

Common Foods:

  • Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles®  (targeted towards children)
  • Doritos®
  • Campbell’s® soups – all of them – based on their commitment to add “umami” (read – MSG) to their products
  • Pringles® (the flavored varieties)
  • Boar’s Head® cold cuts and most of their hot dogs
  • Progresso® Soups – all of them
  • Lipton® Noodles and Sauce
  • Lipton® Instant soup mix
  • Unilever or Knorr® products – often used in homemade Veggie dips. 
  • Kraft® products nearly all contain some free glutamate
  • Cup-a-soup® or Cup-o-Noodles®
  • Planters® salted nuts – most of them
  • Accent® -this is nearly pure MSG
  • Braggs® Liquid Aminos – sold at Whole Foods
  • Hodgson Mill Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour®
  • Tangle extract (seaweed extract) – found in sushi rolls (even at Whole Foods)  Seaweed is what MSG was first isolated from.
  • Fish extract – made from decomposed fish protein – used now in Japanese sushi dishes – very high in free glutamate.
  • flavored ramen noodles
  • boullion – any kind
  • instant soup mixes
  • many salad dressings
  • most salty, powdered dry food mixes – read labels
  • flavored potato chips

This is part of the list from MSG Truth http://www.msgtruth.org/avoid.htm

There are many safe, alternatives to MSG filled foods.  Do an experiment, what is your behavior or your child’s behavior like after avoiding MSG free foods for just a few days?  Check out this mom’s blog post for specific foods and where to buy them for an MSG free diet http://www.latitudes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=2976

Next time your thinking about grabbing a quick bite, or throwing in that flavored bag of chips into the lunchbox, think about it, do you really want your child eating a flavor enhanced, chemical filled snack?  Think about it….

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The Power of Protein

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Its 3 PM. Your starving, so you reach for that 100 calorie pack of starch to curb your hunger…and your not satisfied?  Well who would be, there is no protein in it, its all carbs.  We all know protein is important for keeping us full and keeping us strong.  However, studies find that most children are not getting enough and many adults fall short on their daily intake as well.  The reason this is so important, is without the rotation of different proteins and the quantity, out bodies will not make the natural amino acids that keep  us focused, stable, and happy. 

The Facts: Amino acids are the building blocks for Neurotransmitters; amino acids are created by our genetic make-up, but also our diet.  Protein and supplementation are the main sources of changing and increasing amino acid availability in ones body. 

Are You Getting Enough?: To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, this will give you amount in grams that your body needs at a minimum (unless otherwise noted by your doctor or other health professional).  For example:  140 pound woman needs approximately 64 grams per day.

Where to Get it:Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources.  For kids a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.

Protein for Kids:  even for the pickiest eaters daily protein intake can be achieved.  This especially important when school starts and focus is needed.  In the morning try almond or peanut butter and toast, instead of a pop-tart or sugar filled pastry.  For a mid morning snack, freeze a yogurt and put it in their lunch box, it will be cold by the time snack-time rolls around.  For lunch, turkey and cheese roll-ups, rather than pizza. For dinner, adding in tofu or chicken to your child’s meal will increase their amino acid availability and keep them satisfied longer.

***If your child refuses, whey protein powder is easily hidden in smoothies, milk, and oatmeal.

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.

So next time your starving, think about this, will that snack fill me up?  Adding in protein keeps you fuller, longer, carbs alone will leave you feeling hungry and tired.  Instead of that bag of chips try a bag of trail mix, or cheese and crackers .  You will find yourself more focused, in a better mood, and best of all SATISFIED.

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