Categories
Exercises

Maximize the Long-Term Cognitive Benefits of Physical Exercise

When most people think about aging gracefully, it’s often about keeping the wrinkles at bay or doing a weekly sudoku puzzle to stay mentally sharp.  Since the wrinkles are rapidly creeping up on me as well, I don’t have much advice on that front— other than suggesting that a healthy and varied diet of fish, fresh produce, and tons of water is what seems to slow them down.

I can, however, provide you with some interesting research on how varying up your usual routine can have long-term benefits for your cognitive health.

What’s at Play

Our brains store memories inside nerve cells. Multiple nerve cells communicate with one another through the release of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Even though we lose some brain cells and our brains generate fewer neurotransmitters as we age, we have the ability to produce natural growth-promoting molecules called neurotrophins. Neurotrophins signal particular nerve cells to develop, grow, function, or survive and it is the release of these neurotrophins that can help fight off the effects of mental aging. 

To start the flow of neurotrophins, the brain must be stimulated by novel experiences that disrupt our usual routines and engage the senses and emotions, according to research compiled in the book Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness,” by neurobiologist Lawrence C. Katz, PhD and author Rubin Manning. 

Brain Aerobics

Neurobics is a term coined by Dr. Katz, to literally mean “aerobics exercises for the brain” and the book suggests that practicing different neurobic exercises can act as novel experiences for the brain. Neurobics can be done anywhere, anytime by performing simple tasks in what seems like offbeat ways.

For example, you can try closing your eyes while unlocking your front door, simply brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or walking backwards on a treadmill.  Our senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) all have their own sections in our brains.

Categories
Health

The Joy of Better Health: Preventing Heartburn With 5 Simple Solutions

JumpForJoyAcidRefluxIf you have ever experienced heartburn, you’ll know that it is no joke. It’s not just annoying, but it’s actually quite a dangerous signal of your overall health.

Many years ago, I had heartburn that persisted over a few weeks and when I told my doctor about it she just waved it off and said that it was probably too much acidic foods and that she would prescribe me some medication for Acid Reflux. The medication worked, but as soon as I came off of it, the heart burn came right back. That was quite some time ago, nowadays I know a lot more about Acid Reflux and indigestion, and the types of foods and diets that bring about heartburn.

Most often, it’s not just one meal or food that does it, instead it is a series of meals and bad habits that create an acidic environment in the body by dropping the body’s natural pH balance to below 7.35. Acid forming foods are definitely a culprit, but most people don’t realize that it is not acidic fruits and foods like lemons, tomatoes and sauerkraut that disturb the alkaline balance of the body, but instead it is “acid-forming foods” such as processed foods and packaged goods that cause acidosis in the body and subsequent harm.

A low pH and acidic environment within the body is the perfect growing conditions for a bacteria called the Helico Pylori Bacteria (a.k.a H. Pylori) which inhabits the stomach and the esophagus. H.Pylori stimulates cells in the stomach to produce excessive amounts of gastric or hydrochloric acid which can make their way back and up into the esophogus causing “Heartburn” or Gastro-Esophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). Doctors usually prescribe a heavy dose of antibiotics for H.Pylori, but since the antibiotics themselves can often do a lot of harm, eating the right foods can re-balance the gut to create an alkaline environment (not allowing the H.Pylori to thrive). I can honestly say that just by switching to whole foods and cooking at home, I have been able to experience better overall health, prevent heartburn and not take any medications whatsoever, which literally has me jumping for joy!

As for Acid Reflux medication, those just mask symptoms and can often have many side effects as well. My doctor should not have waved off my heartburn as if it were no big deal. It’s great that she recognized food could be a source of the problem, but she should have elaborated on what foods were actually “acid-forming” to the body and also advised me to see a nutritionist.

Preventing heartburn can be a way of preventing bigger problems down the road and since there are already lots of lists out there to help alleviate heartburn once you have it, I have instead created a list that will help balance your gut flora and keep you from experiencing heartburn in the first place.

5 ways to clean up your diet and keep heartburn at bay: