Thursday, December 31, 2015

Glucose

Glucose is the major source of energy for the brain, nervous system, muscles, and many other body’s processes. When glucose levels are low, decision-making, critical thinking, willpower, and self-control can be impaired. Go easy on simple carbs (especially white sugar, flour, rice, and processed foods made from them) in favor of healthier complex carbs, the preferred source. They can help you maintain your weight in an optimum range as you need smaller amounts to feel satisfied and feel full longer, as compared to foods containing simple sugars and high-fructose corn syrup). Natural food sources of glucose include whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Examples of high-starch veggies are corn, zucchini, and squash. Low-starch veggies include tomatoes and onions, asparagus and celery, mushrooms, cauliflower, green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, and red and green peppers, etc. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fructose

Fructose is sometimes called fruit sugar because of its presence in fruit. Fructose is a monosaccharide--a single sugar molecule consisting of six carbon atoms, six oxygen atoms and 12 hydrogen atoms. It can be absorbed quite quickly into the blood stream from your small intestines. In addition to fruit, fructose may be present in your menu as honey or syrup or as the food additive high-fructose corn syrup (found in many beverages, salad dressings, and so on). Fructose absorption can be very rapid if the source is high-fructose corn syrup. Absorption from whole fruits is less rapid because of the presence of fiber and other phytonutrients in fruit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Glucose vs Fructose


Kathleen Page and colleagues at the University of Southern California, studied the effects of glucose and fructose on the hypothalamus—the appetite control center, which responds to hormones such as Leptin that tell the brain you are full (metaphorically think of leptin as the brake pedal). When study participants consumed a drink containing only glucose, blood flow and activity in the hypothalamus decreased and they reported feeling full. When the same participants were fed a fructose drink, the hypothalamus remained active and they did not report feeling full. The brain still thought the body was hungry.


(Gameau, Damon. The Sugar Book. P. 121. NY:Flatiron Books, 2015)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Proverbs

More Proverbs 
  • English proverb: Don't shut the gate after the horse has bolted.
  • Albanian proverb:  Mind the goats so that you will drink their milk. 
  •  German proverb:  You don’t see the brain on one’s forehead.
  •  Arabic proverb:  Arrogance over the arrogant is modesty. 
  •  Corsican proverb:  An idle person is up to no good.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Defrazzled Day



Whatever you are doing today, relaxing with loved ones actually or virtually, biological family or family-of-choice, I wish you a happy defrazzled day. I’m having one. Yes, it would be great to be with some of my favorite family members—but defrazzling means that I avoid traveling during these national holidays. We get together at other times during the year. I have chosen to fix dinner for some of my ‘family-of-choice.’ No more weeks of cooking over-the-top meals loaded with traditional foods that went to waist (pardon the pun). Just nostalgic and tasty but simpler and healthier foods. I go with Aesop’s belief: A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. Our ‘crusts’ are always pretty good . . . I hope yours are, too. Our time spent together is always pretty defrazzled . . . I hope yours is, too.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Defrazzled

It’s the day before a big celebration that is ritualized or memorialized or extolled in one fashion or another by at least some groups of people around the globe. How are you doing? What is your track record with celebration frazzle and distress? I figure ‘a rat race is for rats only,’ and although a family member sometimes called me a ‘rat’ because I didn’t meet expectations, I’m way past any angst. It was just that brain’s opinion and has little or nothing to do with mine. I asked the questions about what year-end celebrations really mean to me and how I want to observe or participate in them. I answered those questions, as well, and that has made all the difference. In ‘The world According to Mister Rogers,’ Fred Rogers handed everyone a gift when he calmly reminded children as well as adults: In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. In fact, there is no answer until you’ve identified the question . . . In the end, living defrazzled is fabulous. It’s De-Lovely.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Defrazzle

“Is defrazzle a word?” I can hear you asking. It is now. I coined that word (at least I couldn't find it in any dictionary!)—along with defrazzled and defrazzling and defrazzlement—when I finally got the picture of how to live a healthier defrazzling Longevity Lifestyle. Defrazzle is a verb that describes the process of becoming defrazzled. Defrazzled is a noun that describes a state of being neither weary nor exhausted nor anxious nor distressed. And Defrazzling is an adjective that describes a style of living. Those three words make me laugh. When I became serious about learning to defrazzle, I bit the bullet with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: The ancestor of every action is a thought. What were my thoughts? Basically, the critical importance of meeting—or trying to meet if not exceed—expectations, including trying to keep everyone happy. I had to de-link the all-too-predictable outcomes of expectations burnout. And an ounce of think-ahead prevention turned out to be worth 100 pounds of cure later on as I began to defrazzle step by step and bit by bit.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Frazzled, Too

In all honesty, there was a time in my life when I lived, breathed, and slept frazzled, and it didn’t always have to do with year-end events or specific celebrations. A few decades ago, several bouts of post-NewYear’s pneumonia brought me up short (or laid me out short, I should say). Those bouts definitely got my attention. You can only get out of a trap when you figure out that you’re in one—and take steps to change that. I decided enough was enough. (And avoid calling up and telling me that it is impossible to get out of the trap. If I could do it—the way I was raised—anyone can.) In a nutshell, becoming frazzled has everything to do with expectations; yours as well as those of others. It often results from running on the treadmill of life and failing to take time to analyze not only what is really important to you personally but also how you can extract the meaning of a celebration or event without getting immersed in all the merchandizing, decorating, and partying melodrama. The paradox is that celebration frazzle can occur from following ‘traditions,’ giving little if any thought to whether or not they still work for you—if ever they did.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Frazzled

The phone rang and a voice asked, “Aren’t you just completely frazzled?” I began to laugh. Couldn’t help it. “If your definition of ‘frazzled’ is a state of being weary or exhausted or anxious or distressed, the answer is no. I definitely am not frazzled. “But it’s approaching the end of the year!” the voice continued. “So it is, so it is,” I replied. “And your point would be?” The voice sighed. “I’m always completely and unmitigatedly frazzled as the year end approaches. It happens every year. I’ve come to expect it. Nothing I can do about it.” Another vocal sigh. “Well,” I responded, “if you are expecting frazzled, your brain will bend over backwards to give you what it thinks you want, number one. And number two, your brain can only do what it thinks it can do. You’ve obviously taught it that it can be frazzled.” The voice blazed: “I called to get some sympathy and all I’m getting is ‘Brain Talk.’” I laughed again. ‘Brain Talk’ has saved my life. Try it. You just might like it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Breakfast and Brain

Breakfast boots up the brain much like you boot up a computer. The brain uses glucose, a simple carbohydrate, almost exclusively as its source of energy. Although other parts of the body can use fat, protein, or carbohydrate for energy, the brain functions best with carbohydrate fuel. Due to its rapid metabolism, the brain requires minute-to-minute glucose. Carbohydrate (glucose source) is the only source of fuel that the brain can use (it cannot burn fat). Glucose levels decline more during a period of intense cognitive processing. Studies in all types of people have shown improved mental ability following a carbohydrate meal. But what type of carbs? Healthier ones, of course, Carbs that are eaten in as natural state as possible and that are relatively low on the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load lists. Those recommended in a Longevity Lifestyle. (There are several 'breakfast' items among my website recipes --  www.arlenetaylor.org -- that meet this criteria. I especially enjoy my brain waffles made with beans and old-fashioned oats.)


(Nedley, Neil, M.D. Proof Positive; Brand-Miller, Jennie, PhD, Thomas M. S. Wolever, MD, PhD, et al. The New Glucose Revolution)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Breakfast and Chronic Disease

Breakfast and Chronic Disease


Senior author of a study related to breakfast and coronary heart disease and associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Eric Rimm, said, “It’s a really simple message. Breakfast is an important meal.” And Leah Cahill, postdoctoral research fellow in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, was quoted as saying: “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.” This study corroborated other studies that have pointed to a link between breakfast and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems seen as precursors to heart problems. As my favorite aunt would likely have put it: “What’s your problem? Eat a good breakfast already!” I do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Breakfast and Energy



Prevailing wisdom has been that a failure to eat breakfast can result in a 40 percent loss of energy by noon. That’s not all. In a study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), researchers found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who did eat a morning meal. Non-breakfast-eaters were generally hungrier later in the day and ate more food at night, perhaps contributing to metabolic changes and heart disease. The scientists analyzed food questionnaire data and health outcomes from 1992-2008 on 26,902 male health professionals, ages 45-82. During the study, 1,572 of the men had cardiac events. Even after accounting for diet, physical activity, smoking, and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast and heart disease persisted.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sow and Reap

The other day I was having a lively discussion with a colleague about the rash of shootings in State, along with the impact of television and movies in combination with epigenetics and cellular memory, and so on. I was reminded of a quote  attributed to Howard Bloom but that seems to have gotten lost in the passage of time:

One generation’s metaphors become another generation’s realities. A generation without violence needs violent metaphors to exercise the animals in the brain—the instinctual equipment that is languishing unused in the cerebral storehouse. So in the 1970s and 1980s, bands like AC/DC wrote songs like ‘shoot to kill.’ These songs entertain a generation to which real bloodshed is mere fantasy. But the next generation imprints on the metaphors and turns them into realities. So in the 90s we have mass shootings by kids who take the previous generation’s fantasies as blueprints for action.” 

Monday, December 14, 2015

New Acronym

Someone emailed me this weekend (and yes, I'm more likely to answer emails than any other electronic communication strategy): “I’ve been thinking about FoMo (fear of missing out) and believe I probably have gotten caught up in it. Okay, I HAVE gotten caught up in it. I need an acronym to describe the opposite of FoMo, the fear of missing out. Someone suggested JoMo or the joy of missing out, but that doesn’t work for my brain.” I agree. I want to embrace life, not miss out on it and then try to be happy about missing something. Sheesh! I am selective, however, about what I want in life, what I want to contribute, and what works for my brain. What works for another person is about their brain and their life. Not mine. So there is nothing to envy. JoLL might work: the joy of a Longevity Lifestyle—because that’s what I’m living. If you can think of others, email me at thebrain@arlenetaylor.org (because it might be several weeks before I have time to check social media sites. After all, I can write a weekday blog and record another audio book or live on social media sites). Smile.

Need a New Achronym

Someone emailed me this weekend (and yes, I'm more likely to answer emails than any other electronic communication strategy): “I've been thinking about FoMo and believe I probably have gotten caught up in it. I need an achronym to describe the opposite of FoMo, the fear of missing out. Someone suggested JoMo or the joy of missing out, but that doesn’t work for my brain.” I agree. I want to embrace life, not miss out on it and then try to be happy about missing something. Sheesh! I am selective, however, about what I want in life, what I want to contribute, and what works for my brain. What works for another person is about their brain and their life. Not mine. So there is nothing to envy. JoLL might work: the joy of a Longevity Lifestyle—because that’s what I’m living. If you can think of others, email me at thebrain@arlenetaylor.org (because it might be several weeks before I have time to check social media sites. After all, I can write a weekday blog or record another audio book or live on social media sites). Smile.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Combat FoMo

What can you do to combat FoMo? After you have answered those seven questions about yourself and FoMo (or other questions those may have triggered), here are a few strategies to consider.

1.      Be honest about the extent to which FoMo is impacting your life and decide if that’s the journey you want to continue living
2.      Learn to be mindfully aware of the moment and enjoy what is happening right now or consciously and creatively deal with it if it’s not what you want to be doing
3.      Decide whether you want to follow the pack or lead the pack; get soaked at the back of the canoe or ride the prow—you may still get wet but the view is spectacular
4.      Set clear guidelines about how you want to spend your time. Are you saying ‘yes’ because you actually want to do that activity or simply because you were asked or are afraid of missing out? Make choices based on their congruence with your Longevity Lifestyle and what is happening for you at the moment
5.      Implement clear boundaries about the use of social personal or professional media sites and the time you spend on technologies—then stick to those boundaries unless a life-and-death situation arises (and that is not what restaurant your best friend went to last night)
6.      Learn to evaluate what is really important and what may be real but relatively unimportant in the big scheme of life. Then make choices with one eye on the moment and the other on how this choice will impact your life down the line

7.      Realize that this is the age of technologies and the genre will only get more and more complex and evolved—so carefully select those that align with your desired goals and lifestyle and then use them in balance

Thursday, December 10, 2015

FoMo - Questions

Ask yourself:

1.      Am I clear that FoMo represents a perception of negativity, deprivation, or loss, all of which are unhelpful mindsets and not part of a Longevity Lifestyle?
2.      Am I clear that each brain differs and that I teach my brain what is rewarding and can reteach it if my out-of-balance reliance on social media is giving me negative consequences now or is likely to in the future?
3.      Am I clear that ‘comparisons are odious’ as the old saying goes and that envy and jealousy can derail me and actually destroy my life?
4.      Do I often wonder if I am ‘missing out’ or am I clear that no one can ‘do it all’ or ‘have it all’ and that I need to be selective for what works for my brain—including developing a relationship with me?
5.      Do I spend so much time on social media sites that I ‘miss out’ on living a balanced Longevity Lifestyle and accomplishing my goals?
6.      Do I connect with others or overspend just to feel included or valuable instead of realizing that my worth is a state of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’?

7.      Do I have my own goals and projects that work for my brain or am I trying to be affirmed or succeed by hanging on to someone else’s coattails, beliefs, or attitudes or by trying to live life vicariously through them?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

FoMo - at Work

FoMo may be equally impactful in the workplace. Results of a study on FoMo (the fear of missing out) by Dr. Andrew Przybylski of the University of Essex, was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour. He looked at a sample of more than 2,000 working Britons aged 18-65. He discovered that FoMo was highest for those individuals who reported they didn’t perceive that their basic psychological needs were being met: feeling engaged, nurtured and acknowledged. Okay, that’s a basic human need. It can be very rewarding when you feel engaged with others, nurtured, and acknowledged by them. That is not a slam-dunk in life, however. First, you learn how to do that for yourself, the only person who will be with you for your entire life. You raise your Emotional Intelligence so you have very realistic expectations of what you actually need from others and what they can give you. You carefully select a few close friendships that are healthily reciprocal in affirming themselves and others—because within about three years you tend to pick up their behaviors. So make sure their behaviors are some you want. Get busy creating and maintaining a Longevity Lifestyle that works for your brain, goals, and objectives for how you want to spend your time on this planet—which goes by very quickly, if you’ve not already figured that out. And you ask yourself some key questions. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

FoMo - Australia

Australia’s first study about FoMo, commissioned by viagogo, 70 per cent of Australians, reported they have experienced FoMo and they’re most likely to be women or members of Gen-Y. What’s the most common cause of FoMo? Missing out on tickets to a sports or musical event (25 percent), hearing a friend has bought property or made a financial investment or got a promotion or new job. (22 percent). And this is startling: Facebook is the worst culprit for triggering this ‘missing out’ phenomenon. Nearly 5,000,000 Australians say they experienced FoMo after using Facebook. Yes, I have a Facebook page (Arlene R. Taylor PhD Brain Function Specialist), which I check every couple weeks or so. When I mentioned that while I was talking about FoMo the other day, the response was: “Well, you got a life.” I laughed so hard I cried. I wouldn’t have a life if I spent more time on social media or trying to keep up with anyone else or failed to choose a balanced Longevity Lifestyle! FoMo is not the type of life I want to live. FoMo can be active not only in one’s personal life but also in the workplace, too. More tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2015

FoMo and the Brain

No doubt you’ve heard of a new phobia known as FoMo – the fear of missing out. And as some of you are laughing, remember that this is a real problem. What does it have to do with the brain? Everything. Because it starts in the brain as does everything else. Claire Cohen has described FoMo as the fear that everyone else is having more fun, more excitement and more rewarding or anecdote-worthy experiences than you. Whether on the school bus or at the far end of the dining table, it’s something we’ve all experienced. But things do seem to be getting out of hand both in personal as well as professional lives, what with descriptions of addictive behaviors related to checking social medial sites almost constantly and sleeping with one’s mobile phone under the pillow just in case someone might call—even a telemarketer. FoMo may be the 21st century equivalent of trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses or Smiths or Whites or Browns or ‘you-fill-in-the-name.’ An interesting FoMo study was done in Australia. More about that in my next blog.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Giraffe Trivia

The giraffe’s height given them an advantage. They are better able to keep a sharp eye out for predators. Their height gives them a disadvantage, too. It is difficult for a giraffe to drink at a water hole, which I watched them do while visiting in Africa. To reach the water they must spread their legs and bend down in quite an awkward position. While drinking, they are more vulnerable to predators such as lions, tigers, and leopards. Fortunately, giraffes only need to drink once every several days, however, as they obtain most of their water from the plant leaves they eat. The female gives birth standing up. Naturally this means that a newborn falls more than five feet to the ground a birth, rather a rude way to come into the world. However, typically they are able to stand within 30 minutes and, if necessary, can run with their mother when they are only 10 hours old. I’ve seen giraffe’s in zoos my whole life. Getting up close and person to a couple of them, however, has given me a new perspective on these gentle giants. It was more fun than I could have imagined!







Thursday, December 3, 2015

Giraffe - All Heart

It's probably more like 'all tongue' although it's a lot about 'all heart,' too. The tallest land mammal on the planet, the giraffe's heart must have special mechanisms to enable it to pump blood up the animal's long neck—with 7 elongated vertebrae—to its head. It’s a formidable task to pump blood at a pressure high enough to flow up the giraffe's neck to their brain. To accomplish this, a giraffe's heart can weigh up to 10 kg or 22 pounds and generate twice the blood pressure of other large mammals. Having enough blood pressure to pump blood to the brain when the giraffe's neck is extended upward is one challenge. Another challenge occurs when a giraffe lowers its head, which could create grave risks due to excessive blood pressure. To counter this, according to the National Geographic, giraffes possess a rete mirabile, so called. It is a pressure-regulating system that restricts the amount of blood that rushes towards the brain when the giraffe lowers its head. I also was able to feed a 14-month old giraffe that was already taller than the platform on which I was standing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kissed by a Giraffe

While spending a few days with my cousin in Southern California, we spent some time at the ‘Living Desert.’ I really enjoyed it—especially getting snuggled by a giraffe, the tallest land mammals on planet earth. This one was an 18 foot tall male with legs about six feet long—longer than I am tall! No wonder they run as fast as 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 10 miles (16 kilometers) an hour over longer distances.). Weighing in at 1800 pounds, he was unbelievably gentle. Standing on a platform some 12-13 feet above the ground, he was still a head taller than me. I fed it carrot sticks and if I didn’t pony up with one promptly enough, it nuzzled my neck (the giraffe, not the carrot stick). Its hair and whiskers are unbelievably soft. It would stick out its long purple, prehensile tongue that can grow up to 21 inches long, trying to reach a carrot stick. It’s tongue felt like delicate sandpaper and gave me the giggles. Thanks to my good friend Len Moors I have some pictures. He found a way to get individual pictures from a little iPhone video. Amazing!





Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Depression and Anxiety, 2

Depression and Anxiety, 2

Taylor was invited to participate in the Australian Healthy Me Summit, a free online program that will air live January 7-17, 2016 (Australian Eastern Time*) on ‘Overcoming Depression and Anxiety.’


Here are three little clips from Taylor’s Skyped interview





For those in the USA and Europe please remember this summit will be released in Australian Eastern Time, so we are a day ahead! You can always use this link to check the time conversion   http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Depression and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression continue to be problematic world-wide. Toward the end of 2013, Caitlin Dewey released global data in the form of a world-map. You might find it interesting to check this out. According to this data, the most depressed country is Afghanistan, where more than one in five people suffer from the disorder. The least depressed is Japan, with a diagnosed rate of less than 2.5 percent.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/07/a-stunning-map-of-depression-rates-around-the-world

Friday, November 27, 2015

More Brain Proverbs

Every culture has its proverbs. Here are examples.

Spanish:
  • He who at thirty has no brains, will never purchase an estate.
  • He who has to deal with a blockhead has need of much brains.
Yiddish:
  • Borrowed brains have no value.
  • When brains are needed, brawn won’t help.
  • Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.
Irish:
  • You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
German:
  • You don't see the brain on one’s forehead.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrate Thanksgiving with a few more brain proverbs. After all, if you choose to have a happy thanksgiving or a lousy thanksgiving you’re right—because everything starts in the brain and it will only do what it thinks it can do. How does it know what to do? You tell it what to do through your mindset and thoughts.

French:           
- A brain is worth little without a tongue.
 Long on hair, short on brains.
 If your brain is made of butter, don’t be a baker

English:
- If the brain sows not corn, it plants thistles.
- Money spent on the brain is never spent in vain.
-   An idle brain is the devil's workshop.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Could Be Better? 2

I remember thinking that my little piano student had a lot of talent. I expected her to excel and at the same time tried to make lessons ‘fun.’ After all, you can be very skilled at an activity and still have fun doing it. Doing well and having fun are not anathema to each other—although you’d think they were the way some approach life. I discovered that after I’d moved away, she had continued with her music lessons, winning every piano competition she entered. Music had changed my life for the better so I could understand her comments about the way in which music had helped her to navigate the maze of growing up and meet challenges that tested her metal. Bottom line: she perceived that those few years we spent together—with the ‘piano’ as the common denominator—made a lasting and positive impact on her life. Driving home I asked myself: What could be better? On this Thanksgiving eve I am grateful for all those who have made a positive impact on my life—and I am delighted when I can ‘pay back’ by ‘paying forward.’ Catching up with my little piano student of yore certainly made a positive difference in my ‘Thanksgiving’ this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Could Be Better?

Do you ever wonder if what you do really makes any difference in the lives of others? Traveling in Southern California recently I had a wonderful experience when I reconnected with a girl (okay, she’s definitely a woman, now!) that I had known in Canada eons ago. (The last century feels like that!) Her mother had been trying to teach her to play the piano—and it wasn’t going well, to put it mildly. Turns out the old-world ‘do it right ethic’ hadn’t clicked in with the ‘have fun while doing it right ethic’ and the girl hated playing the piano. Sensing this, I had offered to give her piano lessons (to lessen the load on her mother, of course) and so we began. Several years later I moved with my family to the United States and lost track of her in the process. So imagine my surprise when we happened to connect at a luncheon meeting. I loved it! We chatted between and around the program items and it was so interesting to hear how this ‘little girl’ had perceived me, a ‘growing-up teenager’ only a decade or so older than she was. More tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Horrible Holiday Headaches!

The end of the year is filled with a mixture of activities, some healthy and some not so healthy: visiting family, seeing friends, celebrating, eating, drinking, traveling, shopping, and you name it--but maybe not so much living in balance and getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, regular meals, and a positive mindset. Some individuals report an increase in headaches and migraine headaches as the holiday season approaches. According to Harvard Medical School, headaches, in many ways, are a reflection of the lives people are leading. For tension headaches, they report that stress is the most common precipitating factor, followed by missed meals, lack of sleep, and fatigue. Migraines have been found to have many of the same triggers. For some individuals, a specific food or additive or even a specific odor can prompt a migraine attack. Think ahead. Make end-of-year activities healthy ones. Keep your life in balance. You just might avoid some of those headaches!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Spine Shrinkage and Back Pain, 2

Researchers wanted to evaluate whether or not work stress make you shorter. A 1-point decrease on a 5-point scale of perceived job control (the degree to which an employee feels free to set his or her pace or change the sequence of tasks) is associated with an additional 1 millimeter of daily spine shrinkage, a phenomenon linked to lower-back pain, According to the abstract, they found that after adjustment for sex, age, body weight, smoking status, biomechanical work strain, and time spent on physical and low-effort activities during the day, lower levels of daily job control significantly predicted increased spinal shrinkage. So, if you perceive your job is stressful, it might be helpful to ‘reframe’ the stress part.


Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol 18(4), Oct 2013, 469-480. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034256

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spine Shrinkage and Back Pain

Does work stress make you shorter? On average, normal spinal shrinkage causes people to lose about 14 millimeters, or 1% of their stature over the course of a day.  This is due to fluid loss from the intervertebral disk. With adequate sleep, they tend to recover their height. Researcher Ivana Igic and two colleagues from the University of Bern in Switzerland, performed an ambulatory field study of daily work stressors, job control, and spinal shrinkage among Swiss office workers to assess daily spine shrinkage, a phenomenon linked to lower-back pain. They wanted to investigate whether spinal shrinkage was greater during workdays compared with nonwork days, if daily work stressors were positively related to spinal shrinkage, and whether or not job control was negatively related to spinal shrinkage. The study involved 2 consecutive weeks with 512 days of observation of 39 office employees. Results tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Heteronym or Heterophone


I enjoy heteronyms. A heteronym or a heterophone, as you probably already know, is a word that is written identically to another word but which has a different pronunciation and meaning. Here are a few of my favorites:
·         The weather was beginning to affect her affect.
·         He was an advocate for hiring someone to advocate for them.
·         A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
·         They were too close to the door to close it.
·         Please do not desert me here in the desert!
·         Do you know what a buck does to does?
·         The dove dove into the bushes when it was startled.
·         How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
·         The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

·         I’m sure he could lead if he would just get the lead out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stigma of Child Obesity

Would you like to help your child avoid the stigma of obesity? Create and maintain a Longevity Lifestyle. Get your own brain, body, and weight in the game and keep it there. Studies have shown that obesity does tend to stigmatize a child and not much has changed during the last 40 years. In 1961, Mickey Stunkard, an obesity research veteran, showed children drawings of healthy disabled and obese children and asked how much they liked them. The obese drawings were liked least of all. In 2001 the experiment was repeated and obese children were liked even less than before. Children observe their parents—even when it doesn’t look like they are watching. What you ‘say’ is not nearly as impactful as what you ‘do’ yourself. Do your child a favor and role-model your optimum weight. Your child will likely follow your lead and by maintaining an optimum weight, also be more likely to avoid serious illnesses such as diabetes type 2 and 3 and/or a shortened lifespan.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mindset, Perception, and Success

Dr. Steven Campbell recently had this little piece in one of his newsletters. Most people could likely apply this in some way to his or life. The story is as follows.

A little boy came home one day from school and gave a paper to his mother. “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.” His mother’s eyes teared up as she read the letter to her child: "Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself." Many years after his mother had died and this little boy had grown, he was looking through old family things in her desk. When he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer, it read, “Your son is addled. We won’t let him come to school anymore.” That little boy was Thomas Edison, the genius of the 20th Century. He had always been so, but his genius came to the world because of one person—his mother—who believed in him enough to teach him how to believe in himself. Years later, when a reporter from the New York Times asked Edison how it felt to fail 999 times as he looked for the filament of a light bulb, he answered, “I did not fail 999 times! I simply found 999 ways that did not work!”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Neurons in Your Gut, 5

Because of these two ‘brains.’ the one in your head and the one in your gut, it’s no surprise that there is a direct relationship between emotional stress and physical distress. Another mechanism that lends credence to physiology as the source of intestinal dysfunctions is the system of mast cells in the gut that have an important role in immune response. During stress, trauma, or fight or flight reactions, brain neurons call for more immune surveillance and mast cells in the wall of the GI system are activated. These mast cells release histamines and other inflammatory agents, mobilizing the enteric nervous system to expel the perceived intruders, which can cause diarrhea. According to Dr. Mawe, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Vermont, In animals, inflammation makes the sensory neurons in the gut fire more often, causing a kind of sensory hyperactivity. He is reported to have said, “I have a theory that some chronic disorders may be caused by something like attention deficit disorder in the gut.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Neurons in Your Gut, 4

 Several studies seem to substantiate that gut neurons form an underlying contributor to conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. Michael Gershon, MD, neurobiologist at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, has pointed out that antidepressants such as SSRIs, when used in doses too low to treat depression, have been found effective immediately in helping to resolve symptoms in IBS patients. A study by Robert M. Stern, a professor of psychology at Penn State (the results published in the journey ‘Neurogastroenterology and Motility’) found that biofeedback helped people consciously increase and enhance their gastrointestinal activity. They used brain neurons to help the gut neurons. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Neurons in Your Gut, 3

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is estimated to impact 20% of Americans with symptoms that include abdominal pain and loose stool, affects 20% of Americans. Dr. Gershon indicates that many doctors dismiss the severity of IBS and/or attribute it to psychoneurosis because they don't know exactly what it is. Gary M. Mawe, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Vermont, has pointed out that the GI tracts of people with IBS look essentially normal. The default assumption has been that IBS is a psychosomatic disease. It turns out that IBS, like depression, is partly a function of changes in the serotonin system: too much serotonin rather than too little. Typically, when working properly, serotonin is released into the gut and initiates an intestinal reflex. Then it is removed from the bowel by a molecule known as the serotonin transporter, or SERT, found in the cells that line the gut wall. People with IBS have insufficient amounts of SERT so they have too much serotonin floating around in the bowl, which triggers diarrhea. The excess serotonin then overwhelms the receptors in the gut, shutting them down and triggering constipation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Neurons in Your Gut, 2

A sense of butterflies in your stomach can result from a surge of stress hormones released during a fight-or-flight event. According to Dr. Gershon, author of The Second Brain, you feel like there are butterflies in your stomach when brain neurons send a message of anxiety to gut neurons. The gut neurons then send messages back up to the brain that it’s unhappy, too. But gut neurons can work on their own, initiating messages that go up to brain neurons when the GI system isn’t happy. Serotonin also acts as a go-between, keeping brain neurons up to date with what is happening in gut neurons—with perhaps 90% of the messages traveling from gut neurons up to brain neurons. Conditions such as anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and Parkinson's disease evidence symptoms both at brain neuron and gut neuron levels. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Neurons in Your Gut

It began with researchers finding ‘neurons’ in the gastrointestinal or GI system, perhaps a million or more. Then the estimate was revised upwards to maybe 200-600 million. Hmm-m-m. Now it appears that there may be as many neurons in your gut as you have in your brain. These gut neurons look like those in the brain in hour head, eat the same neurotrophic food, and use many of the same neurotransmitters. Estimates are that 90-95% of all the serotonin in your entire body lives in your gut. The serotonin helps trigger digestion and collaborates with the immune system to protect you from undesirable microorganisms. Neurons also utilize serotonin to send signals up to the brain in your head, information that can impact your desire to eat or not to eat.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Think with Your Heart, 2


Researchers now believe that you ‘think’ with our heart. Because the heart is a subconscious organ, however, it must communicate with the brain in order for you to become ‘consciously aware’ of what your heart is thinking. Your heart and brain neurons communicate continually through what has been called an unmediated channel (described as having no valves or governers). As with your brain, your heart can be happy, angry, fearful, or sad. Without even knowing about neurons in the heart, poets and writers have written about how this organ thinks and feels. The English language (and likely all others) even has euphemistic phrases to describe how the heart thinks and feels: heartache, heartbreak, broken heart, anguished heart, heart-felt, generous heart, burden on my heart, hard heart, soft heart, no heart, pounding heart, trembling heart, lighthearted, heartburn, and so on.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Think with Your Heart

It was once believed that neurons lived only in your brain and in the central and peripheral nervous tissue. Now it is know that there are neurons in many places throughout your body. In your heart, for example; that organ about the size of your fist that keeps blood pumping to your brain, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your neurons. Once thought to contain only muscle cells, researchers have found that your heart contains neurons, as well, 40,000 plus. They look like those in your brain, eat the same type of neurotrophic food, use the same neurotransmitters, are probably supported and assisted by glial cells—and ‘think.’ Admittedly, it’s a new way of perceiving functions of the heart. According to Sir Ken Robinson, stories can reach and educate both heart and mind. No wonder eloquent and often beloved writers and speakers tend to use 'stores' as their basic communication medium.

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Think with Your Brain, 3

No surprise, there is an entire retinue of supporting cells to help care for your neurons. Known as glial cells, there may be 6 glia for every neurons, concentrations varying in differing parts of the brain. Some neurons have 9 glia each. These personal assistants manufacture the myelin that covers many of the axons and which allows communication to occur much more quickly. (When something causes deterioration of the myelin a variety of problems can arise such as those seen in Multiple Sclerosis.) The glial cells also prepare food for the neurons, neurotrophins. They help maintain homeostasis (balance) among the neurons and provide support and protection for them in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. It’s beginning to appear that glial cells can be found almost anywhere in the brain and body where neurons reside.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Think with Your Brain, 2

In general, neurons do not undergo cell division—except perhaps for cells in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. So you have what you have and they need to last your entire life. That’s one reason for making careful choices about how to take care of these vital cells. Although protected by your bony skull, neurons can be easily damaged. Blunt trauma, for example, can break off some of the axons, interfering with the transmission of information. That’s part of the controversy about some types of sports that can damage these delicate but vital cells. Pugilistic Parkinson’s is one example of problems that can arise from some types of sports. Wear a helmet when doing any type of sport or activity that might result in an injury to your head. A broken bone often heals ‘as good as new.’ A broken ‘head’ rarely does. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t, never start. Be careful about breathing in side smoke from tobacco products or from vehicle exhaust. Stay alert and avoid falls—a huge cause of head injuries and often of deteriorating brain function.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Think with Your Brain

You can think because of neurons in your brain; cells that have a propensity to exchange information with each other. Researchers believe these neurons talk to each other almost constantly using electrical and chemical transmission. Sometimes you are aware of their chatter at a conscious level, but much more often they are communicating at a subconscious level. The brain contains an estimated 86 billion neurons, give or take a few billion. About 1.3 billion are in the cerebral cortex or gray matter, while 69 billion are in the cerebellum. You may recall from high school biology that a neuron has a cell body or soma and a relatively large axon projecting from the cell body that allows information to leave the neuron. Depending on your height, some of these axons (the ones going down to your big toe, for example) can be a meter or more in length. Each neuron also has many tiny filaments projecting from the cell body called dendrites. These little finger-like projections absorb information and put it into the cell so you can 'think' about it. In some forms of mental retardation, it is believed that the neurons have insufficient or malformed numbers of dendrites. So the neuron can be exposed to information but it isn't absorbed and pulled into the neuron.


 
 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 4

Especially as holidays seasons approach, make an informed choice based on the risks you are willing to take, as researchers have identified multiple ways that alcohol may increase the risk of cancer, including:

  •  metabolizing (breaking down) ethanol in alcoholic drinks to acetaldehyde, a  toxic chemical that can damage DNA
  •  generating chemically reactive molecules that contain oxygen, which can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats) through a process called oxidation
  • Impairing the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of micro nutrients
  • Increasing blood levels of estrogen, a sex hormone linked to the risk of breast cancer
  • Containing a variety of carcinogenic contaminants such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 3


In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Epidemiologic research shows that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have much greater risks of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx (throat), larynx, and esophagus than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone. In fact, for oral and pharyngeal cancers, the risks associated with using both alcohol and tobacco are multiplicative; that is, they are greater than would be expected from adding the individual risks associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco together. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link, 2

Studies have also linked the consumption of alcohol with an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer was found to be higher across all levels of alcohol intake. For every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink or 3.5 ounces of wine), researchers observed a seven (7) percent increase in the risk of breast cancer. The Million Women Study in the United Kingdom, which included more than 28,000 women with breast cancer, provided a slightly higher estimate of breast-cancer risk at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption: every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day was associated with a twelve (12) percent increase in the risk of  cancer.
Cancers fall into the category of chronic diseases and chronic diseases all impact the brain in some way or another. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cancer-Alcohol Link

Based on extensive reviews of research studies have shown that there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between drinking alcohol and cancer. Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and the development of cancers including:
·         head and neck
·         Esophageal
·         Liver
·         Breast cancer
·         Colorectal cancer - Alcohol consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.  A meta-analysis of 57 cohort and case-control studies that examined the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk found that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink or 3.5 ounces of wine), there was a seven (7) percent increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cancer and Wine

Studies suggest that the resveratrol contained in red wines may be protective against some forms of heart disease. Unless it’s a non-alcoholic red wine, getting resveratrol from grapes, raspberries, and peanuts might be a preferred option since studies now indicate that ingesting alcohol increases one’s risk for cancer. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 defines moderate alcohol drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. What does a ‘drink’ mean? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

12 ounces of beer
8 ounces of malt liquor
5 ounces of wine  
1.5 ounces or a ‘shot’ of 80-proof liquor

Friday, October 23, 2015

Autism and Brain Seizures, 2

Using the new-generation of EEG technology developed by Harvard University, Aditi Shankardass PhD reports that nearly 50% of the children previously diagnosed with autism are found to be suffering from some degree of brain seizure activity that is undetectable to the eye. In some cases, these seizures are the cause of the child's autism-like symptoms. In other cases, these seizures are not causal, but coexistent to autism and are exacerbating the child's symptoms. And in a few cases, the seizures are mild and possibly unrelated to, or a consequence of, the child's symptoms. In the cases where these seizures are the cause of the symptoms, once the seizures have been detected and treated, the level and speed of recovery in the children has been remarkable. Dr. Shankardass indicates that “these EEG scans are enabling a more accurate diagnoses and more targeted treatments… hundreds of children, who were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by the system, are realizing their full potential while there their brains can still recover.”