Friday, May 29, 2015

Israeli Sayings

The State of Israel has been known by that name since 1948. But down through the centuries the territory has been known by a variety of appellations, including Judea, Samaria, Southern Syria, Palestine, Canaan, and the Holy Land, to name just a few.

  • A slave shows his true character, not while he is enslaved but when he becomes a master
  • Never approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side
  • If there is bitterness in the heart, sugar in the mouth won't make life sweeter
  • We do not see things the way they are but as we are
  • When you are hungry, sing; when you are hurt, laugh
  • What you do not see with your eyes, never invent with your mouth

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Russian Proverbs

Growing up, the little I knew about Russia came from the music of Russian composers and stories about Siberia. Oh yes, and the Tzar’s amazing Fabergé Easter eggs.

  • Absentmindedness is searching for the horse you are riding
  • A fly cannot enter a closed mouth
  • Happiness is not a horse; you cannot harness it
  • If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one
  • If you don't have time to do it right you must have time to do it over
  • Take your thoughts to bed with you, for the morning is wiser than the evening

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Persian Proverbs

In childhood, for some reason I was fascinated by ‘Persia’ (now known as Iran). Cyrus the Great [c. 600 - c. 530 BC] reportedly was the son of a Persian father and a Median mother. Eventually, Cyrus combined Media and Persia into the Medo-Persian Empire, even conquering Babylon.

  • Do well the little things now; so shall great things come to you by and by asking to be done
  • The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries—write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust
  • Whatever is in the heart will rise up to the tongue
  • You cannot polish a turd
  • One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it
  • All go down to their death bearing in their hands only that which they have given away

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mexican Wise Words

The United States of Mexico shares a very large Southern border with the United States of America (as does Canada on the Northern side). For years I thought of the USA as the ‘sandwich filling.’

  • A gilded cage is still a cage
  • All time spent angry is time lost being happy.
  • If you build a wall around your suffering it may devour you from the inside
  • Remember that every tic-toc tic-toc of the clock is a second of life that goes by and never repeats itself
  • Although a monkey may be dressed in silk—it’s still a monkey
  • Do good and don't worry to whom

Monday, May 25, 2015

Trick of the Eye and the Brain

Recently I received several questions about Trompe l’oeil, so I decided to revisit that topic. Easy to do because it’s a favorite of mine. I enjoy almost anything about the brain and this is about the brain. The question is: does your eye really see what is actually there? Although you are certain it does, maybe not. Trompe l'œil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create optical illusions that the objects or landscapes depicted are three dimensional. Many of them actually exist on a flat surface, however. (You may have seen this in some sidewalk murals.) Dating from before the Baroque period, murals from Greek and Roman times were known to exist in places such as Pompeii, where a typical trompe l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a much larger room. There is an old Greek story that purports a contest between two renowned painters: Zeuxis (born around 464 BC) and Parrhasius, a rival artist. Zeuxis produced a still life painting so convincing that birds flew down to peck at the painted grapes. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to judge one of his (Parhasius’) paintings that was behind a pair of tattered curtains in his study. Parrhasius asked Zeuxis to pull back the curtains, but when Zeuxis tried, he could not, because the curtains were Parrhasius’s painting. Of course, that made Parrhasius the winner. More tomorrow.

African Proverbs

The other day I stumbled across proverbs and wise sayings reported to be from several different countries. Some are funny, some sad. All are thought-provoking in their own way. It’s interesting, also, the way a similar idea surfaces in different cultures, often using a slightly different metaphor. Since “A” comes first in the alphabet, we’ll start with African Proverbs. I have thoroughly enjoyed every trip to Africa, especially getting to experience Victoria Falls—something that was on my bucket list since I was a little girl.

·         If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never spent the night with a mosquito
·         A family is like a forest: when you are outside it is dense; when you are inside you see that each tree has its place

·         A happy man marries the one he loves; a happier man loves the one he marries

Friday, May 22, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 5

Add watching more than 1 hour of TV per day to decreased physical work and play outdoors (compared to half a century ago) and to increased intake of fast foods and sodas and it’s no wonder that the entire world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. So what can adults do? Shut off the TV except for up to 1 hour of healthy programming. Increase indoor and outdoor physical activity. Since no link was found between use of a computer and unhealthy body weights, encourage appropriate computer usage. There are many brain-stimulating games available on iPads and computers. Play games with the children. It’ll be good for your brain, too. And get serious about role-modeling healthy eating and portion control and staying active. Remember, kids tend to copy what they see you do. And, yes, do dump sodas and sugars and chips…

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 4

Bottom line? Watching even 1 hour of television per day increases a child’s risk for obesity. The study author Mark D. DeBoer, M.D., M.Sc., M.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Virginia, reportedly said, “Given overwhelming evidence connecting the amount of time TV viewing and unhealthy weight, pediatricians and parents should attempt to restrict childhood TV viewing.” He also commented that although the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended limiting children and teens to less than two hours of TV screen time each day, in light of the study results, 2 hours may be too much. I found it of great interest that the study analysis identified no link between computer use and unhealthy body weights. [I am interested in reasons for this finding. Is it because computer use doesn’t advertise foods and beverages as much as does TV or because much of watching TV involves primarily ‘passive’ mental imaging or …..?] Part 4 tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Child Obesity and TV, 3

Results of the study evaluating a link between childhood obesity and watching television were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS).Key findings included:

  • Kindergarten and first grade children who watched as little as 1 hour of TV every day were 50%-60% more likely to be overweight and 58% to 73% more likely to be obese when compared to those children who watched less than1 hour.

  • Children who watched 1 or more hours of TV daily were 39% more likely to become overweight and 86% more likely to become obese between kindergarten and first grade

Monday, May 18, 2015

Child Obesity and TV

The second study I found fascinating involved an analysis of the relationship between watching TV and weight status in kindergarten and first-grade children. In the past, studies have shown that watching a lot of TV increases a child’s risk for being overweight. The studies had not evaluated a specific link between the amount of time spent watching TV and obesity among kindergarten children. You probably already know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children watch less than 2 hours of TV on a daily basis. However, guidelines most conducive to a healthy weight status in children were not identified. Therefore, researchers decided to do a study that might help to set a benchmark—if a clear link was identified. (Oops. Time to get up for 2 minutes of fast walking on my treadmill!) More tomorrow.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sitting-Longevity Link, 4

Based on analysis of the study, researchers recommended including at least 2 minutes of walking after each hour of sitting. This, naturally, is in addition to your normal physical activity which, they point out, should include 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. People often ask me if I get that much exercise every week. Generally, yes. I begin almost every day with 20 minutes of brisk walking (because according to Candace B. Pert, PhD, that not only helps to boot up the brain-body systems but also helps the body burn fat all day). Adding 2 minutes walking on my treadmill for every hour of sitting, usually takes me well over the 2.5 hours. Maybe not on long 14-hour flights, but I may be able to walk in place in the aisle for 2 minutes every hour . . .

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sitting-Longevity Link, 3

Srinivasan Beddhu, MD, of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, reportedly found the results interesting, “…because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity. To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing."

I used to stand periodically when doing computer work, alternating standing as a compensation for so much sitting. Now I’m on board with walking (gardening? not so much; cleaning? only if absolutely necessary!)—even if I have to set the timer to remind myself that an hour has flown by and I need to do 2 minutes on my treadmill! It’s just amazing how time flies when I’m doing something I really enjoy such as writing . . .   Part 4 tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sitting-Longevity Link, 2

Researchers have found a link between too much sitting and longevity. They reported:

·         Simply standing more often may not be sufficient to offset the down-side of sitting too much
·         Those who are primarily sedentary for more than half of their day can boost their longevity by engaging in short bursts of light-intensity activities (e.g., walking, cleaning, gardening)
·         Trading two minutes of sitting for two minutes of light-intensity activity each hour lowered the risk of premature death in research participants by 33%.

Bottom line? Getting up and walking for two minutes every hour could help reverse the negative health effects from prolonged sitting. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sitting-Longevity Link

Earlier this year I shared data related to the link between too much sitting and overweight and obesity. There are concerns that Americans (as well as many from other countries, as well) are becoming an overweight and obese population that is doing too much sitting. A couple interesting studies have been reported since then. Turns out that too much sitting is linked with more than overweight and obesity. It is being linked with longevity, as well. In the first study, researchers wanted to evaluate the impact of replacing sedentary behavior with low-intensity activity (e.g., standing) versus light-intensity activities (e.g., walking). They analyzed data from 3243 participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study participants were followed for three years. Study conclusions were published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and provide some helpful guidelines. More tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Eye Health and Lutein

Macular degeneration runs in my family so I am proactive about eye health. Enter lutein, a carotenoid vitamin related to beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Often thought of as the eye vitamin, lutein is one of two major carotenoids found in the retina of the human eye. It may function as a light filter, protecting the eye tissues from sunlight damage. Consequently, some recommend lutein as a preventative for macular degeneration and possibly cataracts, as well. (It may also play a role in helping to prevent colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.) Many foods are rich in lutein including: broccoli, spinach, kale, zucchini, squash, and grapes. Typically, I add ¼ cup frozen raw green kale to my breakfast smoothie, and usually accompany this with fresh avocado mashed on multi-grain and seed sourdough toast (as the fat in the avocado may help with the absorption of lutein). I also wear sunglasses during daytime hours when I am outside.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Food Porn and the Brain, 5

Human beings tend to end up in the places they spend time thinking about and often with the people on which they focus their thoughts, attention, and desires. Every thought you think alters your brain’s neurochemistry—in positive and helpful ways or in negative and unhelpful ways. My concern is that food porners may eventually ingest more and more of the food porn they feed on mentally. Individuals habituated to pornography tend to discover that real life doesn’t live up to the picture and may find dissatisfaction in the effort it takes to maintain quality in real life relationships. Down the line, food porners may discover that real life never lives up to the picture, either, and may be less satisfied with what they do eat or gravitate toward eating the foods that trigger their brain reward system—risking declining health and increasing weight in the future, with all the problems those conditions can bring.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Food Porn and the Brain, 4

Porn versus porn? You can always find individuals who argue for the benefits of pornography, just as you can find others to argue for the downsides. Through the use of pornography, some people develop unrealistic expectations of real life sex or sexual partners and/or devote less time and energy to developing solid rewarding relationships (as a relationship with a picture is less demanding and can be more quickly rewarding). There are similar concerns about the long-term impact of food porn. Salivating and drooling over a picture happens in your brain, while selecting, preparing, and eating healthier food is much more demanding and may be less rewarding—especially if you have taught your brain reward system to light up when thinking about or imagining or looking at or eating less healthy foods. Part 5 tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Food Porn and the Brain, 3

Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, the top 12 foods identified by University of Michigan researchers as most likely to trigger addictive-like behaviors were:
1.      Pizza
2.      Chocolate
3.      Chips
4.      Cookies
5.      Ice cream
6.      French fries
  7. Cheese burgers
  8. Sodas
  9. Cake
10. Cheese
11. Bacon
12. Chicken

Researchers found that the brain reward system of study participants fired up when the individuals thought about, pictured, looked at, or ate these types of foods. Researchers also discovered that during a period of six months, participants who choose to change this pattern were able to do so. At the end of six months, the brain reward system no longer lit up with the unhealthier foods and did fire up when participants thought about, pictured, looked at, or ate healthier substitution foods (e.g., sweet potatoes instead of French fries). Many of the foods food porners report drooling over can be found on the list of top 12 foods most likely to trigger addictive-like behaviors. This means that they are, in effect, training the brain reward system to crave such foods. Part 4 tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Food Porn and the Brain, 2

“Could I become addicted to food porn?” My response to that question is probably. Your brain reward system pushes you toward behaviors that trigger the release of dopamine, adrenalin, or whatever other brain chemicals help you feel better. And you train your brain reward system to a large degree. Food addiction per se, is not yet a recognized medical diagnosis—that may happen sooner than later, however, since food triggers the same brain reward system as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, gambling, sugar, and you name it . . .  Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, University of Michigan researchers ranked foods from ‘most problematic’ to ‘least problematic’ in terms of triggering addictive-like behaviors. They plotted the names of these foods on a scale of 1 (least likely to trigger addictive-like behaviors) to 7 (most likely to trigger addictive-like behaviors). Part 3 tomorrow.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Brain-Body Foods

Consider these foods to promote brain-body health:

Apples, organic (high soluble fiber, helps maintain good blood-glucose levels)
Asparagus (high fiber, lycopene for prostate health)
Blueberries (high fiber, antioxidants, and manganese)
Broccoli (high fiber, antioxidants)
Butternut squash (high fiber, Vitamin C, beta-carotene for eye health)
Fava beans (high fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals)
Kale, green * (high fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein for eye health)
Oats, old fashioned or steel-cut (high-fiber, protein, and minerals)
Olives, olive oil (cold pressed)
Quinoa (complete protein)

* Try the Pasta ‘n Kale Salad recipe on my website –