Monday, February 24, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mental Picturing, 1

The human brain thinks in pictures. A thought is really just an internal mental picture. Visualizing is another name for the process of forming pictures in your mind’s eye. Robert Collier put it this way: “Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin.” You “see” what you want to accomplish in your mind’s eye. The subconscious mind doesn’t use language, per se, but it can follow the picture that the words create. Because the subconscious is much more powerful than the conscious mind, the subconscious pushes you toward your mental blueprint. It is important to see what you want to have happen and speak positively about it. That goes back to Dr. Daniel Wegner’s “White bear phenomenon.” If you say, “Don’t think about the white bear,” a representation of a white bear goes into working memory and you think about it even more. Never picture what you do not want and only see and speak positively about what you want to have happen. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 3

You train your brain by your self-talk style: positively or negatively. It is important do use positive words because your words are converted into pictures that the subconscious can follow, since it doesn’t use language, per se. If you say, “Don’t touch the stove,” a picture of touching the stove pops up, and the brain may follow that picture. “Keep your hand away from the stove” is more likely to get the desired result  “Remember your homework,” is more effective than “Don’t forget your homework.” You’ve no doubt heard on TV or billboards,  “Don’t forget to vote.” “Remember to vote,” would likely be much more effective. Estimates are that most people grew up hearing 7-10 negative comments or instructions for every positive.  People’s brains are filled with negative-comment tapes. No wonder people keep repeating old negative patterns of behavior. The subconscious doesn’t seem to understand the word “no,” either. It wants a yes! So, use “yes” plus a qualifier. “Yes, you may have a healthier cookie after you finish lunch.” Just keep repeating that as many times as you need to for the brain to “get it” and stop asking for a sugary treat right now.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 2

Studies have shown that the brain responds better to a specific communication style. The formula: speak in short, present-tense sentences as if what you want to have happen is already a done deal. Your brain tends to get in gear to help you if it believes this is a “now happening,” and not something down the line in the future. Use your given name so your brain known who you are talking to. For example, “Joe, this presentation is going well. You are remembering what you need to say.” Or, “Janice, you are drinking a glass of water before each meal.” If you say, “Janice, you are going to drink a glass of water before each meal,” the brain recognizes that as future tense and is likely to think:  “That is then and this is now. When then is now—if you still want to develop that habit—I will help you. Based on past experience, however, by the time you then becomes now you’ll likely have forgotten all about this. Just imagine all the time and energy, I, your brain, will have saved.” You are the only one who can program your brain positively for success. What are you waiting for? Time is passing. Embrace a new self-talk communication style. Consistently choose to think and speak affirmingly to help you be successful in living a high-level-healthiness lifestyle and age-proof your brain. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Self-talk, 1

What is self-talk? Simply what you tell yourself silently or aloud. Studies suggest that most people talk to themselves internally almost continually every waking moment. What self-talk style is your habit? Are you using positive can-do statements or negative failure statements? Are you imagining the worst in life or the best? The subconscious mind that includes your entire body and 80 percent of your brain is very powerful—more powerful than your conscious mind. The subconscious is also highly receptive to simple, positive statements (often referred to as affirmations), so use that information to your advantage. Program your subconscious with positive self-talk. That doesn’t mean you pretend that bad things never happen. It does mean you address the issue and then speak affirmingly—to yourself and to others. Affirmation is not a magic wand for unrealistic expectations. For example, if you are 5 feet tall, saying, “You are 6 feet tall” will just make your brain chuckle and think “dream on or buy stilts!” More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mindset, 2

Every thought you think is a health-relevant event that moves you toward or away from high-level-healthiness living; toward or away from health; toward or away from happiness and life satisfaction; toward or away from potential longevity. A negative mindset can drain your energy, decrease self-esteem levels, increase anxiety and depression, suppress immune system function, and trigger the release of stress hormones that can adversely impact your brain and body over time. Although thoughts do drive behaviors, thoughts are still just thoughts and you have the power to change them if you choose to do so. Jon Gordon wrote about it in his book Become an Energy Addict: “Think positively about the day ahead and you increase your mental and physical energy.” When you identify a negative thought, choose to change it into a positive one. Look for the silver lining in every situation  because there is one, just like the rainbow after the rain. You cannot prevent everything you would like to avoid, but you can choose how you respond to that event and how you manage it. Go for a growth mindset!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Mindset, 1

Everything begins in the brain—with a thought. This is not “new news,” however. Marcus Antonius has been quoted as saying “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” That goes for your health, wellbeing, and potential lifespan, as well. In her book, Mindset, Carol S. Dweck, PhD, explains that people with a fixed mindset believe that who they are is basically carved in stone. Thus, they tend to interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, feel worthless, unlucky, often hopeless and helpless, and often give up. Those with a growth mindset believe that they can acquire almost any needed skill provided they invest effort and study. Even though they face challenges, growth-mindset people refrain from putting themselves down or   throwing in the proverbial towel. They just keep on building their skills and practicing. Having a growth mindset tells you that you can develop your skills—it’s still up to you whether you want to do that. It can help you live a less stressful and more successful life. Most children are already developing a growth or a fixed mindset by the ages of four to six. Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? Think about it. If you have a fixed mindset, you can change it. If you have a growth mindset, that can help you implement strategies to age-proof your brain. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Perspective, 2

Dump Gerontophobia: the fear of aging and of losing your brain functions, including loss of memory. Identify and examine your perspectives about brain function and getting older. Embrace: Growing older is part of the cycle of life and there are benefits at every stage—the best is yet to be. Think: Living is a privilege and I am fortunate to be doing so, especially since many are denied the opportunity. Do you see the glass of your life half empty or full to overflowing? Speaking of the glass half empty, in their book The Art of Possibility, authors Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander wrote: Those who say the glass is half empty are dealing with a mental abstraction of emptiness and lack. The optimist is describing a measure of physical reality, a substance that is actually in the glass. And since today is Valentine’s Day, there is no better time to take a look as the perspectives you have absorbed since early childhood about aging and the brain. There is no better gift you can give to yourself and to those who love you than this: Get busy age-proofing your brain!

(For more information see “Age-Proofing Your Brain” by Taylor and Briggs.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Perspective, 1

In one of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s presentations, he was quoted as saying: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. This is a more profound statement than many realize. Many suffer from Gerontophobia¾a negative perspective about the process of growing older.  Your perspective will impact your process of growing older. Dr. Ken Dychtwald, author of Age Wave, challenged his readers to uncover their beliefs about aging. For example, do you believe that life is hard and then you die? That can contribute to both anger and fear. Do you believe that young is good and stimulating and old is bad and boring? That can contribute to sadness and depression. Do you believe that brain decline associated with getting older can often be slowed if not prevented and even reversed to some degree? If so, you may be very motivated to increase your knowledge and applying on a daily basis. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Knowledge, 2

The brain can keep only one thought or tasks at a time in working memory. This means that the brain was not designed to multitask effectively. Multitasking involves rapidly alternating shifts of attention from one task to another. Sanjay Gupta MD points out that likely you aren’t actually doing multiple tasks at exactly the same time. You’re just diverting your attention from one part of your brain to another part, which takes time and resources. This can not only fatigue your brain but can increase your risk for making mistakes. Whenever possible, focus on one task to completion, and then work on another one. To save time and brain energy, if you need to get something from another room, say aloud what you are going to get in the other room as you pass through a doorway. This helps keep that thought in working memory. Otherwise, your brain will likely implement its “event boundary” and wipe working memory clean as it passes through a doorway.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain – Knowledge, 1

Your knowledge level about the brain and how it functions—what you know or don’t know and how you apply it—profoundly impacts your brain’s health. Knowledge can be defined as information, facts, and skills you acquire through education and through personal experience. However, knowledge must be applied on a daily basis to make a difference in your brain and your life. What are some key pieces of knowledge that can help you implement practical strategies that work for you? Here are a few.

1.   Regardless of race, gender, or culture, human brains are more alike than they are different. Brains are the same color regardless of the skin tones on the body that houses the brain. However, every thought you think changes the structure of your brain so no two brains are exactly alike. There is not another brain on the planet that is identical to yours so honor yours and avoid continually comparing with the brains of others. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Age-Proofing Your Brain

I’ve heard you speak about age-proofing the brain and I need some tips! Alzheimer’s runs in my family and I’m scared. So does dementia. Can you help me?

First of all, I empathize with your concerns about your brain since dementia appears to run in your family, Alzheimer’s being one type of dementia. Studies have shown that there are steps you can take to help prevent some types of dementia (due to failure to stimulate and challenge the brain on a regular basis, for example) and to slow the onset of development of some other types. I can share some strategies with you. However, you are the only person who can do it for you—the only person who can actually build these strategies into your daily life. Can everything negative be prevented? Of course not. But recognize that genetics is believed to contribute only about 30 percent to how well and how long you live. Epigenetics (everything that impacts you except genetics), including your lifestyle, contribute at least 70 percent to how well and how long you live. More than half of all the factors that impact aging are within your partial if not complete control. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Brain & Native Language, 2

The girls who were Chinese native speakers and the girls who were adopted from Chinese mothers into French families, showed (by fMRI) activation in a portion of the brain crucial for processing sounds (the left superior temporal gyrus). Girls adopted from Chinese mothers into French families showed activation in the left superior temporal gyrus — an area crucial for processing sounds — that was identical to that of the Chinese native speakers. The French speakers, who were not sensitive to tones in the same way as Chinese speakers, showed activation in the right superior temporal gyrus. According to the researchers, the similarity between Chinese adoptees and Chinese speakers illustrates that early acquired language information is maintained in the brain and that early experiences unconsciously influence neural processing for years, if not indefinitely. Based on the conclusions of this study, my guess it that you would have an advantage in learning to speak Chinese now.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Brain & Native Language

I was an orphan in China and was adopted by a French family early in my life. Do you think my brain remembers anything about the Chinese language? Could I learn to speak Chinese more easily if I started studying it now?

The results of a study led by Lara Pierce and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has provided some interesting conclusions. Three groups were studied: a group born and raised speaking only French; girls who were adopted from Chinese families and stopped speaking any Chinese and learned to speak French; and bilingual girls who spoke both Chinese and French. Study participants listened to fragments of Chinese as their brains were scanned using fMRI. The brain activation pattern of the adopted Chinese who totally discontinued the language, matched the same brain activation pattern as those who had continued speaking Chinese since birth. The brain pattern in the group of French-speaking girls only, was very different. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Brain & Air Quality, 3

What can be done? In addition to toxic fumes carried in the air, poor air quality due to particles in the Personally, I drive a hybrid vehicle to do my part to reduce emissions. Some people have no easy option in terms of where they live. Others can relocate off a busy highway or more than a quarter of a mile from a freeway. I also carry a N95 particulate respirator (mask) with me in the car and if I am driving through a dust storm or smoke, I put it on. Part of the problem is that particles in the air take up space that oxygen molecules would ordinarily occupy. Therefore, the brain is slightly anoxic—which, of course, diminishes the amount of oxygen the brain can receive with each breath. It’s a global problem and one person cannot solve it. But one person can do something and cumulatively, that can make a positive difference. Do what you can do! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Brain & Air Quality, 2

In a new study, Beckwith and colleagues naturally took into consideration known factors that could influence brain development (e.g., maternal IQ, neighborhood poverty level). They found that children exposed to the highest pollution levels had thinner cortexes compared to those with little pollution exposure. This corroborates earlier findings that showed exposure to high levels of traffic-related pollution tend to perform poorly on standardized tests. Darby Jack, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, reportedly said that Beckwith’s research tended to reinforce earlier study findings. It was noted that although children living in areas with high pollution tend to be poorer than those who get to breathe clean air, brain imaging showed that only specific brain areas appear to be affected, suggesting that this is due to pollution and not simply poverty. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Brain & Air Quality

I don’t know if you have blogged about this before or not, but I am really concerned about hearing that the quality of air a child breathes can negatively impact brain development. So, what can be done?

The report of a research project led by Travis Beckwith was released this month on this topic and it does give one pause. Beckwith and colleagues did MRI scans on 135 children participating in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study, or CCAAPS. Exposure to air pollution for each child was estimated using data from an air sampling network that included 27 sites in the Cincinnati area. Participants were evaluated at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 12. At age 12, the children were assessed on reading ability, executive function, mental health, intelligence, and other neurodevelopmental outcomes. At age 12, the children were assessed on reading ability, executive function, mental health, intelligence and other neurodevelopmental outcomes. The conclusion was that that “early life exposure to air pollution poses a significant risk to brain development from direct exposure to toxicants or via indirect mechanisms involving the circulatory, pulmonary or gastrointestinal systems. In children, exposure to traffic related air pollution has been associated with adverse effects on cognitive, behavioral and psychomotor development.” More tomorrow.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Giraffe Brain, 3

The giraffe’s height gives them an advantage in the wild. They’re better able to keep a sharp eye out for predators. You always give up something to get something, however. For the giraffe, its height makes it difficult to drink at a water hole or stream. To reach the water they must spread their legs and bend down in a very awkward position, which makes them more vulnerable to predators. Fortunately, giraffes only need to drink once every several days, 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 at birth, rather a rude way to be dislodged from its biological nursery and meet Planet Earth. Typically they are able to stand within 30 minutes and, if necessary, can run with their mother when they are only 10 days old. Getting up close and person to a couple of these gentle giants at the “Living Desert,” gave me a new perspective. Tell your niece to send me questions any time. I enjoyed looking up these pictures and reminiscing. It’s great she is interested in brains—of any type.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Giraffe Brain, 2

While visiting the ‘‘Living Desert’ in Southern California with my cousin, I was able to get quite close to these giants. It was great fun to get to feed one of them, an 18 foot (6 meters) tall male. His legs were so long I could have walked underneath his belly with a foot to spare. Standing on a platform some 12-13 feet above the ground, he was still a head or more taller. He loved carrot stick, and if I didn’t pony up 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. Its tongue felt like delicate sandpaper and made me laugh. If your niece like giraffes, she might enjoy this park. I certainly did. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Giraffe Brain

I love how you answer questions in your blogs! Here’s what my three-year-old niece wants to know, “How does blood get to a giraffe’s brain?”

According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, giraffes are the tallest living animals in the world. The giraffe's heart must have special mechanisms to enable it to pump blood up the animal's neck, 6 feet (2 meters) long neck to its brain. It’s a formidable task to pump blood at a pressure high enough to accomplish this. A giraffe's heart can weigh over 10 kg (22-24 pounds) and generate twice the blood pressure of other large mammals. (A human heart is about the size of its owner’s fist.) 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. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Brain Knowledge

I’ve heard you speak and have read some of your materials—they’re great. However, I’ve been studying the brain for years, myself, and am quite knowledgeable about the brain and its parts. You need to convince me that living a Longevity Lifestyle would make any positive difference to my life.

First, I never try to convince anyone about anything. A brain convinced against its will is of the same opinion still. I have no idea what you know about the science of brain function and it is a science--knowing about the brain and its parts is different from understanding how the brain functions best. There is  brain-based science to staying younger and healthier for longer—that is what the Longevity Lifestyle Program is all about. And it does make a difference to people who get on board with a lifestyle change for the rest of their life. For most people, it’s never too late to begin. As Gary Small, MD, author of The Memory Bible put it: “As soon as you start to change your lifestyle for the better, you’ll begin to repair yesterday’s damage.” If you’re already doing this, Bravo. Keep on keeping on . . .

Monday, January 27, 2020

Brain Friends

I’m confused about friendships. I’ve known some people for decades and yet when we get together it seems there’s little if any real connection. Maybe there is no such thing as true friendship.

Oh, I think there is, but it is more about a brain connection than anything else. I’ve learned that true friendship is not necessarily about the people whom you’ve known the longest. People change. They are on differing growth and developmental paths. What keeps people together and in touch is more about how your brains connect than how long you have known them. It’s about the ones who hung in there with you through thick and thin, who never left your side emotionally, who accepted you just as you are, who have your back, and were willing to grow along with you. There is a richness that can occur with that type of friendship that is like no other. When you connect with someone like that, all things being equal, I want to hang in there with them and I want them to hang in there with me.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Brain Forgetfulness

I am quite sure I’ve heard you talk about brain forgetfulness in one of your presentations but I have “forgotten” what you said. Please remind me—it’s about going into the next room and don’t remember why you went there! I fear I getting Alzheimer’s!

You remembered to write and ask the question! Forgetting what you went into the next room or upstairs or in the garage to get can happen at any age. For years this puzzled researchers. Recently, studies at the University of Notre Dame have shed some light on this common complaint. Turns out the brain has an “event boundary,” meaning that when something changes (e.g., walking through a doorway into another room), the brain erases the last event and gets ready to experience something new. So what do you do? Write a sticky note and carry it with you or “speak a note” into your phone – especially if it is something you need to do but not immediately. When you get where you are going, this can refresh your mind. If I am just going into the next room for something, I  find that simply talking aloud to myself as I pass through the doorway(s), works quite well. I’ll say, “Arlene, you are getting your suitcase from the garage.” This keeps what you want to do in the forefront of working memory—as long as you keep from getting sidetracked along the way and putting something new and different into your working memory—you’ve got a good chance of staying focused on what you are looking for. Try it. It’s actually rather fun!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Accelerating Brain Aging

I read a recent Gallup poll indicating that the majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use. So how come you don’t promote this?

I try never to promote anything that has been shown to be potentially harmful to brain function. You might find it interesting to know that Dr. Daniel Amen recently reported on results from a new study. His research may represent the largest brain imaging study ever reported, involving involved SPECT brain imaging studies of more than 30,000 people. The study found that marijuana use accelerates aging of the brain by 0.6 years and alcohol consumption by 2.8 years. I am not the least bit interested in accelerating the aging of my brain. Therefore, I would consider it completely irresponsible on my part to recommend using marijuana for recreational use or alcohol for that matter.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What, How, and When

I know what you eat and how you eat is important. But “when” you eat? What difference does that make?

The report of a pilot study led by Dr. Nour Makarem was published in the Journal of Nutritional Science. In a study of 112 woman (average age of 33), the researchers found that eating dinner before six pm could improve heart health, lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and reduce the chance of gaining weight. Participants who ate a large portion of their daily calories after six pm had higher blood pressure, higher BMI, and poorer blood sugar control. The risk of heart disease increases for every one percent increase in calories consumed in the evening after six pm. Dr. Makarem pointed out that lifestyle approaches to the prevention of heart disease have focused on what a person eats and how much. Based on this preliminary study, when you eat may be a simple, modifiable behavior that can help lower heart disease risk.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Brain and Humor

I've heard you talk about humor. It's January 21st and nothing humorous has happened to me so far this year. How about you?

That's most unfortunately because humor and laughter are very good for the brain. If you can laugh at yourself, you carry an unending supply of humor with you every dayas I do. For example, today at noon I was in an organization that had a noon lunch for one of the executives. During lunch, one of the senior executives, referred to as "the birthday boy," was asked, "What is your earliest memory of a joke?" Interesting question. The "birthday boy" said that when he was 10 years old he heard a man say something that was clever and funny—and although he only heard it once, the birthday boy still remembers is. It went like this

“Ladies and gentlemen, hobos and tramps, cross-eyed mosquitoes, and bowlegged ants. Early one morning, in the middle of the night, two dead boys got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew a sword and shot each other An old deaf policeman heard the noise and came over and killed the two dead boys. Now, if you don't believe my story is true, just ask the blind man, because he saw it, too . . ." 

I am still laughing! Stay alert, and choose to laugh. It pays huge dividends!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., and some of you are even off work! It’s a good time to reflect on where we have come from—which isn’t all that important in some ways—and where we are going both as individuals and as a nation—which IS very important. You may have read his 1963 letter. One sentence especially struck me, (I could have looked it up for rote exactness but I prefer to linger in the tones of his words): Let’s hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities. Let’s hope that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty. I rarely comment on controversial points of view. However, as a brain-function specialist, what I have learned about the brain leads me to believe this: regardless of gender, preference, skin tones, and a host of other things that make each person unique and that has made this nation great, we are all—first and foremost—human. That is our commonality. I could not do what I do without you. I need you in my proverbial corner. And whenever and wherever possible, I want to be with you in your corner, too. That’s how “unity in diversity” happens . . .

Friday, January 17, 2020

For Lexophiles

I have several friends who are lexophiles. We all enjoy word play and trade examples. As you may know, a lexophile is a person who loves words; an individual who derives pleasure from various use of words; and if the words can be used in humor, so much the better.

  • Frog parking only—all others will be toad.
  • If your car is running, I’m voting for it.
  • What happens if you are scared half-to-death twice?
  • My wife says I never listen to her—or something like that.
  • Is there ever a day when mattresses are not on sale?
  • I visited the Hokey-Pokey Clinic—and turned myself around.
  • This is my step-ladder; I never knew my real ladder.
  • I’d like to grow my own food—do you have any idea where I can find bacon seeds?
  • Did you hear about the man in boxers who led police on a brief chase?
  •    You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.

  • Thursday, January 16, 2020

    Walking & Counting

    I try to get 15 minutes of brisk walking done every day—but my mind starts ruminating and even obsessing on current problems and concerns and I feel stressed. Any ideas?

    I can tell you what I do when my mind decides to ruminate unhelpfully: I count my steps in relation to my breaths. Walking briskly, I count four steps while breathing in and four steps while breathing out. That keeps me in rhythm and the counting distracts me from ruminating. The counting seems to slow my conscious mind to match the rhythm of the steps my body is taking. Try it, or some variation of that. Brisk walking is touted as an excellent type of physical exercise and one that is very beneficial to the brain, as well as the body.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    Brain and Blogs

    I read your blogs regularly and am learning a lot. However, every once in a while (like today!) you miss a day. Fortunately, you catch up quickly but I want to know what happens to make you miss a day?

    What happens? In a word: LIFE! I really dislike missing a day or two—fortunately, I am usually able to catch up quickly. What happens? I may be in another part of the world, the plane is delayed, or there is no available Wi-Fi. Or a friend of mine suddenly has a crisis and asks me if I can possibly help out, which I am happy to do. However, in order to stay healthy and keep my life in balance, I choose to go straight to bed after the emergency is under control. Or PG&E turned off electricity for several days . . . or my computer crashed very unexpectedly . . . I am glad to know you are learning things. You (and people like you) are the reason I keep writing blogs . . .

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    Supercentenarians, 2

    Speaking of Supercentenarians, according to Wikipedia, Tanaka Kane (born January 2nd, 1903—age 117 now) is a Japanese supercentenarian. She became the world's oldest verified living person after the death of Chiyo Miyako on July 22nd, 2018. The oldest known living man is Chitetsu Watanabe, also of Japan, aged 112 years, 316 days. The 100 oldest women have, on average, lived several years longer than the 100 oldest men. the oldest verified man ever is Jiroemon Kimura (1897–2013) of Japan, who lived to the age of 116 years, 54 days. You may recall that Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, France, was said to be 122 years 164 days old when she died in 1997. Then a researcher posited that Jeanne actually died at age 59 and her daughter Yvonne assumed her identity. That raised quite a hue and cry! Fast forward: experts are now reportedly disputing that claim and an investigation has been launched . . .

    Monday, January 13, 2020


    I’ve heard you say you are aiming to be a “supercentenarian.” Whatever for? And are there really supercentenarians on this planet?

    I’ll take your last question first. There arereportedlymany supercentenarians on Planet Earth. I doubt anyone knows a valid number because record-keeping for some may be scanty or missing altogether. One estimate suggested that there may be nearly 600 individuals who are 110 years old or older alive at any one time these days. Some people are living longer than “three-score and twenty.” There are more females reported to be over 100; but the males that are centenarians tend to be healthier than the females.  “Whatever for?” Because I love life and living and there are many more things I would like to experience and accomplish. I also believe that a person tends to get further (or farther) when the individual aims higher.

    Friday, January 10, 2020

    Breakfast and CHD

    Skipping breakfast may have a negative impact on some chronic illnesses. Senior author of a study related to breakfast and coronary heart disease (CHD) 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? Choose to eat a good breakfast already! 

    Thursday, January 9, 2020

    Brain and Breakfast

    My mother keeps harping on breakfast; says I really need to eat it. But I don’t feel like eating in the morning and what difference does it make anyway?

    You might want to listen up. 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. More tomorrow.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2020

    Brain & Violence

    I don’t know if violence is increasing or the media is doing more broadcasting about it. I sure seem to hear more about it and wish I understood what is happening. Any ideas?

    There are likely a combination of factors that play into violence, including epigenetics, cellular memory, addictive behaviors related to mind-altering substances, the impact of electronics, the violence seen in many movies and TV programs, and so on. Your question did remind me of a quote attributed to Howard Bloom that may have a bearing on it and does provide some “food for thought.”

    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.”

    Tuesday, January 7, 2020

    Adjustment Disorders, 4

    The pathology of Adjustment Disorders has not been clearly defined. What does seem to be clear is that stress appears to be the underlying contributor. In treating Adjustment Disorders, part of the approach must take into consideration the individual and his or her response to the perceived stressor(s). For example: male or female (as each responds to stressors somewhat differently); present age as symptoms differ in children and teens as compared with adults and the elderly, whether anxiety, depression, and hopelessness also exist concurrently; the living situation or work situation (depending on the stressor’s origin); whether there is any concurrent physical or mental disorders; and the willingness of the person to work with the counselor and make changes as needed.  

    Monday, January 6, 2020

    Adjustment Disorder, 3

    Treatment for Adjustment Disorders usually does not involve medication—but it typically does require clinical treatment in order to deal effectively with the symptoms. That may be one reason fore the name: the individual is having difficulty "adjusting" to dealing with a stressor or knowing how to cope effectively. It is also important to realize that the symptoms of AD differ in children and adolescents when compared with those of adults and elderly individuals. As far as I know there is no one “best” treatment for AD, because each person’s response to his or her perceived stressor differs. So, what can be done? First, identify the individual’s stressor(s). Second, find a good counselor who is knowledgeable about adjustment disorders. Contract for some sessions to get help in avoiding the stressor, if possible. If not, then obtain help in building skills to better deal with the stressor that cannot be avoided, including working on a healthier emotional response, and identifying a support system to assist the person in coping more successfully. Sometimes joining a “group” for a period of time can also be beneficial. More tomorrow.

    Friday, January 3, 2020

    Adjustment Disorder, 2

    Adjustment Disorder involves a maladaptive response to a perceived stressor. Because the individual’s psychological reaction to the perceived stressor creates the disorder, treatment involves the individual  verbalizing the stressful event or stressor. This is important because the brain tends to only deal with something that it can identify, label, and describe. Once this occurs, the stressor can be dealt with—especially if the situation can be eliminated, reframed, or workable strategies developed. One retrospective study of 72 adolescents with a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, concluded that disappointment in relationships with a family member or friend of the opposite sex was the primary stressor. You may want to discuss this with your healthcare provider so steps can be taken to help you recover, if a diagnosis of AD is, in fact, made.

    Thursday, January 2, 2020

    Adjustment Disorder

    A friend of mine recently said I have an Adjustment Disorder. Is there such a thing? Am I losing my mind or going psychotic?

    Yes, Adjustment Disorder or AD (not to be confused with Alzheimer’s Disease) is a short-term, stress-related condition. A subthreshold disorder, it is not considered a psychotic condition. Symptoms tend to present themselves within about three months after the event occurs or the stressor is identified. AD is time-limited, meaning that symptoms may disappear when and if the stressor disappears or when the person develops a workable strategy to deal with the stressor. To others looking on, it appears that the person with AD is reacting way too intensely to the event or stimuli or appears to be disproportionately overwhelmed by the situation. More tomorrow.

    Wednesday, January 1, 2020

    New Year 2020

    It’s the first of the year and all through the house,
    Excitement is high—again there’s no mouse!

    Except for the mouse that runs my laptop—
    So quiet you really can hear a pin drop.

    My stocking once hung from the mantle with care,
    Is back in its box—the fireplace bare.

    The sun shining brightly has dispelled the fog,
    A very good thing as it looked like eggnog!

    Another good meal is about to be served,
    From all the left-overs we reserved.

    The reheated dishes from holiday fare
    Account for the wonderful smells in the air.

    Despite fires and floods it’s been a good year,
    A lot’s been accomplished with friends I hold dear.

    Life is uncertain, there’s no guarantee,
    This ahead in this fresh New Year

    Make quality time for those you hold dear.

    In the end you may save yourself many a tear . . .