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 . . .