Monday, October 31, 2022

Is Singing a Therapy?

It certainly can be! Studies have demonstrated that singing in a choir can have a range of social, emotional, and psychological benefits. Turns out singing has some biological effects, as well. No surprise, people impacted by cancer often experience stress, anxiety, and depression—all of which can negatively impact immune system function. A study was designed to evaluate the impact of singing on mood, stress, and immune response in three population groups diagnosed with cancer. Researchers discovered that just one hour of singing was associated with significant reductions in negative affect, increases in positive affect, and significant increases in cytokines. They believe this provides preliminary evidence that singing improves mood state and modulates components of the immune system. Keep singing!

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Which came first: Brain or Mind?

Recently a colleague and I were discussing the various theories about the brain versus the mind. It reminded me of the old chicken or the egg question. Which came first, the brain or the mind? Does the brain create the mind or does the mind create the brain? Is the mind an organ of the brain much as the stomach is an organ of the digestive system? There will likely never be 100% consensus, seeing as every brain on the planet is different. Consensus however is leading toward the belief that the brain begins to develop in utero first and then creates the mind. What is amazing is that the mind then can change and direct the brain that created it! I like the ‘vehicle-traffic metaphor’ to describe that phenomenon. Vehicles create traffic. Once created, the vehicles can be hampered or impeded by the traffic. Something similar likely can happen in the brain. 

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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Where did the term phubbing come from?

The brain creates technology and, in turn, technology impacts the brain—sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. Whatever else the human brain is, it is relational. It has a relationship with the mind; with other brains; and with technology. Technology is everywhere but there have been relatively few studies evaluating the impact of technology on the brain and the mind. James. A. Roberts and Meredith E. David, researchers at researchers at the Hankamer School of Business of Baylor University, are authors of what may be the first formal study of the impact on a relationship when a person uses or is distracted by his/her cell phone while in the company of the person’s relationship partner. The researchers reportedly created the term ‘phubbing’ to describe what has been referred to as the ultimate modern-day snub: snubbing someone in favor of your mobile phone. “I’d never do that!” you say. Are you sure?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

What about phubbing in the workplace?

Phubbing in the workplace was not addressed in the study by Roberts and David. However, similar problems with inattentiveness and disruption have been observed anecdotally in work settings, as well. The brain was not designed to multi-task and when one or more individuals in a group are distracted by checking their mobile communication device, they may miss key points in a discussion or fail to contribute appropriately. Moreover, their Wphubbing (snubbing someone in a Work setting in favor of your mobile phone) can distract others. It can be particularly annoying to a speaker when the behavior of attendees indicate that their cellphone is more important than paying attention to the presentation. Have you been phubbed? Done any phubbing yourself? Use your brain to evaluate if phubbing is negatively impacting your relationships, personal and professional. If the answer is ‘yes,’ you may want to disconnect periodically from communication technology rather than risk strangling your relationship—or sending a nonverbal message that you would never put into words.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What does phubbing do to romance?

The authors of the study on phubbing reported that the higher the incidence of phubbing behaviors, the more likely a romantic couple were to experience conflict in the relationship and have lower levels of satisfaction. “But they aren’t saying anything,” you may say. Perhaps not verbally, but the nonverbal behavior sends a message to the other partner ‘loud and clear.' This implied message can reveal the partner’s priorities, suggest that the mobile device is more exciting than the person who is physically present or that whomever is calling or texting is more important than the partner. Unless I am out eating alone, my practice is to keep my mobile phone out of sight. On the rare occasions when I am expecting a call from overseas, I will tell my friend(s) in advance: “If my cell phone rings and it is an overseas call, I need to take it. Anyone else can leave a message and I’ll get to it later.” My little French grandmother used to say ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ I want to honor and respect the individual I am with and the time they are giving to me, which is really all each of us has to give another—that no other person can give—our time. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Why don't we hear much about phubbing?

I don’t know the answer to that question. My guess is that it’s so commonplace now that people hardly notice it. For those who don’t know what phubbing is, it involves the behavior of ignoring another person in order to pay attention to one's phone or other mobile device. :Results of a study by James. A. Roberts and Meredith E. David at the Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, were published in Computers in Human Behavior. Nearly half of participants reported they’d been ‘phubbed’ o by their Partner and almost half of those indicated this had caused conflict. The researchers identified eight types of phubbing or Pphubbing. For example: keeping the phone in sight—if not in hand—while the couple is together; answering the phone even when in the middle of a conversation; glancing at the mobile device while talking, and so on. The authors reported that while people often assume that momentary distractions by their cellphones are not a big deal, the more often a couple’s time spent together is interrupted by the other’s cellphone, the less likely the first individual is to be satisfied with the overall relationship. A lower level of relationship satisfaction tends toward lower levels of life satisfaction. Ultimately, this can contribute to higher levels of depression. 

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Isn't glucose important?

Glucose is vitally important! The body turns carbs into glucose, which provides fuel for all body tissues and definitely for the brain. Without glucose, your blood oxygen levels suffer, your energy levels fall, and your risk of brain fog can increase. Eating too many carbs, especially unhealthy carbs, can lead to obesity. Not getting enough can result in malnutrition or in an excessive intake of fats to make up the calories. The USDA recommends that 45-65% of your daily calories are best derived from carbs. That’s because carbohydrates:

  • Are the body’s main source of fuel, can be used easily for energy by all tissues and cells, and can be stored in the muscles and liver for later use.
  • Are needed for the brain, central nervous system, kidneys, and muscles (including those of the heart) to function properly.
  • Important for gastrointestinal health and the timely and appropriate elimination of waste.       
  • Supply energy (glucose), especially for the brain, central nervous system, and muscles.·       
  • Prevent the breakdown of proteins (amino acids) as a source of energy and minimize ketosis from breakdown of fatty acids. 
  • Assist with cellular and protein recognition and provide soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Should carbs be a main nutrient?

According to Donald Layman, PhD, professor of human nutrition at the University of Illinois, carbohydrates are the only nutrients that exist solely to fuel the brain and the body. I like metaphors and I like musicals—which have principal actors and supporting players. Think of macronutrients (carbohydrates being one of the three main types) as principal actors. They are vital nutrients that provide calories, which the brain and body use in relatively large amounts. On the other hand, think of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, as the supporting players. These substances are also important to both brain and body but are needed in smaller amounts. For example, the enzyme amylase helps break down carbohydrates into glucose—the main circulating sugar or glucose in human blood and the principal source of energy for cells that make up the human brain and body. For most living things, actually.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Why do carbs have a bad rap?

Have you been led to believe that carbohydrates are the enemy? Not so fast! Some of them are quite unhealthy. Avoid taring and feathering all carbs simply because an apple barrel contains some bad apples, so to speak. That would be like throwing out the baby with the bath water—never recommended. According to Elisa Zied RD: “Carbs are not the enemy.” The enemy is often a lack of information or a failure to turn what you learn into knowledge and practically apply it on a daily basis. Perhaps you have heard that the be-all, end-all, and cure-all for weight management is a low-carbohydrate diet. Avoid jumping on that bandwagon. Science supports the use of these carbs for weight loss and overall health. Carbohydrates are the best source of fuel for your brain—high quality carbs, of course, because they’re not all created equal. Just like calories and cars and cell phones are not all created equal. Select healthier whole-food carbs and eat them in as natural a state as possible.

A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

What are the main types of carbs?

There are three main types of carbohydrates. 

Simple carbs contain one or two sugars. They are found in dairy products as galactose, as fructose in fruit (that also contain many valuable micronutrients); in high-fructose corn syrup, white flours, white rice, and in many refined and processed products. Double sugars such as maltose are in some vegetables, lactose in dairy, and sucrose in refined table sugar, syrups, and honey.

Complex carbs contain three or more sugars. Many vegetables are considered complex: beans, split peas, and lentils; mushrooms, spinach, onions, broccoli, peppers, and starchy vegetables; along with whole grains, including oatmeal, quinoa, barley, and brown rice. Complex carbohydrates provide calories as well as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other micronutrients 

Fiber (soluble and insoluble) that refers to carbohydrates the body cannot digest. Fiber is the indigestible portion of plants that pass through the intestinal tract intact and help to move waste out of the body. Fiber is not absorbed into the bloodstream and provides no calories. Legumes, nuts, seeds, the fibers in some fruits and vegetables, and ancient whole grains are rich sources of this type of carbohydrate. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

What are the types of fiber?

I am going to guess here that you are asking about fiber in relation to nutrition. There are two main types.

Soluble fiber absorbs liquid, forming a gel, which can help resolve diarrhea by removing excess fluid from the bowel. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, too. Soluble fiber-rich foods include strawberries, blueberries, apples, avocado, dried figs and prunes, oranges, and mangos; veggies such as asparagus, edamame, broccoli, green beans and peas, carrots, plus legumes, oats, barley, psyllium, and peanuts, which contain the highest soluble fiber per serving of all nuts. Almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds are good sources, as well. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines largely intact. It increases stool bulk, which can help resolve constipation. Ancient whole grains top the list of insoluble fiber-rich foods, along with air-popped popcorn, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens, and root vegetables. It is also contained in legumes, most beans, raspberries, unpeeled apples and grapes, walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Some foods give you a two-for-one, because they contain both types of fiber. For example, oats, legumes, mangoes, almonds, avocados, cucumber, celery, and carrots. Generally, you need to eat some of each type of fiber.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Use it or Lose it

Collective wisdom is that muscle tissue changes with use. Individuals who have been on forced bed rest for several weeks are often amazed at how much muscle strength and tone has been lost and how much it takes to rebuilt. This gave rise to the saying: use it or lose it. Turns out that although the brain is not muscle tissue, per se, it operates on a similar principle: use it or lose it. Use it in ways that studies have shown to be challenging and stimulating to the brain, and this brain activity can lead to various parts of the brain growing larger and stronger. In other words, you can change your brain’s anatomy as well as some of its chemical and electrical patterns with activity. This is so powerful that 30 minutes of challenging brain stimulation every day, 10 minutes of reading aloud, and 12 minutes of meditation/prayer may even slow the onset of symptoms of aging. If your schedule doesn't include these three brain strategies, there is no time like the present to get started.

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Friday, October 14, 2022

Listen To Your Self-talk

One way to get a handle on your self-talk is to learn to listen to your internal self-talk. tSome types of meditation (prayer is a form of meditation) can changes your brain. MRI scans have shown that people who meditate regularly show an increase in size in several parts of the brain. They have large frontal lobes (where the brain’s executive functions are located), they increase the amount of gray matter in the midbrain (that handles functions such as blood circulation and breathing) and in the prefrontal cortex (involved with active memory), and so on. Only 12 minutes day of contemplative prayer has been shown to strengthen O frontal lobes of the brain—an anti-aging strategy. Studies have even shown that people who meditate or pray regularly have less brain atrophy. Every brain is different so every brain’s meditative experience will be different. I like to take a few minutes to eavesdrop on my brain. Then I bring my thoughts to focus on something I have chosen to contemplate.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Self-Talk Patterns

You can choose to do something about your thoughts and self-talk patterns only when you know what they are. Some researchers suggest “listening in on your brain.” Sit quietly for just a few minutes, awake but with your eyes closed, and “listen” to the conversations going on in your brain. That’s step one. Next, you need to decide if what you “hear” is the message that you want to give to your brain. If not, you can choose to alter what you are thinking and saying. That’s one of the benefits touted by forms of meditation. Some also advocate that you develop a pattern of talking to your brain as “you.” They think this acknowledges that the mind and brain, although connected, may also be separate in function. Instead of, “I am exercising this morning for 15 minutes,” try, “You exercise this morning for 15 minutes and you feel great.” 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Brain Conversations

What you think consciously impacts what happens subconsciously. What you think and say shapes and redirects your brain’s chemical and electrical activity, to say nothing of changing your brain’s anatomy. That is what is so critical about your self-talk. Whether you say it aloud or just think it quietly and internally, your brain hears what you say and think. That speaks to the old axiom: if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. The brain can only do what it thinks it can do—and what it thinks it can do is impacted by your thoughts and self-talk. Many people are believed to limit themselves of what they could do or be or contribute because of their limiting self-talk, their belief in what they are not and cannot do. What can you do about your self-talk patterns? 

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Brain Rewiring

The brain spends energy in rebuilding, rewiring, and renewing itself. According to Dr. Edlund in The Power of Rest, this includes helping to direct  the rest of the body. (Remember, everything starts and ends in the brain.) Except for some brief periods of sleep, cells and organs in the body continually communicate with the brain. Yes, this is below your level of consciousness, but it is happening, nevertheless. Dr. Marcus Raichle coined the term “default mode,” a label to describe the electrical and blood flow patterns seen when the brain is passively resting. A tremendous amount seems to be going on in when the brain is in default mode. Scientists are continuing to create studies in an attempt to uncover more of its "brain secrets."

Monday, October 10, 2022

Taylor Brain Blip

One of my worst brain blips occurred after I had attended a workshop purported to help a person learn how to recall people’s names by associating them with a familiar object that sounded similar to the name you wanted to remember. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I practiced every chance I got. The week I purchased a new Simmons hide-a-bed, a new vice president came on board. You guessed it. Name of Simmons. Blithely I pictured his head rolling around on my new Simmons hide-a-bed. Several weeks later at a rather important meeting—and trying to multitask even though I know better—I introduced the vice president as Mr. Bed, proud of myself for recalling my mental picture. There was a moment of dead silence as I realized what I had done. Apologizing profusely, I attempting to explain my error, which only compounded things. The harder I tried, the harder the attendees laughed. Mr. Simmons thought it was a hoot. Even asked me how I liked my “Simmons hide-a-bed.” (His wife was not amused!) I decided to search for another way to remember names.

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Friday, October 7, 2022

Stress & Brain Blips

Stress can be a trigger for serious brain blips. For example, leaving the stove on or the fireplace still burning wood, or the iron plugged in when you leave the house. Perhaps you fail to arm the security system, or stop at a signal light, or cannot come up with a word you know you know—in what you perceive as a very important event or situation. Other consequences may be more problematic. You agreed to drive a family member to a doctor’s appointment and forgot all about it. You missed taking important medication, and so on. Some have even left babies or pets alone in a hot car unintentionally of course but with disastrous results. When brain blips occur, be patient with yourself. Pay attention, however. It they increase in frequency check with your physician, as they can be linked with a medical problem.

 A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Brain Blip Helpers

A brain blip may be mildly irritating, although all things being equal your brain will sooner or later likely come up with the word you were searching for. When I have been making a public presentation and my brain cannot seem to locate the word I want, I simply ask the audience for the word and without exception someone could fill in the word for me. Embarrassing? Not at all. Brain blips happen to everyone I dare say. It makes those who figured out the word I was searching for feel good about being able to help the speaker. As we get older and learn more new words, sometimes you can grab a synonym and continue with what you are doing without anyone even realizing that you had experienced a brain blip.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brain-Blip Risk Factors

Brain Blips have been linked with Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs, ADHD, PTSD, sleep deprivation, dehydration, and moments of stress. They may occur when you are trying to multitask or are daydreaming about something entirely different from what you are doing. Or when the brain’s nerve highways are being wrapped with a whitish insulating material known as myelin, a process that may take until age 20-21 to complete. When stressed and in a hurry, you might put toothpaste on your hair brush, grab unmatched shoes, throw your keys in a rarely used drawer, put lipstick on your eyebrows, shave only part of your face, add salt instead of sugar to a recipe, or completely miss a vital appointment.


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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Teacher is Correct

Yes, the brain can experience “brain farts,” so called. However, the word “fart” properly refers to a disorder of the digestive system that results in expelling intestinal gas out through the anus—often accompanied by noise or an undesirable odor. It can momentarily stop all conversation as people look around to try to discover the cause of this social faux pax. Perhaps because it can be embarrassing and unpredictable, the term has also been applied to brief episodes of forgetfulness or mental confusion that may occur at any age. I prefer the term Brain Blips because there is typically no sound nor odor, and it involves the opposite end of the body. They can, however, be unpredictable and embarrassing. No surprise, kids tend to enjoy the term brain farts. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Brain Blips or Brain Farts

“My kids came home from school today talking about ‘brain farts.’ I told them there was no such things and I didn’t want to hear that ‘f’ word around the house. They protested that their teacher said they occur. Do they?”

 The word “fart” or the term “break wind” refers to a disorder of the digestive system that results in expelling intestinal gas out through the anus—often accompanied by noise or an undesirable odor. It can momentarily stop all conversation as people look around to try to discover the cause of this social faux pax. Perhaps because it can be embarrassing and unpredictable, the term has also been applied to brief episodes of forgetfulness or mental confusion that may occur at any age. I prefer the term Brain Blips because there is typically no sound nor odor, and it involves the opposite end of the body. No surprise, kids tend to enjoy the term brain farts.

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