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As well as having unique fingerprints, humans also have unique tongue prints.

Brain Fitness

Yes, we are aging. Every day. That's a simple fact of life. But we're also living longer than ever before and we have a remarkable opportunity to enjoy our longevity by making good choices and paying attention to the role of healthy cognitive function (HCF) in our overall ability to live - and age - with vitality, grace and dignity.

Healthy cognitive function means we're able to retain our ability to think, learn, and remember. We can mentally reason, concentrate, make plans, evaluate and organize information in a variety of ways.

Cognitive health falls along a continuum, from optimal to mild impairment to severe dementia. There's great variability in how dementia develops and how it progresses. Some people never show early signs and others can show a slow or a rapid decline. Some of the early signs of dementia include forgetfulness that disrupts daily living, inability to plan or solve problems, difficulty performing simple or routine tasks, and time/place confusion.

Genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors are associated with cognitive function. While we can't do too much about inherited risk factors, we can preserve and even enhance brain health with a few simple lifestyle practices. Here are some tips for keeping your brain active, healthy and sharp:

Never Stop Learning. Ongoing research shows the brain is able to evolve and learn across the lifespan. The key is to keep those neurons (brain cells) engaged. Actively seek to learn and experience new things. Read a variety of types of books and magazines. Play Sudoku, chess or other games that involve problem solving. Use an iPad. Travel. Learn a new language. Take (or teach) a class. This kind of mental stimulation helps your brain form new memories, strengthens existing memories, and creates new neural connections.

Stay Connected. Involvement with family, friends, and community creates positive emotions that are linked with overall vitality. People who are alone most of the time show sharper declines in cognitive function. If family isn't nearby, join a club or volunteer.

Move that Body. Research indicates exercise improves connections among brain cells and may reduce risk for dementia. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week unless otherwise advised by your physician.

Protect Your Brain. If you smoke or frequently drink alcohol it's akin to draining the brain's natural resources. Smoking interferes with healthy blood circulation, not just in the body but also to the brain. Alcohol impairs communication between neurons and causes long-term changes in brain chemicals involved with memory, emotion, and coordination. Certain prescription medicines (or a combination of medicines) can affect cognition, memory or thinking. If you experience such changes, or notice them in a loved one, talk to your doctor.

And it goes without saying (but it's always good to be reminded): Eating whole foods and a low intake of sweets are the foundation for optimal brain health.

Remember, dementia is no longer considered a normal and inevitable outcome for an aging brain. We all have opportunities to retain HCF, allowing us to maintain an independent and active lifestyle.

References

Food for Thought. . .

"He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not." - Italian Proverb

Rainbow Trout: Good for Your Body & Your Brain

Among the top five healthiest fish to eat, rainbow trout makes a tasty entrée and is one of the more affordable seafood options.

It's best to buy farmed rainbow trout because wild trout can be contaminated from chemicals like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). All rainbow trout on the U.S. market is farmed-raised in the United States, in accordance with strict environmental standards. Rainbow trout is farmed in raceways, which mimic a free-flowing river and use large amounts of freshwater.

Rainbow trout provides a number of nutrients important to physical and mental wellness. A cooked 3-ounce serving of farmed rainbow trout contains 21 grams of muscle-building protein. For brain health, a serving provides over 900 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent neurological disorders like dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer's disease; they are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Rainbow trout is low in total fat (just 6 grams), and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

There are several ways to cook trout: grilled, smoked, pan-fried, roasted or baked. When baking, measure the thickness of the fish and plan on 10 minutes per inch (5 minutes on each side), and bake at 400 to 450 degrees F. You can use nearly any seasoning - herbs, lemon, salt, pepper - to finish off your trout. Additionally, many salmon recipes work well for rainbow trout.

References

Tomato Parsley Trout

Prepared with tomatoes, parsley, garlic and white wine, this simple-to-make entree has extraordinarily flavorful results. The tomatoes and parsley add vibrant color and pungent garlic is balanced by the aromatic combination of white wine, lemon and olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 pound) whole trout, cleaned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes (with seeds removed)
  • 2 Tbs organic olive oil
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  2. Rub the trout inside and out with salt and pepper to taste and place in baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, wine and minced garlic. Spread evenly over the top of the fish.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

Serve garnished with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs.

References

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – Essential to Brain Health

Decades of study and countless books have gone into exploring Omega-3 and the role it plays in our physical and mental health. Here are Seven Essential Facts about this ESSENTIAL substance.

1. Omega-3 is called "essential" because it's necessary for our health, but we cannot make it on our own.

2. One essential Omega-3 fatty acid is a substance called α-linolenic acid (ALA). Our body uses ALA to make two other essential fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). However, we don't make enough to meet daily needs for optimal health.

3. Omega-3 is critical for preventing symptoms of chronic illness, such as inflammation, fatigue, joint and muscle pain and poor elimination of toxins.

4. The brain thrives on Omega-3. Without enough, we can experience learning problems, memory issues, brain fog and other neurological symptoms. Proper levels help protect us from Alzheimer's Disease.

5. Food is a great source of Omega-3. Consider salmon, tuna, halibut, krill, flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds.

6. It's difficult to get sufficient amounts from food alone. Most Americans consume a daily average of 130 mg EPA + DHA - way below the recommended 1000-2000 mg. Consider adding a supplement to your diet.

7. Acquiring Omega-3 must be done in a focused fashion, with attention paid to the balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 (a group of fatty acids linked to increased inflammation). An imbalance can adversely impact well being and brain health.

Consult your holistic physician to assess your intake and explore ways to protect your health and cognitive function with Omega-3.

References

Ginkgo Gets Your Mind In Gear (Ginkgo Biloba)

Touted as the "brain herb", Ginkgo Biloba extract (GBE) has received attention for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, particularly to support cardiovascular and neurological and brain health. Over the past 10-15 years, numerous studies have tested Ginkgo for various actions in treating dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as preventing cognitive decline in healthy people.

Ginkgo contains a number of biologically active compounds that work in different ways to support brain health. How these compounds act is not fully known - and is still being researched in animal and human studies - but there are some excellent theories. Ginkgo may work by increasing blood flow in the brain, helping to remove free radicals that can damage cells, and reducing inflammation. It may even protect nerve cells already damaged by Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia.

Hundreds of published studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Ginkgo in people with dementia and other types of cognitive decline. Several studies show that GBE has a positive effect on memory, learning, and thinking in people with Alzheimer disease or vascular dementia. In fact, Ginkgo may work as well as some prescription medications for Alzheimer's.

Gingko extracts are standardized to specific dosages when used in studies and medical treatment. GBE can interact with blood clotting medications. Be sure to consult with your holistic practitioner before taking Ginkgo.

References

Neurofeedback

Have you ever seen a science fiction movie where an actor wears a thin skull-cap with wires extending from it and connecting to a recording machine? That machine, called an electroencephalogram or EEG, records brain waves in response to different types of physical, mental, or emotional stimuli. It's not just science fiction! It's Neurofeedback (NF), a scientifically supported modality that can help improve or change behavior, including learning and memory.

From the moment you're born and throughout life, your brain is making neural connections based on your experiences. Everything you do, see, sense - performing a task, responding emotionally, learning a skill, or making observations - creates a neural pattern. The more you practice something, the stronger that neural pattern becomes. The less you use a certain neural pattern, the weaker it becomes (and eventually you "forget" how to do something!).

NF uses video, music, games, and/or specific tasks (like writing your name) to help train the brain to form new neural connections. A specially trained clinician monitors the EEG to assess how a person is responding. Once a pattern is established, regular NF sessions help reinforce the pattern. Over time, this results in new learning that can endure for years or a lifetime.

There's good evidence that NF can help prevent cognitive decline in the normal aging process. Healthy older adults have shown improvements in working memory after a short, intensive series of NF sessions. New research is looking at whether or not NF improves symptoms associated with dementia disorders. In fact, a study with older adults with Alzheimer's disease, NF brought about improvement in recall of information and recognition.

In many states, health agencies regulate the practice of NF practitioners who treat medical conditions. If you're interested in learning more about NF, ask your physician for resources or check for a practitioner listed with your state association of neurofeedback practitioners.

References

Photo Attributions: Thufir/bigstockphoto.com; FomaA/bigstockphoto.com; tbralnina/bigstockphoto.com; Kerdkanno/bigstockphoto.com; jaroslavav/bigstockphoto.com; Tiberiu Stan/bigstockphoto.com

Guiding Principles

The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.