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Balanced Living for Athletes

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Joggin' the Noggin

Posted by TiffanyHouser Aug 26, 2009

by Tiffany Houser, Green Monkey Interactive


As we continue to explore longevity this month, the attention of the topic, in general, focuses heavily on our physical body addressing illness prevention and maintaining our outer appearance. One aspect of longevity, however, that seems to only receive focus in the senior stage of life is our brain health.

Tiffany Houser

There is something to be said about aging gracefully. As most people approach their golden years, even if they are in good shape, the health of their brain could still lead to a deteriorating lifestyle leaving them and their loved ones in a painful situation.



A recent study conducted at the 1.[] showed that age-related mental decline starts in your late twenties. At 22, the human mind is at apex of mental powers and starts declining as early as age 27. Mental functions like reasoning, mental speed, and puzzle-solving are the first to go, and memory loss starts to kick in around age 37.



The findings from this study suggest that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s, and that therapies designed to prevent or reverse age-related conditions may need to start earlier, long before people retire.



One of the most troubling American illnesses is 2.[], a brain disorder that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work are not a normal part of aging and may be a sign that brain cells are failing.



The health of your brain plays a critical role in almost everything you do: thinking, feeling, remembering, working, and playing - even sleeping. In 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, "There is a suspected link between Alzheimer's disease and the toxicity of aluminum." One of the WHO's Public Health Reports cited autopsies that found high concentrations of aluminum in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.



Many doctors and holistic experts advise avoiding products known to contain additional aluminum - especially deodorants or antiperspirants in an aerosol spray, which can be absorbed through the nasal passages, into the bloodstream, and affect both the respiratory system and the brain. You should also reconsider your consumption of food and beverage products in aluminum containers.



To jump start your own brain health program, the 2.[] recommends:



  • Staying mentally active
         Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them, and may even create new nerve cells. Brain Fitness is becoming increasingly popular in addition to physical exercise; people dedicate time for brain conditioning activities such as puzzles, card games, board games and brain teasers. Some fitness venues have incorporated ‘ where members can leverage their time and get both a physical and mental work-out. More and more executives are incorporating brain fitness into their workouts.

  • Remaining socially active
         Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable, it can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells.

  • Staying physically active
         Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It can also significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels.

  • Adopting a brain-healthy diet
         Research suggests that high cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. A low fat, low cholesterol diet is advisable. And there is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain antioxidants, may help protect brain cells. We provided a list of brain food below.


Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Making A Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program For Achieving And Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance, offers six things you can do to relieve stressors on the brain which include:


  • Recognize that Stress Can Make You Sick

  • Get Enough Sleep
         Tai Chi, often described as "meditation in motion," is an ancient form of stretching and balance that can help you age well. Numerous studies suggest that Tai Chi may improve everyday physical functioning, lower blood pressure, ease chronic pain, relieve anxiety, and slow bone loss after menopause. It also shows promise for alleviating insomnia, a common problem in the elderly: A sleep study found that people age 59 to 86 who regularly practiced a form of Tai Chi got more Z's and better sleep quality than those who didn't.

  • Take Supplements
         There are lots of things you could take, but Amen wants to keep this simple. He says that there is research that shows that Omega 3 (fish oil) and a good multi-vitamin promote brain health.

  • Develop Internal ANT-Eater
         Dr. Amen calls ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) stressors for the brain. These are the daily, automatic negative thoughts that go through your head in the day. "Whenever you feel sad, mad or nervous, you need to write out what you are thinking. Look at them," he says. "Are they reasonable or are they torturing you unnecessarily? And then you talk back to them. You don't have to believe every thought you have. Thoughts can lie. Correcting them will go a long way to treating depression and anxiety."


Check out these brain health tips and mind game from Dr. Mehmet Oz,cardiologist and Oprah's medical expert.


Neglecting the health of your brain is like having a beautiful, top-notch car without a gas tank to hold the fuel. Be smart and remember that a balanced approach to longevity is from head to toe caring and acknowledging the body, mind and soul.



BRAIN FOOD!![mind game|]



  1. Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, as well as fish oil, walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in DHA, a fatty acid crucial to the health of our nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contain iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity.

  2. Evidence suggests that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

  3. Vitamin B12, found in seafood and poultry. A recent study found that people with low blood levels of this nutrient experienced a faster decline in cognitive function than those with higher levels. Most of us can get enough B12 from our diet, but certain people need supplements, such as vegans (who don't eat animal products), notes Dr. Andrew Weil. The same goes for some people over 65, because decreased levels of stomach acid can make it difficult to absorb B12 from food. Weil recommends these groups take B12 as part of a B-complex supplement.Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body - levels of which have been found to be higher in people who have Alzheimer's. Fortified cereals are a great source of B12 and also contain complex carbohydrates which release energy over a long period and will keep you more mentally alert throughout the day.

  4. A daily dose of zinc, found in a handful of pumpkin seeds, can be vital to enhancing memory and thinking skills.

  5. Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve [Dr. Andrew Weil|]brainpower.

  6. Sage has a long reputation for improving memory

  7. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of Vitamin E might help to prevent poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains.

  8. Eye Q, a blend of high grade marine fish oil and evening primrose oil, is thought to boost brainpower in children. A study by Durham County Council and Mansfield College, Oxford, concluded that 40 percent of the children sampled improved both their reading skills and attention spans when taking the supplements.

  9. Ethos Endymion, which contains L-Carnosine, a strong antioxidant which appears to have dramatic results for a number of conditions: cataracts, improving skin tone, speeding up wound healing, and protecting the brain from plaque formation that may lead to senility and Alzheimer's. L-Carnosine is found in chicken and lean red meat so this powder supplement could be especially useful for vegans or those with high cholesterol.




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Member since: Aug 26, 2009

Tips and articles on the athletic body and the athletic mind from Tiffany Houser of Green Monkey.

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