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8 Simple Ways To Stimulate Your Brain Power

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It’s the part of our body that we most often use, yet it’s also the one that we love to neglect and take for granted. As the main processing unit for pretty well everything that we do, you’d think that we’d all be looking for every way possible to take care of it. Yet the majority of us give little to no attention to it, and instead spend a great deal of our free time engaged in things -such as TV -that deteriorate it. (Find out more HERE)

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I cannot however completely typecast all of us into this brain-negligence category, as the rise in use of brain training programs -such as Lumosity -shows that some of us do have an interest in staying “mentally sharp.”

While recently setting goals for myself for 2015, one keyword that I felt inclined to highlight was intelligence. Once an intellectually sharp student, I now feel like at least some of the knowledge I’ve gained in experience and understanding of the world has taken the place previously occupied by things such as memory or calculative abilities.

In hopes of restoring or training my brain to make space for it all, I present you with 8 simple ways that we can all stimulate our brain daily:

1. Working Out

A study conducted at the University of Texas in Dallas found that working out as part of an exercise regimen helps aging adults to improve their memory and brain health. The study found that exercisers showed an increase in blood flow to the hippocampus, the region of the brain most directly affected by Alzheimer’s disease.(1) If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, find a creative way or a partner that can motivate you to exercise regularly.

2. Get Enough Sleep

This may seem like common sense, yet we live in a world where many of us depend on temporary stimulants (coffee, energy drinks) rather than rework our schedules to incorporate enough shut eye. It’s during sleep that our body and mind regenerates itself, making it critical that you receive an adequate amount nightly if you want to stay mentally sharp.

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Related CE Articles
How Cumulative Sleep Debt Is Impacting Your Brain Functioning & Alertness
This Is What Can Happen When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

3. Read Rather Than Watch

Neuroscientists recently conducted a study at Emory University which looked at the brain benefits of reading fiction. Researchers found that becoming engaged in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves functionality.(2) Reading encourages us to imagine the fictional reality being presented to us in words, rather than passively having it all given to us.

Related CE Article
Great News Bookworms: Regular Reading Is A Very Healthy Thing To Do

4. Stop Depending On Your Smartphone

As the name suggests, smartphone’s certainly can give us the answer to nearly everything, but that doesn’t mean that we have to turn to them for everything. Need to get somewhere? Challenge yourself to memorize the directions, and as you travel, work on building a spatial recognition of where you are. Need to calculate something? Try figuring it out either in your head or on some good old fashioned paper, remind yourself of how exactly long division even works.

5. Memorize The Unnecessary

I recently had a comical conversation with an old friend of mine where we compared how many of our friend’s home phone numbers we still remembered from our elementary school days. The good old days where if I wanted to call my friend, I’d have to dial his home phone number and ask whoever answered “Hi, can I please speak to _____?” Just because we don’t need to memorize these things anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t challenge ourselves to. Start by picking things where memorization may come in handy -such as your credit card number or the phone numbers of your closest friends -and expand into anything else you feel that you are ready to be challenged by.

6. Check Your Diet

Despite being on average only 2% of our body weight, our brains take in more than 20% of our daily energy intake -meaning the food choices you make have a substantial impact on your brain functionality.(3) As always look to make healthy choices within your regular diet. Certain foods such as leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, avocados, and berries have all been linked to brain health.

Related CE Article
New Study Says You Can Train Your Brain To Prefer Healthy Foods
9 Of The Best Foods To Make A Part Of Your Diet

7. Listen To & Play Music

Research from the University of Kansas Medical Center showed that having musical training and listening to or playing music can help keep the brain healthy as it ages.(4) If listening to music, connect to how it makes you feel, and find the genres or artists that stimulate your creativity and improve your mood. If playing an instrument, don’t let the skill go out of practice. Find ways to incorporate playing music into your regular life, regardless of your talent level.

Related CE Article
7 Ways Music Benefits Your Health

8. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Coincidentally, so do new neural pathways. Routines can be great for keeping yourself organized or to ensure you make enough time daily to take care of your brain -amongst other things. But don’t forget to expand your life and your mind by trying something new. It could be as simple and small as trying a new route to get home, or it could be as expansive as trying something you’ve always been terrified of. Give your brain the opportunity to forge new connections to go alongside the ones that you are also helping it maintain.

Sources:

(1) http://www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-finds-aerobic-exercise-improves-memory-brain-function-and-physical-fi
(2) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201401/reading-fiction-improves-brain-connectivity-and-function
(3) http://www.brainfacts.org/about-neuroscience/ask-an-expert/articles/2012/how-does-the-brain-use-food-as-energy/
(4) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/04/25/music-training-may-help-keep-aging-brain-healthy

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Awareness

30-Year Study Finds Weekly Use Of Disinfectants Greatly Increases Your Chances Of Lung Disease

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A 30-year study conducted by Harvard researchers and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research determined that people who use disinfectants just once a week have a 22-32% of developing lung disease.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many other natural alternatives out there these days. Some are listed in the article, be sure to do your research!

One of the most versatile cleaning supplies in the home, bleach disinfects anything it comes into contact with and can not only clean every surface but remove stains from fabrics, too. Despite its cleaning power, we’ve also long heard of the effects such chemicals can have on our health and wellbeing. The labels on such products make some of these clear, explaining they are corrosive and can irritate  eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, often through simple inhalation. Despite these warnings signs, people continue to buy into this corporate propaganda.

As previously stated in an article of ours from 2013:

It is important to note that there is no FDA-type organization that regulates the cleaning products that are brought into your home. Instead groups such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) make warnings of the use of Chlorine Bleach publicly available. Under the assumption that consumers will continue to use Chlorine Bleach within their households, the following safety precautions are widely recommended:

  • Dilute the chlorine bleach with water. The lower concentration poses a potentially lesser risk of unwanted exposure.
  • Wear a safety mask and rubber gloves when working with bleach as a preventative measure.
  • Only use chlorine bleach in a well ventilated area to allow for sufficient air flow and to prevent the unwanted gasses from remaining stationary in the working space.
  • Never mix chlorine bleach with any other household cleaners.

It’s unlikely people exercise these precautions when dealing with this chemical, and it’s also interesting to note that even more studies have come forward since then confirming these risks.


A new study has found that people who use disinfectants just once a week have a 22-32% increased chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death. At this time there is no cure, and the number of people dying from COPD is growing,” according to the American Lung Association.

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The 30-year study was conducted by Harvard University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. This new study could potentially link COPD to specific cleaning chemicals, as two other studies in European populations showed that “working as a cleaner was associated with a higher risk of COPD,” according to Orianne Dumas, a researcher at Inserm. Dumas goes on to say, “Earlier studies have found a link between asthma and exposure to cleaning products and disinfectants at home, such as bleach and sprays, so it is important to investigate this further.”

In 1989, the Harvard researchers found 55,185 working female nurses in the U.S. who did not have COPD, then analyzed those who were still working in 2009 over the next eight years. Participants were given a questionnaire to determine which disinfectants they used most frequently and why they used them. The disinfectants included glutaraldehyde (a strong disinfectant used for medical instruments), bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and quaternary ammonium compounds (known as “quats”). In addition to the questionnaire, they took into account factors such as age, weight and ethnicity.

During this period they found that 663 were diagnosed with the condition. “In our study population, 37% of nurses used disinfectants to clean surfaces on a weekly basis and 19% used disinfectants to clean medical instruments on a weekly basis,” says Dumas.

The study aims to highlight the lack of health guidelines when it comes to cleaning and disinfectants, especially in healthcare settings, and researchers hope their results will prompt further investigation and better safety precautions.

There are many substantial alternatives to bleach like vinegar or essential oils, and if you’d like to further rid your home of harsh chemicals, check out this article (click here).

We need more people like these researchers, who dedicate their time to ensuring our safety when it comes to items we have incorporated into our lifestyle and assume are safe, doing this kind of work. This information isn’t meant to scare anyone, especially those of us who actively use these materials, but rather to bring more awareness so that we can educate ourselves and make healthier choices. There are countless healthy and safe alternatives when it comes to what we clean with, what we wear, and what we eat. You have to play the role of researcher in your own life if you expect to make positive change, and by having an open mind, you allow yourself to accept opportunities that can further your growth, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

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Alternative News

Joe Rogan May Take Down The Original Criticism Of “The Game Changers” Documentary

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Joe Rogan recently had James Wilks, the maker of "The Game Changers" documentary on to discuss the benefits of a plant base diet and to refute a previous episode where Chris Kresser debunked it.

  • Reflect On:

    When it comes to health, it's important sometimes to suspend what we believe and have been made to believe, and simply look at the information from a neutral perspective.

Joe Rogan has long ‘criticized’ vegans in various ways, and has also emphasized his belief that one cannot be optimally healthy on a vegan diet. He’s done this a number of times, which was hard for some onlookers to watch and listen to who have educated themselves on plant-based diets. Until recently, Rogan mainly focused on guests that were geared towards promoting meat-eating as optimal, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a balance of understanding and information can go a long way to educating people.

One of the most recent examples of Joe Rogan and his guest ‘”debunking” a plant-based diet came from a critique of a recent documentary that is now airing on Netflix, called “The Game Changers,” made by filmmaker, James Wilks – a retired English mixed martial artist. The film was executively produced by James Cameron, and features interviews with the top scientists and doctors in their field who present an abundance of research and publications showing the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Not long ago, health coach and author Chris Kresser came on the “Joe Rogan Experience” after the documentary received a lot of attention, and the title of the podcast was titled: “Chris Kresser Debunks ‘The Game Changers Documentary.’

For someone like my self who has done a lot of research into the topic, it was frustrating to listen to it given the fact that it was quite clear, for me and others who had actually done thorough research from a neutral standpoint, that Kresser wasn’t really addressing all the facts, and was simply a big believer in what he was saying without even examining the information on the other side.

The challenge is, Rogan’s podcast was listened to by millions of people, and many came away actually believing the information that was said in the original debunking episode – information we later find out was completely incorrect. These types of episodes that massively mislead people are not just an issue with people who have large followings discussing vegan diets and health, but it’s a big issue with many other topics. This is why it was great that Rogan decided to have James Wilks on for a chance to defend his documentary, and the truth is he absolutely destroyed Kresser’s claims that were presented as facts in the previous podcast with Rogan. The best part was Kresser was on the show as well so he had a chance to truly make sure everyone was on the same page.

Wilks addressed every single criticism made by Kresser in the previous episode, from topics such as B12, protein amount, and protein quality, among many others. He also brought up the fact that we shouldn’t be listening to people like Kresser on such topics, but should be relying on properly published peer reviewed research that’s repeatable, non-industry conflicting research, as well as information that comes from the world’s leading scientists in the field of biology and nutrition, many of whom were presented in the Game Changers documentary. Or, people like Wilks, who have throughout done their research.  This episode really exposes how Kresser is not accurate or factual in his position on this topic, an important note for his followers.

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It’s important to keep in mind that not everything Kresser said previously had time to be addressed in this podcast, but it could have been. 100 percent of Kresser’s criticisms that were addressed were 100 percent completely debunked by Wilks, so much so that this is what Joe Rogan had to say via an Instagram post:

If interested, you can watch The Game Changers documentary on Netflix, and check out the podcast in question below.

Some Quotes From The Game Changers Documentary

One of these experts is Dr. Christina Warinner, who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010 and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). She became a Presidential Research Professor and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 2014, and is currently a Leader in Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Her work has led to some very interesting findings and conclusions:

“Humans do not have any specialized genetic anatomical or physiological adaptations to meat consumption. By contrast, we have many adaptations to plant consumption.” (The Game Changers documentary)

She goes deeper in her presentation at the 2016 International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine, and in this TEDX talk she gave a number of years ago.

Gradual increases in brain sizes of early humans have also been attributed to meat, but research is showing that “because there is not a very strong match between meat consumption and gradual increases in brain size, scientists have looked to other options. And given that plant foods are such an important part of modern humans that hunt and gather foods, the money is on plant foods and shift in the kinds of plant foods as being the major driving factor in increasing brain size.” – Nathaniel J. Dominy

“We have a brain, that just is desperate for glucose. It’s such a fussy organ, that’s the only thing it really takes in for energy. Well, meat is not a very good source of glucose, to have a big brain like this you need to eat something different. And the most efficient way to get glucose is to eat carbohydrates.” – Dr. Mark Thomas, geneticist, University College, London (The Game Changers documentary)

With overwhelming scientific evidence to many of the most common deadly diseases, I discovered that the meat, egg, and dairy industries have been engaged in a covert response, funding studies that deny this evidence while burying their involvement in the fine print. One of the hired guns paid to conduct these studies is Exponent, INC. A company whose research was used by the Tobacco industry to deny the connection between second hand smoke and cancer. For more than 50 years, Exponent has generated studies that challenge the health-risks of everything from asbestos, arsenic and and mercury, to animal foods.” – James Wilks,  “The Game Changers” documentary

“The formula, works beautifully for people selling food, it works beautifully for people selling drugs to treat the diseases that bad food causes, and it works beautifully for the media, which can give us a new story about diet, everyday. But despite the appearance in our media of confusion, there’s massive global consensus about the fundamentals of a health-promoting, and it’s a diet that every time… In every population, every kind of research, it’s a plant food predominant diet, every time.” – Dr. David Katz, Founding Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center (The Game Changers documentary)

A Related CE Articles With More Information: 

Humans Are Not Designed To Eat Meat – Leading Microbiome Scientist Explains

12,000 Doctors Urge The FDA to put Cancer Warnings on Cheese 

Scientist: Milk From Cows Has “The Most Relevant Carcinogen Ever Identified” & “Turns on Cancer”

Scientist Explains How Cow’s Milk Leeches Calcium From Your Bones & Makes Them Weaker

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Awareness

Half of All Commonly Used Drugs Seriously Affect The Gut Microbiome, Scientists Warn

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many commonly prescribed medications have been found to have a drastic affect on the "good bacteria" in our gut.

  • Reflect On:

    It is important to be aware of all potential side effects before taking a new drug to decide whether or not it's worth it for you.

The link between a healthy gut microbiome and overall well-being has been established in recent years as we are learning that around 95% of the serotonin (commonly referred to as the “happy hormone”) produced in our bodies actually comes from our gut! This is one of many reasons why it is important to take care of our health, be mindful of the foods we are eating and be aware of adverse reactions from any drugs we are taking.

A recent study presented at UEG Week 2019 (United European Gastroenterology) has found that 18 commonly prescribed prescription drugs extensively affect the taxonomic structure and metabolic potential of the gut microbiome. Another eight drugs from different categories were also found to increase antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in study participants, and that’s not good.

According to the official press release regarding the findings of the study,

“Researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen and the Maastricht University Medical Center looked at 41 commonly used drug categories and assessed 1883 faecal samples from a population-based cohort, patients with IBD and patients with IBS intermixed with healthy controls. The researchers compared the taxonomic and metabolic functions profiles of drug users to non-drug users, looking at the effect of single medication use and then combined medication use. The changes observed could increase the risk of intestinal infections, obesity and other serious conditions and disorders linked to the gut microbiome.”

In a healthy gut, we all have a microbe population living inside our intestines. This microbe population consists of tens of trillions of microorganisms, which include over 1000 various species of bacteria. There are many different factors that can affect the microbiota population in the human gut, including various forms of medication.

The drug categories that were concluded in the study to have the biggest impact on the gut microbiome are as follows:

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  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) – used to treat dyspepsia which affects between 11% and 24% of the European population. PPIs are also used to treat peptic ulcer, H. Pylori eradication, Gastro reflux and Barrett’s oesophagus.
  • Metformin – used as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, affecting 10% of European adults
  • Antibiotics – used to treat bacterial infections, taken by 34% of the European population each year
  • Laxatives – used to treat and prevent constipation, affecting 17% of European adults

More Important Findings

The study also showed that the gut microbiota of PPI users resulted in an increased level of upper gastrointestinal tract bacteria as well as increased fatty acid production. Metformin users showed higher levels of bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli).

The research also showed that seven more categories of drugs were linked to significant changes to the levels of bacteria populations found in the gut. Oral steroids were related to higher levels of methanogenic bacteria, which has is associated with an increased BMI and obesity. Also, certain antidepressant drugs (known as SSRIs) used by those who also suffer from IBS was linked to an abundance of a bacteria species called Eubacterium ramulus, which can be harmful.

Lead-researcher of the study, Arnau Vich Vila said: “We already know that the efficiency and the toxicity of certain drugs are influenced by the bacterial composition of the gastrointestinal tract and that the gut microbiota has been related to multiple health conditions; therefore, it is crucial to understand which are the consequences of medication use in the gut microbiome. Our work highlights the importance of considering the role of the gut microbiota when designing treatments and also points to new hypotheses that could explain certain side-effects associated with medication use.”

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand all potential side effects when deciding on introducing a new drug into our system. The bacteria in our gut is there for a reason and it assists our bodies with many functions and if they are killed off or thrown off-balance it could result in more serious issues down the road.

If you are experiencing any of these issues and taking any of these medications it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about it and see if there are any alternative methods for treatment.

Our health is our greatest wealth!

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