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Exercise: How It Can Make Your Brain Bigger, Smarter, & Healthier

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By now, you’ve heard of the many health benefits of exercise (here, here and here). You may even be exercising to prevent or help control chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. But did you know that exercise can boost your brain’s ability to think, remember, and stave off age-related cognitive decline?

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Literally, exercise can change your brain. Perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s.

How Does Exercise Help Your Brain?

Exercise helps the brain both directly and indirectly. The indirect effect comes from its ability to reduce or prevent chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, while improving mood and reducing anxiety. These diseases and conditions produce progressive brain dysfunction and mental deterioration over time.

The direct effect of exercise on brain health has to do with its impact on brain cells through what’s called neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. A study out of Princeton University showed how exercise induces neuroplasticity by increasing the number of cells in the ventral hippo-campus and increasing the levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter. Check out this video.

How does exercise do this?

Scientists believe that exercise increases the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that the body produces. This protein has been dubbed “Miracle-Gro for the brain” by Harvard psychiatrist John J. Ratey. It increases voltage in the brain by binding to receptors in the synapses that activate genes to produce brain-healthy neurotransmitters while sprouting new brain cells.

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For you, the benefit is better memory, heightened learning capacity, and better coping skills — not a bad payoff for your investment.

Benefits to the Brain through Exercise

Here is a list of some of the brain benefits you can expect from regular exercise:

  • Improved cognition, executive function (impulse inhibition, focus, goal management, etc.), and the ability to think clearly
  • Increased positive moods and a decrease in depression and anxiety
  • Changes in the physical structure (increase in the size of the hippo-campus) and chemical composition of the brain (higher levels of BDNF, GABA, endorphins, glutamate, etc.)
  • Reduced stress (augmented relaxation response) and enhanced capacity to cope with life’s challenges
  • Better sleep patterns.

brain-benefitsNot bad for something so simple as exercise.

What About Alzheimer’s?

The possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease strikes fear in all of us. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there will be an additional 10 million cases in the U.S. in the next few decades.

With no direct cure available at this time, emphasizing prevention may be the best route. Exercise, according to some research, may be a useful tool in your efforts to stave off this dreaded disease.

Researchers have found a link between exercise and brain health that may keep the brain young and able to resist degenerative changes. Research published in May 2­016 by Nathan Johnson, Ph.D. of the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences concluded that “being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and confers some protection from dementia, and conversely that people who live sedentary lifestyles, especially those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, might be more susceptible.”

Exercise at any age can keep the brain young and reduce the chances of developing dementia, especially for those at high genetic risk.

My advice? Get off the couch and get moving.

What Type of Exercise Is Best for your Brain?

There is a wide variety of exercises available to you when getting in shape, but which type of exercise is specifically best for your brain and how much exercise is needed remains unclear.

Current research is beginning to piece together how various forms of exercise affect the brain and can potentially stave off age-related deterioration.

Let’s take a look at some of the current research.

Aerobics  

Study 1 – For the first time, in a study published earlier this year at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, scientists compared aerobics, resistance training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a group of rats.

One group used running wheels (aerobics), one group climbed walls with small weights attached to their tails (resistance training), and another used small treadmills with intermittent slow and fast running (HIIT) for seven weeks.

Results

Aerobic activity – The rats performing steady aerobic exercise showed high levels of neurogenesis, more BDNF, and hippocampal tissue swollen with new neurons. The further they ran, the greater the number of new cells.

HIIT – Rats performing high intensity intervals showed fewer new cells than the aerobic group.

Resistance Training – The weightlifting rats, although much stronger, did not exhibit much neurogenesis.

Study 2 – Researchers from the University of Muenster, Germany assessed post-exercise learning performance of 27 volunteers who were assigned to do either 40 minutes of high-impact sprints, low-impact aerobic running, or a period of rest. BDNF levels for all participants were measured prior to exercise.

Results  

Post-exercise, those who performed high-impact activity showed a 20% faster rate of learning vocabulary than the other two groups. The high-impact group also demonstrated higher levels of BDNF and other cerebral markers of brain health such as dopamine and epinephrine.

Yoga

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers studied yoga’s effect on cognition (executive function) of 30 female college-age participants who performed three different testing sessions consisting of yoga (stretches, breathing exercises, and meditation), aerobics (20-minute session on a treadmill at 60% – 70% incline), and a baseline assessment.

Results

Results showed that cognitive performance after the yoga session was superior to both the aerobic group and the baseline assessment in regards to shorter reaction times, increased accuracy, and working memory tasks. The performance of the aerobic and baseline groups was not significantly different from one another.

Resistance Training

A study out of the University of British Columbia took a large group of women between the ages of 65 and 75 who were already enrolled in a brain health study and had already received a brain scan. The study focused on women whose brain scans had indicated the presence of white matter lesions (age-related holes in the brain associated with memory loss).

The women were assigned to one of three groups for one year, one performing resistance training once per week, the second twice per week, and the third doing stretching and balance training.

Results

The women who performed only balance and stretching and those who weight trained once per week showed disturbing increases in white matter lesions. However, the women who worked out twice per week had much less deterioration in white matter and less brain shrinkage.

Conclusion

Current research is unclear and even contradictory as to which exercise is best for your brain, its long term effects, and the amount of time one must commit in order to reap positive results.

However, research does support the notion that exercise sustains proper brain function and emotional health, and may even prevent or slow neurological and psychiatric disease. Exercise has been associated with reduced risk of age-related Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases.

Prescription: For the time being, it seems best to commit to an exercise regimen that incorporates a variety of exercise formats (resistance training, aerobics, stretching, and balance), is moderately intense, and conducted at least three times per week.

Whatever you decide, make sure it gets your body moving. Good luck.

Always consult with your physician before embarking on an exercise program.

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So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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What If Everything We Know About Depression Was Wrong? [Video]

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There is a lot more to depression than currently meets the eye. If it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, then there is still something that is causing it. It's time to dig deeper and shed some light on this issue that affects millions worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are we more depressed now more than ever? Our current society isn't set up for us all to have a fair chance of living the best possible life imaginable.

It is no secret, the amount of people who are suffering from mild to severe depression is astronomical, at an all-time high. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that over 300 Million people around the world have some form of depression. Not to mention many sufferers go undiagnosed. What is going on here? Science tells us that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but why are we seeing the rise illness at such alarming rates? Perhaps, it’s time to rethink what we think we know about depression.

Is it possible that it is not our brains that are causing us to be depressed, but rather our society? We do not have our basic needs met, we have to work hard to afford to live, often doing jobs in which we have no passion for. We have debt that keeps us completely enslaved to this whole never-ending cycle, and through all this, we are expected to be feel good?

Whether we are working a job with a 6-figure salary or a minimum wage job, many of us are still depressed. Money won’t make us happy, although this is what we are often led to believe. Even those pulling in large salaries find it difficult to find the time to spend with their families, or do something that they are passionate about or brings them joy.

Why are we the only species on the planet that has to pay for our food, water, and shelter? This is such a simple question that is rarely asked.

Now this isn’t to say we blame our society for how we feel, because ultimately WE have control over how we feel. It’s simply that our environment makes it no easier. True peace, is found within, yet our society is pushed to be so distracted that we find little time to go within and find that peace. Instead we’re in constant survival mode.

Opening Up The Dialogue

The video below is a brilliant explanation by author, Johann Hari. He describes an alternate view of what is really causing us to be so depressed in the first place. He has suffered from depression as well and was convinced that this issue was all in his head — the chemical imbalance we hear so much about. He felt it was a sign of weakness and was ashamed of his condition.

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After being prescribed anti-depressant medication and being on the highest dose possible, Hari was still suffering. This is what led him to realize that there had to be more to this issue than a chemical imbalance. After all, what kept causing these feelings to reemerge?

Check out the video below to hear the insight he’s gained after years of studying the true causes of depression.

Where Do We Go From Here?

By talking about this issue, in-depth, and opening up this dialogue, perhaps we can gain new insight in regards to what we can actually do to begin to try and solve this problem. We don’t have to live a life of despair and hopelessness, there are solutions to this issue and at the very least it’s worth a shot, especially when it seems as though all else has failed.

If there is a chemical imbalance within the brain, something has caused that, and as said in the video, there are a number of different things that may be contributing to that. Lack of nature, connection, purpose, holding on to grief, shame, and trauma. As mentioned, we also spend little time turning within and truly reflecting on self. This is probably the greatest relief found in moving beyond depression.

Can we find out what is truly ailing us in order to let it go so we can move on with our lives and thrive as we were meant to?

Much Love

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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U.S. Hesitates To Approve Resolution To Promote Breastfeeding In Order To Protect Corporate Interests

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    At a World Health Organization meeting, The U. S. Delegation was the sole objector to a resolution to encourage breast-feeding, in favor of corporate interests.

  • Reflect On:

    When will we, as a collective, be able to take our power back from corporations so that they can no longer have a negative influence on the health and well-being of humanity?

Let me know if you’ve seen this playing out in the geopolitical arena before:

  1. A proposal is made to a large governing body that is in the interests of humanity
  2. A state power objects because the proposal is not in the particular interests of corporate sponsors of that state power
  3. A battle ensues, where the virtually self-evident truths of what is of interest to humanity are countered by arguments of cunning deceptive pretense
  4. Whoever is most powerful wins the battle regardless of the cogency or sincerity of their respective arguments

Familiar? Sure it is. It plays out weekly in the headlines, across a swath of issues of human concern: our health, safety, freedom, and prosperity. Let’s take a look at the latest example concerning a breastfeeding resolution made recently to the World Health Organization.

1. The Proposal

According to this New York Times article, a resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.

2016 study in The Lancet found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.

It is a matter of debate whether the World Health Organization is fundamentally working on behalf of humanity, but in the case of this resolution, it appears that its passing would clearly have both health and economic benefits for the people of the planet.

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2. The Objection

Before the resolution was brought to the floor the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations. American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

The State Department declined to respond to questions, saying it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. However the Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in the effort to modify the resolution, explained in an email that,

“The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children. We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.”

Ah, the care and concern over human welfare by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services is heart-warming, especially as an organization so fastidiously sucking the golden teet of large corporations.

3. The Battle

Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was first confronted by the American delegation. If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. In addition to the trade threats, Todd C. Chapman, the United States ambassador to Ecuador, suggested in meetings with officials in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, that the Trump administration might also retaliate by withdrawing the military assistance it has been providing in northern Ecuador, a region wracked by violence spilling across the border from Colombia, according to an Ecuadorean government official who took part in the meeting.

The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States. Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico, and the United States.

During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said. Washington is the single largest contributor to the health organization, providing $845 million, or roughly 15 percent of its budget, last year.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s. “What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,” she said.

4. The Outcome

In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them. A Russian delegate said the decision to introduce the breast-feeding resolution was a matter of principle.

“We’re not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world,” said the delegate, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He said the United States did not directly pressure Moscow to back away from the measure. Nevertheless, the American delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.

The final resolution preserved most of the original wording, though American negotiators did get language removed that called on the W.H.O. to provide technical support to member states seeking to halt “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.” The United States also insisted that the words “evidence-based” accompany references to long-established initiatives that promote breast-feeding, which critics described as a ploy that could be used to undermine programs that provide parents with feeding advice and support.

Theatre Of The Absurd

It is worth reading the New York Times article itself to see that, while it does clearly lay out the egregious abuse of power that corporations can bring to the political area, the main purpose of the article was to blame Donald Trump for the entire arsenal of strong-arm tactics, even framing the corporations fundamentally as bystanders.

If you are able to disentangle the anti-Trump rhetoric, what you will find underneath is a kind of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ playing out in front of our eyes, again and again, where there is a clash between good (in the interests of humanity) and evil (in the interests of the few). I can’t help but think that at some transcendent level, this drama continues to play over and over again in the media to somehow wake us up to this reality we have been condoning; that we as a collective have been willing to give our power over to corporations to act against the best interests of humanity simply for their own profit.

If so, it’s time for us, as individuals and as a collective, to take our power back and create a world where large corporate entities are dissolved or stripped of the power to continue to negatively impact the health and well-being of humanity.

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

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Nearly 1/3 Of Early Deaths Could Be Prevented By Giving Up Meat, Says Harvard

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    More and more evidence is emerging that highlights the tremendous benefits of adopting a plant-based diet. This lifestyle can have a drastic impact on our environment, animal welfare and our health.

  • Reflect On:

    What small changes could you make in your diet today to protect yourself from easily preventable diseases? Why is it that we are so addicted to meat to begin with? Have you considered at least cutting down meat intake?

Whether it be from a place of compassion, growing concern for environmental sustainability or a more thorough understanding of what it really means to be healthy, one thing is clear — more and more people are cutting out or at least cutting back on meat and other animal products, and for good reason. Scientists from the University of Harvard have found that at least one-third of all early deaths could be prevented if everyone moved over to a vegetarian diet.

Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School says that the overwhelming evidence in regards to the benefits of a plant-based diet has been extremely underrated.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that around 24 percent or, 141,000 deaths each year in Britain were entirely preventable, the majority of those numbers were due to smoking, alcohol or obesity.

New figures from Harvard are now suggesting that at a minimum, 200,000 lives could be spared each year if people were to simply cut meat from their diets.

While speaking at the Unite to Cure Fourth International Vatican Conference in Vatican City, Dr. Willet said, “We have just been doing some calculations looking at the question of how much could we reduce mortality shifting towards a healthy, more plant-based diet, not necessarily totally vegan, and our estimates are about one-third of deaths could be prevented.

“That’s not even talking about physical activity or not smoking, and that’s all deaths, not just cancer deaths. That’s probably an underestimate as well as that doesn’t take into account the fact that obesity is important and we control for obesity.

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“When we start to look at it we see that healthy diet is related to a lower risk of almost everything that we look at. Perhaps not too surprising because everything in the body is connected by the same underlying processes.”

Another speaker at the conference, British-born Professor, David Jenkins of the University of Toronto, credited with developing the glycemic index, which outlines how carbohydrates impact blood sugar, also told the conference that the benefits of a plant-based diet have been ‘undersold.’

According to Jenkins, humans would do better by following a “simiam” diet, similar to that of lowland gorillas who eat stems, leaves, vines, and fruits compared to the increasingly popular “paleo” diet, which cuts out carbohydrates and encourages regular consumption of meat.

Where’s The Science?

Dr. Jenkins and his team recently teamed up with The Bronx Zoo in New York and traveled to central Africa to research and record the feeding habits of gorillas.

After recreating the diet for humans, translating to 63 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, they observed a 35 percent fall in cholesterol in only two weeks, which is the equivalent of taking statins.

“That was quite dramatic,” he said, “We showed that there was no real difference between what we got with the diet and what we got with a statin.”

Statins are a prescription drug that is often prescribed by doctors to patients with high cholesterol in an attempt to stave off heart disease. Nearly 15.5 million people are currently eligible for statins equating most men over 60 and most women over 65. Because of side effects, many prefer not to or stop taking the drugs — what if the answer was much more simple the whole time?

According to Dr. Jenkins, “We’re saying you’ve got a choice, you can change your diet to therapeutically meaningful change or you can take a statin. Drug or diet.”

President of the Committee for Responsible Medicine has also stated that people need to wake up to the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

“I think we’re underestimating the effect,” he told delegates. “I think people imagine that a healthy diet has only a modest effect and a vegetarian diet might help you lose a little bit of weight. But when these diets are properly constructed I think they are enormously powerful.

“A low-fat vegan diet is better than any other diet I have ever seen for improving diabetes. With regards to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, we are seeing tremendous potential there too. Partly because of things we are avoiding and cholesterol but also because of the magical things that are in vegetables and fruits which just aren’t in spam.”

Not Sure If A Plant-Based Lifestyle Is Right For You?

Vegetarianism and veganism is no longer a fad or a hipster trend — the benefits, for our environment, to learn to live compassionately towards all beings and for our health are countless and evidence is only growing. With more and more plant-based alternatives, vegetarian restaurants, recipe blogs and a large growing community, it has never been easier to consider cutting back on meat and other animal products.

If it is too drastic for you to just cut out these products altogether, that’s fine in the short term. By starting small, perhaps by making one day a week a meatless day, be it Meatless Monday, or some other day, you can begin to get a feel for plant-based recipes and meals that could be a nice segue for your transition. From there, you may want to consider something called Reducetarianism, which is pretty much what it sounds, drastically lowering your consumption of meat and other animal products. Often when people think about adopting a plant-based diet they start to think of all of the things that they will no longer be able to have.

Well, fortunately, this isn’t an all-or-nothing type of scenario; by significantly lowering your consumption of these products you are still making a huge difference. You can eat a primarily plant-based diet and eat your grass-fed, ethically raised steak, too — if that’s your thing.

These rules aren’t set in stone, play around with it, start incorporating more fruits and veggies, taking days off meat, find what works best for you and your lifestyle! You may find that the less meat you are eating the more in tune with your body you are and the easier it is to see what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.

Have you recently made the transition to a plant-based diet? We’d love to get the discussion going over at the CE Community on Facebook.

Much Love


Related CE Articles

Why I’m A Weekday Vegetarian (Video)

Would You Go Vegan To Save The World? New Study Suggests It’s The Best Option

If You Think A Plant-Based Diet Means Eating Salad & Broccoli All Day Then Read This

Why Veganism In The U.S. Has Grown 600% In The Past 3 Years

Why Killing Animals For Food Will Soon Be A Thing Of The Past — According To Richard Branson

Everything You Need To Know About Getting your Protein From Plants

Studies Show What Happens To Hear When You Go Vegan Or Vegetarian

Federal Report Finds Plant-Based Diet Is Best: The Meat Industry Is Not Happy About It

And countless others…. HERE.

Free David Wilcock Screening: Disclosure & The Fall of the Cabal

We interviewed David about what is happening within the cabal and disclosure. He shared some incredible insight that is insanely relevant to today.

So far, the response to this interview has been off the charts as people are calling it the most concise update of what's happening in our world today.

Watch the interview here.
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