A recent study at the University of Maryland made a connection between moderate physical activity and protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s researchers suggest that physical activity can help slow age-related shrinking of the hippocampus.
Regular exercise is one of the four pillars of brain health. Even 30 minutes a day can help to maintain a healthy brain.
Looking for ways to add activity into your day? Try these ideas:
- Explore a new part of your neighborhood on foot. Plan a new walking route regularly.
- Dance party! Turn up the tunes and dance it out.
- Plant or tend to a garden – your own or a community garden
- Turn your house into a gym. Hold on to a chair for squats, do bicep curls with water bottles or soup cans.
- Relive your childhood with play – catch a ball, jump rope or play horseshoes.
How do you stay active?
ife’sDHA™ has once again partnered with the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) to celebrate the most beautiful minds in America.
Together we invited people 55 and older to submit an essay or video describing what they are doing to keep their minds beautiful, without letting age be a barrier. Our nine finalists were selected because they’re doing beautiful things with their minds through accomplishment, creativity and reinvention in the second half of their lives. Click here to meet the finalists and read their motivating stories.
To demonstrate the active lives these people are living, we created the “Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential” photo essay exhibit. This exhibit will travel across the U.S during 2014. Below are the dates and locations where you can find this beautiful and inspiring collection of photographs:
April 11-13, 2014
June 10-14, 2014
The The Creative Age, presented by the National Center for Creative Aging
July 12-16, 2014
October 18-22, 2014
November 13-15, 2014
The America’s Brain Health Index is a state-by-state ranking of brain health that delivers the data on the states where Americans are successfully incorporating the four dimensions of brain health into their daily lives and the states where more action is needed.
DSM Nutritional Products – makers of the life’sDHA brand – worked with a group of health experts and researchers, including Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Majid Fotuhi, to determine 21 key indicators of brain health for evaluating the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Check out this infographic featuring the 2014 America’s Brain Health Index:
To find out where your state ranks and learn about simple steps to improve brain health, visit www.beautiful-minds.com.
A beautiful mind is physically fit, well-nourished, creative and mentally-engaged — and the latest science indicates that there are a number of very simple but powerful things you can do to help ensure that your brain remains strong, healthy and beautiful as you age.
To inspire Americans to learn more about brain health, life’sDHA (http://www.lifesdha.com) worked with the National Center for Creative Aging (http://www.creativeaging.org) to select nine individuals who represent “the most beautiful minds in America,” based on the four dimensions of brain health — diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being.
Men and women ages 55 and older submitted essays about how they embody the four dimensions of brain health. The individuals chosen as this year’s Beautiful Minds have inspiring stories of accomplishment, creativity, and reinvention in the second half of life, and maintained healthy lifestyles that fulfilled the four dimensions of brain health (http://beautiful-minds.com/four-dimensions-of-brain-health)
This year’s Beautiful Minds include:
- Bruce Mondschain, 71, Deerfield, Ill.
- Carol Siegel, 75, Alexandria, Va.
- Cheryl Vassiliadis, 60, Hoschton, Ga.
- C.K. Perez, 81, Chicago, Ill.
- Judith Mares Lazar, 65, Washington D.C.
- Leecynth “Lee” Hunkins, 84, New York, N.Y.
- Pei Chang “Patty” Wang, 90, San Jose, Calif.
- Peter Phildius, 84, Wellesley, Mass.
- Renee McClendon, 58, Diamondhead, Miss.
Meet the 2014 Beautiful Minds on our website: visit www.beautiful-minds.com.
When it comes to brain health, challenging yourself with mental games should go hand in hand with exercise and activity for your whole body. Staying mentally and physically engaged is key to maintaining brain health, says Dr. Majid Fotuhi, author of “Boost Your Brain.”
Recent headlines about the link between exercise and brain power (http://news.ubc.ca/2014/02/06/how-exercise-can-boost-brain-power/) are a good reminder to focus on your entire body for healthy aging, he says.
“Healthy activities that you enjoy and look forward to can keep you socially engaged, an important component of a healthy brain,” says Fotuhi. Making exercise fun can also help you stick to it and form long-term healthy habits. Of course, the reasons for a healthy lifestyle go beyond brain health – your whole body will benefit.
Here are some ideas for incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle:
- Learn a new skill: Always wanted to practice karate or learn ballroom dancing? It’s never too late! Trying something different challenges your brain and body in new ways.
- Make it a walking date: Instead of connecting with friends over a latte or a glass of wine, go for a hike together. Combining socializing with exercise is brain-health multitasking.
- Take a class: Rather than pounding the treadmill solo, try a pilates, yoga or aerobics class. You’ll be motivated by a group of people with the same healthy goals as you.
What are some ways that you add exercise to your daily life?
Anyone who has ever suffered from insomnia or even a few bad nights of tossing and turning knows just how important sleep is for a well-functioning brain during the day. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night can make a huge difference to your overall heart and brain health, says Dr. Michael Roizen, co-author of “You: The Owner’s Manual” and many other titles.
Getting enough sleep can be easier said than done, but Dr. Roizen is sharing some tips on how to improve the quality of your zzzzs.
- Set your alarm clock: Get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Plan for it: Count back 5 or 6-90 minute periods from when you need be awake, and then plan on being in bed that number of hours before the alarm clock is going to trigger. Plan the 30 minutes before that to do meditation for 10 minutes, essential preparations for the next day for 10 minutes (like preparing a lunch) and 10 minutes for hygiene.
- Cool down: Try lowering your thermostat – a cooler room is more conducive to sleep.
- Snack smarter: Choose foods in the evening that contains sleep-inducing melatonin, like oats or rice. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime.
- Keep distractions out of the bedroom: don’t bring distracting laptops, TVs or work materials to bed with you. A TV in the bedroom also decreases sex by 50 percent, according to Dr. Roizen.
- Your night lights can be red wavelength only—that set of wavelengths doesn’t affect melatonin secretion, so your sleep after waking to use your bathroom is more likely to be good.
How do you wind down in the evenings?
In our last blog post, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. “Even if you follow a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle can make it difficult to obtain the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, a leading registered dietitian and author of several books, including “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.”
So, how else can we get the nutrition we need? One easy way to maintain good nutrition is to enhance your diet with supplements. The problem for many is that the frequency of new studies combined with the staggering number of supplements available makes it increasingly confusing to know what is right.
To help you put nutrition news in context, Somer is debunking a few of the common misconceptions about dietary supplements:
Misconception 1: It’s realistic to obtain all essential nutrients from food.
Even experienced nutritionists have a hard time designing diets that provide all the essential nutrients for one day, while busy Americans often struggle to follow highly regimented diets. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but the best approach is to focus on eating nutrient-rich foods as much as possible, such as dark leafy greens (good source of lutein for eye health), colorful fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, and fats (such as salmon, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA). Then fill the nutritional gaps with a daily moderate-dose, broad-range multivitamin. Another supplement I recommend is either a fish oil or a vegetarian source of DHA from algae, because DHA and EPA benefit eye, heart, and brain health,” says Somer.
Misconception 2: Multivitamins have no health benefits.
Although recent studies report that vitamin and mineral supplements do not lower one’s risk of heart disease or cancer, these supplements are still proven to be beneficial to one’s health. “If a study found that people who drank water had no lower risk for dementia, would you stop drinking water?,” asks Somer. Of course not, because water, like essential vitamins and minerals, is crucial to health and there is no controversy over its importance for human nutrition.
Misconception 3: Multivitamins are a waste of money.
Multivitamins are a relatively inexpensive tool to achieve proper nutrition. “No reputable health expert will argue that supplements can or should replace a good diet and a healthy lifestyle,” says Somer. However, multivitamins and nutritional supplements are one factor in a pattern of living that is known to maintain overall well-being. Think of multivitamins as an insurance policy for optimal nutrition they are meant to supplement, not replace, a healthy diet.
Do you use dietary supplements to reach your health goals?
For more nutrition information, visit http://www.vitaminsinmotion.com.
When it comes to getting essential nutrients through food, it’s not enough to add the right foods to your menu, you also need to look at how often and how much of those foods you are eating.
Do you regularly eat a whole cup of sautéed spinach or get three weekly servings of salmon or other fatty fish? Research shows that Americans aren’t making the nutritional grade and, therefore, can lack important vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K and even vitamin C.
Data on dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index to compare what people say they eat to recommended dietary guidelines, found that children and adults scored 56 points out of a possible 100 (equivalent to an “F” grade), while seniors fared only slightly better at 65 points (equivalent to a “D” grade). The American Heart Association agreed with those findings in its 2013 report on heart disease and stroke, concluding that poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the main factors contributing to the high prevalence of heart disease in the U.S.
While many of us are falling short on meeting recommended dietary guidelines, it’s clear from the sheer amount of healthy lifestyle articles, diets, methods and tips out there that we are striving to be healthier.
Here are a few easy to ways to add extra nutrition to your meals:
- Add a cup of spinach or other leafy greens to your next smoothie. You won’t taste the spinach at all and your drink will be pretty shade of green.
- Add finely chopped veggies to your pasta sauce, soups and casseroles.
- Swap out white pasta and bread and cereals for whole grain (aim for low-sugar and high-fiber options too).
Do you aim to meet the recommended dietary guidelines? How do you get your get your essential nutrients?
It doesn’t look like winter is going anywhere in a hurry. Warm up with this soothing soup from nutritionist Elizabeth Somer. “Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup is sure to be a crowd-pleaser,” says Elizabeth. “It’s delicious and comforting on a cold winter day.”
Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
1 49.5-ounce can chicken broth
1 pound chicken breast, skinless and boneless
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups onion, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
2 cups cooked egg noodles
1/2 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
1/2 cup fat-free half & half
1.) Place two cups broth and chicken breast in a skillet, cover, and simmer over medium heat until chicken is just cooked through, turning once, approximately 15 minutes. Set chicken aside to cool, then dice. Save broth.
2.) In a large, nonstick saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until onion is transparent, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle vegetables with flour, oregano, poultry seasoning, and salt. Toss to coat. Continue to stir gently for 1 minute.
3) Add broth from cooked chicken and remaining broth to vegetable mixture, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Gently simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Add diced chicken, thyme, and peas and simmer for 2 minutes or until peas are heated through. Add noodles, milk, and half & half, stir, and heat until steaming, but not boiling. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition analysis per serving: 215 Calories; 17 percent fat (4 grams); 1 gram saturated fat; 41 percent protein; 42 percent carbohydrate; 3.2 grams fiber.
Have you ever wondered what the different types of vitamins do for your body? We break down the answers to your burning questions in a simple visual about must-have vitamins and nutrients for your body.