Lifestyle Changes to Prevent and Reverse Memory Loss

Last week’s newsletter explored diet and lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s and how your diet can impact your brain. Check it out here in case you missed it
Your food and lifestyle choices determine if you are at high risk for developing memory loss or not. Today, I want to give you tips on how to create a lifestyle your brain will love as well as foods that nourish your brain (and also ones that are harmful).


Exercise

We all need physical movement to be healthy, especially if your work entails a lot of sitting down. Exercise is also an important therapeutic strategy to reduce risk for dementia.
 
Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to meet the metabolic demand of the body as the cells convert more glucose into fuel or energy. The heart then pumps blood faster to meet the oxygen demand and to eliminate the carbon dioxide, as a byproduct of metabolism. This is why aerobic exercise is also referred to as cardio. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, running, dancing, and swimming.
Take a moment to evaluate your lifestyle. From 1 to 10, where 1 is sedentary and 10 is active, where are you?
Depending on your answer, look for opportunities where you can improve. For example, squeeze in a 10-minute walk every day. It’s a lot better than nothing! Current recommendations are 150 minutes of walking weekly or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. Start where you can. Any amount is better than none.

Sleep Well

Poor sleep is a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Want to maintain brain health even when you age? Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every time you hit the sheets at night.
 
If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain cannot form pathways for new learning and memories. You might notice that when you lack sleep, it’s harder for you to concentrate and respond quickly.
Consider sleep to be as vital as food and water.

Manage Stress Effectively

Everybody deals with stress, but the way you manage it is a game changer. Stress management techniques such as imagery, yoga, deep breathing, friend time, exercise, and my favorite HeartMath are all helpful. Why I love HeartMath tools for managing my stress so much is because you can do them anywhere and anytime (and that is a great thing because stress can hit us anywhere and anytime…the sooner you can address it, the better!). One super easy HeartMath tool is called Heart-Focused Breathing and all you need to do is to focus your attention on your heart and imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart or chest area. Make your breath a little slower and deeper than usual.
Doesn’t that feel great?!
Here are 10 other simple tips to help manage and reduce your stress levels.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Certain foods can badly affect your brain. The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain are:

  • Sugary drinks and food – This causes brain inflammation and memory impairment.
  • Refined carbs – This refers to sugars and highly processed grains like white flour; it also causes insulin resistance.
  • Foods high in trans-fats – These are chemically modified unsaturated fats that have a negative effect on the brain. You don’t need to worry about the trans-fats that are naturally occurring in small amounts in some foods like dairy. Our concern is the artificial trans-fats in shortening, margarine, frosting, microwavable popcorn, frozen foods, and so on.
  • Highly processed foods – Avoid these because they usually are high in sugar, added fats, and salt.
  • Aspartame – An artificial sweetener! Definitely a no-no! Phenylalanine, one of aspartame’s components crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and disrupts neurotransmitter production.
  • Alcohol – Drinking a glass of wine here and there may be fine, but excessive alcohol consumption is not healthy. Binge drinking and drinking to the point of slurred speech is particularly damaging to your brain.
  • Fish high in mercury – Though fish is a good source of protein and healthy fats, you must be aware that fish is highly susceptible to accumulating mercury, most especially predatory fish such as shark and swordfish. Mercury is neurotoxic and can permanently damage the brain.

Instead focus on eating foods that make your brain function optimally. Make sure you get enough healthy fats like omega 3 fats from fatty fish (like salmon and sardines), coconut oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, avocados, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
 
It is also good if you can supplement your diet with high quality multivitamins and other food supplements for brain function, such as probiotics, since good gut health is crucial in brain function as well.
 
These are simple lifestyle changes that can create a big impact in your life, especially during your senior years. Won’t you love the elderly version of you who is still able to think clearly and enjoy all the good memories you’re creating?
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health, so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease through Diet

Did you know that Alzheimer’s is now the seventh leading cause of death?
 
Over 25 million people in the world are suffering from dementia, mostly Alzheimer’s disease. And by 2050, Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 106 million people worldwide!
 
Alzheimer’s has a tremendous impact on affected individuals, caregivers, and society. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can take its toll on your health.

The good news is… We now know of a way to prevent or even reverse cognitive decline or memory loss! 
 
Alzheimer’s doesn’t happen abruptly. It is a slowly progressing illness that may start when you are younger, taking years and years to develop.
 
Age and genetic susceptibility contribute to Alzheimers. However, there are factors that will put you into a higher risk of developing this illness such as cigarette smoking, obesity, and diabetes.
 
Yes! Although age and genes are unavoidable, we do still have control over our lifestyle.
 
Replacing harmful habits with healthy practices is where you have a huge opportunity.

Alzheimer’s and Blood Sugar

 The same enzyme that clears insulin also clears amyloid plaque from your brain which is why high blood sugar/high insulin/diabetes puts you at risk for Alzheimer’s!
Swapping out sugar and refined carbs with nutrient-dense carbs and healthy sugar alternatives is a huge step in the right direction to preventing disease. Want bread? Try this as a healthy and delicious option!
Healthy fats are also critical to the health of your whole body and that is another layer you have control over (avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, butter rather than soy/corn/canola oil). 
High sugar, refined carbs and refined oils can lead to diabesity, a condition where diabetes and obesity coexist and manifests insulin resistance.
 
Insulin resistance?
 
Insulin is supposed to carry glucose (sugar from food) from the blood to the cells to be used as fuel or energy. What happens when you have insulin resistance is that your cells do not respond to insulin. Because of this, glucose builds up in the blood and the body compensates by producing more insulin. The blood ends up having high glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia). Now, when there is too much sugar in the brain, it becomes inflamed and damages the brain, starting a brain-damage cascade that leads to the decline in memory and other thinking skills, eventually leading to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
 
Can you now see the connection of eating high-sugar, high-carbs, low-fat diet and Alzheimer’s? This is why scientists consider Alzheimer’s “Type 3 Diabetes”.
 
According to research, if you have diabetes, you are four times at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, and if you have pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, you are more likely to have pre-dementia or mild cognitive disorder (MCD).

An Ounce of Prevention

What would you do to change this? How do we prevent Alzheimer’s?
 
You can start by modifying your lifestyle, especially your food choices. Start by ditching or reducing the foods/drinks that spike your blood sugar such as sugar, refined carbs, and alcohol, and take healthy fats such as avocados, walnuts, and almonds.
 
Next week, I will give you several lifestyle tips that your brain will love.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health, so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca 

Are You Sympathetic Dominant? What It Is and How to Deal with It

Have you heard about sympathetic dominance?

Sympathetic dominance is basically being in constant “fight or flight” mode–and feeling unable to switch this off!  Work, family, kids, social demands, unhealthy relationships…food choice, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, not enough down time–all contribute to becoming a sympathetic dominant. Let’s talk more about this dominance and how it effects your health.

Understanding How the Nervous System Works

Your nervous system has two major parts: the central nervous system, which basically is the brain and spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system, which refers to the nerves outside the central nervous system.

The Peripheral Nervous System

The Peripheral Nervous System has 2 parts:

  • Somatic Nervous System
  • Autonomic Nervous System

The somatic nervous system is commonly known as voluntary nervous system. This consists of peripheral nerve fibers that carry sensory information from the distal parts of the body going to the central nervous system to be interpreted. In addition, the somatic nervous system also contains nerve fibers that enable movement of the skeletal muscles. For example, when you touch a hot object, the sensation is transferred by the sensory nerves to the brain, and as a response, the brain will cause the skeletal muscles of the hand to withdraw immediately, through the peripheral motor nerves. Of course, this happens in less than a second.

As the name implies, we have full control of this branch of the nervous system. Skeletal muscles move and rest when we want them to.

This is not so with the autonomic (involuntary nervous system). We don’t have conscious control over it, meaning it operates automatically–on its own.

The autonomic nervous system makes body functions such as heartbeat, digestion, and breathing possible. This nervous system provides innervation (supply of nerves) to the smooth muscles of the internal organs and glands so that they can carry on their function accordingly and secrete hormones as needed.

This nervous system is further classified into two branches:

Sympathetic Nervous System (Arousing/Fight-or-Flight)

The sympathetic nervous system is activated when there is a trigger, such as a sense of threat or danger. When this happens your body moves on to the fight-or-flight mode. Your heartbeat races, you look pale and cold, your pupils dilate, you have a burst of energy, and so on. 

The fight-or-flight mode, also called acute stress response, is just basically a response to stress, whether it be mental or physical. This concept was first introduced by an American physiologist, Walter Cannon, in the 1920’s. Cannon observed that our body undergoes a series of rapid changes to face a threatening experience or an emergency.

Upon the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline. These two neurotransmitters cause bodily changes such as rapid heart beat, increased breathing, and shunting of blood from the skin to the muscles, and giving you more energy to be ready to take action.

Once the threat is gone, it takes about 20-60 seconds until the body returns to its relaxed state. However, as I said earlier, our 21st-century lifestyle brings us chronic stress which keeps us in constant fight-or-flight mode!

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system operates is your “rest and digest” branch. Its purpose is to conserve and store energy, regulate body functions such as digestion and urination, and promote healing and repair all over your body.

Are You Sympathetic Dominant?

Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are necessary for maintaining your body’s stable or balanced condition called homeostasis. However, given the number of stressors we face each day, we can easily become sympathetic dominant.
 
Check out these common symptoms of sympathetic dominance:

  • Shoulder and neck tightness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Gut problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Light sleep and vivid dreams
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sugar or salt cravings
  • Feeling cold
  • Irritability
  • Water retention
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Reduced appetite

If you don’t have these symptoms, good for you! If you have, there’s still good news for you. We can help your autonomic nervous system work in balance. Because our problem here is the dominance of the fight-or-flight reaction, which leads to becoming anxious and unable to relax, the following methods are effective for stimulating the “rest and digest” mode:

Avoid Multitasking

I know it’s tempting to do as many tasks at once as possible, BUT multitasking results in a loss of focus and more errors. Also, having to deal with lots of things that demand your attention simultaneously increases your stress level…which becomes a trigger to the fight-or-flight mode.

Do Relaxation Techniques

Simply put: We are going to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so that it will take over and allow your body to rest and heal. Getting a massage and attending a yoga class can help, but there are also relaxation techniques that you can do right away.

  • Imagery – Imagining you are in a peaceful, calming place while you engage all your senses.
  • Abdominal breathing – Put your hand on your stomach; if it slightly rises up and down when you breathe, you are doing the right thing.
  • Mindfulness – According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with intention.
  • Stimulate your lips – The lips are full of parasympathetic fibers, and stimulating the lips mean activating the rest and digest mode.
  • Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Bodywork.

Additionally, here are 4 more great ways to get out off the fight-flight hamster wheel:

Reduce Caffeine Intake

There are over 20 harmful effects of caffeine. Specifically, when you rely on coffee first thing in the morning, caffeine forces your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol (stress hormone). If you are struggling with sleep, anxiety, or digestive problems, reducing caffeine is really important. You can also try drinking water when you first wake up and wait until 10 am before having caffeine. Having caffeine with your first meal (with some fat and protein) is also helpful.

Get the Sleep You Need

An average American only sleeps 4-6 hours a night while an average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Not having enough sleep weakens your immune system, decreases your cognitive function, leads to weight imbalance, blood sugar imbalance, and eventually lowers your quality of life.

Reset your circadian rhythm by having a set time to sleep and wake up. If you’ve been battling with insomnia, you can try diffusing lavender essential oil in your room, dimming the light, taking a warm bath, and turning off screens an hour before bedtime.

Exercise Smart

To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, choose grounding exercises over stimulating and high-movement exercises. Yoga, pilates, and simply walking are nourishing to the nervous system in chronic stress in a flight or fight mode.

Modify Your Diet

What you eat affects how you feel. While no two people are exactly alike in their optimal diet, it’s ideal to choose a wide variety of fresh organic foods whenever possible to fuel your body.

Bananas, broccoli sprouts, bison, bone broth, celery, Celtic sea salt, camu camu, cauliflower, cottage cheese, kiwi, liver, orange juice, and papaya are some of the foods that support the adrenals.

Most of the foods mentioned above also support the nervous system with the addition of avocados, carrots, organ meats, oysters, salmon, sunflower seeds, coconut water, cherries, leafy greens, walnuts, and collagen.

Also, did you know that certain foods like Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and chamomile can be helpful to manage stress and anxiety?

Start Taking Action

Try following two or more of these suggestions to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Track your progress with a journal –It makes it more intentional and shows how committed you are to making necessary lifestyle changes so that you can finally make yourself rest, digest, and heal.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. 

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca