Monday, April 7, 2014

5 simple, effective brain health tips for women

A press release came my way that I thought was worth sharing since it provided insights from Kristen Willeumier, PhD, the Director of Research at The Amen Clinic. 

Willeumier is on the advisory board of Total Woman Gym + Spa, California’s largest gym and day spa uniquely designed for women. She supports the Total Woman Gym + Spa in their efforts to include brain health as part of woman's fitness, and says that training the brain also improves health, fitness, weight loss and happiness. I say "Hooray" for all that!  

1.       Know your Brain
According to Dr. Willeumier, “The female brain is significantly more active than the male brain. “Women tend to be more empathetic, collaborative and nurturing than males; but, this elevated brain activity can make some females more prone to psychiatric issues such as anxiety and depression”—which, of course affect fitness and health. 
2.       Feed the Brain
“What you eat is utilized by the brain and body to help maintain the integrity of your cellular membranes and to generate hormones, maintain cellular structure, build muscle and provide cellular energy,” Dr. Willeumier says. A few brain diet tips from her seminar include: avoiding excess sugar, gluten and dairy, which can cause a toxic, inflammatory environment; consuming plenty of brain healthy fats like Omega 3s, flaxseed oil and coconut oil to stave off depression and anxiety; and taking brain directed multivitamins and probiotics. 
3.       Hydrate the Brain
 Since the body is comprised of 50-70% water and it requires that you consume approximately half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. “I cannot stress enough the importance of drinking clean water daily,” she says. “Not only will it help flush the toxins out of your cells and help your kidneys to function properly, but it will also aid in weight-loss.”
4.       Rest the Brain
“One of the best things you can do for your brain is to keep it in a relaxed state,” says Dr. Willeumier. She explains that the demands of a busy, stressful life create excess cortisol in the system. “I encourage my patients to do daily meditation and get weekly massage and spa treatments to maintain optimal brain and body health.”
5.       Train the Brain
“If you only do activities that are routine to you, then you are not establishing new neural connections,” Dr. Willeumier says. Mental challenges such as crossword puzzles, as well as physical exercises that involve balance and coordination—like juggling, tennis, Ping-Pong and tai-chi—help build brain-fitness. Additionally, daily physical exercise routines such as Total Woman’s yoga, Pilates, dance and cycling classes help “improve blood flow to the brain, oxygenate the brain, and aid in the development of new neural connections.”
               

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rainbow Quinoa Summer Salad

I've developed a taste for quinoa, and am always hunting for good recipes. The folks at Eco sent me the following recipe, and they also said the product is 100% fair trade, organic and non-GMO.I haven't even tasted it yet and it already has me thinking about how much I'm going to enjoy it.  I think I still have some Meyer lemons on the tree and I'm betting that will add a nice taste to this. 

I will be making it in the next week or so, lucky for me that the Whole Foods 4 miles from my house carries Alter Eco foods,  but in the meantime, let me know if you have tried it and like it.


INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups Alter Eco Rainbow Quinoa
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons)

PREPARATION
Rinse Quinoa thoroughly in cool water and drain.

In a medium saucepan combine quinoa, salt and 3 cups water. Bring to boil over high heat.
Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add corn, cover and cook until water is
absorbed.

Let cool, then transfer mixture to large serving bowl. Toss well with fork, fluffing
quinoa. Add basil, peppers and onion. Stir in oil and enough lemon juice to give salad a
distinct lemony edge. Adjust seasons to taste.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Silicon Valley

YMCA of Silicon Valley recently announced that it received a grant from the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, to help expand the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and help reduce the burden of chronic disease in communities across the nation.
 
YMCA of Silicon Valley will launch the program and offer classes to community members in its YMCA facilities spanning from Morgan Hill to Redwood City beginning in July. For locations log onto the Y information page.
 
“Providing support and opportunities that empower people to be healthy and live well is part of the YMCA’s charitable purpose,” said John Remy, vice president of Operations and Healthy Living. We welcome the chance to work with CDC to bring an effective program to prevent type 2 diabetes to Silicon Valley and help individuals in this community make lasting changes to protect their health.”
 
CDC leads the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which offers communities an evidence-based lifestyle change program to prevent type 2 diabetes. The program is geared to those at high risk of type 2 diabetes. People have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, age 45 years or older, have a family history of the disease, get little physical activity, developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, or are members of certain racial/ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
 
The program is based on a research study led by the National Institutes of Health and supported by CDC, which showed that people with prediabetes could reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by making modest lifestyle changes that resulted in a 5 to 7 percent weight loss (about 10-14 pounds for a 200-pound person). CDC estimates that national implementation of the prevention program could save $5.7 billion in health care costs and prevent 885,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the next 25 years.
 
Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine were able to replicate the successful results of the national DPP research study with the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.  Unlike the national DPP research study, which was conducted with individuals one-on-one, the YMCA’s program is conducted in a group setting.
 
The research by the Indiana University researchers also demonstrated that the YMCA could effectively deliver a group-based lifestyle intervention for about 75 percent less than the cost of the original Diabetes Prevention Program. This research also highlighted the ability of the Y to take the program to scale nationally.
 
“We now have proof that lifestyle interventions delivered through community-based organizations such as the Y can save lives and health care dollars,” said Remy.
 
The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about healthier eating, and increasing their physical activity in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. The evidence-based program is delivered over a 12-month period, with 16 weekly core sessions then monthly maintenance. It is classroom based and can be offered in any community setting.
 
The partnership between the YMCA and the CDC stands to reduce the burden of diabetes, one of the nation’s costliest diseases, in Silicon Valley and across the nation,” said Remy.  “With CDCs recent prediction of an increase in diabetes rates, it’s of the utmost importance that we do all we can to help the 79 million people in the United States who have prediabetes prevent the onset of the disease to live healthy, happy and more productive lives.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bob Green's healthy Chocolate French Toast

Yum!  I'm currently gluten free, so I can't test this healthy version of a classic brunch food, but the folks at
TheBestLife.com recommended it for a healthy alternative at Easter brunch and it sounds terrific.

It's from Bob Greene, Oprah’s diet and fitness expert, author of the bestselling The Best Life Diet and founder of TheBestLife.com, where he shares some favorite recipes.  
 
Recipe for Chocolate French Toast from The Best Life:
Makes 5 servings
 
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes (if griddle fits four slices)
 
With whole-grain bread and lots of fresh strawberries, this is a healthy spin on the classic.
 
Ingredients:3 large eggs
3/4 cup 1% milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, such as Hershey’s Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
10 slices whole-wheat bread (with about 80 calories and 15 g carbohydrate per slice)
1 second spritz vegetable oil cooking spray (to coat pan)
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
10 teaspoons soft margarine (containing no partially hydrogenated oil, such as Smart Balance Buttery Spread)
Directions:1. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in large bowl until smooth.
2. Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray. 
3. Dip bread in egg mixture and place a few slices on griddle. Cook about 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Repeat until all slices are cooked. Serve immediately with equal portions of strawberries and 1 tsp soft margarine per slice.
Nutrition Information
1 servingCalories:  332
Protein: 13 g
Carbohydrate: 47 g
Dietary Fiber: 9 g
Total Sugars: 18 g
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 3.0 g
Cholesterol: 113.4 mg
Calcium: 126 mg
Sodium: 338 mg
 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The connection: Seasons, sleep, weight loss

How cool is this! 


The folks at BodyMedia (an armband that tracks calorie burn and sleep patterns) drew data from its thousands of users and found some interesting stats. It shows how much people sleep in different months. Since this is from BodyMedia users, most of these people are engaged in weight loss programs.

I've never personally used the BodyMedia, but seen it in use with friends and co-workers, many of whom swear by it and credit it not only with weight loss but a huge increase in overall fitness.  So now we know what sleep patterns they put in place to help make that happen.