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.”