In Part 1 of my post about exercising the brain, I pointed out how the sedentary lifestyle – sitting around all day at home and at work – is terrible for the brain. In fact, sitting is the new smoking.
As much as I would like to say I came up with that painfully true observation, credit goes to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Kanodia cited a 2012 Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers estimated that every hour spent sitting around watching television reduces life expectancy by about 22 minutes, while a single cigarette shaves 11 minutes off of the smoker’s life.
There are certain things going on in the world that truly sadden me. As a doctor, a father of five and a human being, I simply can’t remain silent. Like most people, I was saddened to hear the news that Robin Williams committed suicide after a decades-long battle with depression.
When I hear about the suicide of someone who was universally adored, and I see the outpouring of emotion, I wonder when we’re going to start doing something about mental illness in our society.
I just spent 14 weeks talking about brain chemistry on my By Design radio program, discussing how imbalances in the brain lead to poor decisions and unhealthy behavior. So many people are habitually taking medication every day – medication that alters their brain chemistry – and they don’t understand the side effects.
In a previous post, I discussed how hormones help keep the brain functioning properly. When all of the hormone-producing glands in the endocrine system are balanced and working together in unison, we tend to feel and function better.
On the other hand, because hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, if one part of your hormonal structure is off, this will create a downstream effect on other hormones and negatively affect brain function.
Most people are familiar with the reproductive hormones – testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. But there are many hormones within the hormonal cascade that play an important role in the health of the brain and body.
As Dr. Daniel Amen illustrates in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, the hormonal cascade is like a hormonal tree with a mother hormone at the top. All other hormones are derived from the mother hormone. Balancing the hormones at the top creates a cascade effect that balances the downstream hormones.
And what is the mother hormone at the top of the hormonal cascade? Cholesterol. Continue reading
The hormonal structure of the body, whether it’s in balance or out of balance, plays a huge role in dictating how you feel and function, especially for people ages 30 and older. That’s because hormones have a significant impact on brain function.
Let’s be clear about one thing right off the bat. Hormones aren’t just a female thing. Hormones are essential for health and vitality in both women and men. When hormones are balanced, we tend to feel very happy and energetic.
In a previous post about maintaining your brain, I talked about brain chemicals like dopamine and gaba, and how the neurotransmitters of the brain are wired. Hormones have an impact on the wiring and structure of those neurotransmitters.
As Dr. Daniel Amen explains in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, hormones are like chemical messengers that travel through the blood stream and make it possible for the brain to communicate with other organs.
How important are hormones? Well, Dr. Amen puts it this way – change your hormones, change your brain, change your body, change your relationships. When your hormones are off, everything in your life suffers. Continue reading
This is a guest post by Bill Freeman, a retired 63-year-old school principal and Natural Healthcare Center patient. I’d like to personally thank Bill for sharing his story. Dr. James Proodian
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer three years ago when tumors were discovered on both sides of my thyroid. After having surgery to remove the thyroid, I was treated with radioactive iodine to kill any remaining cancer cells in my body.
Over the course of about two weeks, I gained 32 pounds. You have to drink a lot of fluids to get the radioactive iodine out of your body, so much of what I gained was water weight.
I had been getting regular chiropractic adjustments from Dr. Proodian and finally told him that I was disappointed because I couldn’t lose the weight. I had been on Weight Watchers. I used apps on my phone. I would lose a few pounds, hit a wall, and just gain it all back.
Dr. Proodian suggested that I see Dr. (Oscar) Coetzee. I told Dr. Coetzee that if he could help me lose weight, I would do whatever he wanted me to do. I’m a Type A personality. If you tell me to eat four ounces of turkey, I’m going to eat four ounces of turkey. You tell me to eat 17 carrots, and I’m going to eat 17 carrots.
In Part 1 of this post, we continued our discussion about the brain being the key to changing our behavior and transforming our bodies. I listed the various ways exercise can strengthen the brain as outlined by Dr. Daniel Amen in his book, Change Your Body, Change Your Brain.
Now, it’s time to discuss what happens to the body and brain when we don’t exercise. It’s not pretty.
Lack of exercise leads to obesity, which has reached epidemic levels in our country, especially with our children.
Studies have shown that obese children who become obese adults have an 80–90 percent chance of staying obese for the rest of their lives. We need to get our kids moving.
For the better part of the last two months on this blog and my Proodian Healthcare By Design radio program, I’ve been discussing what we need to do to change our behavior and transform our bodies. At the center of change and transformation is the human brain.
That little three-pound organ that rests between our ears is a miracle that needs to be respected and protected.
Using the books Change Your Body, Change Your Brain by Dr. Daniel Amen and The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman as central resources, I’ve talked about the role that sugar, fat, caffeine and various brain foods play in maintaining proper brain chemistry.
Brain chemistry enables us to make better nutritional decisions, and what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel and how we think.
The single most important thing we can do to enhance brain function and keep our bodies looking young and feeling vibrant is exercise. As Edward Stanley, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once said:
Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Continue reading
In a previous post, I discussed the importance of maintaining the brain and what we can do to keep our brain chemistry balanced. After all, without a functioning brain, we cease to exist. When the brain isn’t firing on all cylinders, it can negatively affect every part of our lives.
While the brain can self-regulate, it needs our help. One of the simplest things we can do to maintain balanced brain chemistry is to eat great brain food.
As Dr. Daniel Amen says in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, food is a drug – a drug that needs to be taken to stay alive.
What food is considered great brain food?
Of course, you have to keep your brain hydrated, so drinking plenty of water is absolutely essential. Because the brain is 60 percent fat, we need to consume the right kinds of fats, like fatty fish oils.
According the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey, 80 percent of American adults drink coffee every day. The average cup of coffee is nine ounces.
Some scientific research has suggested coffee has antioxidants that can decrease the risk of Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, liver disease, depression and other conditions. Research also suggests coffee can improve cognitive function.
This has led many people to believe that unlimited coffee consumption is perfectly healthy, and caffeine really isn’t that bad for you.
Well, it’s true that one or two normal-sized cups of coffee per day – about eight ounces per cup – probably won’t cause a problem in most cases. Continue reading
In last week’s post, I discussed why we need to maintain the brain, continuing the conversation about change and transformation. Dr. Daniel Amen points out in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body that the human brain, that little three-pound organ nestled between our ears, is the most complex organ and the greatest miracle in the universe.
In order to maintain our will power and self-control, we need to keep our brain chemistry balanced. If we want to change the body, we have to change the brain first. Controlling sugar intake is an essential part of maintaining or restoring proper brain chemistry.
Another important but overlooked factor is the role of fat, so let’s take a closer look at the role of fat in the human body.
60 percent of the human brain is fat. If someone calls you a fathead, consider it a term of endearment and drop that little nugget of knowledge on them.
For the last several weeks, I’ve been discussing topics related to change and transformation. In order to maintain our body’s natural design and achieve optimal health, we need to set realistic goals and expectations and change our behavior.
If we’re going to make behavioral changes that enable us to change our bodies, we need to start by changing our brain chemistry.
Dr. Daniel Amen lays out “10 Principles to Change Your Brain and Your Body” in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. Included among these principles is the fact that the human brain is the most complex organ in the universe, and we need to respect it.
The human brain is a three-pound organ between our ears that’s more complicated and powerful than the most advanced computers. It has more than 100 billion nerve cells – about the same number of stars found in the Milky Way – and each of these nerve cells has thousands of connections with other nerve cells.
In last week’s post, I explained why detoxification must begin with sugar. I shared a number of mind-blowing statistics related to how much sugar is in products people consume every day, as well as the link between sugar and chronic disease.
I also want to encourage you again to go see Fed Up and take the Fed Up Challenge, which can help you correct your body and brain chemistry by going sugar-free for 10 days.
A major obstacle that we as individuals and parents must overcome is the deception of the food industry. A recent study from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab found that the majority of cereals marketed to children feature characters (Cap’n Crunch, the Trix Rabbit, Lucky the Leprechaun, etc.) that look downward.
These boxes are designed to make direct eye contact with the target audience, which science has shown builds trust and positive feelings toward the brand. In other words, they’re trying to manipulate our children into asking us to buy cereal for them. Characters on cereals that target adults tend to look straight ahead.
Photo credit — Fed Up a film by Stephanie Soechtig
In last week’s post, I discussed the need to change our behavior in order to maintain the human body’s natural design and avoid chronic illness. This process begins with making the decision to change, and then establishing realistic expectations, understanding what influences our decisions, deflecting those things in our lives that are unimportant or unhealthy, and establishing a written plan.
Perhaps the most positive change we can make in order to avoid chronic illness is reducing bad sugars in our diets.
According to The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman, 12 percent of Americans were overweight in 1990. 35 percent of adults and one in five children are obese today.
This year, for the first time in history, more people will die from the effects of obesity than starvation.
There is also a growing body of evidence that points to the excessive intake of refined sugars having a role in the development of chronic illnesses like type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Change is something that most of us have trouble accepting or managing. Even though you may not like it, you cannot prevent change. From the womb to the tomb, our bodies are in a constant state of flux – physically, psychologically, nutritionally and emotionally.
Think back to early childhood, adolescence, puberty and young adulthood, with all of the changes that occurred. These changes continue as we proceed through our 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
As we go through these changes, we need to work hard to maintain our body’s natural design. This begins with refusing to accept mediocrity when it comes to our health. Our goal should be to achieve optimal health for ourselves, just like we strive to do for our children.
To achieve optimal health, we need to get out of autopilot mode when it comes to maintaining our bodies. We can do this by acquiring knowledge, eliminating unhealthy habits and seeking the help we need to make positive changes in our lives.
Nothing infuriates me more than big food manufacturers getting richer by making people sick. Of course, they’ll deny this left and right, but they continue to use ingredients and sell products that scientific research has linked to chronic illness.
Why do they continue to get away with this?
They can afford to buy influence. They can afford to blast clever advertising campaigns into every home in America. They can afford to sweep bad publicity under the rug as if it never existed.
Consider these three examples:
1) Diet Coke Pulls Ads with Alleged Drug References
According to The New York Times, Diet Coke had been running ads for three months with the theme “You’re on,” which portrayed the soda almost like an energy drink to younger audiences.
In some of the ads, “You’re on” appeared above the Diet Coke logo, which many high-profile bloggers interpreted to mean “You’re on Diet Coke.” Because cocaine was once an ingredient in Coca-Cola, the perceived drug connection took on a life of its own.
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, one out of 133 Americans –about one percent of our population – has celiac disease, an immune response to gluten. Celiac disease can prevent important nutrients from being absorbed, causing malnutrition and damage to the lining of the small intestine. Symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, anemia, bone pain and severe skin rashes.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict, gluten-free diet with no foods that include or even come in contact with wheat, rye and barley. Even small traces of gluten can harm someone with celiac disease.
Fortunately, sticking to a gluten-free diet isn’t as hard as you might think, and you don’t have to sacrifice taste for the sake of good health. You just have to be a little more careful. Most grocery stores, food markets and restaurants are doing their part by creating gluten-free sections and menus.
Here are eight tips that will help you choose the right foods, ask the right questions and identify potential problems.
Barbecue season is almost here. While grilling is one of the healthier ways to prepare food – much better than frying food in unhealthy oils – most of us tend to make our grilled foods unhealthy by adding condiments.
Condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, ranch and blue cheese dressing, and steak sauce are added passively, almost unconsciously, because they make our food taste better. We usually don’t even realize we’re doing it. In other words, we give our condiments a free ride.
Many of the most popular condiments are some of the worst substances that we can put in our bodies. But they don’t have to be unhealthy. We simply have to make better choices or make them ourselves.
Our bodies are designed to process naturally occurring foods and ingredients. Our bodies were not designed to process man-made food products that make up the main ingredients in most condiments.
Where did I put my keys? Didn’t I already pay this bill? I know you just told me five minutes ago, but what’s your name again?
We’re all susceptible to senior moments – minor cases of forgetfulness or confusion that are hardly limited to senior citizens. Sometimes senior moments are frustrating. Sometimes they’re funny.
Even though these mental glitches are usually harmless, they can make us wonder if we’re losing our mental capacity. Fortunately, we can follow a plan that can help minimize these senior moments. I like to call it your personal brain management program.
Step 1: Balance Fat Consumption
For most of us, that means increasing omega-3 fats, such as those found in cold-water fish, flax, and walnuts. It also means reducing consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like corn, cottonseed and safflower oils, and eliminating dangerous trans fats. Balancing the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fats can be accomplished through dietary changes, and supplements are needed in many cases.
My wife and I are having our basement painted. With five kids, the basement is an important place in our home.
Without a second thought, we called the painter who we’ve used for years. He told my wife that he would send an estimate.
She said, “Why? It doesn’t matter. We’re hiring you.”
Isn’t it great when you get to a place where you unconditionally trust someone? We don’t have to worry about our painter taking advantage of us. We have no doubt that he’ll give us a fair price, show up on time and do a wonderful job.
Last week, I discussed why exercise needs to be prescribed like medicine is prescribed, according to the specific needs of each individual. This is why it makes no sense to tell everyone who wants to lose weight to get on a treadmill or go outside and start running.
In fact, I’ve never endorsed long-distance running for exercise, even though a myth exists that running is good for the heart and the best way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
You may have heard the phrase “runner’s high,” a feeling of invincibility that helps runners overcome and ignore pain and lose sense of time. Runners have certainly heard of this.
However, new research has introduced the concept of runner’s plaque – coronary artery plaque – which can be caused by running long distances for a number of years, according to a study conducted by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.