Positively Tuesday – 6 best FREE doctors in the world

Research continues to focus on these six things to live a healthy life:

SUNLIGHT – Vitamin D is necessary for health.  (Hang out with lizards).

REST – 7-8 hours restorative sleep a night helps your brain. (Try cat-napping).

EXERCISE – Our bodies are meant to move.  (Climb a tree, chase a mouse).

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Photo by Julian Rad

DIET – Eat protein at every meal, it’s food for the brain. (Mice are tasty).

SELF-CONFIDENCE – Accomplish something everyday, even if it takes 12 tries (which is a cat’s average number of attempts to catch one mouse).

FRIENDS – People with social connections live longer and are healthier.  (Hang out and howl with other cool cats).

 

 

Brain Dance – Bust a Move and a toe or two

It’s good I’m human and only have two legs because I was born with two left feet . . . can only imagine what it would be like with four.  So when it comes to improving my cognitive abilities through dance there’s a problem.  

However, those of you with both a left foot, a right foot, and a bit of rhythm, should read this:

“Partners from multiple universities studied groups of older adults who were split up into groups that focused on walking, both walking and proper nutrition, stretching and toning, and dancing, and followed them for a period of six months. Scans were taken of participants brains before and after the study, and researchers uncovered surprising results.”

The findings suggest that combining physical, cognitive, and social engagement like dance can improve cognitive health.

“Those in the other groups actually had a decrease in white matter, perhaps because the work that goes into remembering a choreographed dance, coupled with the social interaction, gave the brain more of workout than walking or stretching.”

Meowie busting a move, by Peggy

“Agnieszka Burzynska, the study’s lead author and a professor of human development and neuroscience at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, told the New York Times that activities involving moving and socializing are beneficial for your brain.”

“The message is that we should try not to be sedentary,” she said in the interview. “The people who came into our study already exercising showed the least decline in [white matter].” She added that those who took up dancing showed white-matter gains.”

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“Psychology Today reports that dancing can indeed improve cognitive function, and visualizing dance routines also improves muscle memory. Additionally, the article by Christopher Bergland, states that different types of dance practice allows you to achieve peak performance by blending cerebral and cognitive thought processes with muscle memory, and that by engaging in “regular aerobic training that incorporates some type of dance at least once a week” anyone can maximize brain their function.”

“Another study, led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York city, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that dancing also slowed down aging, increased intelligence, and improved neuroplasticity.”

“It looks like the secret to living a long, and engaged life, just might be hitting the dance floor”

. . . with 2 left feet, HITTING the dance floor is to be taken literally.

(jw)

source article: Dancing may be good for your brain

Worry your life away – literally

As  psychotherapists we saw more people who were walking worriers (to coin a phrase) than most people meet in their lifetime.  Our “treatment” evolved over time based on our interest in neurochemistry and brain research.

Thirty plus years ago, when we were in school, excessive worry was labeled as an Anxiety Disorder. What we weren’t taught was there was a positive biological adaptation for the brain to “worry”.  Simply put the “brains” that knew best how to scan for danger were the “brains” that stayed alive long enough to produce progeny.

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In our jungle days it was prudent and life saving for acute “worry”. The clients we saw who were anxious actually had very smart brains that were trying to keep them alive.  Unfortunately, our 21st century brains don’t realize we no longer live in the jungle and chronic worry is a problem.

We also live considerably longer than in caveman times and recently research has discovered that in addition to creating biochemical changes, dysfunctional worry profoundly affects our genetics.

“Obsessive worries — negative responses to stress — actually can shorten the component of DNA that governs a person’s life expectancy. Under excess stress, this DNA component becomes shorter.”

So our DNA structure is literally changed by dysfunctional worry that does not lead to resolution but that instead leads to destructive biological changes in the body.

Take a look at The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety for a simple and highly effective way to better control, if not curb, chronic worry.

The Single Most Effective Antidote for Anxiety.

Pawsitively Tuesday – turning to exercise

Twist and shout

work it all out

Pound the pillows

you’ll lose the kilos

Toss and turn

Calories will burn

Wake up thinner

in time for dinner

Thanks Linda B.!

Get a Move-on!

When I was growing up the only way the brain could be studied was after you were dead. With current technology researchers can now see electrical activity and brain structure in living brains.  The information on emotional states and the brain has exploded (the information, not the brain).  

Meowie Getting Her Move On by Peggy

We known for a long time how important exercise is for our body, but what we did not realize is how important exercise is for the brain.

Exercise has the same effects on the brain chemistry as antidepressant medications. Several studies have demonstrated that its benefits can ‘exceed even those of medication’.

“Exercise increases nerve growth factors, such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are like steroids for the brain. Most people suffering from depression due to a deficiency of serotonin  depend wholly on psychiatric medications and consume antidepressants which target the serotonin system in your brain to elevate serotonin levels, that increase your motivation and willpower-and  minimize the activity of depression. Today neuroscientific research provides evidence that exercise can also ‘boost serotonin activity’.”

“Any movement such as:

  • walking  
  • jogging 
  • gardening
  • walking up and down the stairs

increases ‘the firing rate of serotonin neurons’, which causes them to release more serotonin to treat your depression or create new good habits. Similarly, exercise with moderate intensity increases your norepinephrine– which controls in depressive people the difficulties with concentration and deep thinking.”

“When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that act on your neurons like opiates (such as Vicodin or morphine) by sending ‘neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief’.  Exercise also speeds up activation of the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids (marijuana) are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain which reduces pain and increases positive feelings.”

Get Your Move On!  It’s legal everywhere.

To read the entire article by Professor B L Chakoo

Click here: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/depression-and-neuro-science/

 

Eat your way to happy? (parenthetically speaking)

(There are three major symptoms for fibromyalgia:  depression, fatigue and whole body pain.  I have all three and then some . . .  The worst for me is fatigue, with depression coming in second and whole body pain third.  I follow the research, always hoping something new will be discovered in its treatment.)

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New research on treatments for depression presents an intriguing finding: a healthy diet may help depressed patients.

New Research on Treating Depression With Diet
by Sumathi Reddy, The Wall Street Journal

It is part of the nascent field of nutritional psychiatry which uses changes in diet to help treat mood disorders.
“The study in the journal BMC Medicine, found that a third of patients assigned to a group that followed a modified Mediterranean diet met the criteria for remission in 12 weeks, compared with just 8% in a control group.”

“There is a large body of evidence, both observational studies and animal studies, that links diet to the risk of developing depression and the prevalence of depression, said Felice Jacka, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology and nutritional psychiatry at Deakin University in Australia and senior researcher on the study. Dr. Jacka is also president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research.”

“Psychiatrists cautioned that the study provides no evidence that diet changes could replace traditional treatments for depression; but it could be beneficial as an add-on treatment.”

(Here’s where it becomes problematic for people with major depression and people like me who are too lazy to cook) 

“It may also be an impractical prescription: cooking healthy meals requires motivation and planning, a big demand for depressed patients. Depressed patients have difficulty putting plans into action so would likely require assistance, experts said.”  (Assistance in the form of a personal chef . . .)
“They have this sense of fatigue and inability to get up and go, and any mental effort they feel is overwhelming and exhaustive,” said Robert Shulman, associate chairman of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “(YUP, I’ll eat to that)

“The study, the first randomized controlled one, consisted of 67 people diagnosed and already being treated for a major depressive disorder. The mean age was 40 and most were overweight.
About half were in a dietary-intervention group. They received help planning a diet which included a lot of fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, whole grains, lean red meat, olive oil and nuts, and cut back on sweets, (OUCH) processed foods, soft drinks and other unhealthy items.” 

‘”Dietary changes may be especially helpful for people who are mildly depressed and don’t want to go on medication, said Joshua Weiner, a psychiatrist in McLean, Va. “If you have a motivated patient I’m all for this,” he said. “The problem is many kinds of patients aren’t motivated.”’
Results may be better for people who have poor eating habits to begin with, he said.”

Read the entire article click HERE

(Alas . . . the indicators for healthy eating are piling up.  It’s so much easier to pop a pill.)

(jw)

The Loss of Self Identity

From birth we are constantly, chronically losing our identities.  As we grow and develop those loses are generally seen as positive and things to look forward to:  Losing our dependency of childhood; being able to drive; setting out on our own.  I liken these types of losses to waves that are constant and ubiquitous. 

With loss that involves tragedy or illness, the sense of who we are is wrested from us – more like a sudden tsunami than relentless waves . . .  

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Heart Sisters is a blog I’ve followed for several years.  Carolyn Thomas, the blogger, suffered a “widow-maker heart attack” and has devoted her time and energy to educating women, clinicians and the public about woman’s heart issues.

In an excellent post Two big factors that can impact a patient’s loss of ‘self’ Carolyn references Dr. Kathy Charmaz

“When California sociologist Dr. Kathy Charmaz studied the subject of suffering among those living with chronic illness, she identified an element of suffering that is often overlooked by health care providers.(1)  As she explained her findings:”

“A fundamental form of that suffering is the loss of self in chronically ill persons who observe their former self-images crumbling away without the simultaneous development of equally valued new ones.

“The experiences and meanings upon which these ill persons had built former positive self-images are no longer available to them.”

“Dr. Charmaz also found that this profound sense of having lost the “self” you used to be before being diagnosed is generally the result of both external and internal influences on how we view ourselves. “

Click below and read the entire post:

Two big factors that can impact a patient’s loss of ‘self’

Carolyn’s post spoke to me personally on several levels:  

  • As a psychotherapist I spent 30 years trying to help others adjust to “loss of self”.  
  • Ten years into my private practice I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – my own tsunami.
  • When I retired my “loss of self” was not a tsunami but the wave was at least a 20 footer.

jw