Tag Archives: NPR

Now what was I coming into this room for???(musings on keeping your memory sharp)

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of "Menopaws"

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of “Menopaws”)

I would bet that most of you have experienced at least one moment of wondering why the heck you wandered into a room…..and then just stood there looking around in hopes that some sort of message would magically appear reminding you of your purpose. I cannot tell you how many times that has happened to me but I can say it has happened far too often.  I am also going to assume that most of you are concerned with memory loss and the possibility of dementia and/or Alzheimers as you age.  As many of us are destined to live longer lives, it becomes more likely that our minds will age along with our bodies: a scary thought indeed. Ah, but there are many strategies available to us in our quest to keep our minds and memories sharp as we age. Gracefuly aging in all aspects of our lives is the key to living a higher quality and quantity of life.

So let’s review some of the strategies that we have at our disposal to keep our minds sharp and our memories intact as we do begin to age.  I heard a wonderful piece this morning on NPR that talks about some of the latest research re: memory and the best ways to make sure that we stretch and grow new neuronal connections as we get older, which will enhance our ability to keep learning, stay vibrant and store new memories as well.

http://www.npr.org/2014/05/05/309006780/learning-a-new-skill-works-best-to-keep-your-brain-sharp?ft=1&f=3

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

In addition, getting regular exercise is another pillar of memory strength. I have always loved to work out in some form or another(running in my 20’s and 30’s, walking regularly since then, swimming, pretending to play golf(seriously that is one fun but frustrating sport!), hiking, and skiing.  I took up tennis almost 2 years ago and it has been a blast. There is quite a learning curve involved and I am definitely still climbing up that curve but it has forced me to think while I build new muscle memory. There have been some studies that promote this kind of thinking while exercising as one of the better ways to build memory, but any aerobic and active type of exercise enhances the brain’s potential for learning and storing new information. The most important thing is to just get out there and get active. Here is a link to the importance  between exercise and brain health:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Vitamin D also plays a role in brain health and cognitive strength. According to Dr. Oz, “Scientists hypothesize that improved cognition may be linked to the sun’s effect on the body’s internal clock; exposure to daylight(natural vitamin D) may boost the production of the neurotransmitter seritonin, which in turn spurs growth of the hippocampus, that part of the brain crucial to forming and storing memories.” He recommends( as do I) that every day we should go outside and spend between 15-20 minutes  before applying sunscreen so that our bodies can make Vitamin D ourselves. In general, we still do need to take additional vitamin D: more on that in a future blogpost. Bottomline, make sure you get outside every day possible as this will help both your brain and your mood.

Adequate sleep also clearly has an effect on our memory. Most of us(myself included, far too: often, mea culpa) get far too little of this precious activity most days.  In general, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to help our bodies and our brain to restore and rejuvenate. Think of sleep as time to recharge your battery. I imagine you have the same reaction that I do when I see that dreaded message on my cell phone: “less than 20% battery” and I have left my cord at home: panic! I usually feel the same way towards the end of a busy work day when I stayed up and out too late the night before and I am dragging, just not as sharp as usual. Note to self: get more sleep.

A baby seal taking a 'catnip' on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

A baby seal taking a ‘catnip’ on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

One more memory/brain potential robber: STRESS!!! We have touched on this in previous blogposts but briefly, when we are under stress(prolonged, frequent, unrelenting stress), cortisol is released to help our body fight “the attacker”, real or perceived.  Unfortunately, this adaptive response often leads to a maladaptive state, leaving our mind and body depleted. The result: poorer learning capability and difficulty storing new memories. Studies of inner city children, faced with the stresses of poverty, crime, poor nutrition and inadequate social support, have shown over and over how difficult it is to try to learn in school when under chronic stress. The same concept applies to all of us, whatever our stresses may be.  So managing your stress is something each of us must learn to do.  Think exercise, meditation, eating whole foods, making time for yourself, your family, your friends, take regular vacations, prayer…more work is not usually the answer…

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress.  Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress. Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

I haven’t touched on everything that can impact your memory but these are some of the more powerful things that you can work on.  Obviously eating whole foods diet and balancing your hormones are both essential for brain health as well. Hopefully that goes without saying if you have been reading our blog for awhile.

As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas . Stay tuned as Candace and I are getting ready to do some webinars together starting in July. We will provide the links for these so that you can log in and listen.

To building  great memories…..and remembering them, LOL.

 

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Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Day 5: halfway there

Okay, so that went by pretty fast. Hard to believe that we are almost 50% through our fall cleanse. I have to admit that there were a few moments when I yearned for a bite of chocolate or a chunk of French bread dunked in some yummy olive oil, or a nice glass of a full-bodied red wine on one of these cold fall evenings we have been having this week. But it feels good to stay focused on eating and drinking in a cleaner way for this time, particularly with the coming of the holidays, when I know I will indulge from time to time!

As I was shopping at New Seasons today(our local healthy supermarket), I wandered around snapping photos of the wide array of choices that are available to consume. I have had fun experimenting with various kinds of squashes and just today I bought a persimmon: any thoughts on how to eat one of these??? Last weekend I bought 2 quinces after hearing someone on NPR talk about how she had made them for her children, who loved them. I tried to replicate how she prepared them and honestly, they taste great!

What is a quince, you might wonder? Me too actually until just a few days ago. I have heard of them in English novels but honestly, I cannot remember ever trying one. So I took the 2 quinces home, washed them and placed them in a pot, covered them with water , brought it to a boil and cooked them until they were quite tender. Quinces when raw are quite hard and super tart and not very palatable, I would imagine. However, once they are cooked through(give it at least 30-45 minutes), it is easy to cut off the stem and remove the small seeds. Next I placed them in a food processor, added 1/4 cup of coconut sugar, a 1/2 tsp of cardamon and 3/4 tsp of cinnamon, pureed them and voila!  a lovely fruit sauce, similar in texture to applesauce but with a completely unique and wonderful flavor.

Of course my curiosity led me to do a little research on the benefits of quince: wow! These are some power-packed little fruits. They were known as ‘golden apples’ in ancient times and are loaded with nutrition and vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting substances. Quinces are full of fiber(I kept the peel on in the recipe that I just shared: no reason to peel it, by the way), tannins that bind to cancer causing chemicals in the intestine(helpful in fighting colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticultis), vitamin C, copper and many other minerals and it is believed to very beneficial in fighting allergies and inflammation. Who knew?

That is one of the many benefits of paying closer attention to one’s consumption: it forces us out of our comfort zones and gently encourages us to try new things. I hope you have had some of your own food adventures this past week. Looking forward to the next  5 days.

Wishing you health and balance and lovely foods to eat.

SQUASH: a lovely autumn treat: delicato is fast becoming one of my favorites

SQUASH: a lovely autumn treat: delicato is fast becoming one of my favorites

My produce bowl: the persimmon is the light orange fruit: what to do with it???

My produce bowl: the persimmon is the light orange fruit: what to do with it???

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News flash!!! Small changes really DO matter(especially in your diet)

Here at Menopausibilities we are always combing the news for simple ways to improve our lives. So many diet fads come and go, it can make one’s head spin! I am always very skeptical when a ‘new diet’ comes along with over-the-top promises to help you lose weight rapidly in a ‘safe and effective manner’.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is when it comes to dieting and weight loss.  There is a lot of money to be made in the weight loss industry and I have heard stories of many women who have plunked down between $2000 and $3000 for a program at a weight loss center, a naturopathic or allopathic physician’s office. Unfortunately, people do often lose substantial amounts of weight, only to eventually gain most, if not all and then some, of it back.

Quick weight loss programs often lead to quick regain results

Quick weight loss programs often lead to quick regain results

The good news is that are many sane, effective, delicious and sustainable ways to lose weight and keep it off. The Mediterranean diet is one that has been around for centuries and has been in the news for over 20 years. Every so often another study or story appears in the media extolling its virtues so I think it is extremely relevant and important to share this latest story on NPR showcasing yet more benefits of eating this way. Not only does eating a diet rich in fish, nuts, veggies, fruits, olive oil(and even moderate amounts of vino) help you reach and maintain your ideal weight, but now research is showing that women who eat this way starting in their 50s’ are 40% less likely to develop physical or memory problems or chronic diseases in later decades. Imagine what could happen if you ate this way most of your life!

Here is a link to the entire story:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/05/242994376/for-mind-body-study-finds-mediterranean-diet-boosts-both

Fall foliage along the Seine: eat a diet like the folks who live along the Mediterranean for long-lasting benefits

Fall foliage along the Seine: eat a diet like the folks who live along the Mediterranean for long-lasting benefits

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Back to that gut feeling, remember???

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the importance of paying attention to the ‘micro biome’ of our intestines. I mentioned that just about everywhere you turn these days, there is somebody talking about this: the links between our micro biome and health issues, such as our immune system, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression: the list goes on.

I would like to share this excellent piece that just aired on NPR(National Public Radio, for you uninitiated into the wonderful world of public radio….). You can choose to listen to and/or read the transcript. The information is presented very clearly and should provide additional insight into this important and timely topic. Bottom line, pay attention to the health of your gut. The implications are enormous.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/22/203659797/staying-healthy-may-mean-learning-to-love-our-microbiomes

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On my way in to work this morning, I heard an interesting and provocative piece on NPR re: the link between WHEN you eat and weight loss or gain. Remember the old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”?

Apparently there is some truth to this!

“A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity builds on previous studies that suggest it’s best not to eat too many calories late in the day.

The Spanish study finds that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 p.m. lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day. This held true even though the early eaters were eating roughly the same number of calories during the five-month weight-loss study as their night-owl counterparts. ”

Here is a link to the rest of the study:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ijo2012229a.html”>study</a>

It is so interesting to me that over the years, we have seen a rollercoaster of viewpoints on the best ways to eat to maintain a healthy weight. I remember that when I was younger, we were told that the kinds of calories we ate mattered: so we counted how much of our calories came from sugar, fat, proteins and carbs. Then we were told ” a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” and that it really didn’t matter what we ate, just how many calories we consumed. That doesn’t even make sense!!! Imagine eating 300 calories of green leafy veggies throughout the day versus eating 300 calories of M and M’s: how can it NOT matter where the calories come from? One food source is loaded with nutrients and fiber while the other is loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals and clearly has an impact on how much insulin is released to try to negotiate just how that ‘food’ is metabolized???

Also when I was younger, we learned that one shouldn’t eat late in the day, that by doing so, the food could more easily be stored as fat because( as I best remember this!) ‘ our metabolism had slowed down by day’s end resulting in slowed breakdown and resulting in more calories being stored that burned’. I am not convinced that this is truly the reason but it definitely makes sense to me that it does in fact matter when we consume food during the day. But in recent years, we were told(back to the rollercoaster: hang on for dear life!!) that it didn’t matter when we ate. Thankfully this new study does point to evidence that when we eat does have an impact on our ability to maintain our weight.

One thing that has remained constant in ‘diet lore and wisdom’ is that people who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to be leaner than those who skip it or eat poor choices early in the day. So do make sure that you eat a well-balanced breakfast, as it will set the tone for the rest of your day in terms of metabolism, energy and brain functioning.

As always, we would love to hear from you about your own experiences, both good and bad, in terms of achieving and maintaining(or not!) a healthy weight. This is one of the essentials for balanced living and for hormone balance. More to come in the upcoming weeks.

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Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness