Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Study Shows Link Between Strong Muscles and a Strong Brain

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS Telehealth

 

Study Shows Link Between Strong Muscles and a Strong Brain

musclebrain

Science has linked the benefit of physical exercise to brain health for many years. In fact, compelling evidence suggests physical exercise not only helps build cognitive power1 but also helps the brain resist shrinkage by promoting neurogenesis,2 i.e., the ability to adapt and grow new brain cells. Unfortunately, forgetfulness and “senior moments” are considered by many medical professionals to be a normal and anticipated part of aging.

 

I disagree. In fact, I believe if you’ve noticed memory lapses you may want to seriously consider making immediate lifestyle changes to help reverse or at least minimize further deterioration. Your brain is actually quite adaptable and has the capacity to repair and regenerate, the medical term for which is neuroplasticity. A recent study has found a strong correlation between grip strength and brain health.3

 

Your Muscle and Cognitive Power Are Connected

Researchers from Western Sydney University have found muscle strength, which they measured using hand grip strength, may be a strong indicator of the health of your brain.4 An analysis of data collected from over 475,000 British participants revealed the stronger an individual’s hand grip, the better they performed across every brain function test the researchers used, supporting previous research from the same university.5

 

During the study, the researchers evaluated reaction speed, logical problem-solving and multiple tests analyzing memory. Interestingly, they also determined the data was consistently strong both in individuals younger than 55 and those over 55. The analysis accounted for age, gender, body weight and education prior to confirming those who were stronger indeed had better functioning brains.6

 

A comparison of the results between the general population and individuals who suffered from schizophrenia found strong similarities. Grip strength was strongly correlated to brain health, particularly in working memory and processing speed.7 The researchers theorize if grip strength could predict functional and physical health outcomes in individuals who suffered from schizophrenia, further interventions to improve muscle strength could impact cognitive and real-world functioning.8

 

Although the correlation between muscle strength and physical activity to better brain health and cognitive function in seniors has been demonstrated in previous studies, the results from this study also revealed a strong connection in those younger than 55. Joseph Firth, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University, commented on the results:9

 

“These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions. Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder — all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning.

 

This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions.”

 

Aerobic Exercise and Strength Training Affect Cognitive Ability

Previous studies have also linked physical activity with an improvement in cognitive functioning, even for a short time. While studies have found exercising for at least 20 minutes has a measurable effect on cognitive functioning, one study demonstrated exercising for just 10 minutes could have a limited effect on cognitive performance following the exercise,10 suggesting even short bouts of exercise at work may improve productivity.

 

Although the researchers cannot explain the immediate cause of the benefits, theories include an increase in blood flow to the brain or a release of specific proteins, which have demonstrated neuroprotective benefits and the stimulation of new neurons.11 Regular aerobic exercise also appears to increase the size of your hippocampus, the area of your brain involved in verbal memory and learning.

 

Research from the University of British Columbia found resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results on the hippocampus as aerobic exercise.12 Aerobic exercise, which has the benefit of simultaneously building large muscle strength and engaging your cardiovascular system, was found to improve vocabulary learning in one study.13 Participants who exercised during their workday also increased their productivity by 23 percent.14

 

In one test, participants pedaled on a stationary bike for 30 minutes and were able to improve scores on memory, reasoning and planning.15 In another, after running on a treadmill, subjects improved their performance by 20 percent on memory tests and demonstrated a 20 percent improvement on problem-solving abilities.16 Compiled death statistics find the top three killers are heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases.17

 

It is not a secret that regular exercise and good nutrition will dramatically reduce your potential risk for these conditions, yet nearly 80 percent of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week.18 While exercise is critical, the nutritional choices you make each day also contribute greatly to building strong muscles and a strong cardiovascular system.

 

Make Smart Meat Choices

Cracking the code to build stronger muscles means addressing your body’s dietary needs and not just your perceived need for protein. While protein does help develop strong muscles, cell growth requires more than just one primary nutrient. In fact, there are several reasons why you do not want to eat more protein than your body can immediately use, which I will discuss below.

 

When choosing protein, it is important to choose wisely. Most meat at the grocery store today, unless otherwise labeled, is raised on a processed diet in confined quarters and injected with antibiotics — and producing low quality nutrition. Instead, you want to seek out grass fed organically-raised beef and organic free-range dark meat chicken.

 

Choosing meat raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) may expose your gut microbiome to low-dose antibiotics, disturbing your gut flora, immune system and emotional health.19

 

Animals raised in CAFO systems also consume genetically engineered (GE) feed, like corn and soy, which are heavily contaminated with glyphosate, also patented as a very effective antibiotic against a large number of beneficial organisms. How your meat is labeled may help you find high quality meat. For instance, “Antibiotic-free,” “No antibiotic residues,” and “No antibiotic growth promotants,” have not been approved by the USDA and may be misleading, if not outright fraudulent.20

 

“Natural” or “All-Natural” is completely meaningless and has no bearing on whether or not the animal was raised according to organic principles. “Natural” meat and poultry products can by law receive antibiotics, hormones and GE grains, and can be raised in CAFOs. For the highest quality beef, seek out products certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA).

Your second-best choice is meat labeled, “100% USDA Organic,” “No antibiotics administered” and “Grass-fed” coupled with the USDA Organic label.21 When it comes to salmon, I strongly recommend eating only wild-caught Alaskan salmon or sockeye salmon, which are not allowed to be farmed. While farm-raised salmon may be less expensive in the store, they often carry a high health risk as testing revealed no less than 13 persistent organic pollutants, including carcinogenic PCBs and dioxins in farm-raised salmon.22

 

PCB concentrations are so high in farmed salmon researchers say:23 “Risk analysis indicates that consumption of farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption.” Many farmed fish are also genetically modified to grow faster and larger than wild-caught species.

 

Although larger, you trade high grade nutritionally packed omega-3 fats in wild-caught Alaskan salmon for high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats in farmed salmon. You can tell if your salmon is wild-caught or farm raised by the color and fat content. The flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of natural astaxanthin content. The flesh is also lean, with thin white stripes. If the flesh is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.

 

Nutritional Choices Help Build Strong Muscles

Your nutritional choices to grow strong muscles don’t end with your choice of meat. Here are four more foods you’ll want to include:

 

  • Macadamia nuts and pecans Macadamia nuts have the highest fat, and lowest carb and protein content of any nuts. Pecans are also high in fat and low in protein and carbs, with abundant antioxidants and minerals. Most Americans get more than enough protein each day and instead need a higher amount of fat for fuel with low carbohydrates. Macadamia nuts and pecans are the perfect snack choice or addition to your chicken or salad.

 

  • Organic broccoli and cauliflower These two vegetables contain essential nutrients to promote fat loss, muscle recovery and muscle growth. Broccoli and cauliflower contain the chemical I3C, aiding in DNA repair.24 Both are good sources of folate,25 necessary for the production of new cell growth.26

 

  • Organic blueberries Blueberries may speed muscle recovery when they are eaten before and after exercise.27 Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, they can be grown in your garden so you can enjoy fresh blueberries throughout the growing season, and frozen to enjoy all year-round.

 

  • Organic celery Celery is a delicious, satisfying and crunchy snack, delivering high amounts of fiber and vitamins A, C, K, folate, potassium and manganese. Vitamin K supports the Gas6 protein, a cellular growth regulation factor necessary for the support of your heart, lungs, kidneys and cartilage.28 Vitamin K also regulates matrix γ-carboxylated glutamate (Gla) protein (MGP), found in cartilage and smooth muscle cells.29

 

Don’t Eat More Protein Than You Need

While protein is necessary to build strong muscles, too much can do more harm than good. There are adverse consequences to eating excessive protein, including the buildup of excess nitrogen waste products in your body, having a stimulating effect on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, and adversely impacting the GCN2 pathway involved in the aging process.

 

The recommended dietary reference intake30 for protein is 0.8 grams per kilo per day of body weight or about 46 grams of protein per day for the average sedentary woman and 56 grams for the average sedentary man. However, the average American eats nearly double or more.31

 

For optimal health I believe most adults need 1 gram of protein per kilo of lean body mass, not total body weight; approximately 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. You’ll find a simple method of calculating your current protein requirements in my previous article, “Are You Sabotaging Your Health and Longevity by Eating Too Much Protein?”

 

Foods and Other Lifestyle Choices Improve Brain Function

While there is a strong correlation between exercise and cognitive performance, as with other organs in your body, your brain requires fuel. Your brain can metabolize either carbohydrates or fats for energy, but there is significant evidence the metabolic product of fats — ketones — may help restore and renew neurons even after damage has begun.

 

Ketones are not the only nutrients with a neuroprotective effect reducing reactive oxygen species in your brain. While blueberries have anti-inflammatory effects on your muscles, they also may help prevent, and are potential treatment of, cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease.32 The combination of a ketogenic diet and the addition of blueberries may help improve memory.

 

In studies of participants who had mild cognitive impairment,33 both ketosis and blueberries helped improve memory in older adults.34 High levels of antioxidants in blueberries may also help reduce free radical damage, important for the prevention of DNA damage and diseases such as cancer.

 

Broccoli, cauliflower and celery have positive effects on muscle growth and recovery and are also associated with brain health. Celery is a rich source of luteolin, a plant compound with a calming influence on inflammation in your brain, which is a primary cause of neurodegeneration. Luteolin has also been linked with lower rates of age-related memory loss in mice.35

 

Older mice fed a luteolin-supplemented diet scored better on learning and memory tasks. In addition to celery, peppers and carrots are also good sources of luteolin.

 

Broccoli and cauliflower are also good sources of choline, one of the B vitamins known for a role in brain development. Choline intake during pregnancy “super-charged” the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory, and may diminish age-related memory decline.36 Broccoli offers additional benefits as well, including the anti-inflammatory flavonoid kaempferol and three glucosinolate phytonutrients working together to support your body’s detoxification processes.37

 

Call for an appointment for your personalized healthcare plan.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

P Carrothers

Restorative and Preventative Medicine

312-972-9355

Healthwellnessassociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

 

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Good Sleep is the Door to Good Health!

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS Telehealth

 

Good Sleep is the Door to Good Health!

sleepmercola

Sleep is one of the great mysteries of life. Like gravity or the quantum field, we still don’t understand exactly why we sleep—although we are learning more about it every day.

 

We do know, however, that good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health.

 

Six to eight hours per night seems to be the optimal amount of sleep for most adults, and too much or too little can have adverse effects on your health.

 

Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious, far reaching effects on your health.

 

For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:

 

Dramatically weaken your immune system

Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions

Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight

Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day

Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem solving ability

When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin (a hormone AND an antioxidant) and has less ability to fight cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster when you sleep poorly.

 

Impaired sleep can also increase stress-related disorders, including:

 

Heart disease

Stomach ulcers

Constipation

Mood disorders like depression

Diabetes

Auto-immune disorders

 

Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as Peak Fitness Technique). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.

 

One study has even shown that people with chronic insomnia have a three times greater risk of dying from any cause. Lost sleep is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. Poor sleep can make your life miserable, as most of you probably know.

 

The good news is, there are many natural techniques you can learn to restore your “sleep health.”

 

Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or feeling inadequately rested when you wake up in the morning—or maybe you simply want to improve the quality of your sleep—you are bound to find some relief from my tips and tricks below.

 

Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary

  1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep. This will help decrease your risk of cancer.

 

Close your bedroom door and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. Cover up your clock radio. Cover your windows—I recommend using blackout shades or drapes.

 

All life evolved in response to predictable patterns of light and darkness, called circadian rhythms. Modern day electrical lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock. Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for ACTION.

 

  1. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.

 

When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

 

  1. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.

 

  1. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. Remove the clock from view. It will only add to your worry when you stare at it all night… 2 a.m. …3 a.m. … 4:30 a.m.

 

  1. Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary. I gave up my alarm clock years ago and now use a sun alarm clock, an alarm that combines the features of a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM radio, beeper, snooze button, etc.) with a special built-in light that gradually increases in intensity, simulating sunrise.

 

  1. Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.

 

  1. Consider separate bedrooms. Recent studies suggest, for many people, sharing a bed with a partner (or pets) can significantly impair sleep, especially if the partner is a restless sleeper or snores. If bedfellows are consistently interfering with your sleep, you may want to consider a separate bedroom.

 

Preparing for Bed

  1. Get to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health. Prior to the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, and which nature intended for humans as well.

 

  1. Don’t change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.

 

  1. Establish a bedtime routine. This could include meditation, deep breathing, using aromatherapy or essential oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to help you release the tensions of the day.

 

  1. Don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom, or at least minimize the frequency.

 

  1. Go to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the chances that you’ll wake up to go in the middle of the night.

 

  1. Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production.

 

  1. Also eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.

 

  1. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.

 

  1. Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When your body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating slumber. The temperature drops from getting out of the bath signals your body it’s time for bed.

 

  1. Wear socks to bed. Feet often feel cold before the rest of the body because they have the poorest circulation. A study has shown that wearing socks to bed reduces night waking. As an alternative, you could place a hot water bottle near your feet at night.

 

  1. Wear an eye mask to block out light. As discussed earlier, it is very important to sleep in as close to complete darkness as possible. That said, it’s not always easy to block out every stream of light using curtains, blinds or drapes, particularly if you live in an urban area (or if your spouse has a different schedule than you do). In these cases, an eye mask can be helpful.

 

  1. Put your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more). This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow’s deadlines.

 

  1. No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even completely out of the house. It’s too stimulating to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts your pineal gland function.

 

  1. Listen to relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. An excellent relaxation/meditation option to listen to before bed is the Insight audio CD.

 

Another favorite is the Sleep Harmony CD, which uses a combination of advanced vibrational technology and guided meditation to help you effortlessly fall into deep delta sleep within minutes. The CD works on the principle of “sleep wave entrainment” to assist your brain in gearing down for sleep.

 

  1. Read something spiritual or uplifting. This may help you relax. Don’t read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go on reading for hours, instead of going to sleep!

 

  1. Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful to keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed. Personally, I have been doing this for 15 years, but prefer to do it in the morning when my brain is functioning at its peak and my cortisol levels are high.

 

Lifestyle Suggestions That Enhance Sleep

  1. Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, may adversely affect sleep. In most cases, the condition causing the drugs to be taken in the first place can be addressed by following guidelines elsewhere on my web site.

 

  1. Avoid caffeine. At least one study has shown that, in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects long after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine (for example, diet pills).

 

  1. Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.

 

  1. Make certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Studies show exercising in the morning is the best if you can manage it.

 

  1. Lose excess weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of sleep apnea, which can seriously impair your sleep. Please refer to my nutrition plan for recommendations.

 

  1. Avoid foods you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true for sugar, grains, and pasteurized dairy. Sensitivity reactions can cause excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, bloating and gas, and other problems.

 

  1. Have your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine clinician. Scientists have found that insomnia may be caused by adrenal stress.

 

  1. If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician. The hormonal changes at this time may cause sleep problems if not properly addressed.

 

If All Else Fails

  1. My current favorite fix for insomnia is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Most people can learn the basics of this gentle tapping technique in a few minutes. EFT can help balance your body’s bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.

 

  1. Increase your melatonin. Ideally it is best to increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime (along with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the winter) and absolute complete darkness at night. If that isn’t possible, you may want to consider a melatonin supplement.

 

In scientific studies, melatonin has been shown to increase sleepiness, help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep, decrease restlessness, and reverse daytime fatigue. Melatonin is a completely natural substance, made by your body, and has many health benefits in addition to sleep.

 

As always Melatonin should not be used if you have a heart condition, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, any gastrointestinal inflammatory problems or pregnant.

 

Call your healthcare provider or give us a call for your personal healthcare needs.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr Gemma Carney

312-972-9355 (WELL)

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

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