Care Strategies

Lecithin is a source for the B vitamin choline, used by the body to make acetylcholine, the primary neurotransmitter. (Concoby, Robert, and David Nicol. Discovered: Nature’s Secret Fountains of Youth. US: Hanford Press, 1993, p B-1)

Describes action of acupuncture; stops pain by stimulating the release of endorphins into the cerebrospinal fluid. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, p 276)

Eastern medicine: believes acupuncture balances the body’s energy flow; Western medicine: believes acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins (internal painkillers), triggers the production of calming benzodiazepines (internal tranquilizers), elevates serotonin (mood booster), and may block pain signals from entering the brain. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003, pp 152-154)

States that acupuncture can help to relieve some types of pain, and may also reduce symptoms of withdrawal from drug addiction. (Benson, Herbert, MD., with Marg Stark. Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief. NY: Scribner, 1996, pp 108-109)

According to Dr. Orzack, a licensed clinical psychologist, founder and coordinator of McLean Hospital’s Computer Addiction Service and a member of the Harvard Medical school faculty, psychological and physical symptoms associated with addiction to computer/video games/internet use may include the following:

  • Psychological symptoms
  • Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
  • Inability to stop the activity
  • Craving more and more time at the computer
  • Neglect of family and friends
  • Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
  • Lying to employers and family about activities
  • Problems with school or job
  • Physical symptoms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Backaches
  • Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances, change in sleep pattern

(Orzack, Maressa Hecht, PhD)

Refer to Addictive Behaviors and the Brain for additional information.

Advanced glycation end products are aberrant cross-linked proteins that accelerate aging. Risk of creating destructive AGEs rises with a diet high in simple sugars (e.g., excessive fructose may be even worse than eating sucrose or glucose). (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, pp 135-136)

Avoid foods that spike blood sugar. As blood sugar levels rise, increases in insulin and inflammation produce glycation (sugar molecules bind to proteins), which create free radicals known as AGEs. They can cause degeneration of nerves and brain. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. NY: Warner Books, 2004, pp 138-148)

Refer to Aging and the Brain for additional information

Neurons, thinking cells, are generated in the mature human brain’s hippocampus (part of the mammalian or second brain layer) every day. Their production is influenced by a number of different environmental factors, however. For example, the consumption of alcohol has been shown to retard the generation of new neurons. (Shors, Tracey J. “Saving New Bain Cells.” Scientific American, p 47-48, March 2009)

Large doses of alcohol at one time can cripple or kill brain cells, leaving the person more vulnerable to cognitive dysfunction. If you do drink, stick to low or moderate amounts, sipped slowly, and preferably with food. Women should have no more than one drink per day, a maximum of two drinks per day for men (e.g., one drink usually means a 12-ounce beer, one shot of liquor, or five ounces of wine).(Carper, Jean. 100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss. p 14-17. NY: Little, Brown, and Company, 2010)

Almost a third of a century after discovery of a link between alcohol consumption and certain types of cancer, scientists have reported the first human research evidence of how the popular beverage may be carcinogenic. As the human body metabolizes alcohol in beer, wine, and hard liquor, acetaldehyde is produced. Acetaldehyde attaches to DNA in humans in a way that results in the formation of a ‘DNA adduct’ that is linked to an increased risk of cancer. Most people have an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which quickly converts acetaldehyde to acetate, a relatively harmless substance. About thirty percent of people of Asian descent, however, (almost 1.6 billion people) have a variant of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene and are unable to metabolize alcohol to acetate. That genetic variant results in an elevated risk of esophageal cancer from alcohol drinking. Native Americans and native Alaskans have a deficiency in the production of that same enzyme. Study results were reported at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Refer to Substances and the Brain for additional information.

Cleveland Clinic 2001 studies: watching too much television (e.g., average four hours a day) was linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Adults with pastimes that challenge / stimulate the brain (e.g., playing bridge or chess, knitting, reading), were 2.5 times less likely than others to develop Alzheimer’s. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. NY:Avery, 2003, pp 218-219)

Did you know that Alzheimer's may not be inevitable even if you have a genetic predisposition? According to Gary Small MD, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, reducing risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, and inactivity by 25% could prevent half-a-million cases annually in the USA. The goal is to stave off the disease long enough so you can live life without ever suffering Alzheimer's symptoms. (Small, Gary MD. The Alzheimer's Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life.)

Refer to Brain Dysfunctions for additional information.

Antioxidant levels begin to decline significantly after age 28. This leaves the brain more vulnerable to age-related damage. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, p 22)

Aromatherapy is an alternative healing method. Using specific plant extracts, odors are targeted to elicit specific emotional responses (e.g., trigger the brain to release enkephalins/endorphins). Olfactory nerves transmit signals directly to the limbic system eliciting an immediate emotional response (e.g., calming, stimulating, promote sleep, influence eating habits). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. NY: Vintage Books, 2002, pp 66)

The way in which you view life is directly related to the way in which your brain ages. Negative feelings /mindset can trigger high levels of stress hormones (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline) to flood the brain. Over time this can result in reduced brain mass and cognitive ability. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ: Career Press, 1999, p 235)

Argues for importance of balance in life among art, music, business, manual skills, and sciences. Avoid becoming unbalanced and overspecialized in your private life. (See Work Life below for additional information) (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 216-217)

The brain is believed to be the flesh and blood mechanism or instrument through which the mind expresses itself. The brain is the control unit for the body and in order for the mind and body to be in balance, the brain must be in relative balance in order to create a balanced life externally. (The Science of Brain Training. Article.)

Beliefs control biology (e.g., placebo effect involves positive belief, nocebo effect involves negative belief). In more than half of clinical trials for six leading antidepressant, drugs did not outperform placebo sugar pills. (Lipton, Bruce, PhD. The Biology of Belief. CA: Mountain of Love/Elite Books, 2005, pp 135-142)

If appropriate blood glucose reserves are not available, memory and learning decline. The harder the brain is being used the more important it is to have adequate levels of blood and brain glucose. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, pp 111-112)

Insulin is released when blood sugar levels get too high. Adrenaline is released when blood sugar levels drop too low, as happens in the rebound effect of a high sugar intake. When this occurs symptoms mimic an anxiety reaction (e.g., racing pulse, sweaty palms, labored breathing, dry mouth). (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health: New Dimensions. PA: Rodale Press, 1986, pp 20-22)

Studies: blueberries are brain food. They can reverse deterioration of motor function associated with aging speed up communications between neurons, prevent loss of nerve growth factors, and positive impact dopamine release. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. NY: Warner Books, 2004, pp 50-70)

Our brains expend about 20% of the energy our bodies consume. (Gazzaniga, Michael S. Who's In Charge? p 67. NY:HarperCollins Publishers, 2011)

Are you failing to engage regularly in brain aerobic exercises because you aren’t convinced that it will help to age-proof your brain? Think again. Kurzweil News reported on a study by UCLA researchers. They studied 59 participants who were recruited from local retirement communities in Southern California. The average age was 84. The study found that that older adults who regularly used a brain fitness program played on a computer demonstrated significantly improved memory and language skills. The volunteers were split into two groups: the first group used a brain fitness program for an average of 73 twenty-minute sessions over a six-month period; the second group played it less than 45 times during the same period. Researchers found that the first group demonstrated significantly higher improvement in memory and language skills, compared to the second group. Age-related memory decline affects approximately forty percent of older adults and is characterized by self-perception of memory loss and decline in memory performance. Get busy age-proofing your brain! (Source)

As you pursue a healthy mind, you cannot separate brain health from body health. They work in concert, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, nonstop from conception to death. Your quality of life and health is profoundly impacted by the way you feed and care for them. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ: Career Press, 1999, pp 12, 26)

Studies: elementary school students showed improved academic performance and behavior when they ate breakfast; adults who ate breakfast maintained higher blood sugar levels, quicker recall, and better overall memory performance than those who skipped it. Eating breakfast increases blood sugar levels and leads to greater mental clarity during the day. (Small, Gary, M.D. The Memory Bible. NY: Hyperion, 2002, pp 151-153)

Eating breakfast allows you to restock the energy stores that have been depleted overnight and begin the day with a tank full of the right fuel. Sending yourself to work or your child to school without breakfast is like trying to use a cordless power tool without ever recharging the battery. (Sears, Bill, MD. Brainy Breakfasts: How breakfast can improve school and work performance. 2006. Article.)

Sugary starchy foods should be avoided in school as they make the brain groggy. High-fiber food, protein, yogurt, soy milk (better than cow’s milk) help the child to stay away and promote brain cell growth. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001, pp 86-89)

Indicates that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast helps to ensure that there is an abundance of energy at the very beginning of the day to help prevent negative physiologic effects that might occur during stressful situations. (Kaiser, Jon D., MD. Immune Power. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1993, p 23)

Studies: Students who ate breakfast had 40% higher math grades, were half as likely to be depressed, and less likely to be hyperactive. Eating breakfast can boost brain function (e.g., learning, memory, academic performance, general emotional and psychological well-being). (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000, p 113)

Deep-breathing techniques can help quiet the mind while they energize the body and brain. To promote readiness to learn suggests:

  • Several minutes of deep, diaphramatic breathing
  • Close your eyes and breathe breathing normally through nose
  • When your breathing returns to normal focus on the breath flowing quietly in and out from the tip of your nostrils.
  • Keep attention on the breathing until it begins to slow – now ready to learn.

(Stine, Jean Marie. Double Your Brain Power. Prentice Hall, Inc., 1997, p 48)

Proper breathing can release molecules of emotion from the brain stem. Exercise and proper breathing can release and wash away substances that have accumulated in the brain. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind (audiocassettes). CO: Sounds True, 2000)

Deep rhythmic breathing can help to relax the mind and improve alertness. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1992, pp 365-368)

Studies: changes in the rate and depth of breathing produce changes in the quantity and kind of peptides that are released from the brain stem. Breathe consciously. By altering breathing (e.g., hold breath or breath extra fast) peptides (e.g., endorphins) diffuse rapidly throughout the cerebrospinal fluid in an attempt to restore homeostasis and can even reduce pain. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, pp 186-187)

Effective breathing can help to cleanse your system. Breathe with specific ratios to eliminate toxins via lymphatic system (inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 16, exhale for 8). (Robbins, Anthony. Unlimited Power. NY: Fireside, 1986, pp 170-174)

Refer to Burnout and the Brain for additional information.

Benoit Mandelbrot (“father” of fractal geometry) devised the butterfly concept: “even a minor air disturbance from a butterfly flapping its wings in China will eventually affect weather patterns everywhere.” Everything you do affects your brain and body. Optimum brain function is the end result of all the neural elements working together in concert. (Guiffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ: Career Press, 1999, pp 16-17)

Eating white potatoes or white bread is just like eating candy, as far as your body knows. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, pp 123-124)

Studies: eating carbohydrates can result in the production of serotonin, which can be calming to the brain and may even may on sleepy. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990, pp 88-90)

Brain needs carbohydrates...early carbs came from fruits, vegetables, beans, and mostly whole grains. They produced gradual blood sugar rises that were compatible with good brain function (as compared to today’s staples that are made from fine-particle flours and that spike blood sugar). (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000, pp 121-122)

Consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids (e.g., green, dark yellow) has been linked to decreased risk of stroke, both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. Each increment of three daily servings of fruits and vegetables equated to a 22% decrease in risk of stroke, including transient ischemic attack. (Gillman et al. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol 273, 1995, p 1113)

People in the highest quintile for consumption of spinach or collard greens, plants high in the carotenoid lutein, had a 46% decrease in risk of age-related macular degeneration compared with those in the lowest quintile who consumed these vegetables less than once per month. (Seddon et al. Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol 272, 1994, p 1413)

Consumption of tomato products has been linked to decreased risk of prostate cancer. Men in the highest quintile for consumption of tomato products (10 or more servings a week) had about a 35% decrease in risk of prostate cancer compared with their counterparts whose consumption put them in the lowest quintile (1.5 or fewer servings of tomato products a week). (Giovannucci et al. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Vol 87, 1995, p 1767)

The average adult has around 30 trillion cells in his or her body, and every day thousands of new cells are replicated from old ones. New cells are made to replace the old cells that become worn-out or damaged. Providing the raw materials for the creation of these new cells from nutrients in your food is one way that nutrition plays an important role in sustaining cellular, and therefore overall health. For example, Inositol ( found in whole grains) is a component of membrane phospholipids that are involved in various functions including cellular signaling. Increases in dietary inositol and choline have been found to significantly influence the concentration of membrane phospholipids and support healthy cell membranes. In addition, specific nutrients also protect your cells from damage and support the body's energy production machinery. (Source)

Discusses exercises that can stimulate the cerebellum (e.g., tennis, dancing, any activity that requires smooth, coordinates responses). (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 185-189)

We eventually become the products of the mental images we entertain about ourselves. We can imagine ourselves already in possession of the things we want. This will change the brain. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 47-52)

New research has shown that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can lower blood pressure. Find chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content; the darker, the better. (Seliger, Susan. Superfoods Everyone Needs. WebMD, 2007. Article.)

CQ-10 is perhaps the single most important enzyme that can be supplemented. (Concoby, Robert, and David Nicol. Discovered: Nature’s Secret Fountains of Youth—A report from The American Commission on Anti-Aging. US: Hanford Press, 1993, pp 5-4)

Caffeine may be the most widely used drug. Coffee initially raises blood sugar and you get a lift. As soon as insulin levels override the blood sugar, you get a let-down feeling. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1992, pp 298-299)

Researchers in the United Kingdom studied cognitive stimulation. They found consistent evidence from multiple trials showed cognitive stimulation programs, 45 minutes 5 times a week for a total of 225 minutes, benefited cognition in people with mild to moderate dementia over and above any medication effects. [Others have suggested 30 minutes of challenging mental exercise a day as a possible prevention strategy.] (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/international-cognitive-stimulation-therapy/publications/pdfs/woods-aguirre-spector-orrell-2011)

Researchers at UC Berkeley found a significant association between higher levels of cognitive activity over a lifetime and lower levels of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's. PET Scans showed that people with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s, who had engaged in cognitively stimulating activities throughout their lives, had fewer deposits of beta-amyloid. While previous research has suggested that engaging in mentally stimulating activities (e.g., reading, writing, and playing games) may help stave off Alzheimer’s later in life, this study identifies the biological target: decreasing the levels of beta-amyloid. (http://news.berkeley.edu/2012/01/23/engaged-brain-amyloid-alzheimers/)

Refer to Violence and the Brain for additional information.

Bright white full-spectrum light is used in the treatment of cancers, SAD (seasonal affective disorder, so-called “winter depression”), anorexia, bulimia nervosa, insomnia, jet lag, shift-working, alcohol and drug dependency, and to reduce overall levels of medication. (Graham, Helen. Discover Color Therapy. CA: Ulysses Press, 1998, p 12)

Refer to Brain Lead and Lateralization for additional information.

Competency and Preference are not the same. (Benziger, Katherine, PhD. Thriving in Mind: The Art and Science of Using Your Whole Brain. p 250-263. IL:KBA, 2009.)

States there is a place for some computer games (e.g., those that simulate real experiences such as flying an airplane or driving a racing car) that demand a shift from left to right hemisphere functioning. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 194-195)

Studies: Religious groups with prudent lifestyles (e.g., Mormons, Amish, Seventh-day Adventists) show longer lives and lower death rates. (Edell, Dean, MD. Eat, Drink & Be Merry. NY: HarperCollins, 1999, pp 328-330)

See Water and the Brain for additional information.

Weight-loss diets can impact the brain negatively (e.g., disrupt synthesis of neurotransmitters, alter brain chemistry, decrease intelligence, trigger mental processing problems). Avoid all crash diets (e.g., less than 1000 calories per day) or rapid weight-loss diets. You can shed smarts as well as pounds if you’re not careful. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003, pp 185-194)

When you diet the body thinks its starving and becomes more efficient at holding onto the calories you ingest and stingier at giving them up for exercise. You may lose some weight initially, but your body has been “reprogrammed,” when you stop dieting you will gain your weight back faster and eventually go up to a higher weight than before. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. NY: Vantage Press, 2001, p 84)

Dieting starves the brain of serotonin. This can trigger a cycle of dieting and bingeing as there isn’t enough serotonin to signal satisfaction. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998, pp 38-43)

Fad diets don’t work—period—for three reasons: are usually unbalanced and often turn on survival genes (that makes the diet lose its effectiveness over time); doesn’t allow for flexibility in food selection or match way you normally eat; requires a change to another diet method for long-term weight control once the weight is off. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. NY: Vantage Press, 2001, pp 58-59)

The better differentiated each individual is within the family system, the more likely that members will remain in good health. A style that emphasizes togetherness and interdependency can actually increase dysfunction/ill health in members. (Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation. NY: The Guilford Press, 1985, pp 134-137)

Refer to Brain Lead and Lateralization for additional information.

During sleep, our cells release stored information that seeps into the consciousness as dreams. By recording and reviewing our dreams, we can often uncover repressed material that holds valuable keys to our personal and spiritual growth. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind (audiocassettes). CO: Sounds True. 2000)

Strong emotions that are not processed thoroughly are stored at the cellular level. At night, some of this stored information is released and allowed to bubble up into consciousness as a dream. Capturing that dream and re-experiencing the emotions can be very healing, as you either integrate the information for growth or decided to take actions toward forgiveness and letting go. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, p 290)

Drinking of fluids at meals dilutes the digestive juices and slows the digestive process. (Robbins, Anthony. Unlimited Power. NY: Fireside, 1986, pp 170-180)

Studies: the driving ability of professional bus drivers was lowered after eating high-fat foods while on the road. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990, pp 88-94)

An insulin spike from simple-sugar foods can suppress your immune system for five (5) hours. And sugar has also been shown to feed cancer cells. (Gary Kaplan, D.O., founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Virginia)

When you eat can be as important as what you eat. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Peak digestion of a meal is about 7 hours after dessert. (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990, pp 352-353)

p>Learning switches on genes in nerve cells that stimulate growth of dendrites and synapses. Exerting your brain intellectually spurs brain cells to explode with new branches, creating millions of new synapses. Consistent mental stimulation actually builds more brain tissue. You develop a surplus of brain cells to call on should your brain run into trouble with an injury. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000, pp 32-34)

The phenomena of emotional contagion mean that negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones. Limit time you spend with people given to pessimism and expressions of futility. If you want to accomplish something that demands determination and endurance, surround yourself with others who possess these qualities. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. PA: Rodale, 2003, pp 36-38)

The brain is about 2% of total body weight. It consumes 25% of metabolic energy and 40% of blood glucose as food. During the first year of life, infants spend 50% of their metabolic energy to construct and refine brain mechanisms. (Fisher, Helen, PhD. Why We Love. NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2004. pp 140-141)

For many people, digestion takes more nerve energy than almost anything else…Eat a little. That way you’ll be around long enough to eat a lot. (Robbins, Anthony. Unlimited Power. NY: Fireside, 1986, pp 170-180)

Your thoughts and feelings (mental diet) is at least equally important to proper nutrition. Your inner thoughts, feelings, and impressions directly impact your energy level. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999, p 89)

You are composed of many energy systems that encompass thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Every thought can be energetically calibrated for its impact on your body and environment. You can raise your energy levels. (Dyer, Wayne, PhD. The Power of Intention. CA: Hay House, Inc., 2004, pp 68-69)

Refer to Energy and the Brain for additional information.

Caloric beverages are generally less satiating than isocaloric foods. Persons interested in energy balance and weight control should, particularly when snacking, consume calories in food form. They are well advised to limit drinking to water. Even non-caloric sweetened beverages (e.g., diet sodas) may prompt consumption of additional calories later in the day. (Deahl, Thomas, D.M.D., PhD. Water, Thirst, & Dehydration. p 10. CA: Institute for Natural Resources, Health Update. 2009.)

PET scan studies have shown that the brain works many times harder when performing tasks that don’t match an individual’s own innate giftedness. The book provides a tool for evaluating relative energy expenditures based on specific activities. (Taylor, Arlene, PhD and Eugene Brewer PhD, with Michelle Nash. MindWaves. AR: The Concerned Group, Inc, 2003, pp 130-169)

The length of one’s life is directly proportional to the enzyme potential in the body. Enzymes are critical for slowing down the aging process and for promoting deep cleansing on the cellular level. More than 3,000 enzymes have been identified (it is possible to get ½ of these from superfoods). Sprouts are the very highest source of enzymes. Cooked food is depleted of most, if not all enzymes. (Concoby, Robert, and David Nicol. Discovered: Nature’s Secret Fountains of Youth—A report from The American Commission on Anti-Aging. US:Hanford Press, 1993, 5-1-4)

Rat research has shown that the rate of birthing new neurons in the brain’s hippocampus (in the mature mammalian brain layer) can be enhanced by physical exercise. Rats that exercise regularly can produce twice as many new cells as those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. (Shors, Tracey J. “Saving New Bain Cells.” Scientific American, p 47-48, March 2009)

Researchers at UC Berkeley found a significant association between higher levels of cognitive activity over a lifetime and lower levels of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's. PET Scans showed that people with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s, who had engaged in cognitively stimulating activities throughout their lives, had fewer deposits of beta-amyloid. Engage in 30 minutes of stimulating brain exercise (e.g., brain aerobic exercises) every day. (Source)

Specific intellectual activities can be designed to help protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. Contains a list of activities broken down by category: passive (e.g., watching TV), intellectual (e.g., reading, crafts), physical (e.g., walking, gardening). (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 38-39)

Study at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center (716 dementia-free volunteers, average age of 82): one's level of activity can impact the risk for developing Alzheimer's--even in people in their 80s. Individuals in the bottom 10% of intensity of physical activity were 2.8 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease compared to those in the top 10%. An actigraph, a watch-sized device worn on the wrist, was used to measure physical activity. Interestingly, much of the recorded movements came from regular activities of daily living rather than formal exercise. The bottom line? Stay active! (Source)

Regular physical exercise and an increase in intellectual activities seem to offer protection against developing Alzheimer’s disease. Offers specific suggestions for building up leg muscular strength as important for brain health. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 185-186)

Exercise gives the brain many of the things it needs to function at full power. It is known to raise baseline serotonin levels, decrease the amount of hydrocortisone (e.g., in excess it can shrink brain mass through cell death), improve blood flow, and bring the brain into an awake state. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ: Career Press, 1999, pp 235-236)

See Exercise and the Brain for additional information.

See Trauma and the Brain for additional information.

The human brain is approximately 60% fat. Fatty acids (e.g., DHS, EPA, omega-3) are needed to build nerve endings. Some psychiatric and neurological disorders are linked to lack of omega-3 (e.g., depression—more girls, ADHD—more boys, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia). (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001, pp 86-89)

One of the most critical decisions ever you make for the good or detriment of your brain involves the type of fat you include in your diet—from birth to death. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, pp 49-51)

Fat tissue is 97% water. That’s where the weight of fat comes from, its water content. (Bost, Brent W., MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome. NY: Vantage Press, 2001, pp 56-57)

According to Dr. Yaryura-Tobias, the brain tires in a similar way to muscle tissue. When a muscle is fatigued, it gives you a signal (e.g., pain, cramps) which is due to lack of oxygen to the muscle. In order to recover you must rest. The same with the brain. It gives you signals when it is fatigued. These include:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to put thoughts together
  • Irritability to minor things
  • A sense of being jumpy or nervous
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Moving from lows to highs as the brain cannot control itself effectively
  • Lack of coordination in the brain will result in lack of coordination in thought processes, mood, and intellectual capacity.

(Editors of Prevention Magazine. How to Boost Your Brain Power to Enrich Your Life. PA:Rodale Press, Inc., pp 17-18)

One way to help combat mental fatigue is the simple technique of switching to activities that use different parts of the brain. If you have been doing tasks that utilize left-brain function, switch to a task that utilizes right-brain function. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 90-92)

Fatty Acids are key building blocks for a healthy brain, which is structurally composed of a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Unfortunately, diets high in meat and dairy products may lead to a ratio of 20:1. An imbalance of fatty acids may be linked to hyperactivity, depression, brain allergies, and some forms of mental illness. (See trans fatty acids.) (Franklin Institute. The Human Brain. Nourish – Fats. 2004. Article.)

Lists ten specific strategies that comprise an optimum diet for brain function. The closer you get to the original food source, the closer you are to the brain-boosting diet designed by your brain’s ancient architects. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000, pp 42-47)

Your brain cannot function at peak form if you low in the B vitamin folic acid. Depression is the most common neuropsychiatric sign of a folic acid deficiency. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000, pp 208-210)

Refer to Nutrition and the Brain for additional information.

Food allergies (e.g., additives, dyes, sugar, chocolate) can make the child listless, hyper or less mentally alert, grouchy, and may slow down transfer of information across the corpus callosum. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Your Child’s Growing Mind. NY: Doubleday, 1987, 1989, p 1400)

The original food pyramid with four food groups, has been replaced with an updated food guide called My Pyramid with six food groups. To date, although many diets achieve effective immediate weight loss, none has emerged as an effective tool for maintaining healthy weight. The only definite recommendation that can be made about any diet plan is to be sure it includes an exercise program, assuming there are no health problems to forbid it. (NYT: Weight Management. Health Guide. Dietary Management. 2008. Article.)

In the spring of 2005, the USDA released its updated version of the old food pyramid originally released in 1992. More than an updated look, this new pyramid is a new concept of what and how much Americans need to eat in order to live longer, healthier lives. It has five food groups and oils with band widths to indicate recommended amounts of each. (Dufour, Marie. R.D., Not Just a New Look at an Old Concept. Article.)

Learning any foreign language is neurobically stimulating. Learning American Sign Language is especially so because it requires your hands and the parts of the cortex that control them, to do something new. (Katz, Lawrence C., PhD and Manning Rubin. Keep Your Brain Alive.NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 1999, p 129)

The risks associated with plant-based diets are reported to be quite small in comparison with the great benefit to be gained in terms of reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. (Burros, Marian. EATING WELL; Rethink 4 Food Groups, Doctors Tell U.S. NYT. 1991. www.PCRM.org )

In 1995, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), submitted Recommended Revisions for Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 24 prestigious physicians were involved including Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Neal Barnard, and Benjamin Spock. While agreeing that those not wishing to eat vegetarian or vegan could certainly eat small amounts of animal products, basing the major part of one’s diet on the New Four Food Groups (NFFG) would have major benefits on human health. The NFFG contains no cholesterol and, with a few exceptions such as nuts and avocados, is low in fat content.

  • Whole Grain Group
  • Vegetable Group
  • Fruit Group
  • Legume Group

The Four Food Groups, Old and New. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, p. O. Box 6322, Washington, D, C. 20015, (202) 686-2210. www.PCRM.org )

Because they believed that the regular consumption of foods listed in the old USDA 1956 Basic Four food groups and in the USDA revised Food Guide Pyramid posed significant health risks, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) developed the New Four Food Groups in 1991:

  • Whole Grain Group
  • Vegetable Group
  • Fruit Group
  • Legume Group

(www.PCRM.org)

The major killers of Americans (heart disease, cancer, and stroke) have a dramatically lower incidence among people consuming primarily plant-based diets. Weight problems may also be brought under control by following the New Four Food Group recommendations. A free booklet entitled Vegetarian Starter Kit is available from PCRM. Call (202) 686-2210. (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 5100 Wisconsin Ave N.W., Suite 404, Washington, D.C. 20016www.PCRM.org)

Wait at least 3 1/3 hours after eating a properly combined meal before ingesting any other foods. (Robbins, Anthony. Unlimited Power. NY: Fireside, 1986, pp 170-180)

A new UCLA rat study, reported in the Journal of Physiology, may be the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain and hampers memory and learning. Two groups of rats were first taught to run a maze that had many holes but only one exit. Both groups were then fed a typical rat diet with the addition of fructose solution as drinking water. The second group was also given omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is essential for synaptic function. Six weeks later cells in the brains of rats who had not received omega-3 fatty acids brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier. The rats had difficulty negotiating the maze and showed signs of insulin resistance. Typical Western diets include significant amounts of cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener. (Fructose in fruits appears to be less impactful because fruits also contain important antioxidants). You may want to reduce your fructose intake and be sure to include omega-3s in your diet when you do want a high-fructose item. (Source)

In a large collection of impressive studies, Ginkgo Biloba, an herbal supplement extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, has been shown to improve alertness and memory functions. Long-term use has been shown to increase the number of acetylcholine receptors in the brain—this means that when acetylcholine is released in the brain it becomes more active because there are more receptor molecules to receive it. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ: Career Press, 1999, p 232)

Johns Hopkins Study: doses of a standardized extract from the leaves of the ginkgo tree can prevent or reduce brain damage in genetically engineered mice after an induced stroke. According to Sylvain Doré, Ph.D., lead researcher, if further work confirms these studies, a daily regimen of ginkgo for people at high risk of stroke could theoretically be recommended as a preventive measure against brain damage. Ginko is prescribed in Europe and Asia for memory loss. (Mouse studies suggest daily dose of ginkgo may prevent brain cell damage after a stroke. Physorg.com. October 2008. Article.)

Ginseng is believed to maintain the balance of neurotransmitters during stress, including helping to regulate serotonin release. Some serotonin is needed to keep your mood up; too much can cause lethargy and fatigue. Ginseng may help to maintain an appropriate balance of serotonin in the brain. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. NJ:Career Press, 1999, p 233)

In order to grow and communicate with each other brain cells require a steady supply of glucose. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997, p 76)

Although the brain is only about 2% of the body’s entire weight, it can consume 20%-30% of the body’s entire energy. The brain stores so little glucose or energy that, if not replenished, it would be all used up within 10 minutes. Nothing is more critical to your brain than the type of sugar (glucose) that circulates in your blood and cells, and is largely determined by what you eat. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, pp 106-107)

The brain’s only food is glucose, which is carried to the brain in the blood. Only when there is enough blood flow to bring plentiful supplies of glucose to the brain can neurons and glial cells carry out their functions and ensure full consciousness. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, p 289)

The brain consumes the equivalent of a quarter pound of glucose every day, more than any other body organ except for muscles during heavy exercise. The bulk of the energy is used to make neurotransmitters. (Treadwell, Benjamin V., PhD. The Brain: Can We Tweak it? CA:Juvenon Health Journal, Vol 4, No. 4, April 2005, p 12)

The mind is powered by the brain and more than the muscles or any other organ, the brain demands glucose in a steady second-to- second flow. Low blood sugar can cause mental problems (e.g., fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, confusion, indecisiveness, poor concentration, nightmares, and suicidal tendency.) (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health: New Dimensions. PA: Rodale Press, 1986, pp 20-22)

Carbohydrate (glucose source) is the only source of fuel that the brain can use (it cannot burn fat). It is a most energy-demanding organ, responsible for over half our obligatory energy requirements. Glucose levels decline more during a period of intense cognitive processing… Improved mental ability following a carbohydrate meal has been demonstrated in all types of people (See also Glycemic Index). (Brand-Miller, Jennie, PhD, Thomas M. S. Wolever, MD, PhD, et al. The New Glucose Revolution. NY: Marlowe & Company, 2003, pp 15-18)

Refer to Sugar and the Brain for additional information.

Superoxide Dismutase or SOD for short, is a powerful antioxidant enzyme that is found in green superfoods (e.g., wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina). It helps support brain function and the immune system. Studies have shown that one’s life span is proportional to the SOD content in one’s heart, brain and liver. The chlorophyll in the green pigment is also a powerful cleanser and purifier. (Concoby, Roberts, and David Nicol. Discovered: Nature’s Secret Fountains of Youth. US: Hanford Press, 1993, pp B-2, C-1)

We have to work harder and longer to change a habit than when we learned it in the first place. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002, pp 104-105)

Happiness is found to be most closely associated with health, followed by wealth, and then education. The top ten happiest nations in the world are:

  1. Denmark
  2. Switzerland
  3. Austria
  4. Iceland
  5. The Bahamas
  6. Finland
  7. Sweden
  8. Bhutan
  9. Brunei
  10. Canada

(White, Adrian. University of Leicester Produces the First-Ever Map of Happiness.)

Believes each person needs to take responsibility for his/her own health and illness. Saying “I have a bad knee,” creates a belief system around that and codifies it in the body. Beliefs and personal consciousness influence reality. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, p 323)

Lists the basic elements of a healthy brain diet. States that eating a healthy brain diet is no more complicated than any physically healthy diet. (Small, Gary, M.D. The Memory Bible. NY: Hyperion, 2002, pp 160-161)

Hippocrates taught that good that is good for the heart is likely to be good for the brain – and he appears to have been correct. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, p 79)

Exercise: mentally focus on your heart. It can help you regulate your emotions. Picture taking disturbed feelings into the heart and soaking them there. This won’t necessarily make the issue disappear, but it can take the density out of your cellular memory and reduce its power. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. CA: Harper SF, 1999, pp 193-194)

Indicates that specific herbs can help to improve health of body organs and provides examples (e.g., Ginkgo biloba enhances circulation to the brain). (Ross, Julia, MA. The Diet Cure. NY: Penguin Books, 1999, p 275)

Lists four memory-building herbs that can be grown at home and offers suggestions for how to use them (e.g., sage, lemon balm, rosemary, stevia). (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003, pp 227-230)

What you eat affects how you think. Studies at UCLA, reported in the Journal of Physiology, reported that a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup disrupted the ability of lab rats to think clearly and to recall how to run a learned maze route. Some of the rats also developed signs of insulin resistance; insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar and regulates brain function. (According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes more than 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, it being found commonly in soda, applesauce, baby food, condiments, and other processed snacks.) Researchers reported that the study “shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new." (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/this-is-your-brain-on-sugar-ucla-233992.aspx

High fructose corn syrup contains about 5% more fructose (than sugar). HFCS does not stimulate insulin production but goes directly to the liver, which releases enzymes that trigger fat storage. HFCS may promote overeating, elevate triglyceride levels, slow fat burning, and weight gain. (Cohen, Mark Francis. What’s Worse Than Sugar? AARP Bulletin, April 2004, pp 18-19)


New research from Princeton has shown that rats fed high fructose corn syrup had dramatic weight gains (as opposed to those ingesting water-sugar mixtures). There was a concentration of this weight gain in the abdomen along with a rise in triglyceride levels. In humans, these same characteristics are known to increase one's risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes. This advocates for "reading labels." Common foods that contain high fructose corn syrup include breads, mayonnaise, ketchup, fruit juice, soda, cereal, yogurt, and other “packaged” or “convenience” foods. (Anderson, Sylvia, Insider Health Editor. New Study: High Fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain. 2010.)

Avoid foods that spike blood sugar. As blood sugar levels rise, increases in insulin and inflammation produce glycation, which create free radicals known as AGEs. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. NY: Warner Books, 2004, pp 138-148)

Studies: humor has a profound connection with physiological states of the body. There is an inverse relationship between humor and pain. Laughter has a definite anesthetic effect. (Padus, Emrika, et al. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions & Your Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1992, pp 542-544)

Refer to Laughter – Humor and the Brain for additional information.

Study by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at England's University of Southampton, results released 9-13-07 in The Lancet: a variety of common food dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate (e.g., an ingredient in many soft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings) causes some children to become more hyperactive and distractible than usual. Kids can become more hyperactive within one hour of consuming food additives. (Wallis, Claudia. Article from Time Magazine reprinted in Dr. Amen’s News Letter, 9-15-07. The Complete Guide to Your Emotions and Your Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1986, p 624)

Refer to Learning and the Brain for additional information.

During its period of most rapid growth (e.g., 3rd prenatal trimester through the second year after birth), the brain is particularly and profoundly sensitive to malnutrition. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997, p 76)

Studies: massage helped children with autism, diabetes, asthma, cancer, and arthritis. Neuropeptides (e.g., endorphins) released in the brain from touch receptors in the skin, send positive healing messages to the brain. (Perricone, Nicholas, MD. The Perricone Promise. NY: Warner Books, 2004, pp 6-10)

It requires large amounts of energy to keep information in the subconscious from percolating up into the conscious. Meditation can help to dissipate repressed information and thus release energy. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind (audiocassettes). CO: Sounds True, 2000.)

Emory University School of Medicine Studies: the regular practice of meditation may enhance the capacity of the brain to limit the influence of distracting thoughts. Developing this skill may have positive implications for individuals with ADHD, OCD, depression, or anxiety orders that are characterized by abnormal production of task-unrelated thoughts or even of excessive rumination. (Zen training speeds the mind's return after distraction, brain scans reveal. 2008. Article.)

Defines disease-related stress as an information overload, a condition in which mind-body network is so taxed by unprocessed sensory input in the form of suppressed trauma or undigested emotions that it has become bogged down and cannot flow freely, sometimes even working against itself, at cross-purposes. Meditation can help get peptides flowing again, returning the body and the emotions to health. (Pert, Candace, PhD. Molecules of Emotion. NY: Scribner, 1997, pp 242-243)

Melatonin secretion naturally drops off with age causing an age-related “jet-lag,” if you will. Taking melatonin about an hour before bedtime has been shown to improve quality of life in some elderly individuals. Studies have also shown some benefit with cancer patients and in situations of stress. (Dean, Ward, M.D., and John Morgenthaler and Steven Wm. Fowkes. Smart Drugs II, Melatonin Chapter. Smart Publications. 2000. Article.)

Refer to Sleep and the Brain for additional information.

Researchers are more optimistic than ever about the potential of the aging brain. For example, the brain can grow new nerve cells—neurogenesis. Studies of older people who have maintained mental acuity revealed common characteristics. They tended to be:

  • Socially connected, with strong ties to relatives, friends and community
  • Both physically healthy and physically active
  • Engaged in stimulating or intellectually challenging activities.

(Caryn-Rabin, Roni. For a Sharp Brain, Stimulation. May 2008. Article.)

PET scan studies of the benefits of mental rehearsal: imagining complex/skillful movement can help improve its performance. People eventually become the products of the mental images they entertain. (Refer to Visualizing.) (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 50-52)

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