Monthly Archives: November 2010
Brain Boosters-Scrambled Words
Let’s try some scrambled words. These Brain Boosters are great for problem solving, thought organization skills, thought flexibility, reasoning skills, and executive function skills. Brain exercises help prevent memory loss, promote healthy aging, improve brain function and thinking skills, build a cognitive reserve, and should be a part of everyone’s life! Use it or lose it!
Unscramble the following words. Have fun!
Vitamin D and Your Brain
Do you get enough Vitamin D? Do you even know how much you get daily or how much is recommended? Have you had your Vitamin D level checked? My endocrinologist checked mine about almost 2 years ago, and I’ve been taking Vitamin D supplements ever since. Of course my physician monitors my Vitamin D levels through routine blood tests.
Well, today the Institute of Medicine is expected to release its recommendation to increase daily Vitamin D intake from 200 international units to 600 international units. The Institute is also expected to recommend raising the upper limit of Vitamin D intake for adults from 2000 IUs to 4000 IUs. Why is Vitamin D important? I think Vitamin D has gained more attention recently as we are not the sun lovers we once were. More of us consistently use sunscreen and kids don’t seem to play outside all day long like we did as kids. As we all know, Vitamin D is crucial to bone health but did you know that low levels may also contribute to many chronic diseases like-Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, cognitive decline, diabetes, cancer, auto- immune diseases, depression, stroke, infections, and even heart disease. That is why Vitamin D is crucial to your health!
Are you regularly eating foods containing Vitamin D? What foods contain Vitamin D? Here are some food and beverages containing Vitamin D, of course this is not a comprehensive list-just a sampling. Salmon-wild, Alaskan, sockeye; fish oil; mollusks; Steelhead trout; herring; sardines; halibut; variety of milks-soy, almond, rice, cow, goat; fortified orange juice; mushrooms; spinach; potatoes; eggs; cheese; puddings prepared with milk.
So now that you’ve read all this, what should you do? First, continue to eat a well balanced diet as that promotes anti-aging and healthy aging. Continue to exercise your brain and your body. It’s the combination of brain exercise, physical exercise, and healthy eating that increase your odds for longevity and a healthy life. What have you got to lose except maybe your brain health, chronic diseases and illness, or your life? Perhaps it’s time for a checkup with your physician that includes lab work to check your Vitamin D level to at least establish your baseline.
Brain Plasticity, Neuroplasticity, What Is It Anyway?
By now you’ve probably heard the terms brain plasticity or neuroplasticity. You are most likely wondering, what is it, do I have it, can I get it, is it contagious, should I want it? Well, I am going to explain it in simple terms in hopes of giving everyone a clearer, better understanding of brain plasticity or neuroplasticity.
First, brain plasticity and neuroplasticity mean the same thing and the terms are interchangeable. It basically refers to the brain‘s ability to change for better or worse. Inside our brains we have axons, dendrites, nerve cells, gray matter. When we learn new information, our brains actually form new neural or nerve pathways enabling us to retain the newly learned information. Then of course we must reinforce this newly acquired knowledge. Isn’t that fabulous? As we continue to learn, we can continue to add new pathways. Of course, pathways can change when we forget things. Keep in mind, this is a simplified definition of brain plasticity.
As Speech-Language Pathologists, we are expertly trained in brain science and neuro anatomy. Speech-Language Pathologists diagnose and treat cognitive, communication, language, and speech disorders. Therefore, we are uniquely qualified to conduct brain fitness classes to help individuals improve cognitive skills while building a cognitive reserve to stave off Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Our brain fitness classes at BrainMasters, are different from the computer based programs, as ours are based on principles of cognitive skills development as utilized in Speech-Language Pathology. Our classes focus on improving memory, problem solving, thought organization, reasoning skills, judgment, executive function, processing speed, thought flexibility, focus and concentration skills, and attention skills. Classes are conducted in a group setting that is interactive, enjoyable, and entertaining. We provide compensatory techniques and strategies that will assist each individual achieve carryover of the desired skills. At BrainMasters, we help you capitalize on your strengths while strengthening your weaknesses utilizing the principles of brain plasticity. Our programs can be customized and adapted to accommodate any age group from teens to my 96 year old grandmother! So, baby boomers, take advantage of the opportunity right in front of you-enroll in a brain fitness program. You’ll be glad you did!
Best of all, at BrainMasters we bring our classes to your location at your convenience!
Brain Boosters-Word Beads
Try these Word Beads that we have created. These are are great for exercising your brain. Word Beads focus on thought organization, problem solving, reasoning, memory skills, thought flexibility, and executive function. By incorporating brain fitness activities into your life, you are taking positive steps toward healthy aging while improving your brain function and overall thinking skills. Healthy aging and longevity include building brain power through use of brain or neuro plasticity to create your cognitive reserve. These activities are necessary to stave off the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Don’t forget about the physical exercise component as well! Physical exercise and a healthy diet aid in decreasing the risk for developing other diseases such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure-all of which have been linked to memory impairments.
We present Word Beads. Use the following string of letters to create as many 5, 6, 7, 8 letter words as you can. The letters must remain in the order presented but can be separated within the word. Here is an example-STR. STORE, STARE, etc…….
Let’s use PLU as our Word Bead.
Have fun and let’s get those brains exercising!
Is Your Brain Stressed Out?
Well, now it’s Sunday evening, thoughts about the new work week have entered your head, holidays are upon us, end of the year business deals, family stuff-again, why did I eat so much on Thanksgiving, why am I still eating so much, I’ve gained how many pounds already, and the list continues! Does your brain just hurt from too much information? So, I pose the question, “Are you stressed out?” Do you feel overwhelmed particularly this time of year? Well, here is some surprising information. Cluttering your brain with all this excess information is not useful.
Stress has been attributed to memory loss, decreased judgment skills, poor thought organization, and difficulty in forming clear, concise thoughts. Why would you want to do that to your brain? Our brains need proper fuel, food, and maintenance to achieve optimal levels of peak performance. Now, that’s a great way to bring in the holiday season and prepare for the upcoming new year. Okay now don’t stress out, but 2011 is just around the corner-less than 5 weeks!
Here is our advice on how to properly care for your brain so it will last a lifetime. First, let’s discuss fuel for your brain. You and your brain require energy to work effectively and efficiently. This means exercise for your brain and your body. Exercise your brain with knowledge and become a life long learner. We are never too old to learn. Learn a new language, a new game, join a new club or organization, volunteer somewhere new, change your daily routine. It’s all about the new learning and forming those new brain pathways through brain or neuro plasticity. Remember to exercise your body. It’s not necessary to train for a marathon or become an Olympic athlete. Recent studies have shown that just walking 6-9 miles per week decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. By exercising, you get the blood flowing and circulating throughout your body and your brain. It’s not that difficult to walk 6 miles. Of course if exercise is new to you, then definitely consult your physician before beginning any exercise program!
Next, let us share with you our advice on brain food. Of course it’s best to eat a well balanced diet comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, nuts, healthy fats (olive oil, omega 3 ), dairy, fresh herbs and spices, and fiber. Your plate should have an assortment of colors to ensure you have a good balance of healthy food choices. AVOID fast food! There are really no health benefits to consuming fast foods. So, just forget about it! We eat lots of walnuts, dark chocolate, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, wild salmon, fresh veggies with cold pressed olive oil, almonds, chicken, and fiber filled whole grains. If you’re having difficulty making “healthy” food choices or unsure about your choices, consult your physician. Of course, if you have food allergies or sensitivities as I do, always consult your doctor. I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, which can impair brain function. Lovely, huh? Anyway, a healthy diet is important to maintain a healthy brain that will last a lifetime.
Lastly, let’s discuss brain maintenance. This is also important to achieve optimal brain health and function. Stress, let it go! It’s a killer and just not needed! Don’t stress out over things beyond your control or things you can’t change. If you’re having trouble letting it go why not try some deep breathing exercises? Learn some yoga moves or learn to meditate. Begin each day with 10 minutes of silent positive thoughts and a smile on your face. Let your brain be a calm fertile ground so it may easily welcome new learning opportunities and absorb knowledge like a sponge.
The bottom line in order to achieve and maintain a healthy brain involves fueling your brain and body with exercise, feeding your brain with healthy brain foods, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Brain Boosters – Anagrams With A Holiday Twist
Brain Boosters – Word Wizards
Well, I’m taking a quick Thanksgiving cooking break, so I thought why not post a new Brain Booster? We call these Word Wizards. We provide you with a beginning word, and the object is to change 1 letter at a time until you arrive at the end word that we will also provide. Word Wizards focus on problem solving, thought flexibility, reasoning skills, logic, and executive function. Our Word Wizards are great mental stimulation activities for all ages-seniors, middle aged folks, baby boomers, even kids! So, no slacking, get cracking on building that cognitive reserve by exercising your mind! We can all benefit from from some improved mental fitness to promote healthy aging and longevity. Why not try everything in your power to decrease your chances for developing Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia? Take advantage of this opportunity to effectively utilize your brain plasticity!
Here we go with Word Wizards.
Begin with the word – POLE
Change 1 letter at a time until you form the word – MINT
Here is another one.
Begin with the word – BANK
End with the word – DIRT
This one is a little more challenging!
Begin with the word – PARTY
End with the word – BONES
Enjoy and share your word lists with us. There are several ways to solve these. For increased difficulty, try to solve the Word Wizards in as few turns as possible.
Decrease Your Heart Attack Risk – Increase Your Brain Health
I just stumbled upon this article in AARP and found it fascinating! It’s an easy read discussing how to avoid a heart attack and has a few quick questions to analyze your potential risk for a heart attack in the next 10 years. I completed the quiz and was nervous but am glad to report my risk was 1%. I then took a really deep breath!
I encourage you to read the article and take the quiz. It’s important to be well informed about your heath and potential health risks. Be honest with yourself! By doing this now, you become empowered to make lifestyle changes to promote healthy aging and longevity.
Remember, if something is good for your heart, then yes it’s good for your brain! Go Brain!
Brain Boosters-Word Beads
Here is another excellent brain exercise that will definitely challenge you while stimulating your brain! Word Beads address problem solving, thought flexibility, thought organization, executive function, judgment,and reasoning skills.
Given the following string of letters generate as many 5, 6, 7 letter words as you can.
Let’s start with SHA. Here is an example.
5 letter word-SHARK
6 letter word-SHAPES
7 letter word-SHATTER
Now it’s your turn. Send us you lists so we can see how well you did! The objective is to think of as many words as possible. To make this Brain Booster more challenging, only allow 10 minutes to create your list of 5, 6, 7 letter words. Have fun!
FYI-Don’t forget to sign up for the next BrainMasters class at US Gaming Arena in Roswell, GA. Our next class is scheduled for Monday December 1, 2010, 6:30-7:30 pm. Registration forms are on our website.
Remember, we will customize classes to accommodate your schedule, just contact us. It’s really that simple! See you soon!