Thursday, August 18, 2011

Installment #3 – Dr. Amen and the BRAIN

At IDEA, there is always an excellent and inspiring presentation with keynote speakers. This year was Apolo Ono, which was interesting and inspiring, and Dr. Daniel Amen on changing your life by changing your brain. Dr. Amen is a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. I love when speakers can be on stage for a minimal amount of time and give out the most powerful information that they have studied and researched. THIS is time well spent!
I wanted to share a few things that really stood out to me. Regarding alcohol consumption, the recommendations for men are no more than two drinks per day and for women, no more than one drink per day. Studies show that individuals who drink everyday have smaller brains. Bigger is not always better, but in the case of our brain, IT IS. We are happier, healthier, wiser, wealthier, and make better decisions with a bigger brain. Better decisions translate to life!
In terms of obesity, as an individual’s weight goes up, the brain size goes down. The brain’s functioning ability goes down if an individual is obese, with 8% less brain tissue and with the brain's “age” of 16 years OLDER.
Just a piece of useful random information, we can now see problems in the brain 30-50 years BEFORE there are any symptoms! WHAT?!? Yep. Alzheimer’s is one of the worst diseases known, because “you are there, but not really,” according to Dr. Amen. With brain scans, the disease can be seen on the brain 30-50 years BEFORE symptoms. THIS is amazing!
So, how do we keep our brain healthy and/or REVERSE the aging process?
·         PROTECT your brain. “The safest place for a football player is ON THE BENCH!”
·         FEED your brain. Fuel effects function. Lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids (large cold water fish, such as tuna and salmon, walnuts, Brazil nuts, olive oil, and canola oil) are essential to brain function.
·         Kill the ANTs. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) aren’t just demoralizing and set you up for low self esteem, but they inflame the brain. Inflamed thoughts are associated with depression and anxiety. Positive thoughts have a calming effect.
·         WORK your brain. Learn and progress. Your brain is like a muscle, the more you USE it, the more you CAN use it. When you learn something new, new neural connections are made which also increase blood flow. Keep the memory fresh.
·          LOVE for your brain. Create long lasting relationships!
·         DEVELOP a “concert state” for your brain.   Optimal performance is best achieved when a "concert state" exists in the brain. This means "a relaxed body with a sharp, clear mind," much as you would experience listening to an exhilarating symphony. Achieving this state requires two simultaneous skills: deep relaxation and focus.
·         TREAT brain problems EARLY. The sooner the treatment, the better. Try not to deny there is an issue.
Sound Mind. Sound Body. Let’s keep it that way!

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