4 Ways To Maintain Your Brain

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brainAerobic exercise, the Mediterranean diet, social connectedness, and undertaking challenges reduce the risk of dementia.

Many people want to build up some “insurance” against dementia and other memory problems. But there’s no need to invest in pricey brain-training programs. Instead, do-it-yourself lifestyle changes have been shown to help ward off memory loss and dementia, reports the February 2015 Harvard Women’s Health Watch. The following strategies lead the list:

Exercise. “The best evidence so far is for aerobic exercise and physical fitness,” says Dr. Bradford Dickerson, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Scores of studies and clinical trials have linked regular aerobic exercise to a reduced risk of dementia. A few brain imaging studies have even shown that aerobic exercise increases brain mass and improves reasoning ability. The best exercise “dose” is 30 minutes or more per day, five times a week.

Eat well. The Mediterranean diet — high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; moderate in olive oil, unsaturated fats, lean protein (poultry, fish, beans, and nuts), cheese, yogurt, and wine; and low in red meat — has been a mainstay of cardiac prevention for almost 20 years. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of dementia. The closer people follow this type of heart-healthy diet, the lower the risk.

Stay connected. Being part of a social network also appears to reduce the risk of dementia. The variety in a person’s social network and the satisfaction he or she gets from social contacts is more important than the size of the network.

Keep mentally active. The “use it or lose it” principle appears to apply to brain health. Mental stimulation, like playing a musical instrument, learning another language, volunteering, or engaging in hobbies, offers greater benefits than repetitive exercises like crossword puzzles. Although “brain-training” programs are a multi-million-dollar industry, there is no conclusive evidence that any of them improves memory or reasoning ability. “We don’t know whether playing brain games is helpful,” Dr. Dickerson says. “Getting together with family and friends to play cards may be as good.”

Read the full-length article: “The 4 best ways to maintain your brain”

Also in the February 2015 Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

* Finding the right medications for asthma and COPD

* Simple solutions for dizziness

* Measures to prevent “dowager’s hump”

* Water exercise for strength, balance, and cardiovascular fitness

Harvard Women’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/womens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

How To Maintain Good Eyesight

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eyeHumans are visually-driven by nature. We depend on eyesight to function in practically every facet of society. While numerous examples show the ability of people who triumph over partial or total blindness, healthy vision is something just about everybody wishes to maintain throughout their entire life.

We live in relatively fortunate times for those suffering from congenital or progressively occurring vision problems. Glasses have been an established remedy for centuries. The 20th century saw the advent of even greater advances in vision improvement possibility. Contacts became a popular alternative to glasses. Eventually, Lasik surgeons working in cities across the globe began to permanently correct less-than-perfect eyesight.

Yet, given the chance, prevention is always preferred over cure, so what can be done to maintain good eyesight? Here are the basics that will keep your vision crisp and lean for years to come:

Eye Exams

Sometimes the causes of poor vision are genetic, in which case little, if anything, done by the person will make a difference. This is why it’s important to get your eyes checked at least once a year. Most health care plans cover an annual eye exam free of charge. This way eye problems can be caught and corrected as soon as possible.

No Smoking

Add the risk of vision loss to the already long list of reasons not to smoke cigarettes. Smoking has been linked to increase chance of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the optic nerves. If tempted to start – don’t – for the sake of your eyesight. Those already regular smokers, consider the ordeal of eye surgery before lighting up again. Aforementioned laser eye surgery is impressively low-key and routine these days, but you still want to skip it if possible.

Eye-Friendly Diet

Unfortunately the idea that carrots are especially effective at improving vision is fictitious, despite the vegetable being an all-around great source of Vitamin A which helps preserve eyesight. To keep eyes in top shape make room for citrus fruits in your diet such as oranges and kiwi. Leafy greens are good too such as kale and spinach. Seek out natural foods sources rich in vitamin E such as salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts, and beans.

Limited Screen Time

It’s hard to do these days, we know, but reducing the amount of hours spent staring at a computer screen is essential to keeping eyes from becoming strained and damaged over time. It’s a good policy to maintain a healthy distance and angle between yourself and a desktop monitor. Set smartphones and tablets to auto-brightness to prevent unnecessary strain. Make a habit to look away from screens at least three times an hour. Focus your vision on the other side of the room, perhaps a wall clock, to give them a break from the computer screen.

Eyesight is an important part of the human experience. Although people are powerful enough to adapt to blindness, with tools and procedures that serve to correct otherwise terminal vision problems, the beauties of the world are best experienced with unadulterated, natural eyesight. Taking steps to keep your eyes healthy is an investment in future enjoyment.

– Submitted by Katherine Smith

Maintain Your Health With A Safe Workplace

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workdeskYou can chow down on vitamin supplements like they were going out of style, make calorific meals using a calculator, weighing scales and your own inflated sense of ego, but there’s one health scare you can’t ever prepare for.

If an accident in your workplace hits, those supplements will be as useful as a submarine on the A90.

It can happen at any time, a major slip, trip or fall to put you out of commission for weeks, months or maybe even years. There were over 600,000 cases of injury in the UK last year, and at least a few of those could be put down to bad bosses.

Indeed, while your boss could have a halo for a head, sprinkle rose petals over employees as they enter and send delightful pictures of cats through the company email system, they’re still shirking their responsibility if they don’t adhere to health and safety legislation.

With that in mind, how can you make sure your boss is minimising your risk of an accident?

Contact the professionals

Whether you’ve had an accident or not, your first port of call should be the professionals – injury claim specialists can help you figure out how to protect your workplace from accidents, as well as what to do if you want to file a claim against your employer.

There are few people better suited to spotting the danger zones in a place of work, so pick up the phone and see what they can do for you.

Get your boss on your side

You know that lovely boss we were discussing earlier? The one with the rose petals and cute cat pictures? Well, here’s an unfortunate truth – they aren’t all like that. In fact, some bosses can be downright vindictive.

But that doesn’t mean you have to let their villainous tendencies get in the way of your working relationship. With occasional healthy conversations, it’s much easier to nudge your boss into doing the right thing without legislation having to weigh in.

Get a union

consultBack in the 70s, trade unions were solid parts of industry, providing support for workers and giving common people a right to stand up against employers. As Margaret Thatcher’s governmentfp wore on, however, the powers of trade unions were slowly but surely diluted until they were essentially impotent against employers.

While their day might be done, you can still create pressure on your employer with a grassroots strategy by teaming up with colleagues to complain about health and safety.

One lone voice means practically nothing in a bosses’ mind, but just imagine the pressure they’ll feel if a gang of you knock on their door.

Submitted by Jessica Piscos

Maintain A Healthy Weight Effortlessly

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By Aimee Elizabeth

scaleOnce you are at your goal weight, you can eat anything you want and maintain it – however, there are just two requirements. You eat only the foods your body is craving – if you know how to listen properly, your body will tell you when you are truly hungry and it will tell you what nutrients it needs – by craving a certain food! Eat that food, and then stop when you are comfortably full. That’s full, not stuffed! To test out how to determine when you are actually hungry, wait to feel an actual hunger pang. So that means you don’t eat when you are just bored, depressed, lonely or with nothing better to or it just tastes good – wait for an actual hunger pang! That’s how you know it’s time to eat.

Then you definitely want to eat the food you are craving – even if it is sweets. Your blood sugar may be temporarily low, and your body is telling you so. If you try to “be good” and eat a banana and cottage cheese when you are actually craving a bowl of ice cream, you are likely to not be satisfied, because you still have your original craving. And then you end up eating the ice cream on top of the banana and cottage cheese – so you have consumed twice the food your body needed or wanted. I believe our bodies know best – and will tell us so.

Eat that food, and then stop when you are comfortably full. That’s full, not stuffed!

In order to stop eating when you are comfortably full, I have another easy test. After you finish eating, take a ten minute walk at a comfortable pace for you. If when you are done walking, you feel great, and maybe even want to keep walking, you ate until you are comfortably full. However, if you feel bloated, sick, or wanting to throw up – you have eaten until you are stuffed. If you take this “test” (a ten minute walk) after each meal, your body will quickly tell you, and you will easily recognize, when you are truly full but not stuffed.

By following this simple plan, you can maintain your weight. It’s effortless, painless, and easy. And best of all – you get to eat anything you want, whenever you am hungry!

Of course, whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions or not, it’s always best to check with your doctor prior to starting any new eating or exercise plan.

– Aimee Elizabeth, author of “Dieting Sucks! Eat Anything & Lose Weight