How to Keep Your Brain Fit

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You’ve heard that crossword puzzles and gingko biloba can help keep your mind sharp. But recent studies show that what really helps your brain is physical activity.

Yes, the same exercises that support the heart, lungs, immune system and muscles also help bolster the brain’s capacity for memory, planning, scheduling, multitasking and other cognitive skills that typically decline with aging.

So, what kind of exercise does your brain like?

Cardiovascular and strength training spur a healthy increase in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, sometimes resulting in a syndrome known as a runner’s high.

Don’t skimp on your intake of carbs when you perform endurance exercise – simple sugar, or glucose, is the only energy the brain can use. Hitting the wall is a result of no sugar reaching the brain. However, too much blood sugar can also drain your brain of energy. A balance of carbs is best: some simple sugars that are used right away and some complex that last over time.

Stretching, yoga or any activity increasing circulation stimulates the development of brain cells and the formation of blood vessels – which is important, because your brain relies on 100,000 miles of blood vessels to fire its 100 billion neurons.

Exercises such as windmill toe touches that cross the midline of your body facilitate a right and left brain collaboration – because each limb is governed by its opposite brain hemisphere. Just be sure to hold your torso tight to keep your spine stabilized when you twist.

Visually stimulating environments, such as exercising outdoors, increase cell development in the learning centers of the brain.

No matter what the exercise, be sure to stay hydrated! After all, your brain is 75% water.

Healthy Lunches Make Healthy Kids

Almost one out of five children in the US is overweight or obese and sadly, this trend is not slowing down. Overweight and obese children face an increased risk of falling into the same category as adults, thus placing them at risk for many medical conditions when they grow older.

Two important factors that play a role in a child’s weight are activity level and diet. Packing your children’s lunches with nutritious and healthy foods will not only give them energy to get through the day but also establish good eating habits that can last a lifetime. Here are some ideas for lunches and after school snacks.

  •  Instead of a basic sandwich on white bread mix it up by making wraps with tortillas made of whole wheat.
  •  Single portions of unsweetened applesauce or fruit without added sugar.
  •  Baby carrots, celery sticks, or apple slices with dips made with yogurt, hummus, or salsa.
  •  Pack pretzels or baked chips in their lunches.
  •  Individual low fat yogurt or cottage cheese packages.
  •  Avoid juices. Instead pack drinks made from water with a splash of a flavor.
  •  Air-popped popcorn. Avoid the heavy butter flavor.
  •  Trail mix.
  •  Seedless grapes along with low-fat cheese cubes.
  •  Cold strips of grilled chicken with honey mustard dip.
  •  Low fat cheese spread on whole wheat crackers

Source: MedicineNet.com, WebMD

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