9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

“Of all things I ever lost I miss my mind the most.”

I used to get a good chuckle over that quote, until I got a little older and started the “where did I put that” game.

You know that game.

Where, you wonder inwardly, did I put my keys? Where did I put my phone? Where did I put my glasses? Where did I put my husband?

It starts in your mid-thirties and seems to get worse as you age.

You chalk up to being menopausal, or middle-aged, or perhaps it’s because to lack of sleep, or because of kids, or to stress.

But, what is really happening is that our brain is aging.

Science tells us how well our brain ages is 25% due to genes, while the other three-quarters is dependent on our lifestyle choices.

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Menopause and Our Brain

Research shows that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a key role in brain function.

An article in the journal Neurology describes estrogen as “a key element in the work of the brain [that] helps direct blood to parts of the brain that are more active.”

Since that hormone declines during menopause, one would think so would our brain function.

However, according to a six-year study of women who were still menstruating, perimenopausal, or postmenopausal, most of the women improved their test scores of brain function over time.

That is, even women with declining estrogen were able to improve brain function.

Should you have memory slips or difficulty concentrating, research suggests a variety of potential underlying causes.

These include disturbed sleep, extra stress, or depression.

For instance, if you’re awakened by night sweats several times during the night, that’s often enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember what tool you were trying to find in the garage the next day.

9 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

1/Exercise

One of the best tips to keep your brain young is to exercise. A combination of aerobic and strength spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells.

This, in turn, slows down our mental decline.

TIP: Aim for 3-4 times of aerobic work a week, with 2-3 sessions of weight training.

2/Stress less

Stress is bad for your brain (as well as your waistline, your heart and your relationships).

In a paper released on stress and the brain, Jeansok Kim of the University of Washington found that stress can “disturb cognitive processes such as learning and memory, and consequently limit the quality of human life”.

TIP: Try meditation, yoga, or 5-minutes of daily deep breathing (come on – we all have 5-minutes we can spare for our l’ brain).

3/ Break your routine

Do something outside of your comfort level. Challenge your brain with new activities.

Your brain is similar to your other muscles. For example, if you were to do the same exercise program, day-in-day-out, you would stop seeing results after a period of time.

This is because your muscles have become accustomed to those exercises.

The same goes for the brain.

TIP: Put the crossword puzzle away (if that’s what you do everyday), and instead, learn how to use a new app on your phone (or for some, how to use your phone).

funny-getting-older-quote-Fitness-with-PJ

4/ Get some sleep

Sleep is the only time the brain has to re-boot itself. It’s when we consolidate new memories and restore and recover from what has happened to us during the day.

TIP: Boost your sleep by turning off your electronics in the evening, performing yin yoga, meditating, and getting outside during the day so your circadian rhythm is activated.

5/ Hang out with friends

We are social animals and spending time with others is important for our brain health.

In a 2012 Dutch study it was shown that loneliness increased the risk of dementia by 65%. Some doctors even believe that loneliness is worse for your health than smoking, being an alcoholic and being obese.

TIP: Volunteer, join a group, plan activities in advance with friends and family.

West Coast Trail Love

6/ Work

If you are near retirement you might want to re-think that. People who continuously get mental stimulation build their brains up faster and keep them built up.

TIP: If you are retired, consider going back to work again, but this time doing something that you have always wanted to do. Not only will you be stimulating yourself mentally, you will also build that social network that is so important for brain health too.

7/ Improve your blood pressure

High blood pressure in your midlife increases your risk of cognitive decline in your later years.

TIP: Use medication, if prescribed, as well as lifestyle changes such as controlling your weight, your stress, getting plenty of exercise and eating right.

fresh broccoli in heart shape on table

8/ Eat better

You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, easy or fake.

TIP: Eat foods on a daily basis that are rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals.

9/ Improve your blood sugars

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and other types of dementia because cardiovascular problems associated with diabetes are also associated with dementia.

TIP: Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin D, folate, B6 and B12 vitamins, as well as exercise regularly.

Workouts can also balance your blood sugar levels.

 

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30-Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout

30-Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout

30-Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout

This full body workout uses dumbbells and bodyweight to train all the muscles in your body. Great for beginners, as well as those looking for a quick weight loss workout.

I’m sure when loving husband agreed with the minister on our wedding day “to till death do us part” he never thought it would also include being dragged onto set each week and be made to film a workout.

Actually, neither did I.

But, here we are 22 years later.

He’s still above ground, we’re still married, and he’s doing his best to make himself NOT get invited back for future filmings (case in point minute 19:45 on the video. Perhaps the most ridiculous looking crossover lunges ever!).

It ain’t gonna work though.

I will keep dragging him on set. It not only gets him exercising a bit more, it also provides some comedic relief for you (while you sweat away with us), and it teaches me patience.

 The Deets

Tools needed: 1 heavy dumbbell + a pair of moderate

Where to do: home or gym

Best suited for: beginner to advanced

Sore knees?: Instead of the stationary lunges do side leg lifts, instead of pulse squats and crossover lunges hold a wall squat

30-Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout

Wondering how to pick the right sized dumbbells? First, if you are new to exercise start light and get your form first.

Second, once you have your form you want to choose a weight that you can feel by end of the set. In my experience most women can lift heavier than they think they can.

Challenge yourself in order to see change.

My Recommendations

Beginners: 

For big body moves, such as squats, lunges, chest presses and rows: 8-10lb

For smaller muscle moves, such as tricep extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses: 5-8lb

For isolated shoulder work, such as side, rear or front lateral raises: 3-5lb

Intermediate:

For big body moves, such as squats, lunges, chest presses and rows: 12-15lb

For smaller muscle moves, such as tricep extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses: 8-10lb

For isolated shoulder work, such as side, rear or front lateral raises: 5-8lb

Advanced:

For big body moves, such as squats, lunges, chest presses and rows: 20-30lb

For smaller muscle moves, such as tricep extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses: 12-15lb

For isolated shoulder work, such as side, rear or front lateral raises: 10-12lb

The Workout

30-body-full-body-workout-exercises-blog

 

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5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

5 Natural Remedies for Treating Menopause

Five natural remedies for treating menopausal symptoms.

Menopause. It comes with it’s perks.

No more period! No more buying tampons! No more buying pads! No more menstrual cramps!

But, to get there we have to put up with:

Irregular periods

Hot flashes and night sweats

Sleep problems

Mood changes

Weight gain

Thinning hair and dry skin

Vaginal dryness

Low libido

Now, this doesn’t mean all of us will get the above symptoms, and for those of that do it also doesn’t mean we have take this lying down.

There are natural ways we can manage our menopause symptoms.

(NOTE: If your symptoms are severe, though, you may need HRT. Talk to your doctor or menopause specialist.)

5 Natural Remedies for Menopause

1/ Exercise.

Go figure I would list this as the first natural remedy to menopause. But, it’s also what all the experts recommend as well.

First, exercise releases endorphins, thereby improving our moods.

Second, exercise has a positive effect on cognitive functioning. Helping us through that brain fog that plague so many women in menopause.

Third, exercise lowers blood pressure, improves lipoprotein profile, C-reactive protein and other heart disease biomakers.

Fourth, exercise helps to enhance insulin sensitivity that gets impaired as we age.

And finally, exercise can help prevent weight gain.

This is particularly important for menopausal women as our weight tends to stick to unusual places (hello meno-pod), and our scales refuse to budge.

Which is super frustrating! Isn’t it??

However, one of the reasons that this is so common in menopause is because of our fluctuating estrogen levels.

You see estrogen tends to cause our body to hold onto fat. And then on top of this fat actually produces more estrogen, which then creates even more fat.

Therefore, the vicious cycle continues.

Start adding fitness slowly into your routine.

Add a HIIT, or higher intensity, cardio workout once a week into your routine.

Strength train 2-4 times a week.

If you’re a beginner, get a workout program designed with you (and weight loss) in mind.

2/ Eat well.

What we put in our bodies has a huge impact on our menopause symptoms.

Foods to keep an eye that could trigger your menopause symptoms:

Fatty cuts of meat: for heart health and your waistline

Sugar: for fatigue and weight gain (eliminate completely!)

Refined carbs: mood swings, fatigue and weight gain (eliminate completely!)

Caffeine: hot flashes, increased cortisol levels and sleep problems

Alcohol: hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain (eliminate completely! Haha, just joking. Scared ya though, didn’t I?)

Spicy foods: hot flashes

Hot foods: hot flashes

What to eat instead?

Clean sources of protein (such as free-range beef, bison, chicken, turkey, fish, beans and legumes)

Soy: the isoflavones in soy foods are thought to balance the hormones levels. There is research about soy both working and not working (very confusing Mr and Mrs Researchers), as well there are questions about the safety of soy too (in some studies the participants have seen an increase in breast cancer). Experts recommend avoiding supplements, and instead, choose from food sources such as tofu, soy milk, roasted soy nuts or tempeh.

Vegetables: aim for at least a pound a day and make half of that raw. Also please choose green whenever you can – green is the new black.

Fruit: get sugar out of your life and add fruit instead. For weight loss, I would recommend 2 pieces of fruit a day (no more), and earlier in the day when the body processes carbs better.

Complex carbs: oats, brown rice, veggies and fruit, beans, legumes, quinoa, grains and ancient grains

Healthy fats: avocados & avocado oil, coconut oil, organic butter & ghee, extra virgin olive oil, eggs with the yolk, nuts and seeds, and omega-3s

Flax seed: the lignans found in flax seeds are thought to balance our hormones, however according to the Mayo Clinic flax does not provide any benefit from hot flashes. It’s worth a try though. Now, it needs to be pointed out that the study that the Mayo Clinic is referring to used breast cancer patients and all were postmenopausal.

My question: would a woman without cancer, and in peri or menopause see benefits?

I say try it. You have nothing to lose and if flax doesn’t help your menopause symptoms at least you will be giving yourself a good boost of fibre and healthy fats.

3/ Decrease your stress.

Stress can be the culprit behind additional imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood, as well as mental function, thyroid function, digestive function, and especially blood sugar imbalances.

Stress has also been linked to symptoms such as hot flashes and low libido.

In addition, stress can make the body hold onto fat, and create more fat. Since the brain thinks the body is under attack.

Learn to decrease your stress with meditation, yoga or by performing a few deep belly breathes next time you are feeling anxious.

Lie on your back with a book resting on your belly. Inhale deeply and feel the book rise under your belly. Exhale fully and feel the book lower toward the spine.

Repeat for 2-10 minutes daily to improve your vagus nerve function – which can calm an overactive central nervous system.

4/ Acupuncture.

Many women find relief from menopause symptoms with acupuncture.

Even the experts say that acupuncture (as well as hypnosis, meditation and yoga) can help and have good safety records.

This means that acupuncture has worked in women to help relieve the symptoms of menopause and have done so with no risk to our health.

So even if it doesn’t work for you, you won’t put yourself at risk for trying.

On a different note, I personally have used acupuncture in the past for low back pain, and with complete success.

5/ Herbs, supplements and essential oils.

The following natural products are what some women take to help with their symptoms.

However, none have clearly been shown to be 100% helpful. There is also little information on the long-term safety of natural products, and some can have harmful side effects or interact with drugs.

With all that said, I know of a lot of woman who use natural products and with great success.

My suggestion is to discuss using any of these treatments with a menopause specialist, or a naturopath who specializes in women’s health.

Black cohosh – one of the best studied traditional herbs for menopause. Black cohosh seems to work by supporting and maintaining our hormone levels.

Vitamin E – a daily dose of 400 IU could help alleviate hot flashes.

B vitamins – these water-soluble vitamins may help deal with the stress of menopausal symptoms.

Evening primrose or black currant oil – these are sources of essential fatty acids that can help moderate menopausal symptoms.

Dong quai – a herb that could help support and maintain the natural balance of our hormones.

Bottom line

Begin the process of managing your menopause symptoms with tips 1 through 4 first.

None of these have side effects, and each has been researched and shown to help support our bodies – at any time in our lives.

If your symptoms still persist see a menopause specialist, or a naturopath who specializes in women’s health to discuss the use of herbs and supplements, or even HRT.

 

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Low Impact Total Body Strength

Low Impact Total Body Strength

Low Impact Total Body Strength

A total body, low impact workout for all levels of fitness.

I hate filming workouts on my own. It’s more fun when loving husband is with me. But, alas he cannot make it when I film during the weekday (he’s got this thing called a real job he tells me).

So, for this workout I thought I would bring Bella along with me. To keep me company.

Bell’s is my four-legged best bud.

She’s cute as a button, spoiled rotten and is a very good dog… with the exception of this workout.

She barked and barked and barked.

So, my apologizes right off the bat. This is not the most professional workout I have shoot.

But, in my defence you do get what you pay for. Hehehe.bella-looking-up-ubc

The deets

Tools needed: You will need 1 heavy dumbbell, 1 moderate and a pair of light.

Where to do: This workout is great for home or the gym.

Best for: Suitable for beginners to advanced

Sore knees?: Sub the reverse core lunges with single leg bridges, or side leg lifts

Low Impact Total Body Workout

 

The Workout

low-impact-total-body-strength-blog-exercises

 

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Women, Heart Disease and Menopause

Women, Heart Disease and Menopause

Women, Heart Disease and Early Menopause

Today I’m talking about our heart health and how we can protect our beating hearts.

I will be discussing:

What our heart does for us

What can go wrong with our heart

What are the risk factors for a heart attack and stroke

Do our risk factors change after menopause

Are the signs of a heart attack the same for women

How you can prevent heart disease

What our heart’s do for us

Men’s and women’s hearts are physiologically the same.

For instance, we each have four chambers, with four valves that regulate the flow of blood in our heart.

It’s the heart’s job to pump blood through the body, providing our body with oxygen and nutrients, while carrying waste away.

It is also responsible for falling in love, and sometimes, falling out of.

The average heart will beat around 100,000 times in a one day (unless you do one of my YouTube workouts, then tack on another 500 beats), and pump about 7,570 litres of blood daily.

What can go wrong with our heart

When our heart is working efficiently we don’t really give it much thought.

We take it for granted, kinda. Like how a Kardashian takes for granted that we care about all of their selfies. Until something starts to go wrong.

And there are number of things that can wrong with our heart.

The first is coronary heart disease, which is really an umbrella term for most of the ailments that occur to our heart and blood vessels.

These can be:

  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)
  • Arrhythmias (irregular rhythm of the heart – liken this to mixing a rap song with Yanni)
  • Congenial defects (a condition existing since birth)
  • Angina (when the heart does not get enough blood to it, unlike Trump where the brain does not get enough blood to it)
  • Heart attacks

What are a women’s risk factors for heart disease

The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation states that while women are living longer today, that doesn’t mean we don’t face the threat of heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease (this is heart disease and stroke), is a leading cause of death for Canadian women and most women have at least one risk factor.

These risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental stress and depression (women’s hearts are more affected by this then men’s)
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Being overweight
  • High cholesterol (particularly our low density lipids, or LDL levels)
  • Family history,

Menopause is also a risk factor.

Menopause – a risk factor for heart disease

Our hormone estrogen helps the arteries be more flexible and helps to strengthen the interior walls. This is a positive, however as we enter menopause and our levels of estrogen drop we lose that protective edge.

In addition to the drop of estrogen our bodies go through other changes too (no kidding!).

This includes a raise in our blood pressure, our LDL levels may also increase, and our HDL levels (good cholesterol) may decline.

Triglycerides (groups of fatty cells contained within the blood vessels), also go up during and after menopause.

Each of these raises our risk for a cardiac event a little higher.

Are the signs of a heart attack the same for women?

I remember when I first started in the industry we were taught that the signs of a heart attack in a pre-menopausal woman was different from that from a man.

The Canadian Heart and Stroke now suggest that this may not be the case.

Both women and men may experience:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Pain in the arm, throat, upper back or jaw
  • Chest pain

Women may describe their pain differently and we may also shrug our symptoms off as anxiety or indigestion.

We also get misdiagnosed a lot.

The Atlantic in 2015 reported that thousands of American women with heart disease are misdiagnosed every year, and with fatal consequenses.

In the UK it was reported in a recent study that 1 in 3 heart attack cases over there are misdiagnosed, with men significantly less likely than women to be initially wrongly diagnosed.

How to prevent heart disease during menopause

So, how can you help prevent a jammer from happening to you?

The best way to protect your heart is with:

  • Aerobic exercise 30-45 minutes, 3-5 times a week
  • Reducing your stress
  • Not smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Reducing your weight to a healthy level
  • Seeing your doctor for a cardiovascular risk stratification to see which factors are significant for you

 

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