A Christmas Example of Keeping Your Brain in Tip Top Shape

   “Mom, are you crying?” I sorrowfully question while she brings the dish out of the oven.  “Are you burning yourself?”

     She nods no.

     “Moooothhheeeerrrr,” my sorrow sweetly sings the word to four syllables.

     While I take the casserole from her hands I continue, “How on earth can our Christmas Sweet Potato casserole bring tears to your eyes?  It is always so delicious.”

     After quickly laying it on the counter keeping my eyes on her I pull her into my arms where she shakes, emitting silent tears.  With a tight hold I whisper in her ear, “Mom, we knew this was coming.  She’s as happy as can be. She’s here in spirit, maybe even in the sweet potatoes.”

     With a burst of laughter mother pushes me away and reaches for a handkerchief in her pocket.  Chuckling with a crooked smile and low voice, “You know she is in the memory care facility at the assisted living.”

     “Well, of course but it’s her sweet potato recipe, and if it wasn’t for her influence and example we wouldn’t have nor appreciate all this china and accoutrements for a beautiful table and delicious meal.  I mean Mom, this,” my words continue as I Vanna White sway my hands to feature the dining room, “this is the cover of next December’s Southern Living.  Grandmother has helped us set our traditions as you, Mother, continue to do for your grand children.”

     “How on earth can walking in the woods collecting pinecones and spraying them with that cinnamon oil stuff be a tradition?” smart aleck 10 year old granddaughter Madelyn vocally snaps while she darts in between us to grab a Christmas cookie. “What’s a tradition anyway?”

     “Madelyn,” rubbing the top of her head while swallowing my sarcasm, “that is a beautiful centerpiece on our table with pinecones, magnolia leaves and poinsettias.  We had a family outing and that was a lot of fun.  Walking all around, gathering our centerpiece stuff–being all together was fun.  That is a tradition.”

     Ducking away Madelyn rolls her eyes and scurries away while she chomps down on a cookie, crumbs spew everywhere.

    “It’s like the silver we give Madelyn every year mother, she will understand it all later.”

     Christmas turkey dinner was lovely complete with toasts, few more shed tears but mostly smiles and laughter.

     Cleaning the dishes I could see mother’s head spinning.  Back in her mind her thoughts tarry on her mother.  “What could have I done, how could I have prevented the Alzheimer’s, should I be with her, why…”

     If this type of scenario played at your Christmas celebration, there is hope.  While there is nothing mother can do to reverse her mother’s Alzheimer’s/dementia, there are many things she can do to prevent it from happening to her.   There are many things you or your parents can do to prevent it from happening to you or to them.  You start first by taking control of your brain health.  Resolve to have good brain health from this reading forward.

     Dementia begins to formulate in our brain 10 to 15 years before symptoms ever occur and according to the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association, the average age for dementia diagnosis is age 63-65.  That means at age 48 to 50 your brain cells are weakening and dementia is setting a foundation in your mind.

     Subscribe to my blog, keep your ears out for unique ‘brain health’ articles and review all our posted articles. If you are a current subscriber, I look forward to continual communication with you.  Also, sincerely, begin thinking about participating in serious exercise programs, both physical and mental.

     May you never have to go through such a scene as given above. And may you appreciate your family and your life this Christmas season and throughout.

     Here’s to your good brain health, Merry Christmas!


Corn for BREAKFAST? 2nd post to find out why NOT

     In our last ‘corn’ post we ventured into the first fact of how corn causes dementia.

     2. While neurons operate from electric impulses, microglia cells (the cells that turn mad) are fueled by chemicals, i.e. nutrients.  That’s why we eat, to give our microglia cells good nutrients for our brain to function. Processed food is not nutritional, it is nothing more than severely broken down fruits and vegetables ‘beefed’ up with synthetic chemicals to hold it to other chemicals and make it taste better and look nice.  No wonder our brain cells turn mad.

     When was the last time you read a food label?  On your corn flakes ingredient listing it contains trisodium phosphate (TSP).  Yea, I didn’t study chemistry either but TSP is an inorganic water soluble salt used as a food additive that acts as a cleaning agent and degreaser, sometimes used to keep fats blended.

Hmmm..Dawn in your brain?

     How about BHT, listed about 1/3 way down the label.  Study shoes BHT, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, is a synthetic compound used to prevent fat from oxidizing and is a key ingredient to jet fuel, rubber, petroleum products and packaging materials.  Do food processors think if it is good enough for jet fuel, it is good enough for our brain?

     3. Something as potent to our brain as a jet fuel additive is Roundup, an herbicide developed by Monsanto.  Back in the 70s, chemists noticed bacteria growing in the roundup waste dump.  They took the bacteria and genetically implanted it, at first, into potatoes.  When farmers spray Roundup on the potatoes or any other fruit or vegetable, everything dies but the fruit or vegetable. This is the basis of a genetically modified organism and this procedure is responsible for 90% of corn grown in the United States. Yes, the corn you are eating is grown from a genetically modified organism (seed).

     GMOed foods are linked to neurological disorders, not only to Alzheimer’s but other dementias, specifically Parkinson’s disease, autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Yep, those are all dementia diseases and obviously another story in itself.

     Over the years the brain just cannot successfully eliminate the bad chemicals we put into our brain by eating corn, or other manipulated foods for that matter.

     Bottom line, reconsider your corn flakes and corn cereal for breakfast. And not just for breakfast, for every food you put in your mouth, know what it is, what is in it and truly shoot to eat nutritional healthy foods.  Your brain will love you, your body will love you.

     Here’s to your good brain health!


Corn for Breakfast? You’re Making Your Brain Mad

This is your 3rd Post of Breakfast Brain Foods

When you load up on your special corn flakes cereal you are actually speed starting your dementia.

Here’s how corn causes dementia…3 Facts. Most cereals contain fat building high fructose corn syrup.  Second your cornflakes are processed which means nutrients from this vegetable are stripped and synthetic chemicals are added.  Third, 90% of the corn grown in the United States is GMOed or a genetically modified organism.

1.Your brain hates sugar, especially HFCS—high fructose corn syrup.  To produce HCFS, producers make corn starch by soaking corn in warm water and separating its components (germ, bran and fiber). The grain endosperm (the inside under the bran outer coating) is ground and washed again where processors take away and then add some hydrogen resulting in fructose.

Our stomach does not like nor digests solo fructose so it shoots it off to the liver where the liver turns it into fat.  The fat plops into the blood and travels all around your body to feed your hungry cells.  Brain cells gets their share and are not happy because they hunger for nutrients. As a result, our brains get bloated and irritated, leading to fogginess, forgetfulness and inability to fully focus or concentrate.

Our brains can tolerate HFCS when consumed every now and then.  But when you load up on corn cereal every morning combined with drinking three sodas and pigging out on junk food, every day, day after day after day for years, in about 5, 8 to 10 years your brain finally says, “hey, I’m sick of this HFCS, we (the brain neurons) can’t furiously fight these fat cells as before, we’re tired; actually, we’re giving up; we are not doing it any longer.”

Not only do they give up, your brain cells turn on each other and start killing each other.   Brain microglia cells, the cells which guide the neurons for your instant recall, snap judgment and quick figuring ability, turn mad. They are honestly called mad glia cells and over time (months to years pending your consumption) they can eat away parts of your brain.  Hello!!!! that’s Dementia!

We need to have a healthy brain and as we age, we cannot afford to sabotage our health by having our brain cells turn on each other.  Pulling corn away from our diet is a start. Tune into the next post for two additional ways corn causes dementia giving us evidence we need to rethink having corn for breakfast.


From now on…Blueberries for breakfast.

Blueberries are incredible brain foods we can eat for breakfast that will be eneficial to our brains as well as keep us going to mid morning snack or to an early lunch. 

Did you add some blueberries to your oatmeal this morning?

Right off the bat, know eating fresh fruits and vegetables not only slows brain aging but also helps—aids in improving memory and cognition skills.   Let’s explore our first ingredient: anthocyanin.  While many foods contain anthocyanin, blueberries have more anthocyanin than most foods.

Here along the gulf coast, early June has the blueberrys popping out on my Dad’s blueberry bushes. After a couple of hours picking together—picking at each other in fun family bonding conversation and also picking berries– we will cull and freeze the berries, having a nice supply to last throughout the year because for the brain, blueberries are a godsend.

Anthocyanin is a  natural pigment or flavonoid in fruits and vegetables responsible for purple flesh.  There is power in fresh purple foods such as black berries, plums, grapes, eggplant, black beans, black rice, but blueberries take the cake with the highest percentage of saturation of this natural occurring pigment.  And it is just not purple.  Anthocyanin is also responsible for red to blue pigments found in cherries, currents, pomegranates, red cabbage and kidney beans.  A trace can also be found in red onion and red skinned peaches.

Over 30 proven scientific studies since 2007 overcrowded my research after I first learned the effect of anthocyanin.  But the most notable was a major breakthrough from a series of studies at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.  They found blueberry extract, specifically high concentration of anthocyanin, was highly effective in sustaining and improving the balance of chemicals found in synapses.

Synapses are connections made between brain neurons (brain nerve cells) which tend to shrink and die off when not properly ‘exercised’; they become weighted down and not in balance.

The section of the brain to dramatically experience imbalanced synapses is the hippocampus, the area where new memories are created and temporarily stored. These new memories desperately need synapses or connections to older cells.

Having synapses or cell connectors linking new brain cells to older brain cells stream lines, eases and straightens our thought processes, smoothes our flow of thoughts to vocal communication—point blank to efficiently remember and NOT have senior moments.

More developments from this Tufts’ study show extract from blueberries, as well as other purple foods, builds new levels of much needed vitamins and micronutrients in the hippocampus which greatly helps synapse formation.

This series also found blueberry extract improved subconscious remembering (tying shoelaces, lift your leg here comes a curb, etc.) which helps elders with coordination and balance.

Blueberries are a great brain food.

But we shouldn’t wait till our thoughts are jumbled and we are having trouble speaking, we shouldn’t wait till we are on the cusp of dementia before we start to seriously consume blueberries.  We need to eat clean, right and smart NOW to build a reserve and foundation of productivity so to fight brain aging before a brain disease, dementia, takes form.  It takes 10 to 15 years for dementia to formulate in our brain before symptoms ever occur!

Incorporate purple foods into your diet, plan on blueberries everyday for breakfast from now on.

So how about tomorrow? What’s for breakfast?


Are You Ready?

For a 10K, 5K or 2 mile funrun? How about a bowling or table tennis tournament? Are you ready for any other big athletic event?

How about cancer or a stoke? Are you ready, mentally and physically, to tackle a grave illness?

If I said “me neither” that would probably make you feel better. But I’m not writing here to make you feel better, I’m writing to make us all better thinkers.

Think about this: My Dad, in his late 70s, is pouring his cereal for breakfast on Sunday morning and has an urgent but painful call to the bathroom. Nearly there, he collapses and looses full control of his body; he cannot move and is speaking gibber. Less than an hour later, the ER doctor tell us he has had an aortic aneurism and introduces us to two surgeons. With solemn expressions the surgeons tell us to go to him and say our good byes, the surgery is not promising, he has less than a 30% chance of survival.

How about that for the definition of ‘snap of a finger’.

Hours later the nurse informs us of their success and that they are closing Dad up. Post operation consultation informs us they grafted a bypass tube in one of his main arteries from the heart to the kidney. This tube arcs around a 9cm x 9cm x 15cm long blob of plaque or what might be better described after seeing pictures is a hunk of conglomerated blood jelly (plaque) which caused the artery to explode.

Was Dad ready?

The blockage didn’t pop up over night. It was years in the making. As Alabama is the land of pulled pork and fried everything as well as fresh veggies and fruit, Dad’s life history of nutrition was from 40% good and healthy foods to 60% plaque build-up foods.

Eighteen hours after surgery, Dad was out of bed and in a recliner. All body functions were waking up and positive. Now, don’t get me wrong. He was not in the lazy boy, sipping a glass of wine watching Downton Abbey. He looked more like a Star Wars alien given life by tubes injected all in his body circulating goo and gunk plugged into an electronic command center. But he was alive.

Medical research reveals the major risk factors of someone suffering from an aneurysm are “age 65 years or older, male gender, and smoking at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime”. This was dad to a T.

Would this also be the case with you or perhaps your father, an in-law or neighbor?

An overall aortic aneurysm 2006 report from the University of Michigan Health System states “mortality rate approaches 90 percent if rupture occurs outside the hospital”. Granted, in the years since this report, technology has improved greatly and overall death statistics are lower but still…death is very likely.

Was he ready? The reason dad survived is that he is a walker. Over the last couple of years he and mother had become mall walkers, logging in 1.25 +/- miles a day, 5 days a week. With this steady exercise over the years, he and mother have rebuilt their muscles- specifically the heart, activated their fat storage glands and charged up their blood circulatory system. Dad’s history of consistent aerobic exercise kept the blood flowing deep into every microscopic section of his body helping to build up his strength and reserve.

Aerobic exercise is activity which keeps your feet moving such as biking, spinning, jogging, swimming, water walking or power walking—practically any exercise which causes you to take in abnormal amounts of oxygen and causes your heart rate to beat faster for at least 8 minutes or more, ideally 20+ minutes.

Okay, rowing works too but pleasure walking, golf or tennis do not count because you start and stop; your heart rate is on a roller coaster. To qualify for aerobic exercise you must get your heart rate up, keep it up on a plateau while breathing deep and heavy, again for at least 8 minutes or more (20+ minutes ideally).

Circulation is the basic infrastructure for aerobic exercise. Over time, aerobic exercise cleans out and keeps clean your blood vessels and improves circulation, supplies nutrients and oxygen to your cells and helps you grow healthy productive cells. Conducting aerobic exercise over months and years develops your endurance, improves your quality of sleep and strengthens all muscles. It saves your life. It saved Dad’s life.

Build up your strength and your reserve for any big event in life from a 5K run to the strike of a severe illness. Exercise, engage in aerobic exercise. Are you ready? Is your body ready?


Did You Win?

While driving home I start my ‘touching base’ phone calls to my parents. My dad, the mall walker, answers. “Did you win?”

“Dad?” I startle back. “No, yes, no…well yes Dad I did.”

Getting out of the car in the carport, neighbor Meg shouts over, “Hey Janet I saw you, did you win?”

Her answer got a wave and a somewhat fake smile.

Walking up the stairs to greet hubby working in his office, he greets me first, “Did you win?”

“What?” Another one? I silently moaned with aggravation. “Yes”, I pronounced matter of factly, “where were you?”

Next, another phone call was made to dear mother. She was the one. “How did you do?” were here words after answering the ring.

“Mom… I won!”

“Really honey?” was her quick response in a doubting and questionable tone of voice.

“Mom, my time was my 2nd best, ever, but everyone, everyone who finished, won.”

“You are so right” was her agreement.

It was the 37th Mobile AzaleaTrail Run I recently ran in the and while I ran my 2nd best time, it was my 2nd run competition, ever.

Whether you are a runner or not…Mom has the attitude. If you do run or either power walk, spin, row, swim…whatever you do, you are winning. But to win you’ve got to aerobic exercise.

What do you win? What is the prize that aerobic exercise gives?

Joe Bradley answers it best. We were introduced by a Boston Marathoner, Doug Davis, sharing hydration after the race.

“It is probably the ‘funnest’ thing I have ever done. (For all you jet setters, take note.) You might hate it at first but it gets in your blood. The more you run, the more you want to run. Plus you meet many great people. I have never met a negative runner or exercise activist.”

Joe took his first race at age 49 and he has never looked back. At age 64, he doesn’t look a day over 50. He is still running strong.

But it is a local Mobile dentist, in this photo who does not wish to be named, that is probably the best example of the prize given for aerobic exercise. He did not even participate in this year’s Azalea Trail Run. And he is a true exercise aficionado and devotee as evidenced here in this photo of his daily hand only plank performance.

The plank, linear support of self on elbows and tiptoes, is one of the best balancing and conditioning exercises as it tightens your core and uses practically every main muscle in your body. Those who exercise on a consistent basis naturally have a strong and lengthy plank. Those of us middle agers who seldom exercise can barely get on our knees to take the plank position.

Now, can you do this plank? Two minutes is the ideal hold time. My comfort level hold time for the basic plank is forty five seconds. While our dear dentist’s hold time is not known, to be able to secure, much less sustain, this position is remarkable. Unfortunately, the photo is not very revealing unless I mention our dear dentist performed this plank on his 70th birthday. Yes 70.

As you might guess, he has run before in many Azalea Trail Races but unfortunately had a conflict for this year’s race.

Were you there? Or more importantly, what did you do aerobically today? What is your plan for aerobic exercise tomorrow?

By the way, out of 104 participants in my age group, I came in 4th. Regardless of placement…I won. Are you winning?


Decrease your Brain Atrophy—One Method

Are you taking Tagament*, Pepcid* or Zantac*? How about Prevacid* or Prilosec*? Are you a diabetic possibly taking Metformin*?

In our fast food, chemical laden processed food, super sized, second helping, carb and sugar laden society, our stomachs are in constant over drive processing all we consume. In this 20 or 30 year continuous tread mill of digestion, the hydrochloric acid which our stomach naturally produces to digest certain foods, continues exorbitant production. Over time, this acid tends to eat our stomach lining and/or cause ulcers. Or in this continual production, the acid regurgitates into our esophagus, which is not lined, causing severe burning.

We need that hydrochloric acid. The acid importantly separates the B12 protein found in what we just ate so it can attach to a secondary protein for absorption, to feed our cells.

As we celebrate the last third to quarter of our lives, two problems occur with digestion. 1. We calm and reduce our acid with the various mentioned medicines and 2. our body simply does not produce enough acid as it used to.

Therefore, vitamin B12 is not absorbed and simply passes through our system.

With the lack of acid or our calming of the acid we therefore suffer a lack of B12 in our system, we suffer from a probable B12 deficiency. Our blood cells become rigid. The flow of blood becomes sluggish and it is not able to flow fully and deep into our nervous system to feed our cells. We need B12. Without it, we suffer brain atrophy—a condition where our brain cells shrink and wither and become unproductive and die.

A five year study concluded by the University of Oxford in England measured B12 levels and brain shrinkage (atrophy) using yearly MRI scans of study participant’s brains. Study subjects with the lowest B12 levels, researchers found, had the greatest brain shrinkage.

Brain atrophy causes difficulties with memory, orientation, balance and language. Brain atrophy causes cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment leads to dementia.

Since all of us are on the ‘AgeSuccessfully Good Brain Health Anti-Dementia Campaign’ we need enough B12 in our system to ensure a healthy brain and prevent brain slippage. How is your B12 level? May I suggest you test your B12 levels via a simple blood test? Based on the medicines you are taking, talk B12 consumption over with your doctor.

Regardless, we–YOU need B12, lots of it. There is no toxicity or damage from abundance of B12. You can get it by eating, in moderation, beef and beef liver, shrimp, crab, oysters, various fish, poultry, eggs and fat free/skim dairy products.

And…take a B12 pill every day. Be sure it is methylcobalamin B12 which more easily absorbs into the body. This type of B12 is easily found in sublingual form (dissolves under tongue).

Ensure healthy brain cells. Make certain you have a healthy reserve of cognitive skills by consistently having enough B12 in your system for continual energy and a clear functioning mind! Had your B12 today?

*registered trademarked product