Tips for Brain and Mental Health

Start 2018 right with a committment to improving mental health.

Recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that approxi­mately 26.2 percent of all adults over the age of 18 in the United States alone suffer from a diagnosable mental illness such as ADHD. That is more than one in every four adults, and it does not count those who have troubles but not to the extent of meeting a diagnosis. If you or someone you love is among that 26.2 percent, please get help immediately and don’t waste any more time. There are many caring, qualified therapists who can help you address mental health issues and assist you in attaining a better quality of life.

Here are 10 important tips about therapy and finding the best help for mental health matters.

  1. There are many common misconceptions about what therapy is and how to find a qualified therapist to help. By understanding the misconceptions and knowing how to overcome them, you open the door to finding professionals who can help in your healing process.
  2. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from getting the right help at the right time. This must stop! If you broke your leg, you would go to the doctor. If you had the flu, you would get medical help. So why, if you are feeling depressed or anxious or any other type of issue affecting your mental and emotional well-being, should you feel embarrassed about getting help? The answer is simple: You shouldn’t! Asking for help is a sign of strength and bravery, not weakness.
  3. Mental health issues can have an impact on almost any aspect of a person’s life, with a vast array of possible diagnoses available. Take the time to educate yourself about the types of mental illness that exist and how you can prevent mental illness from progressing by getting timely help.
  4. How do you know if you really need help? I like to use one week’s time as a rule of thumb. If you are noticing a change in mood or behavior that is lasting for a week or more, it is wise to consult a mental health professional.
  5. If you know where to look and what to ask, the process of finding an exceptional therapist need not be daunting. When it comes to mental health and counseling services, most communities offer a variety of options and a range of prices.
  6. By educating yourself about the process of therapy, you can develop realistic expectations of how it may help you. Although counseling can be extremely helpful in healing, there is no “magic bullet” that solves all problems. Your dedication and personal commitment will be just as important as your therapist’s skills.
  7. Professional psychotherapy should be healing, a process, a relief, enlightening, reflective, confidential, a catalyst, action-based, and a challenge to old beliefs and patterns.
  8. Professional psychotherapy should never be a personal friendship, a sexual relationship, stagnant, or a “quick fix.” If you see results quickly, great! But the goal is sustainable change over time for long-term impact.
  9. Many times I am asked, “Will I be told to take medication?” The answer to this depends greatly on your symptoms and ability to function and the therapist’s general approach to therapy. Medication is not for everyone, yet it is a lifesaver for some.
  10. As with anything in life, commitment and consistency are the keys to success. You are the primary factor in your health and wellness. Love yourself enough to take the necessary steps to get healthy and stay healthy!

Mia Adler Ozair is a clinically licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles, California. In ad­dition to her 10-plus years of experience as a thera­pist, she has more than 20 years of expertise in the worlds of education, nonprofit organizations, and pub­lic speaking. She is a professional writer who recently released Insider’s Secrets: How to Choose an Excep­tional Therapist (and How to Avoid the Bad Ones). For more information visit miaadlerozair.com.

Feed Your Brain: 6 Tips for Better Brain Health

California Health & Longevity Institute

Spend some time with the 50-plus age group and it becomes clear that memory and brain function are hot topics. With many baby boomers encountering changes in their brain function—causing concern, and, let’s face it, amusement, at times— it is not surprising that boomers are looking for ways to hold on to their memory and increase cognitive ability.

Being vital until the end of life is something that everyone wishes for but not all of us are lucky enough to experience. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org), 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 75 and 84 have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and by age 85 that number goes up to 50 percent. Those numbers are driving a whole new market of brain-enhancing health products, from supplements to this new from Microgaming, all aiming to increase cognitive ability. But will this do us any good? Are there proactive steps we can take to stop the deterioration of the brain as we age using casino spill gratis?

According to mounting evidence in the field of neuroscience, the answer appears to be yes. Research is revealing that the aging brain actually has more capacity to change and adapt than was previously thought. According to Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and chief director at the Center for BrainHealth in Dallas, Texas, it appears that the brain continues to develop neural pathways to adapt to new experiences, learn new information, and create new memories.1 In fact, studies show that the brain can actually get smarter as we age: the more new learning experiences we have, the more neural pathways we create, which means we can actually stockpile a larger network of neurons that can markedly slow down the process of cognitive decline. The more we develop in the brain now, the fewer years of decline we experience down the road.

Research conducted by the Center for Brain Health shows that older brains can be more receptive to pattern recognition, judgment, and accumulation of knowledge and experience, giving those over 50 an advantage over younger brains if—and that is a big if—the physical structure of the brain is not in decline.2 Physical decline of the brain, meaning the actual shrinkage and deterioration that begins in our forties, corresponds with cognitive decline. All of this is to say that brain health needs to be a priority for those heading into their forties and fifties to reap the most significant rewards.

The goal is to decrease stress on the brain, which breaks down brain function, and to build new neural pathways through mental stimulation. The good news is that building better brain health in your everyday life is easier than you might think.

  • Reduce multitasking to help preserve brain function. Practice focusing on the most important thing at the moment instead of trying to cover everything all at once. This higher level of thinking actually means less dementia as we age.
  • The brain does not like routine*,* so avoid robotic, automated behavior and take initiative to learn new behaviors. Simple things like changing your morning routine or learning to eat with your left hand will stimulate the brain.
  • Repetitive mental stimulation*,* such as learning a new language or a new word every day, can improve performance of other tasks. Just think: improving your bridge game may actually improve your ability to drive a car.
  • While “brain games,” video games, and subscription websites are flooding the market, there is no evidence that these things are more effective than learning new skills on your own. The key concept is new: branch out into new languages, sports, and other novel skills to stimulate to the brain.

All the information we are learning about how significant a role basic life functions—the way you eat, sleep, and move—play in maintaining brain health and preventing chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease emphasizes the value of living a healthy lifestyle.

6 Tips for Brain Health

Here are six lifestyle factors that can have an impact on brain health.

1.1. Diet. Many foods have been linked to brain health, and new information about the role of diet continues to emerge. Some of what research is revealing includes the benefit of the anti-inflammatory properties of a plant-based Mediterranean diet, which includes healthy fats such as olive oil and high-fiber grains, in preventing cognitive decline;3 the impact of vitamin E, found in nuts and seeds, on the development of dementia; and the importance of decreasing the consumption of refined sugar and eating a limited amount of high fiber carbohydrates because research shows that dementia and Alzheimer’s may be due to “diabetes of the brain,” meaning insulin resistance in the brain that may cause loss of brain cells.4,5,6

2.2. Weight control. An increasing body of evidence shows that being overweight in midlife increases risk factors for lower and faster decline in cognitive ability.7 Weight control aids in blood pressure control, which affects brain function. Slow, steady weight loss that is sustainable has great benefit to brain health.

3.3. Supplements. Dietary supplements that have flooded the market have not been proven effective in slowing cognitive decline. It is not about one nutrient but the diet as a whole. An aspirin per day, however, has been shown to be effective due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Statin medication that is prescribed to prevent heart disease has been shown to provide the same benefit.

4.4. Sleep. The brain actually does a lot of smart things while you sleep, so getting adequate sleep (seven to nine hours for the majority of us) can boost learning, attention, and memory. While sleeping, your brain practices new skills, sorts out memories for the future, and problem-solves, which is one of the reasons why “sleeping on it” often brings answers to problems.

5.5. Exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is vital to brain health; it increases blood flow, delivering more nutrients to the brain. Most important, it increases brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a protein that aids in the survival of brain cells. Any exercise helps, but the real benefit shows up when one is active at least three hours per week.

6.6. Stress management. Stress and anxiety are associated with memory disorders. Stress can interfere with the function of neurotransmitters in the brain and create toxins that cause cell damage and shrinkage of the brain. Meditation, prayer, and other relaxation techniques along with more-intense therapies may be necessary to control stress. Downtime and relaxation improve higher level thinking and brain health.

The takeaway: we do not need to slow down mentally due to age. We can play a role in boosting our brain health, and the sooner we start thinking about preserving our brain, the better. Cognitive “resurrection” can make us stronger, smarter, and more decisive. By focusing on a healthy lifestyle that includes diet, exercise, sleep, and relaxation, we can improve our overall well-being and enjoy good health for years to come.

References

1.What Is Plasticity? Center for Brain Health website. Available at what-is-plasticity. Accessed March 21, 2014.

News Coverage Archive - Center for BrainHealthTogether, we can unlock the brain’s potential. Our brains are dynamic. Adaptable. Flexible. Trainable. And repairable. Just as we have… brainhealth.utdallas.edu

2.Study Finds Brain Training Enhances Brain Health of Adults Over 50. Center for Brain Health website. Available at . utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-finds-braintraining-enhances-brain-health-of-adults-over-50. Accessed March 21, 2014.

3.Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Frisardi V, et al. Diet and Alzheimer’s disease risk factors or prevention:The current evidence. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. 2011;11(5):677-708.

4.Roberts RO , Roberts LA , Geda YE , et al. Relative intake of macronutrients impacts risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2012;32(2):329-39. doi: 10.3233/JAD -2012-120862.

5.Singh-Manoux A, Czernichow S, Elbaz A, et al. Obesity phenotypes in midlife and cognition in early old age: The Whitehall II cohort study. Neurology. 2010; 79(8):755-62. doi: 10.1212/WNL .0b013e3182661f63.

6.De la Monte SM, Re E, Longato L, Tong M. Dysfunctional pro-ceramide, ER stress, and insulin/IGF signaling networks with progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2012;30(suppl. 2): S231-S269.

7.Fitzpatrick AL , Kuller LH , Lopez OL , et al. Midlife and late-life obesity and the risk of dementia. Archives of Neurology. 2009;66(3):336-42. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2008.582.

Paulette Lambert, RD, CDE*, is director of nutrition for California Health & Longevity Institute, located within Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village (chli.com). With more than 27 years of private practice after an extensive clinical education, Lambert has wide-ranging experience in clinical nutrition and the development of individualized dietary plans.*

More at: awoamanshealth.com

Food for a Healthy Brain

Studies show that it is not one magic food but a combination of foods that helps boost brain health. The following recommendations, based on the Mediterranean diet, are a good guideline for head-healthy eating.

  • Limit servings of animal protein to 9 or 10 ounces per day for men and 6 or 8 ounces per day for women.
  • Eat one serving of nuts or seeds every day. A serving size is roughly equivalent to 2 tablespoons natural nut butter or 1 ounce of nuts or seeds.
  • Aim for three servings of fatty fish (such as sardines and salmon) per week.
  • Eat seven to 10 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume healthy fats such as olive, canola, grape seed, avocado, and nut oils.
  • Eat whole grains such as oatmeal, farro, quinoa, barley, and whole-grain bread and cereals.
  • Eat beans and lentils.
  • Choose nonfat dairy products.
  • Drink 5 ounces wine, red or white, per day. Any wine, or 1 ounce of alcohol, per day lowers low density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) and reduces the risk of stroke. Anything more than that moderate amount, however, increases blood pressure.
  • Use more spices and herbs and less salt.
  • Avoid foods and drinks with added refined sugars.
Comments

Stories