Be “Brain Smart”: A Round-Up of TED Talks about Brain Health

Sure you use your brain all the time, but do you know how your brain really works? Do you know what you can do to keep your brain strong and healthy to support your concentration, creativity, and decision-making? To help you get a better idea about your brain’s health and functioning, we’ve rounded up a selection of TED Talks about neuroscience that will teach you how health-supporting activities like exercise and sleep affect your brain’s health, what happens in your brain when you think, and focus tips for protecting and improving your brain’s health and longevity!

The Brain-Changing Benefits of Exercise by Wendy Suzuki

What’s the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory — and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Focus on Healthy Vision

The irony of staring into a computer screen to write a blog post about healthy vision is not lost on me, but here we are. Even if you don’t spend the majority of your day stuck behind a monitor, it’s important to take good care of your peepers. Most vision problems are preventable and can be avoided by following a few healthy suggestions. Here are just a few simple tips for taking an active role in the health of your eyes.

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Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

We all know lots of ways to boost our health – working out, getting adequate sleep, eating produce, etc. But did you know that one really easy way to positively benefit your health is getting some time outside? Many of us spend a lot of time indoors because of our work/school environments, weather, and indoor hobbies/Netflix binges. However, you can reap the benefits of spending time in nature even through as little as 20 minutes a day! We’ve rounded up some of the major benefits of spending time in nature to show you that spending time in the great outdoors is not only refreshing and fun, but can have some really wonderful mental and physical health too.

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The Best Apps for Managing Stress

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 4/27/17.

Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In the short-term, low level stress can help us focus and improve our performance. It can give us the boost we need to finish a big project or make an important decision. However, I think we can all agree when we say that an overabundance of stress is the absolute worst.

First, a quick primer on stress: Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life.  When your brain perceives a threat (anything from a fast approaching deadline to a fast-approaching wild animal), it signals your body to release a burst of hormones that increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. This “fight-or-flight” response fuels you to deal with the stressful situation at hand. Once the threat (or stress-inducing trigger) is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. However, given the nonstop complications of modern life,  many of us rarely return to that relaxed state, merely hopping from one stressor to another.

It’s easy to get stressed out from day-to-day demands. Luckily, there are healthy ways to manage your stress.

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Top 5 Apps for Spring

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 4/6/17.

Spring is here and it’s time to clear out and simplify our lives. To make your lives easier we rounded up some cool apps that will help you de-clutter, shape up, and get organized. Let’s do this!

 

FileThis app

1. FileThis

Voted one of the top 12 apps you should be using (but aren’t!), FileThis is a bill organizer and money manager to help you finally get those pesky receipts under control. FileThis can create bill reminders and track all of your account balances. Even better, it uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to automatically label and tag all of your documents, receipts, and statements, making them searchable. It will automatically create and name searchable PDFs that you can store where you choose, including Dropbox.

Free for iOS and Android

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What’s the deal with dietary supplements?

Who remembers those commercials for Flintstones brand chewable multivitamins from back in the day? As a kid, I was happy to take one a day because, let’s face it, they tasted like candy. Now that I’m an adult, it’s definitely a little harder to feel like I should be taking a daily vitamin or other dietary supplement. There are so many bottles sitting on the shelf at the grocery store and so many labels; it can be overwhelming when you’ve just come to pick up some eggs. Understanding a bit more about these supplements and how they work can go a long way towards helping you determine whether or not they should be a part of your life.  As National Nutrition Month comes to an end, we’re providing you with an overview of dietary supplements to help you decide whether you need to boost your nutrition this spring.

What exactly is a dietary supplement?

Dietary supplements can contain one or more dietary ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other substances. They usually come in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form, but can also come as powders and bars, too. They’re meant to supplement (not replace) the nutrition you get from your daily diet.

Do I even need to take a dietary supplement?

It depends. Your nutritional needs should technically be met as long as you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet full of a variety of foods. The foods we eat are full of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are good for your health, but sometimes you might not be getting enough of a particular nutrient. This can be due to lots of reasons even outside of what you eat. For instance, if you’re getting insufficient exposure to sunlight, you might not be getting enough vitamin D; this is where a dietary supplement could be helpful.

What should I take then?

Before you pull every bottle from the shelf, it’s a very good idea to talk to your doctor first to determine what supplement may be right for you, or if you even need one. It can be dangerous to exceed the level of nutrients you can safely intake. Your doctor can tell you just how much of a particular supplement will be beneficial to your health. If you’re already taking one, make sure your doctor is aware – some supplements may not play nicely with prescription medication.

How much of a recommended supplement should I take?

The manufacturers label will suggest a serving size as it relates to the potency of the supplement ingredients, but this can get a little confusing depending on what your doctor has recommended for you. You don’t want to take more (or less) than what you need. Read the labels as carefully as you can, and follow up with your doctor to make sure you’ve picked up the right thing. You can also ask your local pharmacist for help with interpreting supplement labels.

Where can I find more information about the types of supplements that are available?

A good place to start is MedlinePlus. Powered by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedlinePlus presents information in an easy to read format and provides you with lots of links to other safe places to look for health-related information. The NIH also has a number of helpful Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheets that can provide you with scientifically-based overviews about the many vitamins and minerals that are out there.

Resources

https://medlineplus.gov/dietarysupplements.html

https://www.nutrition.gov/dietary-supplements/questions-to-ask-before-taking-vitamins-and-mineral-supplements

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/DietarySupplements-HealthProfessional/

 

Tips for a Healthy Spring

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 4/14/16.

Springtime brings with it a flurry of activity and a sense of renewal. The flowers bloom, the weather warms, and I get an intense drive to clean my home and refresh it for a new season. Although this season abounds with fresh opportunities, it also brings its own health concerns (pollen, anyone?). Follow these tips to help you have a healthy spring and enjoy the best of the season!

blooming-springtime

How will you stay healthy this spring?

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Discover More About Your Family Health History with these Genetics Resources

Knowing our family health history is often the key to our own personal health. Many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are often inherited. But we can also inherit genes from our family that can increase our chances of developing certain serious diseases such as cancer. Understanding genetics can be confusing for anyone. Luckily there are many resources available to help you make sense of this important topic.

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