Health Matters

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gifele.gif (3048 bytes)  To remember properly, the brain must be working at full power, so health is of paramount importance   gifele.gif (3048 bytes)

The brain comprises only about 2% of the total body weight in an adult, but uses 20% of the body's total supply of oxygenated blood.
It needs nourishment 24 hours a day as it cannot store significant reserves. This is why it is so important to have a good breakfast, to boost your brain power and memory after the long overnight fast.

What nutrients are vital for the brain?

Iron is needed for cell multiplication and growth.  Any iron deficiency will impair learning and memory skills.
Sources of iron: Meat is the best source (liver, lean beef, chicken and lamb), peas, broccoli, carrots, figs and raisins.

Proteins are needed to build new cells, to make new hormones and enzymes and to manufacture new neurotransmitters.
Sources of proteins are meat, fish, peas, beans, lentils, soya beans and soya bean products, eggs and dairy products.

Sodium and potassium are vital to brain health and are found in a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables.

A balanced diet is high on complex carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes and low in all types of sugar.
Fatty foods including fatty meat should be avoided as well as an excessive intake of dairy products.
The best type of diet is rich in fibre with only a moderate alcohol intake.

Older people
Often signs of senility in older people are due to a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients. When the diet is improved, the brain power can also improve.

The supply of oxygenated blood which the brain uses to function is greatly increased when a person does aerobic exercise, that is, exercise which raises the heartbeat. 
Brisk walking, dancing, skipping, jogging, cycling (indoors or outdoors) are all excelllent forms of exercise, and most people can do and enjoy one or other of these.
For maximum benefit you must exercise for at least twenty minutes every other day, so it is vital to choose a form of exercise which you enjoy and can sustain as a regular part of your lifestyle.
Another great point in favour of aerobic exercise is that it stimulates the brain to release endorphins which are natural hormones producing a feeling of happiness.   So Happiness is a brisk walk rather than a cup of coffee.

Breathing is our most vital activity, but few of us really think about breathing at all unless it becomes difficult.
It is probably a good idea to learn proper breathing from a Yoga expert, but basically it is important to breathe deeply through the nose so that the breath goes right down into the abdomen rather than staying in the upper part of the chest as in light shallow breathing.

Stress has got a bad press, but is a basic part of the human condition and is not necessarily a bad thing. We need to be keyed up to act appropriately in situations of danger and challenge.
What is bad however is that modern life tends to give us a great many stressful situations without the accompanying need to fight the assailant off or flee away from them at great speed.
Our systems can easily become full of adrenalin which we cannot get rid of in the way our body intended and so it remains in the system making us feel constantly keyed up and on edge.
What may be a stressful situation to one person may not be viewed at all in the same way by the next, so it is important for each of us to be able to review our own feelings and act accordingly to reduce stress if necessary.

Ways of reducing stress
Relaxation techniques
which involve alternately tensing and relaxing the different groups of muscles work well, because when a muscle is strongly tensed and then relaxed, it becomes more relaxed than it was before the contraction.
Massage of different types is always relaxing, whether foot massage, full body massage or shiatsu.
Meditation can take many forms.  The result being sought is greater self-awareness and realisation of the unity of all things.
Pets - interacting with pets is relaxing as they are always friendly, never judge or answer back, often have wonderful tactile fur to stroke and usually have great empathy with human feelings.

Complementary Medicine

Gingko Biloba is widely used in the treatment of memory loss.  It derives from the Gingko tree which is a rare survivor from the Mesozoic era. 

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