Mind and Modernity

An article in the Los Angeles Times today really got my attention. I am a supporter of “Lifestyle Medicine” and I saw this article that discussed how air pollution, Western Diet and digital screens may influence how are brains work. Do you think? To me, that is obvious. It seems researchers are exploring how all kinds of 21st century conveniences are changing the way our brains work. For better and for worse.

Environmental pollutants — such as car emissions, as well as pesticides among people in farming communities — could also be affecting brain health, some studies suggest. But researchers’ understanding of how they do so, and how significant the effects, is incomplete.  Exposure builds up over decades, these pollutants might contribute to cognitive decline as more and more of us live longer.

What I do know is that STRESS is one of the biggest ways we can damage our brain and risk early cognitive decline. The stress hormone, cortisol, tends to suppress the brain’s ability to engage in systematic thought.

Got Reflux?

This week I have been attending a summit on the link between the gut and the brain. A big message for me was that stomach acid is critical to good brain function.

Yet, so many people are blocking acid production with chronic use of acid blocking drugs.

We need proper stomach acid production to trigger the rest of the digestive process so we get optimal nutrient absorption.

Stomach acid is critical to

  1. break down and emulsify protein molecules.
  2. help trigger intrinsic factor which is a molecule that helps with B12 absorption.
  3. reduce the microbial load by sterilizing the gut.
  4.  help close the esophageal sphincter.
  5.  stimulate the opening of the pyloric sphincter which is the opening at the bottom of the stomach and the small intestine ( get food out of the stomach or else it can just sit in there and ferment and putrefy).

We need enough acid to actually close the sphincter that protects the esophagus from the stomach acid from jumping up. So if we don’t have enough stomach acid, then we’re much more likely to develop acid reflux and GERD.

Definitely talk this over with your physician or health care provider.

Top Ten Ways to Incorporate Physical Activity into your Day

Daily physical activity is as important as getting quality sleep. So many people use the excuse that they don’t have “time”. I schedule physical activity into my day just like any “appointment”.

Dr Karen’s Top Ten Ways to Incorporate Exercise into your Day

  1. Schedule physical activity into your calendar like you would any other appointment.
  2. Exercise first thing in the morning so you get it done.
  3. Park your car farther away from the shopping center.
  4. Take a “walk break” whenever you can find the time during the day.
  5. Taking short 10 minute walks a few times a day will do wonders for your metabolism AND consider a stand up desk
  6. Play with your pets! A great activity for everyone.
  7. Choose the stairs over the elevator.
  8. Replace your office chair with an exercise ball that makes you move more. Buy a jump rope or mini trampoline and have “mini workouts” throughout the day.
  9. Go for a walk after dinner.
  10. When vacuuming try to use your arm, back and abdominal muscles to push the vacuum.