Monthly Archives: October 2013

Grain and the Brain- Controversy

Is grain detrimental to brain health? Does the consumption of carbs cause Alzheimer’s Disease?

It seems that according to Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar– Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” the answers are “Yes!” and “Yes!” (I have not read the book yet!)

Interesting stuff? Yes! A controversial topic? For sure!

When I read an email from Sean Croxton of that he was going to interview Dr. Perlmutter about his new book on blogtalk radio, I tuned in for the replay.

I listened in for 80+ minutes! It was quite a long interview. Sean took a few audience questions and I took a ton of notes (thanks, Jim Kwik for the note-taking tips!).

Dr. Perlmutter, neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, recently appeared Monday, October 21, on the Dr. Oz Show, and his book made the New York Times Best-Seller List.

So.. with all the hype, what’s the truth here?

Before my pastor, Jack, starts a sermon he usually says something along the lines,”Don’t believe me just because I say it is true. Test the Scriptures. Let them have the final say.”

Well, what is our “biblical” standard in terms of nutrition?  How do we test the claims in Dr. Permutter’s book and what about the other diets out there like Vegan, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Paleo, etc.? Do you do your research or are you blindly moving from one diet camp to the next?

I have friends on gluten-free diets, who do not have Celiac disease, and they report remarkable changes in their overall health after stopping wheat.  It seems Dr. Perlmutter’s patients benefit from his recommendations and I applaud Dr. Perlmutter’s work as a neurologist and nutritionist.  However, I need to further investigate some of his advice.

I also applaud the work of Julie Matthews, the author of “Nourishing Hope.”   Here’s what her website says about a gluten-free diet and nutrition in regards to autism:

“Significant scientific research and overwhelming experiential data indicate a link between autism symptoms and diet. As reported by Autism Research Institute (ARI) in a survey of thousands of parents; The Gluten- (wheat) and Casein- (dairy) free (GFCF) diet has a 69% improvement rating, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has a 71% improvement rating.  That is, most parents who diligently apply diet and nutrition intervention report positive affect on behavior, cognition, general health, or well being.  In research funded by Autism Speaks, 85% of parents reported improvement with autism diets. This is affirmed when networking with other parents on our Facebook group: Nourishing Hope for Autism Diet Community, or in many other online support forums for those following autism diets.”  

We can’t ignore the fact that people are experiencing improved cognition when they get rid of wheat in their diet.

There is research out there linking your gut health to your brain.  Chris Kresser, Beyond Paleo, has some intriguing things to say about the gut-brain axis in a podcast on his site (you can read the full text as well). 

Chris’ site also contains good information on cultures that flourish on properly prepared grains.

And, lastly, let’s not forget the about the effects of dyes, chemicals, and preservatives in our food.  These also affect behavior and brain health in sensitive individuals. Check out my favorite pioneer in environmental medicine and allergies, Dr. Doris Rapp.  

I would love to have lunch with Dr. Rapp and talk about this topic. I’m not sure if she would eat wheat, but I’m sure she would have some good input on grain and your brain!


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Want to Check out Einstein’s Brain?

Today there’s an app for almost anything– even an app to check out microscopic pictures of Einstein’s brain.  The Chicago branch of The National Museum of Health and Medicine created the app, Einstein Brain Atlas, and you can purchase it on iTunes for $9.99.

How is it we even have pictures of Einstein’s brain?

Well, a pathologist, Dr. Thomas Harvey, thought they might be useful one day, I suppose.

Dr. Thomas Harvey harvested Einstein’s brain shortly after his death in 1955.  There is controversy surrounding how he got Einstein’s brain and if he had permission to obtain it.  However, it has been said that Einstein wanted his brain donated to science and researched. Most of his brain now remains at the University Medical Center in Princeton and, in 2011, 46 slivers of Einstein’s brain went on display at the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library in Philadelphia. (I gathered this information from Click here to read more: (check out the slideshow about Einstein’s brain too!).

Even though Einstein is considered a genius, he isn’t the only one to have his brain harvested and researched.  UC Irvine has collected 210 brains for their 90+ study.  It seems the donated brains may give researchers insight into longevity and healthy living. Here’s what reporter, Lori Basheda, of the Orange County Register, wrote about the 90+ study:

“More than 4 million people in this country have dementia. The number of people in the dementia-ripe age range (90 and older) will quadruple by 2050, according to National Institute of Health projections.

And right now there is no consensus about what causes Alzheimer’s disease, the leading cause of dementia, let alone a cure or sure-fire prevention.

In a nutshell: One camp of researchers believes that a buildup of protein plaques in the brain causes Alzheimer’s. Another camp believes that protein tangles are to blame. And there are outlying researchers who don’t agree with either theory, saying the explanation is more complicated.

Kawas’ collection of brains lends credence to the latter conclusion. Forty percent of the people in the study who displayed no signs of dementia in life had post-mortem brains that were riddled with plaques and/or tangles.” Published: Oct. 11, 2013 Updated: Oct. 13, 2013 6:29 p.m. To read the whole article click here:

Alzheimer’s disease is so complex and puzzling.

Thank you to those who are donating their brains to help others– a true gift to future generations!

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Would you eat blue or green honey?

Around this time last year, bees made the news for making colored honey, if you can call it that, in France because they were eating processed sugar from containers left outside a chocolate processing waste plant instead of wildflowers.

Colorful? Yes! Healthy? Probably not.  The beekeepers were not allowed to sell it.
Here’s the link if you want to see pictures of the colored “honey”: I wonder if there have been any more colorful hives since or if the bees have been kept out of those tempting containers?

I just listened to the TedTalk by Marla Spivak: Why Bees are Disappearing?. (Thanks to LadyK,, for the link.)  Bees are basically being disoriented and/or killed by insectides (major culprit: Neonicontinoids!).  Check out the Tedtalk if you want to know more:

As Jim Kwik mentioned in his first video (see previous post “Be Kwik About It”), a clean environment is a must for optimal brain health.  Some brains function better with an organized desk (yes, that is important!) but we all need clean water and pesticide free food to thrive– just like bees need a clean environment for their brain health!

So, what can we do? Bees will thrive when we plant bee-friendly flowers, like wildflowers, and rid our garden of pesticides.

Save a bee and spread the love! Your brain will be happy you did!Bumble bee Lupine

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Oysters on the Brain

I am not a fan of oysters.  Are you? They don’t look or taste appealing to me.

For those of you who aren’t fans but can get past their texture, they are a good source of zinc and iron.

I was trying to find a study that linked oysters to brain health.  Chris Kessler’s website uses a research-based functional medicine approach to health and in one of his articles he lists the benefits of oysters in their role in supporting healthy skin. (Zinc, found in oysters and other food, has anti-inflammatory effects and that has to be good for all parts of your body, not just your skin!). Here’s the link to Chris’s article–

If you know of a recent study that directly links oysters with brain health, let me know.  I may have to cast aside my fears and try them for the sake of my brain!

Until then, you can enjoy an outdoor event on the Central Coast of California where oysters will abound.

2nd Annual Central Coast Oyster  & Music Festival

Saturday, October 19, 2013

12- 8 p.m.

Morro Bay, California

Visit for more information.

My son’s Montessori school, part of the Family Partnership Charter School, will have a booth at the festival with hands-on activities in science and art. Form some new neural pathways with the Montessori method. Tell them Tina sent you!

Have fun and explore! Your brain will love you for it!!

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Manage Your Stress! Be Mindful of Your Cortisol Levels!

When I first learned about the hormone, cortisol, and the effects of stress on the brain, I think my family wished I hadn’t.

Your body secretes cortisol when under stress, so if I noticed someone acting stressed, I remarked, “Looks like your cortisol levels are rising!” Or if I felt stressed, I remarked, “My cortisol levels are through the roof!”

It is important to be mindful of your stress and manage it accordingly.

I couldn’t help applying what I was learning from the book, “The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription,” by Vincent Fortanasce, M.D., and I truly had my family’s best interests in mind when conveying my new found facts on cortisol.  However, I probably should have waited for a more relaxed moment to share this wisdom with them.  Perhaps you have a more subtle way to let others know when your cortisol levels are reaching extremes?

One of my favorite ways to reduce stress is to enjoy live entertainment. There’s an opportunity this weekend in San Luis Obispo County, Ca, that is sure to lower your stress hormones. The added bonus is that it is a free event (something that always makes my brain happy!)



Saturday, October 19th, 2013
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Christopher Cohan Center

Here’s the site for more information:

Also, if you are stressed because you know someone who has Alzheimer’s Disease or you are trying to protect yourself against it, I found “The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription,” by  Vincent Fortanasce, M.D., to be a great resource.  A special thanks to my friend who let me borrow her copy of the book.

Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease!  Pray for a cure and support those who have it and their loved ones. Get connected with your local Alzheimer’s Association.

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Jim Kwik’s Video #4- Tips to Unlease Your Superhero Mind

I wasn’t completely “present” as Jim suggested when watching his last video. Instead, I was ironing fabric and working on a sewing project (multitasking!), so I had to go back and watch it again. Here are my final notes on Jim Kwik’s last video  (

The art of memory is F.A.S.T!

F- Forget. Focus on the task at hand and be present.

A- Active. Show up and play full out.

S- State dependent. All learning is state dependent. Take deep breaths and move.

T- Take notes.

Jim’s tips for taking notes:

First draw a line down the page.  One the left side of the paper write “Capture” and on right side of the paper write “Create.” On the Capture side you analyze information and on the Create side you use your creativity in how you will use the information (use symbols).

One-third of your brain performance is biological. That means, two-thirds is in your control.

Check out the book, “Use Your brain to Change Your Age!”, by Daniel G. Amen M.D.

Stay hydrated! Your body and brain need water. Don’t forget to breathe and stay present.

Use GPS to accomplish your goals!

G- Goal (Share your goal. How is learning going to help you accomplish your goal? What do you want?)

P- Purpose (Why do you want this?)

S- Strategy (How you will you accomplish your goal?)

Make a bucket list and then use a M.A.P (Mental Action Plan!).

You have to be motivated and be teachable for success.

Elements in your M.A.P should R.A.I.S.E.!

R- Role Model. Watch a genius and model them.

A- Accountability. Many people have a dream and don’t have a time-frame or someone to hold them accountable in achieving it.

I- Immersion. Put in your 10,000 hours of effort.

S- Space Repetition. You want to immerse yourself in the information and spread it out by following-up on the information every couple days. Interval training.

E- Engagement. Get involved and give it your all.

According to Jim Kwik, your brain doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and it isn’t always user-friendly.  Slow down and make your M.A.P., so you can remember the things that are most important to you!

Music is important to me. Check out the St. Louis Orchestra video,,  “The St. Louis Symphony Story.” (The best friend I mentioned in my previous post, “Your Brain will Love the London Symphony Orchestra,” has a small appearance in the video.)

Follow your dreams! See what happens when you put yourself in the equation! You just might accomplish great things!

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Notes On Jim Kwik’s Video (#3)- Learning How to Learn

I’ve recovered from my brain overload and I’m finally going over my notes from the last two videos in Jim Kwik’s mini-series.

Here’s what I learned from Video #3- Rapid Reading:

For the speed reading assessment, viewers need to grab a hard cover fiction book, a pen, and a timer. Next, use the pen to put a dot in the margin on the first page. Then, read until one minute is up.  Put a mark in the margin next to the last line you read. Then count the total number of lines you read.  (It counts as a line if you read more than half-way across the page.)

Jim considered the reader in the video, Awesome Mark, as average with 20 lines or 200 wpm (words per minute). Multiply your score by 10 to get wpm.  Your score depends on the book– how many words per line it has. Most books have 10 words per line.

Five obstacles to effective reading:

  • Lack of education (Reading is a skill you learn.)
  • Lack of focus (People feel like if they read faster their comprehension goes down. Not so.)
  •  Sub-vocalization (This means you hear your inner voice reading along with you. This is limiting since you can only read as fast as you can speak.) You don’t have to say the word to understand it. 25,000 wpm is Guinness World Record.
  • Regression (Means back-skipping.) People tend to re-read sections unconsciously and it interrupts the process.
  • Limiting beliefs (You either believe you can or believe you can’t.)

Speed reading gives you the ability to focus. 

Children are role-models for reading.  People who read using their finger as a visual pacer will double their reading speed. Your eyes are attracted to the motion of your finger. Your sense of touch and sight are closely linked. It is how your neurology is set up.

Tips to read faster and understand what you read:

1) Use your finger while you read

2) Use your finger on you left hand while you read (this engages more of the right side of your brain)- Brain Body/Body Brain Connection- There is an Oxford Study that showed jugglers have bigger brains. Jim recommends you learn to juggle! “As your body moves, your brain grooves.” Jim Kwik tweetable!

Go back and practice using your finger to underline what you read. Don’t skip words! Keep your finger off the page due to friction. You don’t want to catch the book on fire!

Practice. Practice. Practice.

In just five minutes, Awesome Mark improved his score to 350 wpm (more than 50%) by using the new technique! I guess his brain caught on fast!

How did you manage?


1) Use it or lose it

2) Teach it/share video

3) Leave Jim Kwik a comment or question on facebook

4) Check out the final video in his series

Happy reading!



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Your Brain will Love the London Symphony Orchestra

My love of opera started in the 6th grade.

One of my best friends and I purchased tickets, at a student-rate, to a series of operas that included Don Giovanni and La Traviata.  I remember being mesmerized each time and eagerly awaiting the next opera (some seemed quite bizarre).

Most of the time my mom attended with us, but I also remember that once my grandma (not my grandma with Alzheimer’s, see previous post “Happy Birthday, Grandma!”) took us.  She kept nodding off and then waking up every now and then to offer us more tick-tacks (mints). I marveled at how she could fall asleep when Don Giovanni was being sent to hell? 

There was no way I was falling asleep.  The music, lights, performers, orchestra, and subtitles all worked together seamlessly to provide novelty.

Have you listened to an orchestra lately? Perhaps your brain is looking for something new? Try checking out the London Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Ravel’s Bolero.

You can listen to Ravel’s Bolero, watch the orchestra in HD from varied camera angles, read biographies, and take masterclasses– all for free!

My brain is pretty happy right now!

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Creating Neural Pathways with the Montessori Method

I found a great site, Montessori for Everyone, and I was especially interested in the blog post titled, “The Neurology of Montessori.”

Just as Jim Kwik mentions in his Kwik Learning mini-series,, Montessori for Everyone’s post also attributes optimized learning to a hand-to-brain connection (read full post here

Jim Kwik talked about the importance of adults taking notes when listening/learning (Video 4) and using your finger under a reading line to boost your reading speed (Video 3).

Children in a Montessori classroom use their hands to manipulate objects, such as small wood letters for reading, and beads for math.  Students’ brains soak up what they are learning by repetition.  Also, their mirror neurons are taking in what others are doing and learning by example.  (If you aren’t familiar with mirror neurons yet, I will fill you in on that fascinating topic in a future post.)

Perhaps you have a child, friend, cousin, niece, etc. who would benefit from a Montessori education? Or perhaps it is time you tried this approach to learning?

It is never too late to learn. We know this thanks to the science of neuroplasticity!

E.D. Alphabet Age 5

E.D. Alphabet
Age 5

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October 11, 2013 · 10:26 pm

Brain Overload

Ever feel like your brain can’t handle any more new information?

I’m feeling like that after watching 4 Jim Kwik videos over the last couple of days. (Check them out if you haven’t yet-

I will share my notes on the last two videos soon, but for now I need to sleep on it.  Remember your brain needs lots of sleep to be able to function well!

“Scientific evidence tells us that actually sleeping on our problems is an efficient way to solve them. During sleep our brain’s memory centers are busy working to consolidate recall for more effective memory when we’re awake. Getting a good night’s sleep is an important way to improve your memory ability and reduce chronic inflammation” (Gary Small, M.D., and Gigi Vorgan’s book, “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,” Pg. 143).

Sweet problem solving! I mean… sweet dreams!

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