Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s Prevention

Don’t Let Your Brain Skip a Beet!

What vegetable tastes “earthy,” helps snow and ice operations maintain safer roads, lowers your blood pressure, can benefit diabetics, may help fend off Alzheimer’s and prevent dementia, and is used in make-up and food coloring?

It’s beets! Yes, all those benefits in one humble and often overlooked vegetable. Did you know beets are also high in vitamin C and folate?

The main reason I have overlooked beets in the past is because I think they taste a lot like dirt when juiced raw.  I prefer them cooked with lots of butter.  I don’t put cooked beets in my smoothies, so in order for me to enjoy beet juice it has to be mixed with other sweet ingredients.

Today I thought my brain could use a boost so I made the perfect beet juice smoothie combination.  I blended one ripe banana, about a cup of frozen red beet juice (I bought beets at a farmer’s market, juiced them, and then froze them for later), a handful of organic frozen peaches, a tablespoon of red maca powder, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, and one juice box of fruit punch. (The juice box was Kirkland brand with no preservatives or artificial flavors/colors. I used what I had in my kitchen to help mask the “dirt” taste and it worked!).

Did you know beet juice smoothies can improve your brain function?

Did you know beet juice smoothies can improve your brain function?

Mind, Mood, and Memory lists beet juice as one of five super brain drinks.  According to a study published in 2010, one reason beet juice is so super is that it increases blood flow to your brain.

The study compared brain scans of older adults before and after they drank beet juice, which contains large concentrations of nitrates that are converted in the body into blood-vessel-expanding nitrites. Imaging showed that study participants who consumed beet juice experienced increased blood flow to the white matter in the frontal lobes of the brain, a region often affected by cognitive decline and dementia. Mind, Mood & Memory 7.3 (2011): 6.

The four other super brain drinks in the article were carrot juice, tea (green and black varieties), acai juice, and red wine.  (If you start adding in these liquids on a regular basis you are still supposed to drink six to eight glasses of water a day!)

Remember that moderation is key when it comes to juicing.  There can be unwanted side effects to “over juicing”– especially super brain drinks.  Juices add a lot of sugar/calories, but don’t always satisfy as much as solid foods.  An article in Environmental Nutrition stated: “In fact, a 2008 review published in Obesity Reviews suggests that fluid calories are not recognized by the body in the same way solid foods are. Consuming liquid calories does little to suppress ghrelin–the body’s hunger-stimulating hormone–as effectively as consuming solid foods.”

So, let’s not neglect the five super foods to eat (you might stay fuller longer!). These five foods are mentioned in Tracey Neithercott’s article,”Powerhouse Picks: five foods you should be eating– but probably aren’t.”

The list includes: beets, sardines, brussell sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and kale.  Her article was published in Diabetes Forecast and mentions that beets can help diabetics suffering from nerve damage.  However, another article I read cautioned those with kidney disease or diabetes when it came to consuming beet juice.  It advised them to limit their amounts of beet juice because it is high in potassium and sugar.  Ask a health professional if you are unsure.

Another fun fact about beets is that you can use them in your makeup instead of chemicals.  Remember my post about Makeup and Your Brain?  If you’d like to stay away from chemicals in your makeup, you might want to check out Kimball’s website, Heavy on Wholesome, for some instructions on using beets/beet powder to create your own custom lip stain, loose powder, eyeliner, and blush.

What fun things have you discovered about beets? Is your brain a fan? Hopefully, you’ll think twice before you skip the beets!

By: Tina Davidson


(I found my sources online at my library’s database: General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 12 Feb. 2014)

“Beet juice–a natural remedy for high blood pressure: beetroots and other vegetables contain high levels of nitrates associated with cardiovascular benefits.” Mind, Mood & Memory 9.7 (2013): 6.

“Beet juice for the road.” Public Management 95.3 (2013): 5.

“Drink to brain health with 5 nourishing beverages: nutrient-rich drinks promote brain fitness and function and are an important aspect of a healthy diet.” Mind, Mood & Memory 7.3 (2011): 6.

“Experimental antiskid ‘beets’ salt in extreme cold.” Erie Times-News [Erie, PA] 10 Jan. 2014.

Neithercott, Tracey. “Powerhouse Picks: five foods you should be eating–but probably aren’t.” Diabetes Forecast May 2010: 35+.

“Oil dressing, beet juice, giblets may reduce Alzheimer’s risk.” UPI NewsTrack 28 Dec. 2013.

“The problem with drinking your calories.” Environmental Nutrition June 2013: 3.

This Valentine's Day make sure you take care of your brain!

This Valentine’s Day make sure you take care of your brain! (I painted this sign with beet juice!)


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Inspiration for Your Brain

I had to watch the YouTube video of Stephen Jepson’s story more than once.  He’s in his early 70s and has a great zeal for life.  The video shows him hopping across rocks barefoot, walking a slack rope, riding his elliptical bike, climbing a vertical ladder supported by guide wires, and throwing knives.

Stephen Jepson is a learning theorist, inventor, athlete, artist, and a kid at heart who has turned his property into a playground. His key to a long and healthy life is play.

He says in the video, “My memory has become absolutely intense since beginning to do all these things” and he never falls.  During his playground activities, he alternates between his dominant and non-dominant hand and foot.  All of the activities shown, like playing jacks, stick flipping, and juggling on a Bongo board, are helping him build neural pathways, grow new brain cells, develop balance and coordination, and are key to preventing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.  One of his main goals is to prevent bone breaking falls in himself and others.

Although he never mentions the systems by name, it seems he is highly in tune with his brain’s proprioceptive and vestibular systems. Interestingly enough,  I found a good blurb about these systems on the Orange County Learning Disabilities Association’s website.  Here’s the link for the quote below:  http://www.oclda.org/sensory.html

When the neurobiology dysfunctions, it causes distortions in the sensory system of the body. Without proper neurobiological support, the ability to touch, see, and hear can be distorted. When vestibular and proprioceptive systems are inadequate, such perceptions as the ability to know where one is in space, to have a sense of time, and even to have a sense of humor can be distorted in such a way that the individual has difficulty perceiving the world correctly. Visual, auditory, and tactile responses must be able to perceive, interpret and process information so that a child can learn about the world around him/her. Without good sensory integration, learning and behavior is more difficult and the individual often feels uncomfortable about himself, and cannot easily cope with ordinary demands and stress.1

Basically, if we don’t have adequate vestibular and proprioceptive systems, we are more likely to fall since we can’t perceive where we are in space (which also hinders learning and other things).  I guess kids and adults can all use a little more play.  Many of the playground items Stephen uses, like the hurdles made from PVC pipe, you can make yourself and set up in your backyard.

Stephen reminds us that it is never too late to learn– hence, the science of neuroplasticity.

He encourages others to,”Be bold in your life choices, it is just going to make your life richer.” His message, “Never leave the playground.”

What ways are you going to play today?

Thanks to Growing Bolder broadcasting for sharing Stephen’s story!

Check out the video and be inspired!  http://youtu.be/aUf72dLf22c

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November 3, 2013 · 10:16 pm

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 huffingtonpost.com. Click here to read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/05/einsteins-brain-well-connected-hemispheres_n_4045095.html (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: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kawas-530623-study-brains.html

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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