Tag Archives: Preventitive Medicine

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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My Brain’s Resolution for 2014

Happy New Year!

I’m four days into the new year and have managed to stick to my ONE resolution for the year.  Yes, I have other plans and goals for 2014 but this is my “New Year’s Resolution.”

Can you guess what it is?

No, it is not to exercise more or eat healthier (although, both exercise and eating healthier can improve your cognition.)

My resolution is to stop using the MICROWAVE.microwave

Why this resolution?

I want to be more conscious about meal planning.  If I don’t have a microwave, I can’t wait until 10 minutes before dinner and heat up left-overs.

Secondly, I’ve had the same microwave for 11 years.  I feel a draft of air, almost like a fan blowing, when it is on and I’m standing near by.  I don’t think this is a good thing.  An article by Brain Clark Howard, “11 Surprising Facts and Myths About Microwave Ovens,” published on Good Housekeeping’s website states that microwaves can wear over time. Yikes, I’ve had mine a long time and never tested it for radiation leakage. Can anyone recommend a good electromagnetic field (EMF) detector? The scientist in me would like to conduct a few experiments before I e-cycle my microwave.

Also, by getting rid of my microwave I gain valuable counter space. I might even designate this area my new sprout growing center.  Did you know Mumm’s broccoli sprouts contain 50 times more nutrients than full-grown broccoli? Check out the Mumm’s website for a list of all the health benefits of eating sprouts.  Find a You-tube video tutorial on growing sprouts and purchase some seeds and glass jars to get started.  Your brain will enjoy the new novelty/hobby and will appreciate the added nutritional benefits of eating sprouts.

Lastly, there is conflicting information on whether a microwave “damages” nutrients in your food and whether possible effects contribute to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, etc.

Thus, good-bye microwave. I don’t want to take my chances if I don’t need the convenience and it is something I can live quite happily without.

Recommended Further Reading:

When researching the topic of microwaves and radiation, I stumbled upon the World Heath Organization (WHO) and discovered they have a team designated to EMF research because according to their website, “Potential health effects of exposure to static and time varying electric and magnetic fields need scientific clarification.” There are some EMFs that are natural and some that are man-made.  Microwaves, cell phones, computer screens, anti-theft devices, security systems, radio, television, radar and cellular telephone antennas all emit EMFs at different frequencies and scientists aren’t 100% sure how they are affecting us.

Thankfully, groups like the WHO and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) exist to provide more information about the effects of EMFs.  The AAEM website has two **New** documents in regards to EMFs.  Check out Wireless Radiofrequency Radiation in Schools: AAEM Calls for Wired Connections in Schools  and Smart Meter Case Series.

Dr. Doris Rapp has a post on her blog titled, “Microwaves are Bad, Bad, Bad.”

The food investigator, aka Food Babe, is adamantly against microwave use. She lists the top 5 reasons why you should get rid of your microwave on her website.

Are you going to keep your microwave or perhaps use it less? Let me know what you decide!

Cheers to a healthier brain in 2014!

By: Tina Davidson

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Katniss Everdeen or Susannah Cahalan? The Real Girl on Fire

I saw “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” this weekend and my brain loved the action, the suspense, and the love story.  All the references to Katniss Everdeen as “The Girl on Fire” reminded me of an article I read a few years ago about Susannah Cahalan’s memoir, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.”

Would it bring you relief if a doctor told you, “Your brain is on fire.”? Well, Dr. Souhel Najjar,  brought hope to Susannah Cahalan’s parents when he basically told them their daughter’s brain was on fire and he diagnosed what was wrong with her.

“Cahalan was the 217th person in the world to be diagnosed with anti-NDMA-receptor encephalitis, a relatively treatable illness that causes swelling in the right lobe of the brain. Untreated, she may have sunk into coma and eventually died.” (Click here for full article)

Thankfully, Dr. Najjar diagnosed Cahalan and she recovered.  It is quite an amazing story.  Cahalan stated in the article, “We don’t understand how neurological autoimmune disorders work.” I hope scientists bridge the knowledge gap in this area quickly and the public becomes more aware.

For the majority of us, we don’t have a “brain on fire,” but what have you done to take care of your brain lately?

Sometimes, it is as simple as going to a movie, hanging out with friends, drinking a glass of wine, and having some fish for dinner.

I’ll break it down a little further below.

Movie: Hunger Games- Catching Fire (Galaxy Theater in Atascadero, CA)= De-stressing

Friends: Michelle, Elaine, Montse, and Jenny = Social engagement

Wine: (that can be consumed in the VIP Room at the movie theater) = Resveratrol

Ahi Salad (Guest House Grill)  = Omega-3

All these examples can help optimize brain health and prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s.

I hope you are finding simple ways to take care of yourself!  Your brain will thank you for it.

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The Ocarina and the Brain

My brain is fascinated by new things and loves music. How about yours?

I think the ocarina is my favorite “new” (yet very old) instrument.  St. Louis Ocarina has taken an instrument which dates back thousands of years and freshened up its look.  Now you can find an ocarina shaped like a ladybug or a teacarina, an ocarina shaped like a tea cup.  Why not have some tea and play some music, right? (I will post about the benefits linked to tea consumption and brain health later.)

St. Louis Ocarina’s newest line to be released includes officially licensed Marvel superhero ocarinas. After viewing the pictures, I think the Spiderman or the Thor one would be my top Marvel comic picks. Are you curious to see what a Spiderman ocarina looks like? Check out The St. Louis Ocarina website and watch some videos of ocarinas being played if you have never heard its flute-like melodies before.

So how does playing an ocarina benefit your brain?

There is a Fox News clip posted on the St. Louis Ocarina site that discusses the benefits of music education. Here are the top benefits:

  • Promotes Problem Solving
  • Teaches Focus and Discipline
  • Maximizes Memory
  • Develops an “I can do” Attitude

Although the  benefits of music education mentioned in the video were geared towards children, everyone’s brain can benefit from tools that help maximize memory.  It is never too late for the brain to change.

Have you ever heard of or followed the work of Dr. Gordon Shaw? He conducted studies using music to learn about higher brain function. His book, “Keeping Mozart in Mind- Volume 1,” looks like a good read.  Scientists are still in debate over what he and fellow researchers dubbed the “Mozart Effect.”

Here’s a link to a video of Papageno’s Song from the Magic Flute written by Mozart and played on a STL Florentine Ocarina.

I hope you are taking time to enjoy some music– whether it is played on a Zelda ocarina or another instrument of your choice! It is a great way to reduce stress and maintain a healthy brain.

Author: Tina Davidson

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Good-bye for now, Strawberries!


I miss my strawberries! I wanted to find just one last sweet and juicy strawberry in my backyard today, but there were none.  I won’t miss the battle with the birds and bugs over the strawberries, but my brain will miss the antioxidants that strawberries provide.

I’m sure you’ve read or heard about antioxidants before, but did you know you need about 3,500 ORAC units a day for optimal brain protection? First, you might be wondering, “What’s an ORAC?” ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity, is a score used by nutritional scientists.  According to Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan on page 96 in their book, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, “(ORAC) score provides a general  indication of how effective a particular food is at protecting brain cells from the damaging bombardment of free radicals.” A strawberry’s antioxidant potency in ORAC units per 3.5 ounces is 4,300.  So, by eating about half a cup (which is easy to do!)  you are well on your way to fighting off oxidative free radicals and lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Is your brain intrigued? Check out the book I mentioned earlier, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, for a complete list of fruits’ antioxidant/ORAC scores. I was surprised to see cranberries at the top of the list! But I do love my organic strawberries best of all (despite their being 8th on the list in comparison).

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Long Live Grapes!

GrapesHave you ever eaten grapes right off the vine? Grapes contain a healthy brain compound called resveratrol.  They can be such a sweet organic treat! However, if you find them too sour, there are pills that contain resveratrol.  The effectiveness of these pills is still being researched.

Check out the book, “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program,” by Gary Small, M.D., and Gigi Vorgan. I will blog more about their book later because it contains information on resveratrol and many ways to keep your brain happy and healthy!

Looking for a chance to up your resveratrol intake with wine? Check out the information below from an email from Cal Poly SLOCAVORE:

Stop by the Cal Poly SLOCAVORE booth at Sunset Savor the Central Coast September 28-29 to taste Cal Poly wine, cheese and sausage.  Participate in our survey on SLOCAVORE topics and you’ll also be entered in a drawing to win a gift certificate for $500 in accommodations from the City of San Luis Obispo and passes into a SLOCAVORE workshop. Drawing will take place after the event and winner notified by email.

Link here for more information about Cal Poly SLOCAVOREWe look forward to seeing you this weekend at Savor and at a SLOCAVORE workshop beginning in 2014!

Keep me posted if you attend! Cheers to resveratrol!

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I Love My Brain!


Lately, I’ve been appreciating God’s design of the human brain.  The science of neuroplasticity has proven that the brain can change at any age. Pretty awesome!  I just love my brain! Thanks, God!

Artwork by E.D., age 6

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