The Benefits Of Exercise On The Brain

You may know that a regular workout improves the body. What is less clear has been the effect of physical exercise on the brain. The brain is considered to be a muscle (although 60-70 percent is really fat), and as with the body, if you don´t use it enough, it may start to deteriorate. The good news is that there are a range of precautions to boost a healthy mind.

  • An effective training to boost the neuronal connections in the deeper parts of the brain such as the brain stem is neuromuscular training. This basically constitutes doing slow (the slower the better) movements, diagonal movements (ie. right arm and left leg) and rotational movements (ie. moving the thumbs in opposite directions).
  • Recent discovery of a protein called BNDF has led to an increased understanding of the link between the body and mind. After a workout, we see a general buildup of BNDF in the brain, primarily the hippocampus. BNDF has crucial effects on the neurons. Generally it encourages the growth of neurons (and thicker myelin sheaths), by building stronger links, and at the same time protects against cell death. In fact, in 2007 a German researcher discovered that people learn  20 times faster following physical exercise than before they worked out. These findings correlated with the levels of BDNF in the brain.
  • The Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) can be considered the fountain of youth, due to its age reviving effects on cells. Ways to boost the HGH production from the pituitary gland is by either having spurts of a high intensity workout and/or muscle training. What is interesting is that this increase of HGH in the circulation lasts many hours after you exercise. Conversely, a high intensity workout leaves higher amounts of BDNF in the brain as compared to a lower intensity workout. I would point out here that it is better with shorter burst of high intensity, as this will have better effect on the generation of HGH than longer stretches of high intensity. In a comparative study, Doing a series of squats doubled the HGH levels compared with running at high intensity for thirty minutes.
  • Exercise boosts the amount of dopamine, which sparks motivation. Sticking to an exercise regimen will boost the reward centers in the brain, and make it easier to stick with the workout schedule.

Overall, exercise improves learning in three ways:

  1. Increases alertness, attention and motivation
  2. Encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, an essential aspect of learning new tasks
  3. Boosts the production of nerve cells in the hippocampus (from stem cells)

So get to it and start exercising today!

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The Health Benefits Of Garlic

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”

These are the famous words of the ancient Greek physician called Hippocrates Asclepiades, living in the Classic Greek time. He is considered the founder of modern western medicine, where physicians nowadays recite the Hippocratic oath. Interestingly enough, Hippocrates Asclepiades used garlic for a range of medical disorders.

I want to dedicate this article to this marvellous and diverse herb. Already in 1858 the well renowned French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur recognized the antiseptic properties of garlic. The many uses of garlic stems from the fact that it contains a range of medicinal properties. Sulphur compounds called Allicin are formed when the garlic is chopped, cut or grated, and occurs due to exposure to oxygen. Heated or cooked garlic does not have the same health benefit, but tastes great in dishes anyway! Here are some of the most widely known health benefits of garlic:

  • Reduce elevated cholesterol, both the total amount of cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol, that will be harmful in excess amounts in the blood stream. Using garlic on a regular basis will therefore have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis and plaque. Dr. Budoff, MD, FACC, FAHA, is an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. After having done numerous studies on aged garlic Dr. Budoff is a strong believer in aged garlic in treatment of calcification of arteries. Calcification of arteries are directly proportional to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Aged garlic is aged up to 20 months witch changes the harsh chemicals in garlic to safe, stable and odourless compound. Kyolic garlic has been the subject of over 650 studies. “Supplementing with Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract can halt, and even reverse the accumulation of deadly low-attenuation plaque in arteries”, according to new research in The Journal of Nutrition.
  • Reduce elevated blood pressure. Studies have shown that supplementation of aged garlic extract of 600 – 1500 mg shows a significant reduction of blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of Alzheimers and Dementia due to its range of sulphur and antioxidant compounds
  • Reduce the risk of heavy metal and radiation toxicity, due to its high sulphur content
  • Treat the common cold. Studies have shown that using garlic upon getting sick will reduce the length and severity of the common cold.
  • Balance the gut flora. In my clinic I have used garlic for a range of gastrointestinal disorders. Garlic haw powerful anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. The fresher the garlic is the more effective it will be. For people with chronic anal itch, chronic fatigue (may be accompanied with a skin rash) this may indicate a parasitic/intestinal worm infection. Using grated garlic as a poultice directly on the skin may be beneficial. With intestinal worms, consuming garlic at least four times daily is a good way to rid yourself of these worms. Please consult your doctor if these symptoms persist.

Scientists by Kyungpook-university in South Korea have figured out that the amounts of antioxidants in garlic increase tremendously when it starts to sprout. The sprouts will stay fresh for about 5 days. Also, freezing the garlic is also a good way to enhance the antioxidant capacity of garlic. Garlic could stay fresh for half a year in the fridge and 3-4 days in room temperature.

Bear in mind, garlic is not for everyone. A few have developed allergies to garlic, and those who are following a FOODMAP diet should avoid garlic while they react adversely to it. Even so, I am a huge fan of garlic, and believe most people will benefit by ingesting this herb. Besides, it tastes great, both in salads, sauces/soups, and a range of other cuisines. Enjoy!