Pro Health

Exercise Your Mind
(Fun Game For The Whole Family)

Exercise isn’t limited to dripping puddles of sweat at the gym. It’s equally important to exercise your brain. Keep your mind healthy by challenging it with this fast yet effective mental workout.
Studies have shown that keeping your brain challenged and engaged can actually help to prevent Alzheimer’s. Try games like crossword puzzes that work both the visual and language areas of your brain while combining decision-making and motor coordination. You can also try brain games like the card below. As fast as you can, read out loud the color that each word itself is printed in – not the word itself.

Click here to print this game...

Dr. Oz reveals his quick fixes for the diseases you fear most: diabetes, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

It’s never been easier than now to save your own life. These simple, revolutionary steps serve as quick fixes to arm your body against the diseases you fear most: diabetes, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

1. Quick Fix for DiabetesFiber and Vinegar Cocktail
Approximately 26 million Americans are living with diabetes. The key to preventing this chronic disease is to keep blood sugar balanced. Avoid the rollercoaster ride of blood sugar highs and lows with Dr. Oz’s Anti-Diabetes Drink:

Fiber and Vinegar Cocktail
8 oz water
4 tsp of white or red wine vinegar
1 tsp psyllium husk fiber, such as Metamucil

Both the vinegar and fiber in the drink will help slow the absorption of sugar. Plus the vinegar works as an appetite suppressant, while the fiber will help you feel full. You’ll stave off hunger, which will help prevent weight gain; obesity is often tied to diabetes. Drink this cocktail every day before dinner to prevent sugar spikes and crashes.

2. Quick Fix for Cancer: Grape Seed Extract
Fight back against the second leading cause of death: cancer. Full of antioxidants, grape seed extract helps protect your cells from free radicals, which can damage cells. Lab studies have also shown that grape seed extract may help prevent breast and colon cancer.
Women over 40 can take 200mg of grape seed extract daily, available online or in health food stores for about $10.

3. The Best Time to Avoid a Heart Attack:
Here are 3 reasons heart attacks are 3 times more likely to strike in the morning than the evening:

  1. Blood pressure is highest in the morning because it rises quickly to get you ready for the day. In fact, your heart needs 50% more blood to go from being asleep to being awake, and as that blood pulses through your blood vessels, the increased pressure can tear the vessel lining.
  2. Blood vessels are thicker in the morning. Just as our muscles and joints feel stiffer when we get up, our blood vessels are thicker and more rigid. It’s harder for them to bend and flex, which makes them more likely to build up plaque; combine that with high blood pressure, and it’s a recipe for artery rupture.
  3. Blood is thicker in the morning. The platelets in our blood, which help it clot, are stickier in the morning and more likely to stick to blood vessel walls, plus the system that combats blood clots is not as active in the am. And when stickier blood hits the scars and tears caused by high blood pressure and stiff arteries, clots form, and the stage for a heart attack is set.
3 Easy Things You Can Do To Prevent a Morning Heart Attack

1. Take most of your meds at night.
  • Blood pressure-lowering medications can ward off the morning pressure rise when you take them before bed.
  • Meds to lower cholesterol also work better when taken at night, because the liver likes to make extra cholesterol while you sleep. Keeping your cholesterol down in the morning will help reduce the fragility of any plaque build-up in the arteries.
  • Baby aspirin, which thins the blood and make it less likely to clot, can help your blood flow better in the morning when taken just before bed.
  • Magnesium (500mg) taken before bed will help your blood vessels relax and open up. Pair it with 1,000 milligrams of calcium to keep the magnesium from causing runny stools and help stabilize plaque in the arteries. 
2. Floss at night
Gum disease is a leading cause of inflammation in the body, and inflammation makes it more likely that plaque in your blood vessels will rupture. The best time to fight gum disease and inflammation is at night when the body slows the production of saliva giving bacteria the chance to run wild. Flossing at night keeps bacteria in check and your gums and blood vessels healthier.

3. Get a good night’s sleep
Poor sleep raises your blood pressure (and nightmares may increase your heart rate and stiffness in your blood vessels), so take a little time to get a peaceful 7 to 8 hours each night. Try these tricks:
  • Get 20 minutes of sun daily to increase melatonin (the sleep hormone) at night.
  • Try a little lemon balm. One study found that it improved anxiety, nervousness, and sleep disturbances in 90% of patients.
  • Listen to relaxing music at night, which has been shown to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and may help decrease nightmares.
4. Your Risk Of Stroke:
American Heart Association answered:
Knowing your risk for stroke is the first step in preventing stroke. You can change or treat some risk factors, but others you can’t. By having regular medical checkups and knowing your risk, you can focus on what you can change and lower your risk of stroke.
• High blood pressure. This is the single most important risk factor for stroke because it’s the No. 1 cause of stroke. Know your blood pressure and have it checked at least once every two years. If it’s consistently 140/90 or above, it’s high. Talk to your doctor about how to bring it down.
• Tobacco use. Don’t smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco. Tobacco use damages blood vessels.
• Diabetes mellitus. Having diabetes increases your risk of stroke because it can cause disease of blood vessels in the brain. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to manage diabetes and reduce other risk factors.
• Carotid or other artery disease. The carotid arteries in your neck supply most of the blood to your brain. A carotid artery damaged by a fatty buildup of plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke.
• TIAs. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are “mini strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting effects. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
• Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease. In atrial fibrillation the heart’s upper chambers quiver rather than beating effectively. This causes the blood to pool and clot, increasing the risk of stroke. People with other types of heart disease have a higher risk of stroke, too.
• Certain blood disorders. A high red blood cell count makes clots more likely, raising the risk of stroke. Sickle cell anemia increases stroke risk because the “sickled” cells stick to blood vessel walls and may block arteries.
• High blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of clogged arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked, a stroke can result.
• Physical inactivity and obesity. Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Excessive alcohol intake. Drinking an average of more than one drink per day for women or more than two drinks a day for men raises blood pressure. Binge drinking can lead to stroke.
• Illegal drug use. Intravenous drug use carries a high risk of stroke. Cocaine use also has been linked to stroke.


Foods and Spices to Bolster Brain Health

By Gary Small, MD and Gigi Vorgan
Co-authors of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life
One of the key strategies of an Alzheimer’s prevention program involves healthy brain nutrition. A diet rich in antioxidant fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fats from fish and nuts, and whole grains will strengthen brain cells and protect the body from diabetes, which studies now show doubles the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Healthy brain nutrition does not just mean going on a weight-loss diet; it involves changing the way we think about food. We should stop just focusing on trying to lose weight, but aim instead for a new goal – to eat the kinds of foods that protect our bodies and our brains.

This means getting the right vitamins and nutrients to nourish the organs and cells of the body. Scientific evidence points to some foods that promote brain health and others that are best to avoid. A recent Columbia University study of more than 2000 people age 65 and older found a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease in the volunteers who ate a greater amount of nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, vegetables, and fruits, and a lesser amount of high-fat dairy products, red meat, and butter. This and many other studies show that nutritious meals can help prevent many common health problems that influence brain function and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. As a bonus, most people do lose weight once they switch to such a diet.

During the past two decades, the prevalence of obesity in the US has risen dramatically. Today, more than 70 million Americans are obese, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is a particular problem for people age 50 and older. A recent study found that being overweight doubles the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, while being obese will quadruple that risk.

Besides healthy brain foods, spices and herbs can protect our brain cells as well. In addition to adding color and flavoring to our foods, they add potential health benefits from their antioxidant and other effects. For example, consuming garlic lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Ginger may lessen pain in patients with arthritis, and several herbs and spices are believed to have cancer-fighting properties. Because of their strong antioxidant properties, herbs and spices may help protect our brain cells from the wear and tear of the aging process. Examples of some of the more potent spices include oregano, vanilla, cinnamon, parsley, basil, and pepper.

Scientists recently studied piperine, the main active antioxidant ingredient in black pepper. After just two weeks, the piperine not only improved memory performance in experimental mice that carried an Alzheimer’s gene, but also delayed neurodegeneration in the hippocampus memory center of their brains. 

Many people like Indian food, which contains the potent antioxidants turmeric, cumin seed and curry. For thousands of years, curcumin has been produced from turmeric, and used to make spices (curry, mustard), food coloring, and medicine to treat a variety of ailments. In part because of relatively lower rates of dementia in India compared with other countries, scientists are considering if eating curried foods might protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. UCLA researchers have demonstrated curcumin’s potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-amyloid properties (beta-amyloid protein is the sticky "goo” that accumulates on the brain and prevents neurons from “talking” to each other; too much beta-amyloid is believed to cause Alzheimer's symptoms) – effects that are believed to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. In one study of more than 1000 volunteers between ages 60 and 93, those who ate curried foods more frequently had higher scores on standard memory tests. 

Many experts believe that the oils used to cook the curried dishes help get the brain-protective ingredients into the brain’s neurons. Some people take curcumin supplements, but it is not clear whether the curcumin from supplements actually gets into the brain cells when it is not mixed in the oils used in the cooked Indian dishes. Some scientists argue that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are general responses that occur throughout the body, triggered in the stomach when curcumin is initially absorbed, so direct brain penetration may not be necessary. UCLA researchers are currently studying this question and have recently begun a trial of a high-potency form of curcumin to determine if it will prevent Alzheimer’s disease and the accumulation of the brain plaques and tangles associated with the disease. Curcumin is available in capsule form at health food stores, or as turmeric in the spice section at the supermarket.

What we eat clearly affects our mental function and may be critical to maintaining brain health and delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. As we continue to learn about how our diet can protect our brain health, keep in mind the following strategies for your Alzheimer’s prevention diet:
  • Emphasize complex carbohydrates and whole grains while avoiding processed foods and high-glycemic index carbohydrates.
  • Calories count when controlling body weight, but individualize your diet plan to meet your needs. Low carbohydrate diets offer quick results, but it’s usually best to combine a high-fiber carbohydrate and a protein for longer-lasting satiety.
  • Eating omega-3 fats from fish at least twice a week not only protect the brain from Alzheimer’s but also stabilize mood and fight off depression.
  • Antioxidant fruits and vegetables are great brain foods. You can eat them fresh or dried, or drink them in juice form.
  • Healthy proteins from fish, poultry, lean beef or soybeans fortify muscles, satisfy hunger, and provide essential amino acids.


Top 10 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices

Alternative health guru Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals his top 10 herbs and spices to prevent disease and combat aging.

Dr. Joseph Mercola’s unorthodox methods have made him one of the most controversial figures in the world of alternative medicine. Here, Dr. Mercola counts down the 10 most powerful spices you may already have in your kitchen that can fight aging and prevent disease. He suggests you incorporate a variety of these spices into your daily meals to maximize your benefit – consuming just 1 teaspoon a day of any of these herbs and spices can have a positive effect on your health. When choosing between fresh or dried herbs, Dr. Mercola suggests that the fresh variety is more powerful. In general, the more fragrant the herb, the stronger its benefits. You can, however, get nearly the same benefits from dried herbs if you store them in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.

10. Protect Your Skin Cells: Italian Spice
Damaged skin cells make us look older prematurely. Dr. Mercola recommends adding an Italian spice blend to your cooking, which may provide vital protection on the cellular level. Basil, Italian spice blend’s key ingredient, is loaded with antioxidants that can protect your cells from harmful free radicals – the damaging molecules that also contribute to heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease.

9. Heal From Infections Faster: Thyme
Bacterial infections can range from a common sore throat to potentially deadly pneumonia. Studies have shown that thyme can kill MSRA bacteria, which lead to staph infections. Additionally, extracts of thyme are used in mouthwashes to treat inflammations and in cough drops to treat throat infections.

8. Fight Inflammation: Sage
Inflammation on the cellular level is the main reason the body ages faster than it should. Dr. Mercola adds sage to his meals to fight inflammation. This herb can help fight inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis, which causes a hardenening of the arteries.

7. Improve Digestion and Sleep: Marjoram 
A healthy digestive system and a good night’s sleep are essential to your overall health. Studies show that incorporating marjoram into your diet may activate cells that aid digestion. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try adding five drops of marjoram oil, available in health food stores, to a warm bath. The herb’s essential oils may relieve stress, helping you sleep soundly through the night.

6. Immunity Booster: Oregano
Numerous studies have demonstrated the antioxidant properties of oregano. Its active agent, rosmarinic acid, clears out the free radicals that age us and contribute to disease. Additionally, oregano is also one of the strongest and most effective broad-spectrum antibiotics and antifungals out there. It can help kill Candida, or yeast infection, as well as fungal nail infections.

5. Keep Your Heart Young: Apple Pie Spice
Ginger is the key ingredient in this aromatic spice blend. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger keep your heart young and your arteries clear. Additionally, ginger helps protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. It boosts the immune system and can protect against atherosclerosis by lowering cholesterol levels and preventing the oxidation of LDL (the bad cholesterol). As an additional benefit, ginger is a potent treatment for nausea.

4. Stimulate Digestive Juices: Jamaican Allspice 
Allspice is produced from the fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant and has a complex peppery taste that resembles a mix of cinnamon, juniper, clove and nutmeg. To keep your gut healthy, Dr. Mercola recommends rubbing Jamaican allspice on your meat and vegetables or sprinkling it in your soups. It’s terrific for its anti-gas effects, and it aids digestion. Jamaican allspice also helps keep blood sugar under control, which is one of the primary ways to keep your arteries young.

3. Relieve Stiffness Due to Arthritis: Cinnamon
As we age, many of us may experience muscle and joint pain due to arthritis. Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help relieve that pain. Furthermore, cinnamon’s antibiotic properties help prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease, and have been shown to kill the harmful bacteria, E.coli.

2. Fight Just About Everything: Cloves
Dr. Mercola describes cloves as “cinnamon on steroids.” Like cinnamon, cloves can be beneficial against muscle pains and arthritis. Of all spices, cloves received the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Score, meaning it is the highest in antioxidants. Additionally, cloves contain eugenol, which has mild anesthetic benefits useful for toothaches, gum pain, and sore throats. Cloves also offer relief from respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, and eliminate intestinal parasites, fungi, and bacteria. It makes you wonder, is there anything cloves can’t do?

1. Prevent Cancer and Alzheimer’s: Turmeric 
Far too many of us have felt the effects of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in our lives. Yet in India, where turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of the four most-common US cancers is 10 times lower. Researchers attribute this, in part, to curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow color. Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin is effective both in protecting against cancer and in inducing the programmed death of colon cancer cells. Furthermore, population studies have shown that elderly villagers in India appear to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's disease in the world.

When it comes to combating aging, the best approach is adopting a healthy lifestyle. That means regular physical activity, quality sleep, and packing your diet full of healthy foods. According to Dr. Mercola, adding some or all of these spices to your cooking won’t just spice up your meal, it may just save your life!