This news makes me happy, because I really LOVE walnuts, which are one of the highest omega 3 content nuts out there. Sure, they’re high in fat, but that fat is actually good for you and has shown some serious promise as a weapon against heart disease and stroke already when they are consumed in small amounts every day.

Now you can also add brain protective benefits to the list of benefits that these nuts have as well as proven in a recent study that was carried out in Spain, one of the countries where diets rich in nuts and olive oils and other omega 3 fat rich oils is already common.

In fact, these studies were spawned BECAUSE countries like France and Spain where people tend to consume large amounts of these oils, as well as large amounts of red wine (another protective food according the many studies), tend to have less obesity, less overall heart and degenerative health issues, and generally live longer and healthier lives.

These protective fatty acids which are found in abundance in nuts and the oil that those nuts produce, as well as the oils from certain vegetables and fruits, have now also been affirmatively linked to brain and cognitive function protection and even improvement.

Those that consume a diet rich in these oils and nuts tend to express less degenerative brain function such as alzheimers and dementia, which is another common sign of aging and deteriorating condition of the brain and its various functions.

In the study that reviewed such protective properties, subjects were supplied with nuts that were notoriously high in these fatty acids such as almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.

The researchers followed study volunteers for several years and the bottom line (eliminating some of the details for sake of brevity) is that the group that was assigned to add the nuts or oils to their diet every day exhibited significantly less brain function depletion as well as a lesser reporting of things like confused thinking, fogginess and general confusion and lack of focus.

This seems to confirm the hypothesis that these nuts and fatty acid oils have some sort of brain boosting power. These nuts also have a very filling effect, so they help you to maintain a stable blood sugar much longer than “empty” calorie foods. I know that if I add a couple tablespoons of nuts to my morning breakfast, it holds me over much longer and allows me to think much clearer, much longer than if I just had straight protein or carbs without the healthy fats added.

Here are some great ways I’ve found it convenient (and super tasty) to add healthy nuts in to my daily diet.

1.) Add some walnuts or plain slivered almonds to your morning cereal or hot oatmeal. I personally find walnuts more filling and satisfying, but that is probably because they have a much fattier and more rich consistency than almonds.

2.) Add them to an Asian style stir fry. Walnuts or almonds are both great this way. Sesame oil also contains these healthy fats, and is very complimentary to these types of dishes.

3.) Eat a small hand full for a snack. You can keep small snack size bags around for a prepackaged, calorie-controlled and highly satisfying snack.

4.) Add almonds or walnuts crushed to the top of your vegetables. They really add a great flavor and full bodied texture!

5.) Add them to your yogurt for a snack or for breakfast. I kind of wish I wasn’t burned out on yogurt a long time ago, it is tasty sometimes, and it’s perfectly conducive to nuts – especially when you add some fruit on top too!

By Natural Advocate | May 5, 2013 - 9:13 pm - Posted in Cognitive and Focus

sunlightIt’s funny how the sun has been so misunderstood by the public over the last few decades. People are afraid to bathe in the sun like they used to because there is so much rhetoric about how sunlight exposure causes skin cancer.

People are lathering themselves with so much (usually toxic) sunscreen every day that they not only don’t get enough sunlight to make enough vitamin D to stay healthy, but they are also likely exposing themselves to the toxins that are often found in so many traditional sunscreen brands.

There is a growing trend, thankfully, the realistically looks at the risks of sun exposure. The good news is that you can get sunlight every day without getting cancer as long as you follow a few simple rules. The bad news is, excessive UV exposure really is a dangerous thing. However, not getting ANY sun at all is believed to be the more evil of the two thanks to a more open minded view and growing body of evidence.

One of my favorite benefits of getting sun is that it really seems to drastically improve my mood. As soon as my eyes filter the sunlight’s rays, it’s almost like a complete psychological switch goes off in my head. I’m not sure if it is really all just a mental thing, like you literally talk yourself out of a foul mood because you think that traditionally people are supposed to be cheerful and bright when the weather looks the same.

And so what if it is all a “placebo effect”? If getting just a few minutes of direct sunlight on your face and in your eyes make you feel better in an instant most of the time, isn’t it valuable either way?

Research has shown that when sunlight, or even artificial sunlight, enters the eyes, it produces a reaction in the brain that is akin to “waking it up”. It enlivens the nerve endings, brightens the mood, and generally makes someone feel more positive.

This is why so many people undergo SADD light therapy in the winter when the sunlight is sparse in most areas of the world unless you live in the tropics or down south. There are even record sales of these “light boxes” that purport to help you with mood by stimulating neurpathways in the brain to believe that there really is sunlight penetrating them.

Furthermore, a secondary effect of sunlight on mood is that vitamin D has proven a highly valuable remedy against depression and mood disorders. People who are clinically depressed or suffer chronic anxiety are often diagnosed with low vitamin D levels. Coincidence? I think not!

Even artificial light can have this awakening effect. Recent research has shown that the backlighting on so many of our portable tablet devices can keep us up when we don’t even want to be up. The recommendation has been made that people who are having trouble sleeping do not use their iPads and so forth in bed or right before bed time because the artificial light stimulates and enlivens the brain into action, making it harder to sleep and wind down.

By Natural Advocate | February 8, 2013 - 8:40 pm - Posted in Cognitive and Focus

We think a lot about food. Most of us that is. Ok maybe that’s just me, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a large segment of the population today thinks a whole lot about food. You think about your next meal, your next snack, what you’re going to get at the grocery store or the restaurant. You think about calories, fat, carbs, you name it.

We get a LOT of pleasure out of food. It’s kind of comparable to sex. Think about how much you thought about sex when you were single. Fast forward several years into a stable, comfortable relationship where sex no longer takes center stage. You’re back to thinking about something else that provides a lot of pleasure in life – food.

Food is a powerful motivator in general. It stimulates areas and receptors in the brain that are very responsive to the pleasures different tastes and textures can offer. It really provides a lot of satisfaction and feelings of satiety and pleasure in people’s lives. Of course there’s a lot of baggage that goes with food, but in general we tend to really look forward to eating most of the time.

So, what if you take food off the plate for a while? What if you deprive yourself of the very thing that seemingly consumes so much of your time in both thoughts and action? What if you rely solely on water to nourish your body and mind, and you gain no pleasure from partaking in the smells, textures and flavors of actual solid food for a period of time?

Well I’m sure you can imagine, this would probably open up quite a bit of time in your schedule. Probably more time than you even realize. It would also clear up space in your mind for other things. Of course first you have to get over the initial natural feelings of hunger so that you can get over the inevitable fantasies about food that will likely dominate your thoughts until you aren’t hungry any more.

But after that initial hump, wouldn’t food deprivation clear up mental space and perhaps allow more creative, productive thoughts to be had? That’s what a lot of the proponents of fasting claim. Of course there are many detractors that do not agree with fasting.

They think it is an unhealthy form of dieting and can actually do more harm than good when it comes to weight maintenance and the health and function of the metabolism. However, there are others who say that the body is naturally equipped to fast without any serious damage to these functions and that the pros far outweigh the cons. Who are you to believe though?

My fasting experience

I did try to fast one time. You know that infamous maple syrup and lemon juice/cayenne pepper “Master Cleanse” drink? I tried it and lasted about two and a half days. This was a while ago. I was actually trying to jump start some weight loss goals.

I can tell you that for me, it did free up a lot of space to focus on other things. It also did produce an odd calming effect on me. Perhaps this is because I’m really a huge food lover and I do devote a lot of time to the thought of eating or preparing food. It was probably very liberating to not have to do this for a while.

I did seem to be able to focus very well also, but not until the initial hunger pains wore off and my fantasies about stuffing a piece of chocolate cake in my mouth subsided. I only made it a few days because my (now) husband jumped off the wagon after a day making me feel even more deprived, but I can see why some people like to do it periodically to free up their minds.

However I think it can also reinforce eating disorders or strange relationships with food, so it really should only be done sparingly if at all.

By Natural Advocate | September 24, 2012 - 3:30 pm - Posted in Cognitive and Focus

We’ve talked a lot about how to naturally treat ADD and ADHD, both of which are serious disorders where the mind has a hard time focusing.

ADD is a disorder that affects not only children, but also adults.  There are over 10 million prescriptions written for both ADD and ADHD every year in the US alone.  The harsh and often habit forming drugs that are prescribed leave many parents and adults themselves suffering from ADD to seek effective herbal remedies for ADD.

Luckily, there are a lot of people, adults and children, who experience excellent results by using herbal remedies as an alternative for ADD, rather than a drug.  Drugs for this disorder have even been compared to street drugs because of certain chemical similarities and withdrawal symptoms experienced.

BrightSpark for children, Focus Formula and Focus ADDult for adults, are a series of effective and extremely popular herbal remedies which increase focus, help reduce hyperactivity, and help to really get the mind in a state that is conducive to concentration.

Think of the possibilities when your child – or you yourself – is able to fulfill their greatest potential because there is finally an ability to sit down and focus.

Here are just a hand full of testimonials on these products:

“Since Cole has started on his Focus Formula and BrightSpark…I have seen a difference in his daily actions it has been great. His teacher even said he is more focused on her at school and not on everyone else. He even picked up his dirty clothes and put them away all by himself, He has never done that. Go Cole go.”

—Lori H.

“I developed BrightSpark as a homeopathic remedy to assist me in the treatment of children in my clinical practice. This remedy has been very effective in helping impulsive, restless children who have difficulties with concentration and appropriate classroom behavior. Many of these children went from being the classroom clown to willingly settling down to complete tasks, while still retaining brightness and creativity – to the great relief of parents and teachers alike!”

— Michele Carelse, Clinical Psychologist

Read more testimonials on BrightSpark, Focus Formula and Focus ADDult

That’s the sad thing about ADD and ADHD, and it’s the very reason that herbal remedies like these formulas for adults and children I previously mentioned have literally skyrocketed in popularity.  People cannot live up to their full potential when they cannot focus for any period of time on a set goal, a test, an important work assignment, or some other project which will help them be successful in life.

Often times ADD and ADHD can be so frustrating for children and adults that it can even lead to depression and feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.  This is why it is so important to try to treat this common issue naturally, without drugs that can often lead to dependency and have other unwanted side effects because of their harsh nature.

Some of the side effects of ADD drugs are pretty unsavory, and actually seem to mimic the exact thing they are trying to defeat, which is restlessness and feelings of anxiety and hyperactivity!

The side effects of drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, two of the most often prescribed drugs for Attention Deficit Disorder include restlessness, tremor, anxiety, dry mouth, headache and nausea, and loss of sex drive or impotence in adults.

Those don’t sound like much fun, in fact, they almost sound like they’re not even worth curing the problem they’re being taken for in the first place to me.

Some people may see an immediate improvement after using these ADD and ADHD herbal remedies that we have discussed here. Others may notice a steady improvement over a period of 3-6 weeks. This all really depends on your body’s own chemistry and how quickly you tend to respond to the active herbal ingredients that are included in the remedy.

The great thing about this group of herbal remedies for ADD and ADHD is that they strive to actually address the underlying issues that contribute to the disorder, rather than just suppressing the symptoms like modern medicine so often does.

They use a holistic approach in treating the mind and body together, and with ongoing use, one should see a steady improvement in their symptoms, due to the holistic approach of treatment.  You can also feel good about what you are putting into you or your child’s body, and that is a peace of mind like no other.

By Natural Advocate | June 12, 2012 - 10:14 am - Posted in Cognitive and Focus

I swear, lately my short term memory has really been the pits. I feel like I have stress-induced ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  They say that when you are really stressed out or you are grieving for example, you tend to really forget stuff easily that normally you would not have had a problem with.

My job has been uber stressful lately. So has my other outside endeavors such as my blogs I write for.  Everything just seems to be generally kind of crappy right now, and it’s taking its toll on my memory and ability to concentrate. I’ve taken to supplements and increased exercise in order to get to a better place and be more productive again and thought it would be good to share some of my small victories with you so you can use these techniques yourself when you are finding yourself in a tight spot.

First off, even though stress can be incredibly draining of your energy and the last thing you sometimes want to do is work out, this is the very thing that you need to do, and do more often when you are going through stressful times.  You have to work out and work out hard. It will be an incredible difference if you get all that “poison” out of your system by working it out physically.

I can’t tell you what a huge difference it makes for me personally when I do this.  It’s like a huge weight has been lifted after I have an intense workout period.

Another thing that really works for me is to take a calming supplement for anxiety, such as 5htp or some similar supplement.  This allows me to sort of relax those feelings of tension and make sure that I’m not all tensed up all day.

Taking deep, cleansing breaths can be very helpful as well. Did you ever notice when you’re really stressed out it’s almost like you stop breathing rhythmically? Well, that actually creates more stress and tension, so focusing on your breath and making sure you’re taking full, deep breaths will help get you out of this rut as well.

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