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Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil! That’s all the goodness that’s good for you…plus some lean protein (chicken/meat) once in awhile if you so desire. And oh…sometimes a sip of red wine pairs perfectly with it all…

This is the basis of the Mediterranean diet which (although thousands of years old) made the news headlines a few years back.

So whats the latest buzz about the Med diet? Researchers have studied groups of individuals, particularly those who live in Mediterranean areas (ie. Spain) and consumed a Mediterranean type diet. Not only has this diet shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but more recently researchers have found this type of diet to have a correlation to protecting the brain. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital  (and professor at Harvard) believes, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” because regular ingesting of the primary foods in this diet can help to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. All of these markers ultimately affect brain health.

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Moreover, a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, such as fruits and veggies, helps to combat oxidation stress–that’s the damage our cells undergo by free radicals. The antioxidants in the foods help repair the cells and prevent further damage.

The Omega 3 and 6’s found in fish, olive oil, nuts and some veggies work to boost your immunity and optimize your neural network (ie. more improved brain health)! Researchers are now beginning to believe that many of these foods can shave off age-related memory loss.

So if you haven’t yet added the Mediterranean diet to your own personal daily regime, it’s probably time to start. At least give it a try. Here’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, made with the anti-aging goodness of the Mediterranean in mind:

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garlicky quinoa

    Garlicky Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean Salad (with appreciation and credit to Allrecipes.com)

    This dish will get you moving “Mediterranean style” with broccoli, whole grain (quinoa), legumes (garbanzo beans), zesty herbs, lemon and not-to-miss olive oil! Notice how all of these ingredients are healthy, hearty and mixed to be especially tasty. If you prefer to add some extra (non vegan) protein, add cubed roasted chicken breast or roasted salmon for a lovely flair!

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    Ingredients

    1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                          3/4 cup chopped broccoli                         1 TSP dried tarragon

    1 cup water                                                 1 clove minced garlic                              3 TSPs coarse-grained mustard

    1 can drained garbanzo beans                   1 TBSP fresh lemon juice                       3 TBSPs  extra virgin olive oil

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    Directions

    1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender–about 15-20 minutes.
    2. Put cooked quinoa in mixing bowl and add garbanzo beans, broccoli, garlic, lemon juice, tarragon, mustard and olive oil. Stir well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

    This recipe is fairly quick and easy to prepare (10 min plus an additional 15 min of cooking time)! Voila, you can have yourself a healthy heart and BRAIN meal in under half an hour. Just what your body needs–and it works perfectly into your schedule after a long day at work or at home with the family!

    Now let it be said, that even the Mediterraneans know that just eating healthy food won’t alone necessarily optimize their health. Sprinkle in daily exercise, laughter, generosity, kindness, family time and community…and now you begin to develop an entire culture of well being and healthier lifestyle. Nothing can truly survive in a  vacuum. It all has to work in tandem: Diet-Movement-Outlook-Self Care- Gratitude-and of course your own set of beautiful genetics!

    So who is “in” for a trip to the Mediterranean with me? Salty warm ocean waters, sandy beaches or daring cliffs, sunshine, warmhearted souls, healthy food, and the best brain trip you can imagine!

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Discart via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 10, 2019

    7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

    7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

    Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

    Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

    This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

    One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

    Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

    Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

    1. Gratitude

    Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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    The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

    Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

    So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

    Gratitude-Quotes

      2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

      This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

      For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

      What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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      Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

      3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

      This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

      Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

      An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

      Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

      write down goals

        4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

        According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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        There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

        5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

        Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

        Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

        6. Rise Earlier

        The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

        For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

        So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

        Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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        7. Listen to Uplifting Music

        Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

        Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

        It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

        Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

        More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

        Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
        [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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