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3 Ways to Monitor Your Health From Home

3 Ways to Monitor Your Health From Home

While there certainly is a time and a place for going to see a doctor (which we very much encourage!),[1] there are ways to monitor certain aspects of your health from the comfort of your own home. Understanding this will not only help save time and money but hopefully, save lives as well. It’s fairly simple to teach oneself how to perform various body scans. The topics we’ll cover in this article include self-breast exams, self-skin checks and measuring your pulse. It’s always best to be aware of what’s normal for your unique anatomy; this will allow you to manage any concerns with maximum efficiency.

Self-Breast Examination

The first indication of most forms of cancer will happen at home. While there are specifics to search for as far as breast cancer signs go,[2] the first step is knowing what your normal breasts appear and feel like. Ideally, this exam should be done monthly, though it will only take a few minutes on each occasion. All that you have to do is move your fingers around each entire breast and armpit one at a time, applying varying degrees of pressure. According to an article entitled “5-Minute Health Checks You Can Do at Home” found on Everyday Health’s webpage, you should examine yourself for “anything unusual — and not just lumps, but also any skin dimpling, bruises, and changes to your nipple, including discharge. Call your doctor right away if you notice any difference from the norm. If you have lumpy (or cystic) breasts, ask your doctor how often you should monitor them.” It’s also recommended to receive an annual breast exam when going to see the ob-gyn.

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Self-Skin Examination

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S., though it is also the easiest to detect. What’s more, in the vast majority of cases it’s entirely treatable or curable when caught in the beginning stages (particularly the most commonly occurring, less serious forms, basal and squamous cell carcinoma; melanoma is the most dangerous). This exam should also be performed monthly. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a very informative article by the title of “Do You Know Your ABCDEs?” That same page broke the process of this exam down in a straightforward way. The specifics to search for include: asymmetry, borders, coloring, diameter and evolution. Keep a mental diary of how your skin normally appears for optimum results. In addition to your self-skin examinations, booking with a dermatologist once or twice annually for a full skin exam provides the most preventative care. They can help identify abnormalities of moles in areas of the body more difficult to see.

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Checking Your Pulse

It’s also a positive to get to know what’s typical for your body when it comes to your pulse. Higher resting heart rates[3] can be an indicator of heightened risk for cardiovascular issues or heart attack. Ideally, a resting heart rate should measure anywhere between 60 and 100. A bit lower than 60 is acceptable and perfectly normal for a healthy, more athletic individual. To check your pulse rate, simply place the middle and index finger of one hand on the neck or inside of the opposite wrist. Looking at a watch, count for 30 seconds; double your calculation when that timing stops.

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That was the guide we compiled for health-related checks easily done solo in a matter of minutes. Hopefully, you and your family will be able to use them as you continue to be aware of what’s personally normal. Performing these exams on the advised routine basis can make a world of difference in health awareness and your ability for early detection.

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via heart.org

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Reference

[1] Lifehack: 5 Ways to Have a More Productive Doctor’s Visit
[2] The Truth About Cancer: 5 Rarely Discussed Early Warning Breast Cancer Signs
[3] American Heart Association: Target Heart Rates

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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