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6 Pillars of Brain Health

What’s one thing we all need to be doing more of? Spending time outside and getting fresh air. Hear us out….Did you know that the scent of pine trees actually decreases stress and increases relaxation? We’re not talking about that soy candle in your bathroom. We’re talking about the actual outdoors. Trees, grass, ocean, and rain….Getting outside, breathing fresh air, and taking a quick walk through the park or neighborhood.

We know that fresh air is good for the soul and the brain. And we know there are countless benefits to walking-think improved creativity, lowered stress, boosted immune system….healthier brain! So today, get outside, take a walk, and explore your community for at least 30 minutes.

Physical Exercise is one of the 6 Pillars of Brain Health!

Cleveland Clinic’s Six Pillars of Brain Health can help you preserve your memory and lower your risk for brain disease.

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Lifestyle has a profound impact on your brain health. What you eat and drink, how much you exercise, how well you sleep, the way you socialize, and how you manage stress are all critically important to your brain health.

Physical Exercise

YOUR BODY: GET MOVING. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise improves blood flow and memory; it stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood and thinking. Be fit. Be smart.

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EAT SMART, THINK BETTER. You are what you eat. As you grow older, your brain is exposed to more harmful stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors, resulting in a process called oxidation, which damages brain cells. Rust on the handlebars of a bike or a partially eaten apple gives you an idea of the kind of damage oxidation can cause to your brain. Food rich in antioxidants can help fend off the harmful effects of oxidation in your brain.

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Medical Health

CONTROL MEDICAL RISKS. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, head trauma, higher cholesterol, and smoking all increase the risk of dementia. You can control and reduce these risks. Get your annual check-up, follow your doctor’s recommendations and take medications as prescribed. Get engaged in a brain healthy lifestyle for your body and your mind.

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Sleep & Relaxation

REST WELL. Sleep energizes you, improves your mood and your immune system, and may reduce buildup in the brain of an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid plaque, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Practicing meditation and managing stress may help fend off age-related decline in brain health. Stay positive. Be happy.

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Mental Fitness

YOUR MIND: USE IT OR LOSE IT. Mental exercise is just as critical as physical exercise in keeping your brain fit and healthy. Mental exercises may improve your brain’s functioning and promote new brain cell growth, decreasing your likelihood of developing dementia. Like your muscles, you have to use your brain or you lose it.

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Social Interaction

STAY CONNECTED. Leading an active social life can protect you against memory loss. Spending time with others, engaging in stimulating conversation, and staying in touch and connected with family and friends are good for your brain health. Studies have shown that those with the most social interaction in their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline.

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Hummingbirds are back!

I love Spring and seeing all the birds return from their vacations down south! One of my favorite, the Hummingbird, is back.

Here are some Hummingbird Feeding hints:

  • Put feeders up by mid-March to attract early migrants–a week or two later in the northern U.S. and Canada, a week or two earlier along the Gulf Coast (see average arrival dates at Migration Map). DON’T wait until you see your first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the spring, which may be well after the first ones arrive.
  • Early in the season just fill a couple of feeders one-third full; no need to waste sugar water until hummers start draining the feeders. Likewise, as the season winds down, re-load each feeder with less sugar water.
  • Maintain feeders all summer; take most down by 1 October, but leave one or two up until Thanksgiving (or even later if you can keep the mix from freezing); stray hummingbirds from the western U.S. may wander in and stay all winter (see Winter Hummingbird Research). NOTE: Leaving feeders up will NOT influence when healthy Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate south; their departure (and spring arrival) is linked to photoperiod.
  • In cool spring or fall weather, you may be able to go a week without changing the mix, but if it gets cloudy, throw it out.
  • Clean and refill feeders at least twice weekly in hot weather. You wouldn’t feed your house pets or your children moldy food, so follow the same policy with your hummingbirds.
  • A mild solution of white vinegar may be used to kill mold in feeders for week-to-week cleaning. Invest in a curved bottle brush that can reach all parts of your feeders; it’s also useful to have a pipe cleaner or small brush that will fit into the feeder holes. Recent research indicates that bleach and other alkaline cleaners can release toxins from polycarbonate plastics (e.g., Lexan) used in some feeders; thus, we no longer recommend chlorine bleach as a cleaning agent. HINT: Glass feeder bottles do not collect as much mold as those made of plastic.
  • If you go on vacation or miss a week putting out feeders, don’t feel sorry for the birds; Ruby-throated Hummingbirds know other food sources for at least a mile in all directions. It’s egocentric to think the hummingbirds can’t survive without you.
  • Hang feeders in the shade when possible, but put them in full view of a window–especially one near your breakfast or supper table!
  • There is evidence that hummingbirds seldom hit windows if the feeders are as close to the glass as possible. When birds get a flying start they’re likely to run into the glass.
  • If two or more feeders are used, put them where birds at one feeder can’t see the other. (We recommend at least three feeders per yard.)
  • Several 8- or 16-ounce feeders are far better than one or two large ones.
  • Don’t worry if Ruby-throated Hummingbirds spend a lot of time drinking artificial nectar; they also visit flowers for natural nectar and also catch small insects. It is unnecessary to buy fancy prepared mixes with vitamins and other additives; besides, these mixes cost as much as 20 times more than regular table sugar, and many of them contain preservatives that hummingbirds don’t need to be ingesting.
  • Do NOT use insect spray or pesticides to keep bees and wasps off feeders; these chemicals may be fatal to small hummingbirds. A shallow saucer of 1:1 sugar water in the sun will often lure these insects away from hummingbird feeders. Ants can be deterred by an “ant moat. (See Bees & Ants at Feeders.)
  • NEVER use any petroluem-based product (Vaseline, Tanglefoot, Vicks, Metholatum, etc.) to keep insects away from feeders. These products are water-insoluble and can gum up the feathers of hummingbirds.
  • Try hanging your hummingbird feeder from a coat hanger wire, as illustrated in the drawing (above right). Straighten the hanger except for the hook, which will hook over your roof gutter. Then bend the last 10″ at the other end of the wire at a right angle, but leave a small dip where the feeder will hang. Coat hanger wire seems to be just the right diameter for a Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s foot, so hummers often will perch on it and allow extended views and close-up photograph

 

RECIPE FOR ARTIFICIAL
HUMMINGBIRD NECTAR (4:1)

  • Pour four cups of hot tap water into a large pot or pan (glass, enamel, or stainless steel, if possible; try not to use aluminum or soft plastics).
  • Add one cup of table sugar (DO NOT use honey, artificial sweeteners, or other sugar substitutes).
  • Stir until all sugar has dissolved.
  • Let mix cool and pour into in well-cleaned feeders.
  • Boiling, which slightly retards mold growth, is NOT necessary if your hummingbirds are draining the feeders within three days.
  • Red food coloring is unnecessary, especially after birds have found the feeders; besides, modern hummingbird feeders all have red plastic bases and/or yellow flowers the birds can easily see. (NOTE: There is no scientific evidence that food coloring currently available in grocery stores or in commercial hummingbird nectar mixes is harmful to humans or to hummingbirds, but it IS an additive, so don;t use it.)
  • Store excess mix in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (check for fermentation or mold; if the mix is cloudy, discard it). Some people freeze their mix and safely store it for much longer periods. In any case, let mix warm to room temperature before filling feeders.
  • The water:sugar ratio of 4:1 is typical of the sugar concentration found in many flowers used by hummingbirds.There is no concrete evidence stronger sugar concentrations will hurt hummingbirds, but even a 3:1 mix spoils much faster than 4:1, and 2:1 is too syrupy and a real waste of sugar. In hot weather when energy demands are not as high for hummingbirds, you can even cut the mix back to 5:1 or 6:1 and save even more money on sugar.

 

 

 

Science-Backed Reasons to Read a Real Old-Fashioned, Printed Book

Who’s your all-time favorite bookworm? Some might say Hermione Granger, Maya Angelou, or even Oprah. But why not you? That’s right. Why not you?

It’s no secret that spending time lost in a book does wonders for your noggin. Reading strengthens brain health and allows you to relax in a way nothing else does – all while taking you to places you’ve never been and diving deeper into worlds you thought you knew by heart.

Not only does regular reading help make you smarter, but it can actually increase your brain power. Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good work out. With age comes a decline in memory and brain function, but regular reading may help slow the process, keeping minds sharper longer, according to research published in Neurology. Frequent brain exercise was able to lower mental decline by 32 percent, reports The Huffington Post.

In today’s day and age when screen time dominates, we challenge you to set aside 15 minutes for reading each day for the next 10 days. Start with a newspaper or reread your favorite book – the only catch is that you’ll want to avoid reading on a screen.

Reading puts your brain to work, and that’s a very good thing. Those who who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities. The paper suggests that exercising the brain may help because inactivity increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, inactivity is actually an early indicator of the disease, or a little of each.

Check out the New York Times Book Review for suggestions to fill your reading list!

Here’s to a new chapter in brain health!

Is your workstation working for you?

Join VCU HR Work/Life on Tuesday April 23rd on the MCV campus for “Ergonomics-How to make your workstation work for you!”  You can sign up at the VCU Training website here!

Many of us work at a desk with a computer every day. As a result of repetitive motions, improper body mechanics, and inappropriate office set-up, countless individuals suffer from back, neck, shoulder, elbow, and wrist pain and injury. Most of this could be avoided by setting up ergonomic workstations in the workplace. Setting yourself up with your own ergonomic workstation-a work area designed for maximum comfort, efficiency, safety, and ease of use-can prevent or reduce your risk for pain and injury associated with the physical stresses of a desk job.

Find out about other resources VCU HR Work, life and well-being offers here

Practicing Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude

Ways to Improve Positivity

How often do you feel thankful for the good things in your life? Studies suggest that making a habit of noticing what’s going well in your life could have health benefits.

Taking the time to feel gratitude may improve your emotional wellbeing by helping you cope with stress. Early research suggests that a daily practice of gratitude could affect the body, too. For example, one study found that gratitude was linked to fewer signs of heart disease.1

The first step in any gratitude practice is to reflect on the good things that have happened in your life. These can be big or little things. It can be as simple as scoring a good parking space that day or enjoying a hot mug of coffee. Perhaps you feel grateful for a close friend’s compassionate support.

Next, allow yourself a moment to enjoy that you had the positive experience, no matter what negatives may exist in your life. Let positive feelings of gratitude bubble up.

“We encourage people to try practicing gratitude daily,” advises Dr. Judith T. Moskowitz, a psychologist at Northwestern University. “You can try first thing in the morning or right before you fall asleep, whatever is best for you.”

Moskowitz has been studying the impact of keeping a daily gratitude journal on stress relief and health. Practicing gratitude is part of a set of skills that her research team encourages people to practice. These skills have been shown to help some people increase their positive emotions. Her team is trying to better understand how a daily boost in positive emotions can help people cope with stress and improve their mental and physical health.

“By practicing these skills, it will help you cope better with whatever you have to cope with,” Moskowitz explains. “You don’t have to be experiencing major life stress. It also works with the daily stress that we all deal with. Ultimately, it can help you be not just happier but also healthier.”

While practicing gratitude seems to work for some people, it doesn’t for everyone. That’s why Moskowitz’s research team teaches other skills, too. These include meditating and doing small acts of kindness.

Her team has been developing and testing these skills with people who have illnesses like advanced cancer, diabetes, HIV infection, and depression.2,3 She’s also worked with people who care for others with serious illness.

When you make gratitude a regular habit, it can help you learn to recognize good things in your life despite the bad things that might be happening. Moskowitz says that when you’re under stress, you might not notice all the moments of positive emotion that you experience. With her research program, she’s trying to help people become more aware of those moments of positive feelings.

“Put some effort into experiencing gratitude on a daily basis and see how it goes,” Moskowitz advises. “It might just surprise you that—despite how bad things are—there are things you feel grateful for alongside it.” Feeling grateful may help improve both your mind and your body.

Gratitude Tips

Create positive emotions by being thankful every day:

  • Take a moment. Think about the positive things that happened during the day.
  • Journal. Make a habit of writing down things you’re grateful for. Try listing several things.
  • Savor your experiences. Try to notice positive moments as they are happening.
  • Relive the good times. Relive positive moments later by thinking about them or sharing them with others.
  • Write to someone. Write a letter to someone you feel thankful toward. You don’t have to send it.
  • Make a visit. Tell someone you’re grateful for them in person.

 

 

Fun Friday!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

Women laughing together

Sure, it’s fun to share a good laugh. But did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.

Why is laughter the sweetest medicine for the mind and body?

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Physical health benefits of laughter:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease

Mental health benefits of laughter:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Strengthens resilience

Social benefits of laughter:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

Laughter helps you stay mentally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And this positive feeling remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

The link between laughter and mental health

Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuse conflict.

Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.

Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships

There’s a good reason why TV sitcoms use laugh tracks: laughter is contagious. You’re many times more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel.

Sharing humor is half the fun—in fact, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather simply from spending time with friends and family. And it’s this social aspect that plays such an important role in the health benefits of laughter. You can’t enjoy a laugh with other people unless you take the time to really engage with them. When you care about someone enough to switch off your phone and really connect face to face, you’re engaging in a process that rebalances the nervous system and puts the brakes on defensive stress responses like “fight or flight.” And if you share a laugh as well, you’ll both feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed—even if you’re unable to alter a stressful situation.

How laughing together can strengthen relationships

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. Humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:

Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget resentments, judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back is pushed aside.

Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

Use humor to resolve disagreements and tension in your relationship

Laughter is an especially powerful tool for managing conflict and reducing tension when emotions are running high. Whether with romantic partners, friends and family, or co-workers, you can learn to use humor to smooth over disagreements, lower everyone’s stress level, and communicate in a way that builds up your relationships rather than breaking them down.

How to bring more laughter into your life

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with exercising, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. Instead of looking down at your phone, look up and smile at people you pass in the street, the person serving you a morning coffee, or the co-workers you share an elevator with. Notice the effect on others.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the positive aspects of your life will distance you from negative thoughts that block humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to reach humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lighthearted, humorous person, you can still seek out people who like to laugh and make others laugh. Every comedian appreciates an audience.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Simulated laughter

So, what if you really can’t “find the funny?” Believe it or not, it’s possible to laugh without experiencing a funny event—and simulated laughter can be just as beneficial as the real thing. It can even make exercise more fun and productive. A Georgia State University study found that incorporating bouts of simulated laughter into an exercise program helped improve older adults’ mental health as well as their aerobic endurance. Plus, hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.

To add simulated laughter into your own life, search for laugh yoga or laugh therapy groups. Or you can start simply by laughing at other people’s jokes, even if you don’t find them funny. Both you and the other person will feel good, it will draw you closer together, and who knows, it may even lead to some spontaneous laughter.

VCU HR wants you to live your best life – both at home and at work! Find time this weekend to laugh, here are some ideas:

  • Watch a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video
  • Invite friends or co-workers out to a comedy club
  • Read the funny pages
  • Seek out funny people
  • Share a good joke or a funny story
  • Check out your bookstore’s humor section
  • Host game night with friends
  • Play with a pet
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class
  • Goof around with children
  • Do something silly
  • Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke)

 

Lunch & Learn: Overcoming Emotional Eating

ActiveHealth presents Overcoming Emotional Eating – open to all VCU employees enrolled in COVA Care, COVA HDHP, or COVA HealthAware. The location is very easy for VCU employees located on the MCV Campus and for VCU employees located on the Monroe Park Campus it’s just a quick campus bus or pulse bus ride or a healthy walk!

Walking Wednesday

Research Says Walking This Much Per Week Extends Your Life

Recent studies show that walking as little as two hours per week can help you live longer and reduce the risk of disease.

The study from the American Cancer Society followed 140,000 older adults and reported that those who walked six hours per week had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer than those who were not active, but that walking even as little as two hours per week could begin to reduce the risk of disease and help you live a longer, healthier life.

“Our bodies were designed to move,” said Dr. David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons, or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work. They have jobs that require them to move or get up frequently. And they walk every single day. Almost everywhere.

In Amish communities in North America, one study showed that the average woman logged 14,000 steps per day and the average man logged 18,000 steps per day, and both genders averaged about 10,000 on their day of rest. These Amish communities also had the lowest rates of obesity of any community in North America. This study eventually hit the media and began the movement to reach at least 10,000 steps per day.

Walking benefits:

  • Activates lymphatic system
  • Eliminates toxins
  • Fights infection
  • Strengthens immunity

Your environment greatly impacts your activity level, but there are ways to nudge yourself to move more if you do not live in a walkable community:

Take several small walks.

Take your dog out for a short morning jaunt around the block. Walk instead of drive to pick up workday lunches. Step outside after dinner with your family. Research shows it is better for you to break up your movement throughout the day than to work out for 30-40 minutes in the gym and sit all day.

Walk to the grocery store.

If your location safely allows you to, walk to the grocery store. Though you may not be able to purchase a week’s worth of groceries in a single trip, you can buy the freshest ingredients and return again later in the week.

Park in a spot furthest from the building.

If you work in the suburbs, in a mall, or a business park with very few parking options, just choose to park far away from the entrance to add a few more steps to your day.

Walk 5 minutes each hour.

Get up out of your desk and take a round of the office. Fill up your water bottle. Get outside to maximize benefits, if possible.

Take one long walk of 30-40 minutes.

Recruit a friend (or your moai!) to take a post-work walk. Forty minutes will fly by before you even realize how far you’ve gone.

By Aislinn Leonard

Aislinn Leonard is the business coordinator at Blue Zones. She studied Communication & Journalism and French at the University of St. Thomas and is a hockey player, national champion hurler and lover of all things health and fitness.

 

 

10 Foods That Improve Eye Health

eye health

Our eyes are irreplaceable, and the vision they provide makes our world much more easy to navigate. A lot of people know that eye strain causes long-term damage to the eyes. Many people also believe eye deterioration is part and parcel of aging – but what if there was a way to prevent that and have better eye health?

Believe it or not, paying attention to your diet can help determine the condition of your eyes. A 2001 renowned Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that certain nutrients can actually reduce the risk and rate of developing these types of eye conditions by as much as 25%.

This means that being selective in your food choices and including options that have been scientifically proven to help the eyes can be all it takes to keep your eyes healthy.

Here Are 10 Foods That Improve Eye Health

1.    Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with a component known as beta carotene. This nutrient is converted within the body and turned into vitamin A, which is arguably the most famous vitamin for eye health.

Beta carotene is known for its ability to prevent or delay macular degeneration, and its resulting vitamin A can help the eyes stay sharp. This keeps you protected against dry eyes, infection, and also night blindness.

These tubers are also great for providing additional vitamin C and vitamin E so your body is kept healthy along with your eyes.

2.    Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are great for eye health. Insufficient amounts can cause dry eyes, especially the type resulting from prolonged computer use. This nutrient is also capable of protecting the eyes from conditions like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

But why salmon? Well, there are actually two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids that you need in order to reap full rewards: EPA and DHA. Fatty fish like this one has both of them. Eating enough can improve retinal health and even provide benefits for development.

Your best option for choosing salmon are wild-caught varieties. This isn’t to say that farm-raised don’t have omega-3, but they do have much less. Wild-caught salmon also has lower levels of cholesterol, which is more positive for your body on the whole.

Of course, it doesn’t have to just be salmon. Though salmon offer the most omega-3 out of all the options, there are plenty of fish choices that can provide similar results. Here are some examples:

  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Other seafood

3.    Leafy Greens

Leafy green veggies are packed with vitamin C and vitamin E, which have both been proven to be good for eye health. But there’s something else they contain that makes them so good: carotenoids. Carotenoids are plant-based compounds, and leafy greens specifically have zeaxanthin and lutein.

Those two compounds are essentially vitamin A types found in plants. They’re great forms of nutrient but sadly largely absent from a lot of Western diets. They’re good for protection against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

One of the absolute best of these leafy greens to go for is kale. Not only does it have superfood status that makes it good for all of your body, from strength to immunity to positive thinking, but it has very high amounts of lutein (11.4 mg per 100 g) and zeaxanthin.

Not a fan of kale? Try these options:

  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Red pepper

You can also opt to make kale chips by tossing small, washed leaves in olive oil and baking till crispy. Add some salt over the top and you’re good to go!

4.    Eggs

We’ve already talked about lutein and zeaxanthin, and guess what – eggs have a lot of them. These compounds have been proven to reduce the risk of developing a number of different eye conditions, especially ones that become more likely with age, so eggs are great foods that improve eye health.

  • Not only that, but eggs also have lots of vitamin A and zinc.
  • Vitamin A keeps the eye’s surface, known as the cornea, safe from damage.
  • Zinc, meanwhile, keeps the back of the eye, known as the retina, healthy and strong.
  • Zinc is also good for better night vision.

Keep in mind you have to eat the whole egg to get all these benefits, not just the whites or the yolk. The yolk has the zeaxanthin and lutein, while the white has the zinc. These components actually work together, as zinc helps the other two components be absorbed and used by the body.

Together, they’re good for preventing blue light damage and they keep the eye’s macula strong through more protective pigment. Since the macula is crucial for central vision abilities, it makes sense that eggs are just great for the entire eye as a whole – its front, back, and middle.

5.    Carrots

People have always made jokes about rabbits having great eyesight because of all the carrots they eat. While it doesn’t exactly work that way, there’s no denying that carrots do, indeed, provide a lot of positive benefits to overall eye health.

Carrots are packed with both beta carotene and vitamin A. Both can boost the strength of the eye’s surface, ward off possible infections, and reduce the risk of developing a number of diseases that can have serious, lasting effects.

Vitamin A is expected to work so well for eye health because it is one of the components of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is a protein that helps the eye’s retina work on absorbing light more, so it gives you stronger vision, especially at night.

6.    Nuts, Legumes, Seeds, and Beans

These four types of food are great options as they have a lot of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, especially almonds. Eating enough vitamin E can help keep away unstable molecules that could damage healthy tissue within the body. This is why this vitamin is good for stopping the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Some examples of nuts you can eat for this purpose are:

  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashews
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts

Some examples of seeds you can eat for this purpose are:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds

Beans and legumes have the additional benefit of having a high zinc content alongside their omega-3 and vitamin E amounts. Some examples of beans and legumes you can eat for this purpose are:

  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Baked beans
  • Peanuts

7.    Citrus

When we think of citrus fruits, we typically think of vitamin C. This vitamin is an antioxidant too, and the American Optometric Association recommends sufficient consumption of this component to boost eye health and keep potential damage and disease to the eyes at bay.

orange for eye health

Vitamin C helps the blood vessels inside the eyes, keeping them strong and healthy. This is why they can prevent cataract development, and also help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Some examples of citrus fruits you can consume to improve eye health are:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Lemons

Humans don’t have the ability to naturally make vitamin C on their own within the body. This is why ensuring that you get enough of this vitamin is so crucial to overall health. The fact that vitamin C helps the health of all other parts of the body too makes this a done deal.

8.    Lean Meat

Lean meats, especially beef, are packed with a mineral called zinc. As we mentioned previously, zinc is important as it has positive effects on the way the body processes and uses vitamin A. Without enough zinc, vitamin A may not be brought up to the retina from the liver, so the protective melanin pigment in the eyes can’t get the boost they need.

You can also get a lot of zinc through oysters, which have a huge amount of zinc for their size – more than any other type of food per serving, with beef being the next best option. If that’s not your thing, you can also get a zinc fix from chicken (whether breast meat or dark meat) and pork loin.

9.    Dairy

With both vitamin A and zinc, dairy products pack a powerful punch in combating eye problems. Yogurt and milk provide these components. Vitamin A helps the cornea while the zinc brings that vitamin up into the eyes where it can be put to good use.

Zinc is actually present in the eye naturally, especially in the retina and the vascular tissue beneath it, known as the choroid. It is there to help night vision and to boost cataract protection. Consuming more zinc can, in turn, further assist in this cause and provide even more positive results.

Your best bet when picking dairy products is grass-fed cow products, as they maintain the most nutritional benefit compared to factory farmed products.

10. Water

Everyone says drinking water is the best way to good health. People do tend to overstate this, which is why it’s such a joke on the Internet now. But the truth is that while water can’t solve everything, it certainly can do a whole lot! We can’t get into everything water can do, but suffice to say it has positive effects on eye health.

Our eyes are made up of plenty of fluids. Like every other part of the body, eyes need water in order to retain moisture and keep functioning optimally. Water is necessary for clear vision, and it keeps the eyes in good shape.

A lack of water leads to body-wide dehydration, which in turn, affects the eyes. This is why dry eyes can often be alleviated somewhat by drinking extra water.

Final Thoughts On Foods That Improve Eye Health

No one wants to lose their vision. But aging comes with challenges that may lead to this unfortunate result. Still, don’t fear, and maintain positive thinking! By eating these foods that improve eye health, you’ll be able to boost the protection, strength, and overall condition of your eyes so they continue working well even as you grow older.

If you suspect that you may have a serious eye condition, then, of course, you shouldn’t rely solely on these foods. Speak to a doctor immediately for a check-up. If you would like additional help in keeping your eyes healthy as you age, a medical professional can help you find good options!

 

 

Benefits of being organized

One of the most important benefits of organizing your space is reduced STRESS. Simply having a more efficient system to keep track of your papers and appointments can help minimize stress-influenced conditions such as depression, ulcers and heart disease.

Likewise a cluttered environment is difficult to dust and clean. Prolonged exposure to dirty and dusty living conditions can cause allergies to flare up or lead to diseases such as chronic bronchitis. Some of my clients have already slipped and broke an ankle while walking on their papers accumulated on the floor of their home.

Both cases suggest organizing and cleaning your environment can help make a healthier and happier person

  • Save time by not spending time looking for things.
  • Save money by not buying items you already have.
  • Instill confidence by knowing where things are in the home.
  • Reduce stress related to lost items or lost information.
  • Manage many activities and deadlines more efficiently.
  • Gain valuable storage space within your existing quarters.
  • Gain more energy and peace from your organized home while eliminating unnecessary tasks.
  • Have more time to do things you really want to do
  • Have a more attractive and inviting home
  • Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education,
    and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.

Improve your health by getting organized: Clutter collects dust and that can contribute to reduction of air quality (bad for allergies and asthma), blocked exits, infestations and combustion hazards. You will grocery shop less frequently, cook more nutritious by meal planning. Organizing can reduce your stress which can contribute to migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease and aggravate existing medical conditions. When organizing one might find a place to have a place for a hobby and be better prepared for those annual tax returns

Join VCU HR and Kristen Ziegler, owner of Minima Organizing & Redesign in RVA as she provides organizing and redesign ideas, tips and suggestions on April 22nd on the MCV Campus in the conference rooms above the cafeteria. To register please go to https://training.vcu.edu/course_detail.asp?ID=17128

 

 

 

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