Category Archives: Brain

Positive Parenting: Brattiness or Brain Development? Important Facts About Your Little One, by Kathy Harsch

Challenging behavior  – why does it seem to be right in front of us, perhaps more often than we would like?!   I would like to empower those who have daily interaction with young children. With the power of knowledge, you will be better prepared to respond to and deal with conflict.   Knowledge of child development will help keep your young relationship in good standing.

Did you know that before the age of six, information is processed twelve times slower than in adults?   Children six to twelve process information six times slower than adults!   What does that mean?   When we walk into a room and quickly announce we need to leave; Mommy has a meeting and I need you to turn off the TV, get your shoes and backpack, and a jacket just in case it cools down;  we need to leave in just a few minutes, so be quick!”   Rarely does this common scenario take place without Mom or Dad getting flustered.  Try this – while turning off the TV, give the command, “get your shoes and backpack.”   Truly adults need to s. l. o. w. the pace down!

How many times a day have you said the word “don’t”?   Young children cannot conjugate the word “don’t” and therefore when you say “don’t throw the sand”, they hear “throw the sand” and you march over to the sandbox with the “challenging me again” thought!   We need to tell children what to do!   “Use the bulldozer to move the sand!”   It takes work to tell children what we want them to do. “Don’t” really doesn’t give them any information and “no” certainly doesn’t provide more information either.  Instead, tell children what to do.   Teach them what YOU want them TO DO!

Children under seven lack mature “inner speech.”    In adults, inner speech is like a rehearsal for what we may want to say when arriving at a new acquaintance’s place or how we might want to prepare a meal.   We can even quickly think “oh, what I would like to say” but use our filter and think before we act!   Young children see in pictures.   Adults need to paint a picture with their words. Remember, don’t” and “no” provide no information. For example, “You seem anxious, you pushed your friend when you walked into the room.  You may not push, you may come to me and stand by me if you feel anxious.” Using descriptive language helps defuse those unwanted verbal power struggles and is also a stepping stone for language and literacy, so utilize it as often and fully as possible.

If you’re in the teaching field or just simply read to children, it’s helpful to know that binocular vision, the ability of both eyes to focus on the same subject, doesn’t fully mature until around age six.   Until then, it is like covering one eye, spinning around and trying to walk down steps!   Reading a story to children and moving the book in front of their eyes is continuous motion.   In a group you’ll get the child in front saying, “I didn’t see the picture!”   They follow the book and the children in back begin to say, “I didn’t see the picture!”   Suddenly everyone is scooting, on their knees, and saying, “I didn’t see the picture!”   Instead, hold the book still, move it, then hold it still again.   We should pay attention to children’s behavior. Though it appears to us that they’ve seen the picture, they haven’t and they are not making it up!

There is so much we can do to help children plug into the rational part of the brain.   We can do the same!   Be a S.T.A.R. – Smile, Take a deep breath, And Relax!   I know you can do it! Teach your child or children the same.

Kathy Harsch has followed Dr. Becky Bailey’s teachings since attending her 2000 Marquette Early Childhood Conference presentation. She’s since attended many of Dr. Bailey’s conferences and continues to teach and learn from Conscious Discipline, School Family, and Brain Smart ways, incorporating them in her day care.

*Conscious Discipline™, School Family T, and Brain Smart™, are trademarks of Loving Guidance, Inc.  1-800-842-2846   www.ConsciousDiscipline.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved

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Filed under Brain, Children, Positive Parenting, Uncategorized

Boost Your Brain Power + 10th Anniversary Celebration

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Health & Happiness is posting some of its best articles from its first 10 years throughout the month of September.

If you like what you read here, please LIKE and SHARE this post, FOLLOW our site, and JOIN us on our Facebook page.

And if you’re in the Marquette area on Sept. 30th, please join us in celebrating our anniversary at YOUR Health & Happiness Forum from 1 pm – 4 pm in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

Stay posted for more details! And please enjoy the 4th article of 10 in our 10th Anniversary Celebration September Retrospective Series!

How To Boost Your Brain Power

by Dr. Jessica Nagelkirk

While you’re awake, your brain generates 10-23 watts of power. That’s enough power to light up a lightbulb. If you ever feel like your mental power could never produce a dim glow of a light bulb, read on for simple steps you can take to boost your brain power.

Exercise
Hundreds of research studies over the past decade have found that physical exercise leads to changes in the brain that improve its function. The hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in learning and memory, has been found to increase the number of nerve cells with exercise. In a study of mice, it was found that mice that were allowed to exercise had double the number of new nerve cells in the hippocampus compared with mice that were sedentary. Not only does exercise increase the number of neurons in your brain, but it also increases blood flow to the brain, which allows it to be bathed in the nutrients needed for optimal functioning. Monkeys who exercise for one hour a day, five days a week, have demonstrated increased alertness, attentiveness, and the ability to learn new things faster, regardless of age.

Nutrition
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that communicate with the nervous system, including the brain. You have probably heard of serotonin and its association with depressed mood, but it, along with other neurotransmitters including acetylcholine, plays a role in memory. In order for neurotransmitters to function properly, they require additional nutrients called co-factors. These cofactors are nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals. Many of these cofactors can be found in green leafy vegetables and protein. Including a healthy fat in your diet is also really important, as your brain is 60% fat! Healthy fat sources include avocados, olive oil, flax oil, nuts and seeds, grass-fed organic butter, and oils from fatty fish.

You might also want to steer clear of processed foods and pesticides, choosing organic whenever possible. A study of students in New York showed that students who ate lunches free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes scored 14% better on IQ tests than students who consumed those additives.

Sleep
While you sleep at night, your brain works hard to consolidate your memories from the day. Not getting enough good quality sleep actually decreases your ability to form new memories. Set yourself up for success by having a bedroom designed for sleep. Try to sleep in total darkness, with blackout drapes if possible. Your bedroom should also be free of electronics that produce electromagnetic frequencies . If you sleep with your phone next to your bed, try moving it across the room. Millions of Americans watch TV and work on their computers in bed, a bad habit if you’re trying to get good quality sleep. The bedroom should only be used for sleeping and intimate moments.

Supplements and Herbs
There are many products out there to enhance brain function. Some ingredients that I occasionally use temporarily to support the brain are:

  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) found in fish oil or krill oil: An omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, called DHA, is the primary structural component of the human brain. Low levels of DHA are associated with cognitive decline.
  • B Vitamin Complex: B vitamins are important co-factors for millions of processes that happen in your body every day which help support mental and cognitive health. Choosing methylated forms of B vitamins like folate and cobalamin are important for some individuals, as a common genetic defect prevents some of the population from turning the inactive forms of these vitamins into active, usable forms.
  • Rhodiola Root Extract: This plant is used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia to enhance physical and mental performance. Studies of the plant have actually shown improved physical and mental performance, reduced stress-induced fatigue in humans, and improved stress symptoms in general. I typically use this herb with the “worn out student” type person.
  • Probiotics: Health begins in the gut. Probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria and improve the assimilation and absorption of the nutrients you need for proper brain function. If you can’t digest food well, it makes getting the nutrients you need for brain function difficult.

There are many medical conditions that impair mental function, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, or even clinical depression. Low iron stores (serum ferritin), zinc deficiencies, food allergies, and heavy metal toxicity have all been associated with ADHD symptoms and poor cognition. If you or your family member experiences difficulty with brain function or completing tasks, it’s important to have an evaluation by a physician to make sure the underlying problem is identified and addressed before you self-treat with herbs or supplements.

Dr. Jessica Nagelkirk is a licensed Naturopathic Physician (ND) specializing in integrative primary care medicine. She is a current faculty member at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and sees patients privately at U.P. Holistic Medicine in Marquette, MI.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brain, Jessica Nagelkirk, Naturopathic Medicine

How To . . . Boost Your Brain Power, by Dr. Jessica Nagelkirk

While you’re awake, your brain generates 10-23 watts of power. That’s enough power to light up a light bulb. If you ever feel like your mental power could never produce a dim glow of a light bulb, read on for simple steps you can take to boost your brain power.

Exercise
Hundreds of research studies over the past decade have found that physical exercise leads to changes in the brain that improve its function. The hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in learning and memory, has been found to increase the number of nerve cells with exercise. In a study of mice, it was found that mice that were allowed to exercise had double the number of new nerve cells in the hippocampus compared with mice that were sedentary. Not only does exercise increase the number of neurons in your brain, but it also increases blood flow to the brain, which allows it to be bathed in the nutrients needed for optimal functioning. Monkeys who exercise for one hour a day, five days a week, have demonstrated increased alertness, attentiveness, and the ability to learn new things faster, regardless of age.

Nutrition
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that communicate with the nervous system, including the brain. You have probably heard of serotonin and its association with depressed mood, but it, along with other neurotransmitters including acetylcholine, plays a role in memory. In order for neurotransmitters to function properly, they require additional nutrients called co-factors. These cofactors are nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals. Many of these cofactors can be found in green leafy vegetables and protein. Including a healthy fat in your diet is also really important, as your brain is 60% fat! Healthy fat sources include avocados, olive oil, flax oil, nuts and seeds, grass-fed organic butter, and oils from fatty fish.

You might also want to steer clear of processed foods and pesticides, choosing organic whenever possible. A study of students in New York showed that students who ate lunches free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and dyes scored 14% better on IQ tests than students who consumed those additives.

Sleep
While you sleep at night, your brain works hard to consolidate your memories from the day. Not getting enough good quality sleep actually decreases your ability to form new memories. Set yourself up for success by having a bedroom designed for sleep. Try to sleep in total darkness, with blackout drapes if possible. Your bedroom should also be free of electronics that produce electromagnetic frequencies . If you sleep with your phone next to your bed, try moving it across the room. Millions of Americans watch TV and work on their computers in bed, a bad habit if you’re trying to get good quality sleep. The bedroom should only be used for sleeping and intimate moments.

Supplements and Herbs
There are many products out there to enhance brain function. Some ingredients that I occasionally use temporarily to support the brain are:

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) found in fish oil or krill oil: An omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, called DHA, is the primary structural component of the human brain. Low levels of DHA are associated with cognitive decline.
B Vitamin Complex: B vitamins are important co-factors for millions of processes that happen in your body every day which help support mental and cognitive health. Choosing methylated forms of B vitamins like folate and cobalamin are important for some individuals, as a common genetic defect prevents some of the population from turning the inactive forms of these vitamins into active, usable forms.

Rhodiola Root Extract: This plant is used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia to enhance physical and mental performance. Studies of the plant have actually shown improved physical and mental performance, reduced stress-induced fatigue in humans, and improved stress symptoms in general. I typically use this herb with the “worn out student” type person.
Probiotics: Health begins in the gut. Probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria and improve the assimilation and absorption of the nutrients you need for proper brain function. If you can’t digest food well, it makes getting the nutrients you need for brain function difficult.

There are many medical conditions that impair mental function, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, or even clinical depression. Low iron stores (serum ferritin), zinc deficiencies, food allergies, and heavy metal toxicity have all been associated with ADHD symptoms and poor cognition. If you or your family member experiences difficulty with brain function or completing tasks, it’s important to have an evaluation by a physician to make sure the underlying problem is identified and addressed before you self-treat with herbs or supplements.

Dr. Jessica Nagelkirk is a licensed Naturopathic Physician (ND) specializing in integrative primary care medicine. She is a current faculty member at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and sees patients privately at U.P. Holistic Medicine in Marquette, MI.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Fall 2014 issue, copyright 2014, Intuitive Learning Creations.

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Filed under Brain, Jessica Nagelkirk, Naturopathic Medicine