You Could Win! Enter our 10th Anniversary Drawing

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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.

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.

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.

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.

September Celebration + How to Get More from Your Fitness Routine

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 Part I of our September Retrospective!

Bodies in Motion: How to Get More from Your Fitness Routine

by Allison Cherrette

We’ve all been there. Motived by a wedding, an upcoming vacation, or general quality of life, we amp up our wellness program. We work out, we eat right, and yet something seems to be missing – the results! If your fitness program has become stagnant, consider these tips to help you stay on track, remain confident, and appreciate the improvements.

Be Realistic
Believe me, I would LOVE to have long, skinny legs like Gisele. It would be awesome. I could wear all of those mini-skirts that look so cute in the catalogues and I wouldn’t have to avoid short-shorts like the plague. Unfortunately, it’s just not anatomically possible for my body type.

We all have different bodies with different limitations, and we need to be okay with that. As a Pilates teacher, if there were one gift I could give all of my clients to help their fitness plan, it would be self-acceptance. Once we have that, we can set realistic goals, and celebrate even the smallest improvements.

If you want a fitness program that works, you have to look beyond the walls of the gym. Check in with your habits, and be honest with yourself. How much water are you consuming? Does your breath tend to be deep, or shallow? Does your dinner plate have more starches than protein? And are you sleeping?

When it comes to creating a sound wellness program, there are four aspects that are non-negotiable – a balanced diet, water, sleep, and breath. If one or all of those components are out of whack, it’s going to hinder your body from producing the best results.

Get in a Groove
If your daily workout is starting to seem like a chore, it’s time to reconsider your fitness plan. Running and weightlifting aren’t for everyone, but luckily there is oh so much out there. Think outside of the gym. If you’re not sure what’s going to inspire you, recruit a friend and go on a fitness tour. Check out the new yoga studio, try Pilates, or get outside and explore the beautiful U.P.

Once you find your fitness groove, it will come naturally. The pressure will be lifted. You’ll move more often. You’ll enjoy yourself. And you’ll achieve better results.

Focus on Quality
When you’re working to create an effective fitness program, focus less on the numbers and more on how your body feels. Joseph Pilates always said that we should never work out to the point of exhaustion. If you think about it, he has a good point. As our muscles tire, we tend to move more quickly through reps, just to get them over with. We quite literally start dragging ourselves on the treadmill just to check off that 30-minutes of cardio. Proper form? Psssh. That goes out the window.

If you ask me, the risk of injury is just not worth it. While you may have to start small, focusing on quality movements is going to give you better long-term results. And if you stick with it, you’ll be surprised by just how quickly your strength and stamina build.

Keep It Up
The number one way to achieve fitness results is to keep it up! You’ve got this. Track your progress to keep yourself motivated, and if you hit a roadblock, switch up your routine. Remember, you’re human and there are bound to be days when you’re just not feeling it. First of all, forgive yourself. Even when Zumba seems out of the question, try to get out for a slow stroll through the woods, or do some stretches in the living room.

When it comes to fitness, at the end of the day, if you’re moving, you’re headed in the right direction! For improved results remember to think holistically, be honest with yourself, and celebrate the little things.

Allison Cherrette is a PMA Certified Pilates Instructor and graduate of the 950-hour Advanced Program through The Pilates Center of Boulder. She offers group and private Pilates lessons at Bird On A Perch in Marquette. Feel free to contact her at with any questions.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2016 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2016. All rights reserved.