7 SMART SNACKS!

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The latest food studies show that WALNUTS are at the top of the list of “brain foods.” Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at The University of California, Los Angeles have found that eating a small handful of walnuts per day can improve your memory! And they help you to lose weight by filling you up with omega-3s.

The British newspaper The Telegraph reported today on six additional snacks that are good for the mind:

1) Along with walnuts, SALMON is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are important nutrients for the heart and the brain. If you can’t find wild caught salmon, you can also try fish oil supplements. 

2) A study out of Tufts University showed that BLUEBERRIES can actually reverse memory loss, and improve balance and coordination. Antioxidants found in blueberries have also been shown to prevent macular degeneration and maintain eye health.

3) One of my favorite foods, AVOCADOS contain extremely healthy unsaturated fats, which help to keep brain cell membranes flexible. I like to spread avocado on rice cakes, or smash it with a little lemon and salt as guacamole into which I dip raw veggies like carrots and celery. 

4) WHOLE GRAINS such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and oats (steel-cut or oat “groats)) provide another source of healthy brain food. Prepare your grains whole then refrigerate leftovers instead of reaching for bread or pasta.

5) People who eat lots of BROCCOLI perform better on memory tests. Here’s what the experts say about broccoli’s nutrients: 

Vitamin K helps to strengthen cognitive abilities while Choline has been found to improve memory. Broccoli also includes a sizeable serving of folic acid, which can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that a lack of folic acid could lead to depression, so eating plenty of broccoli could also keep you happy.

6) Here’s the best news of all; DARK CHOCOLATE is great for your brain! The flavanols found in cocoa improve blood flow to the brain which improves cognitive function and verbal fluency in older adults. My favorite hot drink is to mix raw cocoa powder with almond milk. Drinking this throughout the day instead of eating is my best weight control secret!

Are you hungry now? What other brain foods do you enjoy?

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books, free sheet music and videos! UpperHandsPiano.com

 

 

The Mediterranean Diet Can Help Prevent Major Illness

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A short article in AARP today affirms what we have known for years, that a good diet can help you to avoid serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s, cancer, and Kidney and Lung Diseases. The women who ate the Mediterranean Diet also did better on memory tests and their ability to move around.

The Mediterranean diet consists of vegetables (especially dark leafies like kale and spinach) , fruits (especially berries), raw nuts, whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa, and legumes such as lentils and black beans, with fish and a little poultry. You use Olive Oil instead of butter to cook with. You can read the article here.

If you eat a Mediterranean Diet, exercise regularly, stay social, and train your brain with piano lessons, you will be doing everything you can to live the healthiest and happiest life possible!

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books, free sheet music and videos! UpperHandsPiano.com

The Belles of Belgium

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Here in the Hamptons, the hottest thing on the restaurant menus at the moment are Brussels Sprouts. They are beautifully plated, delicious, and only around (fresh) from fall ’til mid-winter. Part of the brassica family (along with broccoli, cauliflower and kale), Brussels Sprouts look like doll-sized cabbages. Originally cultivated in ancient Rome, Brussels Sprouts were popularly grown in Belgium as early as the 13th Century and expanded throughout Europe by the 16th Century.

But the most exciting thing about Brussels Sprouts is that they are packed with nutrients that according to Experience Life magazine, “offer a powerful mix of cardiovascular, detox, antioxident and anti-inflammatory support.” They contain an amazing combination of cancer-fighting phytonutrients called glucosinates, are high in fiber (which aids digestion), reduce cholesterol and may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and are a good source for tryptophan and essential omega fatty acids critical to healthy brain functioning. Brussels sprouts may boost DNA repair in cells.

The only problem with Brussels Sprouts is that they can smell like sulfur if overcooked. Here are some tips I grabbed from the chefs at East Hampton Grill to do right by your ‘Sprouts:

Choose Brussels Sprouts that are all green and tightly wrapped; yellowish leaves mean they are not as fresh. Just before you cook them, rinse them in cold water. Pull off the outer leaves and trim off the stem. Cut an X in the thick base to let heat penetrate. Boiling and steaming are not ideal and often lead to overcooking. Here are some ways to prepare Brussels Sprouts:

 

  • You can roast them in a 400-450° oven with olive oil and drizzled balsamic vinegar stirring occasionally until they become carmelized.
  • You can sauté them with garlic, onion and pancetta (or turkey bacon!) and sprinkle some pecans or hazelnuts on top.
  • Or you can sauté them first, then braise them in chicken broth or white wine for 5-7 minutes.

There are many wonderful recipes online that add additional vegetables, pine nuts, cranberries and sweet potatoes. Widely grown in California, I have seen Brussels Sprouts sold on the stalk at our local Trader Joe’s. As with any other food, enjoy them in moderation with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa, and protein.

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books, free sheet music and videos! UpperHandsPiano.com

ANTI-AGING

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The aging process, though inevitable, is unpredictable. Authors Rudolph Tanzi Ph.D.,  and Deepak Chopra M.D. of the book  SUPER BRAIN say that there are these unknowable factors about how the brain ages:

  1.  Aging is very slow- It starts at about age 30 and progresses at about 1% per year. Some cells age more quickly than others, and they age too slowly to observe over time.
  2. Aging is unique- Everyone ages differently, even twins. Life experiences create unique genetic patterns as we age.
  3. Aging is invisible- Though we can see outer changes in cells such as graying hair and wrinkling, the inner life of our cells at the molecular level are impossible to track.

In spite of these uncertainties, we can impact our cells by sending positive messages from our central nervous system, and minimizing negative messages. We can affect our own DNA! Drs Chopra and Tanzi talk about the mind-body connection. As much as we’d like to simply take an anti-aging pill, lifestyle choices are really our best defense against aging.

How to reduce the risks of aging:

PHYSICAL

  • Eat a Mediterranean Diet- olive oil instead of butter, fish instead of red meat, whole grains, beans, nuts, whole vegetables and fruits. Cut way back on fats, sugar, and ready-made processed foods.
  • Avoid overeating. Just walk away from excess food.
  • Exercise moderately for at least 1 hour 3 times per week.
  • Drink alcohol, preferably red wine, in moderation, if at all.
  • Take steps to avoid household accidents (from slippery floors, steep stairs, fire hazards, etc.)
  • Get a good night’s sleep , and take an afternoon nap if you like.

EMOTIONAL

  • Have good friends.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Engage socially in worthwhile projects.
  • Be close with people who have a good lifestyle–habits are contagious
  • Follow a purpose in life.
  • Leave time for play and relaxation.
  • Address issues around anger.
  • Practice stress management. 

These lifestyle choices affect longevity and quality of life. If you have started, continued, or restarted music lessons later in life, you have already surpassed the biggest obstacle to longevity:

“The most crippling aspects of aging tend to involve inertia. That is, we keep doing what we’ve always done. Starting in late middle age new things gradually fall by the wayside. Passivity overtakes us; we lose our motivation.”

Not you! Piano lessons are offering new challenges to your brain every time you sit down to practice. And playing the piano keeps you humble!  🙂

More about longevity on Sunday. Tomorrow I will be traveling all day, to visit my older daughter in East Hampton, NY. By Sunday I will have access to a computer again.

With love and music, Gaili