Avocados ARE healthy!

I PERSONALLY don’t eat them…but her is a tip from people that DO eat them.  Plus, this is from a neighbor of mine!

Spotlight on Healthy Avocados

Healthy fats are critical for our brains, and avocados are a great choice! They are so much more than a great source of healthy fats though. They are packed with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. In fact, they have twice as much potassium as a banana.

Benefits
The antioxidants (carotenoids) in avocados have important roles in cell function and support our body against vascular, inflammatory and neurological damage. The fats in avocados actually help us to absorb these antioxidants. In fact, foods that contain carotenoids such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens, are low in fat and but by adding in avocado you improve the antioxidant absorption anywhere from two to six times.

How to Open
Many nutrients are located right next to the skin, so it is better to peel the skin off instead of scooping out the avocado. To get the pit out, first slice the avocado in half lengthwise then firmly strike the pit with the heel of a chef’s knife. Then gently twist the pit to dislodge and lift it out. Then, with the pit stuck to the knife, rest the pit against the edge of the sink or a bowl and gently pull. The pit will slide right off.
How to Eat: Guacamole
Serves 4-6

Ingredients – rough estimates
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and smashed
1 fresh lime, juiced/squeezed
1/2 cilantro bunch, leaves roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 onion, diced small
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced & let rest for ten minutes
1/2 tomato, diced
Salt

Directions: Place smashed avocados in a bowl. Add the juice of 1/2 of the lime, about 1/2 of the chopped cilantro, 1/4 of the diced onion, 1 clove of the minced garlic, and the tomato in a bowl. Stir, sprinkle with salt to taste, and add more ingredients as you deem necessary. Serve as a dip, on eggs, or on toast. When you bring guacamole to a party, it’ll be an instant hit every time.

Also, if you leave out the avocado, you can make pico de gallo salsa!

Let her know how it turns out.

Christa Knox, MA, MScN, is a stroke survivor and holistic nutritionist in Portland, Ore. Visit Christa’s website BrainFoodForThought,com.

Can you push me?

 

Normally, this blog is about my recovery and all the things I now do TO recover.  9 years is a long time, so I will show you another reason I am happy to be alive:  I can’t believe I am so in love with my granddaughter.  She is truly the best thing in the world! As I was pushing her, I thought I heard her voice say “higher!”  Maybe next time….

 

Can I eat with my RIGHT hand?

You may think: Sure…it has been 9 years. You just assumed  that I was eating with my right hand.

The first picture seem like I have it nailed.  Now look at the SECOND picture:

YIKES!  My hand eventually becomes CLENCHED on my food and I have to use the OTHER hand to release.  But now, I am working on it EVERYDAY.  I am going to NJ to see my brother and I want to amaze him with my new “trick.”   What do you think?

If that fails, I will just amaze him with my driving! No wait, that is NOT a good idea.  How about answering open ended questions?  I can’t do that either.

I can do THIS: 

9 Things NOT to Say to Someone with a Brain Injury

Brain injury is confusing to people who don’t have one. It’s natural to want to say something, to voice an opinion or offer advice, even when we don’t understand.

And when you care for a loved one with a brain injury, it’s easy to get burnt out and say things out of frustration.

Here are a few things you might find yourself saying that are probably not helpful:

1. You seem fine to me.

The invisible signs of a brain injury — memory and concentration problems, fatigue, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, or anxiety — these are sometimes more difficult to live with than visible disabilities. Research shows that having just a scar on the head can help a person with a brain injury feel validated and better understood. Your loved one may look normal, but shrugging off the invisible signs of brain injury is belittling. Consider this: a memory problem can be much more disabling than a limp.

2. Maybe you’re just not trying hard enough (you’re lazy).

Lazy is not the same as apathy (lack of interest, motivation, or emotion). Apathy is a disorder and common after a brain injury. Apathy can often get in the way of rehabilitation and recovery, so it’s important to recognize and treat it. Certain prescription drugs have been shown to reduce apathy. Setting very specific goals might also help.

Do beware of problems that mimic apathy. Depression, fatigue, and chronic pain are common after a brain injury, and can look like (or be combined with) apathy. Side effects of some prescription drugs can also look like apathy. Try to discover the root of the problem, so that you can help advocate for proper treatment.

3. You’re such a grump!

Irritability is one of the most common signs of a brain injury. Irritability could be the direct result of the brain injury, or a side effect of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep disorders, or fatigue. Think of it as a biological grumpiness — it’s not as if your loved one can get some air and come back in a better mood. It can come and go without reason.

It’s hard to live with someone who is grumpy, moody, or angry all the time. Certain prescription drugs, supplements, changes in diet, or therapy that focuses on adjustment and coping skills can all help to reduce irritability.

4. How many times do I have to tell you?

It’s frustrating to repeat yourself over and over, but almost everyone who has a brain injury will experience some memory problems. Instead of pointing out a deficit, try finding a solution. Make the task easier. Create a routine. Install a memo board in the kitchen. Also, remember that language isn’t always verbal. “I’ve already told you this” comes through loud and clear just by facial expression.

5. Do you have any idea how much I do for you?

Your loved one probably knows how much you do, and feels incredibly guilty about it. It’s also possible that your loved one has no clue, and may never understand. This can be due to problems with awareness, memory, or apathy — all of which can be a direct result of a brain injury. You do need to unload your burden on someone, just let that someone be a good friend or a counselor.

6. Your problem is all the medications you take.

Prescription drugs can cause all kinds of side effects such as sluggishness, insomnia, memory problems, mania, sexual dysfunction, or weight gain — just to name a few. Someone with a brain injury is especially sensitive to these effects. But, if you blame everything on the effects of drugs, two things could happen. One, you might be encouraging your loved one to stop taking an important drug prematurely. Two, you might be overlooking a genuine sign of brain injury.

It’s a good idea to regularly review prescription drugs with a doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask about alternatives that might reduce side effects. At some point in recovery, it might very well be the right time to taper off a drug. But, you won’t know this without regular follow-up.

7. Let me do that for you.

Independence and control are two of the most important things lost after a brain injury. Yes, it may be easier to do things for your loved one. Yes, it may be less frustrating. But, encouraging your loved one to do things on their own will help promote self-esteem, confidence, and quality of living. It can also help the brain recover faster.

Do make sure that the task isn’t one that might put your loved one at genuine risk — such as driving too soon or managing medication when there are significant memory problems.

8. Try to think positively.

That’s easier said than done for many people, and even harder for someone with a brain injury. Repetitive negative thinking is called rumination, and it can be common after a brain injury. Rumination is usually related to depression or anxiety, and so treating those problems may help break the negative thinking cycle.

Furthermore, if you tell someone to stop thinking about a certain negative thought, that thought will just be pushed further towards the front of the mind (literally, to the prefrontal cortex). Instead, find a task that is especially enjoyable for your loved one. It will help to distract from negative thinking, and release chemicals that promote more positive thoughts.

9. You’re lucky to be alive.

This sounds like positive thinking, looking on the bright side of things. But be careful. A person with a brain injury is six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than someone without a brain injury. Some may not feel very lucky to be alive. Instead of calling it “luck,” talk about how strong, persistent, or heroic the person is for getting through their ordeal. Tell them that they’re awesome.

How to lower your odds of becoming disabled???

An ounce of prevention, the old saying goes, is worth a pound of cure. That’s certainly true about disability. You can immediately reduce your odds of becoming disabled by making a few commonsense improvements in the way you live.

Embrace a healthy lifestyle

Oh, you’ve heard this one before? It’s still true. Shedding bad habits and adopting healthier ones creates an abundance of benefits – not just for you, but for the people who love you and want you to stick around a long time.

  • Quit smoking
    It’s no secret that nicotine use has been linked to a variety of life-threatening illnesses, from cancer to heart disease and stroke. If you’re a smoker, make quitting your top priority. Need help kicking the habit? The American Cancer Society can help.
  • Get regular checkups
    Think of your doctor as an ally who helps keep you well, not just the person who treats you when you’re sick. Regular checkups and screenings are vital, especially if you or your family are predisposed to certain medical conditions. Wondering about which screenings and immunizations you need? Ask your primary healthcare provider or visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website.
  • Get regular cancer screenings
    Early detection saves thousands of lives every month. Your family history and certain risk factors sometimes indicate that a person’s screenings should start at a younger age. Ask your doctor, or visit the American Cancer Society website for more information.
  • Watch your weight
    Those extra pounds can cause big trouble. They strain your heart, raise your blood pressure and significantly increase your risk of a heart attack. Eat more high-fiber, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and fewer high-fat foods. For more dietary information visit the US Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate Website. Calculate your body mass index (BMI), to assess your personal situation, with this tool from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
  • Get regular exercise
    A healthy life requires periodic physical activity. To prevent heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity, the American Heart Association recommends 30-60 minutes of exercise at least four times a week.
  • Avoid excessive drinking
    While drinking in moderation is usually fine, heavy drinking can lead to liver damage and other serious health risks. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can answer your alcohol questions.
  • Become safety-minded
    Disability-causing incidents can spring up when you least expect them. Stay alert for possible dangers. Drive defensively. Wear your seatbelts. At work or play, always use the recommended safety equipment. For more information, visit the National Safety Council.
  • “Watch your back.”
    Back injuries and arthritis are the leading causes of disability. You can reduce your chances of injury by losing weight, do gentle stretching exercises before a rigorous workout, and practice sound weightlifting techniques. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center is an excellent source of information.
  • Cultivate your mental and emotional health, too
    Good relationships and a positive mental attitude really help. Maintain contacts with family and friends. Stay active and involved through work, recreation and perhaps volunteer work in your community. Yes, it’s a 24/7 world but no one can work 24 hours a day. Take time for relaxation and doing things that make you happy. Reducing stress reduces the likelihood of some physical illnesses. For more information, visit visit Mental Health America.

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month!

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Join us as we raise awareness of this little known condition that affects up to 40% of stroke survivors.

This month, Lingraphica joins our friends at the National Aphasia Association, Aphasia Access, and National Stroke Association, as we seek to raise awareness of aphasia.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to process and use language. It is a neurological condition caused by damage to the portions of the brain responsible for language, and it does not affect intelligence. Because language plays such a central role in our daily lives, aphasia can be very challenging. Individuals with aphasia may find it difficult to speak, understand speech, and read and write. Approximately 25-40% of stroke survivors develop aphasia.

The type and severity of aphasia depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue. Aphasia can range from mild—where a task like retrieving the names of objects is difficult—to severe—where any type of communication is almost impossible.

While a diagnosis of aphasia can be a tough one, there is hope. Lingraphica has conducted over 30 years of research, which serves as the foundation for the apps, therapy, and devices that we create to help people with aphasia. These tools help people find meaningful and helpful ways to share their wants and needs, personal information, and safety information, which includes information about pain or symptoms of illness.

You can help spread awareness, too! Simply share our posts on your own Facebook page or comment on ours. Creating a dialogue about these important topics is vitally important–especially when it can save someone’s life.

Whether you are a follower of Lingraphica’s Facebook page or have never visited, we encourage you to join the conversation around aphasia awareness. We’ll be using the hashtags #aphasia and #AphasiaAwareness in many of our posts…feel free to do the same with your own.

 

The Saturated Fat Myth and Heart Disease

By Helen Sanders

For many decades now mainstream medical advice has been that saturated fat is bad and should be lowered at all costs to prevent heart disease. Surely then there must be strong evidence that saturated fat is a primary cause of cardiovascular problems? Actually there isn’t.

Let’s look at the saturated fat myth, how it relates to heart disease and why low-fat diets, along with recommendations to replace meals containing saturated fat with more high carbohydrate foods, can lead to obesity and related diseases like diabetes.

Heart Disease and Saturated Fat

Approximately one third of all deaths in the USA are attributed to heart disease and health organizations like the American Heart Association advise that less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat.

But is there any solid scientific evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease or is it a myth perpetuated by old and long since discredited research?

Saturated fat healthy

While it has been observed, in some short-term studies, that increasing the amount of saturated fat eaten can also increase blood cholesterol levels, longer-term studies do not show a strong association between blood cholesterol and saturated fat intake. There is also ample evidence in recent years that cholesterol is not the dietary villain it’s been made out to be.

We actually produced three quarters of the cholesterol in our bodies ourselves and it is a vital component of a well functioning body.

Only one quarter comes from dietary intake and for most people increasing saturated fat from healthy sources like free range eggs, grass fed meat or coconut oil will not increase blood cholesterol long-term as your body simply lessens the amount it makes.

For a detailed breakdown of why cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of heart disease for most people, read Chris Kresser’s excellent four-part serieson the subject.

Studies on Saturated Fat

A 2009 study entitled ‘A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and heart disease’ conducted a detailed examination of all the cardiovascular disease studies on Medline that met their strict criteria of good science and optimal research methodology.

This wide-ranging investigation found “strong evidence… of protective factors” for “an increased intake of vegetables, nuts and a Mediterranean-style diet” but “insufficient evidence” of an association between reducing dietary saturated fat and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

They did however find “associations of harmful factors, including intake of trans fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index or load.” The pages on What Is Margarine? and Cutting Carbs to Lose Weight have more details on reducing these harmful factors in your diet.

Another large-scale meta-analysis of all the recent studies of the association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease found “no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease).”

Heart disease Saturated fats

​How the Saturated Fat Myth Leads to Weight Gain and Disease

While the mainstream medical community slowly comes around to the likelihood that its assumptions about heart disease, cholesterol and saturated fat may well have been a myth based on bad science, many cardiovascular experts are becoming vocal in their criticism of the saturated fat dogma.

Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra said recently in the British medical Journal that recent studies “have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and risk of CVD.”

He also says that in the USA, the percentage of calories coming from fat has declined from 40% to 30% in the past three decades, yet obesity has rocketed. He believes the reason for this is that food manufacturers “compensated by replacing saturated fat with added sugar.”

Dr Malhotra concludes with, “It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.”

In response to the same article, Professor David Haslam of the UK’s National Obesity Forum said: “It’s extremely naive of the public and the medical profession to imagine that a calorie of bread, a calorie of meat and a calorie of alcohol are all dealt in the same way by the amazingly complex systems of the body. The assumption has been made that increased fat in the bloodstream is caused by increased saturated fat in the diet, whereas modern scientific evidence is proving that refined carbohydrates and sugar in particular are actually the culprits.”

Even more scathing of mainstream medicine’s view of saturated fat is an excellent new investigation by the ABC’s Catalyst program called the Heart of the Matter. I’d highly recommend watching this video to understand just how saturated fat was demonized in the first place and what really causes cardiovascular disease.

Ultimately, the saturated fat myth looks to be an idea based on bad science that has remained dogmatically accepted and strangely persistent, despite a lack of any real evidence.

Large meta-studies in recent years have found no strong correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease (unlike stress, sugar, smoking, trans fats, lack of exercise and several other factors), and yet this drive to reduce saturated fat in our diets has been damaging.

It has millions of people around the world on statin drugs to reduce their cholesterol (now the most profitable drugs in history), with questionable benefits and many side effects.

It has vilified healthy cooking oils like virgin coconut oil, in favor of highly processed and inflammatory vegetable oils, themselves now been linked to cardiovascular disease.

It’s led to low-fat versions of everything on the supermarket shelves, usually a simple switch from hunger satiating fats to hunger promoting sugar that increases the risk of diabetes.

And, despite the irony, eating less fat has definitely made people in Western countries fatter, as processed, high glycemic carbohydrate foods overtook more traditional meals with their higher saturated fats.

Do you still believe in the saturated fat myth? I be interested to hear different opinions and studies, but I would ask that you look at those listed on this page, and especially the Catalyst Heart of the Matter program above and see what the cardiologists and other cardiovascular specialists have to say about saturated fat and heart disease.

Here are the facts on diet soda.

Do Diet Sodas Pose a Stroke Risk?

In the battle to lose weight, many people switch to diet sodas. But while they cut calories they might also raise the risk of stroke or dementia, a new study suggests.

Just one artificially sweetened drink a day seems to increase those chances nearly threefold, compared with drinking less than one a week, the researchers said.

Still, only a few people in the study developed dementia or had a stroke, so the absolute risk remains small, the researchers added.

Also, “We can’t establish cause and effect, but our results suggest that we look more closely at artificially sweetened beverages to see how they are affecting our bodies and what affect they might have on different diseases,” said lead researcher Matthew Pase.

He’s a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.
Exactly why diet drinks might be linked to these conditions isn’t known, Pase added.

Some studies have shown that diet soda is associated with vascular disease, which might have effects in the brain. Other research has found an association between artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain, which might increase the risk for stroke and dementia, the researchers said.

Yet another study showed that artificial sweeteners alter bacteria in the gut, which might also have a negative effect, Pase said.

“People should be cautious about over-consuming diet drinks,” he said. “Just because they say ‘diet’ doesn’t mean they’re a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.”

The findings were published April 20 in the journal Stroke.

One stroke expert said the findings are far from definitive.

“I don’t think we have the evidence to tell people to stop drinking artificially sweetened beverages, but I don’t think we have the evidence to tell people that switching to drinking them will improve their brain health,” said Hannah Gardener. She’s an assistant scientist in the department of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Switching to sugar-sweetened drinks, however, isn’t a healthy option, she said.

“The evidence is clear that sugar-sweetened beverages are unhealthy for our heart and unhealthy for our brain,” said Gardener, who co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

In the study, Pase and his colleagues collected data on stroke from among nearly 2,900 men and women over age 45 who took part in the Framingham Heart Study. For the dementia part of the study, they followed nearly 1,500 people over age 60 in the Framingham group.

Three times over seven years, the researchers reviewed what people were drinking. Participants reported their eating and drinking habits using food frequency questionnaires.

Pase’s team followed the participants for 10 years, to see who had a stroke or developed dementia.  The researchers found that 3 percent of the participants had suffered a stroke and 5 percent had developed dementia, most of which were cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

The investigators adjusted their findings for risk factors such as age, sex, how much participants ate, education, diabetes and a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council, which represents makers of low-calorie foods and drinks, took issue with the findings.

“Rather than focusing on results from observational studies, which cannot establish cause and effect, individuals should talk to their health care team to address known risks for stroke and dementia,” he said.

“Beverages are an important consideration, and diet beverages provide safe, reduced calorie options that people can enjoy while working towards achieving their healthy lifestyle goals,” Rankin added.  The American Beverage Association concurred.

“Low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities as well as hundreds of scientific studies, and there is nothing in this research that counters this well-established fact,” the association said in a statement.

“The FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion they are safe for consumption,” the association added.

Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said this study adds to a growing body of science that shows the importance of diet for the brain.
A healthy diet is one that’s good for your heart and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as fish and poultry, but is low in salt, sugar, red meat and saturated fats. “A heart healthy diet is also good for your brain,” she said.

Snyder and Gardener both agree that to quench your thirst, the best choice is water. “The evidence is clear that drinking water is healthy,” Gardener said.

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