foods for the brain

Foods that help boost memory

Your brain needs food for brainpower.

Like the rest of your body, the food you eat can help your brain stay healthy and in good condition. That way, these foods for the brain can help you move, think, and function well as the brain acts as your body’s control center.

The quality of food you eat will ensure that your brain gets the right nutrients essential for its continuous development. Additionally, foods for the brain can help prevent health risks such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute promotes quality and length of life. Improving your cognitive function is one of the ways to achieve this, and you can accomplish it by taking care of your brain health. 

What foods can improve memory

The connection between your brain and the gut is undeniable as these two (2) body parts constantly interact with each other both ways. Good sources of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, etc., from food fuels power to your brain. Moreover, foods for the brain help coordinate sensation, intellect, and nervous activity with the rest of your body.

This article will focus more on the four (4) main types of foods for the brain that help boost memory.

  • Walnuts
  • Vegetables
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Berries and cherries

For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on these foods – and then some – as there are really many good choices out there that are good for the brain. 

Brain-boosting foods

Besides the four (4) main types above, here’s a list of the top ten (10) foods for the brain that can help boost your memory.

Foods that increase intelligence
1 Nuts and seeds
nuts and seeds

These are typically great snack options or add flavor to your meals. For example, you can munch on cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds in the late afternoon. Or you can add a nutty flavor to your salads, soups, or stir-fry dishes.

Nuts and seeds have antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and high amounts of vitamin E. These are associated with better brain health, especially for those in senior age. Also, experts believe that high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids found in nuts and seeds are linked to general intelligence for all ages.

2 Dark chocolate
foods for the brain

Chocolates naturally have high amounts of flavonoids which help improve blood flow going to and from the brain. These compounds aid in brain boost such as enhancing problem-solving skills, memory, and attention span.

Flavonoids help improve cognitive function and, in fact, can prevent age-related brain impairment and deterioration. Thus, chocolates can make you smarter because studies show evidence in their neuroprotective effects associated with upgrade in intelligence. 

3 Avocados
avocados

Eating at least an avocado a day enhances older adults’ working memory and problem-solving abilities. 

A study involving 40 healthy adults aged to over 50 who ate a fresh avocado for six months enhanced their cognitive function and increased their lutein levels by almost 25%. 

The researchers measured the improvement in cognitive skills with tests that measured processing speed, memory, and attention levels. The monounsaturated fats, lutein, fiber, and bioactive have to do with the benefits on the brain. 

4 Eggs
eggs

Eggs are making a comeback from their exile, and they’re here to protect you from the dangers of memory loss as you age, which is common in America. 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study involving 2,500 men in Finland for almost two decades. They discovered that those who regularly consume an egg a day lessened the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It is the opposite, as food promotes better performance in cognitive tests. 

5 Soy products
foods for the brain

Since soybean products are packed with antioxidants referred to as polyphenols, we protect ourselves from the risk of dementia and build an arsenal to combat the decline of cognitive abilities because of aging.

Soy isoflavones interact with the kind of estrogen receptors that are connected with cognitive and memory functions. Recent research in Science of Food revealed that soy minimizes memory degradation and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Foods to help increase concentration while studying
6 Seafood and fish oil
foods for the brain

Some studies provide evidence that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil can help improve brain function and development. The fatty acids in salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna are rich in nutrients good for brain health. 

On the other hand, fish oil (and supplements), especially packed with high amounts of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), may boost memory. People with high DHA levels, found in seafood with omega-3 fatty acids usually perform better in memory tests and learning. 

7 Broccoli
foods for the brain

Cruciferous vegetables feature vitamins and minerals that are good for boosting brain power. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable with essential nutrients such as vitamin K and folate to support cognitive function. A Mediterranean diet mainly consisting of plant-based foods and vegetables helps sharpen the brain of someone in old age.

Broccoli is also rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and flavonoids. Green, leafy vegetables help ensure good blood flow to the brain. A healthy cerebral flow helps protect your brain and prevent cognitive decline. It might be good to add broccoli to your diet if you’re reviewing for an exam. 

8 Kale and spinach
foods for the brain

Kale is rich in lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid predominantly found in human brain tissue. Your body can’t manufacture this nutrient easily, so it’s important to consume food with lutein. Studies showed that consuming food high in lutein, such as kale and spinach, can help with better concentration and focus. 

These vegetables are good for activating your brain, context processing, speed memory, and attention. Don’t be surprised to see many health buffs drinking kale juice or adding spinach in their smoothie for these reasons!

9 Coffee
foods for the brain

Johns Hopkins Medicine supports that caffeine is good for long-term memory. With moderate consumption, you can enjoy the benefits of being alert and more focused when drinking coffee. It is one of the foods for the brain because caffeine is a stimulant. Your brain is essentially at work with increased activity in your entire central nervous system.

This is why many students or late-night workers need a cup of coffee to either start their day or endure the long hours to remain focused on their tasks at hand. It can help improve your mood, to be more energetic and productive. 

But, be careful to go overboard with your coffee intake for the day. Otherwise, you’ll get constipated, worse, have insomnia and caffeine dependency.

10 Whole grains

Nutrient-dense food like whole grains is good for the brain because they are rich in complex carbohydrates. They provide us with a sustained yet slow supply of glucose that can boost our memory.

Carbs power our brains, and when you incorporate whole grains, you are giving yourself an extra punch, for they contain a low glycemic index that balances your mental state that may last through the day. So, incorporate pasta, oatmeal, grain bread, and popcorn into your diet.

Eat these foods for the brain everyday for better brain health

The brain is a limitless source of power. You can practically exercise brainpower to increase your mental performance. Food remains to be the main source of energy for the brain. Hence, you must eat the right quality of food. 

There’s no single food that’s good for the brain. As always, a healthy, balanced diet is key. Avoiding alcohol, lots of sugars, and processed foods also help. Moreover, exercise and meditation are lifestyle changes that can promote mental clarity to improve brain health. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute recommends proper nutrition and regular physical activity for optimal cognitive function. You can achieve the quality of life with a length of life with an alert mind and a healthy body. Keep all these in mind (pun intended!), and you can’t go wrong!






References:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044
https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/ss/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate
https://eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/4-types-of-foods-to-support-memory
https://health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower
https://premierneurologycenter.com/blog/10-foods-that-improve-brain-health/

organic food

Benefits of Organic Foods

Eating organic foods is gaining popularity again these days. While others think it may just be a fad, the thing is, history tells us otherwise. “Going organic” is almost second nature to our ancestors that we can see its benefits through their quality and length of life even to this day.

It’s probably only recently (sometime in the early 2000s) when consumers took organic food seriously. Over the years, people see its impact in our health and the environment. In fact, more food establishments and manufacturers promote organic foods as another option now. This is why we hear about farm-to-table restaurants and entrepreneurs venturing more in the organic food business.

Do organic foods taste better? Do they have a higher nutritional profile than other food products we know? Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down the top ten (10) benefits of organic foods. Read on to find out more!

What is organic food?

The term organic is for farmers who grow their crops naturally and process their agricultural products including grains, vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products. 

Organic farmers design their practice to meet sets of goals. These are to:

  • Prevent population
  • Improve water and soil quality
  • Promote natural livestock behavior 
  • Strengthen sustainability of farm resources

How are some foods classified as organic? Farmers process organic foods differently than the regular ones. They produce them while emphasizing the role of soil and water conservation, and the utilization of renewable resources. These organic poultry, eggs, and dairy products are nourished without growth hormones, conventional pesticides and antibiotics too. 

Are organic foods more safe than non-organic food?

organic foods

Food grown organically helps reduce risks in public health. Organic foods are rich in iron, phosphorus, vitamin C, magnesium, and antioxidants. These foods are also less exposed from residues of pesticide and nitrates that are typically found in non-organic food. Thus, they are less toxic and filled with essential nutrients but not necessarily more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.

For instance, organic meat and dairy may have slightly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and iron. Others like organic cookies or chips, despite being organic, may have low nutrients. 

Nevertheless, one good tip to ensure food safety is to select different foods from a variety of sources. Mix and match the freshest produce, for example. Ask your local grocer which ones are in season or visit a local farmers’ market. Check the label always. Avoid anything high in fat, salt, and sugars. And lastly, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly in running water to remove traces of chemicals, dirt, and other contaminants.

What are examples of organic foods?

The key thing about organic foods that make them organic revolves around using natural substances only and not artificial products. No chemicals, GMOs, or antibiotics whatsoever.

Which foods can be organic?

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy and eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beverages
  • Rice and grains
  • Herbs and spices
  • Sauce, condiments and dressings
  • Sugar products
  • Oil and baked goods
  • Frozen pizza products
  • Infant foods (baby food/formula)
  • Food coloring and additives
  • Snacks (chocolates, licorice)

10 Benefits of organic food

organic foods

1. Optimized overall health

One of the factors why people shift to eating organic food is because they are the healthier choice, which has truths in it. 

Organic foods don’t have chemicals like pesticides, flavors, preservatives and artificial colors. So, if you are into clean eating, incorporating this in your diet would surely make sense. 

A study reveals that the consumption of organic food may reduce the risk of various conditions like obesity, weight gain, and allergic disease. Organic foods also contain more antioxidants, nutrients and nitrate levels. All these mean more minerals and vitamins for the body which helps in the prevention of serious illnesses and diseases. 

2. Antioxidant source
antioxidant

You consume antioxidants in their best form when you eat whole food. A research review suggests that organic produce is at least 20% to 40% concentrated in antioxidants compared to food that’s grown conventionally. 

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. The peels from fruit and vegetables have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Hence, you can be sure to eat the skins of your food without pesticides. 

Unlike vitamins and minerals that are best taken daily, antioxidants in the right amount could help delay cell damage, resulting in slow aging and better health.

3. Better taste
tastes better

Food experts and even chefs agree that organic foods are better tasting than the conventional. They credit it to the soil that is used for the produce. Strong nourishment has a big role to play for quality plants that yield to high-value food with optimal flavor. 

The structures of mineral and sugar on organic food give them the chance to mature and develop naturally. The authentic and environment-friendly production is responsible for their distinct taste. 

4. Stronger immune system
strong immune system

The excessive use of chemicals in conventionally-grown food may have a detrimental effect on your health leading to organic food occupying the top spot when it comes to safer and healthier options. The industrial and traditional food processing methods may have increased the amount of produce, but they may be compromised for the amount of pesticides and chemicals that they have. 

Whole and organic food don’t undergo genetic modifications compared to their counterpart, the processed and non-organic which weaken the immune system. For example, the National Research Institute of Food and Nutrition based in Rome revealed that organic carrot consumption triggers immune stimulation.

Eating organic results in a stronger immunity which is an important defense against COVID 19. Support your mental and physical well-being by consuming natural and whole food that will nourish your body during stressful times. 

5. Fresher option
fresh organic food

If you want to change your experience with food, going organic may be right for you as it is a fresher option that doesn’t have chemical fake flavors in them. This is one of the reasons why its freshness easily shines through. Take a look at organic ketchups that taste closer to tomatoes than their counterpart.

Also, because organic food has little to zero pesticide residues, you are essentially getting its freshest possible form. Plus, you get low levels of toxic metals as organic food only get natural chemicals from the soils and/or plants they originally come or grow from.

6. Chemical-free food

Organic produce grows with natural fertilizers such as compost and manure. Hence, there are no synthetic or chemical fertilizers used. Moreover, the farmers control the weeds naturally by hand weeding, mulching, or crop rotation instead of chemical herbicides. 

For livestock, poultry owners use only organic and hormone-free feeds. Their living environment is also maintained with natural methods through clean housing, healthy diet, and rotational grazing. Hence, there’s no need for medications and antibiotics to prevent livestock disease.

7. Nutritional Value
organic foods

In relation to above, because non-organic food use synthetic fungicides and insecticides, consumers are either losing nutrients or getting synthetically produced ones due to this. Organically-raised livestock usually are allowed to move more freely which keeps them healthy. Therefore, their meat doesn’t have to be injected with antibiotics just to boost their growth and health.  

However, Harvard Health Publishing wrote an article that organic food isn’t necessarily more nutritious than conventionally grown food. Why? Researchers found that there’s only a small difference in the nutritional content between organic and non-organic food. This is due to the fact that many organic foods may still have higher fat content, as mentioned above, particularly in organic chicken and milk. 

So it’s still ultimately a matter of choice and intentional buying whether you select organic food or not for nutritional or dietary health purposes, etc.

8. Reduces GMOs exposure
GMO

Growers don’t allow the use of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, on local produce as per USDA organic regulations. 

This means that organic farmers don’t utilize GMO seeds on their produce or that organic cows don’t consume GMO corn or alfalfa. This preventive practice also involves farmers planting their seeds early or late to avoid coinciding with the flowering of GMO Crops. 

There are instances when local farmers harvest their crops before the flowering season, or they might also sign cooperative agreements with their neighboring farms to stay away from planting with GMO crops. Less exposure to GMO frees you from toxic chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones. 

9. Environment-friendly

Organic food production is environment-friendly. It doesn’t use farming pesticides which conserves water, reduces air pollution, prevents soil erosion, increases soil fertility and saves energy which is good for the earth.

Indeed, organic food helps build a better generation. Small animals and birds also benefit from it as chemicals are harmful in their reproduction. They are also deadly to living organisms. Chemical-free farming is less dangerous not just to the environment, but also to the farmers.

This practice makes organic agriculture sustainable for a long-term basis. The Organic Trade Association emphasizes that farmers who shift to organic production eliminate at least 550 million pounds of threatening pesticides which damage the environment regularly. 

10. Support to local farmers
local farmers

When you go organic, you support local farmers. 

In the United States, organic farming yielded to at least 3% of total sales in its food industry in 2012. No wonder the governments of European countries such as Germany, Austria, and Finland are occupied in implementing policies and plans that would allot at least 20% of their land area to their organic farming industry.

The gradual transition to organic farming is due to the awareness of consumers with the health impacts of accidentally taking chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This means more work for local farmers and their produce.  

How do you know they are organic food products?

The rationale behind choosing organic food is mainly about people’s concern about health and environmental concerns. In terms of diet, people who lean towards organic food say that they are generally healthier, safer, and more environment-friendly. These are valid points. However, as we’ve explained above, that’s not always the case, if we’re not careful enough.

Yes, we can say that there’s research that supports evidence of reduced cancer risk with consumption of organic products. This adds proof that organic food is good for the gut microbiome. Remember that many prebiotic-rich foods can be organic such as legumes, garlic, nuts and seeds, etc. Probiotics also contain beneficial microbe colonies that are good for your gastrointestinal tract.

Tips when buying organic

Check the label. Different regions may have different certification guidelines. Generally, however, these food products should be compliant to organic animal raising practices, pest control, soil quality, among others. USDA put out regulations that specify what makes an organic produce or not. There are many products that are not certified so make sure to check the label.  

Ask the local store/supermarket. If unsure, ask your grocer if the products actually come from an organic farm. Compare prices and different organic items. You can research them beforehand, too. Check online and look for legitimate stores that sell legitimate products. 

Natural vs. Organic. Remember that organic and natural food aren’t necessarily the same. Any food labeled “natural” has no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Thus, the word “natural” refers to the food itself and not whether or not the methods used to preserve or make the product is “natural” or “artificial.”

On the other hand, “organic” refers to how the food is prepared or produced. So, even if the label shows “hormone-free” or “free range,” it is still not considered “organic” if the farmer did not strictly follow organic certification guidelines.

Check with your doctor. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute recommends that if you’re switching to organic foods, consult with your doctor or nutritionist first. This change in your diet, when done without guidance from a health professional, may drastically alter your digestion, for instance. You might have allergies you weren’t aware of or dietary needs that you can’t get from organic products.







References:
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm
https://ota.com/organic-101/health-benefits-organic
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
https://www.wwmedgroup.com/blog/benefits-of-organic-food/
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-health-benefits-eating-organic-food.php

sleep schedule

Importance of consistent sleep schedule

Good sleep isn’t just about the number of hours you doze off. A consistent sleep schedule is a key to good health.

Do you find yourself awake at weird hours at night or suddenly napping in the middle of the day? If you do, chances are you don’t have a consistent sleep schedule. When you sleep at specific times at night regularly, you’re training your body when it’s time to wind down for the day. It also helps you stay alert and productive when you’re awake

If you’ve been reading Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute for a while now, you’ll know that this site continues to promote quality and length of life. The quality of your sleep may be the next step you need to achieve that.

Why should you stick to a good sleep schedule

The importance of sticking to a good sleep schedule isn’t a science wonder. Its positive effects on the body are persistently promoted, but it’s easier said than done. 

Your activities and habits during the day will impact your sleep. So, you must have a carefully planned routine that is only beneficial to your overall being. From what you eat, drink, to your daily schedule – you should be intentional enough to ensure that they all lead to a consistent bedtime routine that you can follow. 

How much sleep does a person need?

sleep schedule

Generally, kids are expected to sleep more than adults. These are the desired amount of hours:

  • Adults – seven hours or more
  • Teens – eight to 10 hours
  • Preschoolers – 10 to 13 hours (with naps)
  • Toddlers – 11 to 14 hours (with naps)
  • Babies – 12 to 16 hours (with naps)
  • Newborns – 14 to 17 hours 

Preparing yourself for bed is crucial to the quality of sleep you’ll get. 

An adult sleep coach based in Denver, Seth Davis, reiterates how sleep contributes to your physical and mental health. He added that you allow your brain to rest and process new information that you’ve learned on the day when you go to dreamland. It’s also a chance to strengthen the immune system and help the production of growth hormones in the body to recover and repair smoothly. 

Thus, it would be best not to take scheduling your sleep lightly. Include it as a part of your day, and practice it until it becomes natural.

What is the best sleep schedule?

sleep schedule


The schedule that will work best for you depends upon your body chronotype or biological preference, Michael J. Breus, P.D., the founder of TheSleepDoctor.com, explains. Timing shows that being a morning person or a night owl is valid. 

Follow your body clock!

Listen to your circadian rhythm and know your body’s internal timing for sleep and wakefulness. It can help regulate your hormonal activity as it has neurotransmitters that send commands to the body that involve digestion and temperature fluctuations. All of these would determine the pattern of when you should sleep and awake.

The circadian clock also controls how you respond to light exposure or the lack of it. The environment may influence this biological rhythm too. Hence, when you align your schedule to the natural timing of your body, you promote regular and restorative sleep, which makes a good habit.  

Why is sleep schedule good for your health

There’s a reason why you get cranky the next day when you don’t get enough sleep. And there are many more reasons why a quality bedtime routine is beneficial for your physical and mental health. 

Physical health

Sleep and physical health have a strong relationship, and studies prove it. A regular rest at night allows your brain and body to recover. It gives you the energy to be alert and refreshed the next day.

Lack of sleep leaves you tired even if you just woke up in the morning. When you rest, your bodily processes become more efficient. Your defenses against diseases and other medical conditions are strong, and you may avoid other health problems like obesity, heart complications, insulin management, immuno health, memory consolidation, and growth development. 

Mental health

The quality of sleep you get has a role in your psychological state. When you deprive yourself of rest, you become easily irritable and exhausted. 

Studies reveal the connection of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions to sleep. More research is yet to be conducted about the association between the two, as many other factors may affect the psychological being of a person. Regardless, getting enough sleep improves disposition and well-being. 

Overall health

Generally, a consistent sleep schedule is good for the different aspects of your health. It will strengthen your heart, boost your immune system, improve your mood, manage your weight, and increase productivity, making you a healthier and happier person.

Good sleep habits

Developing good bedtime habits would contribute to the success of your sleep. But, how do you do it? Each person has a different sleep-wake pattern that is ideal for their body and lifestyle.

Put your sleep schedule in your own hands! These are some of the ways to do so:

1. Keep a consistent sleep and wake time.

Listen to your body. Know the time you get sleepy and energized. Make it your bedtime schedule and follow it consistently!

2. Establish relaxing bedtime rituals.
sleep schedule

Reduce your late-night stress and anxiety by following a bedtime ritual. It may be the time when you turn off your electronics and take a tea

3. Exercise regularly.

Some studies show that individuals with chronic insomnia who exercise sleep at least 13 minutes faster than they usually do. Physical activities change the body’s core body temperature, which could prepare it for rest and sleep. 

4. Observe a balanced and healthy diet.

Some drinks and foods feature compounds that may make or break your sleep cycle. For instance, carbs may help you doze off faster. High-fat foods may do otherwise. Caffeine also has a disruptive effect on sleep which delays body clock timing. 

5. Limit your alcohol intake.

The reminder “drink moderately” only applies when the sun is still up. Though many events involving drinking alcohol happen at night, try to stay away from doing so close to your bedtime. Even better, avoid alcohol altogether, especially when it’s late in the day. 

6. Keep bedroom use only for sleep.

If your space permits you, maintain a discipline of having a bedroom for relaxation and sleep only. Avoid distractions such as TV and other gadgets (music can be an exception if it helps you sleep). This way, you can associate your room only with sleeping and nothing else.

7. If you nap, keep it short.

Some people feel more energized when they have short naps during the day. If you need to close your eyes and get some rest in between breaks, make sure it’s no more than 30 minutes to 1 hour. Otherwise, it might be harder for you to sleep when it’s time for bed at night.

8. Avoid smoking.

Nicotine can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Many smokers feel sleepy during the day. Worse, cigarette puffers often have irritated nose and throat tissues which can cause sleep apnea. If you’re sleeping with your partner, you’ll have a happier bedtime – and relationship! – without this.

9. Reduce blue light at night.

While light has a positive effect in the morning, it may do the opposite at night. It is still related to how the circadian rhythm works and how it tricks your body to think it is daytime when there’s light. Exposure reduces melatonin production which could help in relaxation and sleep. 

10. Consider some supplements.

Several supplements induce sleep and relaxation. The best examples are Ginkgo biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, Lavender, and L-theanine. Try any of them one at a time at night. They are not the solution to sleep disorders, but they can help. And, make sure to consult with your doctor first.

How important is consistent sleep

We are familiar with the concept of getting eight hours of sleep every night. But, most of us neglect the importance of completing those hours of sleep in a consistent pattern and timing. 

Sleep regularity captures an informative dimension of sleep (Dr. Phillips, Harvard). Even if you get eight hours of it, you may still miss out on sleep-related benefits if you rest at inconsistent times every night.  

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and reduce the risks of contracting major health problems! A sleep pattern may be challenging this pandemic, most especially if you are working at home and it seems like there are no rules anymore. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute challenges you to a regular pattern that your mind and body will thank you for! 





References:
https://www.sleep.com/sleep-health/sleep-schedule
https://www.slma.cc/the-importance-of-asleep-schedule/
​​https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/what-can-you-do/good-sleep-habits#:~:text=Keeping%20a%20regular%20sleep%20schedule,can%20improve%20your%20sleep%20dramatically.
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/its-not-just-for-kids-even-adults-appear-to-benefit-from-a-regular-bedtime
https://thesleepdoctor.com/2020/03/21/why-a-regular-sleep-schedule-matters-to-your-health/

ancient health practices

Ancient health practices still relevant today

Did you know that there are ancient health practices that doctors still do today?

It isn’t surprising that some patients prefer traditional medicine, and many medical professionals practice it. Mainstream health care utilizes ancient health practices to understand their safety and efficacy in treating specific health conditions.

In the early days, as far back as 1,500 BC – 200 AD, our ancestors relied on folk medicine orally transmitted and taught to their children, grandchildren, and so forth. These healing traditions include natural birth, poison healing, and bone setting. They use whatever is readily and locally available in their ecosystems, such as plants, animals, rocks, and metals.  

Some publications explore suggestions on making traditional medicine more functional and acceptable today. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down ten (10) ancient health practices, in this article, still widely accepted these days.

What is traditional medicine?

ancient health practices
Image source: History.com

Our ancestors paved the way for developing healthy habits and rituals by just observing the events in nature thousands of years ago. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as “health practices, approaches, knowledge, and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being.”

Ancient health practices are an effective umbrella term for alternative, non-conventional, complementary, herbal, and natural medicine. These are healthcare practices not necessarily part of a particular region’s tradition but integrated into the healthcare system.

Ancient health practices

In this top ten list, you will find medical practices that our forefathers introduced many centuries ago but are still relevant today. Raise your hand if you or someone you know have had any of them!

1. Cataract surgery

WHO reports that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment globally. Surgery can treat this eye condition to restore the vision of the patient.

ancient health practices

In early 800 BC, ancient Indians in the Sushruta period developed couching, the first documented beginnings of cataract extraction. The physicians will puncture the patient’s eye and dislodge it manually with this treatment. Then, they will remove the cloudy lens from the patient. However, couching caused complications and, as expected, blindness.

Through the years, with the development and advances in medicine, cataract surgery has become more sophisticated. Ophthalmologists later followed Jacques Daviel’s procedure with more modern medical instruments. This surgery involves “gently pushing the cataract” resulting in more favorable postoperative results.

2. Leeching

The use of leeching is traced back in 1855 when a boy known in history as W.C.B fell ill with fatigue and body aches. His mother asked help from a local apothecary, who later came back with a jar filled with slimy creatures – leeches. 

Fifty years later, W.C.B shared a story from his childhood to the famous British serial Notes and Queries, where he narrated his memories of leeching regularly. The bloodsuckers worked on the chest, inside the lower lip, or even within the nostrils. 

ancient health practices
Image source: Brittanica.com

The story W.C.B shared wasn’t unusual. There was a leeching craze in the late 18th to the 19th century in Europe and North America, which resulted in the gathering of millions of leeches each year. 

In ancient Egypt, leeches played a role in medicine and in treating nervous system abnormalities, skin diseases, infections, and dental problems. Today, it is also common to see it in plastic surgery and other types of microsurgery. Moreover, leeches secrete proteins and peptides which prevent blood clotting. 

3. Bloodletting

Traditional physicians believed that when people get sick, it’s only a matter of “bad blood.” Over time, ancient Egyptians and Sumerians practiced bloodletting and later became even more common in Rome and Greece. Their practice back then is “to cut open a vein and drain some vital fluids into a receptacle.” However, people erroneously believed this method healed sick patients.

On the contrary, this ancient health practice resulted in accidental deaths due to blood loss. Hence, medieval doctors discovered other methods such as leeching (mentioned above). After which, the scientific community debunked bloodletting altogether in the 1800s even while others were still utilizing this method.

ancient health practices

These days, however, modern scientists and doctors only recommend controlled bloodletting to treat specific and rare illnesses. Even in the hope to reduce risks of contracting covid-19, the science community refuted that collection of convalescent plasma (from the blood of recovered covid patients) has any benefits. Today, bloodletting is in the form of wet cupping and Ayurvedic detox and given the term phlebotomy in modern science.

4. Drilling a hole into the skull (trepanation, craniotomy)

The idea of neurosurgery developed in the late 19th century. But, the procedure which requires drilling a hole in the skull, referred to as trepanation, has been a much older practice. In fact, it is known as our ancestors’ neurosurgery.

The word trepanation comes from the ancient Greek word trypanon that means drill. Performing this procedure back then is significantly different to how doctors do this now. However, the basics and core principles of this procedure remains the same. 

In ancient times, trepanation treated various ailments and injuries involving the head. Pain management is also one of its uses. People who have gone through this procedure survive and heal after the surgery. However, there are reports on scarring. 

ancient health practices

Today, doctors still observe the said procedure, and the craniotomy that removes a certain part of the skull to reach the brain. The only difference is that compared to trepanation which results in a permanent hole in the skull, the modern version replaces the bone segment that has been removed. Medical experts only do this kind of operation for special reasons like aneurysm and brain tumor. 

5 ECT (electroconvulsive therapy)

Severe depression is one of the more difficult health conditions that medical professionals only had significant improvements in treatment recently. One of these treatments is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Doctors conduct this method to trigger a brief brain seizure intentionally to the patient under general anesthesia. Small electric currents pass through the patient’s brain to induce electrical stimulation.

Ancient Romans used electric eels for the treatment of gout and headaches. The therapeutic use of electricity like this is even prevalent in treating cases such as epilepsy and paralysis historically. 

ancient health practices
Image source: Pursuit.Unimelb.edu.au

In more recent years, ECT now helps monitor a patient’s brain, blood pressure, heart, and oxygen levels. To record the patient’s electrical activity in the brain, doctors administer the electroencephalogram (EEG) exam. Doctors consider this procedure generally safe to treat patients with bipolar disorder, severe mania (euphoria, hyperactivity, psychosis, etc.) and dementia.

6. Sutures

Suture techniques are ancient health practices, too. For more than thousands of years, sutures are used to close wounds and help them heal faster. With the right technique, they can help minimize bleeding and infection as well.

14,502 Surgical Suture Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Archeologists found that sutures can be traced back from Neolithic skulls, severed Greek tendons, and Egyptian records as early as 30,000 BC. 

In modern times, surgical doctors connect tissues and organs with sutures. Without it, it will be difficult to hold muscles and skin together, for example, and can lead to complications. More advanced surgeries require sterile needles through harder-to-reach body parts to prevent further damage. 

7. Morphine

Did you know that morphine is the “first pharmacologically active pure compound” produced from opium? Opium can be extracted from poppy seeds rich in antioxidants and therapeutic agents. The discovery of this drug goes back to 200 years ago when opium was used as a painkiller by ancient Sumarians and Egyptians during this period.

Morphine is an opiate that helps relieve or suppress pain. This narcotic drug component helps ease anxiety, sedate a patient, and cause drowsiness and relaxation. Current practices show that morphine is used to suppress cough reflexes or slow down heartbeat when medically required. However, opiates are considered as addictive drugs. Hence, health professionals take precautions when administering morphine to avoid drug dependence in patients. 

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medical technique, is known for curing illnesses, relieving pain and improving overall health. Its introduction happened before the 2500 BCE in China and then many parts of the world hopped in its use during the late 20th century.

16,143 Acupuncture Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

This ancient practice has lived to the dualistic cosmic theory of the Chinese – the yin and the yang. The forces in the yin and the yang acted in the body, as they did in the natural universe. This treatment believes that any kind of physical disharmony transpires when there is imbalance of the two forces in the body. 

Gone were the days when acupuncture was a painful procedure. This holistic healing approach stimulates points through 14 energy pathways. It supports the claims of some scientists about needles prompting the body to release endorphins that are natural painkillers. 

9. Cauterization

To “cauterize” is to use an instrument heated with electric current. This is one of the ancient health practices used in the 16th century to close amputations and stop bleeding. Remember the movie Braveheart where soldiers stuck the tip of the blazing hot spear to treat another’s wound? It actually happened in ancient times and not just in the movies. 

Image source: Dailyfilmdose.com

This medical practice is still relevant today to treat wounds and avoid infection, especially when antibiotics aren’t readily available. However, with advancements in technology, cautery also progressed where physicians can now use more sophisticated medical instruments. This way, any fears of infection in earlier times can be removed. 

Other known forms of cauterization commonly used today are electrocautery, chemical cautery, nasal cauterization, amputational cauterization, etc.

10. Tracheostomy

A tracheotomy, sometimes called stoma, is when a surgeon makes a hole from the front of the neck to the windpipe or trachea to place a tube. The person is aided by the tube to breathe, and the air bypasses the nose, throat, and mouth. 

There are various reasons why a person gets a tracheostomy. Among the conditions that require it are birth defects, anaphylaxis, neck cancer, coma, infection, facial burns, sleep apnea, and chronic lung disease. This alternative method of breathing was first recorded in 1649. The practice existed for a long time and it was called bronchotomy, pharyngotomy and laryngotomy. 

Surgeons regarded the procedure in the 16th to the 19th century as dangerous with a very low chance of succeeding, and this is one of the reasons why doctors would often perform it. They only reserved it as an option in case of emergency especially in cases like upper airways obstruction. 

Health care demands in the future

12,207,403 Health Stock Photos and Images - 123RF

Time and again, we’ve seen traditional, herbal and natural medicine used in current settings as effective health care alternatives. We are constantly in pursuit of medical discoveries and continue to see and develop the science in earlier practices. Scientists spend many of their dissertation years to prove and understand new plant uses, for instance, to provide in-depth studies that will be useful for generations to come.

Scientific literatures indicate the rise of biomedicine and more practical uses of various health practices we only used to know as “traditional” but with therapeutic benefits. As new illnesses and diseases come about, new approaches in medicine and treatments also arise. Health assessments should always be up-to-date with current trends and technologies. Thus, health professionals are regularly adding and sharing knowledge that are crucial for public health.

This is also why Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute continues to offer comprehensive service and diagnostics to help address a growing population in need, suffering from a wide spectrum of progressing chronic conditions. With these blogs and continued community support, we hope to help contribute to globalization and share information in improving your quality of life with length of life.




References:
https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/ancient-medical-treatments-still-used-today
https://www.mdlinx.com/article/ancient-medicines-and-procedures-still-used-today/lfc-4453
https://www.history.com/news/7-unusual-ancient-medical-techniques
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323633
https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/persistence-traditional-medicine-modern-world

women's health

Things you may not know about women’s health

There are several factors that affect women’s health. 

Women have to face challenges and changes throughout their lives, and that includes their bodies. Just like everyone else, their habits have a big role to play for them to live a long and quality life. Healthcare should be one of their priorities, and it covers both proper nutrition and exercise. 

The varying changes women have to go through lead to different health concerns depending on their age group. Time and again, we have seen women take care of other people first before their own. However, when they put wellness on top of their needs, they put themselves in a better position of nurturing others. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute lists down the things you should know about women’s health.  We’ll cover some facts and other unique features that women should know about their bodies. 

Women’s health facts

What are some women’s health facts that are crucial in their fitness and wellness? These are some of the considerations and conditions that are unique to females: 

1. Unique risk factors

This is not to say that women are absolutely different from men, but they are unique as far as health risks are concerned. 

women's health

For instance, women are more likely to have diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, eye diseases, pain sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, and even mood disorders than men. These are just some of the conditions that may be true for most women. Reproductive issues are also common to females than the opposite sex.  

In America, heart attack is the top killer of women (since 1984). Reports also say that 55,000 more women suffer from stroke than men. Studies suggest that women’s estrogen has something to do with the case of stroke. On top of these, almost 80% of Americans who have osteoporosis are female. These researches show the unique risk factors of women when it comes to health issues. 

2. Alcohol has more effect on women

Do women get drunk faster than men? 

women's health

Women process alcohol differently than men, and this is why they get intoxicated faster. There are also physiological explanations as to why they feel the effect of alcohol more. 

One of the reasons why women easily get intoxicated with alcohol is because they have less water in the body. They only have 52%, as compared to 61% for men. This shows that the latter can dilute alcohol faster. 

Another reason is that women have a higher body fat percentage than men. Alcohol doesn’t dissolve well in fat, which is why it becomes concentrated in a woman’s body.  

3. Special healthcare needs

Women have special healthcare needs and it is necessary to give them attention for preventive care and screenings. Among these are screening services for gynaecology, bone density, pap smear, breast cancer, immunizations, cancer, and many more.

Like children, the health of women differs from men. Many times, research focuses more on men as subjects while sidelining women. Women’s respective circumstances including environmental, clinical, social, legal, and biological are diverse. These affect their health too, which have a domino effect on others too.

4. Societal factors

External factors such as body image issues among women sometimes influence risk factors causing more health concerns than men. The lack of women doctors and leaders who can bridge knowledge gaps in providing excellent clinical care concerning women may lessen discrimination.

In some cases, gender bias in healthcare affects how doctors treat women’s illnesses. Some symptoms aren’t easily recognizable for women as compared to their male counterparts. For example, having a fast heartbeat or feeling unusually tired aren’t immediately considered as signs of a possible heart attack. These are often dismissed as women being emotional or “weak” compared to men’s response to physical activities. 

women's health

Stress and smoking can be more detrimental to women even if both genders are known to succumb to them. Interestingly, cardiac problems, which are more common in men, is one of the leading causes of death for women as mentioned above. Socialized differences, therefore, play a role in the prevalence of certain risks for women.

5. Certain cancers, especially for women, can be treated if caught early 

When women turn 21, it is highly advisable to screen for cervical cancer. This is the reason why doctors encourage women to receive mammograms and take PAP smear examinations as early as possible. Both breast and cervical cancer are common cancers causing death among women. 

Early prevention is better than cure.

Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch philosopher

Moreover, women who reach 50 should also start having colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. Early detection of any benign polyps can greatly improve women’s health, for instance. These polyps can be removed more easily at this age and reduce their likelihood of becoming cancerous.

6. Vaginal conditions 

Did you know that bacterial vaginosis (BV) can lead to STD and HIV? Any woman, sexually active or not, may get this vaginal condition commonly between ages 15-44. However, BV can be prevented and may go away even without further treatment. Still, women should get checked especially when they suspect any imbalance of bacteria in the vagina.

7. Depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Regardless of gender, age, or race, people can get hit by them even without realizing it right away. Unfortunately, women are led to believe that hormonal changes cause depression.

women's health

Again, depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Personal life circumstances, environmental factors, inherited traits, among others do not discriminate against any gender.

For women, however, there are other factors that men can’t relate to contributing to these conditions. Some of which are in this list:

  • Premenstrual problems
  • Identity issues and sexuality development during puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Menopause

8. Life circumstances and culture

Throughout history, men are often given higher importance and preference in different parts of the world. Hence, many women are generally less rich, less educated, and have lower self-esteem and self-confidence. Although this has changed over the years, misogyny still somehow affects women’s health.

To this day, there are some women with feelings of negativity due to life and cultural stressors. Other women are still overworked more than men, even juggling roles professionally and domestically as a mother, single parent, or being the eldest daughter.

There are also traumatic instances women have to endure due to emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse (more common in women than in men). Many of these often lead to eating disorders, anxiety attacks, and drug or alcohol misuse as they grow older.

9. Maternal health

Generally speaking, childbirth and pregnancy are unique to women. Despite many advances in medicine and technology, however, many women still suffer from complications. The physical, hormonal, and biological changes in a woman’s body are all crucial to the development of the child until the mother gives birth. In fact, even after childbirth, the mother plays a huge role in the baby’s growth and overall health. 

women's health

Hence, proper nutrition and physical activities are important for both the mother and child for many stages in both their lives. Additionally, certain psychological and behavioral changes manifest in women before, during, and after pregnancy affecting women’s health.

10. Retirement years for women 

Getting older can be more challenging for women than in men. In this article, research showed women have lesser pensions and benefits compared to men. Their security and economic independence decreases as they age.

women's health

The ripple effect of this disadvantage stems from women’s inability to get higher income from an early age that can support their standard of living. Hence, even as women generally live longer than men, their retirement years aren’t as financially abundant as men, which limits their access to healthcare.

We’ve come a long way but there’s more to learn

We have to admit that women still face a lot of health concerns that many medical professionals care to talk about. The World Health Organization (WHO) even lists a compilation of the top issues concerning women’s health that needs to be addressed. 

Let us not forget to include mental health in this narrative. As WHO describes above, there are “physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically.” Discussions and developments on mental health are just as part of women’s health that the global healthcare system can improve on. In understanding and getting better at treating female patients around the world, we can all apply this knowledge to help provide the younger generation of girls with a good quality of life.


References:
https://www.mana.md/womens-health-and-fitness/
https://tespovitamins.com/10-things-know-womens-health/
https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/8facts-womens-health/index.html
https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2012/March/Top-5-Womens-Health/
https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/womens-health-facts-1212

 

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