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The heart-brain connection

For over 20 years, Calgary’s Tracey Delfs, owner of BalanceQuest has been expanding and sharing her expertise as a sought-after speaker, mental wellness coach, mindfulness teacher, and yoga instructor. Her passion has allowed her to travel the world to learn from Thich Nhat Hanh, the “Father of Mindfulness” at his retreat centres in France and Germany. Tracey has helped people learn to live a calmer, more focused and happier life. Adding to her toolbox, Tracey has been a strong advocate of HeartMath™ as a certified coach and trainer. “I feel my life’s purpose is to share these various practices; whether it’s meditation, mindfulness, yoga or HeartMath™, they’re all different roads leading to the same destination.” So, what is HeartMath™? Located in California, the HeartMath Institute is a global leader in emotional physiology and stress-management research, based on over 31 years of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress, resilience, and

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Health

Health benefits of bitter foods

We tend to avoid bitter foods because they are unpleasant, but overtime we develop a taste for them. Here’s why. Bitter foods… not exactly a palate pleaser unless they’re blended—and semi hidden—among layers of flavours and textures. Initially, you’ll tolerate them and over time, you’ll develop a taste for them and here’s why: because they are liver-loving foods. The liver is often called the “King of Organs” as everything we consume passes through this vital organ. When you consume bitter foods, it’s like throwing a lifeline to your liver. Energy levels rise, your immune system functions better and metabolism improves because excess toxins are eliminated. As well, bile production improves, which leads to better digestion along with a host of other benefits—all as a result of improved liver function. But getting your daily dose of bitter foods can be challenging. Their taste is pungent—your mouth puckers, cheeks rise and eyes

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Health

COVID and Gut Health

From long-haulers to nearly symptomless and everything in between, COVID-19 is proving to be a complex and nasty virus. New research is showing there are some symptoms you shouldn’t ignore when it comes to your gut. And gut health plays a vital role in your overall body health and even your brain health. Early on during the pandemic, Chinese medical researchers found that stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal) and some fecal-oral transmission was one clear source for the spread of the virus. While it was known that oral and nasal transmission were a factor, this added to the complexity of how the virus moved amongst humans. “…

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Mind

The pace of world change is accelerating

We all know that the only constant in life is change. For many hundreds of thousands of years, the pace of change for humans was fairly steady and to some degree, predictable. Until it wasn’t. Now, change is accelerating at an unprecedented speed. The pace of life is also accelerating. Much is due to our advances in technology. In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes said “For the first time since his creation, man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy his leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.” Nearly a century later and while we may one day get there, we aren’t today. Perhaps in more dystopian terms, says theoretical physicist turned philosopher Geoffrey West, “Rather than being bored to death, our actual

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Mind

Train your brain

Neuroplasticity is the key to a creative and productive life. How flexible is the brain? How readily can it adapt as a person develops and experiences new environments? How does it deal with aging and the stresses and strains of daily life? It turns out that the brain is a dynamic structure that is flexible and subject to change. This quality is called neuroplasticity. While growth depends on age and other conditions, grooming and growing a brain is the project of a lifetime. Neurons (nerve cells) and glial cells (support cells of neurons) transform through a process called neurogenesis. These cells increase their number and connections throughout your life depending on the stimulation of your environment. The old model of the brain as a piece of clay that is mouldable is replaced by an image of the brain as a living matrix with neurons moving trying to make connections with

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Mind

Dementia in Canada and Prevention Tips

Dementia has many dimensions and impacts everyone in different ways. Here are some tips to help keep your brain healthy. When our brain can no longer fight off the various risks to its health, dementia settles in. Alzheimers is a form of dementia and probably the one Canadians are most familiar with. The pandemic hasn’t helped much either with limited access to Long-Term Care facilities and so much time in lockdowns.  So what exactly is dementia? It’s not just one disease, it is a series of symptoms that affect our brain function over time. Usually it is characterized by declines in cognitive abilities such as planning; judgement; basic math skills; awareness of our person, place and time.  Over time dementia can affect our language functions, mood and behaviour. Causes are thought to be caused by neurodegenerative diseases which affect nerve cells in our brain, vascular diseases that affect our blood

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Health

Understanding gender better

Men are men and women are women: True or false? Gender is not always black and white. Genetics, medical conditions and other factors influence our sexual identity. Males and females are better considered along a male-female continuum rather than as opposite ends of a complete dichotomy. So argued my PhD supervisor’s supervisor, Dr. John Pinel from UBC. There is substantial biological reasoning for this viewpoint. First, consider genetics. We categorize sex according to the chromosomes X and Y. As their 46th chromosome males have an X and a Y and females have two Xs. Mothers pass on their X chromosomes to offspring, because they only have Xs, whereas fathers pass on both their X and Y. When they combine during fertilization, they give rise to either a male (XY) or female (XX). During normal development, the body produces the sex-specific hormones testosterone and estrogen and they circulate through the body to

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Mind

5 ways to boost your brain health according to science

As we move into our 50’s, we want to stay smart as well as fit. Keeping your brain healthy is just as important as your body. Here’s 5 things scientists say you should do. Exercise Daily: Sure it may seem obvious and we tend to think exercise is just good for our bodies. But it’s also good for the brain! A study by the Mayo Clinic in Germany found exercise increases our oxygen uptake, which is good for the brain. It showed exercise reduces cognitive decline. All you need is 20-30 minutes a day; even a brisk walk helps. A good cup of tea: Not coffee, tea. From orange pekoe to green tea, teas are just great for the old noggin. Coffee can help ward off Alzheimers, but tea is good for brain connections and neuroplasticity according to research. Proper thing what? Good heart health: Turns out, looking after the

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Health

5 ways to boost your brain health

As we move age, we want to stay smart as well as fit. Keeping your brain healthy is just as important as your body. Here’s 5 things scientists say you should do. Exercise Daily: Sure it may seem obvious and we tend to think exercise is just good for our bodies. But it’s also good for the brain! A study by the Mayo Clinic in Germany found exercise increases our oxygen uptake, which is good for the brain. It showed exercise reduces cognitive decline. All you need is 20-30 minutes a day; even a brisk walk helps. A good cup of tea: Not coffee, tea. From orange pekoe to green tea, teas are just great for the old noggin. Coffee can help ward off Alzheimers, but tea is good for brain connections and neuroplasticity according to research. Proper thing what? Good heart health: Turns out, looking after the ticker is

Read More »