Be nice to your brain.  For the next few Fridays, I’ll be researching ways to enhance brain fitness and hopefully inspire you to START SOMEWHERE making small changes to LIVE YOUNGER by nurturing your brain.  If you have been doing much reading on brain health, then you’ve likely come across the term “neuroplasticity.”  By taking this word apart, we find that it basically means “plastic neurons”.  Neurons are the specialized nerve cells that are the communication system of the brain. They carry communication from the brain to other parts of the body.  Plastic is a general term that simply means that the brain is able to stretch, grow, and change.  This is a good type of plastic.  What great news!

You’ve heard that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”  Forget it – that is totally false!  It can now be proven that we humans were designed to change the makeup of  brains positively until the day we die by lifestyle strategies that help our neurons branch and reproduce.  

People who stay mentally active throughout their lives help nurture this incredible neuroplasticity.  The world is full of interesting new things to learn and most of it makes your neurons, those valuable brain cells, multiply.  Research shows that brain connections can be stimulated to grow in three ways – all of which are somewhat under our control:

  1. By a change within:  A new determination to try new things and set new goals
  2. By new outside circumstances:  Meeting new people or learning something new
  3. By what you feed them:  I’ll talk much more about these in the coming weeks – it includes movement, medication, and nutrition

What new or different skill do you want to master?  Push out the fear and go for it!  LIVE YOUNGER by learning strategies to increase your brain’s ability to stretch and grow.  You can do it.  I will help you.

#AskDrDebbie:  “What exactly is Phytic Acid?  My friend warned me not to eat beans because of it!” – Cassie G.

Phytic Acid is a natural part of plant seeds.  It has received considerable attention lately because it can interfere with the absorption of some minerals and promote deficiencies of these essential minerals.  As usual, there’s usually more to the story!  

Phytic Acid can be found in varying quantities of all edible legumes, seeds, grains, and nuts, as well as some tubers and roots.  The amount in each of these can vary widely even within the particular food.  It can bond to Zinc, Calcium, and Iron during the meal that the food is eaten.  It doesn’t affect the food that you eat later, and it’s rarely a concern in a well-balanced diet.

You can significantly reduce the Phytic Acid content of foods by:

  • Soaking
  • Sprouting
  • Fermentation

Phytic acid is not all bad!  On the positive side, it is a natural antioxidant and can decrease kidney stone formation and provide some protection against cancer.  Also known as inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), this is basically not something to worry about.  If you are vegan, vegetarian or deficient in iron, then it would be wise to be careful about food combinations and take time to soak, sprout, or ferment the foods that you consume frequently.  Thank, Cassie!  I learned a lot from your question.

Cashew Chickpea Curry (The Woks of Life)   

You will need:

  • ½ cup toasted cashews
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup flaked coconut
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups cashew milk

Here’s the drill:

  1. In a food processor, puree the toasted cashews, onion, garlic, ginger, spices, and coconut.
  2. Add the resulting paste to a pot over medium heat, along with a couple tablespoons of avocado oil, and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon zest, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Turn the heat down to low. Add the cashew milk, and bring the curry to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  4. Serve with steamed basmati rice and toasted naan.

Ponder this quote by Garrison Keillor with me:  “Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.”  

Be Nice To Your Brain: Learn Something New!

Be Nice To Your Brain: Learn Something New!