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The Best Brain Breakfast: Overnight Oats With Blueberries and Walnuts



Wake up to this brain breakfast a few times a week and your noggin will thank you for it.

Credit: Westend61 / Westend61 / GettyImages

If you want to start the day off with a healthy start, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and other brain experts recommend overnight oats with walnuts and blueberries.

When making standard overnight oats, all you need to do is:

  1. Soak ½ cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of almond milk.
  2. Chill overnight.
  3. Top with fresh blueberries and walnuts in the morning.

You are more likely to eat healthy if you have a nutritious breakfast in the morning, and this simple one will help boost your brain health from the get-go.

“The foods we eat are directly related to our brain functions,” says Randall Wright, MD, a neurologist at the Houston Methodist Hospital. “When it comes to nutrition and nutrition, we now see that it’s all about brain energy. The brain uses a large amount of energy compared to the rest of the body.”

This is why it’s important to provide your brain with foods that fight stress and damage. This is exactly what this power pack helps you with. Here are four perks of having an overnight oats breakfast with blueberries and walnuts.

1. Blueberries contain compounds that protect your brain

The delicious blueberry can help protect your brain from damage and improve its long-term function. Brain experts tend to recommend three diets for a healthy brain – all of them recommend fruit and one of them specifically recommends blueberries.

“When I talk to patients about diets to focus on for brain health, I usually refer them to three main diets: the Mediterranean Diet, the MIND Diet, and the DASH Diet,” says Philip Stieg, MD, one Neurosurgeon and founder of the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these diets:

  • The Mediterranean diet: This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, high-fiber breads, whole grains, and healthy fats, and has been linked to lower rates of stroke, Alzheimer’s and other dementia, depression, stroke, and Parkinson’s, according to Michigan Medicine.
  • The DASH diet: Also known as Dietary Approaches to Stopping High Blood Pressure, this diet focuses on foods that lower blood pressure and the “bad” LDL cholesterol, and recommends vegetables, fruits, whole grains, non-fat or low-fat dairy products, poultry, beans, Nuts and vegetable oils, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. Rose notes that a diet that is heart healthy is usually also healthy for the brain.
  • The MIND diet: The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), the most popular brain health diet, is a mix of the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet and was formulated by researchers to highlight foods that are beneficial to health affect the brain. It’s high in vegetables, meatless meals, nuts, the occasional fish, and olive oil, and specifically names blueberries, which have been linked to slower rates of cognitive decline, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The MIND diet recommends two or more servings of each type of berry per week, but it does suggest that blueberries may be more beneficial. Older adults who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had the slowest rates of cognitive decline in a July 2012 study in the Annals of Neurology. The California Strawberry Commission partially funded the study, but it’s worth noting that they reviewed data from over 16,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study over 20 years.

In the study, those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries delayed cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years. Anthocyanidins, which are a subclass of flavonoids, can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in areas of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory, such as the hippocampus.

“It’s clear that berries, and blueberries in particular, have direct benefits,” says Marwan Sabbagh, MD, an Alzheimer’s expert at the Cleveland Clinic. “Flavonoids are very potent free radical scavengers and antioxidants.”

In other words, flavonoids can help protect yourself from the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation that occur naturally in your body. Your body creates free radicals, unstable molecules that cause oxidative stress (which, in turn, can lead to cell damage) when you digest food, exercise, smoke, or are exposed to environmental factors like sunlight or air pollution, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in a variety of diseases, including those affecting the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“The chemicals in blueberries are what the brain needs to protect itself,” says Dr. Wright. “If our diet doesn’t reflect this, disease can begin.”

Antioxidants in blueberries can help prevent or delay cell damage in your body, but it’s best to get them through your diet – while a diet high in antioxidant fruits and vegetables has been shown to be healthy, antioxidant supplements have not proven helpful proven disease prevention, per NIH.

2. Walnuts contain brain-healthy fats

Nuts like walnuts are high in vitamin E, which is known for its brain-protective properties, according to the Mayo Clinic. The MIND diet recommends eating a handful of nuts at least five times a week instead of processed snacks like chips – just go for the raw, unsalted variety with no added sodium, sweeteners, or oils.

Walnuts in particular contain the most alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, than any other nut. They are also higher in polyphenolic compounds (a type of antioxidant) than any other nut. Both ALA and polyphenolic compounds can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation – which are two causes of cognitive decline, according to the American Society for Nutrition.

“The cells in our body have cell walls made of lipids or fats,” says Dr. Rose. “Good fats help build normal, healthy cell walls, so make sure you have the appropriate fats in your diet.”

Eating more walnuts boosted adult performance on cognitive tests, regardless of how old they were, in a December 2014 study in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. Like many other walnut studies, this one was funded by the California Walnut Council. However, it still matters because it was the first large representative study of walnut intake and cognitive function, and it included all of the available cognitive data from multiple National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).

Overnight oats and blueberries

Topping your overnight oats with blueberries and walnuts can have additional brain benefits.

Credit: Angelica Novak / iStock / GettyImages

3. Oats give you sustained, brain-healthy energy

“Our brains were not designed to have an abundance of high-calorie foods in our system, and in this day and age there is an abundance of high-calorie and high-glucose foods, which is harmful to the brain,” says Dr. Wright.

“Maintaining constant glucose levels is extremely important to the brain, and this is where the oats come in.”

The beta-glucan fiber in oats can help prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels after you eat, and could also benefit your gut health as the fiber is broken down and fermented by bacteria in your gut, according to Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

More than 250 adults with type 2 diabetes received a 30-day dietary intervention with a one-year follow-up in a December 2013 randomized controlled trial published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Two of the intervention groups received either 50 grams or 100 grams of whole grain oats daily along with a healthy diet. The other two groups either had no change in diet or followed a generally healthy, high-fiber, low-fat diet.

Participants in the oat groups saw a significant reduction in post-meal blood sugar compared to the control groups, and consuming more oats resulted in a greater reduction. The participants in the 100 gram oat group even showed modest weight loss after a year.

4. It helps protect your heart, which can protect your brain

Your heart health is very closely related to your brain health, and overnight oats made with blueberries and walnuts both benefit.

Your heart sends blood through vessels throughout your body, including your brain, and damage to those vessels can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and dementia, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By keeping your blood vessels healthy, you will have a stronger heart and a stronger brain.

By eating healthy foods like whole grains and fruits, and restricting foods with saturated fats, added sugars, and too much sodium, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and vascular dementia, according to the CDC.

If you opt for overnight oats with walnuts and blueberries in the morning instead of, for example, bacon or scones, you are doing both your heart and your brain a favor.

“Saturated fat is not only bad for heart disease, it’s also bad for brain health,” says Dr. Sabbagh. “That’s why you want to cut red meat, lard, butter and fried foods. There are many reasons why following the MIND diet is good for the brain – both in terms of what it has and what it has. “Not having.”

Oats contain soluble fiber that can help lower your LDL cholesterol, and therefore total blood cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. And foods high in fiber can also lower blood pressure and inflammation, resulting in additional heart benefits. In fact, in a May 2012 study of more than 306,000 participants in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, every 10 grams of fiber daily was linked to a 15 percent lower risk of heart disease.

More tips for preparing your best overnight oats brain breakfast

  • Skip the added sugar:Stick to oatmeal that is not loaded with sugar when making overnight oats or regular oatmeal. “Eat all of the oats because the packaged instant oatmeal can be high in sugar, so you’re missing the point,” says Dr. Sabbagh. In addition, the blueberries give a natural sweetness!
  • Try other toppings:You don’t have to stop with blueberries and walnuts! The MIND diet generally calls for nuts and berries, so add almonds, strawberries, and other toppings as well.
  • Start small:Making overnight oats won’t change your brain overnight – but small steps like improving your breakfast can still make a difference. “Any improvement is good and starts with what you put in your shopping basket,” says Dr. Sabbagh. “Everything is an improvement over nothing.”

Whole Grains Health

MOV Parent: Time for the lunch bell | News, Sports, Jobs



The summer months are coming to an end and school is getting closer and closer. When you go back to school it can be difficult to start or continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to choose unhealthy lunch and snack ideas. However, I want to share with you the importance of packing a healthy lunch and preparing a healthy snack when your kids go back to school.

1. Eating a healthy diet can improve your health today and for years to come. Think about how your food choices will be made up throughout the day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.

2. It is important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, as well as dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, drinks, and snacks with limited added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

Some of the negative effects that unhealthy school lunches have on children are mental and physical problems. Eating the wrong diet can lead to obesity or other weight problems. A child with poor diet is more likely to develop diabetes, kidney stones, and heart disease. Without proper nutrition, a child’s academic performance will decline. Sleep behavior is also affected when children do not eat enough nutritious foods. These children may also exhibit more aggressive behavior and lower attention spans.

When I was in school I packed my own lunch. Most of the time I just tossed everything I could find into a bag and called it lunch. I would wrap anything from cookies to leftover pizza. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood why I should choose healthier options. I decided to work on a healthier lifestyle and now cucumber and melon are my favorite food when I wrap lunch.

Becoming more aware of what to give your child for lunch, what your child is packing for lunch, and what groceries you bring around the house can help them feel better, be better, and be healthier.

As a parent, you can help your child choose healthier options by:

1. Regular family meals

2. Serving a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks

3. Be a role model by eating healthily yourself

4. Avoid fighting over food

5. Include children in the process

Figuring out the best lunch options for your child can be difficult. You could try some of these options:

* Turkey + cheddar roll-up, fresh berries, yogurt and trail mix

* Cheese quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries

* Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, graham crackers, cheese spread and a peach cup

* Turkey slices, cheese cubes, pita wedges, hummus, baby carrots and celery

To make lunch more attractive to your child, try different foods. Some ideas include:

* Make potato salad or pasta salad multi-colored. Use fun noodles or add hard boiled eggs, beans, peas or small cubes of meat for extra protein.

* Cut raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of low-fat dip.

* Add a piece of fruit for dessert, washed and ready to eat, or a packet of fruit salad.

* Try reduced-fat cheese cubes or cheese spreads with whole grain crackers.

* Few children can resist yogurt, a good source of protein and calcium that is now available in many different flavors and shapes.

* Choose healthy snacks. Pack pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, dried flakes, or trail mix.

After a long day at school, your children will be hungry. Having healthy snacks for your children after school is important. You can have a snack ready and waiting for them or allow them to choose from the healthy options you have around the house.

The American Heart Association has a list of healthy snack options divided into categories based on cravings. Some of these snacks are:

* Apples and pears

* Bell pepper slices

* Popcorn

* Nuts and seeds

* Carrots and celery sticks

Make sure you find the right ones that suit your family’s needs.

While I was in grades 3-12, I got involved in post-school sports. It was important to have a healthy snack before training and games. The snacks I always chose were apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter.

I also enjoyed applesauce. My parents bought the sugar-free version and I added cinnamon. These were simple and healthy snacks that I could grab on my own.

“There is nothing unhealthy about educating young people about nutrition.” – Pierre Dukan


Megan Zwick is a program assistant in Family and Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County. She can be reached at



* Stadler, M. (2018, August). Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas. (2018, August 14).

* Hopkins, A. (2019 August 15). 15 Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat

* What is MyPlate?

* Dukan, P. (n.d.). Healthy eating quote. 34 Best Quotes About Healthy Eating For You And Your Children.

* Schuna, C. (no year). The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches. LIVESTRONG.COM.

* Ben-Joseph, EP (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy nutrition (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Children’s health.

* School lunches. Harvard Health. (2015, July 16).

* Healthy snacking. (nd).

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7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health



When your stomach is fine, you never think about it – but when you don’t, it’s hard to think about anything else. The group of microorganisms that live in and make up your gastrointestinal tract play a role in almost every aspect of your health, from preventing chronic disease to maintaining your immune system. So it’s no wonder that you feel lousy when things get out of hand.

But what exactly is your gut feeling? And is it possible to improve your gut health? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the intestine?

The human intestine is much more complex than even experts once realized – it comprises a multitude of internal organs that are involved in the digestive process to absorb nutrients from food and excrete waste, explains Rushabh Modi, MD, a certified physician in both internal medicine and Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “Typically, this refers to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon, with the pancreas and liver being crucial as supporting organs that help make digestive enzymes,” he says.

How your gut keeps your body healthy

In addition to absorbing and transporting nutrients to all tissues in the body, the intestine is critical to maintaining fluid and salt levels and eliminating waste, explains Dr. Modes. “Many vital nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and iron have special transporters that only exist in the intestine,” he adds. Iron, for example, needs stomach acid to be absorbed effectively – and B12 also needs certain receptors in the stomach and middle intestines to be absorbed. “These nutrients are difficult to obtain in any other way and they are essential for normal physiological function,” adds Dr. Modes added.

The gut is also one of the body’s most important disease control systems. “The acid in the stomach kills the bacteria and viruses that can inadvertently be ingested through food, and the digestive tract is an important way of introducing antigens to boost immune function and protection in the body,” says Christine Lee, MD . Gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The digestive tract also digests the foods ingested and extracts the essential nutrients that the body can absorb for vital use.”

New research has even uncovered a link between poor gut health and several neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and depression. One such study from the Université de Genève found that people with Alzheimer’s have different types of bacteria in their gut than those who do not have the disease.

8 signs your gut is suffering

If your gut is unhealthy, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms, even if it’s mild or rare:

  1. gas
  2. Flatulence
  3. Acid reflux
  4. heartburn
  5. diarrhea
  6. constipation
  7. Changes in stool
  8. Inexplicable weight loss
    1. “Since food digestion and waste production are the two most important functions of the intestine, if there are problems in these areas, the intestine can often be the cause of the problem,” explains Dr. Modes. Acid reflux and heartburn have also been linked to the gut, although you may feel the pain further from the core of the problem. Flatulence is also becoming more common, so Dr. Modi notes that patients view them as almost a normal reaction to eating certain foods.

      If you experience unexplained weight loss despite eating regular meals, it may indicate that your body is unable to digest or absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat and that there is a problem in your digestive system, according to Dr. Lee.

      How to improve your gut health

      The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to support your gut health. Here are some of the strategies doctors recommend.

      Eat a wide variety of healthy foods

      A diet made up of several different food types can result in a more diverse microbiome made up of more types, according to a report published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, explains Dr. Lee, strengthens our microbiome and increases its resilience.

      The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those with the highest fiber content that help your digestive tract function properly. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams per day.

      And cut down on unhealthy foods. “The more fat, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health gets,” said Scott David Lippe, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is especially important to keep in mind at dinner, as restaurants tend to consume salt, fat, and fat because they taste good.

      Try to leave out dairy products

      If you experience gas, gas, or loose bowel movements after drinking milk or eating cheese, you may be lactose intolerant. “This affects many adults, especially those who have no Northern European ancestry,” says Dr. Lip. “A quick and easy test is to drink a glass of regular milk – if you feel unwell, you are lactose intolerant.” If you are not ready to give up dairy products, you can also try taking lactose tablets before consuming dairy foods take.

      Consider a probiotic

      These tiny little microorganisms aid your metabolism and help rebalance your microbiota, says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, gastroenterologist and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Psychiatry, UNC Division of Gastroenterology at the UNC School of Medicine. He recommends taking them when you have symptoms of an unhealthy bowel; however, there can be no other benefit. In fact, there isn’t a lot of research to prove the benefits of probiotics for the gut.

      For example, a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology found that probiotics positively affect the gut microbiota of people with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but do little to improve the gut microbiota of healthy people. “If you are taking antibiotics or have diarrhea, taking probiotics can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Lip. However, he recommends trying to get your fair share of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi first.

      Include more prebiotics in your diet

      “Prebiotics are not bacteria, they are foods that good bacteria like to eat,” explains Dr. Milstein. “We have to feed the good bacteria and starve the bad bacteria.” He recommends eating foods rich in bacteria such as walnuts, berries, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, asparagus, leeks and whole grain products. “The diet is personalized, but putting some fruits and vegetables and fiber on our plate with every meal helps keep gut and brain health,” adds Dr. Milstein added.

      Monitor your vitamin D levels

      Recent research in Nature Communications has examined the relationship between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels and found that deficiency in the nutrient plays a key role in increasing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, plays. Any form of disruption of the GI barrier, according to Dr. Drossman commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” which can increase a person’s risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional GI diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. “Most people with leaky gut have very low levels of vitamin D and very low levels of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA,” he says. He recommends that most people consume at least 5,000 IU (125 µg) of vitamin D3 daily and consume sufficient fish oil (or the vegan equivalent) of 1,000 mg DHA per day. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

      Manage your stress level

      Stress not only puts a strain on your mental health, but also on your physical well-being. Chronic high stress can, according to Dr. Drossman directly affect your gut health. While removing stressors from your life isn’t always possible, stress management strategies like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, or yoga can help, says Dr. Drossman. “It’s also a smart idea to see a psychologist to see if brain and gut therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness) can be used,” he adds.

      Get a good night’s sleep every night

      When you don’t get enough sleep, your whole body is affected, including your intestines. In fact, new research shows how closely your gut microbiome and the quality of your sleep really are. A study by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found that poor sleep, for reasons as yet unknown, can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can then manifest itself in a variety of other health problems, including autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

      Jenn Sinrich is a veteran writer, digital and social editor, and content strategist specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and relationships.

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    YOUR HEALTH: When heart health is a matter of race



    PITTSBURGH – Up to 1 in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy.

    Their hearts have enlarged, thickened, or stiffened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

    Now, new research examines racial differences in the outcomes of these heart patients.

    “If we don’t give patients good medicines and the like over time, they will develop into what is known as clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath and leg swelling,” said Dr. Shazli Khan. Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    People with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms may be very mild to begin with.

    Dr. Khan examines racial differences in cardiomyopathy outcomes.

    She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a period of six years.

    “What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of many chronic diseases,” said Dr. Khan.

    “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher diabetes rates.”

    If black patients are on optimized heart failure therapy and continue to have symptoms, they can get additional benefit from taking hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, known under the brand name BiDil.

    Previous research suggested that black patients had a much higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, including chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes.

    “In fact, they died more than the white cardiomyopathy patients,” said Dr. Khan.

    Researchers found that black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15% more likely to die than white patients.

    Dr. Khan says the study results suggest that providers should emphasize earlier interventions.

    “That they come in to fill their medication, make appointments, give them resources, and educate them about the long-term effects of certain medical conditions.”

    Patients are advised to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken or fish.

    Also, focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Doctors will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history.

    You will also be asked when your symptoms are occurring, such as whether exercise is causing your symptoms.

    If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, several tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis, including an X-ray test to see if your heart is enlarged.

    Several blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney, thyroid, and liver function, and to measure your iron levels, and a treadmill test to see your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing while you run on a treadmill.

    Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate symptoms, determine your physical fitness, and see if exercise is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.

    If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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