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How COVID Can Affect Brain Health, and 9 Ways to Strengthen Yours



Consider adding tai chi to your fitness routine to improve your brain health.

Credit: Pheelings Media / iStock / GettyImages

More than a year after the novel coronavirus pandemic, researchers are still working tirelessly to better understand the virus behind COVID-19 and its short- and long-term health effects.

The most commonly reported symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, and joint and chest pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These brain symptoms have been seen in many “long distance patients” who continue to have persistent symptoms for six months or more after being initially diagnosed with COVID-19, as shown in a September 2020 medical review in JAMA.

Here we take a look at what we know so far about the effects of COVID on the brain and what you can do to support your brain health after infection.

How COVID can affect the brain

Not everyone who has COVID ends up with brain symptoms, but there are a few to look out for:

More serious effects include something known as COVID encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

Early data from an October 2020 study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences suggests up to 13 percent of people with COVID-19 and with neurological complications can develop some form of encephalitis.

Although not very common, “we know from experience that encephalitis caused by other viruses can lead to long-term problems such as early dementia or stroke, so there is concern that COVID-19-induced encephalitis could have the same consequences. ” Stephen Hurlbut, MD, a neurologist from Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, told

Psychiatric symptoms have also been reported in people who have had “long-term COVID”. A February 2021 study at JAMA Psychiatry found that an estimated 24 percent of patients who recovered from severe COVID-19 infections met criteria for depression and / or generalized anxiety disorder. (The number is closer to 11 percent in the general adult population, according to the CDC.)

The same study also found an association between patients recovering from severe COVID-19 and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“PTSD not only encompasses depression and anxiety, it also leads to sleep disorders that further reduce cognitive function,” explains neuropsychologist Paul Schulz, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Clinic for Memory Disorders and Dementia at McGovern Medical School.

3. Chronic fatigue syndrome

A number of postviral syndromes affecting the brain have also been observed with COVID-19, such as chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS / ME), a condition characterized by extreme tiredness or fatigue that can also cause memory problems and difficulty concentrating .

“It was very difficult to figure out why some people get CFS / ME, but we see a lot of people with CFS / ME [the disorder] after every viral illness, and the same seems to apply to COVID, “says Dr. Schulz.

9 ways to support brain health after COVID

In addition to working with your doctor, here are some ways you can restore your neurological health while your body recovers from COVID.

1. Engage in mentally stimulating activities

Just as training the muscles in your body improves your strength, so training your brain through mental stimulation or mental exercise improves your health, notes Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Michigan Medicine.

Research, including a December 2016 study in Brain Imaging and Behavior, has shown that mentally challenging your brain creates new connections that protect against future memory loss.

When choosing these activities, start with things you enjoy, such as crossword puzzles or sudoku puzzles.

“Try to find things that make you want to use your brain in ways that you find enjoyable and a little challenging,” says Dr. Hurlbut.

2. Eat brain friendly foods

Eating a healthy diet benefits every organ in your body, including your brain.

“Eating a diet that consists of leafy green vegetables, fish, legumes, and whole grains improves blood vessel health in the brain and helps prevent cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke,” said Vinit Mehrotra, MD, neurologist at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

Dr. Mehrotra breaks down the best brain foods as follows:

1. Green leafy vegetablesare rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as vitamin K, folic acid and beta-carotene. Healthy picks are:

  • spinach
  • Kale
  • Kale
  • salad
  • Microgreens

2. Oily fishAre a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lower blood levels of beta amyloid, a protein found in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Good picks are:

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • Trout
  • Shellfish

3. BerriesAre also brain-boosting as they contain flavonoids that can help improve memory, according to a June 2019 study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Think:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

3. Fit in some form of fitness daily

Exercise benefits almost every aspect of your health, from reducing your risk of heart disease to strengthening your muscles and bones. It also promotes your brain health.

“Daily exercise keeps the blood vessels open and improves the oxygen supply to the brain as the blood flow through the blood vessels supplies the brain with oxygen,” says Dr. Mehrotra. “This will prevent slow damage and death of brain cells, which in turn will improve the overall functioning of the brain.”

While any type of exercise can have brain-boosting benefits, research, including an April 2013 study in PLOS One, has shown tai chi to be particularly effective.

4. Quit unhealthy lifestyle habits

Smoking, drinking, and drug use are harmful to your physical health, but can also be bad news for your neurological health.

“Smoking is known to increase the incidence of cerebrovascular diseases like stroke, and recreational drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can damage the blood vessels in the brain and the brain cells themselves, which can lead to an increased incidence of stroke and dementia,” says Dr. Mehrotra. “Alcohol consumption is also harmful, as excessive consumption can cause seizures and nerve damage in the distal parts of the limbs (peripheral neuropathy).”

5. Stay socially connected

So many of us have spent most of the past year in isolation from loved ones, and this increasing loneliness is having an overall negative impact on our health.

In fact, an October 2020 review in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that social isolation resulting from the pandemic may increase a person’s risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia.

“As many of us experience new levels of isolation during the pandemic, it is important that we find ways to connect and make sure we don’t feel alone and cut off, even when physically distant,” says Scott Kaiser , MD, Geriatrician and Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

For those looking to improve their social connectivity, he recommends starting small, e.g.

“Social call programs like Call Hub, which aim to connect isolated older adults with volunteers, have been shown to reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression,” he says.

Meditation has been around since ancient times, but researchers are only just beginning to grasp the benefits it brings to the mind and body.

“Just a few mindful breaths can help you control stress while triggering a physiological relaxation response in your body that slows your heart rate, changes blood vessel tone with reduced blood pressure, boosts immune factors, lowers blood sugar, and improves your mood” says Dr. Emperor.

As for meaning, volunteering is one way people can feel meaning and purpose in their lives – and this can improve your cognitive skills.

A 2017 study in The Journals of Gerontology found an association between volunteering and improved cognitive function in older adults.

“Research on volunteering clearly shows its rich benefits and strong role as a valuable ingredient in healthy aging,” says Dr. Emperor.

8. Get a good night’s sleep

The benefits of sleep to the brain are immeasurable. “Whether it’s removing debris, ‘resetting’ neural networks, or providing downtime for various systems, the quantity and quality of sleep have profound physiological effects that affect our daily thinking, memory and mood, as well as our long-term Risk of cognitive decline and dementia, “says Dr. Kaiser.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults sleep an average of seven to nine hours a night for optimal health.

9. Follow the meaning of your life

It makes sense that a reason to get up in the morning and a sense of importance affect how you feel – and research supports that.

In fact, a July 2012 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who scored high on their sense of life were more than twice as likely to be free of Alzheimer’s as people with low scores.

“Knowing that people depend on you and feeling that you are making an important contribution and possibly even making a difference in this world could certainly contribute to healthy aging,” says Dr. Emperor.

Have you always wanted to write a book? Would you like to go back to school or change your job? There is no time like the present.

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Whole Grains Health

Harness the power of the body’s hormones for better health



When a hormone is out of whack, you can feel like you’re stuck in the mud or strapped to a runaway horse. Just ask someone with untreated Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease (these are high or low thyroid levels), hypogonadism (low testosterone or estrogen deficiency), or uncontrolled diabetes. Because hormones are the chemical messengers of your body and have a direct influence on your metabolism, energy level, hunger, cognition, sexual function / reproduction and mood.

There are around 50 hormones in your body and many more hormone-like substances (brain neurotransmitters like serotonin and active vitamin D2 for example). Your pituitary is the “master gland,” it tells other glands to secrete hormones. The other hormone-producing glands are the pineal and adrenal glands, as well as the thymus, thyroid and pancreas – men also produce hormones in their testicles (testosterone) and women in their ovaries (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). Aside, about 25% of testosterone in women is produced in the ovaries, a quarter in the adrenal gland and half in the peripheral tissue.

It only takes a tiny amount of a few hormones to make big changes in every inch of your body. Therefore, if they are out of whack, it can cause you serious problems. In America, type 2 diabetes is the most common hormone-related disease. This happens when you become insulin resistant and this hormone, which is produced in the pancreas, can no longer regulate blood sugar levels, causing a cascade of health problems from atherosclerosis to neuropathy to kidney disease.

Here’s how you can calm your hormones – and restore your health:

Eat Smartly. The endocrine glands are happy when you eat healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds; high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables; lean animal protein such as salmon; and plant-based proteins like 100% whole grains and legumes / beans. This mix of nutrients lets your appetite regulating hormones leptin (I’m full) and ghrelin (I’m hungry) signal you accordingly so you don’t overeat. Overeating and obesity regulate many hormonal systems.

In addition, a healthy diet will nourish your thyroid hormones, which also help regulate weight. Perhaps most importantly, a healthy diet regulates the work of trillions of microbes in your gut biome that help regulate hormone production and produce hormone-like substances.

Cope with stress, sleep peacefully. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress. When chronically elevated, it can reduce the activity of your hypothalamus, which in turn can lead to imbalances in the messenger substances that affect sleep, eating, sexual activity, and cognition and mood. Then you can get tired and gain weight. Therefore, it is important to regularly exercise, meditate, take deep breaths, hang out with friends, volunteer to help others, and / or talk to a therapist. Healthy sleeping habits are also important for reducing stress and regulating hormones. Growth hormones, testosterone, cortisol and insulin are released during sleep. And studies show a link between chronic lack of sleep and depression and weight gain. For sleep hygiene information, visit

Reduce Chronic Inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs when your immune response is overstimulated to conditions that interfere with the peaceful functioning of your body. This can happen if you are overweight or obese, addicted to sugar and fast foods, smoke or drink too much, or are constantly under stress. These factors can trigger hormonal changes, such as insulin resistance, low testosterone and vitamin D levels, and increased cortisol, and they power your sympathetic nervous system, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pupil size, and making your blood vessels narrow .

Plus: Eating healthy foods and managing stress and sleep will help reduce inflammation throughout your body and stabilize your hormones, but you can’t get real success if you’re sitting – 150 minutes or more of exercise per week is essential.

So make friends with your hormones and these powerful messengers will send you good news about your energy levels, sleep satisfaction, aging rate, and happiness.

Mehmet Oz, MD is hosting “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, MD is the Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus. For the healthiest way to live, tune in to The Dr. Oz Show or visit

(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, MD

and Mehmet Oz, MD

King Features Syndicate

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Whole Grains Health

Types of Millets And How Beneficial it is in Losing Weight



Weight Loss Tips: Millet is an essential part of the whole grain family like rice, oats or quinoa. It is originally grown in Asia thousands of years ago. It’s gluten-free, filled with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Millet is not only famous in India but has also gained in value in western countries.Read also – Weight Loss in Real Life: I was 104 kg, a visit to my daughter’s school changed everything

Millet is high in protein. It contains five grams of protein and one gram of fiber. Both of these ingredients help keep the stomach fuller for longer and reduce the snack habit between meals. This helps in shedding those extra pounds without compromising on your diet. Also Read – Weight Loss: Is It Safe To Eat Only Liquid Food When Losing Weight? Expert speaks | Exclusive

What Are The Health Benefits Of Millet?

Millet is high in antioxidants that help flush harmful radicals out of the body. It contains antioxidant components like quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid, and other beneficial catechins. These help in eliminating toxins and neutralizing enzymes. It prevents health problems. Also Read – 6 Possible Reasons For Unexpected Weight Gain Explains The Nutritionist

Not only is millet very nutritious, it also has a good amount of fiber stored in it. It helps with digestion and prevents constipation, gas and acidity. It helps avoid digestive problems and prevents gastrointestinal cancer and kidney / liver problems.

  • Reduction of cardiovascular risks

Millet is high in and essential fats that help provide the body with natural fats. It also helps in preventing fat from being stored in the body. Along with this, it lowers the risk of high cholesterol, paralysis, and other heart problems. It contains potassium, which helps to keep an eye on blood pressure and increases blood flow.

What are the different types of millet?

Ragi is known for its iron content. It helps in the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells. It is high in calcium and potassium. Due to the high proportion of fiber, it keeps the stomach fuller for a longer period of time.

Jowar is loaded with nutrients like vitamin B, magnesium, and antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins. It helps boost metabolism and improves the quality of hair and skin. The presence of magnesium helps in strengthening bone and heart health.

Bajra is high in protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, and calcium. It’s low in calories and considered the best grain for shedding pounds. It keeps your stomach fuller for a long period of time without increasing your daily calorie count.

Amaranth is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. It helps improve brain function and prevents certain neurological diseases. It helps build muscle and maintain digestive health. It is also noted that amaranth has more nutrients than quinoa.

Kangni is known as semolina or rice flour. It helps in strengthening the immune system and balancing blood sugar levels as it is high in iron and calcium. It also serves as a better option for shedding those extra pounds. It usually includes low cholesterol, good digestion, and helps in building good heart health.

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Whole Grains Health

Adherence To a Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Diabetes



Author: Kenya Henderson, 2021 PharmD. Candidate, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Role of the Mediterranean Diet: Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can potentially reduce the risk of developing diabetes for the US population.

A Mediterranean diet is one of the few healthy eating habits that has been linked to significant health improvements. It is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, and olive oil and is more common in European countries. It is recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help reduce the risk of chronic disease. In addition, it is linked to a reduced risk of diabetes in Mediterranean and European countries. However, it is unclear that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes in the US population. In a large US cohort study with black and white men and women, this study investigated whether Mediterranean eating behavior is linked to the risk of diabetes.

This study was a prospective cohort study that included patients in previous research, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which looked at the causes of heart disease in over 400,000 adults in the United States. In this study, data were collected from 11,991 participants on their first visit. Participants were excluded if they were Asian or Indian due to the small sample size; were black and from Maryland and Minnesota, unable to decipher the influence of geographic region on race; if they have a history or history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer; or if they were derived from the answers to the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) or if they had ten or more missing FFQ elements.

One of the statistical methods was an FFQ questionnaire to record the food intake of each patient on their first and third visits. The data recorded from the survey was used in the scores for the Mediterranean Alternative Diet (aMed). The scores ranged from 0 to 9 points, with 1 point being awarded if the patient reported consuming vegetables, fruits, or legumes himself, and 1 point if the patient reported consuming red or processed meat. The higher the aMed score, the higher the adherence to a Mediterranean diet. They also used Cox’s proportional hazard regression models to estimate the hazard ratios and confidence intervals for the associations between aMed scores and incidents of diabetes. Incidence diabetes was defined as: if the patient was diagnosed by a doctor, had taken diabetes medication in the past two weeks, had a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg / dL or more, or a non-fasting blood sugar of 200 mg / dL or above. Variables were also used in the Cox regression analyzes, including energy intake, age, gender, race, educational level, smoking status and physical activity, and clinical mediators of diabetes. They were all stratified by race and body mass index (BMI).

During a median follow-up of 22 years, this analysis found 4,024 cases of diabetes among the 11,991 participants. In summary, aMed scores and incidents of diabetes were higher in blacks than whites, but the risk of diabetes was reduced by up to 17% in both races. In addition, the associations between aMed scores and incidents of diabetes were found to be stronger in patients with a healthy baseline BMI, indicating that obesity or overweight outweighs the benefits of a healthy Mediterranean diet, as shown in the ARIC study and other U.S. Population. Therefore, the results of this study indicate that following a Mediterranean diet without weight loss may not reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight or obese populations. While following a Mediterranean diet could lower the risk of diabetes in people with healthy BMI, the discussion about restricting calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight should remain one of the most important tasks of diabetes prevention. Overall, eating and following a Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of diabetes in a community-based US population, especially for black and normal weight individuals. Future studies should be conducted to determine whether a Mediterranean diet that results in clinically meaningful weight loss can reduce the future risk of diabetes in those who are overweight or obese.

Practice pearls:

  • Diets high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, and olive oil have been linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes in the US population.
  • There are stronger associations between adherence to the Mediterranean pattern and incidents of diabetes among blacks compared to the US white population.

O’Connor, LE, Hu, EA, Steffen, LM et al. Adherence to Mediterranean eating habits and risk of diabetes in a prospective US cohort study. Nutr. Diabetes 10, 8, (2020).

Kenya Henderson, 2021 PharmD. Candidate, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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