Preserve your brain health and preserve your life story!

Caucasian couple looking at photographs with grandchildren
Your life story

Your life story: it’s one of the most important assets you have.  It’s your identity, what makes you, you.  What’s more, it’s your family’s story that helps shape your personal life story.  Do you have fond memories of hearing stories about your family history shared with you by grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles?  Have those stories and collective wisdom helped shape who you are today?  We all want to be able to play a part in keeping our family story and our personal story alive and we do this by sharing our stories with the next generation.  But, none of this would be possible if we do not maintain a healthy brain as we age.  

As we age, we need to keep our memories and our minds sharp so that we can preserve our stories and share them.  One important thing you can do is maximize the health of your brain and strengthen your memory, in order to share your life story, keeping it alive.  Eating a well-balanced diet, getting exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your brain mentally stimulated by engaging in specific activities such as playing brain training games will all have a positive impact on your memory and the overall health of your brain.

Here are some of our other favorite ideas for preserving and sharing your family story:

    1. Begin a family newsletter or a family blog so that you can stay better connected with family members near and far.
    2. Start a scrapbook or photo album about your family.
    3. Put together a family cookbook.
    4. Research your family history (there are a myriad of free and paid online genealogy resources).
    5. Keep a journal and encourage your family members to do the same!
    6. Organize a family reunion.
  • Challenge your brain by playing Fit Brains so that you can stimulate your memory and share your story!

Take some time this month to connect with family members, reflect on your story, and take some steps to focus on your brain health, especially focusing on training your brain for a stronger memory.

It’s National Family Stories Month. What are your favorite ways to preserve and share your family’s story?  Share with us and other readers in the comments section!

Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.  And, you can always challenge your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!

Try Fit Brains for FREE Now!

Fit Brains.  “Brain Training Success”.

Your Shrinking Brain, Spookiest Thing Ever!

Scared Boy
What You Should Be Afraid of Most

Zombies, witches, machete-wielding maniacs, the typical horrors of Halloween have nothing on your shrinking brain.  That’s right.  SHRINKING BRAIN.  Prepare to be scared.  

You may feel perfectly healthy, but your brain is shrinking and you are losing as much as 0.4% of your brain mass every.single.year.  Obviously this isn’t good news.  A shrinking brain means loss of memory and mental sharpness, severe depression and even premature death (cue the sound of that machete-wielding maniac).    

Take heart on this darkest of days.  There are things you can do to prevent your brain from shrinking further and improve your brain health!

  • Get a good night’s sleep (every night).  This is critical.  Every hour of reduced sleep duration= a 0.67% decrease in cognitive function!  
  • Don’t smoke.  I don’t think we need to go into much more detail about this one, but we’ll just add that smoking is associated with faster brain shrinkage and poor brain health.
  • Feel free to indulge in a little light alcohol consumption (this is our favorite tip), but don’t overdue or you’ll only make things worse for your brain (not to mention your liver…) A standard drink= 14.0 grams or 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
  • Supplement with B vitamins, specifically a combination of folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.  B vitamins regulate homocysteine, which if unchecked, can lead to significant brain shrinkage and dementia.
  • Indulge in Omega 3 fatty acids.  Salmon, walnuts, sardines, beef (specifically grass-fed), soybeans, flaxseeds, tofu, shrimp, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are some of the foods that are rich in Omega 3’s.     
  • Have a daily dose of pomegranate.  Studies have demonstrated significant improvements in cognition and memory among those who consume 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily!  
  • Find a way to get Resveratrol (a major component of red grapes and other dark fruits) into your body, whether you like to drink red wine in moderation, or you can simply take a Resveratrol supplement.  
  • Cognitive stimulation and training helps grow more brain cells which counteracts against brain shrinkage.  

So, while there is no denying that you should be worried about your shrinking brain, at least now you know that there is hope when you take the proper steps to maintain better brain health!

Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.  And, you can always benefit your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!  Try Fit Brains for FREE now! 

Fit Brains.  Brain Training Success

Introducing the All-New Fit Brains Trainer!

NewFitBrainsAppOur Biggest Update Ever is Here! We’re excited to introduce the All-New Improved Fit Brains and can’t wait for you to try it out. Our award-winning #1 ranked education app in 90+ countries with 18 million+ global users got a do-over. What’s New?

THE WORLD’S FIRST EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ) AND IQ BRAIN TRAINER!

1. THE ENTERTAINER: More Fun Brain Games

We’ve added 9 brain games, 1 for 6 core brain areas plus 3 in the new Emotional Intelligence category. You can stimulate not just your Memory, Focus, Language, Thinking Speed and Visual-Spatial skills but also Self-Awareness, Self-Control and Social Awareness skills. Studies show that these abilities are the key to success, happiness and health. We have the most games on the market with 70+ and the widest variety. Can you beat the top scores? Play with Mood Matcher, Color Control, Circle Count and more.

2. THE TRAINER: Improved Cognitive Training

We’re not just a pretty face, our Fit Brains trainer got a complete makeover. It’s more engaging, higher quality and easier to understand. Train with over 500+ personalized sessions. Target specific areas of your brain with our new “Customize Training” option. And track your scores with the new “Training Results Screen”. Curious? Check it out.

3. THE GAMECHANGER: New Emotional Intelligence Training! (Beta)

We’re the World’s first comprehensive Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Cognitive brain trainer. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of others. Our goal is to provide an All-In-One Holistic approach for brain health and performance by combining Cognitive and EQ training. Your brain is ‘plastic’, thus, like your IQ, your EQ can also change and improve. Studies show that EQ can be improved more than 50%.

We added a whole new area for EQ: Self Awareness, Self Control and Social Awareness. Another section, Social Skills, will be added soon.

  • Self Control: the ability to control and manage our impulses, appropriate or otherwise. It affects how we fit into our communities and social circles, as well as how we grow and better ourselves.
  • Self Awareness: the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions which affects our sense of identity and general well-being.
  • Social Awareness: the ability to understand the moods and emotional responses of others. It helps improve social interaction and builds stronger social bonds.

Key Benefits of Emotional Intelligence     

  • A More Happy, Healthy, Successful You
  • Stronger Relationships
  • Improved Health and Less Stress
  • Better Decision Making
  • Main Predictor of Job Success
  • Higher Salary Potential

Want a better quality of life? Rewire your brain. Rewrite your life story. Discover an easy and quick way to challenge your mind! Get started for FREE now! You’ll love the results…and our games!

“Brain Training Success”

 

Brain Train Your Way to Better Performance: The FINGER Study

According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet (March 2015) brain training, exercise, healthy eating and management of risk factors seems to maintain or improve cognitive function and delay cognitive decline.  The Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) is the first of its’ kind, ground breaking trial to combat some of the key high risk factors for dementia (eg. Heart health, high BMI).

Method

1260 Finns aged 60-77 were randomly divided equally between the control group who were given general health tips and the intervention group.  The latter had regular meetings with healthcare professionals and were given comprehensive guidance on healthy eating, exercise programs, brain training and managing metabolic and vascular risk factors, for example, with regular blood exams.

Findings

After 2 years, the participants’ cognitive performance was assessed with a standard exam, the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB).  The overall scores for the intervention group were higher by 25%.  The remarkable results for certain sections of the exam, processing speed at 150% and executive functioning at 83% were even higher.  Executive function refers to the brain’s capacity to manage, plan and execute thought processes.

“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.” Professor Kivipelto, lead Researcher – Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland

Train & Play with Fit Brains

Your brain is like a muscle, it can grow fitter and stronger with exercise. Train and play with Fit Brains. Fit Brains exercises help stimulate and entertain your mind. You can play Fit Brains on any web browser or train or train on-the-go with our IOS, Android or Amazon app!   

Play Fit Brains

Journal Reference

Tiia Ngandu, Jenni Lehtisalo, Alina Solomon, Esko Levälahti, Satu Ahtiluoto, Riitta Antikainen, Lars Bäckman, Tuomo Hänninen, Antti Jula, Tiina Laatikainen, Jaana Lindström, Francesca Mangialasche, Teemu Paajanen, Satu Pajala, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trialThe Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5

New App for Kids – Fit Brains: Sparky’s Adventures!

You asked for it, and now we delivered…

Our newest iOS brain training app for kids has launched!  Fit Brains: Sparky’s Adventures is now available for download on iPhones and iPads at the iTunes store.

Fit Brains: Sparky’s Adventures offers a first-of-its-kind approach to child learning and development. With a library of 200+ fun & healthy brain games designed for children ages 2 to 8, this app will stimulate the 5 key areas of your child’s brain and automatically adapts to the specific needs of your child.

Features:

  1. 200+ games for your child that are both fun and educational
  2. Each game stimulates a key area of the brain: Memory, Concentration (Attention), Problem-Solving, Speed, Visual
  3. Automatic adjustment of game difficulty to match your child’s skill level and continuing growth
  4. Rewarded treats that can be added to the “playground” to keep your child engaged and motivated
  5. The “Parents Corner” offers detailed tools & charts tracking your child’s progress in different areas
  6. A “Fit Brains Age Index” to show which age group your child is performing the closest to

Benefits for your Child:

  • Stimulate brain processing
  • Decrease boredom & increase educational fun!

In the Media:

The original Fit Brains Trainer has been highly successful, used and praised by people all over the world.  However, we have gotten many requests for additional tools & products and we knew we had to start expanding our training to the entire family.  We saw the lack of a comprehensive brain trainer for young children, and heard from many of our fans that they wanted a Fit Brains app geared toward their kids.  It was here that Fit Brains: Sparky’s Adventures was born.

We hope this new app will bring education into playtime fun for your children.  Leave us a comment below and let us know your child’s experience with the app!

 

Helping Teachers Understand Brain and Behavior

I wrote a short piece many years ago describing my ideas of the school really being a brain health center. I also wrote about learning providing a type of “vaccine” for the brain to help fight off disease. I still believe in these ideas and over the past 10 years research has discovered findings on the human brain that support such speculation.

President Obama has initiated with politicians on both sides of the aisle a brain- mapping program that will allocate funds from the 2014 budget for exploration of the human brain. There is another legislative idea being promoted that will allocate money for educating our teachers about mental health and behavior in their students.

The latter is certainly guided by the recent school shooting tragedy, but such initiatives provide a wonderful opportunity for a basic foundational understanding of the human brain and behavior to be taught to all those who teach and work in our schools. Such an understanding can have a profound impact on teacher-student relations, teaching methodology, identification of potential behavioral risk factors, amelioration of problems before they escalate, and a deeper understanding of how environment can shape the brain.

I have had the great pleasure of working with many schools and districts across the United States teaching about the human brain and brining a “brain healthy culture” to the school. In essence, helping to turn the school into a Brain Health Environment. There are so many basic things we can do to facilitate such an environment and the students and teachers get motivated and excited by such innovation.

I hope to be more involved with schools across the United States and abroad to bring a basic understanding of the human brain and a brain health culture to the schools. It is important that we apply the research findings of the human brain to our classrooms and schools so that we not only can help in the area of mental illness, but that we nurture all brains to be the best they can be!

 

 

Concussion and Sports

By now most of you have heard, seen, read, or experienced personally or in the family the head injury we clinically refer to as concussion. A concussion is generally defined as an injury to the brain that can result in temporary loss of normal brain function. Such functions can include orientation, alertness, judgment, information processing, processing speed, attention and memory. Concussions can, but do not need to involve a loss of consciousness.

Some estimates are that more than 300,000 sports-related concussions occur annually in the United States, and that there is a 19% per year of play likelihood of sustaining a concussion. High school sports yield about 60,000 concussions each year and among college players 34% have had one concussion and 20% multiple concussions. Suffering one concussion increases the risk for that person to incur a second concussion and this is particularly true for football.

Estimates are that between four and twenty percent of college and high school football players will sustain a brain injury over the course of the season. Nearly 60% of college soccer players reported symptoms of a concussion at least once during the season. Concussion rates are comparable for soccer and football. Concussions also occur in non-sport activities such as automobile, biking, sledding, and falls around the home.

Implications for Health

There is no good reason to strike your head and brain. That is a simple, yet important statement for any person at any age. A concussion not only leads to a higher risk for another concussion, it also correlates with depression, impulsivity, and even dementia later in life. We are bombarded now with reports of football players suffering dementia from sustained head injuries clinically referred to as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

On a practical level, if your brain is damaged your ability to conduct basic daily activities such as driving, school work, sports, employment, and relationships may be limited. Our life as we had known it will likely be changed and the more severe the brain injury or concussion, the more limited we will be. This is devastating at any age, but it is particularly unfortunate for young persons who may not have even entered the work force yet.

Practical Ideas to Consider:

I am the father of three boys and I was raised and live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where football is second only to God! I want to provide you this context because the following ideas are not only difficult for me to express, they will be difficult for many to process. However, I work as a neuropsychologist and after 20 or more years of witnessing the consequences of brain injury I cannot be quiet:

  1. Communities should agree (not be legislated) to remove all tackle football for any child below the 11th grade. It is one thing to have ongoing discussions about the NFL and concussion, it is something completely different for our support of 6 and 7 year-olds dressing up with helmets and being instructed to “hit hard.” I refer to this as “organized stupidity.”
  2. All elementary schools should agree to provide curriculum on the basics of the human brain, how to keep it healthy, and what is not good for the brain.
  3. For those children who wish to play football prior to the 11th grade, flag football should be used.
  4. For those in the 11th grade who wish to play HS football, all schools should seek training and consultation of proper methods of play from college and professional coaches.
  5. All players in all sports, beginning at early ages, should undergo baseline assessments for brain integrity (Impact Test). This will provide important data on that child if a head injury occurs. All players should also be informed of proper lifestyle to help boost the health of their brain (see www.paulnussbaum.com).
  6. For those players who do play tackle football in the 11th grade and later, advanced equipment should be used and severe penalties should be extended to those who strike the head.
  7. For all sports, proper headgear should be used. I encourage all soccer, baseball, hockey, biking, basketball, etc. athletes to use some form of protective headgear or headband prior to setting foot on the field. The same is probably true of gymnastics, cheerleaders, and dancers.

It is my opinion that we are a great nation that should be more enlightened than our behavior suggests at times. I am not a proponent of legislating behavior change. We still have our rights and anyone has the right to be stupid! However, I think communities across the world and within school districts can have reasonable discussions that foster policies intended to protect our brains, particularly our young brains!