How Music Benefits the Brain

How Music Benefits the Brain

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Music has played an important part of every human culture, both past and present. (1) People around the world experience universal responses to music. (2) We’re all familiar with how certain pieces of music can change your mood, get you motivated, or help you concentrate. And now, advances in neuroscience enable researchers to quantitatively measure how music affects the brain.

Their discoveries are exciting — and good news for music lovers.

Music is a fantastic brain exercise that activates every known part of the brain. (3) Music can make you smarter, happier and more productive at all stages of life. Let’s take a closer look at some of the latest findings on the many ways both playing and listening to music can enhance your brain.

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Get In the Zone – How to Improve Concentration and Mental Clarity

Get In the Zone – How to Improve Concentration and Mental Clarity

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

It’s been said that the greatest power of the human mind is its ability to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. But most of us struggle to concentrate. And when you can’t concentrate, everything you do is harder and takes longer than you’d like.

If you’ve ever held a magnifying glass in the sun, you know how scattered sunlight can be focused to start a fire. Imagine if you could concentrate your brain power into one bright beam and focus it like a laser on whatever you wish to accomplish.

In this article I’ll show you how to improve concentration by removing distractions, properly nourishing your brain, and using some simple concentration techniques.

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How to Increase Dopamine, the Motivation Molecule

How to Increase Dopamine, the Motivation Molecule

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter for motivation, focus and productivity. Learn the symptoms of dopamine deficiency and natural ways to increase dopamine levels …

There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain — about as many stars as there are in the Milky Way. These cells communicate with each other via brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for providing motivation, drive, and focus. It plays a role in many mental disorders including depression, addictions, ADHD, and schizophrenia.

Let’s take a closer look at dopamine — what it does, symptoms of deficiency, and how to increase it naturally.

Dopamine: The Motivation Molecule

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The Brain Benefits of Learning a Second Language

The Brain Benefits of Learning a Second Language

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The proven benefits of learning a second language include improvements in intelligence, memory, and concentration and lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Understanding language is one of the hardest things your brain does. The benefits of learning a second language seem, in fact, to be proportional to the effort expended by the brain. Because language is complex, speaking or learning a foreign language gives your brain a good workout. It’s good brain exercise that makes the brain stronger.

It’s hard to believe now, but at one time raising children in a bilingual home was believed to stunt their intellectual growth. (1) Experts thought their brains would become confused and that it might even contribute to schizophrenia or split identities. But times have changed. We now understand that precisely the opposite is true. It’s now known that learning another language is one of the most effective and practical ways to increase intelligence, keep your mind sharp, and buffer your brain against aging. Here are the ways that speaking or learning a second language can benefit your brain, no matter your age.

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Ways to Improve Memory and Live Longer with Music

Ways to Improve Memory and Live Longer with Music

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

We intuitively know what scientists are now proving – that music helps you remember, get smarter, and live longer.

Let’s take a look at how music helps us remember, how music is being used to rehabilitate the brain, and how it can lead to a longer, happier life. Plus, we’ve got two fun videos that will have you dancing in the aisles!

Music Is in Our Genes

All cultures have music. The oldest known musical instrument is a 40,000 year old flute carved from a bone.

Music has been universally used to help people remember language and stories significant to that culture. A remnant of that is teaching our children nursery rhymes.

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Multiple Meds? How to Protect Your Brain from the Perils of Polypharmacy

Multiple Meds? How to Protect Your Brain from the Perils of Polypharmacy

By Deane Alban

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Prescription drugs cause over 100,000 deaths per year and cause another 1.5 million people to experience side effects so severe they must be hospitalized.

You may be shocked to learn that according to the United States FDA, adverse drug reactions are now the fourth leading cause of death in the US. (1) In the United Kingdom, pharmaceutical drugs pose nearly double the risk of death than motorcycle accidents on UK roads. (2)

This is in part due to the problem of polypharmacy — the taking of several drugs at once that interact in negative and sometimes unexpected ways. Every medication carries the risk of side effects. When more than one drug at a time is taken, the risks increase exponentially. When you consider that the average 65-year-old takes 5 medications, you can imagine how widespread the problem of polypharmacy is.

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Brain Inflammation: When the Fire Within is Out of Control

Brain Inflammation: When the Fire Within is Out of Control

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

You’ve certainly experienced the acute inflammation that occurs when an injured body part turns red, hot, and swollen. Inflammation is your body’s first line of defense against infection and injury. This process normally shuts down when the injury starts to heal.

But trouble can arise when the inflammation process gets stuck “on” and doesn’t know when to stop. This can happen when your immune system is out of balance.

Then inflammation can turn on your body, attacking healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues instead of protecting them. This is called chronic inflammation and has been dubbed a “silent killer”.

You can develop brain inflammation, just as in any other part of your body. You won’t feel it in the same way because your brain has no nerve receptors. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there, causing hidden damage to your most vital organ.

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Exposed: Why Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease

Exposed: Why Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in industrialized nations. A million people have a heart attack every year in the US alone, yet half of these victims have normal cholesterol.

If there is only a 50/50 chance that heart attack victims have high cholesterol, a question begs to be answered: “Does high cholesterol cause heart disease?”

What if everything we know about cholesterol and heart disease is wrong? Imagine that high cholesterol and saturated fat don’t cause heart disease and that you can eat red meat and butter after all.

Well, this isn’t a fantasy, it turns out to be true!

Let’s take a look at the myths about cholesterol and heart disease.

Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease

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Overcoming Resistance to Change: The Secret to Lasting Health

Overcoming Resistance to Change: The Secret to Lasting Health

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

What do you want to do when you retire? The most common answers to this question are to spend time with friends and family, travel, volunteer, exercise (finally!), learn new things, live abroad, and write a book. [1] But you won’t be able to do these things later if you don’t take care of your body and your brain now.

If you’re like most people, you’ve tried to change, but you find it really, really hard (as in “impossible”). You’ve made the resolutions and set the goals. When you’ve failed, you’ve tried even harder, but making change stick has still eluded you.

Let’s take a look at why the usual ways of making lifestyle changes often fail. Then I’ll give you some super-easy but counter-intuitive tips to create new, healthy habits.

Change the Usual Way Is Hard

Most people rely exclusively on motivation and willpower to make a change. There are some surprising reasons this doesn’t work.

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Art & Healing: the Health Benefits of Art are for Everyone

Art & Healing: the Health Benefits of Art are for Everyone

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

There’s a huge misconception about art and artists. Most people believe that you are born with talent or not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. While we can’t all be Van Goghs, the desire to create, along with proper instruction, can take a person of modest talent a long way towards creating art.

If you’ve ever had the urge to embrace your artistic side, why not do it? It doesn’t matter whether you think you are “talented” or not. Do it because creating art is a wonderful way to stimulate your brain, improve your well-being, and possibly get healthier! Do it for yourself because you enjoy it, and with lessons and practice, your hidden talents will blossom.

The Brain Benefits of Art

Here are some of the best ways that picking up your paint brush can benefit your brain and mental health:

1. Art makes you more observant. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.” Creating art helps you learn to “see” by concentrating on detail and paying more attention to your environment.

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Manuka Madness: Is Your Manuka Honey Fake?

Manuka Madness: Is Your Manuka Honey Fake?

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The world’s #1 ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic starts each day with it. Actress Scarlett Johansson attributes her beautiful skin to it. Millions of people buy it to ward off disease and illness, including cancer and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

What is this miracle superfood?

It’s manuka honey.

Honey has been used medicinally both internally and externally for 5,000 years. All unprocessed honey contains antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties.

But manuka honey stands out above the rest. This unique honey is produced by bees that harvest pollen from the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) which grows wild throughout New Zealand and parts of Australia. This plant goes by many other names including manuka myrtle, New Zealand tea tree, New Zealand tea bush, broom tea tree, and tea tree. It is in the same plant family (Myrtaceae) as another highly-valued medicinal plant – the Australian tea tree – the source of tea tree oil.

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Go Out and Play! – 6 Great Reasons to Exercise Outside

Go Out and Play! – 6 Great Reasons to Exercise Outside

By Deane Alban

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Sometimes we need to be reminded to connect with the Earth, with something as simple as riding a bike, planting a tree, or enjoying a picnic. It’s not only healthy for us but it’s healthy for the planet too.

Getting regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to boost your health and brain function, but exercising outdoors provides many additional benefits. So in the spirit of celebrating and appreciating this amazing planet we call home, I’m going to recommend you do at least some of your exercise outside, if you can possibly swing it.

Go out and play!

6 Great Reasons to Exercise Outdoors

Stress Reduction

Exercising outside reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol more effectively than performing a similar activity inside.

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