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Friday, January 27, 2017

Foods for Your Brain

Got a big test or job interview coming up? What you eat can play a big role in helping you tame stress, boost brainpower and stay focused. 

While no single food is a magic nutritional bullet, incorporating a few brain-boosting foods into your diet can help you stay sharp and fuel your body and mind to do your very best. 

Start with these healthy tips.

Drink plenty of water: Proper hydration is essential for brain function, so make sure to drink H2O in the morning before your exam or interview. You may also want to bring a water bottle with you. Sipping water during the test, for example, can help you feel more alert and calm your nerves. 

Focus on breakfast: Starting your day with a protein-filled breakfast is a smart way to stay energized and sharp come test time or interview day. Some healthy and low-fat options to include in your morning meal: 
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Lean meats (Canadian bacon or turkey bacon)
  • Tofu
Load up on berries. They may be small but they pack a big punch when it comes to brainpower. This is because they are filled with antioxidants and flavonoids, which help reduce stress and inflammation that contribute to brain impairment. Add them to smoothies or oatmeal or toss them in a salad.

Go nuts. Raw almonds, pecans and walnuts make a perfect on-the-go brain-boosting snack. These superfoods are good sources of vitamin E, which quenches free radicals that can damage brain cells, and magnesium, which is known to improve memory. They’re also high in fat and calories, however, so watch your portions. 

Say yes to fish. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, trout, halibut, mackerel, sardines) have been linked to better memory and general brain health. Aim for 16 ounces (four servings) of fish per week. Not a fan of seafood? Hemp protein and flaxseeds are great sources, too, or talk to your healthcare professional about whether a supplement might be right for you.

Study Skills, Life Skills and More
When you choose Hope Academy's rehab, you open the possibility for a whole new life. Our program includes job prep and college admissions along with drug and alcohol treatment. To learn more, call today: 866-930-4673.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Heavy Drinking Alters Brain in Adolescents

For young people whose brain is still developing, heavy alcohol use may be more detrimental than previously thought, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. 

The study, which was published in Addiction Biology, followed 27 adolescents who had been heavy drinkers throughout their adolescence, as well as 25 participants with little or no alcohol use. At the onset of the study, the participants were 13 to 18 years old. 

They found that long-term heavy use of alcohol in adolescence alters brain activity, namely the function of the GABA neurotransmission system. GABA plays a key role in anxiety, depression and the pathogenesis of several neurological disorders. The adolescents’ brain activity was analyzed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with simultaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) recording.

Researchers say that the findings warrant two questions: Whether the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders should be tighter for adolescents and whether they should be more easily referred to treatment. 

Long-Term Alcohol Use and Your Health
Although the negative effects often take time to manifest, heavy drinking has been found to wreak havoc on many parts of the body beyond the brain – causing well over 60 diseases, according to researchers. Here are a few of the more common health conditions linked with the abuse of alcohol:  
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Gout
  • Heart Attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Infectious disease, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Nerve damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Alcohol Abuse Help for You or Your Loved One
Young adults make up 31.5 percent of alcoholics, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). Hope Academy's safe and supportive environment is ideal for teens and young adults to share their concerns, set  sobriety goals, and begin the road to recovery. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Can an App Ease Your Anxiety?

Mobile technology may seem like the last resort when it comes to caring for your mental health, but new research shows that a smartphone app may in fact help relieve anxiety and depression.

Researchers tested a suite of 14 free mini-apps, collectively known as IntelliCare, designed by Northwestern clinicians and based on current psychology techniques used by therapists. After eight weeks, the 96 participants (who all had elevated symptoms of anxiety or depression) decreased their symptoms by 50 percent. This level of improvement is comparable to in-person therapy or taking antidepressant medication, say researchers.

The apps, currently available on GooglePlay, offers easy-to-follow exercises to help users sleep better, build self-confidence, unwind and de-stress, tame self-criticism and worry, discover greater meaning in life and more. They include: 
  • Daily Feats, which allows users to add worthwhile and rewarding activities to their day
  • Purple Chill, which includes audio recordings and guided exercises
  • Slumber Time
  • My Mantra
"We designed these apps so they fit easily into people's lives and could be used as simply as apps to find a restaurant or directions," lead author David Mohr, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a press release. "Using digital tools for mental health is emerging as an important part of our future."

Currently, there are over 165,000 health apps on the market, many of them targeting mental health, according to Huffington Post

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Young Adults
At Hope Academy, we conduct a series of tests upon admission to determine if mental illness is complicating substance abuse. Once we gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s individual health challenges, our addiction treatment team develops a customized program. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

Friday, January 6, 2017

How a Joystick Can Help Alcoholics Avoid Relapse

Could a video gaming joystick help you stay sober? That’s what researchers are looking to discover in an ongoing study in Berlin. Study participants were asked to use the device to push away alcohol-related images and pull images of water and non-alcoholic beverages closer in an attempt to prevent relapse.  

Before the training, the majority of participants associate alcohol with ‘approach’ but, after the training, alcohol is associated with ‘avoid,’ according to the press release. Along with conventional addiction treatment, the joystick therapy was found to lower relapse rates.

The Signs of Relapse
Unfortunately, relapse is a pretty normal part of recovery –  and just the image of alcohol can be enough to trigger some people with alcohol use disorder to start drinking again. But a relapse is more than just returning to using – and, in fact, there are warning signs of long before the first drink occurs. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, when people who have had a stable recovery and have done well begin to relapse, they:
  • Return to addictive thinking patterns 
  • Engage in compulsive, self-defeating behaviors 
  • Seek out situations involving people who use alcohol and drugs
  • Think less rationally, and behaving less responsibly
  • Find themselves in a situation in which alcohol use seems like a logical escape from pain
Aftercare Planning at Hope Academy in CA
Young adults are particularly vulnerable to relapse during the first 90 days after treatment, but sobriety is a never-ending battle. At Hope Academy, we offer our clients support groups, transitional living options, aftercare programs and sobriety-college living. To learn more about how we can help you or someone you love get and stay sober, contact our credentialed addiction specialists today! Call 866-930-4673.

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