Improve or Prevent Age-Related Cognitive Decline with Exercise

Love it or hate it, exercise is part of life. I’m on the side of “hate it”. I really don’t like to exercise and usually find any excuse to avoid working out my body, and, as it turns out, my brain as well. Researchers are finding that individuals who are physically fit, and exercise regularly cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in HALF! How’s that for motivation?

What if I’ve never exercised, will it still help?

Alzheimer’s and dementia run in my family and has become a passion of mine, so much so, that I wrote my thesis on the topic. One of the things I’ve recently discovered is your state of physical fitness directly relates to your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. That’s right! A 2018 study, done at the O’Donnell Brain Institute, indicates people with lower fitness levels had weaker “white matter” in the brain, as compared with people with higher fitness levels and thus more susceptible to cognitive decline. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST) studied the medical records of 30,000 middle-age individuals. They found individuals who were physically fit were 50% less likely to develop demential than “less fit” individuals.

What happens if you’re like me, and you hate exercise or are among those that are considered “less fit”? Is it too late? You’ll be happy to know that IT’S NOT TOO LATE!! You’ll reap the brain boosting benefits of exercise even if you haven’t exercised until middle-age or even later. The study at NUST indicated that individuals who began the study “less fit”, but achieved a “physically fit” status during the study, showed the same reduction in the risk of dementia as those who began the study “physically fit”.

What type of exercise is best?

As it turns out, interval aerobics is the best for brain health. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario tested types of exercises that were most effective act increasing both physical and memory performance in adults 60 years and older. They tested 64 sedentary middle-age men and women, and began by evaluating the fitness level and memory performance of each individual.

The individuals were randomly assigned to two groups: Group 1– moderate treadmill walking for 50 minutes 3x/week and group 2– “interval walking; increasing the incline for four minutes to raise heart rates followed by three minutes of easy walking. Then repeat for a total of four rounds of intervals.

The fitness and memory tested were repeated 12 weeks later. Incredibly, only the interval walkers showed improvements in both fitness and memory. The interval walkers, with a greater level of fitness, had improved their memory to a greater extent than the moderate walkers. While any type of movement is good, movement that gets your blood pumping is best for both body and mind.

Closing thoughts…

Jane Fonda once said “It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” I guess that’s true with most things in life, even exercise and brain health. Remember, with the right diet and exercise, things can still be turned around. Your life and your memories are worth it.

Middle-Age Wisdom: Healthy snacking habits while working from home – Fox News

Hello all! Forgive me as I write this on my phone. My better half is telecommuting and has my computer at the moment.

Before I share the article, I wanted to give a quick update on some scheduling changes during this covid-19 crisis. I’ve decided to cut back to blogging to just one day per week, for the foreseeable future, until things get back to normal. This is a significant cut back from my current schedule of 4 days per week.

Each Monday, I’ll post 2 articles, one from this blog and one from my recipe blog, The Purple Almond Wellness Kitchen. Since my better half and youngest son are both home everyday, I find myself in a unique opportunity to spend quality time with my family, thus the reason for the cut back. Once things are back to normal, I’m hoping to go full time on both blogs.

Onto the main article:

Many of you find yourselves in a unique situation of working from home. This poses many different challenges, one of which is access to more food than normal. Trust me, as someone who works from home all the time, I understand this challenge all too well….the penchant to snack, mindlessly, all day. How do you stop this? The following article from Fox News gives a few tips on how to resist snacking and eat healthy when working from home.

Snacks Quotes. QuotesGram

Here are a few tips from the article:

  • plan ahead- make snacks ahead of time and place them in clear containers
  • make unique snacks – like fruit skewers with pineapple cubes, orange slices, strawberries, etc
  • Use low-fat, plain yogurt or cottage cheese for dips or breakfast.
  • change work locations if you’re prone to stress eating
  • take a 15 minute break- get some fresh air, chat with friends or play a game on your computer/phone
  • got cravings? Figure out possible reasons and look for solutions

If you fall off track don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. Just hop back on the healthy eating bandwagon. At the end of the day, it’s overall healthy eating that matters, not one little bad snack.

Until next time, Namaste 🙏 my friends.

For more details, here is the link to the main article: Coronavirus outbreak: How to maintain healthy snacking habits while working from home

Middle-Age Wisdom: 9 Longevity Secrets from the Blue Zones

The life expectancy in the USA is 78.2 years of age. However, there are individuals all over the world that live to be 100+ years. What do they do differently than the rest of us? What are their secrets?

Sea, Horse, Meadow, Sky, Japan, Natural, Okinawa

The people from Blue Zone, together with National Geographic set out to find these answers. They found and studied the world’s longest lived people. Studies have revealed that only 20% of life-span is genetic, which leaves the remaining 80% down to lifestyle and diet. Knowing this, Blue Zone and National Geographic researchers worked with demographers (people who work with statistics) to find places around the world with the highest life expectance, or highest numbers of individuals who reached 100 years old. They found 5 places which met the criteria:

  1. Barbagia region of Sardinia
  2. Ikaria, Greece
  3. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  4. Seventh Day Adventists
  5. Okinawa, Japan

The Power 9

This team consisted of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists. These scientists sifted through the data and found 9 common denominators among all 5 places, which they called “Power 9”. Here are the 9 things most of the world’s centenarians do to live long and healthy lives.

Meditation, Man, Meditate, Rest, Yoga, Moonlight, Moon
  1. Move Naturally– This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym everyday, although you can if that’s what you enjoy. It means find natural ways to be active everyday. It may surprise you, but blue zone centenarians don’t lift weights or run endlessly. According to Blue Zones, all of these 100 year olds had one thing in common-they “moved naturally”. These people grow gardens or walk. They don’t have the modern conveniences that we have here for gardens and yard work.
  2. Have a purpose – What is your reason for waking up every morning?
  3. Down shift – Blue zone centenarians all have a way to deal with stress, something we aren’t good at here in the west. Do daily yoga and meditation – Research from India suggests that daily yoga and meditation have anti-aging properties. In other words, they help “turn back the clock”. Studies show that they help reverse cellular aging. Researchers think this is because it reduces the body’s stress response.
  4. The 80% rule – Here in the west, it’s common for us to “pig out” or eat until we feel like we’ll burst. However Blue Zone centenarians eat until they are 80% full, which could be the difference between losing weight and gaining it. Eat smallest meal in the evening. They then don’t eat for the remainder of the day. In a way, this is a form of intermittent fasting, which research has shown to have anti-aging effects on the body.
  5. Plant slant Blue zone centurions eat a plant based diet. Beans, are the main aspect of centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on approximately five times per month.  Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
  6. Wine at 5 – Almost all blue zone Centenarians drink alcohol in moderation. In fact, it may surprise you to know that those who drink moderately actually outlive those who don’t drink at all. Limiting drinks to 1 or 2 glasses per day, preferably wine, seems key.
  7. Belong – Most of the blue zone centurions interviewed belonged to some kind of “faith-based” community. Denomination was irrelevant. Attending a faith service 4x per month added, on average, 4-14 years of life.
  8. Loved ones first – Blue zone centenarians kept aging parents or grandparents near by, or in their home. They also commit to a life partner and invest heavily in time and love for their children.
  9. The right tribe – Centenarians lived with people who supported healthy behaviors. Research suggests that behavior, good or bad, is contagious. A social network can affect your behavior, so choose wisely.
Agriculture, Asia, China, Farm, Harvest, Cottage, Land

Closing thoughts

We in the west love our modern conveniences and our technology. We like to make things as easy for ourselves as possible. It turns out that may be harming us more than helping us.

We are also beginning to live longer here in the west, However, not because of lifestyle, but due to advances in the medical industry. We aren’t healthier though. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We are heavier than man has ever been in history and plagued with chronic disease. As we age, we are plagued with chronic disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. All of these were rare just 100 years ago. We are living longer in spite of this and in spite of our fast food, and technology laden lives. Medicine cabinets filled with prescription bottles has become the norm for people in the west as we age.

We need to take a long hard look at how we are living and how we want our lives to look as we age. Do we want lives filled with chronic disease and handfuls of pills? Or do we want to live happy, healthy productive lives that are disease free? For me the choice is easy. We need to take a step back and learn from the centenarians in the blue zones.

Until next time, namaste my friends




Middle-Age Wisdom: Health Secrets from World’s Oldest Female Body Builder

There are two quotes that keep me going as I age, as my kids get older, and as the days fly by on the calendar:

“You’re never too old for anything.”

~ Betty White 


“You’re daily choices determine how your future will unfold.”

~ Dr. Joe Dispenza

Both these women are 80 years old. Your daily choices determine how your future will unfold.

This photo really hit home with me, the first time I saw it, and the importance of healthy living ALL your life. The comparison of these two women, both 80 years old at the time of the photos, is like night and day. I was floored by the huge difference in their health.

The woman on the left is  83 year old Ernestine Shepherd, the reigning Guinness World Record Holder for the oldest female body builder.

Here is “The Remarkable Story of Ernestine’s Shepherd”:


Like many others, I’m inspired by Ernestine. What really encourages me is the fact that she didn’t start exercising and body building until she was 56 years old. She is a walking example of what can be accomplished, even during the middle-age and elderly years, if determination, dedication and discipline are in the picture.

Ernestine is the reason I decided to focus my wellness education on middle-age individuals, and the motivation behind this new monthly series “Middle-age Wisdom”. The two quotes from the beginning of the article: “You’re never too old for anything” AND “Your daily choices determine how your future will unfold.” are the foundation for this new series, which will focus on making the right choices NOW, so you’ll be healthy to enjoy your golden years.

Ernestine emphasizes the 3 “D’s”. She says if you’re “Determined, Dedicated and Disciplined” you cannot fail. If you’d like to learn more about her life, exercise routine and diet, you can read her book: “DETERMINED, DEDICATED AND DISCIPLINED TO BE FIT” .

Ernestine, like most body builders, has a very strict routine. She wakes up at 2:30 every morning, and prays. Then she eats 10 egg whites, some walnuts, and 16 ounces of water. She runs 80 miles a week. Her diet, which is 1700 calories per day, is high protein, low carb, low fat. It consists  mainly of boiled eggs, chicken whites, vegetables, liquid egg white drink and much more. She also consumes a glass of raw egg whites three times a day. This is what works for her. What does she recommend?

Here are a few health tips from her book:

  • Go for walks
  • Lift weights to build muscle and keep the body “tight”. Her book highlights 20 of her favorite weight lifting exercises
  • Drink water – aids digestion, circulation, and nutrient absorption to name just a few benefits
  • Get rid of junk food and replace it with lean protein, yams and potatoes
  • Watch your bread intake because “Carbs can weigh you down”
  • Keep a food journal – keeps you honest, and helps identify bad habits
  • Pray or meditate everyday. You can’t do it alone
  • Work up to 45 minutes of your favorite cardio. Ernestine does this 6 days a week.
  • Do weekly meal preparation for greater success – her book includes 5 sample meals to give you inspiration

Closing thoughts…

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Middle-age Wisdom, which will be posted the fourth Tuesday of every month. In this series we will discuss all the maladies and diseases that plague us as we approach the middle-age years and beyond. We’ll discuss the causes and the life style choices that can combat and prevent these diseases.

Ernestine is an inspiration to everyone. She is a reminder that it’s not too late to start your journey to better health. Remember your daily choices will determine your future. The right choices will make you the picture of health. Which picture do you want for your golden years?

Until next time…namaste my friends

Tamara Hoerner

Middle-Age Memoirs : Giving up gluten…again (and my new blog schedule.)

For ten years, I was gluten free. I was never sure exactly why I couldn’t eat gluten. All I knew was it didn’t agree with me. And, despite giving up gluten, and all grains, (and even going keto) I continued to have regular chronic sinus headaches.

9 Signs You Have a Leaky Gut - Amy Myers MD

In school, I studied the digestive system at length, and learned about intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Many of the symptoms I had led me to the conclusion that I did indeed have leaky gut.

So, I went on a venture to heal my gut earlier this year. I ate fermented foods, including my own homemade kefir and sauerkraut. I took a therapeutic dose of probiotics. I took l-glutamine to rebuild the lining of my gut. After several months, my sinus headaches disappeared. So, I decided, after 10 years without gluten, to try eating bread again!

Sour Dough Bread, Crust, Texture, Baked, Food

One day in April of this year, I made a loaf of homemade sourdough bread and gave it a try. I thought this would be the safest thing to eat, since this is a fermented bread. I had a couple of pieces and waited a few days. Now, in the past, I would have broke out in an intense itchy feeling all over my body, developed psoriatic style rash, canker sores in my mouth, very intense joint pain and painful sinus headaches. However, to my pleasant surprise, none of that happened.

So, I cautiously continued to add a bit more gluten containing grains to my diet and things continued to go fine for 6 months …until last week. I have daily sinus headaches again. I am currently developing a canker sore. AND, my joint pain is back…with a vengeance. I mean it’s bad, to the point where it’s difficult to walk sometimes.

Research Archives - The Gluten-Free Agency

I knew going in that gluten can contribute to leaky gut. I guess I was just hoping that once I healed my gut, it would stay healed. This was probably a bit naive. So, as of yesterday, I am once again gluten-free, for good this time. I’m also back on my gut healing nutrition plan. I’ll keep you posted on my results.

My new schedule

Since coming back from my 2 month leave, my blogging has been a bit erratic. I really don’t like that, so I’ve developed a new schedule for both my blogs. I will be posting one blog per week on each of my 2 sites.

Purple Almond Wellness posts will be EVERY TUESDAY.

  • 1st Tuesday – Middle-age memoirs – my personal journal
  • 2nd Tuesday – Walk to wellness – tips for the 6 aspects of wellness
  • 3rd Tuesday – Brain talks/Insomnia Fix – I will alternate between tips for brain health and tips for insomnia
  • 4th Tuesday – Middle-age wisdom – health and wellness tips for those middle-age maladies

Purple Almond Wellness Kitchen posts will be EVERY THURSDAY.

  • 1st Thursday – Cooking for 2 – recipes designed for those empty nesters. This will alternate with my PIONEER RECIPES series.
  • 2nd Thursday – Wellness based recipes
  • 3rd Thursday – Brain health/insomnia recipes
  • 4th Thursday – Anti-aging recipes/middle age maladies

Closing thoughts

Well, there you have it…my adventures with gluten and my new schedule. If there’s an aspect of wellness, brain health or middle-age health you’d like to see discussed, just drop me a line or leave a comment below.

Until next time…Namaste my friends