How to tame inflammation – the cause of so many health issues

Inflammation is a contributing factor in many serious health conditions that affect both body and your brain.

Of course, not all inflammation is bad. Healthy bodies react to injuries with acute inflammation to speed circulation and bring healing nutrients to the affected site.

But when inflammation becomes chronic, that formerly helpful inflammatory response works against health and well-being. Chronic inflammation is largely due to lifestyle habits that welcome free radicals and the cellular damage they cause.

Here are 5 highly effective ways to control — and begin to reverse — chronic inflammation:

  • Know which foods are inflammation-causing and eliminate them from your diet:
    • Sugar
    • Soda
    • Deli and processed meats
    • Fried and fast foods
    • Omega-6 oils
    • Refined wheat products
  • Add inflammation-taming foods instead:
    • Berries
    • Fatty fish
    • Cruciferous vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Green tea
  • Consult with your doctor about taking supplements, including:
    • Astaxanthin
    • Curcumin (turmeric)
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Probiotics
  • Make good sleep a priority every night. Allow for 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night. Turn off electronics, block external lights, and keep your schedule even on weekends.
  • Manage your stress, which floods your bloodstream with chemicals that increase inflammation. Make reducing stress and (often accompanying) negative feelings another top priority. Belly breathing, meditation, and regular exercise work well to help your mind and body release stress.


The team at INDY Neurofeedback reminds you that taming inflammation and stress should always be a part of your health routine. When you start eating healthier and dealing actively with stress, your body releases “feel good” chemicals in response to positive thoughts and emotions. That’s why it’s so important to practice techniques that help manage your emotions and stress.

INDY Neurofeedback has well researched tools to help you create a more positive and healthy environment for your brain body connection. What can we help you with?

Too Much Screen Time Slows Brain Development in Preschoolers

The number of tablets, videos, television shows, and smart phone tools marketed toward toddlers and preschoolers has exploded over the last several years, prompting parents to ask, “How safe is screen time for very young children?”

A new study by a clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (published in JAMA Pediatrics) decided to find a definitive answer. Pediatricians and clinical researchers scanned the brains of children 3 to 5 years old and found that those who watched more than the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended one hour a day (without parental involvement) had lower levels of brain development in key areas related to the development of language, literacy and cognitive skills.

This is important to note because the brain is developing the most rapidly in the first five years of life. That’s when brains are actively engaged in soaking up knowledge and forming strong connections in language, literacy and cognition. Even before screens became portable and ubiquitous, we have long known that parent-baby face to face or heart to heart engagement form the core of the social engagement system from which the child (and later adult) will function in all future relationships.

Specifically, these new studies show that excessive screen viewing is linked to the inability of children to pay attention and think clearly. There is a definite link between excessive screen time and language delay as well as a decrease in parent-child engagement. This is especially important to consider because today’s portable screens follow kids and parents everywhere – to the dinner table, in the car, during playtime with other kids, even to bed.

More troubling, very young kids are now routinely exposed to screen time. About 90% are using screens by age one, according to one study that used MRIs to research the impact of reading to children versus screen use by kids alone. In this testing, MRI results showed that children who used more than the AAP’s recommended one hour per day of screen time without parental interaction, had more disorganized, underdeveloped white matter throughout the brain.

“We know that early experiences shape brain growth, and media is one of these experiences,” says Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback. “Heavy media use does not lead directly to brain damage, but rather, it is too passive for brain development and gets in the way of other experiences that could help children reinforce their rapidly growing brain networks.”

Here are AAP screen time guidelines for young children:

  • Babies under 18 months should not be exposed to screen media other than brief video chatting with friends and family. Babies need to interact with caregivers and their environment, so don’t use media as a babysitter.
  • By the time a youngster turns two, they can use some interactive touchscreens, as long as parents watch with them and reteach the content.
  • Children 3 to 5 years old can benefit from well-designed educational TV shows, which can improve a child’s cognitive abilities, help teach words, and positively impact social development. But just like toddlers, preschoolers learn much better from any educational materials when they are co-viewed with their caregiver, interacting about the material.

“The first years of life need to be focused on human interactions that encourage speaking, interacting socially and playing with loving caregivers,” says O’Neil. “This helps young brains develop thinking, problem-solving and other high functioning cognitive and lifelong learning skills.”

Here Are The Worst Foods For Your Brain

Forgetful? Irritable? Brain feeling sluggish and foggy? There is a reason that your brain isn’t functioning as it should, and it’s possible that the reason is related to your food choices.

Here’s what brain researchers want you to know about your food choices – especially with the holiday season upon us.

Artificial trans fats:

  • Found in deep-fried treats, snack crackers, and almost all fast food.
  • Also known as partially hydrogenated oils, these fats were banned by the FDA in 2015 (but food companies were given three years to complete production). That means these foods may still be on shelves and very likely still in products.
  • These fats do a number on your memory. The more trans fatty acids you consume, the poorer you perform on word-recall tests. Even worse, high consumption is also linked to shrinking brain volume, aggression and irritability.
  • How much is okay to eat? None.

Avoid/reduce added sugar:

  • We Americans are addicted to it. You’ll find it in our soda, snacks, candy, and unlikely places too, such as ketchup, salad dressing, soup, nutrition bars, bread, yogurt, granola, and many health foods.
  • According to research, sugar is bad for your memory. A high-sugar diet made it harder for rats to remember where a specific object was located in a place they’d been to before, according to findings published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
  • Sugar is also responsible for inflammation – another no-no for brain function. High amounts of sugar can lead to inflammation in humans brains, making the brain less efficient at retrieving and processing information.
  • How much sugar is okay to eat? The American Heart Association says women shouldn’t have more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day, the amount you’d get from one candy bar, ¾ of a can of soda, or a 6-ounce container of low-fat vanilla yogurt. That means most of us go way over this amount, every day.

Avoid/reduce added salt:

  • Like sugar, it’s everywhere – from breads to cheeses, butter to cold cuts, breakfast cereal to fast foods, and added to most restaurant entrees.
  • In a recent study of the activity levels and sodium intake of 1,200 men and women between the ages of 67 and 84, too much sodium plus lower activity levels led to poorer cognitive health. Salt can lead to a narrowing of the blood vessels that transport oxygen and other essential nutrients, which means your brain can’t get the resources it needs to work at its highest levels.
  • How much is okay to eat? The FDA standard guidelines say, No more than 2,300 grams per day for healthy people; 1,500 mg if you’re over 50, African-American, or have high blood pressure.
  • Talk with your doctor about what’s ideal for you.

What about fat? Is it good or bad?

  • The list of the benefit of healthy fat continues to grow. However, a diet that’s too high in total fat may also affect your emotions. According to research in the International Journal of Obesity, mice on a high-fat diet (58 percent of total calories) developed signs of despair and anxiousness.
  • Saturated fat seems to be particularly harmful to the brain, according to the Montreal Diabetes Research Center at the University of Montreal.
  • So how much is okay to eat? Based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, between 56 and 78 grams of good-for-you mono and polyunsaturated fat per day, such as fish, nuts and avocados. But restrict saturated fat to 16 grams per day, such as three slices of cheddar cheese.

So, say the clinicians at INDY Neurofeedback, since your brain is ultimately responsible for your body’s health and wellbeing, eat with your brain fitness in mind.

If you have a concern about brain function, give us a call. Your first consultation is always free.

High blood pressure and brain health

Yes, high blood pressure and brain health are closely related, especially as we age. Here’s why:

Lesions in the white matter of our brains, often called hyper-intensity lesions, are damaged areas of the brain responsible for transmitting information from one part of the brain to another. Interestingly, these  brain lesions are more common with age.

In fact, ten to twenty percent of 60-year-olds have them, and they’re more present in 70, 80 and 90-year olds, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

As hyper-intensity lesions accumulate in the brain, they can lead to functional changes such as depression, problems with balance, bladder control, and dementia.  Recently, a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine’s Calhoun Cardiology Center found that lowering blood pressure may be the key to preventing these lesions. Subjects in the school’s study found that those with lower blood pressure developed 40 percent fewer white matter hyper-intensity lesions than those with higher blood pressure.

In a related study (Circulation journal), adults age 75 and older with hypertension (high blood pressure) who were able to lower their systolic blood pressure to 130 (with or without medication) developed fewer brain lesions than those who lowered their blood pressure to 145.

In addition to brain benefits, the study also found that the group with lower blood pressure had fewer cardiovascular events, including arrhythmias, heart failure and heart attacks.

Some physicians use age as “an excuse” to let higher blood pressure numbers slide. However, in 2017 the American Heart Association (AHA) revised their guidelines and set the generally approved threshold for high systolic blood pressure at 130 for all adults, regardless of age.

Even so, as much as 46 percent of American adults have high blood pressure under the new AHA guidelines.

“That’s a huge percentage,” cautions Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback. “My recommendation for brain health is to regularly have your blood pressure checked. Monitor your numbers, and do what you can to keep those numbers moving down, especially if you are overweight or over age 60. Not only will getting more exercise help, but you can also keep your blood pressure trending lower by eating fewer sugars, starches, fatty meats, and sodas, and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.”