Lifestyle and Brain Health

Lifestyle and Brain Health

(Photo source: Canva)

Forgetfulness at times occurs to everyone, but many adults attribute this to aging. Regardless of your age, lifestyle practices are a factor in one’s health, and that includes brain health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that there are some factors we cannot change such as genetics and age. The CDC also endorses reducing risk factors to possibly prevent or delay cognitive decline. A Lancet Commission study reported that prevention, intervention, and care could prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases.

The secret recipe for brain health is much the same as for our overall general health: maintain an active lifestyle. This includes both regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week – and social engagement to maintain connectedness to our family, friends, and community. Consuming a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting plenty of sleep are other good health habits. Those positive habits nurture a healthy weight and can aid with lower blood pressure, blood sugar management, cholesterol management, and overall positive physical and mental health.

Work to limit the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and other empty calorie foods to avoid negative health effects. Avoid smoking and other tobacco or tobacco substitute (vaping) products and limit alcohol consumption. Making small changes over time eases the anxiety of dropping a bad habit and helps with the adoption of good habits that can improve one’s health.

While we cannot change our age, our genetics, or our family history, we can adopt healthy lifestyle practices to not only address our brain health, but also our overall health.

A Picture of Youth Health

A Picture of Youth Health

Simple outdoor activities help children and adults get exercise while spending quality time together. Photo Source: UF/IFAS

When you look at your children, do you see a picture of a healthy, active child? The United States Pentagon just released a report stating “77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs, or having mental and physical health problems.” Even worse, this is a 6% increase from the previous study.
No matter the wish of a parent or youth as to their desire for military service, this study paints a disturbing picture of the health of our youth in the United States. Where have things gone wrong and what could be some simple corrective actions?

Exercise is a word many people dislike. But reframing the chosen exercise activity as a family outing, such as a daily debriefing walk to discuss the day’s events or an indoor activity such as a basic yoga class at a local gym or via video at home, can be a fun, purposeful way to incorporate physical activity without it seeming like “exercise.” The point is to increase the activity level of not just the youth but also the parent or guardian.

Replacing sugar sweetened beverages with water or fruit-infused water is an easy way to decrease excessive caloric intake and provide better hydration. Water is a basic need of the body and performs many roles from joint health and nutrient delivery to cells to regulating body temperature and proper organ functions.

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future research indicates that persons who frequently prepare meals at home eat healthier. Eating more fruits and vegetable with attention to healthier preparation methods can lead to better health outcomes over time.

It’s time to paint a new picture with you as the role model. Slowly adjusting to the adoption of a healthier lifestyle can take time. Speak openly with the youth in your life and let them help to decide the changes they feel they can make. Place this in writing using SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Revisit these goals and adjust them as needed. The reward over time could be a picture of health.

Exploring Your Health Indicators: Cholesterol

Exploring Your Health Indicators: Cholesterol

doctor speaking with a patient

Openly discuss the physician’s care plan and seek answers to questions.
(Photo source: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS)

The American Heart Association notes that cholesterol is “not inherently bad” and continues by explaining how cholesterol is necessary to “build cells, make vitamins and other hormones.”

Cholesterol is not only derived from your dietary intake, what you eat, but also your liver makes cholesterol. There are two types of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein or LDL and high density lipoprotein or HDL. The LDL or ‘lousy’ cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis, the build up of fat in the arteries. The HDL or ‘helpful’ cholesterol aids with removing the lousy cholesterol out of the arteries and taking it to the liver for it to be removed from the body.

Being proactive with one’s health and knowing your numbers, one can better maintain a higher quality of life and potentially suffer less infirmities.

Join us for the upcoming Exploring Your Health Indicators Webinar Series to gain knowledge of your blood tests results. The May 11 program will explore cholesterol. The May 25 program dives into inflammation and diseases. And the June 8 program will wrap the series with kidney and thyroid health indicators. Register once for all the sessions and if you miss a session, a recording of the program will be emailed to you. Invest an hour to gain knowledge that can greatly benefit your health.

Exploring Your Health Indicators     Registration:

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 2-3 EST/1-2 CST – Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 2-3 EST/1-2 CST – Cholesterol

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 2-3 EST/1-2 CST – Inflammation and Diseases

Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 2-3 EST/1-2 CST – Kidneys and Thyroid

Exploring Your Health Indicators: Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Exploring Your Health Indicators: Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

According to the American Diabetes Association, “the national cost of diabetes in the U.S. in 2017 was more than $327 billion, up from $245 billion in 2012.” Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates 7.3 million adults ages 18 and up are undiagnosed diabetics.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that include high triglycerides (a fat in the blood stream), low HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) also known as good cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abdominal obesity defined as a waist circumference of 35 inches of more for women and 40 inches or more for men. A person with three or more of these conditions constitutes metabolic syndrome and increases one’s chances for developing cardiovascular disease.
By being proactive with one’s health and knowing your numbers, one can better maintain a higher quality of life. Managing just one of the above in a healthy manner can aid greatly with improving one’s overall health.

Join us for the upcoming Exploring Your Health Indicators Webinar Series to gain knowledge of your blood test results. April 27 will cover diabetes and metabolic syndrome; May 11 will explore cholesterol; May 25 dives into inflammation and diseases; and June 8 will wrap up the series with kidney and thyroid. Register once for all the sessions and if you miss a session, a recording of the program will be emailed to you. Invest an hour to gain knowledge that can greatly benefit your health.

Meet Your FCS Agent – Marie Arick

Meet Your FCS Agent – Marie Arick

Marie Arick, UF/IFAS Extension Liberty County

Marie Arick is in her second year as the UF/IFAS Liberty County Extension Director and 4-Agent. She also is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for both Liberty and Calhoun Counties. Marie has been with University of Florida IFAS since 2015, originally serving as the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Jackson County. She received her B.S. in Exercise Science and M.S. in Health Promotion from Mississippi State University. Her Extension specialty areas are health, wellness, food and nutrition, and 4-H youth development.


Marie Arick, Liberty County 4-H

Marie has provided many nutrition, food safety, and health and wellness educational programs/events including A Healthy Table Cooking School, Artisanal Cheese Making, Prevent T2: The National Diabetes Prevention Program, First-time Homebuyer, and the Annual Heart and Sole 5K. Her programming efforts in 4-H have included Food Challenge, Culinary Arts, Leadership, Community Service, and a variety of day camps and residential camps. Before joining UF/IFAS, Marie was employed with Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service, where she was the Eastland County Extension Director and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent while also supporting 4-H programming.


Marie Arick, UF/IFAS Extension Liberty County

Marie shares what she enjoys most about her career: “Being an Extension Agent is such a rewarding career, not only do I provide research-based education in my community, but I also reap the reward of watching participants gain knowledge, learn new skills, and apply those skills. I love having people share how they have improved their lives or used what they have learned. Some examples are a positive health outcome, achieving home ownership, successfully competing in a judging competition, or learning to prepare a new recipe.”

Contact Marie at 850-643-2229,, or at her office located in the Liberty County Civic Center at 10405 NW Theo Jacobs Way, Bristol.