Objectively Quantify how Nutrition and Lifestyle Improve Brain Health

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Aside from feeling better, there is evidence of significant improvement in brain and cognitive health when you change your diet, improve sleep, and increase your fitness.   Reducing symptoms associated with stress, anxiety or depression can also make a huge difference!

An engaging and scientifically-validated cognitive assessment

Working with Cambridge Brain Sciences (CBS), I provide clients with a science and evidence-based means of quantitatively measuring how changes to your diet, sleep, and fitness routine can positively impact brain and cognitive health.

As well as understanding how your brain is functioning, you will be able to track how the changes you are making are impacting your brain.  Importantly, you will be able to visualise improvements with objective and quantifiable information, presented in an easy to understand format. Brain health integrates very much with gut health and provides a great indicator of your overall health and wellbeing.

You can take the CBS brain and cognitive assessment as a one-off to get a snapshot of your cognitive health in any point in time. However, you will get far deeper insight if you take the assessments over a series of weeks or months; this enables us to determine meaningful change. 

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Who benefits from doing this cognitive test?

Everyone can benefit. It is especially helpful to those who want to track whether making the smallest changes to their diet, their sleep routine, or increasing their fitness levels, makes a difference to their brain health and overall wellness. 

The CBS Health test facilitates a highly personalized approach to healthcare. It provides useful biomarkers to enable you to take a proactive and preventative approach to optimizing your health and wellbeing.  I further support you with a nutritional and wellbeing programme tailored to your individual needs. We adapt this as required, during the course of the Cognitive Health programme and based on your test findings.  

The CBS Health Test is not a diagnostic tool. However, it may be useful to clients with ADHD, Autism, Depression, Dyslexia, and Cognitive Impairment who wish to monitor progress from nutritional and other lifestyle changes.

What does the Cambridge Brain Sciences assessment entail?

Clients complete a series of fun and engaging neurocognitive tasks online, either during the consultation, or remotely, at home.  

You can relax because this isn’t an IQ test. We aren’t measuring IQ!

The tasks assess aspects of cognition including reasoning, memory, attention and verbal ability.   

You are anonymously assessed against a sample of healthy control subjects.   We factor in your age and gender.

CBS maintains a global normative database of more than 75,000 participants (built off of a larger database of 7 million+ completed tasks). This allows for detailed comparisons of individuals to specific populations. 

On completion of the assessment, I share your individual CBS Health report and we discuss nutritional and lifestyle strategies for improvement. We schedule further tests at agreed intervals to monitor progress and assess meaningful change.  

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About Cambridge Brain Sciences

The Cambridge Brain Sciences (CBS) tasks were developed in the laboratory of Professor Adrian Owen OBE, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging (owenlab.org). Over 300 scientific studies have been run to date using the CBS tasks, yielding numerous publications in leading academic journals. 

The tasks were validated in studies of patients, brain imaging studies of healthy volunteers and in several large-scale public studies involving tens of thousands of volunteers. They have proven to be efficient and sensitive measures of baseline cognitive capacity. For example, in one study, the results of the 30-minute Cambridge Brain Sciences battery were comparable to those of a standard 2-3 hour (paper and pencil) neuropsychological battery (WAIS-R) (Levine et al., 2013). In another recent study of mental capacity in the elderly, the CBS battery outperformed a standard task of cognitive abilities (the MoCA) (Brenkel et al., 2017). Finally, performance on the CBS battery is highly predictive of reasoning and problem solving abilities, as indexed by “classic” tasks such as Raven’s Matrices and the Cattell Culture Fair task (Hampshire et al., 2012). 

How do we measure Meaningful Change?

The Meaningful Change Indicator compares the difference in an individual’s performance on any given task between two time points to the variability in repeated measurements that would occur in the absence of meaningful change. The latter is estimated from a sample of healthy control subjects. The reliable change index uses the test-retest reliability and the standard deviation of scores (measured in a control sample) of a task to describe the range of possible differences that occur in repeat task completions. If an individual’s change in performance from one time point to another is much larger than what is expected due to chance, then one can conclude that there was meaningful change. 

Assessing meaningful change requires data to be obtained in a control sample. Cambridge Brain Sciences has a database of over 8 million test scores, and their normative database consists of more than 75,000 individuals. The interval between self-administered repeated assessments ranges from less than a day, to more than a month. This massive database allows Cambridge Brain Sciences to characterize in the general population how performance on every task fluctuates naturally across a range of intervals. Cambridge Brain Sciences are therefore able to quantify the bounds of what constitutes a meaningful change for every task. 

Contact Charlotte Fraser today to book a Cognitive Health Test and Nutrition Programme.

A Remedy for New Year Resolutions

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How is your New Year Resolution going? Reportedly, most people give up on their new resolution as soon as the 12th January but if you are one of them, don’t lose heart. Most likely, your heart was never in it!

New Year Resolutions – along with the countless ‘New Year New You’ diets peddled by the media in January – are often built on a false premise. They are a social construct and a lot of people just feel compelled to make a New Year Resolution because they think they ‘should’ or ‘ought to’. After all, isn’t everyone else doing it?

Now, in my experience, anything you feel you ought to do, or should do, is really a red rag to the bull and doomed to fail. Whatever your mind might try and persuade itself, the rebel heart soon kicks in. Worse still, you are more likely to go to the other extreme – either immediately before or after the New Year Resolution – as a compensatory ‘reward’ for the ‘sacrifice’ made.

The trouble with so many New Year Resolutions is that they tend to have a self-denial aspect to them and, to me, there’s something inauthentic in that. Instead of thinking in terms of what ‘to give up’, I prefer to reframe this and ask, what is it that you would really LOVE to achieve? What do you honestly desire ? What do you want to do MORE of in life? For the simple fact is, that if we enjoy or are passionate about something, we are far more motivated and likely to succeed in our endeavours.

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Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, and if you really want to make a positive change, there is absolutely no point always doing the same thing, or going about it in the same way.

However, who says we have to start a resolution at New Year? There’s really no better time to start than today.

One of my personal definitions of good health is really about living or being in the here and now. You can’t change the past and I always think there is little point worrying about the future; after all the future is determined by what you do now. Today. This minute.

I know someone who used to smoke 30-40 cigarettes a day. After years of trying to give up, endless nagging from loved ones, and countless broken resolutions, one day he just stopped. He now hasn’t smoked for over 20 years. I asked him recently how he managed to finally stop. He replied “OH NO! Don’t ever say I have stopped! I just say to myself that I don’t want to smoke a cigarette today“. For him, the idea of ‘completely giving up’ in the forever after sense, had always made it too challenging and depressing to stop. The difference is that he takes every day as it comes but now makes the personal choice not to smoke.

So if you really want to make a positive change, it doesn’t have to be a massive step. That can be really intimidating and often impractical in the context of everyday life. The best thing is to keep it simple. Just take small steps and build up from there. Take each day as it comes. Before you know it, the weeks turn into weeks, months, then years, and you can get a great sense of achievement along the way.

I often allude to the ‘butterfly effect’ with my clients: the almost imperceptible and smallest flutter of a butterfly’s delicate wings exert tremendous force and energy. This can also be likened to the ripple effect of a small pebble thrown into a large lake.

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So perhaps today, you might just want to try doing something new, even for the first time. Just one small thing, and see how you feel, where your journey takes you. There is no pressure but it could be the start of an exciting adventure. The important thing is to try new things and to be open to new experiences as this mindset can really benefit the whole body – your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. With the right nutritional support you can also build your focus, energy and resilience, to support you on your way.

Here are just some suggestions as to small steps that you can yield surprisingly big results.

Small things that can make a big difference to health:

  • Swap your daily can of Diet Coke for water. Put the money saved at the end of the month towards a new outfit or an evening out.
  • Ditch the bathroom scales and visualise yourself in your favourite outfit in eight weeks time. Keep on visualising. ‘Weigh’ yourself more by how you clothes fit and feel.
  • Get outside and into nature more.
  • Aim for 12,000 steps a day – get moving more! If you walk just 5,000 steps a day, don’t worry, just start off by adding another 2,000 steps a day. Then see how you feel!
  • Switch off Facebook and Instagram and call or meet up with a close friend instead.
  • Variety really is key when it comes to promoting good health. Why not try out some vegetables, pulses and spices this week that you may not have tried before? Why stick to the same old repertoire?! Incorporate more variety and colour into what you eat every day. Then invite your friends round to share and enjoy the experience!
  • Slow down. Really chew and savour your food. Your digestion will really thank you for this. Chewing properly yields surprising results and it doesn’t cost a thing.

Give it a go but most importantly… have fun!