Nooran AbuMazen, 17, participated in the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee at Hamilton's McMaster University on May 28, where she tested her knowledge of neuroscience and neuroanatomy through a series of challenges, including a patient diagnosis. The just-shy-of-graduating high school student from Waterloo, Ont. intends to study life sciences at the University of Waterloo in the fall.
Though AbuMazen has dreams of going to medical school, she tells CTV News her love of neuroscience has additional practical ties.
“I see a lot of places where neuroscience can play a part in either my education or my future career,” said AbuMazen, to the news outlet on Wednesday.
Yet, in spite of the intense scholastic competition, the 17-year-old said she had a blast vying for the title amongst her fellow teens.
“Everyone at the competition was really nice and friendly," said AbuMazen, who also got to examine "slices of the brain."
“I’m just really proud of what everybody accomplished.”
According to BrainBee.ca, AbuMazen won a trophy — which will stay on display at McMaster — and a $1,500 scholarship, as well as a neuroscience laboratory summer internship opportunity.
Two other Ontario-area teens joined AbuMazen on the national podium; Stephanie Swanson from Guelph, Ont. landed in second place and Ling Yang of Ottawa finished in third. Swanson and Yang won a $1,000 and $500 scholarship, respectively, for their efforts.
But the competitive stakes are about to get bigger for AbuMazen. The Canadian champion will represent the country at the International Brain Bee challenge at a five-day competition between other victors in Copenhagen, Denmark, starting on June 30.
The Canadian National Brain Bee is put on by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which strives to "[improve] health by expanding knowledge."Also on HuffPost:
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“Walnuts and other tree nuts were once eschewed as part of a healthy diet due to their fat content,” Fenster explained. “But it turns out these fats are the type of healthy fats that our bodies need.” Cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts and pecans, Fenster mentioned are other tree nuts known for containing compounds that support brain health. “Regular nut consumption is part of the Mediterranean diet which is associated with less risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke and early mortality,” he said. “There is also less risk of respiratory disease and certain types of cancers. Greater nut consumption also translates into less risk for such chronic disabilities as age-related memory deterioration.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Fenster explained that dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are some of the most potent antioxidants found in nature. “All types of chocolate, including milk chocolate, have been shown to be associated with a reduction in cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases like stroke,” he said. “However, dark chocolate tends to be higher in cacao than other types of chocolate and cacao than other types of chocolate and thus higher in antioxidants and benefits. These benefits include a boost in memory, attention span, reaction time, concentration and problem-solving skills.” According to Fenster, chocolate not only increases blood flow to the brain, but it makes us feel better because it stimulates our “natural pleasure centers” through the production of endorphins. “As an excellent source of magnesium, chocolate can aid in our ability to deal with stress and improve focus, mood and sleep,” Fenster added. “Regular consumption of modern amounts of chocolate is also associated with less weight gain and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s type dementia.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock Click Here to See Healthy Foods that Protect Your Brain
“Along with leafy greens, berries are the other food group added to the traditional Mediterranean diet to create the hybrid MIND diet approach that is associated with a reduction in Alzheimer’s type dementia,” Fenster said. “Berries are some of the most concentrated sources of powerful antioxidants on the planet. Regular consumption of various berries several times a week is associated with less of diabetes, certain types of cancers, cardiovascular disease and dementia.” He explained that berries, like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and strawberries have the power not only to protect the brain from oxidation, but also to change the way neurons in the brain communicate with each other. “These changes are associated with less inflammation,” Fenster said. “Prevention of inflammation results in less brain cell damage and thereby improvement in overall neurological function.” Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Fenster said that whole grains are necessary for obtaining many important vitamins and minerals and fiber. “Adequate intake of fiber is critical for the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome,” he explained. “The gut microbiome is a symbiotic organ that is in constant communication and modulation of the other organ systems in our body including the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, endocrine, neurological and immune systems. Avoid dietary choices that are produced from highly refined modern wheat bread and instead look toward ancient grains and seeds.” Click Here to See Healthy Foods that Protect Your Brain Photo Credit: Shutterstock