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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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Targeting Gut Bacteria May Be The Key To Preventing Alzheimer’s

Diet could be a powerful mode of prevention.

A new study suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

Mounting research continues to show the links between the health of the gut and that of the brain. Now, a new study from Lund University in Sweden finds that unhealthy intestinal flora can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The report, published Feb. 8 in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have a different gut bacterial profile than those that do not have the disease.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors. This suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease and in the near future we will likely be able to give advice on what to eat to prevent it,” study author Dr. Frida Fak Hållenius, associate professor at the university’s Food for Health Science Centre, told The Huffington Post. “Take care of your gut bacteria, by eating lots of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.”

In the new study, Hållenius and her colleagues revealed a direct causal association between gut bacteria and signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. When a group of bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of rodents with Alzheimer’s, they developed brain plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s. When the bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of the healthy rodents, however, they developed significantly fewer brain plaques.

Beta-amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain are a central marker of the disease. These sticky protein clumps accumulate between the brain’s neurons, disrupting signals and contributing to the gradual killing off of nerve cells.

“We don’t yet know how bacteria can affect brain pathology, we are currently investigating this,” Hållenius said. “We think that bacteria may affect regulatory T-cells in the gut, which can control inflammatory processes both locally in the gut and systemically ― including the brain.”

The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated.

The gut microbiome is intimately connected with the immune system, since many of the body’s immune cells are found in this area of the stomach, Hållenius added.

Anything that happens in the digestive tract can affect the immune system, she explained. “By changing the gut microbiota composition, you affect the immune system of the host to a large extent.”

The findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than health experts previously thought. The composition of bacteria in the gut is determined by a mix of genetics and lifestyle factors. Diet, exercise, stress and toxin exposure all play a huge role in the gut’s bacterial makeup.

Now, the researchers can begin investigating ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset by targeting gut bacteria early on. And in the meantime, anyone can adopt a plant-based, whole foods diet and probiotic supplementation as a way to improve the health of their microbiome.

“The diet shapes the microbial community in the gut to a large extent, so dietary strategies will be important in prevention of Alzheimer’s,” Hållenius said. “We are currently working on food design that will modulate the gut microbiota towards a healthier state.”

The study is far from the first to show a connection between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s. In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed 10 different ways that the microbiome may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

“The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated,” that study’s authors wrote.

By Carolyn Gregoire      Feb 21, 2017

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For Anxiety Disorders, CBT May Restore Brain’s Structural Balance

New research finds that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) actually changes key brain structures that are involved in processing and regulating emotions.

The finding helps to explain the success of CBT for anxiety disorders. Remediation of social anxiety is an important accomplishment as anxiety in social situations is not a rare problem.

Experts say that around one in 10 people are affected by social anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Social anxiety disorder is diagnosed if fears and anxiety in social situations significantly impair everyday life and cause intense suffering. A relatively common anxiety provoking experience is talking in front of a larger group — a situation that can provoke fear and extreme stress.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Zurich, Zurich University Hospital and the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich discovered that the successful treatment of an anxiety disorder alters key brain structures linked to emotions.

In patients suffering from social anxiety disorder, regulation of excessive anxiety by frontal and lateral brain areas is impaired. Strategies aimed at regulating emotions should restore the balance between cortical and subcortical brain areas.


These strategies are practiced in CBT, a central therapy for social anxiety disorder. In cognitive behavioral group therapy, patients learn and apply new strategies aimed at dealing with social anxiety disorder.

Based on specific examples, the group discusses explanatory models and identifies starting points for changes. Through self-observation, role plays, or video recordings, alternative viewpoints can be developed.

related: ‘Positive Activity’ as Effective as ‘Positive Thinking’ in Treating Depression

In the study, published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers investigated structural brain changes in patients suffering from social anxiety disorder after a specific 10-week course of CBT. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the participants’ brains were examined before and after CBT.

“We were able to show that structural changes occur in brain areas linked to self-control and emotion regulation,” said Dr. Annette Brühl, head physician at the Center for Depression, Anxiety Disorders and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich (PUK).

The more successful the treatment, the stronger the brain changes. The research group was also able to demonstrate that brain areas involved in processing emotions were more interconnected after the treatment.

“Psychotherapy normalizes brain changes associated with social anxiety disorder,” Brühl said.

By Rick Nauert PhD


What is Misophonia?

Misophonia is most-likely a neurological affliction that causes a fight/flight/freeze response to otherwise normal visual and audial stimuli. As of now, there is no official consensus on what exactly causes the disorder. Though it was coined in 2001 by Jastreboff and Jastreboff there has been little research published under the disorder’s current name.

Researchers such as Joseph E. LeDoux and Stephen Porges have been researching auditory over-responsivity. However, the name of the disorder matters little since researchers are more focused on what’s going on inside the brain and body and not merely perceived notions and sweeping generalizations.

Many that sufferer from misophonia struggle with similar symptoms. Commonly, tapping, whistling, chewing, and other repetitive sounds cause this severe reaction. Though the disorder manifests with aversions to sights and sounds, many are proposing that its cause is physiological and not psychological.

There are currently no experts on Misophonia and no one doctor or researcher can claim that they have all the answers. This is also true of treatments and coping methods. Before trying a treatment please ensure that you are aware that new disorders not only carry a lack of treatment but also a risk. If you are trying experimental treatments please be wary. If you feel uncomfortable with your treatment provider, do not hesitate to refrain from continuing.

Please chew with your mouth CLOSED!

Please chew with your mouth CLOSED!

As of now, much of the research must be geared toward preliminary findings. The first steps to understanding Misophonia comes from academic and ethically conducted research that will lay the groundwork for future studies and findings. The IMRN works vehemently to ensure that several angles of research are being explored. We are not committed to one theory over another. Our focus on research is about the journey. As research changes and develops, so will our ideas on the disorder.

There seems to be an overlap between SPD SOR (Sensory Processing Disorder; Sub-set Sensory Over Responsivity) and Misophonia. However, this overlap is entirely based on symptoms. Whether or not the two are related remains to be seen. Though, due to the close over-lap, Lucy Miller of the SPD Foundation has joined the IMRN advisory board to help facilitate research to see if the two may in-fact be related. If this is true, this explains the similarities between misophonics, autistics, Aspergers patients, as well as other disorders.

The cause of Misophonia is secondary right now to its impact on the lives of sufferers. As a magazine and news site we hope to connect sufferers with their researchers. Since there is no official cure it is important that we act as shoulders and support systems for each other. Together we can ask for answers. The IMRN does not believe that one researchers proposals are more important than another. Though we may currently be fundraising for one lab this does not mean that we are not exploring all avenues. A cross-disciplinary approach is our best case scenario when it comes to finding answers. This means that audiologists, neurologists, psychologists, and several professionals are the key to finding answers. When asking ‘what is misophonia?’ we must realize that it is through working together that we find the greatest answers.

July 22, 2016

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10 Foods That Preserve Intelligence And Brain Health

A pigment in leafy vegetables stops the degrading of ‘crystallized intelligence’ by old age, new research finds.

Crystallized intelligence is the ability to use knowledge, experience and skills which have been gained during the lifetime.

Lutein is a yellow pigment and naturally occurring carotenoid that is produced by plants and so can only be obtained from the diet.

Lutein can be extracted from marigold flower and is present in:

  • spinach,
  • kale,
  • broccoli,
  • cabbage,
  • yellow carrots,
  • mango,
  • orange,
  • papaya,
  • red or green pepper

and also in egg yolks and animal fats since animals consume this pigment from plants.
Ms Marta Zamroziewicz, the study’s first author, said:

“Lutein accumulates in the brain, embedding in cell membranes, where it likely plays ‘a neuroprotective role’.

Previous studies have found that a person’s lutein status is linked to cognitive performance across the lifespan.


Research also shows that lutein accumulates in the gray matter of brain regions known to underlie the preservation of cognitive function in healthy brain aging.”

The  study analysed the effect of lutein on the cognitive function of 122 healthy adults between 65 to 75 years old.

Subjects had to complete neuropsychological testing related to crystallized intelligence.

Blood samples were collected to assess the levels of lutein and brain volume was measured using MR imaging.

The focus was on parts of the temporal cortex since this area of the brain is important in the maintenance of crystallized intelligence.

The results showed that those with higher blood serum levels of lutein performed better on crystallized intelligence tests.

Professor Aron Barbey, who led the study, said:

“Our analyses revealed that gray-matter volume of the parahippocampal cortex on the right side of the brain accounts for the relationship between lutein and crystallized intelligence.
This offers the first clue as to which brain regions specifically play a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence, and how factors such as diet may contribute to that relationship.”

Professor Barbey concluded:

“We can only hypothesize at this point how lutein in the diet affects brain structure.
It may be that it plays an anti-inflammatory role or aids in cell-to-cell signaling.
But our finding adds to the evidence suggesting that particular nutrients slow age-related declines in cognition by influencing specific features of brain aging.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (Zamroziewicz et al., 2016).


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Five Ways Christmas Affects Your Brain

Christmas is a time of year like no other; gifts are exchanged, little-spoken-to relatives are contacted, and appetising treats are consumed with great gusto. Christmas can be both a time of stress and a time of relaxation. But whether you love or hate Christmas it’s pretty difficult to avoid – and so your brain may be altered by the experience one way or another. Here are some of the main facets of the Christmas experience, and how they might affect your brain.

The festive spirit: The joy surrounding Christmas may influence some of the chemicals in your brain (dopamine and serotonin) which affect your happiness levels. Dopamine is known to be involved with reward-driven behaviour and pleasure seeking and serotonin is thought to increase our feelings of worth and belonging. So when people talk about “Christmas cheer” they may be on to something.

In fact, researchers at the University of Copenhagen conducted an imaging study to try and find the “centre” of the Christmas spirit in the human brain. Here, participants were shown Christmas-themed images and, in those participants who actively celebrated Christmas, there was increased brain activation in the sensory motor cortex, the premotor and primary motor cortex, and the parietal lobule. Previously these brain areas have been associated with spirituality, bodily senses and recognising facial emotions. While these results should be interpreted with some caution, it is interesting to note the physical effects that feeling festive can exert on your brain.


Stress: Not everyone finds Christmas an entirely joyful and festive time – many people find it very stressful. In fact, the burdens of navigating through a busy shopping centre to find the ideal gift for your other half, or of cooking the perfect turkey for a house full of hungry people, is enough to rattle even the calmest person. Stress can exert a physical response in your body, with the automatic release of adrenaline and cortisol. Further, cortisol has been shown to have a profound effect on the hippocampus, which may decrease your memory and ability to multitask.

Giving gifts: The giving and receiving of gifts is an age-old Christmas tradition and there’s no better feeling than seeing your loved one’s eyes light up when you’ve found the perfect gift for them. But why does giving make us feel so good? Generosity has been linked with the reward circuitry of our brain, causing the release of dopamine and endorphins. Researchers have described a “helpers’ high”, which is experienced after giving. The chemicals that cause this high can reduce stress and increase your desire to repeat these acts of kindness. So, while you may resent being out of pocket after buying your great aunt that pair of slippers, your brain at least ensures that you are compensated with a chemical reward.

Bonding with family and friends: The quintessential Christmas experience involves sitting around a table with your loved ones. In fact, it’s hard to even imagine the festive period without thinking of your family and friends. The bond between you and those special to you can result in the release of a hormone called oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin – sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone” – drives maternal behaviour, trust, and social attachment. As such, this hormone may help towards explaining that warm, fuzzy feeling you get at Christmas when surrounded by those you love and trust.

Overindulging: Indulging in our favourite food and drinks is all part of the Christmas experience – but overeating can affect your brain. It has been shown to activate a pathway linking the hypothalamus in the brain to the immune system. This leads to an immune response and low-grade inflammation, which may explain why you can feel unwell after eating too much. Of course, this doesn’t do much harm to your body after one extravagant Christmas meal – but, when overeating becomes a long-term issue, this inflammation can become chronic, and contribute to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

But for now, don’t worry too much if you’ve got Christmas on the brain, you’ll soon be back to your usual self come January.

December 21, 2016     Kira Shaw    Postdoctoral Researcher in Neuroscience, University of Sussex


11 Ways Men And Women Think Differently

Men and women are different. There are some good biological reasons for that. Studies of brain scans of men and women show that women tend to use both sides of their brain because they have a larger corpus callosum. This is the bridge between the two hemispheres of the brain and allows women to share information between those two halves of the brain faster than men. Men tend to use the left side of the brain which is the more logical and rational side of the brain. Scans also reveal other interesting ways in which men and women do things differently or process information differently from each other.


Women have smaller brains that are more tightly packed with connections. This allows them to perform better at tasks involving the bigger picture and situational thinking. A man’s brain tends to perform better at spatial thinking involving recognizing patterns and problem solving with objects in a spatial environment.

Men tend to excel better at singular tasks while women are better at juggling a number of tasks at once. This may stem from the primordial male role of the hunter who is fixated on a singular objective while the traditional female role of manager of the home forced her to juggle many tasks simultaneously.

Women tend to perform better in social situations than men do. Men tend to excel at more abstract thinking and task-oriented jobs. Again, this may stem from the traditional gender roles whereby women had to work together to accomplish more complex tasks while men spent more time alone stalking prey.

Women have a larger limbic system in their brains which allows them to be more in touch and expressive about their emotions. Men tend to be a little oblivious with emotions that are not explicitly verbalized. Men tend to be more logical in their thinking and dismiss information that is not directly involved with the issue they are tackling. Women tend to be much more empathetic and susceptible to emotions influencing their thinking.

Men tend to have larger inferior parietal lobules than women. This area of the brain is thought to control mathematical ability and processes. Men tend to do better with math because of this. This isn’t to say that there are not women who are great at math, but that men have a small biological advantage when it comes to math and logic based skills.

men women

The amygdala is the area of the brain responsible for pain. Pain is activated in either the right (men) or left (women) hemispheres. The right side is more connected with external stimuli, while the left is more connected to internal stimuli. Women tend to feel pain more intensely than men do because of this.

Women tend to be better at learning languages and are more attuned to words and sounds. This may be why men tend to find it harder to express themselves verbally. It may stem from the increased demand on women over millions of years to cooperate and organize in order to manage large complex tasks.

Women have tend to have higher activity in their hippocampus, the region responsible for forming and storing memories, than men do. Studies have shown that women tend to remember faces, names, objects and events better than men.

Men tend to have better spatial-reasoning skills and are better at remembering geographic details. They tend to have a better innate sense of direction and remember where areas and locations are. This ability most likely stems from their days as hunters when men had to navigate long distances without the aid of a map and compass.

Men tend to be more likely to take risks. Women tend to be more risk averse. Men get a bigger dose of endorphins when they take risks. The bigger the risk, the larger the pleasure derived from the risky behavior. Men may be specialized to take more risks because of early human’s need to hunt down food which may be larger, stronger and more dangerous than a single man. Hunting is also inherently dangerous as some predator may be stalking you while you are stalking another prey animal.

11. SEX
Men tend to be more visual in what arouses them, while women tend to be turned on by a combination of things like ambiance, emotions, scents as well as visual perceptions.

While equal, men and women have different biological strengths and weaknesses. These differences may stem from a very long period of specialization between genders. Humans have been hunter/gatherers much longer than we have been civilized farmers and tradesmen. This long period of adaptation to changing environments may be responsible in some small part for traditional gender roles based on biology and physical specialization. Men and women, while different, are complementary like a knife and a fork.



Top 10 Brain Boosting Superfoods

While it’s common to think that brain health is simply the product of good genes, the reality is quite different. A growing body of research shows that we really are what we eat, and that couldn’t be truer than with maintaining a healthy brain. There are many excellent brain-boosting superfoods, but here are some of my picks for the top ten:

1. Grapes

If you’ve been following news reports you’ve probably already heard about the compound resveratrol found in purple grapes. A large volume of studies link resveratrol with protecting brain cells against damage from beta-amyloid plaques linked with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It appears to work by mopping up free radicals before they can cause damage to the brain and by protecting brain cells against plaque build up. While the media loves to recommend red wine to obtain resveratrol, the reality is that the alcohol in red wine counteracts many of the benefits.

2. Blueberries

While grapes get all the attention when it comes to brain health, it’s time for blueberries to share in the acclaim. These delicious berries are brain-healing powerhouses that work to protect our brain from disease in several different ways. They contain a group of plant nutrients called flavonoids that protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against free radical damage; few foods can make that claim.

3. Turmeric

Research conducted by a medical team at a graduate school at Kanazawa University, Japan, demonstrated that curcumin, found in turmeric – a common curry ingredient — prevents the development of a substance called beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of curcumin is by adding turmeric to your favorite curry dish.

4. Walnuts

For better brain health, it’s time to go nuts: with walnuts, that is. Walnuts offer numerous brain health benefits. To start, they are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids that help protect the fatty portion of the brain and quell brain inflammation, too. Research in The Journal of Nutrition found that walnuts also contain natural compounds that act as antioxidants to destroy free radicals that could otherwise have a damaging effect on the brain. These same compounds reduce brain inflammation, improve signals between brain cells and increase the generation of brain and nerve cells. Choose raw, unsalted walnuts found in the refrigerator section of the health food store.


5. Fatty Fish

Our brains are about 60 percent fat and need healthy fats to replenish these fatty parts. While walnuts are an excellent source of fats needed by the brain, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention fatty fish. Fish that contains high amounts of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, lake trout and herring. But be aware, some of these fish have become contaminated with mercury. Avoid fish that consistently shows up high on the mercury radar, including predatory fish like swordfish and shark, as well as sea bass, northern pike, tuna, walleye and largemouth bass, as well as farm-raised salmon.

6. Apples

When it comes to brain health, an apple a day may keep the doctor away. Research published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias found that people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s who drank two four-ounce cups of apple juice daily had a 27 percent reduction in agitation, anxiety and delusion. Add an apple to your lunch, as a snack on a break from work or as an evening treat to quell a sweet tooth.

7. Pomegranates

One of my favorite fruits, pomegranates, offer more than just sensational taste — they are nutritional and healing powerhouses, particularly when it comes to brain health. Not only are they high in antioxidants that help protect the brain against stroke, research published in the journal Atherosclerosis shows that pomegranates destroy free radicals in the vascular system, helping to ensure healthy blood flow to the brain. Eat them fresh on their own or drink unsweetened bottled pomegranate juice.

8. Tea

Perhaps the Queen of England’s afternoon tea break has helped to keep her mind sharp as she has aged? That’s because black, green and white tea all have significant amounts of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds called catechins, which boost brain health. Scientists found that people who drank two or more cups of tea each day were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

9. Tomatoes

If you’re only enjoying tomatoes as part of an occasional pasta dinner, you might want to expand your tomato repertoire. That’s because lycopene found in tomatoes has also been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Tomatoes have been shown to prevent clumping in the blood (known as platelet aggregation), which is a risk factor for stroke.

10. Coffee

According to an animal study, researchers found that caffeine supplementation combined with moderate swimming, reduced inflammation, which is a precursor of many brain diseases.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook        November 24, 2016         @mschoffrocook
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the president of PureFood BC,
an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include:
Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.
Source: www.care2.com