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Blueberries May Help Reduce Your Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease: It’s All About The Anthocyanins

Blueberries deliver the most delicious wallop of vitamin C found on the planet (in my humble opinion). One serving supplies 25 percent of your daily C requirement plus additional heart-healthy fiber and manganese, important to bone health. A super-achiever when it comes to antioxidant strength, this fruit may also lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and, new research suggests, even Alzheimer’s disease.

A team of University of Cincinnati scientists led by Dr. Robert Krikorian says the healthful antioxidants within blueberries provide a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults. Based on their work, they believe adding blueberries to your diet may help you prevent neurocognitive decline.

Blueberries acquire their deep color from anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant within the fruit, explains the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Generally, antioxidants help to prevent age-related damage at the cellular level within the plants. While some scientists believe consuming foods rich in antioxidants will help delay aging, not all scientists, including those at the National Institutes of Health, entirely support that theory.

Still, eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is unquestionably good for your health with many scientists analyzing and testing specific foods to understand whether they might prevent a particular illness. Quite a few studies, Krikorian and his colleagues note, have found blueberries beneficial in preventing dementia.

 

blueberries
Anthocyanins within blueberries provide a real benefit in improving memory
and cognitive function in some older adults: study.

Silver Tide
One type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. This neurodegenerative disorder develops in a healthy brain, its symptoms appearing slowly and then worsening over time. Eventually, this disease becomes severe enough to interfere with daily tasks and in the end disrupts even the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate and breathing. If they live long enough, Alzheimer’s patients die because their breathing stops. Currently 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, yet as the nation’s population grows older, that number will almost inevitably rise. The Alzheimer’s Association calculates that the number of Americans with this disorder will reach more than seven million by 2025.

How can science slow this trend?

Following up on earlier clinical trials showing blueberries boost cognitive performance, Krikorian and colleagues conducted two new studies. The first involved 47 adults, 68 years old or older and beginning to show signs of mild cognitive impairment — a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. First, the researchers conducted tests and a brain scan for each participant. Then, after forming two groups, one group of participants ate a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks, while the other consumed a freeze-dried blueberry powder (equivalent to a single cup of berries).

Conducting the same tests and comparing the groups, Krikorian and his colleagues observed comparative improvement in cognitive performance and brain function among the adults who ate blueberry powder.

“The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” said Krikorian in a statement to the press. Additionally, a second scan showed increased activity in the brains of those in the blueberry group.

The team’s second study included 94 people between the ages of 62 and 80, all confessing to some memory problems. The researchers believed these participants to be in better cognitive “shape” than the first group, however no objective measurements verified this. For this study, the researchers divided the participants into four groups. Each group received either blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder, or placebo.

A hoped-for replication of the first study did not occur. Cognition proved somewhat better for those taking either blueberry powder or fish oil separately, yet memory barely improved, certainly not as much as in the first study, Krikorian noted. Even the scans showed similar lukewarm results. The team believes participants’ less severe cognitive impairments contributed to this weakened effect.

Blueberries may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems, the combined results of the two studies suggest. Perhaps blueberries effectively treat only those patients who already show signs of mental impairment.

Nevertheless, Krikorian says, the very same ingredient that bestows color may provide blueberries with their brain benefits; in past animal studies, scientists have shown anthocyanins improve cognition.

By Susan Scutti      Mar 13, 2016
 
source:    Krikorian R, et al. Blueberry Fruit Supplementation in Human Cognitive Aging.
Meeting of the American Chemical Society. 2016.
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Some Video Games Are Good For Older Adults’ Brains

If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s the finding of a new Canadian study by Université de Montréal psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz. Published in PLOS ONE, it was done in cooperation with the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), Benjamin Rich Zendel of Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Véronique Bohbot of Montreal’s Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

In two separate studies, in 2014 and 2017, young adults in their twenties were asked to play 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms like Super Mario 64. Findings showed that the gray matter in their hippocampus increased after training.

The hippocampus is the region of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a key factor in long-term cognitive health. The gray matter it contains acts as a marker for neurological disorders that can occur over time, including mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.

West and his colleagues wanted to see if the results could be replicated among healthy seniors.

The research team recruited 33 people, ages 55 to 75, who were randomly assigned to three separate groups. Participants were instructed to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, take piano lessons (for the first time in their life) with the same frequency and in the same sequence, or not perform any particular task.

The experiment lasted six months and was conducted in the participants’ homes, where the consoles and pianos, provided by West’s team, were installed.

The researchers evaluated the effects of the experiment at the beginning and at the end of the exercise, six months later, using two different measurements: cognitive performance tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure variations in the volume of gray matter. This enabled them to observe brain activity and any changes in three areas:

  • the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that controls planning, decision-making and inhibition;
  • the cerebellum that plays a major role in motor control and balance; and
  • the hippocampus, the centre of spatial and episodic memory.

According to the MRI test results, only the participants in the video-game cohort saw increases in gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Their short-term memory also improved.

The tests also revealed gray matter increases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum of the participants who took piano lessons, whereas some degree of atrophy was noted in all three areas of the brain among those in the passive control group.

What mechanism triggers increases in gray matter, especially in the hippocampus, after playing video games? “3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring.,” said West. “Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region.”

Conversely, when the brain is not learning new things, gray matter atrophies as people age. “The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect,” said West. Added Belleville: “These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer’s, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease.”

“It remains to be seen,” concluded West, “whether it is specifically brain activity associated with spatial memory that affects plasticity, or whether it’s simply a matter of learning something new.”

Story Source:
December 6, 2017     Materials provided by Université de Montréal. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Greg L. West, Benjamin Rich Zendel, Kyoko Konishi, Jessica Benady-Chorney, Veronique D. Bohbot, Isabelle Peretz, Sylvie Belleville. Playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal grey matter in older adults. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0187779 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187779


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Alzheimer’s Linked To Too Much of This In Your Diet

Excess sugar in the diet could play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, new research finds.

Too much glucose (sugar) in the diet damages a vital enzyme which helps fight the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Omar Kassaar, the study’s first author, said:

“Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.”

The researchers studied samples of brain tissue from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that sugar can damage an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor).

The researchers studied samples of brain tissue from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Jean van den Elsen, a study co-author, explained:

“We’ve shown that this enzyme is already modified by glucose in the brains of individuals at the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
We are now investigating if we can detect similar changes in blood.

Normally MIF would be part of the immune response to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, and we think that because sugar damage reduces some MIF functions and completely inhibits others that this could be a tipping point that allows Alzheimer’s to develop.”

MIF helps to fight the build up of abnormal proteins in the brain, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

The reduction of MIF activity by glucose could eventually lead to a ‘tipping point’ in Alzheimer’s progression.

Dr Rob Williams, a study co-author, said:

“Knowing this will be vital to developing a chronology of how Alzheimer’s progresses and we hope will help us identify those at risk of Alzheimer’s and lead to new treatments or ways to prevent the disease.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Kassaar et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Can Green Tea Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Green tea is touted as an amazing superfood replete with many healing benefits, from its anti-cancer properties to its heart health boosting compounds. So it is no surprise that green tea has been linked with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. But new research found that it may offer more protection than originally believed.

Green tea is high in antioxidants that fight off harmful free radicals. By some estimates the antioxidants found in green tea may be 20 times more potent than vitamin E, which is a proven brain health booster. But new research shows that green tea is even better than just its amazing antioxidants.

According to a new study by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society found that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has yet another health benefit—it stops beta amyloid plaques linked to Alzheimer’s from forming. Beta amyloid plaques have long been known as causal factors in Alzheimer’s but finding ways to stop the harmful plaques from forming has been the task of many researchers. Beta amyloid plaques disrupt communication between brain and nerve cells, creating the memory loss and dementia, which are the trademark signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

This new research found that EGCG in green tea effectively prevented plaques from being able to damage healthy cells. While the exact mechanism by which EGCG achieves this protection is not fully clear, the discovery is an exciting one into brain health and Alzheimer’s disease.

This ground-breaking research offers hope to the 50 million people worldwide who already suffer from Alzheimer’s disease since EGCG may slow the plaque’s progression and therefore the disease’s progression as well. It may also help anyone looking to prevent the disease, which is probably most people.

This research supports earlier research in the medical journal Brain Research that also found that green tea consumption can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Other research in the American Journal of Medicine found that regular tea consumption can cut the risk of cognitive decline in half, which is impressive by anyone’s standards.

While the research is still quite early so it is not clear exactly how much green tea or its protective compound EGCG is needed to reap the brain protective effects, most experts agree that a few cups of green tea daily should be helpful with brain health. Earlier research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank two or more cups of tea each day were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The benefits were not linked to tea’s caffeine content which is lower than the caffeine found in coffee.

To make green tea: add one or two teaspoons of green tea leaves to a cup of boiled water, preferably in a tea strainer. Let steep for five minutes. Pour over ice if you prefer a cold beverage.  And don’t worry—it contains a lot less caffeine than coffee or black tea. Green tea contains about 55 mg of caffeine per cup while coffee typically contains between 125 and 200 mg per cup.

If you’re not a big fan of the taste of green tea, try it blended with other types of tea, such as ginger or lemongrass. You can also try icing it with some stevia to sweeten the beverage and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a delicious green tea lemonade.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and 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.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook          November 9, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
 
source: www.care2.com


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You Say Turmeric, I Say Curcumin

Either way, we say healthy

Who doesn’t love the flavours and aromas that turmeric imbues our lives with? But we can also thank this delicious spice for some powerful therapeutic properties. Find out what this yellow jewel can do for you.

If you’ve eaten curry, you’ve likely consumed turmeric. Not only does this spice lend its flavour and yellow colour to delicious curry dishes; it’s also played an important role in ancient medical practices like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

Curcumin, found in supplement form at your natural health store, is the active ingredient of the turmeric plant. Over the last few decades, the extract curcumin has been the subject of wide-ranging scientific research for its medicinal properties.

The colour of health may be yellow

Prized for its yellow hue and medicinal properties for, reportedly, 4,000 years, turmeric’s unique qualities are found in its curcuminoid components. Extracted from the turmeric (Curcumin longa L.) plant, curcumin research has uncovered plenty of reason to turn (to) yellow.

Burns and scalds

While you’re in the kitchen cooking up a batch of your favourite curry, you may have occasion to remember that the curcumin in that turmeric you’ve just added to the pan is also useful in a gel to help heal minor burns and scalds.

Research says:

The effectiveness of curcumin gel on the skin is, according to the author of a recent study, related to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Research subjects who were treated with a topical curcumin gel after suffering minor burns had less pain and inflammation and improved healing with less than expected scarring—even no scarring in some cases.

Arthritis pain

People who suffer from joint pain and swelling from arthritis, either from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, may be able to find some relief with curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation. And it may help them get around much more easily.

Research says:

Clinical studies have shown a positive effect of curcumin on reducing pain and improving physical function and quality of life for osteoarthritis patients through its anti-inflammatory and cartilage-protective qualities. Preliminary evidence suggests that curcumin may also have the same effect for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Cancer

In countries where people eat curcumin at levels of about 100 mg to 200 mg a day over long periods of time, there are low rates of certain types of cancer. Curcumin seems to have a powerful effect on cancer cells. In some cases curcumin has shown the ability to step in and reduce the ability of cancer cells to transform, grow, and spread to other parts of the body.

Research says:

The promising results in laboratory studies have inspired researchers all over the world to continue the search for the exact mechanism by which curcumin could help prevent and even offer therapeutic benefits for certain types of cancer. Researchers, in a recent review of years of curcumin studies, suggest that future studies should take a more holistic approach to account for turmeric’s chemically diverse constituents that may synergistically contribute to its potential benefits.

Ulcerative colitis

There is currently no known cure for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. One of the goals of treatment is to prevent relapses of its symptoms and promote remission. This is something that curcumin seems to be able to help with.

Research says:

A Cochrane Database systematic review of studies into curcumin’s effectiveness for maintenance of remission in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) in 2014 concluded that curcumin may be a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for maintenance of remission in “quiescent” UC.

Alzheimer’s disease?

Elderly villagers in India, where turmeric is a dietary staple, have the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the world; and researchers have been keen to determine if curcumin may play a role in this. They were intrigued because of curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research says:

Though plenty of studies have focused on exploring this possibility, so far there’s no concrete evidence that curcumin is effective in combatting or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. The research continues, though, since laboratory studies have shown some intriguing and promising possibilities.

October 1, 2017 by alive Editorial
source: www.alive.com


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How To Beat Alzheimer’s: Neurologists Devise A Plan To Protect Yourself And Even Reverse Early Symptoms

How To Beat Alzheimer’s: Neurologists Devise A Plan To
Protect Yourself And Even Reverse Early Symptoms

As a high-powered lawyer at the top of her game, Evelyne had always been efficient, authoritative and in control.

But when she reached 60, she reluctantly began to accept that her mind wasn’t as sharp as it once had been.

She found herself increasingly confounded by a nagging sense of confusion and exhaustion — and started second-guessing some of her decisions.

But when Evelyne found herself going completely blank in the middle of an important presentation, she knew something was very wrong.

Evelyne is typical of the thousands of patients we have seen over the course of the 20 years we have spent studying Alzheimer’s disease.

As a neurologist husband-and-wife team, together we run the prestigious Memory and Ageing Centre at Loma Linda University in California — a hospital that is dedicated to cutting-edge research into the condition.

As doctors at the very peak of our profession, we have worked at some of the world’s leading hospitals and have dedicated our careers to finding a cure for this devastating disease.

While other chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and strokes are in decline, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are rising.

It’s now the leading cause of death in the UK — overtaking heart disease in 2016. Indeed, for many of us the question is no longer if we will get the disease, but when.

Today, women over 60 in the UK are twice as likely to get dementia as breast cancer, and the risk of developing it doubles every five years after the age of 65.

By 2025, there will be more than one million people in the UK with dementia.

But now, thanks to years of exhaustive research, we firmly believe we have found a scientifically backed way to reduce your risk and keeping your brain sharper for longer.

Our method could even help to reduce some of the symptoms of dementia after it has started to develop.

The key is a personalised lifestyle plan, which we’ve called the Alzheimer’s Solution — the name of our books.

It identifies your individual risk of getting the disease and then helps you to minimise these risks through simple tweaks to your lifestyle.

Our plan focuses on five key areas that can really make a difference: diet, exercise, sleep, stress and brain training (exercises shown to help boost the brain, such as Sudoku or learning a language).

Throughout our careers we’ve treated thousands of patients and helped them to reverse some of the symptoms of dementia and added years to their lives.

Take Evelyne. Just two months after her first visit to us, tests showed that her short-term memory had improved by 30 per cent and her attention score by 50 per cent.

In a very short space of time, she was seeing a reversal of some of her symptoms.

So how does our plan actually work?

When we started on this quest for an Alzheimer’s cure, we assumed any solution would come in the form of a pill.

But after conducting one of the most comprehensive reviews ever into scientific studies that show the causes of dementia, we are convinced that many cases can be put down to a poor diet consisting of heavily processed food — with an emphasis on sugar and meat — combined with a sedentary, sleep-deprived and stressful lifestyle.

What’s more, the data we looked at (which comprised thousands of studies) convinced us that lifestyle changes that are beneficial to the heart and kidneys also appear to be beneficial to the brain.

That’s why our Alzheimer’s Solution works. It draws on 15 years’ worth of published research from around the globe.

We’ve guided thousands of people through the highly personalised process of lifestyle change throughout our careers — and the overall effects have been profound.

Jerry, for example, came to us with an early diagnosis of vascular dementia, desperate for a solution. We looked in detail at his lifestyle — and then prescribed exercise.

He started pedalling very gently on a stationary bike in front of his TV each day and saw immediate improvements in his mood and memory.

This spurred him on to make further lifestyle adjustments. He decided to take steps to improve his sleep, diet and stress levels — and within a year, a scan of his brain showed rather profound improvements.

‘I was stuck in a parallel universe,’ he told us. ‘But now I’m back with everyone else.’

He is proof that our plan works. And to say these findings changed the course of our lives as doctors would be a complete understatement.

Our discoveries have wholly altered the way that we think about dementia, cognitive health and the future of Alzheimer’s treatment.

There may still be no cure for Alzheimer’s but, with the right advice, we can be mentally active for longer, reverse the debilitating symptoms of the disease and ultimately add more happy, healthy years to our lives.

The best part is that our plan is so simple you can make immediate changes in the sure knowledge that you are launching your own personal fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

1. We found that eating meat is bad for your brain, which requires vegetables, fruit, pulses, grains and healthy fats to thrive.

We therefore recommend a plant-based diet low in sugar, salt and processed foods.

2. Physical exercise increases both the number of brain cells and the connections between them. We suggest maintaining an active lifestyle that incorporates movement every hour — not just a quick stop at the gym after an otherwise sedentary day at the office, for example.

3. Chronic stress puts the brain in a state of high inflammation, causing structural damage and impairing its ability to clear toxins. We recommend meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and time outside.

4. Restorative sleep is essential for health so it’s important to aim for seven to eight hours a night.

5. Puzzles and other complex activities protect your brain against decline.

Social support and engagement with your community can also have a clear and undeniable influence on the way in which your brain ages.

And activities such as playing music are great for challenging and engaging many of the brain’s capacities.

Adapted by Louise Atkinson from
The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Revolutionary Guide To How You Can Prevent And Reverse Memory Loss
by Dr Dean Sherzai and Dr Ayesha Sherzai, published by Simon & Schuster 
By Dr Dean Sherzai And Dr Ayesha Sherzai For The Daily Mail      30 September 2017


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Health Tip Tuesday

Neurobics for your mind. Get your brain fizzing with energy. American researchers coined the term ‘neurobics’ for tasks which activate the brain’s own biochemical pathways and to bring new pathways online that can help to strengthen or preserve brain circuits.

Brush your teeth with your ‘other’ hand, take a new route to work or choose your clothes based on sense of touch rather than sight. People with mental agility tend to have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline.