Monday, May 14, 2012

A Beautiful Mind

"The mind is a terrible thing to waste".  Today's health and beauty buzz is on the effect aging has on our brain.
 The brain is shrouded in mystery.  Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and is the 6th leading cause of death in the USA. An estimated 5.4 million people have Alzheimer's. That is 1 American in 8 (65 years and older). More women than men have Alzheimer's disease. 

Risk factors for Alzheimer's are genetics and aging. Unfortunately two factors that we cannot control. Having parents or siblings with Alzheimer's increases your risk.
Dementia is cause by various disease's and conditions that result in damaged brain cells. Some researches say that people with fewer years of education seem to be at higher risk. 
Head injury and brain trauma are associated with increased risk of dementia. 
Smoking, alcohol and drug abuse can disrupt brain development.

Symptoms must include the decline in memory along with at least one of the following:

  1. The ability to generate coherent speech or    understand spoken/written language.
  2. Ability to recognise or identify objects.
  3. Ability to execute motor activities.
  4. Ability to think abstractly, make sound judgements, plan and carry out complex tasks.
  5. The decline in cognitive abilities must be severe enough to interfere with every day life.
Some symptoms may be caused by
  • depression.
  • thyroid disease.
  • drug interactions.
  • alcoholism.
  • vitamin deficiencies
The above are treatable.

No treatment is currently available to stop or slow the deterioration of brain cells. The FDA has approved 5 drugs that temporarily slow the worsening of the symptoms for about 6 to 12 months They are effective in about half of the patients taking them. Currently there are 75 to 100 clinical trails in human volunteers aimed at stopping or slowing the progression. Researchers believe that treatments administered early are most effective. The brain is believed to change in individuals 10 years prior to symptoms such as memory loss. This is when the drugs will be given.

Professor David Rollo and group of researchers at McMaster may have found the "silver bullet" when it comes to slowing the aging of the brain. A complex nutritional supplement containing 30 ingredients. Mice ages 20 to 31 months (human equivalent of 70 to 80 years of age) displayed learning abilities equivalent to young mice. Those not given the supplement, showed no ability to learn new information.
The trial focused on the region of the brain associated with Alzheimer's. Other findings included that the brain increased in size up to 10%. Unlike stand alone vitamins, the combination of the ingredients is far more effective in maintaining brain function. Whether the results will translate to humans is still to be seen.

Brain Facts:
  • More than 60% of the brain is fat.
  • Every part of the brain has a function. "That we use 10% of the brain", is a fallacy.
  • Humans continue to make neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.
  • The brain represents 2% of body weight  but uses 20% of the body's energy production.
  • If you don't take care of your brain, you lose 85,000 brain cells a day. That is what causes ageing.
  • Even though we define 18 year olds as adults, their brains continue to develop until age 25. That is why vehicle insurance rates drop at age 25.
  • The brain is divided into left and right halves. The left side is often known as the detailed orientated, get to the point, speech and happiness center. The right side as being more fretful, creative and holistic processing center.
  • The brain never sleeps. It gathers and stores important information gathered from the day whilst you sleep. During sleep, it secretes a hormone that immobilizes the body so that you don't act on ideas that may come to us during sleep.  In sleepwalkers, it is believed that this hormone is secreted differently.
Experts suggest brain health can be positively influenced throughout life.
The 4 dimensions of brain health are:
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Social well-being 
The good things for your brain:
  • Fish oil-  Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil. EPA and DHA are the 2 long chain omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil. DHA makes up 97% of the omega 3s in the brain. Without enough DHA, your brain cannot function adequately. The benefits of fish oil obtained from fish(salmon and tuna) foods fortified with omega 3's  (eggs, milk, juice) as well as supplements have proven to lower incidence of Alzheimer disease related deaths.
  • Exercise- Physical activity for 30 minutes a day to encourage new brain cells to form.
  • Learn- Lifelong learning, reading, creating art and crafts, crosswords, learning a language, playing an instrument are forms of brain- stimulating activities. "Use it or lose it".
  • Socialize- Stay socially connected. This can include socializing at work, in clubs, with friends and family, volunteering and church groups. Experts say having a social network may help support brain health and intellectual stimulation.
It is never too late to take action to improve your brain health and sometimes all that is needed are a few lifestyle adjustments. Age is just a number.

Caring for someone with dementia is extremely difficult and like any other care giver, may have a negative effect on your own health. Caregivers experience high levels of emotional stress and depression and obesity is often the result.

Dr. Mary Newport decided to do her own research on Alzheimer's in an effort to help her husband who had been diagnosed with the early-onset of the disease. She learned that the ingredient in the drug trial which was showing so much promise was simply MCT oil derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil and a 20 gram dose (about 4 teaspoons) was used to produce these results. She started her husband on coconut oil twice a day and after 37 days, saw remarkable changes in him. She claims that over the next year, the dementia continued to reverse itself.

Vitamin E is said to decrease Alzheimer's by 67%.

Memory enhancers and" Brain Fog" will be covered in a future blog topic.

*Remember to discuss any medication and vitamin supplementation with your doctor and do not self diagnose.

Stay healthy, happy and safe.
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