A vast body of evidence demonstrates the physical benefits of a healthy social life. Conversely, loneliness and social isolation have been clearly linked to poor health outcomes. Numerous studies have shown that socially isolated seniors even have a shorter life expectancy. “A Review of Social Isolation” by Nicholas R. Nicholson published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, is a definitive scholarly article on social isolation and a comprehensive “study of studies.” Its introduction observes bluntly that “social isolation has been demonstrated to lead to numerous detrimental health effects in older adults, including increased risk for all-cause mortality, dementia, increase risk for re-hospitalization, and an increased number of falls.” Social isolation among seniors is alarmingly common, and will continue to increase in prevalence as the older population grows. “A Review of Social Isolation” notes that the prevalence of social isolation among community dwelling older adults (seniors who live at home rather than senior communities) may be as high as 43%. With the sheer number of older persons projected to increase exponentially in the near future, social isolation will likely impact the health, well-being and quality of life of numerous older person now and in the foreseeable future. Considering the demonstrated risks and the increasing prevalence of this issue, it’s certainly worth addressing how we can promote social integration at the larger social level, among our older loved ones, and even ourselves – for it has been shown that family caregivers are themselves at a high risk of social isolation Here are some ways to promote social health and connectedness: 1. Make Transportation Available Lack of adequate transportation is a primary cause of a social isolation. Because many seniors do not drive, this is a big issue for them, so anything that helps seniors get around and make independent choices about travel promotes their social health. On the level of society, creating a solid public transportation infrastructure and providing special transportation options to seniors and disabled people will help promote their social integration. For example, our blog recently reported that giving free buses to seniors promotes their health. On the level of our family, offering rides to older loved ones and helping them to learn to use public transportation will help them maintain social connections and a healthy sense of independence. 2. Promote Sense of Purpose Seniors with a sense of purpose or hobbies that really interest them are less likely to succumb to the negative effects of social isolation. Besides providing a sense of purpose,many hobbies and interests are inherently social in nature. Anything that involves a group, for example, playing bridge, could be said to be socially healthy. If a senior is bereft of ideas for what to do, there are always planned events at the local senior center. Volunteering is also great way of maintaining and expressing […]
Art as a Mechanism of Expression When Verbal Skills Fail I by: Parentgiving When Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia cause a loved one to lose the ability to speak, the lack of communication may become frustrating to the family members and, presumably, to the patient. Researchers have found that art can be used to give the patient a means of self-expression when verbal skills fail. Through art therapy, or art psychotherapy, persons whose language skills have been impaired are still able to express their feelings through the language of images. The person may generate these images through drawings and colorings, or through collages of images culled from magazines, or through constructs of colored or textured figures and shapes. Alternatively, the person may be encouraged to respond to a visual-art dialogue initiated by an art therapist, who may select or create the first image to start the nonverbal conversation. “Verbal skills eventually fail in people with dementia. Researchers believe art therapy can help patients express themselves when this happens.” Art therapy operates on the premise that each individual uses color, line, and shape in a manner closely linked to his or her unique self. Individual personality is expressed by arranging art materials in meaningful patterns unique to the creator. Art therapist Elizabeth Cockey says art therapy can be used to improve quality of life both for patients with dementia and for those who care for them. The whole brain is stimulated to work in the creative state, as the person tries to paint, construct, sculpt and in so many ways create art. Cockey says that even as art therapy stimulates the temporal lobe of the brain it also induces the use of motor skills as the person manipulates things with the hands. The important thing to realize, though, is that there are two people involved -the patient and the person providing care, such as the family member. It is not a matter of giving the patient some paint and paper and then leaving the room. It is a matter of staying with the patient and starting a conversation, albeit nonverbal. By engaging in art projects with the dementia patient, family members and close friends can establish a connection with the loved one. Participating in visual art experiences can be beneficial, as well, to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. A number of museums have set up special programs for these individuals and their caregivers. While Alzheimer’s and dementia ravage the portions of the brain that have to do with memory and planning complex tasks, the portions of the brain involved in emotion and in aesthetic appreciation remain intact for much longer. It is theorized that looking at paintings and sculpture activates systems that are preserved and are widely connected with other cerebral areas, resulting in […]
A Diet Might Cut the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Researchers spent two years developing the MIND diet, which includes many brain-healthy foods like berries and greens. The MIND diet was developed by researchers al Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, whose recent study found that certain foods could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Sumalhi Reddy The Wall Street Journal Sumathi.Reddy@wsj.com Researchers successfully tested a special diet they designed that appears to reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study compared the so-called MIND diet with the popular, heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which is intended to help control high blood pressure. The MIND diet borrows significantly from the other two, and all are largely plant-based and low in high-fat foods. But the MIND diet places particular emphasis on eating brain-healthy” foods such as green leafy vegetables and berries, among other recommendations. The study, conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center In Chicago, found strict adherence to any of the three diets lessened the chances of getting Alzheimer’s. But only the MIND diet seemed to help counter the disease even when people followed only some of the diet’s recommendations The research was observational, not randomized or controlled and therefore isn’t evidence the MIND diet caused a reduced risk for Alzheimer”s.Instead, the research shows there is an association between the two. The MIND diet combines clements of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, which aims to reduce high blood pressure. The MIND diet also includes ‘brain-healthy’ food’ such as lots of green leafy vegetables, blueberries and nuts. A study found adhering strictly to any of the three diets lowered the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. But only the MIND diet had significant benefits even with moderate adherence. The study is part of a small body of research investigating how nutrition can improve brain health and stave off the cognitive decline and memory impairment that comes with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Experts say there is growing awareness that lifestyle factors-not just genetics-play a prominent role in the development of Alzheimer’s, and researchers hope to come up with an optimal diet that will lessen the chances or developing the disease. An estimated 5.1 million people in the U S. have Alzheimer’s, a number expected to grow to 7.1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. “It’s a relatively new field compared with heart disease and diabetes and nutrition,” said Martha Clare Morris, a professor of neurological epidemiology at Rush “As we learn more and more I think we would definitely modify or update the [MIND] diet based on the latest research,” said Dr. Morris. who was first author of the study, published recently in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The MIND diet, which took two years to develop. stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. […]
To Harness Neuroplasticity, Start with Enthusiasm By: Dr. Helena Popovic We are the architects and builders of our own brains. For millennia, however, we were oblivious to our enormous creative capabilities. We had no idea that our brains were changing in response to our actions and attitudes, every day of our lives. So we unconsciously and randomly shaped our brains and our latter years because we believed we had an immutable brain that was at the mercy of our genes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The human brain is continually altering its structure, cell number, circuitry and chemistry as a direct result of everything we do, experience, think and believe. This is called “neuroplasticity”. Neuroplasticity comes from two words: neuron or nerve cell and plastic, meaning malleable or able to be molded. The implications of neuroplasticity are enormous: we have the ability to keep our brains sharp, effective and capable of learning new skills well into our 90s, if we protect our brains from damaging habits and give them ongoing stimulation and appropriate fuel. One way to illustrate this is to think of the brain and mind as a large boat, complete with captain and crew, sailing the ocean blue. The captain makes the decisions and gives the orders, which the loyal crew follow. Without a captain, the boat would be directionless. Without a crew, the day-to-day running of the boat would be impossible. The crew know their role and don’t need the captain to tell them how to do their job or to remind them of their job on a daily basis. They’re very well trained. The captain only notifies the crew if he or she wants something to change and takes charge whenever leader ship is required. As for the boat, it needs to be kept in good nick and fueled on a regular basis. The captain, the crew and the boat form a single, interdependent unit, each party influencing the other two. If the captain and crew don’t do their job properly, the boat can get damaged and end up in disrepair. If the boat is damaged, the journey is more arduous; in particular, rough seas are more difficult to handle. If the captain is apathetic, incompetent or drunk, there is an absence of leadership. And if the captain and crew are in constant disagreement, they won’t get very far. How does this relate to the brain and mind? The captain represents the conscious mind; the crew represent the subconscious mind; the boat is the brain; and the ocean is life. The conscious mind is the thinking part of ourselves. It sets goals, makes decisions and interprets experiences. The subconscious mind is the part of ourselves beneath our conscious awareness that keeps us alive and running. It’s what keeps our hearts pumping, […]
All Exercise Benefits Your Brain The stimulation to the brain, created by exercise directly effects the brain function in the several ways, for example, it reduces cortisol in the brain, the stress hormone, letting you think more clearly. ln addition, it produces dopamine, an active neurotransmitter that affects your movement control and your state of well being. Exercise creates new neurons in the motor cortex and cerebellum and generates new connections between different parts of the brain. Any exercise that you do improves your brain in one sense or another. If possible, we recommend they try both new and more complex exercises. The more the brain perceives the exercise as complex and new, the more brain activity is stimulated. The idea is to consistently create coordination and concentration through the execution of body exercises. Also recommended is both aerobic and strength training. Any exercise benefits your brain. But SBSB exercises have been specially targeted to improve your brain at the same time that your body. Super Body Super Brain (SBSB) is a body exercise program created by Michael Gonzalez Wallace, whose objective is to get you in shape and, at the same time, enhance your brain. It is based on the concept that surprise keeps the brain at peak efficiency. Generally speaking, the stimulation that movement performs in the brain, affects brain function in the following terms: It reduces cortisol in the brain, the stress hormone, letting you think more clearly. It produces dopamine, an active neurotransmitter that affects your movement control and your state of well being. Exercise creates new neurons in the motor cortex and cerebellum. It generates new connections between different parts of the brain. Summarizing, by doing exercise, you can actually get smarter. Any exercise that you do improves your brain in one sense or another. That is why I recommend to my clients that they perform the exercise that suits them the better. However, if possible, I recommend them to try new and more complex exercises. The more the brain perceives the exercise as complex and new, the more brain activity is stimulated. That is exactly the focus of the SBSB method: to create a continuous demand of balance, coordination and concentration through the execution of body exercises. Furthermore, Michael’s exercises include aerobic and strength-training moves to rev up your metabolism and make your muscles lean and strong. The result is a set of exercises that if done for 10 minutes daily, lead you to a better body and a more intelligent brain. If you want to know more about the complete exercise plan, you may prefer to read the book that explains the whole technique and contains a detailed weekly training plan. Prevention News Exercise And Mental Stimulation Prevent Dementia Smart New Strategies To Ward Off Dementia Do ’em […]
The term executive function describes a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors. Executive functions are necessary for goal directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function. Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Executive-function.html In other words, executive function is a set of mental processes that help connect past experience with present situation/action. We use it when we plan, organize, strategize, notice and remember details, manage time, manage space and control our impulses (for instance curb our desire to say or do something inappropriate.). Cooking An activity that you can do in the home could be to have the client pick out a recipe from their own cook book. Have the client write down a shopping list containing everything that is needed for that recipe, and talk about what cooking supplies you should use. If possible, shop for the things together. If not possible, that is also okay. Look in the ads from the grocery stores, to get an estimated idea of the budget for the recipe, help only as little as needed, and in a respectful and kind way, so the client feels competent. You can start out Monday with the planning, do shopping a different day, and the cooking on a third day. You can even prepare some of the chopping the day before the actual cooking. This activity can be tailored from the highest functioning Sapphire to the Emerald, in my experience. Even the other Gems, who can no longer engage in planning, should be involved when possible, even if it means watching you cook while they hold a carrot or something. Laundry Laundry is a great activity for planning and strategizing! We need to sort the clothes, and we also need to look at the sizes of the loads, so we don’t wash a load that is uneconomical because it is too small, right? (Any excuse to get the brain activated works) When do we need the particular piece of clothing? Can it wait some days, so the load can grow bigger? Which cycle should we use? How much time do we have today, how many loads. Ask for help even when you don’t need it, just be careful that it is not too obvious … Most ADL’s can be used in this manner—Appropriate board games for higher functioning clients could be problem solving and sequencing games. Mastermind (Perhaps only for Sapphire, but we mustn’t forget our Sapphires in our eager to help the other Gems). Chess—Connect 4 stackers. Solving problems with […]
By: Dr. Pascale Michelon In addition to genetic factors, the environment in which a person lives, as well as the actions of that person, play a role in plasticity. Neuroplasticity occurs in the brain: 1- At the beginning of life: when the immature brain organizes itself. 2- In case of brain injury: to compensate for lost functions or maximize remaining functions. 3-Through adulthood: whenever something new is learned and memorized Plasticity and brain injury A surprising consequence of neuroplasticity is that the brain activity associated with a given function can move to a different location as a consequence of nonnal experience, brain damage or recovery. In his book “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science,” Nonnan Doidge describes numerous examples of functional shifts. In one of them, a surgeon in his 50s suffers a stroke. His left arm is paralyzed. During his rehabilitation, his good arm and hand are immobilized, and he is set to cleaning tables. The task is at first impossible. Then slowly the bad arm remembers how to move. He learns to write again, to play tennis again: the functions of the brain areas killed in the stroke have transferred themselves to healthy regions! The brain compensates for damage by reorganizing and fonning new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity. Plasticit, learning and memot For a long time, it was believed that as we aged, the connections in the brain became fixed. Research has shown that in fact the brain never stops changing through learning. Plasticity IS the capacity of the brain to change with learning. Changes associated with learning occur mostly at the level of the connections between neurons. New connections can form and the internal structure of the existing synapses can change. Did you know that when you become an expert in a specific domain, the areas in your brain that deal with this type of skill will grow? For instance, London taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus (in the posterior region) than London bus drivers (Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006). Why is that? It is because this region of the hippocampus is specialized in acquiring and using complex spatial information in order to navigate efficiently. Taxi drivers have to navigate around London whereas bus drivers follow a limited set of routes. Plasticity can also be observed in the brains of bilinguals (Mechelli et al., 2004). It looks like learning a second language is possible through functional changes in the brain: the left inferior parietal cortex is larger in bilingual brains than in monolingual brains. Plastic changes also occur in musicians brains compared to non-musicians. Gaser and Schlaug (2003) compared professional musicians (who practice at least l hour per day) to amateur […]
In numerous research studies, brain healthy activities have been proven to actually delay cognitive impairment and even Alzheimer’s Disease Every 5.7 seconds a new case of dementia in the world Every 57 seconds someone is diagnosed with AD Any kind of stress can create problems with our memory and destroy neural pathways Your Brain’s Vital Functions 1. Attention: The ability to increase your “ATTENTION” will in tum, increase both your math and reading performance. In addition, both visual and hearing memory can improve. Attention is what helps us focus on things and shut out the things that aren’t necessary. Attention assists with movement, emotions, and sensations, allowing the brain to make sense of all that is around us. 2. Memory: General memory facilitates the formation, activation, and retention of neurological circuits that contribute to your brain’s optimal functioning. Memory is the veritable bedrock of superior brain health and serves as the basis of your personal identity. 3. Working memory: Working memory is linked with your IQ and is the first brain function to decline as you age. It is central to your ability to manipulate stored information and can easily be improved by practicing a series of simple exercises. Brain Fitness promotes stronger memory and improves brain function through all ages. Recent studies show that the brain constantly revises itself. “brain plasticity”. Scientists used to believe that the brain developed all of its major functionality-that is, the “wiring” of the brain that supports hearing, seeing, feeling, thinking, emotions and the control of movements-in early infancy. The “mature” brain was thought to be unchangeable, like a computer with all its wires permanently soldered together. Our brains have the lifelong ability to adapt and build is termed “neuroplasticity”. The neural pathways, more like the information highways, are the foundation of our cognitive skills which determine how efficiently we are able to process information. Because the brain is always adapting and building, our ability to think, remember and learn is never static, it can always be upgraded and improved! Ground breaking research in the area of neuroscience shows that regular brain fitness training can provides tremendous benefits to people of all ages, including those who are experiencing cognitive decline due to age, disease, trauma or chemotherapy. Neuroplasticity which enables the neurons (brain cells) to make new pathways with new learning and adaptive experiences. Brain Flex is a brain fitness program which provides you with a personal brain trainer. Brain Flex includes a variety of activities that will assist in creating these new neural pathways and strengthen the existing ones. Activities are personally designed each one of our clients. The activities provided will provide opportunity to stimulate all areas of the brain and will especially focus on the areas which may prove to need more attention. In addition, age appropriate […]
By: Alvaro Fernandezblack and white brain Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains. 1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses. 2. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that brain only weighs 2% of body mass but it consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff “. 3. Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis. 4. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons. 5. Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use IT or Lose IT” does not mean “do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567”. It means, “challenge you brain often with fundamentally new activities”. 6. We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. Once you become too comfortable in one job, find a new one. The brain keeps developing, reflecting what you do with it. 7. Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain. 8. Don’t Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbor … Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbor’s. 9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are “social animals”, and need social interaction. Which, by the way, is why ‘Baby Einstein’ has been shown not to be the panacea for children development. 10. Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Better, try to become the next Jon Stewart. Now, remember that what counts is not reading this article-or any other-, but practicing a bit every day until small steps snowball into unstoppable, internalized habits…so, pick your next battle and try […]
->One thing we say repeatedly during our BrainFlex sessions is that age doesn’t matter when it comes to learning. Although it may take us a little longer to learn things, we are still able to learn throughout our lifetime. (Repetition is key!) ->Researchers across the globe agree that we are able to learn throughout our lifetime, which is what the term Brain Plasticity means. (We can grow new neural pathways as long as we are committed to doing so.) ->Most researchers also agree that we must make a concerted effort and remain committed to all of the components important to brain health if we are to experience the best outcomes from life-long learning. These are: Exercise, Healthy Diet, Brain Stimulation, Social Connection, and in recent years, we’ve learned the importance of Good Sleep Patterns and having a Positive Attitude. Although each of these important components are required to ‘age well’, for the purpose of bog chat, I’d like to focus on just one. Exercise: This is one area of research where the positive impact on brain health is the most consistent and undeniable. ->Exercise improves our flow of oxygen throughout our body, which in turn, benefits both the body and the brain, including memory. ->Exercise has been shown in repeated studies to provide our brains with ‘fight’, some researchers describe this fight as ‘reverse aging’. ->Exercise creates an overall feeling of well-being through the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals. (neurotransmitters) ->Exercise increases the number of dendrites in the brain. Dendrites are extensions of our nerve cells. Their job is to receive electrical impulses from other cells and then communicate those messages to other parts of the brain cell.E
Article By: Alvaro Fernandez Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements; just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”. Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons. Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. “Use It or Lose It” does not mean “do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567″. It means, “challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities”. We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. Once you become too comfortable in one job, find a new one. The brain keeps developing, reflecting what you do with it. Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain. Don’t Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbor… Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbors’. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are “social animals”, and need social interaction. This, by the way, is why ‘Baby Einstein’ has been shown not to be the panacea for children development. Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Better, try to become the next Jon Stewart Now, remember that what counts is not reading this article-or any other-, but practicing a bit every day until small steps snowball into unstoppable, internalized habits…so, pick your next battle and try to start improving at least one of these 10 habits today. Revisit the habit above that really grabbed […]
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you.
A FEW FACTS: SOCIALIZATION and SENIOR WELLNESS “Strong social ties can preserve our brain health as we age.” (The American Journal of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health study). “Social isolation may be an important risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly.” (Tara Parker-Pope, Socializing Appears to Delay Memory Problems, The New York Times, Well, June 4, 2008) “Elderly people who are socially isolated and lonely may be at greater risk of early death” –March 25 (HealthDay News) “Lack of social contact might be an even bigger risk factor than loneliness.” –March 25 (HealthDay News) “Social contact is a fundamental aspect of human existence. Being socially isolated may lead to the development of serious illness and a reduced life span” (Andrew Steptoe, director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at University College London.) The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you.
Can brain exercises keep your brain healthier as you age and prevent memory loss? Can they even prevent or delay dementia such as Alzheimer’s? We need more studies to know for sure. But a number of studies show the benefits of staying mentally active. Mental engagement is consistently linked with a decreased risk of a decline in thinking skills. So games, puzzles, and other types of brain training may help slow memory loss and mental decline. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the impact of brain exercises on memory and dementia. Can brain exercises prevent memory loss or dementia? Researchers still need to do more study. But there appears to be a consistent link between brain training and a decreased risk of mental decline. Some studies have shown brain training can have long-lasting positive effects. That was seen, for example, in a study called ACTIVE — the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly study. The study involved 2,802 adults aged 65 and older. Participants attended up to 10 brain-training sessions over a 5- to 6-week period. The sessions included training in strategies for: • Memory • Reasoning • Speed of processing information People who took the training showed improvements in those areas that lasted for at least 5 years. Even better? This translated into improvements in their everyday lives, such as the ability to manage money and do housework. But what about prevention of Alzheimer’s and other dementias? Does brain training help? A study published in 2010 looked at this question and found that staying mentally active delayed cognitive (thinking) decline. After onset of Alzheimer’s, however, mental decline sped up in people who were mentally active. How could this be true? It’s possible that being cognitively active initially bolstered the brain, so symptoms didn’t show up until later in the disease process after it reached a kind of tipping point. The silver lining here? People who are mentally active may spend a shorter part of their lives in a state of decline, even if they develop Alzheimer’s. How does brain activity help? Animal studies have shown that mental stimulation may help protect the brain by: • Decreasing the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, such as increases in certain proteins (plaques and tangles) • Supporting new nerve cell growth • Prompting communication between nerve cells By keeping your brain active with brain exercises or other engagement, you may help build up a reserve of brain cells and connections. You might even grow new brain cells. This is one explanation for the link between Alzheimer’s and lower levels of education. Experts think that extra stimulation from education may protect the brain by strengthening brain cell connections. Of course, neither education nor brain exercises provide an insurance policy against Alzheimer’s. But they may help delay the onset of symptoms, prolonging a higher […]
Fatty Fish Seafood like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, powerful and versatile nutrients that are essential for a healthy mind. About 40% of the fatty acids in brain cell membranes are DHA, one of the main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. Experts believe it’s probably necessary for transmitting signals between brain cells. Researchers at Tufts University found that people who ate fish 3 times a week and had the highest levels of DHA in their blood slashed their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 39%. Eat it: At least twice a week (limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week to minimize mercury exposure). Leafy Green and Cruciferous Veggies Pile salads,stir-fries, and side dishes with broccoli,cauliflower, cabbage,kale, bok choy, and brussels sprouts. They’re filled with antioxidants like vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids,which are particularly powerful brain protectors. Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals, which are waste products your body makes when cells use fuel to create energy. Your brain is especially vulnerable to damage from free radicals because it uses a lot of fuel (it’s only about 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy).Since your mind makes a lot of these toxic by-products, ample antioxidants help to disarm and defuse them. While all antioxidants (from a variety of plants) are good for your brain,these cruciferous veggies are especially effective. A Harvard Medical School study of more than 13,000 women found that those who ate the most lowered their brain age by 1 to 2 years. Eat it: Daily, as part of a well-rounded mix of other colorful veggies. Avocado,Oils, Nuts, and Seeds They all contain another important antioxidant: vitamin E. n one study, researchers found that people who consumed moderate amounts vitamin E-from food, not supplements-lowered their risk of AD by 67%. Eat it: Frequently; shoot for 15 mg of E a day, the equivalent of 2 ounces of almonds. Chocolate Sweeten your brain-boosting diet with the dark kind (at least 70% cocoa); it contains flavonoids, another class of antioxidants that some research links to brain health. Other flavonoid-rich foods include apples,red and purple grapes, red wine, onions, tea, and beer. Eat it: Frequently, as part of a healthy total calorie intake. Up to half an ounce daily has also been shown to lower blood pressure. Berries Research indicates these antioxidant powerhouses may protect your brain, although the mechanism isn’t fully understood. Some scientists think they help to build healthy connections between brain cells. Eat them: Daily, added to yogurt,oatmeal,or cereal for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Whole grains Fiber-rich oatmeal,oat bran,brown rice, and so on help stabilize blood glucose (sugar) levels, compared with refined carbs like white bread and sugary foods. Your body digests these simple […]
By Rick T. on 05/12/2013 in Brain Fitness Neurogenesis is the process by which the brain generates new neurons and new connections It happens that as we get old, the neurogenesis process in our brains decreases. This affects our life by making us more difficult to learn new things (and by hence, change our opinions or views of the world). The reason why neurogenesis decreases with age has two sides: first, neurogenesis decreases due to several physiological issues (motivated by genes) with age. Second, not making use of the neurogenesis (by learning or doing new things) atrophies neurogenesis. You can do little to avoid the first reason: you should have a healthy life. Doing sports and eating properly can minimise the effect of genes in neurogenesis. However, the effect on that is very small. You can however, work on the atrophy of neurogenesis and have a high impact on it by performing new things. This could be as simple as going to work along a different path, or having a different drink at the bar, or changing your weekend. However, you can do the best impact in your neurogenesis by learning new things. If you don’t know what to learn, below, you will find a list of challenging tasks that you can learn and maintain your neurogenesis alive. Look through the list, and choose something that suits you. And when you have mastered it, come back here and pick another thing. Learning new things, from now on, should be a constant in your life! Learn New Languages Learn to play an instrument Learn an artistic skill Learn about computers Learn a new sport Study a different career Learn a dancing style Learn social skills Learn to play a new table game Prepare for a mental competition In addition to the list above, you must realize that learning Insanity Mind will increase your neurogenesis. There are two reasons: one, it will teach you new things and challenge in all the main skills of the brain (memory techniques, mental calculus, speed reading…). Second, once you master the Insanity Mind method you will have a very powerful box of mental tools ready to be used to learn other things (like the ones in the list above). The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you.
Physical Exercise and Brain Health By: Dr. Pascale Michelon What is the connection between physical and mental exercises? Do they have addictive effects on brain health? Are they redundant? Let’s start by reviewing what we know about the effects of physical exercise on the brain. The effect of physical exercise on cognitive performance Early studies compared groups of people who exercised to groups of people who did not exercise much. Results showed that people who exercised usually had better performance in a range of cognitive tasks compared to non-exercisers. Laurin and colleagues (2001) even suggested that moderate and high levels of physical activity were associated with lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The problem with these studies is that the exercisers and the non-exercisers may differ on other factors than just exercise. The advantage that exerciser show may not come from exercising but from other factors such as more resources, better brain health to start with, better diet, etc. The solution to this problem is to randomly assigned people to either an aerobic training group or a control group. If the exerciser group and the non-exerciser group are very similar to start with and if the exerciser group shows less decline or better performance over time than the non-exerciser group, then one can conclude that physical exercise is beneficial for brain health. In 2003, Colcombe and Kramer, analyzed the results of 18 scientific studies published between 2000 and 2001 that were conducted in the way described above. The results of this meta-analysis clearly showed that fitness training increases cognitive performance in healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 80. Another meta-analysis published in 2004 by Heyn and colleagues shows similar beneficial effects of fitness training on people over 65 years old who had cognitive impairment or dementia. What is the effect of fitness training on the brain itself? Research with animals has shown that in mice, increased aerobic fitness (running) can increase the number of new cells formed in the hippocampus (the hippocampus is crucial for learning and memory). Increased exercise also has a beneficial effect on mice’s vascular system. Only one study has used brain imaging to look at the effect of fitness on the human brain. In 2006, Colcombe and colleagues randomly assigned 59 older adults to either a cardiovascular exercise group, or a nonaerobic exercise control group (stretching and toning exercise). Participants exercised 3h per week for 6 months. Colcombe et al. scanned the participants’ brains before and after the training period. After 6 months, the brain volume of the aerobic exercising group increased in several areas compared to the other group. Volume increase occurred principally in frontal and temporal areas of the brain involved in executive control and memory processes. The authors do not know what underlying cellular changes […]