Archive for 'Alzheimer’s prevention'

Did you know that recent medical studies have shown that our brains begin showing signs of dementia related diseases up to 30 years before we actually can’t remember what our car keys are used for!? It’s true. We begin losing grey matter and growing amyloid plaques in our 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. That’s the bad news. The good news is, now that we know this, we can take steps to prevent getting dementia at all!

Bruce Miller, MD, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center states “We believe if people started taking preventive lifestyle measures, we could potentially decrease the incidence of Alzheimer's by about 30 percent,”  Okay, 30% is good!

Last week I wrote about how mindfulness based practices, like meditation and yoga, help to change our gene expression and also keep our memory intact. I’d like to continue that discussion today with more information about Alzheimer’s prevention. We all know that, presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. There are many things, however, that we can do to help prevent, or at the very least, slow the progress of dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s. Here are a few that “new science” proves will do the trick:

Exercise! And you get even more benefit if you complete your aerobic exercise with others. The combination of social interaction and aerobic exercise can increase grey matter.

Eat The Right Foods

Martha Clare Morris, ScD, one of the researchers who developed the MIND diet, which is a combination of a Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, explains that our brains crave plants!

The MIND diet emphasizes vegetables and nuts, while putting limits on animal products, saturated fat, and sugar. This is based on research which examined which foods improve brain health. In a 2015 study published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, people who were most faithful to the MIND diet enjoyed slower cognitive decline—the equivalent of gaining seven and a half healthy brain years. In a second study, that same group was also found to have a 53 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer's compared with those who were the least dedicated to the diet.

The MIND diet's ten brain-boosting foods:

Leafy green veggies (six servings per week)

Other vegetables (one serving per day)

Nuts (five servings per week)

Berries (two servings per week)

Beans (three servings per week)

Whole grains (three servings per day)

Fish (one serving per week)

Poultry (two servings per week)

Olive oil (your main cooking oil)

Wine, preferably red (one serving per day)

Kirtan Kriya Meditation (info here) – It’s not too late to take advantage of my special from my last newsletter.

Neuroplasticity Training:

In the last year or so, I have spent a great deal of time studying neuroplasticity, and have developed a course to help people accomplish goals that have been out of reach for years, like, weight loss, being on time, getting back to writing that book, or putting paint to canvas. This course was tested a few months back with great success and I’ll be offering it again in October.

Basically, we now know that making new pathways in our brains is key for keeping our brains healthy and active at any age. And, the even better news is, it’s not difficult, nor does it take a lot of time and money to build these new pathways. It does, however, take commitment. You must decide that this is important and that you are going to follow through with the steps you take because ritual making and repetition help to make these new connections stronger.

For instance, let’s take the goal of being on time. Let’s say you have attempted many different times and ways to change this bad habit in recent years and each time something comes up, something ALWAYS comes up... Your babysitter cancels due to illness, so you have to drop the kids to school on your way to work, or you get a return call from your doctor just as you’re leaving for your tee time at the golf course and you answer because it might be important, etc. And before you know it things have “come up” enough times that you’ve blown your lovely plan to smithereens! Well, thanks to the science of neuroplasticity, we now know that this has nothing to do with willpower, and you are not doomed to failure with this goal. Mostly, this is your brain following the same pathway it knows over and over again. So at this point, that pathway is strong as cement! If you truly want to be on time, you must make new pathways in your brain, rinse and repeat, until this new pathway is strong, and, voila, you have conquered a habit. It sounds simple, right? It is. Simple – not easy. As I said, you must be committed.

There are many tools which help us make these new brain pathways and I’ll be covering all that I have found and researched in my new course. Watch for more information in the next newsletter on this!

Meanwhile, take a look at the TED Talk below, from a scientist who studies the brain and how to help people recover from stroke, through neuroplasticity. I was delighted when one of the participants from my new course sent me the link, as what she talks about here supports my own work! How cool is that!?

Best of Health,

Kathi

Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategy!

 

A while back I wrote about a study that showed aerobic exercise increased the brain's hippocampal volume in older women, which increased memory performance.

Now, another study has confirmed that meditation is good for your brain. This Harvard study used MRI scans to document, for the very first time in medical history, how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain's gray matter. Senior author Sara Lazar, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology states, "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Wow! I have felt that for years, and certainly Eastern traditions have known that for centuries, but now even Western science has proven it to be true. Color me happy!

The participants of this study spent an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and that is all it took for a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. MRI's were done before they started this eight week course and again after. In previous studies this group also found that experienced meditators have a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.

"It is fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life," says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. I agree!

Imagine - 8 weeks to better brain health!

If you would like to take a more active role in improving your brain health by learning meditation techniques, let me know! You can get a few friends together and I'll come to your home to teach the group, or you can click HERE to learn about an individual program!

Mindfulness exercises do not mean that you have to sit in an uncomfortable position for an hour and "clear your mind."There are many techniques to help you meditate. For instance, prayer is often a meditation. There are mantra meditations, visualizing yourself in your "place of calm", e.g., a beach or the woods.
Contact me today and we'll discover what works for you!

Healthy Recipe For Rosemary Chicken

 

Here's a delicious recipe that includes Rosemary from Dr. Mark Hyman's book, "The Blood Sugar Solution."

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Swiss Chard and Baked Delicata Squash

 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Delicata squash halved and seeded (I used Acorn squash)

1 Lg head of Swiss Chard roughly chopped

2 (6 oz) Boneless chicken breasts (I used boneless skinless thighs)

1/4 Cup Almond Meal

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Cup low sodium chicken broth

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tsp of the olive oil. Place squash, cut sides down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 min. It's cooked when a knife slides easily into the flesh when pierced.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in saucepan and saute the Swiss Chard 5-6 min until it wilts. Put aside
  4. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the counter, place the chicken on top with another piece of plastic wrap over it and pound with a kitchen mallet until they are about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the almond meal and salt and pepper to taste
  6. Heat remaining oil in your saute pan over medium high heat, add the chicken and cook 5 min per side.
  7. While the chicken is cooking, combine broth, lemon juice and rosemary in a bowl until well mixed.
  8. When the chicken is golden brown on both sides and cooked well through, add the liquid mixture to the pan and reduce for 3-4 minutes.

Serve chicken on top of the cooked greens with the squash on the side. Yummmmmm!

Wishing you a delicious and healthy week!
Best of Health,

Kathi

Want to Sniff Some Rosemary With Me?

 

You have most likely seen the info passing around on Facebook that sniffing Rosemary is good for your memory. Did you think it was baloney?  I wondered too. So, of course, I did some research, and here's what I found.

 

Rosemary has been known as the "herb of remembrance" for centuries! That's pretty cool.

In 2012, research published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology described a small study involving 20 people that suggested the scent of rosemary oil may improve speed and accuracy when performing certain mental tasks.
Then in 2013, Northumbria researchers reported at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society that putting the scent of rosemary in the air helped people with memory tests.

According to the Northumbria study, not only did participants do better with future memory tasks, but traces of rosemary oil was found in the blood samples as well. Future memory is the type of memory that we all want to improve. It's remembering to take your medicine at a certain time, or remembering to pick up your daughter at the airport next Tuesday, or remembering to get a birthday present for your spouse.

The scientists believe that there are compounds in rosemary oil that may change memory performance. One of them is called 1,8-cineole - it may act in the same way as the drugs licensed to treat dementia, causing an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

These compounds do this by preventing the breakdown of the neurotransmitter by an enzyme. And since inhalation is one of the best ways of getting drugs into the brain, it makes sense that traces were found in the blood of participants. When you eat a drug it may be broken down in the liver, which processes everything absorbed by the gut; but with inhalation, small molecules can pass into the bloodstream and from there to the brain without being broken down by the liver.

Researchers said that, "These findings may have implications for treating individuals with memory impairments. It supports our previous research indicating that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy adults, thereby extending to the ability to remember events and to complete tasks in the future. Remembering when and where to go and for what reasons underpins everything we do, and we all suffer minor failings that can be frustrating and sometimes dangerous. Further research is needed to investigate if this treatment is useful for older adults who have experienced memory decline."

I don't know about you, but I love the scent of Rosemary and I plan to put some in the garden this year, keep it hanging around the kitchen year round, hoping it will not only make the room smell great, but assist my memory as well.

Best of Health,

Kathi

More Snowdays!!!!

Another big storm hit the Berkshires this week! And school closings are driving parents crazy.

I don't know about you, but I don't remember so many snow days from my childhood. Either school officials call off school more quickly these days or my memories of snow days have gotten mixed up with other childhood memories of sledding down "killer hill" on the weekends!

And speaking of memory, I read an interesting article the other day on prevention tips that help us ward off memory loss as we age. One of the best things we can do for ourselves (big surprise) is exercise! Exercise increases blood flow to your brain, bringing fuel (glucose) and oxygen.

Moderate exercise helps us in so many ways, it's like the cure-all of everything! Twenty minutes a day is not too much time really, when you think of a healthy heart, better memory, muscles that continue to work as we age, not to mention the "feel good" hormones released when we exercise!

A surprise for me was that the eye movements that I do in all of my Yoga classes have also been shown to improve cognition! Niiiiiiice.

Dr. Andrew Parker of Manchester Metropolitan University ran a study where students participated in cognitive testing before doing the eye movements, then they repeated these tests after the exercises and their scores improved! I'm thrilled and will add that little bit of information now when I am teaching the classes.

Here's a link to a video of my Yogic Eye Exercises for you!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Can Green Tea Prevent Alzheimer’s?

It’s no secret that I love tea. First thing in the morning there’s nothing like my first sips of spiced black tea.  I drink two cups of the black before switching to green tea for the rest of the day. At night before bed, my favorite is herbal sleepy time tea. Yup. I’m a tea drinker.  And what I love almost as much as the tea, is reading about the health benefits of tea.

I recently read Dr. Ruth Buczynski’s post about Alzheimer’s disease prevention and thought I'd share the information with you. New science showed, at least in a test tube, that chemicals found in green tea and red wine reversed a common event found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The key event that leads to Alzheimer’s disease, scientists believe, is the accumulation of amyloid-beta peptides in the brain. These proteins build up, forming toxic balls which attach to nerve cells in the brain, causing them to malfunction.

Researchers hypothesized that changing the shape of these amyloid balls would prevent them from latching onto nerve cells, which would stop the damage.

So they formed amyloid balls in tests tubes, inserted them in human and animal brain cells, and then added extracts from green tea and red wine.

The two extracts they used were epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.

The two extracts did, indeed, re-shape the amyloid balls, preventing them from causing harm to brain cells in the test tubes.

While this is great news, it’s one small study that needs a lot more work before we can know if drinking green tea can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

It is, however, one more reason for me to continue drinking mine with a big smile!

Best of Health,

Kathi