New research now links sleep problems with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s.
Cleveland Clinic’s Stephen Rao (pronounced Ray-Oh) did not participate in the new study but says results suggest people who have trouble sleeping may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
CG: Stephen Rao, PhD /Cleveland Clinic: “The basic finding is that the more disturbance of sleep that people reported, the more likely that they were going to have pathology in their spinal fluid that related to Alzheimer’s disease.” [:15]
RESEARCHERS SURVEYED JUST OVER ONE-HUNDRED PEOPLE AT HIGH RISK OF DEVELOPING ALZHEIMER’S WHO HAD NORMAL THINKING AND MEMORY ABILITIES.
PARTICIPANTS WERE ASKED ABOUT THEIR SLEEP QUALITY AND ALSO PROVIDED A
SPINAL FLUID SAMPLE.
RESULTS SHOW THAT PEOPLE WHO REPORTED HAVING SLEEP PROBLEMS HAD MORE
BIOLOGICAL MARKERS FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE IN THEIR SPINAL FLUID THAN FOLKS WHO DID NOT REPORT SLEEP PROBLEMS.
DOCTOR RAO NOTES THAT WHILE THE STUDY SHOWS A LINK BETWEEN SLEEP
AND ALZHEIMER’S IT’S A BIT OF A CHICKEN AND EGG SCENARIO, IN THAT DOCTORS AREN’T SURE WHAT COMES FIRST. THE ALZHEIMER’S OR THE SLEEP PROBLEMS.
HE SAYS MORE RESEARCH NEEDS TO BE DONE TO BE SURE.
CG: Stephen Rao, PhD/Cleveland Clinic: “We don’t know what the chicken or egg cause is here, it may very well be that sleeping longer will help us to prevent us from developing or slow down the process of Alzheimer’s disease but we certainly don’t have the definitive answer as yet.”
Complete results of this study can be found online in the Journal NEUROLOGY. [:10]
“A multitude of factors may cause insomnia, but I bet the primary cause is your choice of food or beverage before turning in. Technology is a biggie, but if you’re sleepy you won’t want to look at your phone or computer.
Your brain requires healthy food and beverages to stay sharp and sleep well.
Numerous foods and beverages are already proven to disrupt sleep including high-fat foods, soda, chocolate, caffeine, heavy spicy foods, alcohol 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, meat and high protein intake. Even prescription and over-the-counter cold medications may contain caffeine. Let’s also not rule out tobacco usage.
Healthy foods that promote sleep include nuts, seeds, eggs, bananas and a few crackers & cheese. Water no later than 8 p.m. is a healthy go-to beverage.
Daily exercise also helps you sleep well.
I’d love to see “further studies” include two groups of people “at risk” for developing Alzheimer’s: 1. sedentary people who eat and drink disruptive foods and beverages, use tobacco and take prescription medications 2) compared to people that exercise daily, eat and drink healthy foods and beverages and do not take OTC or prescription medications or use tobacco.
Then, compare how well these two different groups sleep, along with their biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease.
Bottom line: Missing piece to this puzzle may be finding out what causes sleep problems. I posit people more at risk have unhealthy habits leading to sleeplessness.
Remember, you have the power to change your daily habits and choices.
It’s time to research and study causes, so people can practice prevention instead of seeking treatment for symptoms, or worse believing the symptom is a cause. ”
NATIONAL MEDIA: See Pathfire #: 10826 dated July 5, 2017 for soundbites/voiceover
A pill commonly used for cancer may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
The catch is you have to take it in your 30s
They say in the future millions of 30-somethings may be taking it
It would be the first ever drug to work like a statin does on the heart
Researchers say the pill didn’t work in past studies because it was given too late
Prof Chris Dobson, Master of St. John’s College, University of Cambridge told the Telegraph, “You wouldn’t give statins to someone who had just had a heart attack, and we doubt that giving a neurostatin to an Alzheimer’s patient who could no longer recognise a family member would be very helpful,” said Prof Chris Dobson, Master of St John’s College, University of Cambridge.
“But if it reduces the risk of the initial step in the process, then it has a serious prospect of being an effective preventive treatment.”
The drug targets the first step in the toxic chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Tests showed it delayed the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, both in a test tube and in nematode worms.
When the drug was given to worms genetically programmed to develop Alzheimer’s disease, it had no effect once symptoms had already appeared.
But when the drug was given before any symptoms became apparent, no evidence of the condition appeared.
• Human mini-brains to speed up Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research
The drug works by preventing a process called “primary nucleation.”
That occurs when proteins in the body misfold and begin to clump together, eventually forming the sticky plaques that cause dementia.
“The body has a variety of natural defences to protect itself against neurodegeneration, but as we age, these defences become progressively impaired and can get overwhelmed,” said Prof Michele Vendruscolo of Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, the paper’s senior author.
“By understanding how these natural defences work, we might be able to support them by designing drugs that behave in similar ways.
“This, in terms of an approach for Alzheimer’s disease, would be the equivalent of what statins do for heart conditions. So you would take them well in advance of developing the condition to reduce your risk.
“I think the spirit should be similar to the way statins are used, so they are given to people that are more at risk of disease and given fairly early.
“There is some evidence that amyloid-beta aggregation takes place in middle age, so we may start in people in their 30s.”
The research was published in Science.
Early brain changes
Subtle decline in thinking
Memory changes, confusion
Inability to bathe, dress or eat without help
Loss of ability to communicate and recognize loved ones
If you or are a Caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s remember:
New Study Reveals WHERE Alzheimer’s Disease Begins in the Brain. It’s in the Locus Coeruleus where the red arrow is pointing in this illustration. The Lous Coeruleus is the First Brain Structure Affected By Alzheimer’s Disease. More about that here: http://ow.ly/Yp1uN
Meanwhile, here are some brain healthy foods to keep in mind for prevention.
Check out U.S. News & World Reports which rated the BEST nutritional plan for Alzheimer’s disease prevention
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Keep fit. The benefits of exercise on your brain’s health are extraordinary. A daily walk can be done anywhere.
TIME Magazine even featured an article called, “This Is Your Brain on Exercise.”
Enjoy brain challenges like puzzle activities, cards and board games.
In related news be sure to check out the New York teen, Kenneth Shinozuka who invented an in-sole sensor that can track Alzheimer’s patients when they wander.
Kenneth Shinozuka has invented a new wearable sensor called the SafeWanderer that can help keep Alzheimer’s patients safe. Inspired by his own grandfather’s battle with the disease, the 15-year-old came up with a device that can keep tabs on patients if they begin to wander off. The sensor works by reacting to pressure and can notify a caregiver through a smart phone app when a patient is on-the-go.
MARIA DORFNER is the founder of Healthy Within Network. This is her blog. It curates and shares best in health from around the world without conflicts of interest for consumers & media. Maria’s interest in health began in childhood. She won first place in science fairs and has always loved research, writing and creating. She covered the health beat in college and began professionally specializing in health after ten years of working in media. The letters of gratitude she received from viewers after her medical segments aired is what gave meaning and purpose to her vocation. Some people wrote to say seeing a segment saved their life. She began as an executive intern at NBC News in 1983. In 1989, she helped launch CNBC, NBC’s cable station. In 1993, she began specializing in health. She founded NewsMD Communications and developed 7 half-hour original health series and pitched them to CNBC. She senior produced and co-anchored them on CNBC for 3 years. She has since worked as director of research for Ailes Communications and as an associate producer, producer, field producer, medical/health writer, and on-air host. She has also written, produced and directed 21st Century Medicine, a documentary series covering future health, breakthroughs and pioneering medicine, airing on Discovery Health. She helped launch the Cleveland Clinic News Service (CCNS) on-site, and MedPage Today. Her award-winning original programs include Healthy Living, Healthcare Consumers, Lifestyles & Longevity, Healthcare Practitioners and Green Magazine. She has also produced for The Cutting Edge Medical Report and Healthy Women. She is the author of 3 books including Healthy Within available on Lulu Publishing. She is the founder of NewsMD Communications, LLC. Her alma mater, Pace University and Women in Corporate America awarded her an Outstanding Leadership Abilities award.
Known as “Love Architect” Kailen Rosenberg is more than just a matchmaker but a teacher of “love on a higher level.” She’s been featured as a regular guest on more than 400 print, online, radio and television interviews, including the Today Show, Good Moring America, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Fitness, Marie Claire, Redbook, Self, Oprah.com, the Oprah Winfrey Network, BBC Worldwide, E4, The Huffington Post, and more. For more information please visit http://www.thelovearchitect.com
About Betsy Broyles Arnold
Betsy is the daughter of football icon Coach Frank Broyles who, along with her twin sister, Linda, became the primary caregiver to their mother, Barbara, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2004. That experience led her — together with her sister and father — to create The Frank and Barbara Broyles Foundation to help families and caregivers who are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. For more information please visit: http://www.alzheimersunconditionallove.com
MARIA DORFNER is the founder of MedCrunch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remembering routes can be challenging, especially if they’re not frequent destinations. And following written directions can be difficult for someone with early dementia, or anyone who doesn’t want to be a distracted driver.
Simple solution: a global positioning (GPS) navigation system in the car. Prices have been dropping since these gizmos were first introduced; you can buy a simple unit for less than $200. Many drivers find it easier to follow verbal instructions than to have to read them. And if you make a mistake, the GPS autocorrects and redirects you.
2. Medication reminders
Medication management is the bane of both caregivers and relatively healthy adults looking after themselves. Fortunately a variety of tools exist to help you remember to dispense, or take, meds on time.
Not all memory aids are high-tech. The lowly notebook can be a lifesaver when it comes to remembering names, details, and to-do lists. The trick is to have the notebook handy at all times. Very small books (such as Moleskine‘s 2.5 by 4 inch extra-small version) that slip into a pocket or purse work well.
Train yourself to write down everything you don’t want to slip away — the names of those present at a meeting, the sudden thought to call for a haircut appointment, items to pick up at the grocery store on your way home.
The act of writing it down helps to secure a thought in your mind — and if you forget, you can look it up.
4. A don’t-lose basket or shelf
This idea amps up the old adage about “a place for everything.” Dedicate a single basket or box toall key items that are often misplaced: car keys, house key, reading glasses, sunglasses, medications, and anything else used regularly — even cell phone, TV remote, and sweaters. (Note: For someone with dementia, you’d want to store medications out of sight and out of reach, to avoid accidental overdosing.)
5. A centralized household calendar
It’s hard enough to remember your own priorities, let alone everyone else’s. Whether your household contains five people and three generations or just one person and a pet, post an oversized calendar in a central place (such as the kitchen). Use a different colored marker to write down each family member’s appointments, invitations, and travels (or, for a pet, dates with the vet or groomer).
Get in the habit of looking at the calendar every morning and consulting it before you make new appointments. Electronic calendars work well for many people, but for others, they’re “out of sight, out of mind.” A large planner in your line of vision every day is harder to ignore.
Numerous surveys have shown that married men, especially men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, are healthier and have lower death rates than those who never married or who are divorced or widowed.
Never-married men are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, for example. After 50, divorced men’s health deteriorates rapidly compared to married men’s, found a RAND Center for the Study of Aging report.
What’s the magic in the ring? The social connectedness of marriage may lower stress levels and depression, which lead to chronic illness. (Women tend to have more social ties outside of marriage.)
Oops: Unmarried men generally have poorer health habits, too — they drink more, eat worse, get less medical care, and engage in more risky behaviors (think drugs and promiscuous sex). Exception: It’s better to be single than in a strained relationship, probably because of the stress toll, say researchers in Student BMJ.
Silver lining: It’s never too late. Men who marry after 25 tend to live longer than those who wed young. And the longer a fellow stays married, the greater the boost to his well-being.
2. Risk: Electronic overload
Psychologists are debating whether “Internet addiction disorder” is a legitimate diagnosis, and how much is too much, given how ubiquitous screens are in our lives. But one thing’s certain: The more time that’s spent looking at wide-screen TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, laptops, and other electronics, the less time that’s spent on more healthful pursuits, like moving your body, communing with nature, and interacting with human beings.
Social isolation raises the risk of depression and dementia. And a sedentary lifestyle — a.k.a. “sitting disease” — has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and premature death. A 2012 Australian study of more than 220,000 adults ages 45 and up linked sitting for 11 or more hours a day with a 40 percent increased risk of death over the next three years.
Oops: Americans spend five hours in front of the TV every day, according to a 2011 JAMA study that didn’t even take all those other screens into account. More than just three hours a day ups your odds of dying of any chronic disease.
Silver lining: The Australian researchers say that getting up and moving even five minutes per hour is a “feasible goal . . . and offers many health benefits.”
3. Risk: Sloppy sunscreen use
Men over age 40 have the highest exposure to damaging UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Men are twice as likely as women to develop skin cancer and die from it. And 6 in 10 cases of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, affect white men over age 50.
More men tend to work and play sports outdoors; having shorter hair and not wearing makeup adds to the gender’s exposure. Nor are their malignancies noticed and treated early: Middle-aged and older men are the least likely group to perform self-exams or see a dermatologist, according to a 2001 American Academy of Dermatology study.
Oops: Fewer than half of adult men report using sun protection methods (sunscreen, protective clothing, shade), in contrast to 65 percent of adult women.
Silver lining: Doctors tend to detect more early melanomas in men over 65, perhaps because the older you get, the more often you see a doctor for other (nondermatological) reasons.
4. Risk: Crummy diet
Poor nutrition is linked with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — leading causes of death in men over 40. Younger midlife men often over-rely on red meat, junk food, and fast food to fuel a busy lifestyle, which leads to excess weight, high cholesterol, hypertension, and other risk factors. Older men living alone and alcoholics are vulnerable to malnutrition, because they tend not to prepare healthy food for themselves.
Oops: Until around 2000, more women were obese than men — but guys are catching up. In 2010, 35.5 percent of men were obese, up from 27.5 percent in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Women’s fat rates have held steady at around 37 percent.)
Silver lining: The American Dietetic Association recommends a reasonable 2,000 calories a day for men over 50 who are sedentary, up to 2,400 for those who are active. What comprises those calories is up to you.
5. Risk: Careless driving
Men generally have more car accidents than women, and men in their 50s and 60s are twice as likely as women to die in car wrecks. Unintentional injuries (of all kinds) are the top cause of death among men ages 40 to 44, the third main cause in men ages 45 to 64, and cause #8 in men 65-plus.
Oops: Among middle-aged men, fatalities are more likely to result from falling asleep at the wheel, exceeding the speed limit, getting into an accident at an intersection or on weekends after midnight — all factors that don’t have a significant effect on the injury levels of middle-aged women, according to a 2007 Purdue University study on how age and gender affect driving. Men over age 45 have more accidents on snow and ice, too.
Silver lining: Older men fare better than men under age 45 on dry roads, where younger drivers crash more (perhaps due to overconfidence, the Purdue researchers say).
6. Risk: Untreated depression
Although women are three times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are more successful at it, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In 2009, 79 percent of all suicides were men. Suicide rates for men spike after age 65; seven times more men over 65 commit suicide than their female peers.
More than 60 percent of all those who die by suicide have major depression. If you include alcoholics, that number rises to 75 percent. In older adults, social isolation is another key contributing factor — which is why older suicides are often widowers.
Oops: Men often equate depression with “sadness” or other emotions — and fail to realize that common warning signs of depression include fatigue or excessive sleep, agitation and restlessness, trouble concentrating, irritability, and changes in appetite or sleep.
Silver lining: Depression is treatable at any age, and most cases are responsive to treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
7. Risk: Smoking
Sure, you’ve heard about the horrific effects of smoking before. But the older you get, the worse they become. Older smokers have sustained greater lung damage over time because they tend to have been smoking longer; they also tend to be heavier smokers.
Men over 65 who smoke are twice as likely to die of stroke. Smoking causes more than 90 percent of all cases of COPD — the fourth leading cause of death among men — and 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer. The risks of all kinds of lung disease rise with age. Smokers develop Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death, far more than nonsmokers.
Oops: Older smokers are less likely than younger smokers to believe there’s a real health risk attached to cigarettes, says the American Lung Association. That means they’re less likely to try to quit.
Silver lining: No matter at what age you quit, your risk of added heart damage is halved after one year. The risks of stroke, lung disease, and cancer also drop immediately.
Women going through menopause have trouble staying focused and keeping track of things, according to a study from a neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The study, financed by the National Institute on Aging, is considered pioneering because few studies have targeted women going through the transition. Even less research made cognition its primary aim.
“There is something to memory complaints,” said Miriam Weber, the neuropsychologist whose findings were published in March in the online version of the journal Menopause.
The results of her preliminary study led to questions such as what exactly happens and why during each stage of the transition, and are there times when women are more vulnerable, she said. For now, the findings provide scientific weight to years of anecdotal evidence.
“To any woman who expects herself to function at a certain level, I don’t think this will come as any surprise,” said Maria Sullivan, 52, of Perinton, N.Y., who was not part of the study. “This validates it.”
Since 2005, Weber has been studying cognition in women who are making the transition toward the end of their menstrual periods. In September, she expanded recruitment, but the published results are from a pilot study that concluded in 2009.
Weber’s team studied 75 women ages 40 to 60, comparing their own assessment of their mental sharpness to objective measures of cognitive function. They were asked about menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, sleep disturbances and depression. Blood tests measured levels of two hormones related to menopause. The results showed that complaints about memory were related to the ability to think on the fly and to tasks that required close attention.
“The more complaints they had, the worse they did on those two tasks,” Weber said.
She said researchers also saw a link between memory complaints and depression.
Women who go into a room and forget why, or who can’t find their keys fear that they are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Weber said. Instead, the women might not be fully concentrating on the task so the information can be stored and retrieved later.
For women like Sullivan, that was more good news.
“To hear that everybody goes through this, this isn’t a harbinger of things to come. It’s reassuring to see this is not the beginning of early onset something,” Sullivan said.
At the same time, “it would be nice to know if there would be an upswing when this passes.”
Scienceblog.com – The difficulties that many women describe as memory problems when menopause approaches are real, according to a study published today in the journal Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
The findings won’t come as a surprise to the millions of women who have had bouts of forgetfulness or who describe struggles with “brain fog” in their late 40s and 50s. But the results of the study, by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago who gave women a rigorous battery of cognitive tests, validate their experiences and provide some clues to what is happening in the brain as women hit menopause.
“The most important thing to realize is that there really are some cognitive changes that occur during this phase in a woman’s life,” said Miriam Weber, Ph.D., the neuropsychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who led the study. “If a woman approaching menopause feels she is having memory problems, no one should brush it off or attribute it to a jam-packed schedule. She can find comfort in knowing that there are new research findings that support her experience. She can view her experience as normal.”
The study is one of only a handful to analyze in detail a woman’s brain function during menopause and to compare those findings to the woman’s own reports of memory or cognitive difficulties.
The study included 75 women, from age 40 to 60, who were approaching or beginning menopause. The women underwent a battery of cognitive tests that looked at several skills, including their abilities to learn and retain new information, to mentally manipulate new information, and to sustain their attention over time. They were asked about menopausesymptoms related to depression, anxiety, hot flashes, and sleep difficulties, and their blood levels of the hormones estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone were measured.
Weber’s team found that the women’s complaints were linked to some types of memory deficits, but not others.
Women who had memory complaints were much more likely to do poorly in tests designed to measure what is called “working memory” – the ability to take in new information and manipulate it in their heads. Such tasks in real life might include calculating the amount of a tip after a restaurant meal, adding up a series of numbers in one’s head, or adjusting one’s itinerary on the fly after an unexpected flight change.
Scientists also found that the women’s reports of memory difficulties were associated with a lessened ability to keep and focus attention on a challenging task. That might include doing thetaxes, maintaining sharp attention on the road during a long drive, completing a difficult report at work despite boredom, or getting through a particularly challenging book.
Weber notes that such cognitive processes aren’t what typically come to mind when people think of “memory.” Oftentimes, people consider memory to be the ability to tuck away a piece of information, such as a grocery item you need to remember to buy, and to retrieve it later. The team found little evidence that women have problems with this ability. Weber notes, though, that the 75 women in the study were more highly educated and on average of higher intelligence thanthe general population, and a decline might have been difficult to detect.
Women who reported memory difficulties were also more likely to report symptoms of depression,anxiety, and sleep difficulties. The team did not find any link between memory problems andhormone levels.
Generally anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of women during this stage of life reportforgetfulness and other difficulties that they view as related to poor memory.
“If you speak with middle-aged women, many will say, yes, we’ve known this. We’ve experienced this,” said Weber, assistant professor of Neurology. “But it hasn’t been investigated thoroughly in the scientific literature.
“Science is finally catching up to the reality that women don’t suddenly go from their reproductive prime to becoming infertile. There is this whole transition period that lasts years. It’s more complicated than people have realized.”
“People are surprised to learn that typically, for example in elderly adults, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that memory complaints are tied to real memory deficits. Menopausal women are different. They are good at rating their memory skills,” added co-author Pauline Maki, Ph.D.,director of Women’s Mental Health Research in UIC’s Department of Psychiatry.
“We don’t know why but perhaps it’s because their memory changes are more sudden and they are aware of other changes that accompany the menopause, like hot flashes. This might help them to better assess their mental abilities,” Maki added.
The latest findings are in line with results from a previous study that Weber did with Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., associate professor of Neurology, as well as results from a study which involved hundreds of women but used less sensitive measures to look at cognitive performance.
“There really is something going on in the brain of a woman at this stage in her life,” Mapstone said. “There is substance to their complaints that their memory is a bit fuzzy.”
For women who feel they are having memory problems, Weber has some advice.
“When someone gives you a new piece of information, it might be helpful to repeat it out loud, or for you to say it back to the person to confirm it – it will help you hold onto that information longer,” Weber said. “Make sure you have established that memory solidly in the brain.
“You need to do a little more work to make sure the information gets into your brain permanently. It may help to realize that you shouldn’t expect to be able to remember everything after hearing it just once.”
Health project coordinator Jennifer Staskiewicz, now of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, also contributed to the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Author and friend, Idelle Davidson speaks extensively about brain fog in her book. No one believed she was going through it after chemo. Then, lo’ and behold, the medical community confirmed that it did indeed exist, and she was not going crazy. In fact, she’s super intelligent. The book is a great read to even understand what people go through upon a diagnosis, during and after.
I post a lot about healthy foods for your brain. Be sure to check those posts out as I believe good nutrition can counter symptoms. Knowing you’re not going crazy helps too. More information at links below.
The Pie of excellent brain health includes: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Mental Stimulation, Socialization & Spirituality. I would add Sleep & Fresh Air. Click on image to enlarge it.
I explore nutrition because the first study, to use nutrient levels in the blood to analyze the effect of diet on memory and thinking skills, and brain volume says nutritional factors do influence brain health. It makes sense that we need to feed our mind well as much as our body. Good input. Good output. Feeding your brain well may ward off memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The findings appeared in Neurology, a journal from the American Academy of Neurology.
The 6 nutrients linked to good memory and thinking skills are:
Scored better on thinking tests than those who had low blood levels of these nutrients.
Their brains also showed less shrinkage, a sign of brain health.
People with Alzheimer’s typically have smaller brains than those without the disease. What causes brain shrinkage? Trans fats. That’s the unhealthy type of fat. People with high levels of trans fats scored lower on thinking and memory tests. Where are unhealthy trans fats found?
So, keep your thinking and memory sharp by sticking with nutritious foods.
The study, part of the Oregon Brain Aging Study, involved 104 people, average age 87. Other than advanced age, they had few risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
“These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” said study author Gene Bowman of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
I also highly recommend you visit my friend, John Assaraf’s website if you want to learn how to use your brain to achieve business success.
John Assaraf is one of the experts featured in the film and book The Secret, which he helped launch into a worldwide phenomenon. He has shared his expertise on achieving financial freedom and living an extraordinary life with millions of viewers on Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and dozens of other media venues worldwide. Visit John online at http://www.johnassaraf.com. I love all of John’s books. And he and his wife, Maria are wonderful people. Read more at Amazon’s John Assaraf Page
This morning, I step outside and feel a familiar cold chill –reminiscent of pre-sunrise in San Diego. Later, I glance out window. Sunshine hides like my favorite red augyle sock after laundry.
Gloomy skies get me thinking about Seasonal Affective Disorder and what new therapies exist.
People generally talk about S.A.D. (pun!) when Fall arrives. What about cloudy days in Spring? I’ve never been diagnosed with S.A.D., but I’m a bit of a hypocondriac. I know. Ironic.
Other people get to benefit from it. In the past, doctors. They laugh and say I’m the healthiest person they’ve ever seen. I get sent home with a lollipop. And a bill.
Friends and relatives benefit because each time I think I have something, I put my glasses on and do extensive research. Lightning speed. I don’t need eyeglasses anymore (thank you, Dr. Bell of The San Diego Eye Institute). Research Ninja at your service.
Ever since I was a little kid, my cousin Josephine and I loved researching our imagined illnesses. We loved using big medical words too. Some words made us crack up. Today, Josephine is a top pediatric nurse and I’m the health journalist ninja.
I contact Gary & ask for permission to share his blog. I thought it would help other people. He says yes. (Don’t worry, I get back to light therapy options for Seasonal Affective Disorder later)
I thank Gary for allowing me to repost his unique experience utilizing light to care for his father with Alzheimer’s disease. I always trust real people sharing their medical experiences, rather than professionals. I have to read between the lines with the latter. Who is funding them? What’s the agenda? Are they PR flacks? When it’s real people –there is no agenda.
Gary was the primary caregiver of his father for a decade after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Gary has a book, but it is one based on his experience. It’s called, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness.”
I notice his article got 7 clicks. Since I have over 1.2 million people within my social network, and most work in NATIONAL MEDIA and MEDICAL –I thought I’d share his story and shed some LIGHT on something a lot of other Americans are dealing with right now. It’s so cool when something little –something you can DO can make a big difference. Gary explains.
For many years now I have preached how beneficial it is to keep the homes of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease well lit. Throughout my father’s illness I kept the lights on at full tilt in both the bedroom and bathroom throughout the night. By doing so it kept him from experiencing mass confusion during his frequent bathroom runs in the wee hours.
Even during the daylight hours he had trouble crossing the threshold into the bathroom. The difference from one room’s carpet turning into tiles had him believing there was a step, making him raise his foot high, stepping over nothing. Color contrast can become very deceiving.
A friend of mine, who cares for her father-in-law with Alzheimer’s, recently told me that when she takes him to his doctor’s office, there’s a black welcome mat that scares him to pieces. He refuses to walk on it because he believes it’s a deep hole.
As caregivers we must keep things as simple and safe as possible for our loved ones. Paying close attention to their habits is a good way to start.
For those experiencing Sundowners, also known as “Sundown Syndrome,” start lighting up the house a good hour before dusk. By preventing shadows from creeping in, this will take away some of the hardships experienced during that time of day. Researchers have even found that by using the correct color temperature light bulbs may have a positive effect on mood and behavior.
For instance, what is perceived to be cool-white light has been reported to help the patients remain more alert and verbally active. On the other hand, warm-white light, which has more of a reddish-yellow tinge to it, is said to keep the patient calmer, helping to temper behavior problems.
Unfortunately, visual perception becomes altered from Alzheimer’s. A good tip to keep in mind is to always consider the color contrast in all situations. If you’re having problems getting patients to eat, take into account the way in which the table is set. A white plate on a white table cloth may be very difficult for them to see. Think “Bold Colors.” Try placing their food on a red plate. Even when it comes to the silverware, bright colored handles may encourage them to start digging in. A recent study has found this method has increased intake by 25 percent.
Let’s say there’s a clear glass of water on a white table; change it to a blue cup. This will help them to visually recognize it easier, actually encouraging them to pick it up and drink from it, preventing dehydration. How important is that?
Gary Joseph LeBlanc can be reached at email@example.com. A new expanded edition of his book, “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness,” can be found at stayingafloatbook.com, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Here’s little refresher for anyone who isn’t aware of Alzheimer’s statistics:
Right now, 15 million Americans serve as caregivers, and this is projected to rise to 45 million by 2050. I got that from The Alzheimer’s Association.
1 in 8 older Americans has Alzheimer’s Disease and 1 in 7 lives alone. So, there’s all this cheerleading going on about “Living Longer” but are we living Healthier?
According to Psychiatric Times, as many as 50% of persons older than 85 years have some form of dementia (Alzhemier’s disease being the cause in at least two-thirds of cases).
Psychosis occurs in approx. 40% of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and agitation occurs in 80% or more of persons with dementia at some point. The photo below on the left is what a normal brain looks like. The middle brain shows mild cognitive impairment. The one on the far right is Alzheimeer’s Diseasse.
When I first saw this photo this morning, I wondered why they can’t track the progression on MRI scans, and then a new study popped up saying researchers discovered they can do just that. News story below.
A study in March 22 issue of the Journal, Neuron says Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may spread within nerve networks in the brain by moving directly betweenn connected neurons. They’re thinking an MRI could track the progression of it.
This makes absolute sense and I wonder why they didn’t have this A ha! moment sooner. I was also looking at photos of the brain this morning and photos of the brain without Alzheimer’s and with are remarkably different, so I had the same thought. Why can’t doctors track the progression with a brain scan.
I’d LOVE to know how to PREVENT dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Something is causing it in so many Americans. My first instinct tells me it is related to NUTRITION. Something people are eating or drinking is eroding brain cells. Is it soda? Did you see how when someone said they found a mouse in their soda and tried to sue the soda company –the soda executive’s defense was that it was “impossibe” because the mouse would have dissolved in the soda? Wow. If it can erode an entire mouse imagine what it can do to your brain. I could almost hear the fizzling sound of brain cells. Until we discover how to prevent it, I am always on the lookout for anything that can help patients, families and caregivers.
Consequently, my dear friend, Dr. Max Gomez from CBS just lost his father to Alzheimer’s. Sympathies go out to the Gomez family at this time. If you’d like to reach out, here’s a note from Max:
“Some folks have asked about flowers… please don’t. If you’re inclined, I’d much rather you send a donation in my father’s name, Dr Max Gomez, Sr., to the Alzheimer’s research group at NYU where they diagnosed and cared for Dad; check should be made out to the NYU Center for Brain Health and sent to: Center for Brain Health, NYU School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, 145 E. 32 St., 5th fl, New York, NY 10016. Attn: Dr. Mony DeLeon. They will also supply tax receipts. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Natural sunlight is always preferable, but LIGHT THERAPY is fascinating in that it can help with the following:
Some researchers and light therapy users believe that blue light is the most important part of the spectrum for treating SAD. The Phillips GoLite BLUE is compact, portable, and operates on a rechargeable battery. It’s easy to bring it and use it almost anywhere.
Syrcadian Blue Light Therapy Device for SAD
Light therapy for your morning commute
The Syrcadian Blue Light Therapy Device comes with a USB cable to mount on a laptop screen. There’s also a car adapter kit to mount on the visor of a car. With the lamp itself, plus the car adapter set, it costs around $100.
This handy device is tiny, inexpensive, and very portable. You can mount on the top of your computer monitor, where it draws power vis USB cable, or plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter and mount it on the visor — you can commute and get your light therapy in at the same time. Two brightness settings allow you to select the amount of light you want.
Accessories for the Syrcadain Blue
Use it in your car; charge it from a wall socket
The Syrcadian Blue comes with a USB cable, enabling you to plug it into your computer’s USB port, mount it on top, and get your therapy while you work. But that’s not your only option.
Multi-country adapters to plug your Syrcadian Blue into a wall outlet.
Amazon Price: $24.95 (as of 03/22/2012)
Other Portable Light Therapy Lamps for SAD
Bring your light therapy with you!
Having the option of taking your therapy lamp wherever you go can alleviate the frustration of living with seasonal depression. Below are more options for portable, lightweight light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. All devices listed have received an average rating of 4.5 to 5 stars on Amazon.
Another portable sunlamp, only this one works on batteries. Coming in at 2,500 lux, it’s a good choice for those who experience eyestrain or headaches with higher lux, or who would like to double it up as a task lamp for longer periods of time.
This light therapy visor will be the next therapy device I try. It works on a rechargeable lithium battery and emits 10,000 lux of blue-green light. A visor is included in the package, as well as clips to attach to your favorite baseball cap.
Amazon Price: $217.00 (as of 03/22/2012)
An Important Fact Light Therapy and Bipolar Disorder
A lot of people with bipolar disorder have seasonal mood problems. However, light therapy can cause hypomania or manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. This is especially true with blue light therapy. If you have bipolar, DO NOT use light therapy unless it’s under close supervision by your doctor.
Phillips Dawn and Dusk Simulator
Sunrise and sunset, exactly when you want them.
A “dawn simulator” is a large, bright white light that serves as an alarm clock. Say you set your alarm for 8 a.m.; the light in the dawn simulator will start to come on gradually, starting around 7:30 or so, and reaching full brightness at 8. You wake up gradually and naturally. It feels much better than being startled awake by an alarm clock.Since my home has skylights, I don’t need to use the “dawn” feature, but I love the “dusk” feature. One reason I don’t get enough sleep is that I like to read in bed, and no matter how tired I am, I can easily lose myself in a book. Before I know it, it’s 4 a.m. The dusk simulator allows me to set a timer for up to 15 to 90 minutes, and as that time passes, its light will slowly dim. Eventually I can’t see my book anymore, which makes it easier for me to put my book down and go to sleep.
The Phillips Dawn and Dusk Simulator allows you to wake up with the dawn, whatever the actual time might be. At night, use a timer so that the light dims slowly, triggering your body’s natural sleep process. The alarm also has some pretty nice sound options, such as birdsong — much nicer than a buzzing, jangling alarm clock.
Wake-up Lights for SAD Therapy from Amazon
Dawn simulators help you sleep and help you wake up.
Dawn simulators increase the light in your bedroom gradually and naturally. The artificial “sunrise” this provides can be especially helpful if you have to wake up when it’s still dark out.
Compared to medication, light therapy has very few side effects. They include headache, nausea, irritability, eye strain or dry mouth. These symptoms often go away on their own, or they can be mitigated by changing the angle of the lamp, its brightness, or duration of the therapy.
Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis. Let’s look at studies in the past 4 years to gain some perspective and try to get to the bottom of the good, the bad and the ugly in your cup of joe.
Warning: You’ll need a double shot of espresso before reading this.
Ultimately, you decide. It’s your body. It’s your health. My feeling is as long as you’re aware of the good, bad and ugly and you’re not just presented with one side of the story –you can make the best decision for your own well-being.
Just don’t tell me “researchers in China” who were paid to do a study are going to tell me what is good for me. Or you.
I decided kicking my coffee habit 7 years ago, was the best thing I ever did for my health. But it wasn’t easy, so I understand and empathize with anyone who loves their java, as I once did. There are tips at the end of this article for anyone who needs help with kicking the coffee habit.
Until then, remember that each time you buy coffee, you put money in a companies pocket. When those large corporations are able to fund studies or pay physicians to say this or that —it raises a red flag. When it comes to your health you can’t take things at face value.
Lets face it, if you’re drinking coffee –you probably love it and don’t want to hear any bad news. In fact, any good news makes you more excited than you already are from the coffee. You jittery? Go ahead, deny it.
The health effects of coffee have been studied to determine how coffee drinking affects humans. Coffee contains several compounds which are known to affect human body chemistry. The coffee bean itself contains chemicals which are mild psychotropics for humans as a defense mechanism of the Coffea plant.
These chemicals are toxic in large doses, or even in their normal amount when consumed by many creatures which may otherwise have threatened the beans in the wild. Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant.
Recent research has uncovered additional stimulating effects of coffee which are not related to its caffeine content. Coffee contains a currently unknown chemical agent which stimulates the production of cortisone and adrenaline, two stimulating hormones.
For occasions when one wants to enjoy the flavor of coffee with almost no stimulation, decaffeinated coffee (also called decaf) is available.
This is coffee from which most of the caffeine has been removed, by the Swiss water process (which involves the soaking of raw beans to remove the caffeine) or the use of a chemical solvent such as trichloroethylene (“tri“), or the more popular methylene chloride, in a similar process. Another solvent used is ethyl acetate; the resultant decaffeinated coffee is marketed as “natural decaf” because ethyl acetate is naturally present in fruit. Extraction withsupercriticalcarbon dioxide has also been employed.
Decaffeinated coffee usually loses some flavor compared to normal coffee. There are also coffee alternatives that resemble coffee in taste but contain no caffeine (see below). These are available both in ground form for brewing and in instant form.
Several studies comparing moderate coffee drinkers (defined as 3–5 cups per day) with light coffee drinkers (defined as 0–2 cups per day) found that those who drank more coffee were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life. A longitudinal study in 2009 found that moderate coffee drinkers had reduced risk of developing dementia in addition to Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduced risk of gallstone disease
Drinking caffeinated coffee has been correlated with a lower incidence of gallstones and gallbladder disease in both men and women in two studies performed by the Harvard School of Public Health. A lessened risk was not seen in those who drank decaffeinated coffee. A recent study showed that roast coffee protected primary neuronal cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death.
Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease
A study comparing heavy coffee drinkers (3.5 cups a day) with non-drinkers found that the coffee drinkers were significantly less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life. Likewise, a second study found an inverse relationship between the amount of coffee regularly drank and the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Likewise, in tests of simple reaction time, choice reaction time, incidental verbal memory, and visuospatial reasoning, participants who regularly drank coffee were found to perform better on all tests, with a positive relationship between test scores and the amount of coffee regularly drunk. Elderly participants were found to have the largest effect associated with regular coffee drinking. Another study found that women over the age of 80 performed significantly better on cognitive tests if they had regularly drunk coffee over their lifetimes.
Coffee intake may reduce one’s risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 by up to half. While this was originally noticed in patients who consumed high amounts (7 cups a day), the relationship was later shown to be linear.
Coffee can also reduce the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver and has been linked to a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary liver cancer that usually arises in patients with preexisting cirrhosis. The exact mechanism and the amount of coffee needed to achieve a beneficial effect have long been unclear. The cytokine transforming growth factor (TGF) beta has long been recognized for promoting fibrosis ability acting through the Smad family of transcription factors. In an interesting report recently published in the Journal of Hepatology, Gressner and colleagues provide the first mechanistic context for the epidemiological studies on coffee drinkers by showing that caffeine may have potent anti-fibrotic capabilities through its ability to antagonize the Smad pathway.
Coffee moderately reduces the incidence of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a large prospective cohort study published in 2008. A 2009 prospective study in Japan following nearly 77,000 individuals aged 40 to 79 found that coffee consumption, along with caffeine intake, was associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Coffee is also a powerful stimulant for peristalsis and is sometimes considered to prevent constipation. However, coffee can also cause excessively loose bowel movements. The stimulative effect of coffee consumption on the colon is found in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.
Practitioners in alternative medicine often recommend coffee enemas for “cleansing of the colon” due to its stimulus of peristalsis, although medicine has not proven any benefits of the practice.
Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not act as a diuretic when consumed in moderation (less than five cups a day or 500 to 600 milligrams), and does not lead to dehydration or to a water-electrolyte imbalance; current evidence suggests that caffeinated beverages contribute to the body’s daily fluid requirements no differently from pure water.
Coffee contains the anticancer compound methylpyridinium. This compound is not present in significant amounts in other foods. Methylpyridinium is not present in raw coffee beans but is formed during the roasting process from trigonelline, which is common in raw coffee beans. It is present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and even in instant coffee. Research funded by Kraftshows that roast coffee contains more lipophilic antioxidants and chlorogenic acid lactones and is more protective against hydrogen peroxide-induced cell death in primary neuronal cells than green coffee. The espresso method of extraction yields higher antioxidant activity than other brewing methods.
Prevention of dental caries
The tannins in coffee may reduce the cariogenic potential of foods. In vitro experiments have shown that these polyphenolic compounds may interfere with glucosyltransferase activity of mutans streptococci, which may reduce plaque formation.
Coffee consumption decreased risk of gout in men over age 40. In a large study of over 45,000 men over a 12-year period, the risk for developing gout in men over 40 was inversely proportional with the amount of coffee consumed.
Why Coffee Protects Against Diabetes
ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2011) — Coffee, that morning elixir, may give us an early jump-start to the day, but numerous studies have shown that it also may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Yet no one has really understood why.
Now, researchers at UCLA have discovered a possible molecular mechanism behind coffee’s protective effect. A protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, it turns out, increases plasma levels of SHBG.
Reporting with colleagues in the current edition of the journal Diabetes, first author Atsushi Goto, a UCLA doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Simin Liu, a professor of epidemiology and medicine with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, show that women who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are less than half as likely to develop diabetes as non-coffee drinkers.
When the findings were adjusted for levels of SHBG, the researchers said, that protective effect disappeared.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 24 million children and adults in the U.S. — nearly 8 percent of the population — have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of these cases.
Early studies have consistently shown that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes, Liu said. That is, the greater the consumption of coffee, the lesser the risk of diabetes. It was thought that coffee may improve the body’s tolerance to glucose by increasing metabolism or improving its tolerance to insulin.
“But exactly how is elusive,” said Liu, “although we now know that this protein, SHBG, is critical as an early target for assessing the risk and prevention of the onset of diabetes.”
Earlier work by Liu and his colleagues published in the New England Journal of Medicine had identified two mutations in the gene coding for SHBG and their effect on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes; one increases risk while the other decreases it, depending on the levels of SHBG in the blood.
A large body of clinical studies has implicated the important role of sex hormones in the development of type 2 diabetes, and it’s known that SHBG not only regulates the sex hormones that are biologically active but may also bind to receptors in a variety of cells, directly mediating the signaling of sex hormones.
“That genetic evidence significantly advanced the field,” said Goto, “because it indicated that SHBG may indeed play a causal role in affecting risk for type 2 diabetes.”
“It seems that SHBG in the blood does reflect a genetic susceptibility to developing type 2 diabetes,” Liu said. “But we now further show that this protein can be influenced by dietary factors such as coffee intake in affecting diabetes risk — the lower the levels of SHBG, the greater the risk beyond any known diabetes risk factors.”
For the study, the researchers identified 359 new diabetes cases matched by age and race with 359 apparently healthy controls selected from among nearly 40,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Study, a large-scale cardiovascular trial originally designed to evaluate the benefits and risks of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
They found that women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day had significantly higher levels of SHBG than did non-drinkers and were 56 percent less likely to develop diabetes than were non-drinkers. And those who also carried the protective copy of the SHBG gene appeared to benefit the most from coffee consumption.
When the investigators controlled for blood SHBG levels, the decrease in risk associated with coffee consumption was not significant. This suggests that it is SHBG that mediates the decrease in risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Liu said.
And there’s bad news for decaf lovers. “Consumption of decaffeinated coffee was not significantly associated with SHBG levels, nor diabetes risk,” Goto said. “So you probably have to go for the octane!”
Other authors of the study included Brian Chen, of UCLA, and Julie Buring, JoAnn Manson and Yiqing Song, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health. No conflicts of interest were reported by the authors. Original by Mark Wheeler.
Coffee Health Benefits : Coffee may protect against disease
HERE’S A FEBRUARY 2006 STUDY:
It’s surprising when something that was once considered questionable for your health turns out to have health benefits, usually with the proviso to use it “in moderation.” That happened with chocolate and alcohol, and now it is coffee’s turn, reports the February issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here’s some of the mostly good news about coffee:
Blood pressure. Results from long-term studies are showing that coffee may not increase the risk for high blood pressure over time, as previously thought. Study findings for other cardiovascular effects are a mixed bag.
Cancer. Coffee might have anti-cancer properties. Last year, researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. A few studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast, and rectal cancers.
Cholesterol. Two substances in coffee — kahweol and cafestol — raise cholesterol levels. Paper filters capture these substances, but that doesn’t help the many people who now drink non-filtered coffee drinks, such as lattes. Researchers have also found a link between cholesterol increases and decaffeinated coffee, possibly because of the type of bean used to make certain decaffeinated coffees.
Diabetes. Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.
Parkinson’s disease. Coffee seems to protect men, but not women, against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the sex difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.
UM, NOT SO FAST. HERE’S THE BAD.
ALL THE ABOVE IS QUESTIONABLE. ANYONE CAN PUT THINGS IN WIKIPEDIA. ALL THE OTHER STUDIES HAVE LED TO OTHER STUDIES WHICH CONTRADICT THE ABOVE FINDINGS. READ ON:
Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee, and 19 are known rodent carcinogens; however, most substances cited as rodent carcinogens occur naturally and should not be assumed to be carcinogenic in humans at exposure levels typically experienced in day-to-day life.
Coffee can damage the lining of the gastrointestinal organs, causing gastritis and ulcers. The consumption of coffee is therefore not recommended for people with gastritis, colitis, and ulcers.
Anxiety and sleep changes
Many coffee drinkers are familiar with “coffee jitters”, a nervous condition that occurs when one has had too much caffeine. It can also cause anxiety and irritability, in some with excessive coffee consumption, and some as a withdrawal symptom. Coffee can also cause insomnia in some. In others it can cause narcolepsy.
Paper coffee filters have a property that binds to lipid-like compounds which allows the filter to remove most of the cafestol and kahweol found in coffee. Brew methods which do not use a paper filter, such as the use of a press pot, do not remove cafestol and kahweol from the final brewed product.
Caffeine has previously been implicated in increasing the risk of high blood pressure; however, recent studies have not confirmed any association. In a 12-year study of 155,000 female nurses, large amounts of coffee did not induce a “risky rise in blood pressure” . Previous studies had already shown statistically insignificant associations between coffee drinking and clinical hypertension. Effect of coffee on morbidity and mortality due to its effect on blood pressure is too weak, and has not been studied. Other positive and negative effects of coffee on health would be difficult confounding factors.
Effects on pregnancy
Caffeine molecules are small enough to penetrate the placenta and slip into the baby’s blood circulation. Unlike adults, organs and systems in fetuses are not full-fledged, therefore not capable of fully metabolizing caffeine and excreting it. The energy booster tends to linger in the fetus’s blood ten times longer than in adults. High levels of caffeine are bound to accumulate in the baby’s body with frequent maternal consumption of caffeine. Just like what it does to adults, caffeine could also send the baby’s pulse and breathing rate racing and affect its sleep pattern for an extended duration.
A February 2003 Danish study of 18,478 women linked heavy coffee consumption during pregnancy to significantly increased risk of stillbirths (but no significantly increased risk of infant death in the first year). “The results seem to indicate a threshold effect around four to seven cups per day,” the study reported. Those who drank eight or more cups a day (64 U.S. fl oz or 1.89 L) were at 220% increased risk compared with nondrinkers. This study has not yet been repeated, but has caused some doctors to caution against excessive coffee consumption during pregnancy.
Decaffeinated coffee is also regarded as a potential health risk to pregnant women when chemical solvents are used to extract the caffeine instead of other less invasive processes. The impact of these chemicals is debated, however, as the solvents in question evaporate at 80–90 °C, and coffee beans are decaffeinated before roasting, which occurs at approximately 200 °C. As such, these chemicals, namely trichloroethane and methylene chloride, are present in trace amounts at most, and may not pose a significant threat to embryos and fetuses.
Iron deficiency anemia
Coffee consumption can lead to iron deficiencyanemia in mothers and infants. Coffee also interferes with the absorption of supplemental iron.
Coronary artery disease
A 2004 study tried to discover why the beneficial and detrimental effects of coffee conflict. The study concluded that consumption of coffee is associated with significant elevations in biochemical markers of inflammation. This is a detrimental effect of coffee on the cardiovascular system, which may explain why coffee has so far only been shown to help the heart at levels of four cups (24 fl oz or 600 mL) or fewer per day.
The health risks of decaffeinated coffee have been studied, with varying results. One variable is the type of decaffeination process used; while some involve the use of organic solvents which may leave residual traces, others rely on steam.
A study has shown that cafestol, a substance which is present in boiled coffee drinks, dramatically increases cholesterol levels, especially in women. Filtered coffee contains only trace amounts of cafestol.
Polymorphisms in the CYP1A2 gene may lead to a slower metabolism of caffeine. In patients with a slow version of the enzyme the risk for myocardial infarction (heart attack) is increased by a third (2–3 cups) to two thirds (>4 cups). The risk was more marked in people under the age of 59.
A Harvard study conducted over the course of 20 years of 128,000 people published in 2006 concluded that there was no evidence to support the claim that coffee consumption itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease. The study did, however, show a correlation between heavy consumption of coffee and higher degrees of exposure to other coronary heart disease risk factors such as smoking, greater alcohol consumption, and lack of physical exercise. The results apply only to coffee filtered through paper filters, which excludes boiled coffee and espresso, for example. Additionally, the lead researcher on this study acknowledged that subsets of the larger group may be at risk for heart attack when drinking multiple cups of coffee a day due to genetic differences in metabolizing caffeine.
The Iowa Women’s Health Study showed that women who consumed coffee actually had fewer cardiovascular disease incidents and lower cancer rates than the general population. For women who drank 6 or more cups, the benefit was even greater. However, this study excluded 35% of its original participants who already had cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases when the study began. Since participants were all over the age of 55, no good conclusion can be drawn about the long term effect of coffee drinking on heart disease from this study.
My analysis has determined that Government funded studies are PRO-COFFEE. Let’s ask why. Independent studies are ANTI-COFFEE.
Four cups seems to be the safest bet if there is no way someone is going to pull that morning cup of java away from you. Meantime, let’s look at some of the latest studies.
LATEST NEWS as of January 20, 2012. First, here’s the article that raised a red flag in my mind. It was first published on January 18, 2012, but began trending today. So, other media outlets were jumping on the java bandwagon.
Why heavy coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes
AFP Relax News – Wed, Jan 18, 2012
Why heavy coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes
Research shows that heavy coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and now scientists in China may have discovered why.
Prior studies have shown that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 50 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, and that every extra cup of coffee brings another decrease in risk of almost seven percent.
Researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan University, and Wuhan Institute of Biotechnology in China have cited the protective benefits of compounds in coffee that inhibit a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP), which has been linked to diabetes, stated science and health news website Science Daily last week in a report on the new study. The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemisty.
Last year, a Harvard University study in the US found that drinking coffee, either decaf or regular, can ward off the risk of deadly prostate cancer. Another recent study found that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day were 57 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.
More good news for coffee lovers? Coffee has also been shown to improve brain function in mice studies, with researchers probing the possibility of using coffee as a treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Still health experts don’t recommend too much coffee. The US-based Mayo Clinic suggests no more than two to four cups a day, since more than that can cause insomnia, upset stomach, and anxiety.
This article made me suspicious. I don’t know why. But when I get that “feeling” my Nancy Drew instincts kick in. Why are scientists in China cheerleaders for coffee? Hmmm. Well, check out this WALL STREET JOURNAL article.
PUER, China—Starbucks Corp. signed a deal with the Chinese provincial government of Yunnan to set up its first-ever coffee-bean farm in the world to cater to a rapidly growing population of coffee drinkers in China amid a global battle for quality coffee beans.
In the southwest province steeped in thousands of years of tea production, the Seattle-based coffee chain is hiring and training local coffee growers. The hope is that Chinese-grown arabica beans, a bitter-earthy variety, will fill the cups of a culture that is acquiring a growing taste for coffee.
A new Yunnan province coffee-bean farm marks the first time Starbucks will grow its own coffee, as the U.S. chain eyes further expansion in China. Video courtesy of Reuters.
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultzsaid the company will work with farmers to improve yields and incomes.
“This creates a significant statement about our commitment to doing business in China and doing business the right way,” Mr. Schultz said. The first beans will be harvested in three years. Mr. Schultz declined to offer financial details of the investment.
China’s thirst for coffee is surging. Coffee sales climbed 9% last year to 4.6 billion yuan ($694 million), according to research company Euromonitor International. Starbucks currently operates 400 stores in mainland China and has plans to open a thousand more in the coming years, Mr. Schultz said, without being more specific.
China is poised to become Starbucks’ second-largest market behind the U.S., overtaking Canada, Japan and the U.K.
Starbucks’ 2010 revenue jumped to $10.7 billion, up 9.5% from 2009. International store sales increased 6%. The company, which has a nearly 70% market share in China, according to Euromonitor, declined to provide specific information on its growth in the country. Starbucks is in its second year of recovery after cutting $600 million from its operating costs. U.S. sales are picking up, but the company isn’t opening new stores there. Starbucks is looking for new ways to grow.
Some analysts say the company’s recent decision to discontinue a supermarket distribution contract with Kraft Foods Inc. signals that it will further move from its retail roots into more packaged-goods production. Starbucks will begin selling coffee machines in the U.S. market, Mr. Schultz said, declining to give a timeline.
Fierce competition is brewing in China. McDonald’s Corp. is rolling out new McCafés and adding coffee bars to some existing outlets across China. China Resources EnterpriseLtd, a Hong Kong-based company that currently operates 90 Pacific Coffee chains in Asia, has 1,000 new China outlets in its pipeline, according to the company. Costa Coffee, owned by Britain’s Whitbread, PLC, is cranking out more than 250 new stores in the next three years.
Coffee distributors are all bidding against one another for a limited supply of high-quality beans. Aging trees farmed year-after-year in Central and South America are producing lackluster, bland yields, and companies are desperate for new supplies. Nestlé SA is investing $487 million in a decade-long global effort to train and supply thousands of farmers across the globe—from Mexico to Indonesia—with new coffee trees, according to Nestlé.
Global arabica-bean prices are up more than 50% this year and are near 13-year highs due to bad weather and failing crops in Colombia and Central America. To absorb the higher costs, Starbucks in September raised the prices of some hard-to-make and larger-sized drinks, though in the U.S. only. Prices in China, which average $5 for a java chip frappuccino, didn’t change.
China exerts a big influence on markets for commodities such as oil, copper and soybeans, but isn’t a focus for the coffee market. That looks set to change with Starbucks’ foray. In addition, China’s potential as a quality coffee producer is in sharp contrast to Asian nations’ current reputation as suppliers of a low-quality robusta beans.
Starbucks is hoping that the quality of its Yunnan-grown coffee will be good enough to sell globally. Despite high raw ingredient prices, the partnership with China’s Yunnan provincial government isn’t about buying cheaper quality, said Mr. Schultz. “We strongly believe it will be as good in the cup as the coffee we currently buy in other markets,” he said.
Elevating Yunnan’s arabica quality may be a tall order. The company used Chinese beans to launch a special coffee line last year called “South of the Clouds,” which is the literal translation of Yunnan. Due to lack of quality and quantity, “South of the Clouds” became a blend. It was offered only in China, Malaysia and Singapore.
Company executives haven’t determined how they will market the new coffee in China and internationally, Starbucks said. The Yunnan-grown beans will be shipped to the U.S. for roasting. A roasting plant in Asia is inevitable, though the timing hasn’t yet been pegged, said Mr. Schultz.
Until now, Yunnan’s beans have been used only for lower-quality instant coffees. Nestlé, which has a 68% share of the instant market, started buying beans from Yunnan in the late 1980s. Since then, other leading coffee companies, such as Kraft Foods and Maxwell House, have been buying China’s arabica.
Starbucks plans to offer its Via instant coffee in China, but Mr. Schultz said he hasn’t settled on a date. “Consumers here need to develop a better understanding of the coffee culture first,” he said.
China has over the past decade encouraged farmers to swap out tea for coffee to bring in higher revenue and tax dollars. The Yunnan government plans to increase the amount of land it allocates for coffee growing and plans to invest three billion yuan in the next decade to increase coffee production to 200,000 tons annually from 38,000 tons.
Starbucks’ Chinese consumers have a long way to go to catch up to drinkers in other markets. Single-store sales in China average $600,000 compared to $1 million in the U.S., according to John Glass, a Morgan Stanley analyst.
Growth in China won’t be a problem, Mr. Schultz said. “We’re watching growth in smaller cities mirror what happened in Beijing and Shanghai,” he said. “It gives us confidence about long-term profitability.”
—Sue Feng contributed to this article.
USA TODAY chimed in:
Your morning “cup of Joe” may do more than deliver the jolt you need to get going — it may also help you stave off type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
H. Darr Beiser, USATODAY
“The beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP,” said Ling Zheng,
H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
“The beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP,” said Ling Zheng,
But, before you pour yourself a second cup know this: The study authors said their research was done with cell cultures and there’s no proof yet that coffee has any ability to keep type 2 diabetes at bay.
Past research has suggested a link between coffee and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and now Chinese researchers behind the new study think they may know why that may be so. They found three major compounds in coffee that may provide potentially beneficial effects: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine.
“These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP (human islet amyloid polypeptide),” Ling Zheng, professor of cellular biology at Wuhan University in China, and colleagues wrote.
Human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) is a substance normally found in the pancreas, according to background information in the study. Sometimes, however, abnormal protein deposits (toxic aggregation) arise from hIAPP. These abnormal deposits (amyloid fibrils) are found in people with type 2 diabetes, the study authors said.
The researchers wondered if blocking formation of these deposits could help prevent or treat type 2 diabetes, the more common form of the blood sugar disorder. The next step would be to find a substance that might prevent these deposits.
In 2009, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people who drank the most coffee seemed to have the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That study reported that with each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by 7 percent.
So, the researchers behind the new study conducted laboratory experiments to see if compounds found in coffee could inhibit the production of the abnormal protein deposits associated with hIAPP.
Caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine — the three most common components in coffee, the study authors said — helped reduce the abnormal protein deposits, but caffeic acid appeared most effective.
“Our results suggest that caffeic acid had the greatest effects in the major components of coffee. The rankings for beneficial effects of coffee compounds against the toxic hIAPP aggregation are caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine,” Zheng and study co-author Kun Huang, professor of biological pharmacy at the Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Wuhan, explained in an email interview.
Because decaffeinated coffee contains even higher levels of caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid than caffeinated coffee, the beneficial effect may be even stronger for decaffeinated coffee, they added.
The investigators pointed out that this work has only been done in cells, so it’s not clear if this is how coffee might help prevent diabetes in the body.
A U.S. diabetes expert was guardedly optimistic about the study’s conclusions.
“Scientifically, this is a very nice paper, but it has its limitations,” said Dr. Vivian Fonseca, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. “This was done in cells, not in animals or people. We also don’t know if the (abnormal deposits arising from hIAPP) are the most important thing in the development of type 2 diabetes, or if it’s something that develops later.”
In addition, Fonseca said, the study that found a link between a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and coffee was an epidemiological study. That means the study couldn’t prove cause and effect, only that there was an association between those two factors. It could be that people who drink coffee have other habits that lower their risk of diabetes.
The bottom line, said Fonseca, is it’s way too soon to make any recommendations about drinking coffee to prevent diabetes. But, he added, “if you want to prevent diabetes, there are some very straightforward things to do. You can walk for 30 minutes most days of the week, and reduce calories a little bit and reduce your weight a little.”
Zheng and Huang also pointed out that their study looked strictly at coffee. “Our study does not imply that the cream and sugar served with coffee will be beneficial for type 2 diabetes,” they said.
The study was funded by grants from various Chinese governmental agencies.
Results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
A number of older studies have shown that caffeine may increase your risk of developing diabetes. The theory is that the beneficial chemicals are able to offset the damage done by the caffeine. So drinking decaffeinated coffee would be the best bet if you are thinking of drinking coffee to prevent diabetes.
Tea also has an effect on diabetes. Drinking tea can improve insulin activity up to 15 times, and it can be black, green or oolong. Herbal teas don’t have any effect. The active compounds don’t last long in the body, so you would have to drink a cup or more of tea every few hours to maintain the benefit. The catch is that you should drink it without milk(even soy milk), because milk seems to interact with the necessary chemicals and render them unavailable to your body.
The temperature is getting hotter in the kitchen for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq:GMCR). Green Mountain, the maker of the Keurig single-serve coffee brewers, has seen its stock price rise 46.7% over the course of the last year. Over the last five years, the stock is up a ridiculous 1,285.0%. Investors looking for a pullback in this stock have been waiting a while, but finally got their opportunity on Thursday as the stock shed 7.7%.
A Battle Brewing The drop in the price of GMCR shares seems to have been triggered by an internal memo at Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX) from the company’s CEO Howard Schultz. Various media outlets have reported that the memo indicated that Starbucks is readying itself to take aim at the single-serve coffee market that has been dominated by Green Mountain for some time now.
Although the specifics of Schultz’s plan are unknown to the public at this time, Schultz did indicate in his memo that the single-serve market is a $4 billion segment and is growing faster than any other segment in the global coffee industry.
Caribou Coffee Company (Nasdaq:CBOU), another competitor of Starbucks, already produces K-Cups that are compatible with Keurig brewers. Investors trying to gauge the current health of the coffee market need to look no further than Thursday’s fiscal Q3 earnings release from J. M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM) which showed that the company was able to pass off higher coffee prices to consumers in order to top analysts’ estimates.
The sector has already been immensely profitable for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which has been posting staggering top line and bottom line growth. In its recently reported Q1, the company put up a 67% increase in non-GAAP operating income over the prior year quarter. Net sales also surged 67% over the same time period.
The Bottom Line It could be some time before we see how this battle between Green Mountain and Starbucks will play itself out. One thing seems to be certain, though, and that is that Starbucks is not going to sit back and let Green Mountain have a free pass in the single-serve market.
Starbucks is already making moves and last Tuesday it announced a deal in which it will partner with Courtesy Products to bring its coffee in a single-serve format to guests in 500,000 luxury and premium hotel rooms across the U.S. The question of the hour now is what the company’s next move will be on the single-serve front? (Reading between the lines to decipher a company’s true financial condition is the key to understanding earnings reports. Check out How To Decode A Company’s Earnings Reports.)
If you can’t quit coffee, stick with no more than 4 cups per day or switch to Decaf or better yet, water.
IF YOU’RE READY HERE’S HOW TO KICK THE HABIT
If caffeine owns you, it might be time to reassert yourself. Here’s what to do and what to avoid.
October 19, 2011|By Julie Deardorff, Tribune Newspapers, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
For most people, a morning cup of java isn’t harmful. But if you rely on coffee to get you out of bed, to stave off midmorning headaches and to avoid the 3 p.m. crash, you may be hooked on one of the most popular drugs in the world.
Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis. More than 50 percent of adults, meanwhile, consume just over three cups of coffee a day.
But caffeine is a tricky stimulant to shake. Though tolerance levels vary, drinking just 100 milligrams per day — the amount of a small cup of brewed coffee — and then giving it up can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and depression to flulike nausea and muscle pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Caffeine may have some health benefits, but so far research is weak. Some kinds of headaches cause blood vessels to widen; caffeine temporarily causes them to narrow. Coffee may also help reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease.
But coffee — like sugary breakfast foods — can create a cycle of extreme energy swings. The National Institutes of Health also reports that caffeine raises blood pressure and increases feelings of stress, anxiety and road rage. It can leave you feeling wired 12 to 16 hours after the last cup, wreaking havoc on sleep. And it can exacerbate health conditions such as diabetes by making blood sugar rise faster than usual.
To start weaning yourself off the joe, figure out how much caffeine you’re ingesting during the day, including soft drinks and energy drinks; if you can’t track it, it’s too much. Also try the following tips:
Wake up and drink 8 ounces of water. This strategy seems to slow coffee consumption and also works if you have a morning diet or regular soda habit, said Brian Wansink, founder and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and an expert on psychology and food consumption.
Choose your approach. Some people can go cold turkey; others need to gradually reduce. “There’s no evidence that either approach is superior,” said James Lane, a caffeine researcher and professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. If you’re a heavycoffee drinker — eight cups a day — gradual withdrawal can help prevent the dreaded headaches and fogginess. If you drink two cups, you may be able to bite the bullet. “Withdrawal symptoms most likely disappear in two or three days,” said Lane.
Taper: To minimize withdrawal symptoms, gradually reduce the amount of caffeine by drinking half regular and half decaffeinated and gradually increasing the amount of decaf, said Ling Wong, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nutrition and wellness coach. “You can also try tea — black or yerba mate — which has the richness of coffee without that much caffeine,” Wong said. “Rooibos is an herbal tea that has a rich body similar to black tea, without any caffeine. Green tea and white tea are also great choices,” she said.
Try Sanka. After several unsuccessful attempts, Barry Maher said he managed to quit drinking several quarts of coffee a day by substituting “the worst-tasting coffee substitute that ever existed, Sanka. Nothing could have made me develop an aversion to coffee quicker than associating it with a vile brew like that,” said Maher, a professional speaker in Corona, Calif.
Fruit juices might seem like a healthy option to coffee, but it’s better to avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages, whether it’s added or high natural sugar. “The stomach doesn’t feel full so the brain can’t know it, and you keep eating,” said physician and chef John LaPuma. “Because they boost glycemic load, they inflame arteries, disable insulin and clog up the beta-cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. They can also make the liver store fat. Not a pretty picture.” A better alternative? Sparkling water.
The human brain has long been a mystery. Suddenly, there is an explosion of books about the brain in bookstores. A search on Amazon reveals almost 6,000 titles. So, what’s really going on inside this extremely complex organ? And how can you boost your brain power, so it’s working at its best? First, let’s take a look at what each area does, and how damage to one of these areas would affect you. Then, we’ll explore things you can do to keep your brain fit.
Let’s start with a visual.
FRONTAL LOBES – THINKING. Biggest part of your brain. This is the most highly evolved area of your brain. The frontal lobes, one on each side, handles ideas, concepts, feelings and judgments, interpreting what’s going on around you and how you should act in response. Problems in this area including Alzheimer’s disease, can change behavior and personality and make it hard to focus, plan or remember how to do tasks.
TEMPORAL LOBES – HEARING. More sensory information, especially hearing, is processed in the temporal lobes, which help you make sense of spoken language and music. These lobes also are linked to memory, and damage here can make it hard to understand speech, categorize objects or recall things you’ve seen or been told.
PARIETAL LOBES – VISION & TOUCH. Working with other areas of the brain, the parietal lobes integrate information from the senses, like vision and touch. They’re also involved in memory, voluntary movement and spinal perception. Damage to the parietal lobes can make it difficult to perceive objects, recognize parts of your body, do math or understand your own writing.
OCCIPITAL LOBES – SIGHT. Sight isn’t limited to one area, but the occipital lobes are largely devoted to processing visual input, and damage from tumors, trauma or strokke can cause a form of vision loss known as coritcal blindness. Even if the eye and optic nerve are working perfectly well, a problem in the occipital lobes can make it difficult to recognize what your eyes see.
CEREBELLUM – BALANCE & COORDINATION. Smallest part of your brain. The cerebellum is involved with balance and coordination of movement. It also plays a role in functions such as motor memory you need for physical skills. When there is trouble in the cerebellum, even simple tasks such as reaching for a glass of water can prove difficult.
BRAIN STEM – CONNECTS IT ALL. Everything that travels back and forth between your body and brain via your spinal cord goes through the brain stem. It is responsible for body functions you don’t consciously think about such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, sleep and body temperature. Problems in this area can mean big trouble, including paralysis and coma.
The Human Brain requires all parts to work together in order for your Mind and Body to function properly. Any of those functions can be compromised by stroke, tumors, injuries and disease.
Let’s Take a Look at Ways You Can Keep Your Brain Healthy.
Scrabble. Play Scrabble with friends in person or play online. Scrabble is a great way to get your brain thinking or do the daily crossword in a newspaper each day.
News. Keep up with current events. Whether your interest is politics, world news, or your local small-town gossip, staying current with the news stimulates your mind.
Read. Read anything…books, magazines, the back of cereal boxes. Reading keeps your mind pumping, and you learn new things at the same time. It’s definitely a bonus if your reading material has some depth to it, though.
Puzzles. While working jigsaw puzzles, you must think about how the shapes and colors match up. The problem-solving skills of working puzzles helps keep your mind sharp.
Movies. Watch a thought-provoking movie. Movies like Crash, Fight Club, and American Beauty can leave your brain pondering what you watched for days afterward.
Word puzzles. Solve brainteasers such as anagrams, logic problems, or rebuses whenever you have a few minutes.
Video games. Who said video games are a waste of time? Some video game playing can help fight Alzheimer’s.
Hobbies. Start a new hobby or take up an old, forgotten one to get your creative juices flowing.
Research. Research topics of interest. It’s one way to boost your brain power if you spend a lot of time online.
Daily Physical Exercise
Exercise increases blood-flow and oxygenates the brain, so get moving.
10. Yard work. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or just picking up the twigs that have fallen on the yard are all great ways to get exercise.
Walk the dog. Getting Fido and yourself outside for a walk improves both your mood and your health–both lead to a stronger mind.
Swim. Jump in the lake or take a swim at your neighborhood pool for a great form of exercise.
Bike. A leisurely bike ride through a park or down a dedicated bike trail is not only good for your body, but you will enjoy the scenery.
Yoga. Practicing yoga is an excellent way to get your body and mind moving any time of the day.
Tai chi. Learn this ancient form of graceful movement and stretching for a super way to start each morning.
Hike. Put on some sturdy shoes. Hiking can be as easy as exploring a city park or to a visit to a state or national park.
Dance. Take dancing lessons. Learn to tango or do the latest line dance. Read about the anti-aging benefits of dance here.
Tennis. The mental and physical stimulation of this popular game will have your brain health in top form.
Golf. Enjoy a leisurely round of golf for both exercise and social benefits that will help keep your mind fit.
Learning and experiencing new things does this.
20. Learn. If you hear an unfamiliar word, look it up. See a flower you don’t recognize? Find out what it is.
21. Music. Learn to play a musical instrument, learn how to read music, or take a music theory class.
Classes. Take an adult continuing education class and learn something new. Many universities and community colleges offer courses.
Art. All you need is an interest to learn. Study the art of photography, learn to paint, or find out how to throw pottery.
Switch hands. Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks like eating or writing. Changing hands really stimulates the brain.
Chess. Learn how to play chess or find a chess partner if you already know how.
Career. Either switch to a different department within your field or make a complete career change altogether.
Travel. Whether you’ve always wanted to travel the now-defunct Route 66 or wanted to explore Mayan ruins, take a trip. Exploring different cultures and breaking out of your routine sharpen the mind.
School. Go back to school for that degree you never got. Studying at college is a great brain challenge.
Feed Your Brain Well
The connection between what goes in your body and how your brain performs is a strong one.
Antioxidants. Eating foods that are antioxidants can help improve focus, problem-solving, and memory. Supplements can help, but food with antioxidant properties work best.
Fish. The ultimate brain food, eat fish a few times a week for a healthy mind. Try to avoid mercury-laden fish such as swordfish and stick with safer fish such as salmon.
Avocado. Avocados have monosaturated fat (the good fat), which increases blood flow. Increased blood flow equals a healthy brain.
Fruits and veggies. Your mama always said to eat your vegetables. Learn about the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables to your brain.
Whole grains. Two and a half servings of whole grains a day can significantly reduce your chance for a stroke. Read about these findings here.
Olive oil. This miracle elixir has been shown to break up clots in capillaries and generally help with blood flow. Consider replacing your other vegetable oil with a good quality olive oil.
Organic. Eating organic foods reduces the toxins that go in your body. Your brain and general health benefit greatly with fewer toxins to process out of your body. Read the Organic Guide for news, recipes, and ideas for going organic.
Superfoods. Ever heard of Goji berries? What do they have in common with blueberries? They are both part of the new group called superfoods. These are the best foods to eat for the most nutritional punch.
Raw. Raw food is the latest health trend. Learn how eating raw can benefit you in this interview.
Breakfast. It may be known as the most important meal of the day, but it is now considered the best meal for your brain too.
Supplements don’t just have to come in pill form. Find out how each of these supplements to your diet will help promote a healthy brain.
Omega-3. Omega-3 amino acids are one of the best brain supplements you can take. Learn about the benefits of this great supplement.
Green tea. Drinking green tea is great for a healthy mind because it is full of antioxidants. Steep a cup and know you are helping your mind stay strong.
B Vitamins. Vitamin B complex supplements are the ultimate brain boosters. Find out how they help and how to choose the best form of supplement here.
Water. Staying hydrated benefits your body and brain by keeping you detoxified and oxygenated, so drink lots of water.
Kombucha. In addition to the multiple health benefits of this unusual drink, it is primarily a detoxifier for the body. And when your body is more pure and healthy, your brain works so much better.
Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that is beneficial to brain health. Take this to give your brain a boost.
Vitamin C. Used in conjunction with vitamin E, this supplement may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Matcha. This stone-ground, powdered form of green tea is a super-concentrated version of the green tea that comes in tea bags. Buy the highest quality for a super blast of brain health.
Grape seed extract. Studies have shown a connection between taking grape seed extract and preventing the onset of dementia.
Soy protein. Soy proteins, found in soy beans and soy products, appear to help brain functions such as memory in older people.
Limit, Avoid or Have the Following in Moderation
Some things are just better left out of your body or only introduced in small doses.
Fast food. The saturated fats and generally poor food quality of fast food is not something you want to keep putting in your body. Reducing fast food as much as you can will help keep you mentally fit.
Heavily processed food. The preservatives, artificial ingredients, and high fat content of processed foods are not good for the body. Try to eat foods as close to their source as you can. A slice of cheddar cheese is so much better for your brain than a slice of processed American cheese.
White sugar. Refined “table” sugar creates strong fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, which results in a whole host of health problems, including cardiovascular and cholesterol issues. Stick with a more natural sweetener such as honey, cane sugar, or agave.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils. The oils found in margarine and other processed foods hold a direct link to higher cholesterol, which in turn, leads to less blood flow to the brain.
Caffeine. Reduce your caffeine intake. But don’t worry about eliminating it altogether as this study indicates a little caffeine may be beneficial to your brain.
Alcohol. Keep drinking to a minimum–one or two drinks a day at the most. Heavy drinking is directly linked to memory loss.
High fructose corn syrup. This artificial sweetener may be worse for you than sugar.
Saturated fat. Replace saturated fat from animal products with monounsaturated fat from healthy vegetable oils.
Environmental pollutants. The toxic effects of pollutants is not healthy for the body, and especially the brain. If you live in a heavily polluted city, you might want to consider moving.
Heavy metals. Heavy metals disrupt the protective blood-brain barrier and are not easily flushed from the body. Two sources of heavy metals are mercury found in many fish and lead found in places such as some job sites, in certain dishware from Mexico, and lead pipes in older homes.
Protect Your Brain from Injury
Brain injury can debilitate the brain’s functioning.
61. Sports helmets. Protect your head when bicycling, skiing, or rollerblading by wearing the appropriate helmet for your sport.
62. Smoking. Smoking robs your body of oxygen. Alzheimer’s is twice as likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers.
63. Heat stroke. If you are out in the sun, always wear a hat and stay hydrated with plenty of water. Get in the shade as much as possible.
64. Driving. Practice safe driving habits. Becoming a defensive driver reduces your chances of getting in an accident.
65. Handrails. Use handrails on steep stairs or any stairs if you are in bad weather, especially during rain or ice.
66. On motorcycles. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or scooter.
67. Drugs. Avoid illegal drugs. Some drugs can diminish brain capacity; overdosing can cause permanent brain damage.
68. Repetitive injury. Sports such as football, soccer, and boxing all run a higher risk of repetitive injury, so play safe.
69. Seatbelts. Always wear a seatbelt when you are in a car –front or back seat.
Emotions. Pretending you don’t have certain feelings such as anger, sadness, or loneliness will just push these feelings down until they come back out in less than ideal ways. Identify your emotions and accept them for what they are.
Bath. Soak in a hot bath to feel the stress just melt away from your body. After a 15 min soak, your body & mind will feel refreshed.
Meditation. For improving focus and stress relief, meditation can’t be beat. Learn why meditation works.
Breathing. The deep, relaxing form of breathing used during yoga practice can bring benefits to your brain as well. It also oxygenates the body, which keeps the brain healthy.
Relaxation exercises. Try some of these relaxation exercises, and you will teach your body how to feel more calm.
Fun. Have fun in life. Take time away from work and family responsibilities to just enjoy life.
Yes! Think positively and you will discover that your approach to life is one of much less stress. You will feel empowered to make things happen and to appreciate what you’ve already accomplished.
Smile. Smile and laugh often. Not only will a happy demeanor help you feel better, it will also affect those around you.
Get a pet. Pet owners show fewer signs of stress and are less lonely. Think about going through a pet rescue organization to help find a home for a needy animal and helping yourself too.
Stimulate Your Senses
The following activities will provide you with plenty of sensory experiences you will enjoy while strengthening your mental acuity.
81. Sculpt. Pick up some modeling clay and play with some simple sculpting.
82. Aromatherapy. Learn about aromatherapy and essential oils.
83. Massage. Get a massage and enjoy the tactile sensation of a professional working out the stress and tension in your muscles.
84. New food. Try a new type of food, especially if it is a different ethnic food than you are accustomed to eating.
85. Garden. Reach your hands into the earth and plant some herbs and flowers. Gardening is a great multisensory experience.
86. Sex. Enjoy sex with your partner. It has also been shown to sharpen your mind through its cardiovascular benefits.
87. Concert. Listening to music, whether it’s a small chamber music ensemble or a full-out rock show, will stimulate your brain.
88. Bake. The feel of the dough, the smell of the baking is a good multisensory experience.
89. Yarn. Play with yarn or thread as you learn to knit, crochet, or embroider as a new learning experience.
90. Vocabulary Words. Increase your vocabulary by learning a new word each day & using it in a sentence.
Having a strong social network reduces isolation and stress and stimulates the brain through shared learning experiences and emotional connections. Good friends are good for your brain.
92. Email. Be sure you actually send a message, though, and don’t just forward jokes.
93. Letters. Rediscover the lost art of writing letters the old-fashioned way.
94. Clubs. Join a club. Find a group of folks with similar interests as you.
95. Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way to socialize while making a difference.
96. Phone. Pick up the phone and talk to someone.
97. Dinner group. Start a dinner club with six or eight people. Have each person bring one dish and alternate homes for hosting.
98. Book group. Combine reading with the social aspect of discussing your book to gain two benefits to brain health.
99. Cooking class. Taking a cooking class will not only get you out, but you will learn how to eat more healthily, too.
100. Cards. Playing cards is a fun and social experience. Find some card-playing partners and set up a weekly or monthly card date.
101. Online. Find a topic about which you are interested in learning or you are already an expert and join in a discussion.
102. Read Great Books about Brain Health. There are thousands of books available. I recommend some below.
MY FAVORITE BRAIN BOOKS:
I tend to rave about things to everyone within earshot when I love them –and that’s how I felt after reading, “The Brain Mechanic” by Spencer Lord. I brought it to the beach and it had me “think” differently about things I already knew. I had a question after reading it and contacted the author. We’ve since become good friends. I publicly endorsed his book, and I’m not the only one who thought it a GEM. See the reviews below. Then, make sure you pick up a copy. You’ll want to share what you learn with friends. I’m actually due to re-read it. The title is fitting because just like a car –we do need to service our brains too.
Concise, accessible, and indescribably powerful.”—David Geffen: cofounder of Dreamworks SKG
Great book.”—Sheri Salata: executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, and president of Harpo Studios
I was using The Brain Mechanic cognitive skills the very same day I read the book. The elevator in my building was under repair, and I used a Brain Mechanic “alternate positive scenario” to avoid feeling angry about the inconvenience, and actually be happy about taking the stairs. I love Spencer’s book, and highly recommend it for everyone.”—Sally Kirkland: Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress, Minister
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the gold standard of psychotherapy. I am happy that Spencer Lord has written a book about it which is easily read and comprehended by people from non-psychological backgrounds.”—Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil: humanitarian, and founder of Lakshya Trust
Spencer Lord is a not only a Mechanic of the brain but a life enlightener and surgeon of the soul.”—Mario Cantone: writer, comedian, Tony-nominated actor
Spending one night with The Brain Mechanic can change your life.”—Lori Andrews: legal chair for the Human Genome Project, and author of “The Silent Assassin”
A work of preternatural genius.”—William Cole, Ph.D.: former president of Lake Forest College, and chairman of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
A good brain mechanic is hard to find. Usually you wind up in a chop shop. And the replacement parts are inferior. Spencer Lord has changed all that. He offers a one-stop service and you’re out and running smooth before lunch. This may sound glib, but you’ll feel the same way when you realize how simple it is and how stupid you were not to have realized it before you drove into that wall.”—Bruce Vilanch: six-time Emmy winner, and head writer for the Academy Awards Show, and “Hollywood Squares”
‘The Brain Mechanic’ is Spencer Lord’s personal journey and interpretation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through his life. He has developed an easy to read and understand blueprint for others to “tune up” their lives. This book should be read by any adult who has ever felt depression, anxiety or unresolved emotional pain. It is a self help bibliotherapy that can be used as an auxiliary to individual therapy or perhaps a path to personal solutions to negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. I suggest that we look at the results of “The Brain Mechanic” in the life of the author. He is focused, energized, and resiliently engaged in life, learning, and service to humanity. He’s setting a shining example of the power and effectiveness of ‘The Brain Mechanic.'”—Dr. Jack Apsche: board certified clinical psychologist, founder and director of the Apsche Clinic, program director for forensic psychology at Walden University, and author of “Mode Deactivation Therapy to Treat Aggression and Oppositional Behavior in Adolescents” (New Harbinger Press)
Mr. Lord uses letters like words, words like thoughts, thoughts like tools, tools like dreams, and dreams like reality…”—Christopher G. Ciccone: artist, director, author of “Life With My Sister Madonna”
Spencer is the ultimate connector – of our friends, our dreams and our brains.”—Hilary Rosen: editor-at-large for The Huffington Post, and CNN political contributor
Your brain can’t run without a good mechanic. Spence is mine.”—Howard Bragman: founder of Fifteen Minutes, publicist, and author of “Where’s My Fifteen Minutes”
An extraordinary practical guide that contains exercises and insights educators can readily integrate into courses analyzing peacemaking, conflict resolution, and ethnic conflicts in the broader context of peace education. ‘The Brain Mechanic’ is a wonderful read as we experience transformative learning and utilize communications technology to develop innovative pedagogy across cultures.”—Colette Mazzucelli, Ph.D.: NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, author of “France and Germany at Maastricht Politics and Negotiations to Create the European Union”
Well, I thought I knew everything. Apparently not. This book has, if I say so myself, made me brilliant. I have only two words for anyone who wants to unlock the potential of his/her brain: You. Should. Read. This.”—Elayne Boosler: comedian, writer, and founder of Tails of Joy
Brace yourself: ‘The Brain Mechanic’ is the best brain candy to gobble up at the moment. Spencer Lord weaves together a simple, easy-to-read guide to understanding your emotions and your behavior. More importantly, he provides the tools needed to create the possibility for real transformation. Delicious!”—Greg Archer: San Francisco Examiner
This is heavyweight psycho-spiritual guidance doled out with a ladle of honey. Spencer is the quintessential affable guru—friendly, approachable, flexible. His ‘emotional algebra’ provides an invaluable formula for liberation, empowering each of us to be our own brain mechanic instead of a sniveling victim to the false self. A ‘must read’ for spiritual seekers—one which I will be using at Columbia College with my Mystical Consciousness students.”—Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, Ph.D.: author, and professor at Columbia College
This book will change your outlook and your life!”—ANT: comedian, and VH1 host
The Brain Mechanic empowers its readers with a simple, straightforward “equation” for change. Perhaps EV + B = EM should be offered to all middle-school youngsters as part of the standard curriculum. How skillfully they would navigate through life learning this tool early on!”—Rhonda J. Noonan M.S., L.P.C.; clinical director
Spencer Lord has provided us with a user’s manual to the human brain. By applying the material in ‘The Brain Mechanic’ one has the tools to positively change their life. I see this book as a step in the right direction to powerfully merge science and spirituality.”—Jesse Brune: founder of Project Service L.A., personal trainer, and reality television star
‘The Brain Mechanic’ by Spencer Lord empowers people to take control of their own thoughts, emotions and behaviors by understanding how their own belief system is responsible for how they react in certain situations. I have recommended it to friends who write to tell me what it a powerful impact it has had in their lives during challenging situations. Spencer Lord is a genius when it comes to simplifying cognitive behavioral therapy that may have confused you in the past. It’s a gem of a tool for your mental health and overall well-being.”—Maria Dorfner: founder/CEO of NewsMD Communications
In an easy to read, and simple way, Lord explains the science & dynamics of Cognitive Behavioral Theory and how our spurious beliefs can be changed via ‘self-enhancement.’ This is the must read book to create self-change and build a sustained life balance.”—Meghan Stabler: HRC board of directors
The how-to guide for taking control of your emotional life. A great read!”—Richard Dowling: recording artist, and founder of Dowling Music
I’m not sure which sexologist once quipped that the average man utilized the clitoris in much the way an orangutan might play a violin, but I thought of him when I read “The Brain Mechanic.” Not, of course, because I have a clitoris (that is NOT what is in my jar by the door), but because most of us use our brains as ineptly and as rarely. I do know that Neil Simon used to read “How To Be Your Own Best Friend” twice a day with a glass of water, because it got him back in his best frame of mind, flushed out the toxins. Nora Ephron thought the book might be magical. That was more than thirty years ago. Today, I think they would find this book to be their magic pill. I like how the book distills a lot of knowledge that we are SUPPOSED to know and think we already know, but rarely utilize. I want to quip some more (because the book gets your engines going and the synapses aflame), but to be as clear and as precise as the book, let me just say that it allows you to begin living the examined life we always thought was a myth. Like that clitoris. And that musical orangutan.”—Jim Grissom: HBO, writer/editor; author
Imagine that… THINKING actually does play an important role in how we feel and what we do… The Brain Mechanic not only reinforces that causal link, but it arms readers with tools to apply cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in their daily lives.”—Joe Zuniga: president/CEO, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care
An indispensable interdisciplinary tool for taking back control from the demons that plague us – anxiety, depression, drug addiction, etc.”—C. Cryn Johannsen: founder of Education Matters
Thank you Spencer Lord for writing this book. The benefits of learning how to control our beliefs independent of our thoughts are crucial no matter what your situation. Thus this book could benefit anyone just as it has me! He has made something profound quite simple to do.”—Corey Spears: actor, blogger, movie star
I agreed to serve on the board of Super Body, Super Brain because I believed in the concept before it was executed —before all the copycat books popped up on shelves. Michael has spent a tremendous of time studying neuroscience, the brain and fitness –and you’ll be surprised to learn after reading how it’s not a gimmick. He is a good friend and he’s dedicated to making a difference in the way people approach fitness. You can’t have a fit body without having a fit mind. I would start with Spencer Lord’s book, which will show you how to be mindful. Then, move on to Super Body, Super Brain.
Super Body, Super Brain by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace
Michael Gonzalez-Wallace demonstrating Super Body, Super Brain on CBS
SOME REVIEWS OF SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN (featured in Oprah’s Magazine as best new workout)
QUOTE FROM AN INTERVIEW FEATURING SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN IN PREVENTION
But it wasn’t enough to know the change was there. Gonzalez-Wallace wanted to know why. “When I started seeing these unusual results, I found that no matter how much I was reading, I needed a professional opinion,” says the trainer. John Martin, PhD, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, immediately recognized the brain benefits of Gonzalez-Wallace’s workouts.
“Michael’s exercises require new coordination patterns,” says Martin. “They seem to mix a challenging posture requiring balance together with a limb movement. This may be similar to creating a cognitive reserve by learning a new language later in life, or learning to play a musical instrument. The exercises likely drive more neural activity in more parts of the brain. This can strengthen neural connections in the action systems of the brain. Perhaps, the more you need to think during a complex movement, the more you recruit connections in the cognitive systems of the brain. While speculative, this may be a way for exercises that require you to think about your moves to benefit parts of the brain for memory and for learning facts.”
QUOTE FROM AN INTERVIEW FEATURING SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN IN CHICAGO TRIBUNE
When Gonzalez-Wallace was developing the workout, he talked it over with Jack Martin, a neurobiologist at Columbia University. Martin thought it made sense. Brain activity is more limited for motor tasks produced without much thought compared with movement that has to be coordinated on the fly, he said.
“Some of Michael’s exercises require new coordination patterns; odd combinations of movements that people don’t normally do. Like mixing a challenging posture requiring balance together with a leg movement,” Martin said in e-mail.
“Getting more of the brain to work to produce a complex movement is plausibly beneficial for overall brain function. Maybe it is the motor equivalent of building a cognitive reserve by learning to play the cello at 55 years old or doing crossword puzzles.
In any case, by combining balance and limb movement or other combination patterns, he is forcing the person to use multiple distinct motor systems of the brain. To my mind, that is a lot like an integrative cognitive task, but for the action systems of the brain.”
PROFESSIONAL ENDORSEMENT, GREGORY LOMBARDO, MD
Dr Lombardo is board certified in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry and is a diplomate of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. He is the author of “Understanding the mind of your bipolar child”
According to Dr Lombardo, The benefits of implementing SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN may fall into three major groups:
Motor skills refers to the abilities which involve the use of hands, develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects to more precise activities that involve precise hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills are skills that involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning. *
SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN incorporates an active use of motor skills. The importance of exercising balance and coordination may help improve children’s brain functioning in the following areas: attention, memory, multitasking, spatial memory and decision-making. For example raising heels and arms at the same time will improve kids’ attention and multitasking skills. This could correlate to listening to the teacher and writing in a piece of paper)
Psychiatric Benefits and Benefits in Academic Function
Improving children’s brain functioning through specific exercise movements.
Regarding brain functioning, it is important to refer to the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for voluntary physical movement is connected by neurons to all parts of the cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher order thinking. Nearly 80 studies have suggested a strong link between the movement and memory, spatial perception, language, attention, emotion, nonverbal cues, and decision-making (Jensen, 1998).
A number of studies also indicate that children suffering from even subtle forms of Bipolar Disorder have difficulties integrating the cognitive function of the left with the right hemisphere. This is also thought to be true for children with dyslexia and dysgraphia, conditions that powerfully affect a child’s scholastic function and their self-esteem.
An essential feature of SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN is to improve the integration of motor activity carried on between the left and right hemisphere. This cannot help but improve problems with visual integration and with fine motor coordination and sensory-motor coordination, yielding improvement is some children’s reading and writing (both in the sense of handwriting and in the sense of composition).
Cardiovascular benefits seen with any regular aerobic exercise are particularly important in school age children.
Among children Type II Diabetes caused by decreased physical activity and poor nutrition leading to obesity has reached epidemic proportions. When a child experiences improper weight gain (because of larger amounts of circulating growth hormone) the child increases the number of fat cells rather than their size (as is the case with adults). Consequently, hyper-cellular obesity is especially hard to reverse later on in life.
SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN improves cardiovascular function and glucose metabolism while a child is focused on another goal, removing the burden of shame that can accompany explicit attempts at weight management
This section has been reviewed and endorsed by Gregory T. Lombardo MD, PhD, Adult, Child and Adolescent psychiatrist; author Understanding the Mind of Your Bipolar Child, St. Martins 11/2006; doctor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; and former teacher of writing and English literature at Columbia College and at The Trinity School N.Y.C.