New Study Links Insomnia to Alzheimer’s

sleepingNew research now links sleep problems with Alzheimer’s disease.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s.
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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.
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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]
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RESEARCHERS SURVEYED JUST OVER ONE-HUNDRED PEOPLE AT HIGH RISK OF DEVELOPING ALZHEIMER’S WHO HAD NORMAL THINKING AND MEMORY ABILITIES.
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PARTICIPANTS WERE ASKED ABOUT THEIR SLEEP QUALITY AND ALSO PROVIDED A
SPINAL FLUID SAMPLE.
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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.
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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.
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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]
 newsmd1 Maria Dorfner

MY OPINION:  

“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.

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Your brain requires healthy food and beverages to stay sharp and sleep well.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Then, compare how well these two different groups sleep, along with their biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease.

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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.

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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. ”

-Maria Dorfner

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NATIONAL MEDIA:   See Pathfire #: 10826 dated July 5, 2017 for soundbites/voiceover
contact:  maria.dorfner@yahoo.com
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Love: What the World Needs Now by Maria Dorfner

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Today, I talk to Paul J. Zak about health, love and morality.

Zak has done extensive research into discovering what chemical in our brain ultimately prompts us to love.

So much so, that this son of a prior Catholic nun has a new nickname.

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Paul J. Zak is a scientist, prolific author, and public speaker. His book The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity was published in 2012 and was a finalist for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize.

He is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He has degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University, a Ph.D. in economics from University of Pennsylvania, and post-doctoral training in neuroimaging from Harvard.

He is credited with the first published use of the term “neuroeconomics.” He organized and administers the first doctoral program in neuroeconomics. Dr. Zak’s lab discovered in 2004 that the brain chemical oxytocin allows us to determine who to trust.

His current research has shown that oxytocin is responsible for virtuous behaviors, working as the brain’s “moral molecule.”

This knowledge is being used to understand the basis for civilization and modern economies, improve negotiations, and treat patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Zak’s work on relationships earned him the nickname “Dr. Love.”

Q & A with Paul J. Zak
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1.  First, what prompted you to write The Moral Molecule:  The Source of Love and Prosperity and what’s love got to do with it?

I think the oldest debate humans have had since we have been having debates is on whether our human nature is good or evil.  Think Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, etc.  We are really curious about this!

Of course, most of us can be incredibly kind and sometimes nasty.  I wanted to see if I could find a “switch” in the brain from naughty to nice and figure out what turns this switch on and off.  And, my mother, before she was my mother, was a Catholic nun.  So, growing up I was given a very black and white view of morality.

But, my observation was that morality was more situational.  So, I basically spent 10 years of research so I could argue better with my mother (!).  Based on research done on rodents, I hypothesized that the mammalian neurochemical oxytocin might be the moral molecule. My experiments (and replications and extensions by many others) have shown a key role for oxytocin in motivating positive social behaviors.  Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love molecule” as it sustains romantic bonds and motivates care for offspring.

So, love makes us moral.  I think my mom would agree with this!

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2.  Absolutely.  How does positive touch and psychological support promote health?

Oxytocin motivates moral behaviors–even among strangers–by making us feel empathy where we share the emotions of others.

It promotes human interactions by reducing stress responses and thereby improving the immune systems.  Perhaps surprisingly, it is other people who keep us healthy (and, we’ve shown, happy).

We need connections, our brains and bodies crave it. We have shown that touch releases oxytocin.  So, I recommend 8 hugs a day.  Hug a stranger–its good for them and for you.

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3.  I’m Italian, so hugs come naturally. What if someone is alone?  Can they raise oxytocin levels?

Loneliness is stressful for social creatures like humans.  But, people who are alone can “hack” the oxytocin/connection system in several says.First of all, get a pet.  Our experiments have shown that dogs are better oxytocin promoters than are cats, but any pet is probably good.Second, use social media.  We have shown in experiments that social media of all types cause oxytocin release.  Third, massage is very healthful and causes oxytocin release (or start hugging people).

Lastly, nearly any activity that people do together can cause oxytocin release, including singing, dancing, going to movies, riding a roller coaster and especially helping others.

All these behaviors can “train the brain” to be better at connecting to people by increasing our oxytocin release.

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4.  Great tips.  All in moderation.  In your book you say love is also the source to prosperity. Let’s talk about that.  I read 90% of well-educated men who have graduated from college are ready for marriage between the ages of twenty-six to thirty-three-years-old.  These are the high commitment years.  Studies show a never married man at age forty-two becomes a confirmed bachelor.  Is oxytocin higher during the high commitment years making them able to trust and bond, as  older men get jaded?

High testosterone, our experiments have shown, is a powerful oxytocin inhibitor.  Testosterone falls in men after age 30 or so.  It also falls when men are in committed relationships and when they have children.  So, younger men may need a romantic partner to “tame” them so they can better attach to others.

Like any other brain system (or the French you took in 5th grade), the brain reduces the energy spent to maintain brain pathways that are little used.  Low attachment opportunities may make it harder in the future to find a mate.  A dog, though, is a good place to start.  Dogs also make being approached by strangers easier.  Go dogs!

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5.  Pets are amazing.  How about studies that consistently find a significant correlation between length of marriage and wealth accumulation?  Most millionaires are and stay married.  According to Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, author of “The Millionaire Mind” millionaires and those who will probably attain this status have a unique ability to select mates with a certain set of qualities:  Honest, Responsible, Loving, Capable & Supportive.  Does love keep you healthy AND wealthy?  If so, how?
 

Married men work harder, make more money, are happier, and live healthier and longer.  This is likely due to the anxiolytic effects of oxytocin.

High wealth men tend to have higher testosterone, so both marriage partners need to make love/romance a committment to keep the flame of oxytocin alive.

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6. I’ve also read certain foods release oxytocin naturally.  Namely, pasta with garlic and tomato sauce,  (happy to hear as an Italian!) plums, apples, turkey, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, cottage cheese, chick peas, oregano and another favorite, chocolate!  Have I left anything out?
Actually, oxytocin is such a primitive molecule we never run out of its building blocks.  Foods rich in phytoestrogens can make us more sensitive to oxytocin (perhaps by increasing oxytocin receptors though this has not been shown in humans yet).  These foods include soy, broccoli, tea, wine.
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7.  What are some more natural ways of releasing this love hormone to stay healthy? (i.e. pets, warm bath, soothing music)
Besides those listed above, moderately stressful events like travel or riding a roller coaster will raise oxytocin.  The best way to spike one’s
oxytocin is sex in a committed relationship.  Cuddling, holding hands, kissing will all do it.  Warm temperature helps, as does sharing a meal.
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8.  Nice.  Why hasn’t everyone been prescribed oxytocin in the nasal spray form to boost their well-being?
The spray inhibits the brain’s ability to control the release of oxytocin.  The brain’s oxytocin system is finely tuned so that oxytocin is released when we have a positive social interaction and then release is shut off.  You don’t want to leave the trust switch turned “on” at all times, this could be dangerous.  There is also evidence in animals that long-term oxytocin treatment can damage oxytocin receptors so the trust-empathy system could, over time, begin to fail.
9.  Interesting. Recently, there have been studies linking oxytocin with having a healthier body image. What are your thoughts on it being used as a treatment for anorexia, body dysmorphia or any other number of body image disorders?
My lab has done many studies of oxytocin replacement therapy.  For short to moderate periods of time, in combination with counselling, this is an appropriate approach for some patients with body imaging disorders.  The first line treatment would be with SSRIs like Prozac or Paxil and it turns out that this class of drugs moderately increases oxytocin in the brain.
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10.  Prescription drugs can have serious side effects so I’d like to focus on natural ways to release oxytocin. If someone were to begin doing all the natural things you mention, how long would it take them to begin feeling better and healthier?

Almost immediately!  Oxytocin is released in about 1 second after a positive contact.  If you follow Dr. Love’s (my nickname) prescription of 8 hugs a day, then you are training the brain to release oxytocin more easily.

That’s the key to being happier and healthier (and exercise and eat well wouldn’t hurt, either).

THAT ENDS OUR INTERVIEW. THANK YOU DR. ZAK FOR JOINING US.  THANK YOU FOR READING. -Maria
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If you’d like to learn more about Paul J. Zak’s amazing work visit http://www.pauljzak.com or watch his Global TED Talk at link below.
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Turn ON The 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People by Maria Dorfner


Powerful Principles of Personal Change

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People have asked me what book has influenced me most in my career.  I can think of two dozen.  Yet, one book stands out in my mind.  It’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.
One of the things I love about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that it is a principle-centered paradigm. Principles are guidelines for human conduct that are proven to have enduring, permanent value — they are fundamental.  It ignores trends in favor of  proven principles of integrity, fairness, honesty, human dignity and character.  Character comes from our daily habits. Changing habits takes commitment.
If you want to change health habits, start with commitment.  
  • I heard a reporter say the number one New Year‘s Eve resolution Americans had is to get fit.  I couldn’t believe it.  So many books.  So many tapes.  So many fitness gurus and people STILL need help.  I’m aware that hundreds, if not thousands of health and fitness books are available, but obviously people are still crying out for help. Since I’m in the  habit of helping people, here is my two cents. I’ve talked to countless healthy individuals and there is common ground in terms of daily habits.
  • Time to TURN ON THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY HEALTHY PEOPLE:
Habit 1.  MeditatiON
Habit 2.  HydratiON
Habit 3.  NutritiON
Habit 4.  MotivatiON
Habit 5.  ActivatiON
Habit 6.  CreatiON
Habit 7.  RelaxatiON
Habit 8.  ModeratiON
  • I added an 8th habit. Covey did too.  You first start with a commitment to doing these 7 or 8 things each day of your life.
  • Anything of value in life takes commitment. Great health is a choice. A lifestyle.  If you’re not willing to commit to something you’re what my parents call, “A Good Time Charlie”.  A Good Time Charlie is the type of guy or gal that walks around the gym dressed like they’re going to work out, but they just walk around looking like a fashionable ad for Nike. Only they don’t “Do It”.
  • Good relationships, good health and a good life ALL begin with having your priorities and essential values in order.
Health should be a top priority.  Without it, all else can fall apart.
  •  If you think about each item on this list, visualize them and incorporate them into your daily life, I can assure you that next year when New Year’s Eve rolls around you won’t be back to the same old resolutions regarding your health, wellness and fitness.  Instead, you’ll be balanced happy to do what you’ve always done and able to focus on Creation, Relaxation and Moderation instead.
  • The above are 7 simple principles that have kept me fit and healthy since I was a kid.  I don’t believe in extremes. I don’t believe in fads. While those things can be fun, I believe that ultimately it’s your daily habits that define how you feel.  In health, self-mastery is key. Covey says private victories precede public victories. He’s right.
  • If you can get through this checklist in one day, that’s a private victory. Do it again the next until you get through a week. Before you know it a month has gone by.  Tell me how you feel after a month. Too many people give up after a few days or a week. Jeans still don’t fit. Don’t go by that.  Remember, healthy doesn’t wear tight.  Healthy wears comfortable. Healthy is confident.
  • While making the list, I couldn’t help but notice each chapter title ends with the word ON. I don’t believe that’s an accident. It’s because you need to turn each habit ON every day in order to achieve a long-term healthy lifestyle.
  • The key is waking up to a mental Checklist.  I’ve placed the items in the order you do them each day. Meditation comes first. That means you don’t wake up screaming, rushing or doing anything.  You wake up calm. You breathe.  You give thanks and gratitude for just being alive.
  • Give gratitude for nature. Another thing to turn ON.  AppreciatiON.  You close your eyes for a moment and fill your mind with positive thoughts about your new day. I don’t care if you only 2-minutes to do this –that’s enough time to make difference. Just do it.
  • The next item on your list is Hydration.  Here’s where YOU have another CHOICE.  You wake up thirsty.  You can grab 1. coffee 2. orange juice 3. energy drink 4. water. You’re hungry. Another choice. 1. Nothing 2. Cereal 3. Eggs 4. Bagel 5. Donuts.
  • I don’t even have to tell you which item is the best choice on each list. You already know. In case you don’t, I’ll followup with another post about Nutrition since a lot of people ask me what I eat every day.  I’ll share that in my next post.  I understand how it’s gotten to the point where you can walk into a grocery store and feel overwhelmed, not knowing what is good or bad for you anymore.
Next is Motivation. Activation. Creation.
  • Motivation requires pumping yourself up.  Affirmations are a great way to do that.  They seem silly, but they’re not.  They work.  Your mind is a sponge. Negative in. Negative out.  If all you’ve ever heard is you’re dumb, ugly and fat — your mind starts to believe it and you act accordingly.
  • If all you’ve ever heard is negativity — start to replace it NOW.  Surround yourself with people who see the best in you and celebrate you.  Be that person for yourself.  If you can’t think of anything, let someone help you.
  • Today on Facebook, John Assaraf, another favorite self-help author of mine, posted some sample affirmations you can use daily (from pg 140 of his book Having It All): I live each day with passion and purpose. I am a success in all that I do. My life is now filled with prosperity and abundance. Day by day, in every way, I am better and better.
  • Start with the Meditation.  Hydrate with water.  Fuel hunger with nutritious foods. Fuel your mind with positive thoughts. After you do this for a while your motivation will kick in to take action. Action involves moving, which gets your heart pumping.  It will release natural feel good hormones in you.
  •   Those feel good hormones are the ones that fuel creation.  Suddenly, your mind is clear.  You can think.  You can create.  Never underestimate a good night’s rest every night, which is why I added relaxation to the list.  The goal should be between 8 and 10 hours a night.
  • I’d like to talk about Activation a little more as it involves being active.  Yes, exercise.  It doesn’t need to be complicated.  Every day make a commitment to walk at least 30 minutes until you can get that up to one hour. You can break it up  into four 15-minute intervals. That’s all. It’s that easy. 

  • At the end of the year, you will be amazed at the long-term change.  You don’t have to belong to a gym.  Walk around the block.  Walk to the store to get water.  Walk around the house. Walk around your kitchen counter.  Just walk.  Stretching and walking are amazing and my primary modes of exercise. Anything else I do is icing on the cake.
  • If you review Covey’s list for being highly effective, you will notice they too can be applied to health, wellness and fitness.  The first one is be proactive. Absolutely. The second says to begin with the end in mind. That’s why gyms have photos of fit people hanging on the walls.
  • The third says put first things first which is about priorities.  You can’t function at your best if you haven’t gotten enough nutrition, exercise, hydration or rest. First things first. Think win-win can be applied to your health because you being fit means you’ll have more energy to give to others. When you feel better, your mood improves, your work improves and people around you are happy to be around you.
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” ― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Comments 0Effective People
STEPHEN R. COVEY is a best-selling author, speaker, international entrepreneur, father of 9, and grandfather of 44.  He doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. He is as committed in his personal life as he is professionally.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”  When you think of Covey it’s the opposite. Who he is speaks so loudly, he doesn’t even need to speak.  That defines presence.
  • If you’ve never read Covey’s book, here’s a quick refresher.   The 7 Habits are: 1. Be Proactive 2. Begin with the End in Mind 3. Put First Things First 4. Think Win-Win 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood 6. Synergize and 7. Sharpen the Saw.
  • Clearly, I’m not the only one influenced by this book. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey is recognized as the #1 most influential book of the Twentieth Century.  It has sold more than 15 million copies in 38 languages since first publication. Covey is recognized as one of Time magazine‘s 25 most influential Americans.  He proves how every person can truly control their destiny with profound, yet straight forward guidance.
I believe the same principles can be applied to your HEALTH.  
  • Whenever I scan the bookstores for health and fitness books they all appear to be a bit gimmicky to me. They make you change who you are to achieve what you want.  If you are not a gym rat, you’re not suddenly going to become one. You’ll do it with gusto for a while, but your old habits will kick back in.  If you follow these 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People, the change will begin from the inside. That’s what you want. You will get to a point where you wake up and are mindful of what you do.  Your mind is connected to your body.  Time to turn  it ON.
maria.dorfner@yahoo.com