Alzheimer’s and Vitamin E

Can vitamin E slow Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression?

According to a new double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that alpha tocopherol (2000IU/d vitamin E) reduced the rate of functional decline in 561 patients with mild to moderate AD.

In the vitamin E group, the delay in clinical progression of AD was translated to 19% per year compared with placebo or a delay of approximately 6.2 months over the follow-up period.

… do you include VitaminE rich foods in your diet? much love.

Reference:

Neurology Now (January 14, 2014)

Dysken, M.W. (2014). Journal of the American Medical Association.

 

Advertisements

Coffee-drug for Parkinson’s and dementias?

We have been told the benefits of caffeine (see more info HERE).

790078 009

790078 006

What researchers are finding is that caffeine, the world’s most widely used drug, does more than wake people up. Caffeine is linked to improvements in memory and appears to protect against the destruction of brain cells. One of the results find that people who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Because of these findings, some companies have been designing drugs to replicate the benefits of caffeine. The challenge is to go beyond the buzz of caffeine to achieve a more powerful effect on the brain — without side effects like headaches, irritability and jitters. But this hasn’t been easy. For example, Merck ended development of such a treatment for Parkinson’s disease last year after late-stage testing suggested it didn’t work. Other developers have postponed plans.

There is no cure for Parkinson’s. Drug developers are focusing on the way caffeine targets sites in an area deep in the brain called the basal ganglia, which is affected by Parkinson’s and plays a key role in movement. The medicines specifically aims to target and block adenosine A2A receptors. The goal of drug-makers is to improve movement in Parkinson’s; existing treatments become less effective over time, and side effects harder to endure.

… what are your thoughts on a “coffee pill” for the brain? Do you consume caffeine? much love.

more information and adapted from: bloom.bg/1gGePNm

This is your brain on coffee

For hundreds of years, coffee has been one of the two or three most popular beverages on earth.

790420 009 790420 012 790420 010

In a large scale epidemiological study (National Cancer Institute 2012), men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study.

Other studies have linked three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing:

And, most importantly (?), animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia. In a 2012 study, caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than uncaffeinated mice. This might be related to adenosine, which both provides energy AND can be destructive under stress; leading to inflammation, disruptive neuron function and neurodegeneration. And in a 2012 Florida study with humans, persons with little or no caffeine circulating in their bloodstreams were far more likely to  progress from MCI to full-blown Alzheimer’s than those whose blood indicated they’d had about three cups’ worth of caffeine.

However, we still have so much to learn about the effects of caffeine. “But a cup of coffee “has been popular for a long, long time,” Dr. Freund says, “and there’s probably good reasons for that.” much love.

Adapted from: Reynolds, Gretchen. This is your brain on Coffee. NY Times, June 6 2013.

what happens to your body when you exercise?

exercise changes you.

Neuroscientist Judy Cameron, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Tommy Boone, Ph.D., a board certified exercise physiologist, and Edward Laskowski, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center take us through what happens in the body when we exercise.

Increased blood flow during exercise benefits the brain: brain cells function at a higher level, increasing alertness, focus and awakeness. This may be neuroprotective. Neurotransmitters are released: endorphins (“runners high”), dopamine and glutamate (smooth, co-ordinated movements), GABA (slow), seratonin (mood). Exercise facilitates brain cell growth in hypocampus (memory, learning),

Muscles use glucose and ATP for the energy required to contract and create movement. When there isn’t enough oxygen to create ATP, lactic acid is formed. Tiny tears form from exercise that encourages muscle growth and strength as they heal.

Lungs need up to 15x more oxygen when you exercise. Your breathing rate will increase until the muscles surrounding the lungs just can’t move any faster (named “maximum VO2 capacity”).

The diaphragm (a muscle!) can fatigue (side stitch!). Practice deep breathing (pranayama!) and stretching (yoga!) to  alleviate the discomfort.

Heart rate increases to quickly circulate more oxygen. This becomes more efficient with exercise experience, so you can work out harder and longer (lowers resting heart rate). Exercise increases new blood vessel growth (decreases blood pressure).

Movement and absorption in stomach and intestines is paused during exercise because oxygen is diverted to the muscles.

After exercise, the kidneys allow more protein into the urine and trigger water reabsorption… keeping you as hydrated as possible. Cortisol is released to help energy stores turn into fuel for the body. Adrenaline increases heart rate to deliver blood to muscles.

The blood vessels in the skin dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin. The heat then dissipates through the skin into the air. Sweat glands produce perspiration (water+s alt+electrolytes and/or odor-causing) onto the skin’s surface. When this sweat evaporates into the air, your body temp drops.

Capillaries in the face dilate to release heat = red face!

Joints take 5-6 six times more than your bodyweight during exercise. This can cause wear and tear on the cushioning tissue (cartilage), soft tissue and lubricating fluid.

… 10+ more reasons to “do your body good” and get moving! much love.

other resources:

Sarah Klein, Sept 4/13 Huffinton Post Healthy Living

 

“this is your brain on the couch”: inactivity changes the brain

We know that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. And that exercise is particularly adept at remodeling the brain, prompting the creation of new brain cells and other positive changes. I posted previously about the dangers of sedentary time (HERE).

Now it seems that inactivity can also remodel the brain. A study (Mischel et al. J Comp Neurol 2014) conducted in rats demonstrates that sedentary time changes the shape of certain neurons that significantly affect brain AND heart function. 

rd_rat

After 3-month of resting, neurons in the brains of sedentary rats developed branches that made them likely to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS directs blood vessels to widen or contract as needed to control the flow of blood. Overactivity of the SNS contributes to increasing blood pressure and possibly the development of heart disease.

All the more reason to get off your couch or chair and get moving! much love.

Other References:

Mischel et al. Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 15;522(3):499-513. doi: 10.1002/cne.23464.

Reynolds, Gretchen. How Inactivity changes the Brain. Well blogs, NY Times. January 22, 2014.

Applications of Yoga in Parkinson’s disease (Roland, 2014)

It’s published!

FINAL (Roland, 2014)

You can access the FULL article here. It is a systematic review summarizing all the available published research on yoga for Parkinson’s disease (which wasn’t much…).

Preliminary data suggested modest improvements in functional mobility, balance, upper- and lower-limb flexibility, and lower-limb strength. The presented evidence also showed improvements in nonphysical factors, such as mood and sleep.

This is important because improved mobility, balance, and lower-extremity function can reduce the fear of falling and functional declines related to inactivity. Also, upper-body flexibility supports postural stability and daily living activities, such as reaching for items on the top shelf.

While the evidence is limited (meaning there’s not a lot of studies, and the study quality is not high), it does suggest that there are some benefits, both physical and related to well-being, that deserve greater investigation. But we still have a long way to go with respect to quality scientific research supporting the the benefits of yoga…

This article represents my passion in life. I hope to encourage other scientists (and hopefully myself in future projects, if the grant-gods agree!) to examine yoga with the same scientific standards we do other randomized controlled exercise trials, and give scientific backing to all those benefits us yogis feel within us.

I’m so happy to share this with you and would love to hear your thoughts on the evidence presented, or if you have any questions! much love.

Sleep in Parkinson’s disease

Last week, I posted about a recent scientific understanding of WHY we need sleep (see post HERE).

There are all kinds of benefits to getting enough sleep:  It’s good for your heart, it may reduce stress, and even prevent cancer.

More importantly, sleep is good for your brain – especially working memory… the kind essential to daily function.

People with Parkinson’s have difficulty sleeping; including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, restless legs and vivid nightmares. However, the link between sleep disorders and Parkinson’s has yet to be scientifically determined.

Peeraully et al. (Mov Disord 2012) report a higher prevalence of subjective sleepiness, increase in daytime sleepiness, rapid eye movement behaviour disorder in persons with Parkinson’s compared to controls

If you’re interested in learning more about sleep disorders in Parkinson’s, the National Parkinson Foundation and Tanya Simuni, MD have a great video about the topic… you can watch it below. Sweet dreams and much love.

For more on sleep and Parkinsons:

Michael J Fox Foundation

Mov Disord. 2012