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.

 

Coffee-drug for Parkinson’s and dementias?

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

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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.

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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.

Tutorial: Forward bend

Forward bends can be done both sitting AND standing. Forward bends create length in the spine, relieve any compression, and can promote introspection.

But, tight hamstrings and physical patterns, such as rounded shoulders (hello, sitting in front of a computer for hours! check out some great info on “un-rounding” your shoulders HERE) can make forward bends challenging!

Forward bends also provide us an opportunity to break these patterns: a fresh perspective!

Senior Kripalu Yoga teacher Cristie Newhart shares these tips for getting the most out of your forward folds:

Alignment is key.

  • The action of forward bends, is to fold at the hip crease, bringing the top of the pelvis forward.
  • Also, think about lengthening the front of the body as you fold, keeping the neck and jaw relaxed, and engage the quadriceps so that the muscles around the knee are stabilized and protected.  Use the support of the abdominal muscles below the navel allow for greater flexibility in the lumbar spine. And, until the hamstrings are sufficiently open, Cristie says that it’s best to practice forward bends with a slight bend in the knees.

Props are your friends.

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  • Standing: Use blocks to help you lengthen your spine if your hands don’t reach the floor easily.
  • Seated: Place a folded blanked, cushion or bolster under your seat to tilt your pelvis forward. Grab a strap (belt, tie, towel!) to help reach your feet.
  • Use props to prevent over-rounding the back, release tense shoulders, and ease locked knees.

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Don’t force it.

  • Forward bends are not about how deep you can go but rather how deeply you can release. Less is more. 
  • Surrender to the present moment, notice the experience, and settle into the breath. As Cristie reminds us, “Honor the body where it’s at—let it unfold at its own pace.”

So, fold inward and find introspection and release. Much love.

Reference:

kripalu.org/blog/thrive/2012/12/10/the-benefits-of-forward-bends?utm_source=Thrive&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=121012ForwardBend

yoga breathing 101

“…something that is really very poorly recognized in the medical or the yoga literature: that moving your joints is one of the strongest stimuli to breathing properly and deeply. There are little movement receptors inside all of our joints, and they send signals that go directly and indirectly to the apneustic center, one of the centers in the brain that regulate breathing.” (Dr. Fishman)

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Proprioceptors, nerve receptors in the muscles, tendons and joints, affect breathing. Proprioceptors tell the brain where your body is in space (movement of joints, tendons, muscles), speed and direction and  stimulate part of the brainstem that regulates breath, “apneustic center“.

The “apneustic center“, located in the pons (brainstem), stimulates our “in breath.” Physical movement stimulates an increased depth of breathing, “hyperpnea”.

This connection between bodily movement and improved depth of breathing is important for people who have been previously inactive and notice that their breathing does not respond well to physical stresses (i.e. work load on their body). Systematic movements of joints and limbs in beginner yoga classes, stimulate greater freedom and depth of breath… illustrating body-to-brain connection of the proprioceptors and the brainstem.

Just one more reason to keep moving your body! much love.

Other resources:

Tutorial 3-pt breath

Tutorial alternate nostril breathing

Nina Zolotov (Jan 14/14) Yoga for Healthy Aging

Loren Fishmen Can Yoga Preserve Freedom of Movement?

Mind, Mood and Parkinson’s: Headway Conference

Last month I attended Headway’s annual conference on cognitive aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

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The event was wonderfully organized and had a great lineup of speakers!

The event started with watching Jillian Carson‘s video submission on her experience with Parkinson’s that won the people’s choice award at WPC 2013 in Montreal. You can watch her video HERE

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Dr. Gheis did a great job of discussing depression and anxiety in PD. He highlighted how common those are experienced and differentiated their symptoms from those of PD.

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I was honoured to lead a guided meditation/relaxation after lunch. We had a packed room; it is always nice to meditate in a group and share that supportive energy with each other. I hope everyone enjoyed their experience and will be able to integrate some mindful time into their daily schedules.

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THANK YOU to Moksana Yoga for lending us the props, so our participants could get extra comfy and really relax.

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Dr. Henri-Bhargava and Dr. Sira finished off the day by discussing cognitive aspects of PD and how we can manage those. Headway plans to post videos of the speakers presentation on their website/in their library.

Thanks again for including me in this day and bringing attention to the oh-so-important “non-motor” aspects of Parkinson’s. much love.