Aerobic training might be an answer to alzheimer’s disease(AD)

Exercise-Benefits-for-Sedentary-Elderly

Picture taken from http://guardianlv.com/

Alzheimer’s disease(AD) is a neurodegenerative disease responsible for most cases of dementia in elderly population. A lot of trials with drugs are ongoing in order to find the prevention and cure of AD. But recent research have shown life style modification and behavioral changes to be as effective as drugs in the prevention of AD.

A study published in the journal of gerontology has shown 6 months of aerobic exercise effective in reducing the symptoms of AD in the elderly population.

This study used 6-month cycling intervention to older adults of a selected community with mild-to-moderate AD. The exercise was a standardized, supervised, and individualized, moderate intensity cycling for 15 to 45 min a session (excluding 10-min warm-up and 10-min cool-down activities), 3 times a week for 6 months.

The outcomes of this training regimen were evaluated by measuring the cognition, ADL(Activities of daily living), BPSD(Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia) and caregiver distress at the end of the experiment.

The data was collected from older adults with mild to moderate AD and they were followed up for 6 months. The results showed neither significant cognitive decline nor deterioration of the neuropsychiatric symptoms during the 6 month period. Also, aerobic exercise significantly reduced the stress in the caregivers.

There are other papers which have shown the benefit of exercise in neuropsychiatric as well as neurological disorders. Nevertheless, every research paper has its own limitations. But this finding that showed the effectiveness of exercise in preventing the progression of AD is very encouraging. Although, more detailed and precise research need to be done, opening of sports center for the elderly people to engage them in mild-moderate intensity aerobic exercise might be a good idea. Like they say prevention is better than cure, these type of sports center for elderly people might help in preventing AD, thus preventing the social as well and economic burden in the future.

For more details, see the reference article below:

Impact of 6-Month Aerobic Exercise on Alzheimer’s Symptoms                                     Fang Yu, William Thomas, Nathaniel W. Nelson, Ulf G. Bronas, Maurice Dysken,and Jean F. Wyman, Journal of Applied Gerontology published online 11 December 2013,DOI: 10.1177/0733464813512895

 

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Dementia Prevention and Awareness

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Dementia is a common problem of the elderly population. There are about 40 million cases of dementia today. Alzheimer’s disease comprises more than half of the cases of dementia.This trend just seems to be unstoppable. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International, it is set to treble worldwide by 2050 causing a global epidemic. Given that there will be a lot of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the health care budget will significantly rise. So, effort must be made to reduce the cost of dementia care by raising the dementia awareness and prevention strategies.

There is no established method for the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But a small change in your diet or lifestyle can mean a lot for preventing dementia. New prevention strategies that are being studied are focused on lifestyle and dietary factors. Micronutrients like folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D and magnesium are thought  to maintain and improve brain health.The results with turmeric and vitamin B are promising. Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acid is also beneficial for the neurons. Similarly exercise has been shown to be effective in preventing amnesia associated with aging. Playing board games like chess, solving puzzles and cross words provides mental stretching to the brain. Experiments have shown these games to be helpful for the prevention of dementia.

Regular exercise, healthy diet and mental stimulation can also be called the three pillars of brain healthy lifestyle. Exercise increases blood circulation and reduces the cholesterol level. Healthy diet provides energy and prevents the formation of harmful chemicals in the brain. Games like Chess and Sudoku gives you the mental stimulation needed for keeping the brain active. And active brain helps in resisting degeneration of brain cells which is responsible for dementia.

For those wanting to know further details about dementia, find it on What is dementia? The signs, symptoms and causes of dementia – Medical News Today.

If you are worried about the recent cognitive decline or fearing that you might have dementia or Alzheimer’s Know the 10 signs of Alzheimer’s disease from Alzheimer’s association.

Related articles:

Playing chess, a way of achieving healthier brain

Chess is widely considered as an intellectual game. It requires a lot of visuospatial capability and calculation. Some researchers have even found chess players to be more intelligent than the other, while other have rejected this hypothesis. The purpose of writing this blog is not to argue about this point. What i am trying to tell is chess definitely helps in making your brain healthy. Playing this game during old age prevents the age related cognitive decline and dementia.

File:Chess board opening staunton.jpg

What the research tells?

Researchers at Universidad de Laguna, Spain compared the students playing chess and those playing soccer or basketball. Their results showed that students playing chess have improved cognitive and problem solving capacity than the counterparts playing soccer or basketball. The findings of this research correlates well with the results of  functional magnetic resonance imaging(fMRI). Researchers at University of Minnesota, USA reported  bilateral activation of frontal, parietal and occipital areas in fMRI  while playing chess. Its the frontal area of our brain that is involved in problem solving and intelligence.

While there are research favoring the importance of chess in brain development, there are some which denies this idea. By using Tower of London test( A psychological test for executive functioning), German researchers dismissed the idea that chess player has superior planning performance as compared to non chess players. Though they thefind planning performance to be superior in the chess players, there was no difference in the intelligence between the chess players and the non chess players.
So the research divides the opinion regarding the superior planning performance and intelligence in chess player. Further research need to be done before we become sure about the effect of playing chess in brain. But what we should not forget is chess is a brain stimulating game and it has been proved by the brain imaging that it helps in the activation of the brain areas.

What are the benefits of playing chess? 

 Psychological and intelligence test conducted on chess  players dismiss the idea of chess players being intelligent or being more efficient planner or thinker than those who don’t play chess. But there are other studies which tend to differ. Here are some benefits of playing chess as mentioned in the website  http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/10-big-brain-benefits-of-playing-chess: 

  • Increases the IQ
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increases creativity and problem solving skills
  • Improves memory,reading skills and concentration
  • Promotes the growth of dendrites in the brain

For more information about the benefits, visit the webpage by clicking the above link.

How often do you need to play chess?

There are no clear studies indicating the frequency and time one need to spend . Playing chess is just like doing meditation or your daily routine training like jogging,swimming or cycling. The more you play, the more your chance of reaping the benefits. Like the exercise training or meditation, its never late to start learning chess

Reference and related articles:

  1. Atherton MZhuang JBart WMHu XHe S, A functional MRI study of high-level cognition. I. The game of chess. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Mar;16(1):26-31

  2. Aciego RGarcía LBetancort M, The benefits of chess for the intellectual and social-emotional enrichment in schoolchildren. Span J Psychol. 2012 Jul;15(2):551-9
  3. Unterrainer JMKaller CPLeonhart RRahm B., Planning abilities and chess: a comparison of chess and non-chess players on the Tower of London taskBr J Psychol. 2006 Aug;97(Pt 3):299-311
  4. Unterrainer JMKaller CPLeonhart RRahm B.Revising superior planning performance in chess players: the impact of time restriction and motivation aspects. Am J Psychol. 2011 Summer;124(2):213-25
  5. Frontal Lobe Function in Chess Players.  http://acta.tums.ac.ir/files/journals/1/articles/4501/public/4501-4858-1-PB.p
  6. Ten big brain benefits of playing chess.                http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/10-big-brain-benefits-of-playing-chess

Fearing dementia during old age??Vitamin B might be the solution!!!!

Vitamin B12

Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin which has a wide range of function including DNA synthesis and myelination of neurons. A new research study published by University of Oslo has shown yet another vital role of Vitamin B12 in neurological diseases. People suffering from early stage cognitive impairment called Mild Cognitive impairment(MCI) and impending dementia will benefit from the new discovery.The findings of the research have shown Vitamin B12 to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, especially in those who have high level of homocysteine in their body. Homocysteine is an amino acid, which is thought to be involved in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles in the neurons, thus disrupting the communication between neurons and giving rise to AD. There is a direct proportional relation between increased blood homocysteine level and the rise in mild cognitive impairment.

An elevated level of homocysteine can be reduced by administering Vitamin B12. It can be administered orally, or via injection. But the dose of Vitamin B12 in these persons must be higher than the normal dietary requirement.

What are the sources of Vitamin B12?

Sources of Vitamin B12: Sea foods like salmon, shrimps, sardines; milk and milk products; eggs,red meat and liver and legumes. Vegetarians must be careful to avoid dietary deficiency of Vitamin B12. It’s advisable for the vegetarians to take Vitamin B12 capsules. Similarly, elderly people and those who consume excessive alcohol might have poor absorption of this vitamin. In these cases, it’s better to check your Vitamin B12 level regularly and take the parenteral (injection) form of Vitamin B12.

Reference:

http://www.med.uio.no/imb/english/research/news-and-events/news/2013/vitamin-b-impedes-development-of-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-.html

Slowing down memory loss

What is memory loss?

Memory requires encoding information, storing it in different parts of brain and retrieving the information as and when needed. If brain is unable to do any of these steps, it is called memory loss or amnesia.

What are the types of memory loss?headache

Mainly two types:

Anterograde amnesia( Unable to form new memories)

Retrograde amnesia(Unable to remember things prior to any incident f.eks trauma)

Anterograde amnesia is the type of memory loss occurring during old age. The loss in ability to form memories as a person ages is also called age associated memory impairment (AAMI). It generally starts at middle age ( approx.40 years) and goes on increasing with age.

Age related memory decline is taken as normal, but there are conditions in which memory loss can be worse than normal as occurs in MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT and ALZHEIMER´S DISEASE.

What are the ways to slower memory loss?

Irrespective of the cause, there are certain ways which can slower memory decline. These might not be equally effective in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, but are of great help in age related memory decline and mild cognitive impairment. These include:

Exercise: regular aerobic exercise like running, It causes hippocampal neurogenesis and increases the plasticity of brain. Hippocampus is important primarily for learning and memory.

Diet: Include brain food in your diet on daily basis. Avoid diets with excessive fat. Also eat food that are rich source of vitamin A, B,C, and E. These include green vegetables(Spinach), yellow fruits(Papaya, mango) for Vit A. Sea foods , cheese,and fish oil for Vit B. Citrus fruits like lime, orange for Vit C and spinach, mustard green, kiwi and papaya for Vit E.

Micronutrient supplements : You can take micronutrient supplement if necessary. Besides vitamins, omega-3-fatty acid is an important micronutrient that keeps the neurons in your brain happy. Eating fish oil and salmon provides you omega-3-fatty acid.  The supplements of omega-3-fatty acid can be found in the market with various names.

Daily brain stimulation: Solve puzzles, play mind stimulating games like chess, sodoku etc. Also you recall your daily activities while going to bed to stimulate your brain . Several online brain games available in internet for this purpose.

Related articles:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/524820

Brain food

Two Juglans regia walnuts.

Two Juglans regia walnuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are brain foods?

Brain foods are those foods that help in nourishing your brain, one of the most vital organ of your body. They can be fruits, vegetables, cereals or fish.

Why are brain foods important?

They consist of several micro nutrients like anti-oxidants and macro-nutrients like fatty acids and proteins that are necessary for the smooth metabolism of brain.

Name some brain food.

Blueberries, nuts and seeds, pomegranate, broccoli, green pumpkin, beans, kiwi fruit, Avocado, wild salmon, whole grains like oat, brown rice, freshly brewed tea, dark chocolates , salmon are some of the brain foods.

Do brain food protect us from disease?

According to the researchers  of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center , Omega-3 fatty acids(a unsaturated fatty acid) which is  found in brain food like salmon, kiwi, nuts  is found to improve learning and memory . These foods also  in fighting against  mental disorders like depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia.

According to Dr Neal D Bernard, an American physician, vitamin E present in nuts and seeds, the anthocyanins that give grapes and berries their color, and the omega-3 traces in green vegetables have protective role in the brain. These are responsible for lowering the risks of cognitive disease.

Referred articles:

http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n7/abs/nrn2421.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltobias/2012/12/12/food-that-might-protect-your-brain-and-save-your-life-a-discussion-about-the-ecology-of-alzheimers-with-dr-neal-barnard/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-smart-healthier-brain