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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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

Turmeric for Brain

Turmeric is an essential ingredient of south Asian food .It’s powder is widely used as a spice in curry by people residing in South Asia. The medical benefits of turmeric have been studied extensively in the past decade. Although useful for its anti-inflammatory effect in several systemic diseases, its usefulness in Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease which severs the cognitive function of  human, has drawn the attention in the last decade .

Fig: Turmeric Powder (Source: Wikipedia)

Turmeric is a sterile plant, the root of which is dried and crushed to make a bright yellow spice. It has been used widely in India for last 2500 years for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties. Turmeric contain a natural phenol called curcumin in it. It’s the curcumin that is found to be responsible for all these properties of turmeric. The bright yellow color of turmeric is also due to the presence of this natural phenol curcumin.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease with progressive impairment in cognitive function. Memory is the most compromised aspect of cognition in Alzheimer’s disease. Loss of memory is called dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly people. The frequency of this disease increases with age.

Various researches have been conducted, both in animal and humans throughout the world regarding the role of turmeric in preventing  Alzheimer’s. Study done at Singapore showed that people eating curry showed better cognition than those who did not eat curry. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in adults aged 70-79 years in US is 4.4 times higher than that in India. These are some of the epidemiological data supporting the role of turmeric in Alzheimer’s disease.

As mentioned before, the chemical identified in turmeric, which plays a crucial role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease is called curcumin. It prevents the formation of amyloid plaques which is a hallmark of  Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaques are neurotoxic and are responsible for the loss of neurons eventually leading to loss of memory present in AD. Experiments done in lab animals have shown that curcumin prevents the formation of amyloid plaques by its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, it also prevents the formation of amyloid plaques indirectly by lowering the blood cholesterol level.

So, adding a small quantity of turmeric powder daily in your food might be of great help to your brain in long term. It is also a cost effective way of preventing alzheimer’s disease given the large budget that is currently being spent in tackling this disease in Europe and the US. As the consumption of turmeric has already been a difference behind the high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in west as compared to Asia, its time to promote its use worldwide.

To conclude, start using turmeric powder folks, the experimental results are not that bad!!!

References:

Mishra S, Palanivelu K, The effect of curcumin(turmeric) in Alzheimer’s disease: an overview, Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology 2008 Jan-Mar;11(1):13-19