Skip to main content

Posts

Manage Your Blood Pressure While Young to Have a Big Healthy Brain Later

Anatomy Refresher The brain accounts for around 2 percent of body weight but gets as much as twenty percent of blood pumped by the heart. There are about 370 miles of tiny “microvessels” in the brain. Those vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the brain.
Blood Pressure and Brain Health Two recently-released studies reveal the importance of blood pressure management to brain health. More importantly, the researchers discovered the importance of managing blood pressure in one’s forties, or even younger. Dr. Matthew Pase, PhD, and Research Fellow in Neurology at the University of Boston School of Medicine, and Dr. Charles DeCarli, Professor of Neurology at the University of California Davis, presented a paper at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July. (We’ve mentioned Pase in previous newsletters and posts. He used the highly-regarded Framingham Heart Study to produce the now famous, and famously disconcerting, study on the deleterious affects of not only …
Recent posts

Researchers Say Do This to Make Your Brain 10 Years Younger

Do your parents or grandparents keep a pot of coffee brewing all day? Do they spend the morning sipping a cup of coffee while working Jumble and the crossword puzzle in the newspaper? “Just because there is no evidence that it works doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. It just means that no one has paid for research to determine whether or not it works.” That was my response to one of the earliest subscribers to our newsletter. He is fond of crossword puzzles and was hopeful that solving them would help build cognitive reserve. At that point we hadn’t seen any research that indicated that word puzzles were useful. Guess what: our subscriber and your family members are on to something. There now is research to support that individuals regularly working puzzles are building some serious brain strength. Crossword Puzzles and Fast Brains Here’s a quote from Professor Keith Wesnes at the University of Exeter Medical School: “We found direct relationships between the frequency of word puzzle…

New Research on How to Use Exercise to Grow a Bigger Brain

The Good News We’re swamped with research on how to grow and maintain a bigger brain into old age. Much of the research emphasizes exercise as essential to brain health at every age. Here’s a summary of relevant baseline research, then we’ll move to some new, interesting and thought-provoking research. Background Dr. Carl Cotman and Dr. Nicole Berchtold of the University of California Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia performed research on aerobic exercise and brain health. Cotman and Berchtold concentrated on “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). Because, in their words “it supports the survival and growth of many neuronal subtypes, including glutamatergic neurons”. In our (very) layman understanding, BDNF is a protein that helps nerve cells do, well, a lot. Grow in particular, as well as get stronger and avoid premature cellular death. Cotman and Berchtold learned that the act of consistent exercise increased levels of BNDF in the hippocampus. This finding was important, b…

Stress Can Kill You; Science Shows How to Beat It.

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the deleterious effects stress has on brain health. Stress is linked to headaches, stomachaches, missed periods and erectile dysfunction. It is also tied to type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, depression and insomnia. It may be a risk factor for cancer and, by weakening the immune system, make us vulnerable to illnesses of all kinds. There is a growing body of knowledge of how using various techniques of controlled breathing can offset stress effects. The Science of Deep Breathing and Breath Control Medical science discovered the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems years ago. Among other functions, those systems control our breathing automatically. At the base of the brain is the brain stem which includes the medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata extends from the spinal cord into the brain. Among its functions are monitoring carbon dioxide levels in the blood and adjusting as appropriate. Doctor Matthew MacKinnon uses an automobile metaphor…

Go Barefoot - Have a Healthier Heart & Brain?

Robert Parker had a hit with his song “Barefootin” in 1966. Who knew he was talking about brain health. Hypothesis 1 There is a hypothesis that we need to spend more time barefoot. Those holding the view that we should spend more time shoeless base it on the idea that our ancestors spent eons that way. By wearing shoes all the time, our brains are not getting important signals from those thousands of nerves on the soles of our feet. By going barefoot, we restore the flow of information into the brain, keep those nerve pathways active and so on. Hypothesis 2 There is an additional, related hypothesis in favor of us spending a lot more time barefoot-particularly outside. The leading proponent of this idea is Dr. James Oschman. Dr. Oschman has degrees in Biophysics and Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. According to him, planet earth gives off free electrons, which can transfer into our bodies if we don’t have an insulation layer in the form of shoes. And that those free electrons…

Is Coffee Carcinogenic- or a Miracle Drug?

COFFEE CAUSES CANCER!!!Wait, not so fast. You might have seen that CA Judge Elihu Berle has ruled that coffee shops, convenience stores and others selling coffee must publicly post in each location that it contains a carcinogen named acrylamide. Background Here’s the Cliff Notes version of a complex story. In 1986, CA passed Prop 65, which required retailers and others to post a list of any toxic materials that someone might be exposed to while in their store. The list must be easily visible. Since a lot of stuff is toxic in large quantities-e.g-aspirin- or a lot of common household products are toxic if consumed – e.g.- Clorox- the list of dangerous products that could be in a clothing store or coffee shop quickly became enormous. (Probably defeated the original purpose of Prop 65, but that’s a different discussion). What’s “acrylamide”? You probably consume some every day. Any time a starch is cooked at over 250 degrees, acrylamide is produced. French fries. Potato chips. Toast. And, …

Eat Chocolate: Prevent Heart Disease?

Regular consumers of chocolate are about 42% less likely to develop cardiovascular heart disease. A research team from The University of Manchester and other institutes set out to determine if there is a relationship between chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. (Chocolate is rich in flavonoid catechin.) The researchers included Dr. Chun Shing Kwok, S. Matthijs Boekholdt, Marleen A. H. Lentjes and others from the Medical Schools at the University of Manchester, University of Aberdeen, University of Cambridge, the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam and other research institutes. They used data from the massive European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study. (You may recall that we’ve referred to other research reports stemming from EPIC). They isolated a qualifying group of 21,000 adults in the UK who have participated in the study for about 12 years. The data recorded for that group included frequency of consumption of chocolate (or no co…