Just for the Health of It – January 2013

| January 1, 2013

thinking web picMemory in a Flash!

Information overload can lead to “going blank” at times too. If you’ve ever forgotten someone’s name or where your car is parked, you might find yourself looking desperately for answers on Google.  With Alzheimer’s disease affecting an estimated 5.1 million Americans, these small lapses in memory can scare anyone. However, there are things that you can do that can lower your risk.  Here are just a few.


In a study conducted by Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., director of the Lifelong Brain and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, volunteers ages 55-80 agreed to walk for about 40 minutes, three days a week. One year later, brain scans revealed that the average walker’s hippocampus – the area responsible for memory and learning – grew by a significant 2 percent! Walkers also scored higher in cognitive tests over non-walkers. Any kind of movement is better than none. Taking the stairs, taking small walks during the day, walking to the corner store instead of driving, can all add up and it can help the incidence of Alzheimer’s drop considerable.

Eat Like the Europeans Do

Eating a Mediterranean style diet is not only good for you, it’s good for your brain. Studies showed that people who ate a regular diet of seafood, fresh veggies, whole grains and plant-based oils were 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who feasted on a Western diet.

Watch Your Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure (defined as 140/90 or higher) can raise a person’s risk of dementia by up to 48 percent, according to a study in the journal Neurology. Keep your blood pressure under control and  get regular check-ups at your doctor.

Stay Calm

Headaches, muscle tension, irritability, impatience, stomach upset, feeling on edge or just plain stressed? People with chronically high stress levels are up to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who know how to control it. Taking a deep breath, yoga, meditation are all ways to help alleviate those stressful situations. For beginners who want a simple meditation exercise try this; Sit cross-legged on the floor with your back straight. Gaze at a spot a few feet in front of you, breathing slowly as you imagine your mind opening and expanding. If a stressful distraction pops into your head (Did I remember to mail the car payment?), don’t try to squash it; instead, allow it to drift through your thoughts like a cloud in the sky. Continue for 10 minutes.

Learn Something New

People who engage in new activities, learn a new language, start a book club, or just seek new experiences, have a 50 percent less likely to develop dementia than folks whose intellectual habits are less challenging.

Watch out for Statins

Feeling foggy lately?  Some people who take cholesterol lowering statins, may find themselves experiencing memory problems and confusion. Talk with your doctor if you are taking these drugs and find yourself with symptoms such as these as he may prescribe a different medication. Fortunately, the side effects abate when people stop taking the drugs.

The Hidden Danger of Grapefruit

Combining grapefruit with prescription medication has become much more dangerous. A new study shows that over the past four yers, the number of drugs that produce serious die effects – includinggrapefruit gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney damage, breathing problems, irregular heartbeat, and sudden death – when taken even the night before eating the fruit or drinking its juice has increased from 17 to 43. Those drugs include common prescriptions for blood pressure, cholesterol-lowering statins, pain and cancer medications, and some antibiotics. More than 40 additiona drugs also interast with grapefruit, with lesser side effects. “Taking one tablet iwth a glass of grapefruit juice is like taking five tables with water,” study author David Bailey, a pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Research Institute in Ontario, tell NPR.com. Researchers have known for 20 years that chemicals in grapefruit called furanocoumarins block the ability of the small intestine and the liver to break down these drugs, causing them to stay in the body longer at higher levels and potentially leading to overdoses. Experts say even a little grapefuit juice can be dangerous.  Source The Week December 14, 2012 

The Youngest Yawners

yawningNew, 4-D ultrasound scans have provided the first proof that fetuses yawn in the womb – a finding that adds to the mystery of why we yawn. Researchers imaged 15 fetuses four times, beginning at their 24th week of gestation. They found that the unborn babies yawned nearly twice every 10 minutes at first but did so less frequently as time went on, until, by their 46th week, they stopped yawning altogether. “When you see a fetus yawning, it’s not because it’s tired,” study author Nadja Reissland, a developmental psychologist at Durham University in England, tells The New York Times. Instead, “yawning might be a way of getting the brain to develop.” Yawning may also help fetuses build cartilage in their jaws. In adults, experts have theorized, yawning may help cool the brain. Since a lack of sleep raises brain temperature, that would be an explanation for why we yawn when we’re tired. “There’s something special in yawning.” Reissland says; scientists just can’t yet say for certain what it is. Source The Week December 14, 2012

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Category: Articles, Just for the Health of It

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