Immersing yourself in nature can effectively reverse the stress response and has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. A recent study from Mary Carol Hunter at the University of Michigan showed simply spending 20 minutes in nature significantly lowers cortisol - a key stress hormone.
Honored to testify alongside my fellow citizens at the Massachusetts State House on a bill to protect our wetlands and natural resource areas.
My testimony focused on the profound heath benefits of access to green space.
A 2019 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concluded that exposure to green spaces in childhood was associated with improved mental health and that limited access to greenery in childhood is associated with a 15 to 55 percent higher risk of developing mental health disorders.
Access to green space is also associated with reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, reduced obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes, and improved pregnancy outcome according to a recent World Health Organization report.
A study in JAMA Ophthalmology showed improved circadian rhythms, cognitive performance and more time in deep sleep in individuals receiving new lenses compared to age matched controls.
With aging, the natural lens of the eye yellows and becomes cloudy, limiting the amount of light reaching the retina. During cataract surgery, the yellowed natural lens of the eye is replaced with a clear, artificial, intra-ocular lens, allowing much more light to reach the retina. In turn, this regulates the brain’s internal clock and enhances circadian rhythms. This improvement in circadian rhythms is thought to underlie the enhanced sleep and cognition.
To read more: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/article-abstract/2734138
Honored and thrilled to present “Outsmart Stress” at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Philadelphia.
A promising breakthrough in brain-computer interface technology reported in Nature details how electrical brain activity can be transformed into virtual speech. By decoding the brain waves in the area devoted to vocal intention, the new technology can generate speech at the rate of 150 words per minute, the pace of natural speech. Previous brain interface communication systems have produced an average of 8 words per minute. Although not ready for prime time, this is a promising technology with the potential to benefit those with a range of neurologic conditions.
To read more visit : https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01328-x
Lifestyle Choices You Make Throughout Your Life May Determine Your Risk of Developing Dementia
BY DR. MARIE PASINSKI
Carol could not understand why her identical twin sister had suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years while she herself showed no signs of the disease. “After all,” she reasoned, “we have identical genes.” Like many of my patients, Carol thought that genes alone determined her risk of Alzheimer’s. In fact, genes only tell part of the story. While Carol and her sister share identical genes, they have not lived identical lives. The lifestyle choices an individual makes play a pivotal role in determining their risk of developing dementia. For Carol, that has made all the difference.
A variety of lifestyle factors are strongly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, many of which are potentially modifiable or reversible. Advances in the new field of epigenetics have allowed us to understand that lifestyle factors mediate their effects by altering gene expression. Healthy lifestyle factors promote beneficial gene activity, while unhealthy lifestyle factors have the opposite effect. In other words, although you cannot change your genes, you can alter their activity for better or worse depending on your lifestyle choices.
This is especially important for women. Alzheimer’s is not only more common in women, many of these modifiable dementia risk factors are more prevalent in women compared to men. For example, women have higher rates of obesity and are less physically active. In addition, women have more mental health disorders, higher rates of insomnia, lower levels of educational attainment, and less mentally challenging occupations. All of these risk factors may be exacerbated by women’s lower socioeconomic status which is itself, a risk factor.
Globally, low education contributes to the largest proportion of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. According to a study by Ngandu in the journal Neurology, high school education lowers the risk of dementia by a whopping 80% when compared to less than five years of formal education. Women are at a significant disadvantage due to dramatically lower levels of educational attainment and lower socioeconomic status. In many developing countries, girls are denied an education or have limited opportunities to attend school. Similarly, women are less likely to have mentally challenging occupations compared to men. In addition, women often sacrifice educational goals and cognitively challenging careers to raise children and care for ailing family members.
Promoting educational equality, addressing gender disparities, and raising brain health awareness is key to advancing women’s brain health. Additionally, women need to know their personal risk factors for Alzheimer’s. A thorough medical checkup focused on brain health is the best way to get started. From hypertension and depression to sleep disorders and chronic stress, there are many treatable conditions that negatively impact the brain and increase the risk of cognitive decline. In addition, a health professional can provide the latest guidelines and recommendations to maximize brain health. Empowering women begins with empowering the female brain.
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The intracellular buildup of toxic proteins interferes with normal cell function and is thought to cause neuronal death in multiple neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
New research from Harvard Medical School shows that either vigorous exercise or a 12-hour fast, naturally clears these toxic wastes from neurons. Both exercise and fasting boost levels of cAMP, which in turn, trigger the removal of these toxic wastes.
While the damaging effects of high blood pressure on the brain are well established, recent evidence shows that even mild elevations in blood pressure damages the brain.
Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 while hypertension is defined as readings greater than 140/90. Mounting evidence shows that pre-hypertension with readings of 121-139 for the top number and 81-89 for the bottom number damages the structural integrity of white matter, causes shrinkage of grey matter and accelerates brain aging.
Monitoring your blood pressure regularly and treating any elevations through diet, exercise and medications if needed will keep your brain healthy and vibrant.
A fascinating new study from University of Maimonides, Buenos Aires showed that patients with major depression who were randomized to start postural exercises in addition to treatment with an SSRI antidepressant had significantly greater improvement compared to those who were treated with an SSRI alone, 86% vs 28.5 % respectively.
The 2 sets of exercises which took only 90 secs, were repeated 4-6 times per day. The first exercise involved standing with raised arms, flexing one leg and then the other. Each leg flex was held for 15 sec. The second exercise involved holding a pencil between the teeth and smiling for 1 minute. It is believed that these exercises modulate neural activity in emotional centers of the brain.
A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that losing just 2% of your body mass in fluids impairs concentration and the ability to think clearly. Exercise, heat exposure and fluid restriction are common causes of dehydration. Urine color can indicate hydration level. It should be mostly clear or light yellow. If it’s very yellow or a yellowish brown you should begin hydrating. If it’s very clear you may be consuming more fluids than you need. The average person needs the equivalent of 64 ounces of water daily.