Let the Sunshine!

A Cornell study shows that office workers exposed to natural light promotes health & wellbeing. Workers seated by a window reported an 84 percent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision. The study also found that these workers noted a two percent boost in productivity, and a 10 percent decrease in drowsiness. 

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Devices Disrupt Restorative Sleep

A new study shows that reading from an electronic device in the evening causes pervasive sleep disruption.  Compared to reading from printed material, device reading suppressed melatonin secretion, delayed sleep onset, reduced REM (dream) sleep and impaired morning alertness. If you must use devices in the evening, try wearing blue-light blocking glasses that filter out the sleep disruptive wavelengths. Sweet dreams!


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Exercise More Protective Against Alzheimer’s than Previously Realized. 

A new study in the journal Neurology, measured women’s cardiovascular fitness in midlife and their cognitive function over a 44 year period. Those with high cardiovascular fitness compared to those with medium fitness levels had an incredible 88% decrease in dementia incidence, 5 years longer to onset, and 11 years higher mean age of onset! These numbers are impressive and clearly indicate that if a woman is truly serious about decreasing her personal risk of Alzheimer’s, boosting up her level of fitness is crucial. 


Dance to a Better Brain!

A fascinating study looked at how various forms of exercise re-wire the brain. Country dancing vs brisk walking vs other activities were compared. While all exercise benefits the brain, dancing showed superior benefits. Only dancing was shown to increase the density of the fornix - a key brain area for speed processing and memory. The mental challenge of learning new choreography and moving fluidly is thought to underlie these unique benefits


Go Green !

A recent study in Neurology found that eating leafy greens is associated with better memory and a more youthful brain. Healthy participants underwent yearly cognitive testing and submitted dietary histories as to how often they ate leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula and romaine lettuce. Over a 10 year follow up, those that ate the most leafy greens performed dramatically better than those that ate the least. The difference was equivalent to being 11 years younger in age!


Olive Oil Benefits the Brain

Extra-virgin olive oil decreases brain inflammation, staves off Alzheimer’s and preserves memory according to a recent Temple University study. Researchers used a well-established Alzheimer’s mouse model to investigate the effects of a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive versus one without it. The olive oil mice performed significantly better on tests to assess memory and learning ability. The researchers then examined brain tissue from both groups and found dramatic differences. Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the pathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, were significantly reduced in the olive oil group. Additionally the neurons of the olive oil supplemented mice were visibly healthier, with stronger connectivity. 

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Caffeine Enhances Memory

While we’ve known caffeine improves attention, a new study from John Hopkins shows that it also improves long term memory. Subjects were given either a 200 mg caffeine tablet or placebo five minutes after studying a series of images. When subjects were tested 24 hours later, those from the caffeine group outperformed the controls in their ability to recall the images.


Prevent Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor for brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease. A recent study in the journal Neurology found that elevated levels of inflammatory markers in middle age was associated with brain shrinkage later in life and poorer cognitive performance. Staying on top of chronic inflammatory conditions such as gingivitis, maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pro-inflammatory abdominal fat, eating an anti- inflammatory Mediterranean style diet, managing stress and getting adequate sleep are effective ways to decrease chronic inflammation.