April 10th, 2014
Brain Healthy Eating from Cal-a-Vie Health Spa | Chef Curtis Cooke’s Awesome Savoy Cabbage Salad with Walnuts

I was recently the featured guest presenter at the spectacular Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in Vista, CA. In addition to the opportunity to engage in great discussions about brain healthy living with the spa guests, I had the chance to get to know the spa’s talented chef, Curtis Cooke, and amazing nutritionist, May Tom. The week featured some brain healthy recipes they have given us permission to share with our readers. Just a little way you can bring Cal-a-Vie home to your own kitchen!

First up — a brain healthy salad that combines the antioxidants of crucifers with the omega-boost of walnuts. This delicious salad is a great lunch main course or side for dinner with a lean protein such as chicken or salmon. Enjoy!

Dr. Green

Cal-a-Vie Savoy Cabbage Salad with White Balsamic Vinagriette Dressing

March 29th, 2014
March 2014 | Total Brain Health Science Update

This month’s science update focuses on new findings on Alzheimer’s disease risk:

Why Women Should Worry About Their Brains First: Important New Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association

What: Recent findings from the Alzheimer’s Association show that women run an estimated 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease during their lifetime, a significantly increased risk compared to men (who run an 1 in 11 chance). The numbers, released as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s “2014 Facts and Figures” show that women 60 and over are twice more likely to develop dementia than breast cancer, and that women also bear the brunt of the collateral costs of the disease, through caregiving and its associated economic and health-related tolls.

Why This Matters: While being female has always been a top risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s Disease, the real significance of the impact the disease has uniquely for woman is rarely considered.

The Takeaway: These findings underscore the reasons why women should start now to take good care of their brains. Following a better brain fitness plan such as our Total Brain Health® blueprint can help reduce risk for the disease. In addition, as the primary health advocates within their families, women can set good role models for brain healthy living for their spouses, children, relatives and friends.

 

More Coffee or Tea?  Caffeine May Protect Your Brain from Dementia

What: A recent review article in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging showed the potential long-term benefit of caffeine use in lowering dementia risk.  Researchers reviewed the existing data to consider the possible benefits of caffeine for reducing dementia risk, as well as the potential mechanisms by which caffeine may work to lower that risk. They found a strong association between regular use of coffee, tea, or other caffeine-containing foods and reduced dementia risk.

Why This Matters: Caffeine has been associated with improved everyday cognitive performance. However, its effect on long-term dementia risk remains unclear, as does the means by which it might reduce that risk. Since coffee, tea and other caffeinated products are popular in diets around the globe, more knowledge about potential positive benefits of caffeine vis-à-vis dementia risk would be an important to know. In addition the researchers question whether there may be differential effects based on one’s genetics or metabolism or caffeine, such that there might be a way to determine an optimal “dose” of caffeine for dementia risk reduction.

The Takeaway: It appears that caffeine, most specifically coffee, may have long-term benefits for our brains. While the current studies looking at these long-term effects are small, this review offers compelling reasons for further research. It also gives us a great excuse to have that extra cup!

February 27th, 2014
February 2014 | Science Update

This month’s science update continues our focus on healthy hearts and healthy minds by taking a look at some studies on the heart-brain connection:

Elevated Pulse Pressure and Alzheimer’s Risk: New Findings

What: A recent study found that folks with elevated pulse pressure had changes in levels of biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease compared to others with normal pulse pressure. The findings, published in JAMA Neurology, showed significant changes in levels of beta-amyloid and p-tau protein levels in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) of middle-aged, cognitively normal adults with higher pulse pressure. However, the finding did not hold for those subjects with pulse pressure in the older age group studied.

Why This Matters: Pulse pressure (systolic – diastolic blood pressure) has long been associated with increased risk for dementia. This study is one of the first to demonstrate a possible mechanism for why that is, as the changes in biomarkers may be a sign of cell damage early in the disease process. The fact that these changes were most prominent in the middle-aged folks in this sample underscores this fact.

The Takeaway: This study gives us yet another reason to control our blood pressure, and start familiarizing ourselves with our pulse pressure number (found by subtracting the lower or second number in your blood pressure from the higher or first number). If it is over 60, consider reducing sodium or taking folic acid (check the dose with your doctor, usually 5 mg a day), which has been shown to reduce blood pressure safely. You can also try getting more regular aerobic activity or mindfulness exercises.

Blood Pressure Medications May Increase Falls in the Elderly

What: A study of approximately 5,000 adults over age 70 with hypertension found that those treated with hypertensive medications were more likely to experience serious fall injuries.

Why This Matters: While effective management of hypertension is critical to reducing stroke and other vascular injuries to the brain, injury from falling can in itself increase risk for head, hip and other injuries that may lead to higher rates of morbidity and mortality.

The Takeaway: This new finding suggests that older adults using hypertensive medications should be more careful about their fall risk. Simple steps such as learning to stand slowly (from a lying position, sitting first prior to standing, for example) and practicing simple balance exercises can help.

January 29th, 2014
30 Days to Total Brain Health featuring TED | Day 29 | Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

While we often worry about losing our memory, we rarely concern ourselves with whether or not our memories are accurate. Yet compare your memory of a specific childhood event with a sibling or parent, or your recollection of trip details with your spouse, and you may be surprised at how differently two people may recall the same event.

Researcher Elizabeth Loftus has made significant contributions to our understanding of memory and has introduced to the field the concept of “false memory,” or our ability to convince ourselves of recollections that are, in fact, inaccurate. Its a fascinating topic with implications not only in the field of memory, but also in the legal field and beyond. Her TED presentation is a great one to really think about. Enjoy!

 

January 28th, 2014
30 Days to Total Brain Health featuring TED | Day 28 | BLACK: My Journey to Yo Yo Mastery

It’s Day 28 of our “30 Days to Total Brain Health” featuring TED, and one last chance to focus on ways to get aerobically active. Here’s one form of exercise you may not have tried in a while — training by yo-yo. You remember the yo-yo, don’t you? While we may think of the yo-yo as challenging coordination and fine motor control, it is also a great way to get a work out.

Here Yo Yo Master BLACK shares his story and his wizardry. Perhaps it will inspire us all to get out a yo-yo and give our bodies and our minds a workout! Enjoy!