Mental and Cognitive Health

  1. Could Parkinson's begin in your EYES?

    Like many older guys, I wear glasses. At my age, I’m helpless without them!

    Father Time can really do a number on our vision as time goes by.

    But it’s not just about reading the newspaper or a menu in a dark restaurant.

    Because what’s going on in our eyes can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our brains!

    Recently, I shared with you that certain changes in your retinas -- the light-sensitive nerve cells that line the back of your eyes -- may be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.

    And according to a new study, changes to your retina may also be one of the first symptoms of another neurodegenerative disease.

    It’s one that I've lived with for over a dozen years: Parkinson’s.

    South Korean researchers found that the retinas of Parkinson's patients were significantly thinner than those in group of healthy controls.

    Not only that, but the Parkinson's patients with the THINNEST retinas also had the MOST SEVERE motor symptoms.

    Fortunately, I’ve got a way to naturally support your vision AND your mobility – and it’ll all make sense once you understand the underlying mechanism behind why eye changes may lead to Parkinson’s.

    It looks like the two are connected by the brain chemical dopamine.

    You see, we've known for a while that the tremors and stiffness of Parkinson's are linked to the loss of neurons in your brain that produce dopamine.

    And since dopamine can ALSO come from the nerve cells in your retina, the theory is that retinal cell death causes the same thing as when your dopamine-producing brain cells die off.

    Only, this is a red flag that may start waving WAY before other noticeable changes.

    Typically, Parkinson's is diagnosed based on a neurological exam -- and the doc might even scan your brain to take a gander at your dopamine system.

    But a study last year found that Parkinson's vision changes may begin more than a DECADE before any motor problems show up!

    So, the new study is a good reminder to get your eyes checked out regularly -- not only to screen for eye diseases, but also to gain "insight" into your general health.

    After all, your eyes aren't just a window into what's going on in your brain.

    Early signs of heart disease… diabetes… and even cancerous tumors often show up in your eyes.

    And it just so happens that many of the same healthy habits that protect your eyes from disease also help shield your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's.

    Natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin -- which is found in turmeric, a yellow spice used in ballpark mustard and Indian curries -- can reduce oxidative stress and damage in your retinas.

    It can ALSO help snuff out the flames in your gray matter that have been linked to Parkinson's.

    And since both Parkinson's and eye diseases like macular degeneration have been linked to high blood sugar, slashing sugar from your diet can protect both your brain and eye health.

  2. Tame your ‘caveman’ stress responses… by getting out of the cave!

    Ah, stress. Sometimes, it seems like there's no escape from it.

    No matter how much you’ve organized your life… how much wisdom you've gained... and how much you try to "accentuate the positive"… it can feel downright impossible to maintain any sense of “zen” in the midst of modern-day chaos!

    You don’t need me to tell you how stress can affect your brain. And you can’t always “think” your way out of it.

    Fortunately, according to a new study out of Germany, there's a natural way to help your brain cope with the aggravations of modern life.

    When life gives you lemons, head for the trees!

    Based on MRI brain scans and cognitive test results, researchers found that those who lived in cities close to a forest had healthier brain structure AND function than city dwellers who didn't.

    Specifically, they looked at levels of activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that plays a role in stress response.

    Think of the amygdala as the tiny part of your brain that never evolved from when we were cavemen and cavewomen. It can trigger a “fight or flight” response that would’ve come in handy if your prehistoric ancestor were running from a tiger.

    But while MOST of our modern-day stresses don’t warrant that severe of a response, the tiny “caveman brain” inside our modern, evolved skulls can’t recognize the difference.

    Now, this wasn't a controlled experiment -- so it's possible that the people with healthier amygdalas in the study simply CHOSE to live closer to nature.

    And we don’t know how pollution might come into play here.

    But since previous research has shown that the environment around you can literally shape the structure and function of your brain, it's entirely plausible that access to the great outdoors has a direct impact on the stuff between your ears.

    And since stress can contribute to so many health concerns – from high blood pressure to gut issues – anything that can calm your caveman brain is a good thing.

    Not surprisingly, previous studies have even shown that the more trees and birds a neighborhood has, the less likely its residents are to suffer from depression and anxiety!

    At the same time, the new study found that a few trees planted in a parking lot can't substitute for the peaceful silence of nature.

    Now, if you don't live close to a bona fide forest, "planting" yourself at a local park might be enough to do the trick.

  3. Why you should NEVER stop moving

    As you’ve read right here in eTips, I travel the world looking for natural therapies that can help beat back some of the most devastating diseases that afflict my patients and readers. But with as many exotic locales as I visit, my travels always take me back to China. The East is thousands of years ahead of the West in...
  4. Ward off cognitive decline with blueberries

    Boost your gray matter with this blue fruit We all forget life's little details from time to time. As we age, however, these lapses in memory and focus can become a bit more troublesome. But British researchers have found that you can help keep your mind and memory sharp by making a delicious addition to your diet that's small… but...
  5. Reverse brain shrinkage with this ‘neuro-boosting’ combo

    Give your aging brain superpowers with THIS It’s been summer blockbuster season at movie theaters across the country -- and that means that our “silver screens” have been filled with stories about guys and gals who woke up as superheroes after taking a blow to the head or falling into a vat of nuclear waste. It’s nice to escape from...
  6. Grandkids hitting the gridiron? Do THIS to keep them safe

    Are you ready for some football? Our favorite teams are back – even if it’s only technically “preseason” for the NFL, and we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for the “official” start of the pro season. But that’s not all, because this time of year coincides with “Back to School,” which means that you may be spending your...
  7. Good belly bugs boost brainpower

    Imagine forgetting your way home... the names and faces of those you know... and even some of your cherished life experiences. When you've got Alzheimer's disease, the changes that happen in your brain can devastate your memory. And once it takes hold, there's no pill you can swallow to get your memories back. But according to a new study, there's...
  8. Save your sight to dodge dementia

    You've been holding the newspaper a mile away from your face... wearing dark sunglasses even on cloudy days... and carrying a pocket flashlight to settle your restaurant tabs. When you're on the older side and your vision isn't what it used to be, you've got to compensate with a few tricks up your sleeve! But if changes to your vision...
  9. The Parkinson's risk lurking in your summer fruit

    From peaches and plums… to cherries and berries… there’s an abundant harvest of summer produce hitting stores right about now. And there's nothing like biting into sweet, juicy summer fruit picked at its peak -- and letting that juice drip down your chin. It not only tastes great -- you know that the nutrients and antioxidants in the season's brightly...
  10. Use your legs… or lose your brain!

    When I tell patients to "exercise," it tends to make them run... straight for the door! And believe me, I understand why. When you're on the older side, all of that huffing, puffing, and sweating can feel like a real chore. But exercising doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or even “working out.” Because according to a new study...

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