Mental and Cognitive Health

  1. Sleep disruptions linked to Alzheimer's

    Could insomnia CHANGE your brain?

    My friend, I'm here to tell you... You've got rhythm!

    No, I'm not talking about how well you can cut a rug.

    I'm talking about your body's "internal clock," a.k.a. your CIRCADIAN rhythm!

    It's something that's built right into everyone's brains -- it tells your body when it's time to go to sleep at night AND when it's time to wake up into the morning.

    Who could ask for anything more?

    Well, it turns out that for some of us, the circadian rhythm doesn't hold steady as we age -- which may turn your life upside down and sideways, leaving you up and active at night and sawing logs during the day (if at all).

    And according to a new study, if your clock gets out of whack... and your sleep becomes scattered all over the place... your precious memories could be at risk.

    That's because disruptions to your circadian rhythm may be one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease, YEARS before devastating memory loss sets in.

    In the study, out of Washington University, about 200 older folks who had NO symptoms of cognitive decline kept daily sleep diaries for up to two weeks and also wore devices that tracked their activity levels.

    Researchers then looked for any buildup of amyloid protein (a.k.a. " plaques") -- a signature sign of Alzheimer's disease -- in the participants' brains, either by giving them PET brain scans, testing their spinal fluid for amyloid protein, or both.

    When the researchers compared the sleep data with these test results, it turned out that most of the folks who had normal sleep/wake cycles were free of amyloid plaques in their brains.

    But on the flip side, ALL of those with disruptions to their circadian rhythms had evidence of amyloid plaques.

    That means that their brains showed signs of Alzheimer's damage even though they didn't yet have ANY symptoms of the disease!

    Now, the study didn't determine whether disturbances in circadian rhythm led to the Alzheimer's changes... or the other way around.

    But we know from previous studies that amyloid levels in the brain DECREASE during sleep... and when you don't get enough shuteye, those amyloids can build up.

    So, to be on the safe side, you want to make sure your "clock" is running right on time!

    And your best bet for doing that is to supplement with melatonin, which is the "sleep hormone" that helps regulate your body's circadian rhythm.

    Your body produces it naturally, but since your levels of it wane as you get older, it's best to take a supplement.

  2. Inflammation linked to Parkinson's disease

    Turn down the heat... inside your brain?

    "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain."

    When Jerry Lee Lewis sang those famous lyrics, it was about being in the throes of passion... not the throes of illness.

    But funnily enough, those words can also be used to describe what neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's can do to your gray matter.

    And now, a new study has discovered how those "great balls of fire" can rattle not only your brain... but ultimately, your limbs, too.

    Now, you may remember that inflammation is supposed to be your body's first step in any healing process. But these latest findings suggest that diseases that wreak havoc on your fragile brain cells can light a blaze in your system that NEVER quits, worsening your condition over time.

    Boston University researchers analyzed the brain tissues of folks who died from either Parkinson's disease or Huntington's disease and compared them with samples from folks who'd had no neurological condition.

    Now, if you're not familiar with Huntington's, it's a disorder caused by a faulty gene, and -- like Parkinson's -- the death of neurons over time leads to problems with motor control, like jerking and flinging movements.

    The two diseases are distinct, and different neurons are affected.

    But in the study, it turned out that BOTH Parkinson's and Huntington's patients had the SAME response to neurodegeneration: inflammation in their central nervous systems!

    And that makes sense to me, because the same therapies that can snuff out inflammation in your body have also been shown to slow Parkinson's progression.

    Here are some simple ways to rein in the inferno:

    • Get moving: Regular exercise is a natural inflammation-fighter that can put the brakes on Parkinson's.
    • Go fish: Supplement with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel) to ease Parkinson's symptoms.
    • Detox: Pollutants and toxic chemicals can keep those fires raging, so limit your exposure as much as possible and use natural detoxifiers like glutathione (the "master antioxidant") or the potent amino acid NAC (a well-known glutathione producer).
    • Go Paleo: The Paleo diet eliminates the sugars, grains, and processed foods that are known to kick up inflammatory processes in your body.
    • Boost your immunity: Probiotics and vitamin D can help fortify your immune system and ease inflammation from your gut to your joints.

    And since everything from diabetes to cancer has been tied to chronic inflammation, you'll be protecting the rest of your body... along with your brain!

  3. Control Parkinson's disease by avoiding toxins

    You don't have to stop the music for Parkinson's For half a century, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond has been giving the world smash hits like "Sweet Caroline" and "America." And in recent months, he's been celebrating his "golden" anniversary of making toe-tapping tunes by touring all over the globe. But now, it's all come to a screeching halt -- for a...
  4. Fermented blueberries improve dementia

    Toss THIS with your salad to protect your brain This morning, I shared with you how fruit can help improve your lung function. Now, fruits are part of the Paleo diet, but since they contain so much natural sugar, I don't recommend eating a lot of them. While berries and citrus are delicious, you can overdo it on them! File...
  5. Leafy greens protect your brain from cognitive decline

    Shave a decade off your brain age... with salad! Just like that, another January has passed. Where does the time go? As we flip the pages of our calendars... day after day... month after month... it's not just about the passage of time. It's not even about the conflagration that gets bigger and bigger on every year's birthday cake. Because...
  6. Inflammation linked to Alzheimer's

    Could your brain be on FIRE? It chips away at your memory... hijacks your ability to think... and can even rob you of your personality. I'm talking about Alzheimer's disease, and living with it can feel like not living at all. Unfortunately, there's no pill you can pop to make it better or go away -- in part because we...
  7. Exercise slows mild cognitive impairment

    Break a sweat to boost your brainpower It's happened to all of us at one time or another. You're in the middle of telling a friend or loved one an exciting story -- only to have them remind you that you ALREADY told it to them. There goes your punch line! As we age, it's not at all uncommon to...
  8. Ginkgo biloba aids stroke recovery

    Harvest the brain benefits of this miracle tree It's one of the most ancient trees on earth... it can live to be 1,000 years old... and it could help YOU live a longer and healthier life. I'm talking about ginkgo biloba. The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for everything...
  9. Mini-strokes can impair cognitive function

    Mini-strokes can be a major blow to your brain When you're feeling sick, it can sometimes be a tough call whether to see a doc. On the one hand, you don't want to err TOO much on the side of caution by rushing to the ER if you've got the sniffles. It's probably not pneumonia. But hey, you never know...
  10. How exercise slows Parkinson's progression

    How working out can keep you moving Q: I'm struggling to manage my Parkinson's disease. Because I'm having trouble controlling my movements, I'm not getting out much anymore. What can I do? GR: It's the oldest "resolution" in the book -- and it's also the one least likely to stick: the pledge to get more exercise in the new year...

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