Mind and Body

  1. 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 something natural that can guard against the brain changes of Alzheimer's and sharpen your memory -- and you can find it in foods as common as your morning yogurt.

    I'm talking about probiotics!

    As I've shared with you before, probiotics are "good" bacteria that take up residence in your gut... but their beneficial effects can be felt all the way up to your BRAIN!

    In the study, Iranian researchers induced Alzheimer's disease in rats and then fed some of them probiotics for two months.

    By the end of the study, the rats that received the probiotics performed BETTER on memory tests than the rats that didn't.

    What's more, researchers found that the mice that ate probiotics showed LESS oxidative stress in the hippocampus (part of the brain crucial for learning and memory) than the mice who hadn't.

    And that's important -- because we know that oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation and the buildup of beta amyloid, which are both risk factors for Alzheimer's.

    Now, we don't know exactly how upping the beneficial critters in your gut can change your brain.

    But the evidence is mounting that brain health begins with gut health -- which is why your gut has earned the reputation as your "second brain."

    The two are connected by something called the "gut-brain axis,” and previous studies have shown that your good gut bugs can trigger an immune response that discards damaged brain cells and preserves healthy ones .

    That means that probiotics may even help protect you from developing Alzheimer's in the first place!

    Plus, probiotics have also been proven to slash your risk of diabetes, colon cancer, and even anxiety and depression.

    So, whether you want to preserve your precious memories… or just improve your overall health… beef up your intake of good bugs!

    In the study, the rats ate strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, which are commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

    But if you don't care for the tart taste of fermented foods, you can also find these strains in a probiotic supplement.

    Look for a brand with multiple human-tested strains and colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions.

    Getting plenty of rest... eating a diet rich in fiber... and avoiding sugars and processed foods can also nurture your good belly bugs.

  2. Not drinking water? Your brain may turn to mush

    Another heat wave is about to sweep through the American West... and Japan just experienced its hottest day in recorded history.

    Here in the Northeast – neither a barren desert nor a tropical climate – it’s been so hot and humid that when you take one step out the front door, your face starts dripping.

    Even if your mouth doesn’t feel as dry as a bone… chances are, you’re dehydrated.

    Now, we know that our bodies are supposed to be comprised of up to 60 percent water. And not having enough hydration can mess with our body temperature regulation… digestion… and waste elimination.

    But a new study shows that there’s something else at stake when you’re losing more water than you’re taking in: your brain.

    Believe it or not, it should be pretty watery up there in your skull – as much as 73 percent water in your brain tissue !

    And when the folds of your brain start to dry up like ripples in the sand of a desert dune, it doesn’t just make your head a little fuzzy. It can put you in the crosshairs for an accident.

    Think about it. When you’re driving, you use some of the most important skills you’ve got: reaction time, divided attention (paying attention to more than one thing at once), and coordination.

    And those are three factors that are compromised the most when the summer heat – or even a little exertion – sucks the water right out of you.

    It doesn’t even take a severe level of dehydration… or getting “dried out” over a long period of time… because in this latest meta-analysis, researchers found that you can become severely impaired after losing just 2 percent of your body’s mass in the form of water.

    And it could happen more easily than you might think.

    Researchers say that you could lose as much as 2 pounds of fluid – that’s 1 percent if you weigh 200 pounds -- after just an hour of activity of moderate intensity on a day that’s in the mid-80s with moderate humidity.

    But if you’re active a little longer… and the mercury and humidity start to rise… you could get into real trouble, real quick.

    When that happens, you DON’T want to be behind the wheel (or operating any heavy machinery, for that matter).

    So, don’t let it happen in the first place! Here are four tips to keep your plump, juicy brain from turning into a raisin this summer:

    1. Bring a nice, cool bottle of water with you to have in the garden, on the links, AND in the car. Sip from it regularly, but don’t guzzle – too much hydration too quickly could waterlog your brain.
    2. Don’t cut sodium out. You lose salt when you sweat, and your body needs some salt in order to retain the water you’re drinking.
    3. Limit exertion to the coolest times of day – early morning and late afternoon to early evening – to limit loss of fluid from sweating.
    4. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which have a diuretic effect.

    And for pity’s sake, if you’ve got an air conditioner, turn it on! If you don’t have one… and can’t get one… don’t hesitate to go to one of those “cooling centers” that some cities set up this time of year.

  3. Stressed? Weather the storm with THIS

    It's summertime -- and the living is easy. Well, at least that's how the song goes. But even though the skies above are sunny... and the general mood is carefree... the summer season is certainly no guarantee against one of life's lemons landing in your lap. And when it does, it can screw up your sleep and digestion… not to...
  4. 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...
  5. Stop your train of thought from getting derailed!

    It’s the No. 1 epidemic facing seniors in America: brain fog. And in my own clinic here in the Boston area, it’s the top complaint I hear among 60- and 70-year-olds. But they’re far from alone. I’ll be honest -- as a 60-something myself, I’ve experienced my fair share of “senior moments.” But when you start forgetting the names of...
  6. The nut you need for a healthy gut

    If you've been reading my eTips for a while, you know that I've sung the praises of walnuts many a time. They've been proven to slash your risk of cardiovascular disease ... improve your learning skills, memory, and coordination... and even protect your gray matter from Alzheimer's. But as good as these crunchy nuts are for your heart and brain...
  7. Save your knees by balancing your gut

    We've known for years that if you're on the heavy side, your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis (OA) is higher than if you're slim. And it makes sense that carrying around excess weight would cause more wear and tear on your knees. But the latest research is blowing that theory right out of the water – because according to a...
  8. What one sleepless night does to your brain

    You can't think straight... your concentration is shot... and you fumble your way through the day's details. When you haven't gotten your 40 winks the night before, it can feel like your brain is asleep on the job! And if you toss and turn night after night -- like HALF of all adults over 60 do -- that "brain drain...
  9. Can’t make it to the bathroom in time? This may be why

    You feel a sudden urge to "go"... but you don't quite make it to the bathroom in time. When you can’t hold your pee, knowing that you might have an "accident" can make it tough to sit through a movie in the theater… play a round of golf… or hit the open road. And even though 30 percent of folks...
  10. Get moving to stop wheezing

    With spring in full swing, the world is buzzing with activity once again. Flowers are blooming... birds are chirping... and folks are getting active outdoors. But when you've got asthma, it feels like you can't fully join in on the season's hustle and bustle. You don't want to step out into the pollen-filled air -- let alone EXERCISE in it...

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