Dancing Benefits The Aging Brain

Doctors have long recommended physical exercise to reduce or delay the onset of dementia as people age. But a new study indicates that dancing may give even greater benefits than other forms of exercise.

Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld compared the effects of different kinds of exercise on volunteers with an average age of 68. Over 18 months, participants took part in either traditional fitness training with repetitive exercises like cycling or Nordic walking, or dance lessons which featured something new each week.

The study measured changes in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is connected with learning, memory, and balance, and is affected by Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. In both groups, the hippocampus region of the brain increased. The dancers had a noticeable improvement in balance.

The dance routines varied and included jazz, square dance, line dance, and Latin. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Other studies have found similar benefits to dancing:

A study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that brain-stimulating activities such as reading, writing, and doing puzzles lowered the risk of dementia by 47 percent. This study did not find that regular bicycling, swimming, or team sports lowered the risk of dementia significantly. But ballroom dancing reduced the risk of developing dementia by 67 percent!

A study from Korea found that seniors who learned to dance the Cha Cha improved their memory and cognitive function over six months when compared to controls. A study from Canada found that seniors who danced the tango twice a week improved their cognitive scores.

The challenge of constantly learning a variety of new things may be one of the keys to the success of dance in improving mental ability. Dance requires a combination of mental and physical activity – dancers must remember the steps and executive them in rhythm. Also, dance is usually accompanied by music, and music has also been found to benefit people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music stimulates memories and positive emotions, and body response to rhythms; music can also have the effect of making people more outgoing and sociable.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, see the Alzheimer’s Section of Guide To Long Term Care.

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Eye Scan for Alzheimer’s

Scanning the eyes is a new way to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California say Alzheimer’s affects the retina, in the back of the eye, in a similar way to how it affects the brain. A high-definition eye scan can show the buildup of toxic proteins that indicate Alzheimer’s.

The plaque showing in the retina matches the plaque in a corresponding part of the brain. Through repeated scans of the retina over time, doctors will be able monitor the progression of the disease.

At one time, the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s was by examining the brain after a person died. Now doctors can use brain scans to diagnose the disease in living patients, but these scans are expensive and invasive. The non-invasive eye scans will help doctors to detect the disease earlier, making it possible to intervene with medications and lifestyle changes before more symptoms appear.

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If you do not plan for your long term care who will? See the Guide To Long Term Care for more information on Alzheimer’s and how to prepare for long term care needs.

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U.S. Congress increases money for Alzheimer’s research

Congress just increased the budget for Alzheimer’s research by $400 million for fiscal year 2017. In 2016 the budget for Alzheimer’s at the National Institutes of Health was about $910 million.

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 14 million by 2050. It is estimated that for every $100 that goes into research, around $16,000 is spent in caring for people with the disease.

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Money for research has greatly improved the outlook for heart disease and cancer patients. In 2017, health and long term care costs for Alzheimer’s came to around $259 billion in the United States. That number is expected to rise to $511 billion by 2020. Since not finding a cure is expensive, more funding for Alzheimer’s research is obviously needed.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and long term care, see the Guide To Long Term Care.

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Mineral water may help Alzheimer’s

The silicon in mineral water may help Alzheimer’s by removing aluminum

Aluminium is widely present in our environment, and we are exposed to it in items such as bread, tea, wine, aspirin and other drugs, baby food, cookware, and cosmetics. It is even in the air we breathe. Aluminum can enter the iron transport system in the bloodstream and bypass the body’s natural barriers to toxins, accumulating in our bodies and brains.

Research has shown that aluminum exposure can cause the neurofibrillary tangles found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum toxicity has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases.

However, drinking mineral water that contains silicic acid, or silica, can help us excrete aluminum. The recommended amount of silica is 10 mg/day to protect against the adverse effects of aluminum absorption.

Clinical trials by Professor Christopher Exley of Keele University showed that drinking about a liter every day of mineral water containing 35 mg/liter of silicon sped up the removal of aluminium through the kidneys. After thirteen weeks, subjects showed significant reductions in the amount of aluminum in their bodies, even up to 70%. Along with the removal of aluminum came significant improvements in cognitive function and mental health, without side effects.

The silica follows water molecules through the gut wall and once it gets into the bloodstream, it unites with aluminium to form hydroxyaluminosilicate. This form of aluminium can be easily filtered by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

The mineral water studied contained 35mg of silicon per liter. Brands of mineral water that contain silica include Fiji, which has 45 mg/liter, and Volvic, which has 20 mg/liter.

There are also foods naturally high in silica: brown rice, oats, millet, barley, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, red beets, asparagus, bananas, green beans, and carrots.

For information on Alzheimer’s care, see the Guide To Long Term Care

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Calls to clear the way for research on cannabis for Alzheimer’s

According to brain experts, cannabis holds promise as a treatment for the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s, but federal regulators are blocking the path to a cure. Recent discoveries, along with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in some states, have brought calls for reforms in the laws that regulate cannabis research.

Researchers found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds in the cannabis plant can help the body remove amyloid beta, the toxic plaque protein linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. The protein causes inflammation and kills neuron cells, causing deterioration of memory.

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California are finding that marijuana extracts may help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. Cannabinoids are compounds found in marijuana, which can have medical applications. One study indicated that cannabinoids can relieve amyloid protein buildup and cell damage related to dementia using some of the brain’s own protective measures.

Unlike methods which seek to remove amyloid buildup from the outside of brain cells (such as those currently being explored by pharmaceutical companies), the method explored by Salk researchers works with the brain’s natural endocannabanoids to fight amyloid buildup inside cells, along with the resulting inflammation and cell death, at an earlier stage in the disease.

Endocannabinoids can active switches called receptors in the brain cells. Researchers found that these THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may help protect cells from dying.

Physical activity increases the production of endocannabinoids, which may explain why exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. THC from cannabis is similar in activity to endocannabinoids, and can activate the same receptors.

Marijuana is legal in California, but because the Salk Institute accepts some federal funding, it must abide by federal rules that require approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for any cannabis studies. The DEA classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug, alongside heroin and other dangerous drugs, impeding research that may help treat Alzheimer’s and dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. The bureaucratic approval process can slow down research by months or years. Some observers think that the pharmaceutical industry is creating regulatory obstructions for researchers because cannabis is a natural product and cannot be patented.

Health researchers estimate that one in three seniors will die with dementia. Someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every 66 seconds. In addition to the loss of longevity and quality of life, the financial costs of Alzheimer’s and dementia are significant.

A 2015 study by the National Institutes of Health found that the price of late stage dementia exceeds that of any other disease; a recent estimate of cost was $236 billion for 2016, or around $287,000 annually per person.

Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and is a leading cause of death. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. The number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple during the next 50 years.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, visit the Guide To Long Term Care

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New Hope That Healthy Gut Bacteria Can Prevent Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than previously thought. A new study indicates that healthy bacteria in the digestive tract may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  

The study, from Lund University in Sweden, finds that unhealthy intestinal bacteria accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have different gut bacteria than those who do not have the disease.

When a group of bacteria-free mice were exposed to bacteria from rodents with Alzheimer’s, their brains showed the beta-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Bacteria-free mice who were colonized with bacteria from healthy rodents developed significantly fewer brain plaques.

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Many of the body’s immune cells are found in the digestive tract. Scientists hypothesize that bacteria may affect T-cells in the gut that control inflammation, both locally and systemically. And inflammation is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed ten different ways that microbes in the gut may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including by fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and by increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

The composition of bacteria in a person’s digestive tract is determined partly by genetics, but can be affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress, and exposure to toxins. A person can increase “friendly” gut bacteria by eating a healthy diet including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, along with probiotics. This strategy may help to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how to plan for care, refer to the Guide To Long Term Care.

 

Note: You must insure before being diagnosed, this is true for many diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia/Alzheimer’s and many others.

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Concussions May Increase Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

According to a recent study published in the journal Brain, the mild trauma associated with a concussion can increase the risk of brain and memory impairment.

The researchers measured the thickness of the layers in the cerebral cortex of 160 war veterans, including many who had a history of concussion or PTSD. This region of the brain is associated with memory, language and other functions.

alzIn the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the cerebral cortex becomes thinner and begins to atrophy. The study showed that individuals who had concussions tended to have less thickness in the cerebral cortex.

Finding out how a concussion speeds up the onset of Alzheimer’s could lead to medicines or other treatments that would prevent the process. Early treatment would give patients the best chance to avoid the most devastating effects of the disease. The average age of the veterans who had pathological changes in their brains was 32.

Of special concern was the trauma of a concussion for someone who already has a genetic predisposition to get Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, see the Guide To Long Term Care:
Alzheimer’s Information
Veterans information


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