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How to help protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease

Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease is among the fastest-growing epidemics in the world?

Over five and a half million Americans are living with the neurodegenerative disease today. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), medical researchers predict that by 2050, 14 million people in the U.S. will require full-time care for Alzheimer’s disease. That number is equal to the populations of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

While no one has figured out for certain what causes Alzheimer’s disease, we do know that both genetic and lifestyle factors play a role. There is good news in that knowledge, because while we can’t yet change our genes, we can take proactive steps to alter lifestyle choices and minimize our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center have been researching how to optimize a healthy aging brain to protect it from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here is what they suggest you can do to protect your brain – the most active organ in your body — from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia:

  • Setting personal goals. Not only does setting personal goals and working steadily to achieve them strengthen neuron connections in the brain, it also decreases chronic worry that can pump the body full of cortisol and adrenaline. Purpose-driven stress can actually improve health by reducing inflammation.
  • Keep your brain active and learning. Solving puzzles and reading books are great ways to give your brain a workout, building and strengthening neuron connections.
  • Get more sleep. The brain consumes more than 25 percent of the body’s energy. A recent study found that the sleep-brain connection is so strong that people who suffer from sleep apnea have a 70 percent higher risk of contracting Alzheimer’s than those who breathe normally. Even one night of poor sleep can significantly increase disease-promoting inflammation in the body.
  • Exercise (especially the legs)! Muscle mass in the legs is associated with a larger hippocampus, the part of the brain that processes memories. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program recommends strenuous leg exercise (such as power walking) for 20 to 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week.
  • Eat a balanced diet, especially one that reduces inflammation. Eat as few processed foods as possible. Instead choose natural, whole, fiber-rich foods such as greens, berries, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These are the keys to building new nerve cells and neurons in your brain.
  • And of course, as discussed HERE, avoid anticholinergic drugs.

Aging does not necessarily mean succumbing to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Challenge your old ideas about aging and the brain by taking charge of your brain health — right now!

ADHD just might be the most misdiagnosed issue of our time 

According to the National Institute of Health, childhood diagnoses of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have climbed sharply in the last two decades. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that ADHD diagnoses jumped over 40% between 2003 and 2011. In 2016 alone more than 9% of children between the ages of 2 and 17, a total of more than 6 million children, were diagnosed with ADHD.

What is going on here?

According to Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback. “Because an anecdotal ADHD diagnosis can include numerous behaviors, many of which just about every child exhibits at one time or another, it becomes very easy to over-diagnose or misdiagnose this in children without the assistance of a qEEG brain map.”

Some of the many symptoms attributed to ADHD include:

  • Anger management problems
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Inability to sit still
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of organizational skills
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble listening

Doesn’t this sound like many young elementary and middle school-aged children? Absolutely!

How do you know if your child actually has ADHD?

A non-invasive brainwave test. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first brainwave test to help diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children by measuring brainwaves.  Christy Foreman, a director at the FDA, said in a statement that the test will help healthcare providers more accurately determine whether ADHD is the cause of particular behavioral and learning problems.

Brainwave testing has been used by many healthcare providers all over the world for the past 30 years.  In addition to identifying ADHD, brainwave testing also provides the basis for neurofeedback training which is used to help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with ADHD.

Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback states that, “The brainwave test identifies unbalanced brainwave patterns that may be related to focus and attention issues and neurofeedback retrains the brain’s ability to self-regulate. Talk to us if your child’s teacher is discussing ADHD diagnosis,” says Leanne O’Neil. “We can help you better understand what is actually going on and work with your individual needs.

The conventional solution to ADHD is usually medication, and likely prescribed long-term. But all medications have side effects, which can be particularly problematic with your child’s developing brain.

“This doesn’t mean that medication is always a poor choice,” continues O’Neil. “It just means that it’s important to explore all of your options before jumping into a long-term regimen.”

Many parents have had success addressing their child’s hyperactivity by discovering and addressing food intolerances and nutrient deficiencies.

Food for thought:  Your child eats a breakfast that has no fat, little protein and a high glycemic index – let’s say a bagel with fat-free cream cheese.  Blood sugar goes up, but then soon crashes, which triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline. At around 10am, this child is jittery and fidgety and cannot pay attention. This can look like ADHD to a teacher.

If diet modifications fail, call us!  We can identify underlying problems that factor into your child’s behavior and help come up with a plan of care, often one that works without the aid of prescription drugs.

Brain scans suggest soccer is riskier for female brains

We’ve long heard about head trauma due to playing rough sports like rugby and football. But what about soccer? Of particular concern is “heading”, or repeatedly using the head to forward the ball. Studies have found that frequent heading is a common and under-recognized cause of concussion symptoms and may actually cause more damage than the impact from unintentional head-to-head collisions.

Even more revealing, a new study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York suggests that not only does heading put soccer players’ brains at risk, but that female players may be disproportionately at risk.

Using advanced MRI scanning, Einstein researchers carefully examined the brain scans of 49 men and 49 women, aged 18 to 50 with a median age of 26, who regularly played amateur soccer. Even though both sets of players had headed the ball roughly the same number of times, scans showed that the women had five times more brain tissue damage than the men. Even more surprising, there were more brain matter areas adversely affected in women than the men (eight regions of the brain for women and just three regions for men).

Why the disparity?

Precisely why women might be more sensitive to head injury than men is not known for certain. Researchers have speculated that because women have smaller, less muscular necks than men, heading may impart more rotational force to their heads, jarring the brain within the skull more.

The brain changes detected by the scans were categorized as ‘subclinical’ by the researchers, meaning they were not enough to alter thinking ability. Study researchers were quick to add, however, that subclinical changes are still cause for concern.

So what does this mean?

“The term ‘subclinical pathology’ is often applied before we detect enough brain damage to negatively affect brain function,” says Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback. “What is important about this study is that men and women may need to be looked at differently. It makes good sense to identify the risk factors for cumulative brain injury, so those involved in any sport or activity can change their behavior to prevent further damage — and work to help their brains recover.”

What now?

Soccer coaches and researchers agree that a full understanding of the risks of heading while playing soccer will require further research.  In the meantime, O’Neil recommends monitoring brain health by getting a qEEG brain map at the beginning of the season and a follow up at the end.  All brains are unique and the brain’s ability to fully heal from each impact is individual.

Complete article available at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-07-soccer-worse-women-brains-men.html.