Memory & Brain Support

Keeping our brains healthy and sharp is just as important as physical fitness. The NorthStar blog on memory and brain support gives you breaking news on memory, cognitive health, and how to keep your brain sharp as a tack.

  1. Side effects of antidepressants can hurt more than help

    I'm sure you've heard of serotonin before. Most people know that it's the chemical that both helps you sleep, and boosts your mood. But, if you're like most people I talk to, what you probably don't realize is that your body uses the stuff for quite a few other things, and the interruption of the serotonin-process is one of the potentially harmful side effects of antidepressants.

    In fact, most of the serotonin your body makes it uses for regulating things other than sleep and mood. The chemical plays an important part in the digestion of your food. It helps to form blood clots... and stop the bleeding... when you're injured. And it even gets in on the acts of reproduction and development.

    Antidepressants take advantage of the mood-regulating effects of serotonin. They increase the amount of serotonin in your brain by blocking your body's ability to use it for other things. And... well... that's the problem with these drugs.

    Sure, if you keep your brain flooded with serotonin, in theory, it should lift your mood. (Whether that actually works is another story... one I've written to you about before.) But it doesn't take much of a leap to realize that this could become a problem for all those other processes your body needs serotonin for.

    And that's exactly what a team of researchers found in a study of the side effects of antidepressants published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

    From sexual side effects to stroke

    Evolutionary biologist Paul Andrews led a team who looked at a number of other studies on the side effects of antidepressants. After a whole lot of data crunching they came to the simple conclusion that these drugs are more likely to do harm than good.

    You see, your risk for serotonin-regulated processes going wrong takes a leap forward when you're on an antidepressant. It's not uncommon, for example, to have problems with sexual stimulation while on these drugs. In other words, it's sort of like putting the pot on the stove, but it never comes to a boil. And if you're a guy these drugs can wreak havoc with your sperm development, too.

    Your risk for having tummy troubles including diarrhea, indigestion, and bloating go up. And, most troubling of all, if you're older, your risk for bleeding and stroke jump up, also.

    Oh, and did I mention that elderly antidepressant users are more likely to die than those not on the drugs? This was true even after the researchers considered other important factors. Talk about a side effect!

    For some of us it's been clear for a long time that the risk of taking antidepressants far outweighs any minor benefits that you may get from them. So I'm glad to see some mainstream scientists finally starting to take notice of how dangerous they are.

    But, I must admit I did have a good chuckle when I read this quote from Dr. Andrews in ScienceDaily: "The thing that's been missing in the debates about antidepressants is an overall assessment of all these negative effects relative to their potential beneficial effects. Most of this evidence has been out there for years and nobody has been looking at this basic issue."

    Uh, the thing is Dr. Andrews, lots of us have been looking.

    Not only that, we've been shouting from the rooftops... or at least our desktops... about the clear red flags we've been seeing. I think those of you in the mainstream just haven't been listening. (Perhaps a subscription to the Guide to Good Health is in order?)

    In fact, just last year I wrote about the dangers and possible side effects of antidepressants for seniors in particular. I explained that if you're older and on a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) you're at an increased risk for stroke, falls, fractures, hyponatremia, and death.

    Beat depression naturally

    My advice? Talk to your doctor about getting off these drugs as soon as possible. Some studies show they aren't any more effective than a sugar pill anyway. Instead, try some natural and highly effective alternatives.

    For example, B vitamins have been linked to depression, so make sure you're on a good B-complex supplement to cover all your "B" bases. Vitamin D is also a proven mood lifter, and regular exercise, like some gentle tai chi, has been shown in studies to beat depression. Also, an extract from the red clover plant has been found to be incredibly effective at driving away the blues for post-menopausal women.

    My mother used to have a saying that she would use when she thought someone was being a little bit dense. She'd look at them with a twinkle in her eyes and say, "Well, it's just as plain as the nose on your face."

    Well mainstream, I have to say that these latest "findings" were one big huge honking nose and I'm sure glad you've finally spotted it. Now let's work on getting more people off of these dangerous drugs, shall we?

  2. Boost your brainpower by taking multivitamins

    I have to admit, it still surprises me every single time someone asks me if they really need to be taking multivitamins.

    "But Dr. Spreen I eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and good-for-you unprocessed meats. I should be getting everything I need from my food, right?"

    Well, yes, in a perfect world that would be true. You would be able to get everything you need from your diet. But this world isn't perfect and I'll bet your dimes to donuts that you are NOT getting all the nutrients you need without supplementing your diet.

    We've changed the way we grow fruits and vegetables. The natural minerals are now gone from the soil. Instead, it's chock full of artificial fertilizers and chemicals.

    Then, because Big Farming is now BIG business the food is trucked a long way. Fruits and vegetables are plucked unripe from their vines to survive the long journey. And the crops grow bigger and faster now because of careful breeding and artificial fertilizers.

    Sure, our fruit now looks bigger, shinier, and prettier than it ever looked in the past. But that beauty has come at the cost of nutrition. According to some reports, you'd have to eat a handful of peaches today to equal the nutrition found in just one peach from the 1950s.

    In fact, a study published in 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared USDA data on 43 fruits and vegetables from the 1950s to those in 1999. The researchers found that the produce from 1999 was lower in vitamins, minerals, and protein. For example, broccoli from 1950 had 130 mg of calcium, but that number had plummeted to 48 mg by 1999.

    So, even if you're eating fruits and veggies with every meal, unless you're eating a boatload you're likely not getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. (Of course eating organic can help... more on that later.)

    Daily living robs you of health

    But diet isn't the only nutrition-robbing culprit out there. Everything from the environment we live in to the meds we take can have an impact. Stress, surgeries, and bad habits like smoking can wear away at your health. The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the processed foods we eat all play a part as well.

    So, do you need to be taking multivitamins?

    Well, let's put it this way: unless you're living the life of a monk on top of a remote mountain in the Himalayas, then, heck, yeah you do. (And since you are reading this right now I'm guessing that's not you.)

    Despite the mainstream's goal to convince us otherwise, there are plenty of studies to back up the benefits of taking multivitamins. And there's growing evidence that taking a daily multivitamin is good for you.

    In fact, according to a report on NutraIngredients.com, several studies over the past four years have shown that taking one can help keep the lights on upstairs.

    Kids and adults benefit from supplements

    In 2008 research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that supplementing healthy children's diets with multivitamins improves their brain function. In the randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study researchers gave eighty-one healthy kids, aged 8 to 14, a series of tests to measure their cognition and mood.

    The kids were split into two groups. The first group got a multivitamin for 12 weeks and the other group got a placebo. Tests showed that the kids taking multivitamins did better than the kids who took a placebo on two different tests.

    Then in 2010 research published in the journal Psychopharmacology had similar--but even better--results when testing 215 men aged 30 to 55. Volunteers who received a multivitamin did better on stress, mental health, and cognition tests.

    And in case you are starting to worry that the ladies were left out in all this testing, don't. Because in 2010 research published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology showed that women's brains benefit from multivitamins also.

    Researchers at Northumbria University conducted another randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to find out if a multivitamin / multimineral supplements could help women with brain function or fatigue. The women who got the supplement had improved moods and they felt less tired. They also did better on cognitive tests than the women who got placebos.

    Add that to the fact that multivitamin users live longer, and that women who take multivitamins have fewer heart attacks, and one thing is clear. Supplements work.

    With everything from stress to diet working against us it just makes sense to add one to your routine. And remember, eating locally grown organic fruits and vegetables can help too.

    Organic tomatoes, for example, can contain up to 30 percent more phytochemicals than those cardboard-flavored conventional ones at your local supermarket. Look for your local farmers market to get the best deals on produce grown close to home.

  3. The link between smoking and memory loss

    Everyone knows at least one...a self-proclaimed "non-smoker" who only smokes to be social on the weekends. Well, according to some recent researchon smoking and memory out of Northumbria University, those weekend-only smokers are doing just as much damage to their memory as the daily smokers they're bumming cigarettes from. This small smoking and memory study tested three groups of undergraduate social science students; 28 students who had never smoked, 28 social smokers who smoked around 20 cigarettes once or twice a week, and 28 students who smoked 10 to 15 cigarettes a day. Volunteers were given a memory test in which they were asked to remember to perform several pre-determined actions at specific locations that would be seen when viewing a short 8-minute clip of a busy street. For example when passing store "X" they were to write down that they were supposed to exchange a specific item of clothing that they had bought there previously. Researchers found that both groups of smokers...the casual and the daily smokers...performed measurably worse on the memory test than those who had never smoked. Bottom line? Whether you limit your smoking to social situations or have a heavy habit your memory is likely to pay the price.
  4. Fish oil is brain food

    A new study published in the journal Neurology is re-confirming what moms and grandmoms have already long known...and that is the benefits of fish oil for the brain. Researchers were actually looking at the levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient commonly found in fish, in the diets of 1,575 people with an average age of 67. They found that the volunteers who had lower blood levels of omega 3's also had lower brain volumes. In fact, their brains appeared to be about two years "older" than their counterparts who had higher omega-3 levels. And the omega-3 deficient people scored lower on tests of visual memory, problem solving, multi-tasking, and abstract thinking. And the moral of this fish tale is...yup, you guessed it...eat more fish! You can also up your omega 3's by taking a quality fish oil supplement and receive all of the benefits of fish oil for the brain found in this study. Just be sure to take vitamin E as well to zap any potential free radicals.
  5. Overeating may be a contributing cause of memory loss

    Generally I'm not a fan of "calorie counting." But with new research claiming that overeating may be a contributing cause of memory loss, I might make an exception. In fact, I think it's often just a waste of time. I tend to believe that if you're following a healthy diet, filled with lots of organic fruits and vegetables, and some good-for-you, free-range, antibiotic-free meats, you've won half the battle. The rest is covered by keeping your body in motion with the activities you love...like dancing, swimming, biking, or walking with friends...and supplementing your diet when needed with quality supplements. But, let's be honest, falling off the good eating and moderate exercise wagon is frighteningly easy to do. And when you do, if you stopped to actually count the amount of calories you're consuming in a day, I can assure you that you'd be SHOCKED. That's why this new research, presented recently at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual meeting, is so important.

    Forget the hips...worry about the head

    According to researchers testing if overeating is a contributing cause of memory loss, consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories a day may double your risk of memory loss or mild cognitive impairment if you're seventy years old or older. Yes, that's a potential 100 percent increase! (And the higher your calorie counts the greater the risk.) Researchers recruited 1,233 dementia-free volunteers between the ages of 70 and 89. When the study began 163 of those volunteers had mild cognitive impairment...the stage of memory loss between normal age-related memory loss and early Alzheimer's. Participants completed food questionnaires to report the amount of calories that they consumed. They were then divided into three groups based on their calorie counts...one-third of the participants were put into the 600 to 1,526 calories per day group, one-third were put into the 1,526 to 2,143 calories per day group, and the last third were put into the 2,143 to 6,000 calories per day group. After doing some data crunching, the research team concluded that the odds of having mild cognitive impairment more than doubled in the highest calorie count group when compared with those in the lowest calorie group. Those findings stuck even after they had made adjustments for the volunteer's histories of stroke or diabetes and their education levels. Plus... It turns out that you don't have to suffer on a super-low calorie diet. For the volunteers in the medium calorie group there was no significant difference in risk or cause of memory loss. Like I'm always telling you, moderation really is the key.

    Raising your risk of cognitive decline

    And if you think you're not in danger because you either have a number of years to go before you reach seventy, or because you don't think you're consuming anywhere near the amount of calories eaten in the high risk group, you might have to rethink your position. We now know that eating all those extra calories doubles your risk of mild cognitive decline when you reach your seventies and beyond. But we can also safely assume that the cause of memory loss and risk doesn't just suddenly double on your seventieth birthday like the ultimate anti birthday gift. The fact is that your risk is surely creeping up well before that point, so by the time you reach those golden years your risk may have increased by a staggering 100 percent. Also, I'm willing to bet that you're consuming way more calories in an average day than you realize. (Not to mention moving a lot less than you believe.) For example, a garden salad without meat at your favorite fast-food joint can easily run 360 calories. Add a small fry and you're tacking on an additional 270 calories.

    Keeping count to keep your memories

    An easy way to find out how many calories you're averaging in a day is to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks. In it you record everything you eat, the calories of what you ate, and the amount of exercise you got. There are a number of online calorie-counting tools that can help you figure out the calories in restaurant-prepared or home-cooked meals more accurately, and you can even keep track of your calories and physical activity online. Now please don't get me wrong. Remember, I'm not a fan of calorie counting, and by no means would I recommend you turn into a calorie-counting maniac. On the contrary, I think healthy eating and an active lifestyle are the answer. But, I'm willing to admit that tracking your numbers for just a couple of weeks might be helpful to put things into perspective. And who knows, getting that perspective may just very well help you hold on to your memories longer.
  6. Increased risk of depression and working overtime

    Are you a workaholic? Careful, new research finds a connection between depression and working overtime. So are you a workaholic? You know...the type who, no matter what the job, puts in longer hours than anyone else on the team? The kind of employee who doesn't even bat an eyelash at working four or more hours of overtime every single day for weeks on end? Well, if that sounds like you it turns out that while you may very well be every employer's dream come true you're probably also...very likely...depressed. Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London followed 2,000 middle-aged non-depressed volunteers for almost six years. Those who were married to their jobs...putting in more than 11 hours a day...were almost two and a half times more likely to experience a major depression during those years than those working a normal seven to eight hour day. In fact, according to the study published in the journal PloS ONE the association with depression and working overtime held strong even after the researchers had accounted for other typical risk factors like smoking, alcohol use, chronic disease, socio-economic issues, and even job strain. Add that to what we already know about spending too much time at work and a significantly increased risk for everything from sleep disorders to heart attacks and the message is coming through loud and clear...go home!
  7. Smoking and memory loss risk

    Where there's smoke there's memory loss

    What if I told you that if you're a guy and you smoke you should be worried. In fact, according to this new research on smoking and memory loss, you're likely to have a much more rapid decline in mental function than your non-smoking friends. And we're not talking about a small difference here. According to the study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry if you're a long-term smoker your brain may be taking a hit that's equivalent to ten years of aging. And that decline can show up as memory loss, an inability to connect your past experiences with things you're dealing with in the present, and an overall cognitive decline. Meaning that, yes, those "Senior Moments" may indeed be serious.

    Taking the fast road to mental decline

    Researchers analyzed data for almost 6,000 men and over 2,100 women with an average age of 56. They tested each participant's memory, math, verbal, and, vocabulary skills at the start of the study and then again two more times over the following decade. In addition, they assessed each volunteers' smoking habits over a 25-year period including their current smoking status as well as their past smoking history. The smoking and memory loss research quickly revealed that middle-aged men who were smokers had a much faster mental decline than those men that never smoked. And, it turns out that the sooner you quit the greater your brain benefits. Men who had just recently quit smoking still registered some cognitive decline in their more complex thinking skills. But guys who had kicked the habit ten years or more before testing didn't show any more decline than the guys who had never smoked. So, in other words, the sooner you rid your life of tobacco the better chances you have of staving off those frightening "Brain Hiccups." Plus... The researchers believe that if you drop the habit any negative effects that smoking had on your memory or thinking skills might simply wear off after ten years. Talk about an incentive to quit!

    Smoking makes you sick regardless of sex

    No one is totally sure why the same mental declines were not seen in the female smokers in the study. One theory...and perhaps the most realistic...is that women simply don't smoke as many cigarettes, or for as long a period of time as men do on average. But, if you're a woman who smokes don't think you're off the hook. The researchers admit that the relatively small sample size used in the study could have influenced the results. And besides, the fact still remains that smoking is a nasty habit that's already been linked to dementia, heart and lung diseases, and, of course, cancer...regardless of your gender. The bottom line is that if you're a smoker it's time to quit. And if you're a guy who smokes the time to quit is...well...yesterday.
  8. Iron for the brain could be secret to avoiding Alzheimer’s

    I have a friend who flat out refuses to drink apple juice. Lisa swears that it tastes like rusty nails and I've never been able to convince her otherwise. The reason why remained a mystery until one day Lisa revealed that her mom used to give both her and her siblings iron drops in apple juice when they were kids, knowing the benefits of iron for the brain. Well, while my friend's mom may have turned her off on apple juice for the rest of her life, it turns out, according to new research on the effects of iron for the brain,  she may have also assured her of never having to suffer through the miseries of Alzheimer's disease or other brain aging related disorders. I don't know about you, but I'd say that's a pretty fair trade. I'll tell you more about that new research in just a moment, but first let me share a little background about what we already knew about the importance of iron for the brain.

    Mission cognition starts with iron

    Iron forms the center of red blood cells. And, as you probably already know, a shortage of the mineral in the body leads to a condition called anemia, which means that you have too few iron-dependent red blood cells. Since your body uses those same cells to transport oxygen around the body running low on them can have a major impact on your overall health. Your brain is particularly vulnerable to a lack of oxygen-rich red blood cells circulating in your body. In fact, it's estimated that your noggin may use up to twenty percent of the oxygen that's available in your blood. Not having enough of it can negatively affect your brain health, leading to cognition problems like forgetfulness or lack of concentration (especially in children) and, in the worst cases, dementia. Which brings us back to that new research I mentioned earlier. A team of scientists at the University of California has uncovered a surprising connection between a lack of iron in the teen years and negative changes in the brain much later in life.

    A healthy teen brain makes a happy senior brain

    As strange as it might sound to understand the iron for the brain connection you actually need to start with the liver. You see, your liver produces a protein called transferrin that's used by your body to transport iron. When your iron levels are running low your liver reacts by pumping out more of the protein to increase transport of the mineral. The U of C team began measuring the levels of transferrin in a group of 615 healthy twins and siblings eight to 12 years ago. They wanted to find out if iron levels during adolescence had any impact on the brain later in life. They checked the volunteer's transferrin levels at ages 12, 14, and 16. Then recently, when the children had reached an average age of 23, they took MRI scans of the brains of the entire group. Plus, they also took a specialized diffusion MRI scan, which maps the brain's myelin sheath connections, strength, and integrity, of 574 of the volunteers. What they discovered, to everyone's surprise according to neurology professor Paul Thompson, was that good brain health in your adult years relies on having healthy iron levels way back in your teen years. And here's why...

    Iron is real brain food

    It turns out that when you're young, iron helps to build the physical wiring of the brain. The mineral is a vital building block in the creation of the fatty myelin sheath that coats the threadlike pathways in the brain that nerve impulses travel along. But not enough iron in the diet in childhood forces your brain to dig into its reserves leaving you vulnerable later in life when your brain needs the stored mineral to protect against aging and Alzheimer's. So, the bottom line? Eating a balanced diet in the teen years when your brain is still developing is vitally important to your brain health in your Golden Years. Now, of course, unless you have a time machine squirreled away in your attic that may not be advice either you or I can follow. But we can certainly make sure that the young people in our lives...and those that care about them...know about the importance of iron for the brain. But, also keep in mind that just like with most things in life, the key with iron is balance. In fact, too much of the mineral later in life is associated with brain-related conditions such as Parkinson's, Huntington, and Alzheimer's diseases. And, if like Lisa's mom you (and your naturopath) choose to give your child iron supplement drops just be sure to choose the food you add them to very carefully because, like Lisa, she may never eat or drink it again after childhood. Or, better yet, avoid the free radicals that come with inorganic iron supplements by serving calves liver for dinner, or by using dessicated liver tablets instead.
  9. Study finds connection between vitamin D and depression

    There's a good chance you're deficient in it and you probably don't even know it. In fact, it's estimated that at least 50 percent of the U.S. and U.K populations are deficient in vitamin D, and depression risk rises with deficiency, to make matters worse. (One major study estimates that U.S. deficiencies run as high as 75 percent!) Then, to add insult to injury, if you've managed to somehow avoid it up until now, as your age rises your chance of acquiring a deficiency goes right up with it. Research has found that a staggering 88 percent of seniors may be below optimal levels. Oh, and if you're a menopausal woman, well, the chances of you falling short of getting the recommended daily amount of it is nearly 100 percent. I'm talking about vitamin D. And running low on this vital vitamin is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the major diseases that deficiencies of vitamin D have been linked to run the gamut and include atherosclerosis, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, Alzheimer's, cognitive decline, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, diabetes, and even depression.

    Researchers connect the dots to reveal link

    Now the vitamin D and depression link may not come as too much of a surprise to you since it was only a couple of months ago that I told you that vitamin D was linked to less depression in women. Research conducted by Harvard scientists had shown that women with higher levels of vitamin D3 (the active form of the vitamin in the body) have a lower risk of depression. But, as is so often the case with natural protocols, the finding regarding vitamin D and depression created its share of controversy and when a couple of smaller studies failed to back up the Harvard study the naysayers' tongues started wagging. However, a new large-scale study, published in the journal Mayo Clinical Proceedings, has put a swift end to the controversy. That study—conducted at UT Southwestern Medical Center—examined the records of nearly 12,600 volunteers and definitively confirmed a relationship between the vitamin and mental health. Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D were found to have significantly fewer incidents of current depression. The link was even stronger when they looked at the volunteers who had a prior history of depression. A drug free way to drive away depression? Sign me up!

    Down in the dumps? Check your D

    Now of course the UT Southwestern team stopped just short of saying that low vitamin D levels may lead to depression. Instead they only admitted that there's a strong connection between vitamin D and depression. And, in fact, despite evidence of widespread deficiencies they didn't even recommend supplementing with vitamin D. But while the researchers appear to be stalled at the crossroads of the chicken or the egg highway, I have no intention of getting stuck there with them. Or of leaving you stranded there, either. While I certainly can't argue that more research needs to be done on the exact relationship between vitamin D and depression with so many of us already deficient in the nutrient I still heartily recommend that you work on shoring up your own levels. And here's how... As I'm sure you already know, your body naturally converts sunshine into good old vitamin D. So my first suggestion is as simple as they come...spend more time outdoors. I usually recommend 20 to 30 minutes a day without sunscreen in the morning sun if you can fit it in. You can also increase the amount of vitamin D you get in your diet. In fact, remember that Harvard study I mentioned earlier? The researchers on that study found that women who ate foods containing at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day reduced their depression risk by about 20 percent. Try eating more tuna, salmon, halibut, sardines, and eggs. And finally you can try a vitamin D supplement. You can safely take up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3...the form of vitamin D most readily absorbed by the body...a day. Let's just hope that while you and I are feeling on top of the world our buddies over at UT Southwestern don't end up too D deficient and down in the dumps to continue their research.
  10. Fish is good for the brain

    Did your mother ever tell you when you were growing up that you should eat your fish because fish is good for the brain? I know mine sure did. And if yours did too, well, then apparently we both owe Mom a great big thank you. It turn's out she was, indeed, onto something. A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America has confirmed what Mom already knew...that fish is good for the brain. Researchers announced that...for the first time ever...a direct relationship was established between eating fish and the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The research team selected 260 people for the study who had no history of cognition problems. Participants were asked about their fish-eating habits using the National Cancer Institute's Food Frequency Questionnaire. Out of the entire group, 163 of the volunteers said they consumed fish weekly with the majority of the fish eaters eating one to four servings per week. And here's where things get a little technical, but a lot interesting...

    Keep your brain pleasingly plump

    Each of the participants had a complex 3-D "volumetric" MRI scan of their brain done. Using advanced software, their brain scans were then mapped to measure the volume of gray matter and those findings were bumped up against the data on weekly fish consumption. The goal was to create a model of the relationship between fish eating and brain structure both now...and in 10 years to determine if fish is good for the brain. The researchers were then able to analyze the data to figure out if more gray matter was retained when someone was a regular fish eater. And if so, if holding on to that brain volume reduced the fish eater's risk for Alzheimer's disease. Now we already know that gray matter is important. Although most people start to lose some brain volume as they age the less you lose the better off you are. To put it simply...a plump brain is a healthy brain. After adjusting for all kinds of factors that could have skewed the results...factors like age, gender, education, race, physical activity level, obesity, and even the presence of the gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's (called apolipoprotein E4)...they came to a conclusion. The data clearly showed a positive association between eating baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis and higher brain-matter volumes in certain areas of the brain. But here's the thing... One of the most important findings was that several key areas in the fish eater's brains...the greater hippocampal, posterior cingulate, and orbital frontal cortex...retained more gray-matter volume in relation to the fish eating and, as a result, reduced the risk or both mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's by almost five fold! In other words, the regular fish eaters had dropped their risk of experiencing cognitive problems or Alzheimer's disease by nearly five times. A pretty impressive payoff for something that's so darn easy to do. And that's not all they discovered... The findings also showed that the fish eaters had higher levels of working memory and were able to focus on tasks and commit information to short-term memory at a higher level than the non-fish eaters.

    Serve up brain food to beat cognitive decline

    Of course, being positively associated with something doesn't mean you can claim a cause-and-effect relationship. So, in other words we can't truthfully say, if you eat fish you definitely will not get Alzheimer's disease. But what we can say is that if you eat baked or broiled fish weekly you will greatly reduce your risk of ever getting the dreaded disease. Now if you're a regular reader of the Guide to Good Health you already know that I recommend taking fish oil daily (just make sure to take 400 IU of a natural mixed-tocopherol vitamin E as well for extra antioxidant protection). And while this study didn't specifically look at fish oil's impact on brain function, other studies have. One study in particular—conducted at Rhode Island Hospital's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center—that explored the connection between fish oil and cognitive decline had some interesting results. Researchers on the Rhode Island team found a positive association between the supplements and cognitive function suggesting that they can improve brain health. So if you want to help ward off a shrinking brain, and the Alzheimer's disease that may accompany it, it's simple...listen to Mom and eat your fish. Just be sure to avoid the chemical-clogged farm-raised variety and choose wild caught instead. Oh, and don't forget to add in a daily fish-oil supplement for good measure.
  11. Is your high blood sugar causing brain shrinkage?

    It was just last month that I warned you about the emerging connection between low vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage. Now, I have another warning about brain atrophy and cognitive decline that those with diabetes...or those at risk for the disease...simply can't afford to ignore. We already know, of course, that diabetes can lead to a host of other medical problems ranging from eye complications to heart problems. But now, according to recently published research in the journal Diabetes Care, it appears we need to add brain shrinkage to the list. For the last five years a team of researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have been studying the effects of diabetes on the cognitive health of older patients. What they found is, to be honest, quite alarming.

    Inflammation could steal your memories and more

    For their latest experiment the research team recruited 147 volunteers with an average age of 65. Seventy-one of the volunteers were type-2 diabetics who had been taking medication to manage their disease for at least five years and the remaining 76 were non-diabetic control subjects. Prior research had already revealed significantly more brain atrophy in people with diabetes than a non-diabetic control group. And when I say significant I really mean it. A normal aging brain at age 65 shrinks about one percent a year, but in a diabetic that number can skyrocket to an astounding 15 percent. Now, for this phase of the study the researchers wanted to find out if chronic inflammation of blood vessels...caused by glucose build up in the blood (hyperglycemia) of diabetic patients...could be responsible for altering blood flow to their brains leading to atrophy, cognitive impairment, memory loss, and depression. All of the volunteers were given a series of tests, which included checks of their cognition, balance, blood pressure, and blood-glucose levels. In addition, their blood serum was tested for signs of inflammation and the blood flow to their brains was measured with special MRI scans. The scans revealed that not only did the diabetics have the greater blood vessel constriction that the team was looking for their brains were also clearly more atrophied...or shrunken...than the controls. The brain shrinkage showed up most significantly in the gray matter and included the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions of the brain. In other words, the damaged tissue could literally affect everything from short-term memory, to walking, to speech.

    Prevent blood-sugar caused brain damage

    The researchers envision a domino-like event that eventually leads to the kind of brain shrinkage and damage they found in the brains of the diabetic volunteers. You see, when you're diabetic there's excess glucose floating around in your blood stream that your body is unable to use as energy (the hyperglycemia I mentioned earlier). And it's this excess of sugar that then triggers the release of substances called adhesion molecules...sVCAM and sICAM...that leads to chronic inflammation, blood vessel restriction, reduced blood flow and, ultimately, brain damage. So, where does this leave us? Well, the bottom line is really the same as it's always been. The only difference is that now we know our brain health is at stake too. If you're not diabetic already your number one priority should be to prevent the disease from ever taking a stranglehold on your life. With diet and exercise you can head the type-2 version of the disease off at the pass. In fact, according to the Diabetes Prevention Program study you can slash your risk of ever developing the disease by 58 percent and if you're 60 or older that risk is slashed by an astonishing 71 percent. And, as I explained earlier this year, adding vitamin D3 to your routine can greatly reduce your chance of ever having to hear your doc say, "You've got diabetes." If you've already been diagnosed with the full-blown disease, not so coincidentally the advice is essentially the same...to tackle diabetes naturally, diet and exercise is still the key. But what happens if you're already doing everything right and still find that your numbers are not where you want them to be? Don't be discouraged and whatever you do don't decide drugs are the only answer. You may be able to find that extra bit of support you need from supplements. Chromium, for example, has long been considered a "gold standard" when it comes to blood sugar support. In fact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center up to 90 percent of men and women have diets that are low in the important mineral. Plus, being a senior or having a diet high in sugar can put you at an even higher risk of being deficient in it. And as long as you're taking a supplement with chromium in it you should also consider adding biotin to the mix. Several trials have shown encouraging blood-sugar results when combining this B vitamin with chromium. Truthfully, there's no better time than right now...while the Season of Eating is still in full swing...to make a commitment to changing your habits in the coming year. With diet, exercise, and the right supplements you can say goodbye to type-2 diabetes forever.
  12. Eat steak to prevent brain shrinkage in your retirement years

    Bill Clinton had better watch out. He's gone vegan and I think I can already see his brain shrinking. Politics aside, I'm not even kidding. U.S. researchers recently discovered that one crucial vitamin protects against brain  shrinkage in your retirement years. Yet you can only get this vitamin, naturally, through animal sources, such as meat, milk, and eggs. And clearly, Bill Clinton on his new vegan diet is not getting any of that!

    Signs of brain shrinkage in less than five years

    For this study, researchers took blood samples from 121 men and women over 65. They followed the volunteers over the next five years. At the end of this period, the researchers took brain scans for each of the volunteers. They found that men and women with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 in the initial tests had clinically-significant brain atrophy by the end of the study. In other words, the folks with low B12 at the start of the study wound up with brain shrinkage by the end of it. Plus, they performed poorer on cognitive tests given at the end of the study. The researchers said more study is needed before we can say that low B12 causes brain shrinkage...but there's definitely a connection. In fact, they point to an older study conducted by Oxford researchers in 2008. In that study, men and women with higher blood levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to have brain shrinkage (compared to men and women with low levels).

    A growing problem that's easily solved

    Once you hit 60, it becomes important to know your B12 numbers. According to Martha Clare Morris, ScD, co-author of the study and director of nutrition at Rush University Medical Center, "Insufficient vitamin B12 is very common in older people. The older we get we have a decreased ability to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet." In addition, many common medications can impair your absorption of vitamin B12. These include:
    • Antibiotics
    • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs like Nexium, Prevacid & Prilosec)
    • H2 receptor antagonists (like Zantac, Pepcid & Tagamet)
    • Metformin (diabetes medication)
    Unfortunately, many older adults regularly use these very medications!

    Take your B12 regularly for a fitter & fatter brain

    Before I talk about how to take B12, remember this... Always start with a good B-complex supplement. This will give you all the parts of the vitamin B family, not just B12. Some evidence suggests that taking a vitamin B complex is the only way to go because it helps to remove homocysteine from the body. In fact, remember, another Oxford study I told you about from last year? Some of the men and women in that study who took a vitamin B-complex each day reduced their brain atrophy by a whopping 50 percent! B12 is one of those vitamins, however, that you can take on its own without upsetting the balance of the whole family. So start with a B complex and then add some extra B12 if you and your doctor think you should. As I told you earlier this week, there are two common forms of man-made B12 on the market. Cyanocobalamin is the most common form. And despite internet rumors that you may have run across, it's completely safe to use. Today, I mainly use methylcobalamin, another form of B12, when it's available. Your body absorbs this form more readily. It is more expensive, however. Always go for sublingual forms that come in a dropper. You squeeze the liquid under your tongue. You can also look for B12 tablets that dissolve under your tongue. Lastly, if you're over 60, remember to have your B12 levels tested regularly. Just ask your doctor to add it to your routine blood work. Researchers from the University of Florida are even working on a new B12 breath test. You just breathe into a little tube right there in the doctor's office. Instantly, your doctor will know whether you have enough B12 to keep your brain healthy. But, keep in mind that the test is only really valuable if your levels are clinically low. If your numbers come back "normal" it doesn't mean that you can't...or shouldn't...work on improving your values. The fact is "normal" is simply a value arrived at by testing the public's numbers and not only is the range huge, but it also is likely on the low side. This is why it's so important to work with a trusted doctor or naturopath who can steer you in the right direction.
  13. Big Pharma's new drug - TC-5214 has a twisted history

    Big Pharma and Big Tobacco share the same bed Back in the 1950s U.S. researchers began testing on a high blood pressure drug called mecamylamine, known today as TC-5214. The drug didn't do much to lower blood pressure. So what the heck, they gave it to children with Tourette's syndrome. (Don't ask me why they gave it to kids with Tourette's.) Of course, mecamylamine didn't help the Tourette's symptoms. But researchers did notice that the children who took mecamylamine had a slight improvement in their depression symptoms. Now, jump forward to the mid-1980s. (This is where Big Pharma comes in.) In the mid-1980s, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company spent lots of money to develop "safer" cigarettes. A man named Donald deBethizy ran the R&D department. Specifically, he oversaw research into the effects of nicotine on the body. Over many years, RJR scientists learned a lot about the body's nicotine receptors. For instance, when your body's nicotinic receptors get over stimulated, you're prone to depression. The RJR scientists started tinkering with other compounds that could affect nicotinic receptors. They wanted to find something that would give you all the benefits of nicotine (such as increased alertness) without the negative effects of cigarettes. That's when RJR researchers stumbled across the hypertension drug from the 1950s. That drug, the researchers discovered, relaxes your brain's nicotinic receptors. Because of this, they believed they had a new depression blockbuster on their hands. The RJR scientists started to pour all their energies into mecamylamine research. They soon spun off from RJR to form a subsidiary called Targacept. And in 2000, they broke off entirely from Big Tobacco with $30.4 million in venture capital money. And guess what Targacept is now developing? Yes, they gave up on the "safe" cigarettes. Now, they're in the "safe" drug business. They acquired the rights to mecamylamine and its name. Now, they call it TC-5214. In fact... TC-5214 already made it through some early-phase clinical trials. As a result, stock prices for Targacept more than tripled in value at one point. At this stage in the game, Targacept's future depends on the performance of TC-5214 in five late-stage clinical trials. If it does well, experts expect Targacept's stocks to skyrocket by 100 to 200 percent. In addition, you can pretty much guarantee the FDA will approve TC-5214 for depression. Why TC-5214 should really scare you Without a doubt, TC-5214 has a checkered history at best. But you want to know what should really scare you the most about this new drug? It could be about as dangerous as they come. You see, most new depression drugs on the market increase serotonin. But TC-5214 is different. It works just like the old high blood pressure from the 1950s. It modulates nicotinic receptors. And guess which other drug on the market works this way too? (I'll give you a clue...it's only potentially one of the most dangerous drugs on the market today! And no, that's not just me being paranoid again. Even TIME magazine lists this as the #1 prescription drug linked to violence on the market. And it works in a similar way to TC-5214.) TC-5214 targets the same receptors as dangerous drug If you hadn't already guessed, TC-5214 works just like Chantix (the smoking cessation drug). They both target your body's nicotinic receptors. Specifically, both drugs curb the activity of a chemical messenger called acetylcholine in the brain. Ah, but the trustworthy developers (remember them!?) say TC-5214 is much safer than Chantix. Yeah, riiiight. I believe that. Research links Chantix to increased risk for violence, heart attack, and suicidal thoughts. I expect TC-5214 will run into the same problems. Nevertheless, AstraZeneca jumped on board with Targacept in 2009. They will pay as much as $1.24 billion for the rights to TC-5214 if it passes snuff. (Excuse the pun.) Unfortunately, I think it will and someday soon, you'll see Chantix's evil twin on the shelves as an anti-depressant. Targacept plans to announce the results of the phase III trial by the end of the year. I'll keep you posted on the results.
  14. Two reasons not to eat veggie burgers

    I love veggie burgers as much as the next guy does. But I'm careful which kind I choose. I always read the labels on the box. And I won't buy it if it contains soy protein, which could be genetically modified soy (GM soy) in disguise. Look for ones that contain grains and beans instead. Why is soy so bad? As I told you a few weeks back, 95 percent of the soybeans grown in America are genetically modified. And remember, food makers aren't required to tell you their veggie burgers contain GM soy. So you've probably eaten this franken-food without even knowing it. You find GM soy in lots of other products too, not just in veggie burgers. Food makers add it to processed foods to up the protein content. But they know you don't want it. So they hide the soy by calling it different things. When buying a veggie burger, watch out for: • Mono-diglyceride • Soya, Soja or Yuba • TSF (textured soy flour) or TSP (textured soy protein) • TVP (textured vegetable protein) • Lecithin Besides the genetic tinkering, GM soy has been linked to hormonal disruptions, libido problems, thyroid dysfunction, and even accelerated brain aging. You may wonder why everybody thinks soy is so good for you when most of the time it isn't. Here's why... One type of soy is good for you. It's called fermented soy. You find it in foods like tempeh, miso, natto, and traditionally-made soy sauce. But food manufacturers know you're confused. They make a lot of money selling "soy milk" because they know most consumers don't know any better. Now you know the difference.
  15. Vitamin D3 for depression in women

    The Institute of Medicine (or IOM) says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D each day. However, more and more research shows you need more than that -- much more. In fact, a brand new study of vitamin D3 for depression conducted by Harvard scientists found that women who took 800 IU or more of vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D in the body) lowered their depression risk. The study analyzed data for more than 80,000 post-menopausal women. At the beginning of the study, researchers measured the level of vitamin D3 in the volunteers' blood. They also asked the volunteers about the supplements they took and the foods they ate. Plus, they measured the women's depression symptoms using a standardized test. Here's what they found... Women who took a supplement with at least 800 IU of vitamin D3 per day reduced their depression risk by 21 percent. Plus, eating foods high in vitamin D is even more effective. In fact, the women who ate foods containing at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day reduced their depression risk by about 20 percent as well. Foods that contain vitamin D include: salmon, halibut, trout, shrimp, mushrooms, and eggs. The Harvard researchers want to see more studies using vitamin D to prevent and treat depression, specifically vitamin D3 for depression. And I say, bring it on! Just go for higher dosages, next time, will ya? I've always recommended men and women living in the northern half of the United States take up to 5,000 IU per day of vitamin D3.
  16. Scientists unlock new secrets about probiotics and brain chemistry

    You know probiotics are good for your gut. But can these "friendly" bacteria also affect your mood or your behavior? John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, thinks it's entirely possible. He recently completed a study of probiotics and brain changes that suggests friendly bacteria in your gut can actually alter your brain's chemistry! For this study, Cryan and colleagues fed mice broth containing the bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus. The name probably sounds familiar to you. That's because you'll find the Lactobacillus strain of bacteria in most probiotic supplements and forms of yogurt. After six weeks on this magic broth, the mice showed fewer signs of stress and anxiety! For example, the mice spend more time running through the narrow, elevated walkways and wide-open spaces. These spaces are generally scary to mice (who knew?!). The mice also pumped out fewer stress hormones when the researchers placed them in water. "This was really exciting because it tells us the animals are more chilled out and don't mount the same stress response," Cryan said. And best of all, researchers found a link between  mice taking probiotics and brain  changes occurring in their genes that program GABA, a neurotransmitter. GABA typically dampens neural activity in the brain. And many drugs used to treat anxiety target GABA receptors. None of these changes occurred in the mice that ate plain broth. Mike Lyte, a microbial endocrinologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene, commented on the work with the mice, probiotics and brain changes in Science Now. He said, "This is pioneering work. It's really showing that you can alter emotional states by regulating the microbiome." So keep up your probiotic regimen. Not only will your digestion improve, you mood may improve as well!
  17. The 7 ways to prevent Alzheimer’s they don't tell you

    Despite Big Pharma's best attempts... drugs can't cure or even reverse Alzheimer's disease (AD). To make matters worse, the mainstream press makes it sound like there's no earthly way to prevent Alzheimer’s. But that's a crock. Two leading experts say that we know exactly what causes MORE THAN HALF of all the AD cases around the world... and these cases are perfectly preventable! That’s right – there are scientific ways you can prevent Alzheimer’s from wrecking your life. Unfortunately, the hard truth gets zero play in the mainstream press. Just consider this... The day after this important study hit the newswire, USA Today ran a story about Alzheimer's disease and antidepressants. I can picture the editor in the newsroom... okay, should we run a story about how to prevent Alzheimer's disease... or should we write about Alzheimer's and Zoloft? Zoloft will win that coin toss every time! How many times have I said it? Prevention just isn't sexy. Well, it might not be sexy. But it does work. In fact... Experts uncovered 7 deadly health sins – that once you know – you could actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease from taking you down… Today, about 34 million people in the world live with Alzheimer's disease. But according to Dr. Deborah Barnes and Dr. Kristine Yaffe, about half of the cases were totally and completely preventable. Both women are professors at the University of California, San Francisco. They analyzed data from several different studies and came up with a list of seven deadly Alzheimer's sins. Now, I have to admit... The last few deadly sins on the list aren't terribly surprising. Risk factors #3 through #7 (in descending order) are: smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education, and diabetes. So, if you smoke or have high blood pressure in your 40s, your risk goes up. And if you carry too much weight in your 40s or get diabetes, that's a risk factor too. Low education also a risk factor. I imagine that shows the need to find quality healthcare throughout your life. That's always important. But the #1 and #2 deadly sins certainly surprised the heck out of me. In fact, they are not what most people think about when the worry about getting Alzheimer's. Research turns up surprising #2 deadly health sin The #2 risk factor for getting Alzhiemer’s disease depression. Yep. Depression. Apparently, chronic depression does more than just affect your mood. It affects your brain in ways we do not fully understand. So strive to keep the blues at bay – because it could even help you prevent ALzhimer’s disease, too. To do this, you'll want to make sure you take vitamin D, a B complex, and fish oil each day as I've told you before. In addition, studies show that one key plant extract may cut your depression symptoms by up to 80 percent! Plus, here's the... Shocking #1 deadly health sin you should avoid at all costs! Believe it or not, the #1 deadly sin is to sit on the couch! Yes, leading a sedentary lifestyle is the #1 worst thing you can do if you want to prevent Alzheimer's disease. In fact... According to the recent study, the professors say this alone increases your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease by more than 20 percent. In fact, they say 1 in 5 older adults in the U.S. will get Alzheimer's disease simply because they don't get up and move. Plus... The UCSF Profs aren't alone. In another recent study, French researchers followed nearly 2,000 high-risk women for seven years. Over this period, the researchers gave the women a series of cognitive and memory tests. They also asked the women about their level of physical activity. Here's what they discovered... How to turn back your brain's age Women who stayed more physically active tested far better than women who didn't remain active. In fact, they scored as well as someone five to seven years younger! So how did these brain-fit women stay physically fit? Did they run triathlons or swim 20 miles a day? Nope. They walked. For like 30 minutes a day. And, yes, this literally helped them to turn back their brains' age. According to Professor Barnes, "some very simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking, could have a tremendous impact to prevent Alzheimer's and other dementias in the United States and worldwide." Call me crazy, but the new research is profoundly comforting to me. It's not out of our hands, after all! And while we may not have a drug that can cure it, we sure know how to reduce our risk. So get out there and get moving. (See, my ultra-cool three-wheeled bike idea doesn't seem so crazy now, does it?)
  18. You can reduce anxiety by 20 percent

    Federal budgets are spiraling out of control... Alzheimer's disease is skyrocketing... global warming is everywhere. There's a lot to worry about these days. But you can keep your cool and maybe even reduce anxiety. And something that's probably already in your kitchen cabinet may help! Researchers from Ohio State recently recruited medical students to take part in a recent study aimed at learning how to  reduce anxiety. They divided the med students into two groups. One group took a fish oil supplement for three months. The other group took a placebo. Researchers measured if the students were able to reduce anxiety levels at different points during the study with a standardized test. Here's what they found... The fish oil group were able to reduce anxiety scores by 20 percent by the end of three months. Plus, they reduced their interleukin 6 (IL-6) by 14 percent. Interleukin 6 is a protein that causes inflammation throughout the body. Depression and anxiety increase its production, but fish oil appears to reduce it. And that's a good thing. According to Ron Glaser, PhD, at Ohio State, "Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases." Plus, this study looked at fish oil intake with young, healthy adults. The researchers think older adults taking fish oil may benefit even more than the young med students!
  19. Cinnamon and Alzheimer’s – new hope for reversing the disease

    Cinnamon and Alzheimer’s disease might sound like a strange combination but this common spice is bringing new hope for reversing this disease. It‘s one thing to prevent Alzheimer‘s disease (AD). You certainly can improve your odds by exercising each day. Also, keep your mind active. Take fish oil. Avoid aluminum. And drink green tea. It‘s another thing to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. A number of drugs claim to do that. (Although, you know I‘d rather poke a stick in my eye that take one of these pills. Plus, these drugs work less than 50 percent of the time.) On the other hand, several studies show vitamin E and ginkgo biloba can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. But it‘s a whole different ball game to reverse Alzheimer‘s disease. Or even to cure it. I‘m talking about repairing damaged nerves and removing harmful protein deposits. That, my friends, is something to write home about – especially when it involves cinnamon and Alzheimer’s disease! And Israeli scientists may have just stumbled across a way to combine cinnamon and Alzheimer’s to help prevent this awful disease. They found that cinnamon – yes, the shockingly common spice may hold the key to preventing -- even reversing -- the damage incurred by Alzheimer‘s disease. According to the lead researcher for the study, Professor Michael Ovadia of Tel Aviv University:

    The discovery is extremely exciting. While there are companies developing synthetic Alzheimer’s Disease inhibiting substances, our extract would not be a drug with side effects, but a safe, natural substance that human beings have been consuming for millennia.

    Understanding Alzheimer‘s disease

    Alzheimer‘s disease strikes one in eight Americans over age 65. It is a true epidemic. It occurs when twisted fragments of protein clog up nerve cells in the brain. This leads to the death of neurons. Unfortunately, the disease begins and grows for years in the brain before exhibiting outward symptoms. So for years, these proteins accumulate in the brain and no one knows they have AD. Once you start to show symptoms, it‘s often too late to stop it. But Professor Ovadia may say otherwise...

    Israeli scientist targets brains with AD

    Professor Ovadia found that an extract from the bark of the cinnamon plant is a powerful tool against AD – and combining cinnamon and Alzeimer’s for prevention, could really help you stave off this disease. (Yes, cinnamon is the shockingly common spice used in this new research!) The first phase of his research, Ovadia collected brain samples from patients with Alzheimer‘s disease. Then, he exposed AD brain cells to a serum containing the cinnamon extract. Right off the bat, he noticed that the cinnamon blocked the formation of toxic amyloid deposits. These deposits form harmful plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s  patients. They gunk up the space between neurons in the brain. Okay, so this makes the case that cinnamon and  Alzheimer‘s disease share a preventative connection. But how about reversing it? Can cinnamon extract do that? That‘s what surprised Professor Ovadia. He saw that when he applied the extract toAlzheimer’s brain cells, the extract broke down the protein deposits and tangles that had already formed. Put another way, the extract took apart the damage that already existed. Okay, so now we‘re really talking about reversing Alzheimer’s damage. But Professor Ovadia didn‘t stop there...

    Expert applies same technique to mice and flies

    When researching cinnamon and Alzheimer‘s disease, experts use mice and fruit flies bred with the disease. They choose these models because the disease affects them in a similar way to humans. The disease shortens their lifespan. It also reduces their normal activities. In addition, it often causes aggression. So, Professor Ovadia added the cinnamon extract to the drinking water of the mice and flies. Any guesses what happened? You got it. Their behavior started to improve. They started to act like healthy mice and flies. Plus, they didn‘t die prematurely. They lived to an age similar to healthy test subjects.

    Use caution with cinnamon and Alzheimer’s disease

    Does this mean you should start eating five tablespoons of cinnamon a day? No, not at all. Don‘t get me wrong, this new study shows incredible promise for anyone worried about Alzheimer‘s Disease -- BUT it‘s very important to note that the researchers used a special cinnamon extract. You see, there‘s a little known fact about raw cinnamon. In addition to its beneficial extracts, cinnamon also contains dangerous substances that can harm your liver if you take too much. They actually become toxic if you take more than 10 grams of raw cinnamon per day. And that‘s how much you‘d need to get these results. Professor Ovadia sidestepped this problem because he used a cinnamon extract. He extracted the beneficial compounds and discarded the toxic stuff. Tel Aviv University is trying to get a patent for their version of the cinnamon bark extract. If they get it approved, look for it to hit store shelves sometime soon!
  20. Get the “new” B12 breath test

    The new B12 breath test is so easy. Just breathe into a tube. Instantly, you’ll know whether you have enough B12. If you’re low, you can get a B12 shot right there and then. No trips to the blood lab. Researchers from the University of Florida developed this new tool. Hopefully this new B12 breath test will become more available as time goes on. Anything that makes it easier to test for B12 is a good thing. This vitamin plays a major role in your body, especially in your brain cells. If you don’t have enough B12, you can feel tired and depressed. You can even suffer from memory loss. Some studies even link low B12 to Alzheimer’s disease. Far too many of us don’t have enough. In fact, B12 deficiencies are very common. Researchers from Tufts recently took blood samples from 3,000 volunteers. They found that 39 percent of the volunteers didn’t have enough B12. You tend to see it among the elderly, vegetarians, and vegans. You also see it among men and women with digestive problems. So next time you’re at the doctors, ask about the new B12 breath test.

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