In this section you will find posts related to exercise and the brain. Whether you are interested in preventing dementia or a healthy pregnancy, exercise is one of the most impactful brain boosters out there. Aerobic exercise has been proven to improve memory and preserve brain health.
As you’re planning your New Year’s Resolutions, consider my list of suggestions for 2016:
- Exercise – Yes, you’ve heard it so many times before, but our understanding of what exercise does to enhance health is undergoing a revolution. While its been recognized for decades that aerobic exercise in particular is associated with risk reduction for various inflammatory and degenerative conditions, including type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain and even low libido, the breakthrough has been the discovery that aerobic exercise actually changes the expression of our DNA! These changes in gene expression turn on pathways that increase our body’s production of antioxidants while reducing inflammatory mediators and amping up detoxification pathways. Yes, it’s easier to take a pill or even a nutritional supplement, but the science supporting what and how exercise does its magic is really compelling. So moving forward, I’d like you to consider 20 minutes of aerobics, every day. Continue reading
Ashwagandha is an important herb in traditional Indian medicine because of its wide-ranging health benefits. As it turns out, there’s a lot of mainstream science surrounding this ancient herb that validates its potential in terms of benefit.
One recent study was designed to determine if providing Ashwagandha could have an effect on the aerobic capacity in elite athletes. The study involved dividing 40 athletes into experimental and placebo groups. The experimental group took 500 mg capsules of Ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks, while the placebo group took capsules of starch.
The researchers performed baseline studies of the cyclists and measured their aerobic capacity in a variety of ways with some fairly sophisticated equipment. After eight weeks they repeated the evaluation and compared the two groups.
I’ve been posting over the past several years about the relationship of Alzheimer’s disease to inflammation, and the process of inflammation in general. More recently we’ve seen information relating LPS, a chemical in the gut, also being related to inflammation. Interestingly, LPS is elevated Alzheimer’s disease as well. Continue reading
What if I told you that your gut bacteria have a large role to play in levels of BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which acts like growth hormone for the brain? In this video we look at probiotic supplementation and other ways to stimulate this brain protective hormone.
Yes, it’s true! Simply by engaging in basic lifestyle adjustments like regular exercise and smart dietary adjustments, you can increase production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, in your body, which stimulates the healthful development and production of your brain.
Back in medical school we were told that we were given a certain number of brain cells and that was it for life. However, this idea that humans do not grow new brain cells is now fully demonstrated to be wrong. How exciting it is that we possess the ability to grow brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. Not only that, but we retain this ability throughout our entire lifetimes. So you might be wondering: what can I do to increase neurogenesis? In this video we will explore at least one way to make this happen.
Some exciting news! Science has now discovered a medical treatment that can improve memory and it was published in the Journal of The American Medical Association. Let’s have a look at this recent study titled “Effect of Physical Activity on Cognitive Function in Older Adults at Risk for Azheimer Disease.” The authors of the study concluded that a physical activity program of an additional 142 minutes of exercise per week on average modestly improved cognition relative to controls in older adults with subjective and objective memory impairment.
A lot depends on how our cells respond to the chemical insulin. Insulin is a hormone, created in the pancreas, that functions by enhancing the way cells take in glucose. Higher levels of dietary carbohydrates and sugars cause the pancreas to increase its output of insulin in response. Unfortunately, as insulin levels climb, the receptors for insulin on the cells that basically answer the door to allow glucose to come in, become less likely to do so. That is to say, higher levels of glucose and carbohydrate consumption, leading to increased insulin secretion from the pancreas, ultimately set the stage for cells to become less sensitive to insulin and therefore less able to help with the task of lowering sugar. Ultimately this leads to elevation of the blood sugar which we call diabetes. Continue reading
Humans are natural endurance athletes. While the concept of “carb loading,” or the use of sports drinks and gels in endurance events are increasingly popular, human physiology is perfectly set up to use fat as a fuel for endurance exercise.
Olaf Sorensen, seen here in the blue shirt, is a 40-year-old long-distance runner who will be running a marathon soon. What’s unique about his upcoming endeavor is that, first, his goal for this event is to beat his grandfather’s Olympic qualifying time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. But what is particularly unique about Olaf’s plan is that he plans to accomplish this feat on a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet. He will essentially demonstrate to the world that being in a state of ketosis (burning fat as opposed to carbohydrates) is an extremely efficient human adaptation permitting long stretches of efficient physical activity.
Olaf does a lot of his running either barefoot or with minimal footwear, again emulating our forebears. I really appreciated his instructions when we ran together. But while I’m definitely dialed in on the keto adaptation part of the story, I’ll likely stick with my running shoes.
We will be following Olaf’s progress and will soon provide information about the movie being made about this incredible athlete.
Q: What is neuroplasticity and how does it work?
I posted an answer to this question over on IntegrativePractitioner. What follows are snippets from that article. For the whole article see: Making New Connections: The Gift of Neuroplasticity.
The ability of the brain to change and reorganize itself and its function is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity provides us with a brain that can adapt not only to changes inflicted by damage, but more importantly, allows adaptation to any and all experiences and changes we may encounter, freeing us from merely responding reflexively as a consequence of genetically determined hardwiring. Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone recently stated that neuroplasticity “… is an intrinsic property of the human brain and represents evolution’s invention to enable the nervous system to escape the restrictions of its own genome and thus adapt to environmental pressures, physiological changes, and experiences.”
Q: What are some ways to avoid getting Alzheimer’s?
A: Here are the fundamental keys for reducing your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, a disease for which there is no treatment. Continue reading