Archive for February, 2016
Shakespeare said a person’s eyes are the window to the soul. But they’re more than that: Research into how we react to light shows that our eyes are also functional portals right into the brain. Investigations show that merely by selecting the right shades of light in your surroundings, you can make a big difference in the way your brain functions.
According to scientists who have examined these effects, if you want to help your brain perform more powerfully — and possibly eliminate depression, too — you should try blue light. This simple tool could be a godsend for you. The effects can be quite powerful.
A Special Message from Lee Euler
Improve Your Memory by 47%?
YES, YOU CAN!
If you’ve ever wondered why it becomes harder to recall names, dates and figures with every passing year, I have news of an important new discovery out of Asia to share with you.
Until now, you could take steps to help protect your brain from aging, but nothing could dramatically improve your memory, your thinking and even your intelligence like this does, and give you results that you can actually feel in a matter of weeks.
Now this newly discovered and important “brain factor” can revitalize areas of the brain you need to remember names and faces – and everything else that’s precious to you.
This substance is clinically proven to improve performance on the most accurate memory test ever developed when it comes to predicting whether a person is likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s years from now.
This means you can start increasing your memory ability long before it becomes obvious this part of your brain is deteriorating. It’s truly remarkable.
No drug, no antioxidant, no omega-3 fatty acid and no brain herb like ginkgo can achieve results like this. To discover this memory-saving secret for yourself, click here for full details.
A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that exposure to blue, short wavelength light during the day can make your thinking sharper, drive away fatigue, increase alertness and boost your performance at mental tasks.i
“Our previous research has shown that blue light is able to improve alertness during the night, but our new data demonstrate that these effects also extend to daytime light exposure,” says researcher Shadab Rahman, who is with Brigham’s division of sleep medicine. “These findings demonstrate that prolonged blue light exposure during the day has an alerting effect.”
In this research, the scientists studied how blue light impacts people’s abilities to stay mentally focused.
After 6.5 hours of exposure to blue, the scientists found that the subjects in the study felt less drowsy, quickened their reaction times and increased their attention span during specialized tests compared to folks using other colors.
MRIs of their brains displayed brain activity that signaled heightened alertness.
“These results contribute to our understanding of how light impacts the brain and open up a new range of possibilities for using light to improve human alertness, productivity and safety,” says researcher Steven Lockley, Ph.D., a neuro-scientist. “While helping to improve alertness in night workers has obvious safety benefits, day shift workers may also benefit from better quality lighting that would not only help them see better but also make them more alert.”
Avoid Blue at Dinner
While taking advantage of blue light early in the day may enhance your daytime performance, you should avoid blue lighting around dinner time.
Research at Northwestern University in Chicago, shows that blue light right before dinner and while you eat can increase your feelings of hunger and change your metabolism.ii
The scientists found that people exposed to blue light at this time began to experience heightened hunger fifteen minutes after the blue light was turned on and were still hungry two hours after eating.
The blue light also made them less sleepy and increased their insulin resistance, a condition that can be an early sign of type 2 diabetes.
“It was very interesting to observe that a single three-hour exposure to blue-enriched light in the evening acutely impacted hunger and glucose metabolism,” says researcher Ivy Cheung.
Using Blue to Beat the Blues
Many people already use light boxes that give off blue light to help them fight off depression, especially during the winter months when daylight is restricted. Author Douglas Coupland, writing in the Financial Times, reports that one session with a blue light box seems to have permanently driven away his depression.iii
Mr. Coupland’s story is remarkable. He was suffering a severe depression that lifted immediately when he looked into the blue light box – and it stayed away for good. According to his account, he doesn’t suffer from chronic depression – he was just experiencing a one-off episode – but his story suggests to me that people who suffer from depression should look into this simple, do-it-yourself treatment.
And by the way, depression is related to dementia, so if you’ve got it, you want to do something about it (see Issue #117). Just enter the terms “blue light box therapy” on your search engine and you’ll find a variety of devices similar to what Mr. Coupland used.
Studies by George Brainard at the Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia confirm that a special photoreceptor in the eyes coordinates the body’s daily rhythms and, possibly, your moods with the type of light that surrounds you.iv
So if you’re feeling blue, dull, downtrodden and worthless, it’s worth trying blue to lighten your mood and sharpen your brain’s mental focus.
In the 1950’s, US Army physicians were the first to witness a mysterious epidemic that caused paralysis, shaking and dementia among the Chamorro people on the remote Pacific island of Guam.
Medical researchers from around the world followed the story with keen interest to see if the illness could provide clues to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Only a food-borne explanation fitted the facts, but the victims ate such a small quantity of the seeds suspected of causing the disease, it could not account for the symptoms.
Four decades later the disease had declined and the trail had gone cold until a flash of insight resurrected the original theory. This has implications for all of us. . .
A Special Message from Lee Euler, Editor
Could your blood sugar
use some quick help?
Before you answer, consider this: Blood sugar is the #1 factor for good health and long life.
Out-of-control blood sugar is linked to every serious degenerative disease on the Top 10 Killers list. It harms every important organ in your body, including your heart, brain, eyes, kidneys – even your sex life!
So today I’m excited to introduce a new natural solution to high blood sugar – and I’m not talking about changing the way you eat or shedding excess pounds. Of course, we all know we should do those things, but meanwhile, here’s a quick, easy way to support healthy blood sugar right now.
According to the new research, a toxic algae found in soils, lakes and oceans — and consumed by the fish and shellfish we eat — could be linked to Alzheimer’s and other neurological illnesses. Just to make things more complicated, it’s not actually a type of algae, it’s a strain of bacteria.
This is how the story unfolded.
Toxin Found In Blue-Green Algae
Early researchers found that the Chamorros made flour from the seed of the cycad plant, which contained an amino acid derivative called beta-Methylamino-L-alanine or BMAA. This was found to be toxic to spinal nerve cells.
Several decades later, Paul Fox, a Ph.D. and director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, discovered that the Chamorros ate fruit bats and that these bats feast on cycad seeds.
He theorized that BMAA became concentrated in the bats and the biological effect was magnified when the animals were eaten by humans. Since the bats were hunted close to extinction in the 1980s, it would also explain why the epidemic had receded.
In 2003 he published the results of his findings. They showed that these bats were brimming with BMAA.
The original food-borne explanation had been correct after all, and now took on a new importance because BMAA is produced by cyanobacteria, better-known as blue-green algae.
BMAA grows more rapidly in lakes, rivers and reservoirs when fertilizers and sewage run off the land. The algae have become widespread in the environment in recent years.
Earlier studies found BMAA in South Florida fish and shellfish and in other areas where large algae blooms are present.
Neurologist Elijah Stommel began to think there was “something in the water” when he discovered an unusually large number of his ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) patients lived around bodies of water. He suspects BMAA.
BMAA Causes Alzheimer’s-Like Plaques & Tangles
Dr. Fox, now professor at the Institute for Ethnomedicine in Wyoming, published his most recent findings in January, 2016.
He and his colleagues fed vervet monkeys bananas spiked with BMAA for 140 days. It was an amount of BMAA the Chamorro were estimated to consume over a lifetime.
All the monkeys developed abnormal brain structures. Professor Fox said, “The parts of the vervets’ brains we found plaques in, and the density of the tangles, were very similar to early stage Alzheimer’s disease.”
Fellow study author Dr. Deborah Mash said, “This study takes a leap forward in showing causality.”
While their results explain the cause of the disease on Guam, as the pathology in the monkeys was virtually identical to that of the islanders, there are differences in the way the structures are formed compared to those found in Alzheimer’s.
Even so, because other researchers found BMAA much more common in patients with ALS and Alzheimer’s, it’s quite likely that this toxin provides one explanation for neurodegenerative diseases.
In another study, BMAA toxin was detected in nine Canadian Alzheimer’s patients but not in 14 others who died of diseases not caused by neurodegeneration.
Professor Cox thinks that only people with certain genes may be susceptible. He said, “If the genes are the gun, the toxin is the trigger.”
L-Serine to the Rescue
Not content with finding a possible cause of neurodegenerative diseases, the researchers wanted to see if there was a way of preventing BMAA from becoming embedded in the brain.
An earlier report suggested that BMAA could be incorporated into brain cells instead of the amino acid L-serine. In the form of a supplement, L-serine has also been found to improve memory in people who complained of memory loss.
To test the idea, Professor Cox and his team gave a separate group of monkeys BMAA and L-serine in equal doses. Here the protein tangles were far less dense than in the BMAA-only group.
It’s too early to come to any firm conclusions regarding L-serine but a preliminary trial is underway to see if the supplement will help those diagnosed with ALS.
What You Can Do Now
So what can you do to avoid this toxin?
A study published in Nature in 2014 suggests fish eaters don’t have much to worry about, but people who eat shellfish frequently might like to think again. BMAA was found in every sample of blue mussel, oyster and shrimp tested. Shark fin soup also had high levels.
Researchers found BMAA in 95% of 30 cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) samples they tested. Some manufacturers of blue-green algae and spirulina supplements have announced that their products are free of BMAA. I suspect all producers will now need to reassure the public and stamp ‘BMAA Free’ on the label of their algae products in future.
In a quick search of the Web, I did not find any instances of spirulina supplements contaminated with BMAA. Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria. Chlorella, a similar supplement, is a “true algae” and not a cyanobacterium. So it seems to me (a non-scientist) that chlorella should be free of BMAA.
Almost everyone knows about Alzheimer’s disease, but few understand there are other major threats to your brain health, especially as you age.
Alzheimer’s disease, in fact, is just one of several types of dementia that can destroy your memory.
Dementia is the general term encompassing memory deterioration, persistent confusion and other mental processing problems. A number of different health conditions can bring it on.
Keep reading because this may be lifesaving information – if it keeps you or a loved one from being treated for the wrong medical problem. . .
A Note from Lee Euler, Editor & Publisher
Surprised Brain Scientists Discover…
The Scary Reason
You’re Suddenly So Forgetful
— and How to Reverse the Problem:
Are your new “memory lapses” and sudden forgetfulness normal for your age? Or are these the early signs of something more serious?
Brace yourself for a surprise, my friend…
Brain scientists have just discovered that the majority of age-related forgetfulness has nothing to do with “age” at all!
Instead, they are reporting an epidemic of memory loss being caused by 4 secret factors that are destroying brain cells in seniors and 20-somethings alike.
You can stop all 4 of these brain-destroyers in their tracks — and actually reverse their progression. In this Special Report, a leading M.D. details how to stimulate the self-repair and revitalization of your brain…
One thoroughly-documented research study concluded:
“Their brains performed as if they were 14 YEARS YOUNGER!”
Wouldn’t you love it if your brain functioned like that — for life? The very encouraging news is: There’s a lot you can do to keep your brain young! Take a look at the groundbreaking research which proves it.
Here’s a quick rundown of the diseases that can cause memory loss and confusion:
Alzheimer’s disease: The most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s represents 60 to 80 percent of all cases of dementia. Although the root causes of Alzheimer’s are elusive, signs of this condition in the brain include the accumulation of protein fragments (beta-amyloid plaques) as well as distorted strands and tangles of proteins called tau. As Alzheimer’s progresses, a wide range of the brain’s neurons also die off.
Vascular dementia: This type of dementia, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain becomes limited, is believed to represent up to 30 percent of the cases of dementia. While the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is often memory loss, vascular dementia may begin with problems in motor control, along with difficulty making decisions and staying organized.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies: This type of dementia can start out with memory loss similar to Alzheimer’s, but early symptoms can also include insomnia, hallucinations and muscle stiffness (when the dementia is a part of Parkinson’s syndrome). Dementia with Lewy Bodies accounts for an estimated 10 to 25 percent of dementia cases. The destructive Lewy bodies that are deposited in brain cells consist mostly of alpha-synuclein protein, a substance whose normal function is still unknown.
Parkinson’s disease: The brain problems of Parkinson’s are caused by Lewy bodies which, at the beginning of the disease, usually affect parts of the brain that control muscle movement. Parkinson’s affects about two percent of everybody over the age of 65. It is estimated that from 50 to 80 percent of people with Parkinson’s eventually suffer dementia.
Frontotemporal dementia: This condition usually begins with language problems and personality changes. Neurons in the front and sides of the brain are usually compromised. It is usually more quickly fatal than Alzheimer’s disease.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD): Sometimes related to mad-cow disease, CJD interferes with memory, coordinated movement and behavior. It is caused by the misfolding of prion proteins in the brain. It is rare.
Normal pressure hydrocephalus: This form of dementia results from fluid accumulation in the brain’s ventricles (hollow compartments in the brain). It leads to memory loss and interferes with coordinated movement. It can sometimes be relieved by draining the fluid.
Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that leads to mood problems, interferes with intellectual ability and can cause involuntary movements.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine usually linked to alcoholism. Memory loss is a symptom.
If these types of dementia are unknown to you, you’re not alone. That’s remarkable when you consider that at least two out of ten – and perhaps as many as four out of ten – dementia cases are NOT Alzheimer’s disease.
Research at Trinity College in Ireland shows that most people around the world have very little understanding of what can go wrong with the brain.1
According to these researchers, most people don’t understand that:
- Dementia and memory problems are not necessarily a normal part of aging. The brain is not inevitably doomed to lose function as you get older.
- Many risk factors for dementia can be controlled. If you don’t smoke, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid junk food, exercise and stay socially active, your chances of dementia diminish.
The Irish researchers add that keeping a healthy heart and cardiovascular system is perhaps the most important measure you can take to keep your brain healthy.
We know that physical activity is not just nourishing for the body but healthy for the brain, too. A good, brisk walk every day can help stave off dementia.
Now a new study published in January, 2016 in the journal Neurology suggests that seniors’ normal walking speed could indicate their chances of developing Alzheimer’s, and even correlates with how much plaque build-up is in their brains.
This is what the researchers discovered. . .
Special Message from Lee Euler
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Dr. Natalia del Campo from University Hospital, Toulouse, France led the study involving 128 men and women with an average age of 76.
The participants, who had some memory complaints, were asked to walk four meters (13 feet) at their usual walking pace. Age, sex, education, body mass index, and APOE genotype were all taken into consideration in interpreting the results. (The APOE gene is related to Alzheimer’s risk)
The participants also took tests for thinking and memory, which indicated that nearly half the people in the group had mild cognitive impairment.
Plaque Builds Up With Even Modest Memory Problems
They also had brain scans to measure the amount of amyloid beta plaques present. The results of the scans showed that, again, almost half (48%) had levels associated with a diagnosis of dementia.
The most important discovery the researchers made was that those who walked more slowly had a greater build-up of amyloid beta in five areas of the brain, including the putamen, which regulates physical movement.
The slower walkers had between 1% and 9% more plaques than the faster walkers — even though 126 of the 128 walked within what was considered a normal walking pace averaging 2.3 mph for the group
Normal Walk and Symptom-Free
Could Still Signal Alzheimer’s
Dr. del Campo said, “These results suggest that subtle walking disturbances, in addition to subjective memory concerns, may signal Alzheimer’s disease, even in people who are fully asymptomatic and have a walking pace within the normal range.”
The researchers’ report also stated that, “Our findings are consistent with previous neuropathologic evidence showing a relationship between post mortem Alzheimer’s pathology and rate of decline in gait speed prior to death.”
Dr. Joseph Masdeu, director of imaging at the Nantz National Alzheimer Center in Houston, was not surprised by the findings. He said, “The way you walk is influenced by systems of the brain that set the pace, so when this part of the brain isn’t working properly, it may have an impact on gait or speed.”
Dr. del Campo explained that the study does not prove a causal link between walking speed and Alzheimer’s. She cited three possible ways to interpret the results.
First, there could be a lifestyle or physical health factor common to both, such as diet or hypertension. Second, a slower walk could be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, reflecting aging and a brain that’s more vulnerable to damage. Third, a build-up of amyloid toxicity causes a slower gait speed.
In her personal view, all three aspects are most likely involved.
Age-related hearing loss — technically called presbycusis — affects about one-third of adults aged 65 to 74, and more than half of people 75 and older.
The condition is more than just an embarrassment for the afflicted and a frustration for loved ones …
Studies show it could be a direct cause of devastating cognitive decline and dementia.
Thankfully, studies also show there’s hope — and that taking action to treat hearing loss can make a real difference. Read on to discover what you can do to improve your quality of life and prevent damage to your brain. . .
Hearing Loss Speeds Cognitive Decline
Numerous studies have shown a direct relationship between untreated hearing loss and faster rates of cognitive decline.
In a 2011 study, Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University found older adults with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss were (respectively) twice, three times and five times as likely to develop dementia than the group with no hearing loss.1
A follow-up study published in 2013 confirmed the correlation between hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline in older adults in their late seventies. The researchers found people with hearing loss had a 24% greater risk of cognitive impairment than those without.2
In both studies, the findings held true regardless of age, sex, race, education, smoking, diabetes and hypertension.
Hearing Loss Contributes to Shrinking Brain
Regular readers of this newsletter know that the brain physically shrinks with age, and that this brain loss is associated with loss of memory and cognitive ability.
So it’s of keen interest to learn in another study by Dr. Lin’s team that hearing loss directly affects brain volume.
Over a six-year time span, the team used MRI scans to analyze brain volume changes in participants with normal hearing and in those with impaired hearing.
They found the people with trouble hearing had lost an additional cubic centimeter of brain tissue compared to those with normal hearing.3
The overall brain volume had decreased, but what was particularly interesting was that the right temporal lobe lost significant volume. This region contains multiple layers of the temporal gyri, which are responsible for processing sound and speech.
The temporal gyri are also associated with memory and sensory integration, and have been shown to be affected by cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.4
The reason for the tissue loss is clear as a bell:
Use it or lose it.
If you can’t hear, the areas of your brain required to process audio and store it as memory are essentially starved and wither from lack of use, causing physical neurodegeneration.
Hearing Aids and Nutrition Can Help
Despite common belief, age-related hearing loss is not a lifelong sentence to deafness and saying, “Huh?”
Supplements such as magnesium5, B12 and folate6 have been shown to improve hearing. Other studies suggest selenium, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), copper and zinc can all help improve hearing loss.
Besides nutrition, wearing a hearing aid can make a significant difference in both quality of life and maintaining brain volume. If you can hear and engage in conversation – or even hear TV and music — the areas of your brain responsible for processing speech get a workout instead of atrophying.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found people with hearing loss who used a hearing aid showed no difference in cognitive decline than folks in the normal hearing group.7
A hearing aid doesn’t just keep the brains of individuals with hearing loss healthy. A National Council on the Aging (NCOA) survey showed people with hearing impairment who started using a hearing aid reported significant improvements in relations with loved ones, greater self-confidence, improved mental health and other benefits besides.8
I’m not surprised!
If you’ve been experiencing even gradual symptoms of hearing loss, do your brain a favor and have an audiologist check it out. Ditto for loved ones who don’t hear as well as they used to. Then take whatever measures are necessary to attend to it before it’s too late.
Diminished hearing doesn’t have to mean diminished quality of life … much less actual loss of brain tissue!
(1) Hearing loss and incident dementia.
(2) Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults.
(3) Association of hearing impairment with brain volume changes in older adults. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811914000032
(4) Specific temporoparietal gyral atrophy reflects the pattern of language dissolution in Alzheimer’s disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10219781
(5) Oral magnesium intake reduces permanent hearing loss induced by noise exposure. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8135325
(6) Age-related hearing loss, vitamin B-12, and folate in elderly women.
(7) Self-reported hearing loss, hearing aids, and cognitive decline in elderly adults: A 25-year study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26480972
(8) Untreated hearing loss linked to depression, social isolation in seniors. http://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation