Monthly Archives: March 2009

Dr. Nussbaum named to Chair of Alzheimer’s Prevention Education

The Fit Brains crew extends our congratulations to Dr. Paul Nussbaum for being named to Chair of the Advisory Board for Alzheimer’s Prevention Education, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  Dr. Nussbaum is the Chief Scientific Officer of Fit Brains and an active contributor to the Brain Fitness Blog.

For more information about Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

More Brain Fitness Information.

Your Brain Health Lifestyle with Dr. Paul Nussbaum

For everything the human brain has accomplished, it’s a little ironic that our brains don’t fully understand how they, themselves, actually work. Dr. Paul Nussbaum(FitBrains CSO) is getting closer to understanding, and his new book, “Your Brain Health Lifestyle,” is all about how to make the most of your brain. Click here for the video of Dr. Nussbaum talking about brain health on Twin Cities Live

Nutrition…

  • Antioxidants clean up harmful free radicals – free radicals lead to decline in cell function
  • Get antioxidants from beta-carotenes, vitamins A, C, E, and mineral selenium

Physical Activity…

Mental Stimulation…

  • Read and write daily – try things that are novel and complex
  • Developing a good language system is linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Do puzzles and games that are “novel and complex” – playing Scrabble every single day won’t do it, so change it up!
  • Try writing with your non-dominant hand

Resveratrol. Is it the answer?

60 Minutes ran a segment about the health benefits of red wine, specifically the apparent powers of resveratrol, a polyphenol that is found in the skin of grapes and is thought to prevent illness and promote longevity (the Brain Fitness Blog reported on this a few months ago). Resveratrol is said to have a role in preventing clots and is believed to inhibit the production of LDL cholesterol. The 60 Minutes episode highlighted the work of Dr. Christoph Westphal and Harvard biochemist David Sinclair, whose research suggests that resveratrol can delay the aging process and prevent many gerontological diseases. A few years ago, scientists reported that resveratrol may discourage the onset of one such illness, Alzheimer’s. It is also claimed that this antioxidant can boost stamina, reduce lung inflammation stemming from chronic pulmonary disease, and help stave off cancer. Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also say that they’ve isolated the chemical and given it to mice.  The mice given high doses of Resveratrol were able to run farther, didn’t gain as much weight, and lived 20% longer.

Wine Consumption and Health

Meditation Slows AIDS Progression

A recent study found that meditation may slow the progression of AIDS in just a few weeks. Researchers believe that meditation may help boost the immune system in combating the progression of the disease. This finding needs replication in a larger sample of patients, but it could offer a cost effective and relatively pleasant method to help people battle the terrible and progressive fatal condition. The stress lowering program known as “mindfulness meditation” was used. This type of meditation employs an open and receptive awareness of the present moment, avoiding thinking of the past or worrying about the future.

Researchers found the more often the patients meditated the higher their CD4-T Cell counts, a standard measure of how well the immune system is fighting the AIDS virus. The CD4 counts were measured before and after the two-month program. Researchers point out that this is the first study to indicate mindfulness meditation stress management training can have a direct impact on slowing HIV disease progression.

A larger issue here is that we are beginning to explore how the brain itself can begin to change the physiology of the body. Indeed I have speculated for some time that the brain has the ability to fix the body, we simply need to learn how. Perhaps we are on the right path!

Some Medications May Help to Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent report indicates aspirin and non-steroidal antinflammatory drugs seem to have the positive and perhaps unexpected benefit, of cutting a person’s risk of developing AD.

Researchers at John’s Hopkins reviewed data from 13,499 cases to measure the protective effect from these commonly used drugs on AD risk. Over the course of the studies 820 people developed AD. However, those who used the non-steroidal drugs including aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and other brands) and Naproxen together had a 23% lower risk for AD than those who did not use such medications.

Researchers stated that while the different types of medications have different properties, they seemed to deliver the same level of protection. This study and others in the past underscore the probable contribution of an inflammatory process related to AD.

This study and the others do not suggest everyone should start taking these medications, but it might be a good topic to discuss with your doctor.

Do we really understand Placebo?

A recent article in the USA Today discussed “the placebo effect” and the debate surrounding it. According to the American Medical Association “a placebo is a substance provided to a patient that the physician believes has no specific pharmacological effect upon the condition being treated.” Perhaps more important to the understanding of the placebo effect is the belief of the patient.

According to a national (USA) survey in 2008 as many as 50% of physicians prescribe placebos at least once a month. The interaction of mind and body that underlies the placebo effect has been known for many years. Tension exists regarding the placebo as some believe it is unethical for doctors to deceive patients by not telling them about the placebo intervention. However, 1 in 20 doctors who prescribed placebos explicitly described them as such to patients. The question is do placebos actually make patients feel better and does this outweigh the responsibility to inform patients about their use.

Across studies with different medical conditions results suggest there is an active treatment effect of placebo and in some cases this may be significant. Factors such as warmth, empathy, duration of doctor-patient interaction and communication of positive expectation might play an important role in healthy outcomes. If these factors are indeed important and contributory to a positive outcome for a patient, the need to deceive is removed.

Perhaps placebo reflects the long held belief that our brains can have an impact on the condition of our body. Perhaps a message delivered by a person that the patient perceives as knowing and within a context the brain perceives as credible can lead to our own body helping to solve the medical issue. Further, given the rather consistent positive impact of “placebos” on patient outcomes it seems time to begin rethinking the therapeutic effect of mind over matter and to integrate such care into the standard regimen of our “health care system.”