I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to the 2012 Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals (www.globalfinals.org) event in Knoxville Tennessee. I provided the keynote address for opening ceremonies and learned about DI during my time spent over the four days at the event.
DI is a not-for-profit that brings young students together from across the planet to engage in critical thinking and creative challenges within an environment of competition. I can tell everyone that I saw tremendously talented young people from across the globe and I am happy to pronounce that our future is in good hands!
Chuck Cadle, CEO of DI has done a terrific job of leading DI with hundreds of volunteers committed to the mission of inspiring young brains to create and innovate. In a world where we talk about the need to apply our knowledge, DI is setting the pace.
I was given the opportunity to provide a five-minute keynote address to the 17,000 gathered at opening ceremonies in the basketball arena at the University of Tennessee. While I have spoken to many audiences across North America, this was truly a unique and awesome experience. There was some concern that young children might not be interested in hearing about the human brain and the importance that learning and lifestyle can have on the brain. I had no doubt, and many quickly learned how capable and interested these young people are in the brain.
I was so impressed with watching the student groups perform their competitive challenges and with the fun that was generated by all. I was also humbled by the genuine interest of so many students, teachers, and parents from many nations who introduced themselves to me and said they enjoyed my keynote. I met many new friends and I congratulate the families who participated in 2012 Global Finals at DI.
Great job to Chuck and the entire DI staff. Thanks for letting be a small part.
A new study to be published in the Archives of Neurology reports levels of amyloid beta, a byproduct of brain activity considered a marker in Alzheimer’s disease, normally rises during the day and decreases at night. Authors of the study suggest a possible link between sleep deprivation and people’s risk for developing dementia such as Alzheimer’s.
It is well established that reduced sleep can lead to cognitive dysfunction. However, prolonged sleep disturbance may play a role in pathologic processes underlying disease.
The authors indicate that levels of amyloid beta increase and decrease naturally. In healthy people, levels of the protein drop to their lowest level about six hours after sleep and then return to their highest levels six hours after peak wakefulness. The transition from sleep to wakefulness strongly correlated with the rise and fall of amyloid beta. The relationship was most pronounced in healthy, young people and less so in older adults who suffer shorter or more prolonged periods of disrupted sleep.
The authors suggested that the brain’s low activity during sleep allows the body to clear amyloid beta through the spinal fluid. Levels of the protein in Alzheimer’s patients, however, appear to be constant. The authors note that more research is needed, but there are reasons to believe that better sleep may be helpful in promoting brain health and reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep may be a factor in the known relationship between exercise and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s as sleep is related to enhanced sleep.
Moderate physical exercise combined with computer use late in life is associated with a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The research indicated that while both elements related to lowered risk of MCI, there was an additive interaction that created enhanced value according to Yonas Geda, M.D. who presented the research at the annual meeting of the Academy of Neurology.
A random sample of 926 elderly, ages 70 through 90, completed questionnaires on physical exercise, cognitive activities, and caloric intake during the previous year. All were considered non-demented and the diagnosis of MCI, if appropriate, came later. 817 of the original sample were considered normal cognitively and 109 were diagnosed with MCI.
Significant differences were found between the two groups as the normal subjects were younger, better educated, less likely to suffer depression, and had fewer medical problems. When these factors were controlled, the following was found:
Any frequency of moderate exercise was cognitively protective.
Any frequency of computer use was cognitively protective.
Caloric intake was deleterious.
When caloric intake was controlled, physical exercise and computer use had an additive interaction that was significant. For purposes of this study, computer use seemed to have more value than other cognitive enhancing activities such as reading
This study adds to other research that demonstrates brain health promoting effects of computer use with physical exercise.
The savory scent of rosemary can perk you up and boost your memory, and it also adds flavor to just about any marinade. Marinating meat will not only help keep your meat moist, it also significantly decreases the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures. In fact, rosemary is full of the antioxidant carnosol, which might have some specific anti-cancer properties as well. Making a marinade with rosemary sounds like a win-win situation.
There are 5 major roles in determining how your body can react and handle stress:
1. Immune System
4. Mineral and Vitamin balance
According to the Fibro and Fatigue Inc (2008), a baseline analysis is a critical component to understanding your body’s metabolic balance. Research shows that nutritional imbalances may manifest themselves with a number of symptoms, exacerbate existing conditions or led to chronic conditions/disease.
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
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 increases blood flow to the brain – try to take 10,000 steps daily!
A new study found mice that consumed junk food for nine months demonstrated signs of the abnormal brain tangles typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Indeed, a diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.
The study published by the Karolinska Institute’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center found a chemical change in the brains that were fed the unhealthy diet, not unlike that found in the AD brain.
The researchers suggest a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic predisposition can adversely affect several brain substances that may contribute to onset of AD.
The combination of the gene type APOE-4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and a known risk factor for AD, and the diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol led to the abnormal build up of the protein Tau and tangles. Interestingly, the animals also demonstrated reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage.
The results offer another hint that AD may be attacked by lifestyle (diet) prior to its onset and progressive damage.
With regard to the human brain we can provide general advice about how to promote brain health across the lifespan. When we were cavemen and cavewomen we ate one good fat for every bad fat. Today, we eat about 15 bad fats for every good fat. This is important because our brains are composed of about 60% fat and the lipid substance helps to facilitate information processing.
Thinking live a cave person might be a good exercise when thinking about what to eat. We should try and eat plants/vegetables, nuts, beans, fruit, fish, and lean game such as chicken. We should try to reduce processed foods, red meat, trans fatty acids, soda and foods high in sugar. We should strive to eat less than more and use utensils more often as it might help to less consumption of food and a healthier consumption of foods.
It is also important to realize that foods are supposed to be pleasurable and that an occasional piece of cake, pie, ice cream, etc will not cause major damage to the system. This is particularly true when one follows some of the general advice above.
I personally have begun a study of my own diet with increased intake of fruits and vegetables, reduction in processed fats, removal of soda from the diet, and increased fish and lean chicken. It is not uncommon for me to now have fruit in the am and day with a salad (olive oil and vinegar are good for the brain), and a piece of fish or chicken at night. I have been relatively consistent though I fail now and then. I am observing change in body mass and in psychology including energy and mental alertness.
Stay tuned and I will provide you an update in the near future!
As part of our ongoing discussion on brain fitness (e.g. brain games) and health lifestyle I have proposed, it is now time to consider the fattiest part of you……your brain.
Your brain, the most miraculous system ever designed in the history of the universe, weighs between two and four pounds and is made up of 60% fat. As a system of your body, it is indeed your fattiest. It is important to understand the role of the fat and how you may keep the fat nice and robust.
One role for the fat in your brain is to insulate neural tracks of cells to propel the electrical impulse carrying information in a rapid way. Without the fat, the brain cells are not insulated and information processing will slow. Many of us complain about how slow our computer is; imagine how tough it must be to suffer a slowing of our own information processing speed.
Research suggests Omega 3 fatty acids are a good source to build or maintain the healthy fat in our system and brain. Indeed, research suggests consumption of Omega 3s can help to fight off dementia. Foods rich in Omega 3s include fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines. Unsalted nuts such as walnuts are also rich in Omega 3s. It is suggested that we increase our fish intake to several ounces several times a week.
Another important brain boosting food includes fruits and vegetables because they are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to rid the body of oxygen based toxins known as free radicals thought to create breakdown in muscle and tissue. At least one national governing body indicates we should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
For the New Year consider increasing your intake of fish, fruits and vegetables. Your brain deserves it!
We are starting off the Fit Brains Brain Health blog with some good news. Some food items that we actually do like might be good for us and not the reverse. In a recent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers believe it may be possible to boost memory. The article states:
“It may be possible to boost memory with a plant compound called epicatechin, which is found in foods and drinks including blueberries, grapes, tea, and cocoa”.