How does simply moving around affect the brain? For the past several years I’ve been doing my best to get out the information that shows how aerobic exercise benefits the brain by increasing the growth of new brain cells, as well as reducing the risk for brain degeneration. However, it looks like most adults are not achieving the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity/week recommended by the 2018 US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines. In fact, this level of physical activity is only achieved by 57% of adults aged 40-49, and a paltry 26% of those aged 60-69.
That said, researchers recently set about exploring whether simply moving around would have a beneficial impact on brain health. They designed a study of 2,354 participants (with an average age of 53) that ran for three years. The subjects wore an accelerometer that basically determined both the number of steps they took each day as well as the intensity level of their activity. Continue reading
By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team
One of the most exciting developments in lifestyle science over the last decade has been the sharpening focus on the central role that our resident microbes (bacteria) play in regulating overall health. These microbes, together with their genetic material and metabolic byproducts make up what is collectively known as the microbiome. It is becoming readily apparent that the trillions of microbes living on and within us play a fundamental role in almost all of the systems of the body. Even as recently as 10-20 years ago, we did not understand the extent to which the gut microbiome can influence a person’s mood, regulate appetite, produce essential vitamins, regulate the immune system, and influence systemic inflammation.
There is even evidence to suggest that the microbiome affects us on such a fundamental level that it can regulate the expression of our DNA! Continue reading
Over the past 10 years, in the various books that I have written, there has been a persistent emphasis on the importance of DHA, an omega-3, in terms of brain health. DHA represents over 90% of all the omega-3, polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain, and further, it’s 10 to 20% of all the brain’s fat. DHA is especially concentrated in the gray matter, and is also an important part of the cellular membrane of neurons. DHA also has an important role to play in the functioning and structure of mitochondria, the release of neurotransmitters, the expression of DNA, the creation of the myelin insulation around every neuron, the management of neuroinflammation, and even the growth and differentiation of brain cells.
DHA plays a particularly important role in the frontal lobes, allowing us to maintain executive function, pay attention to the various tasks in which we are engaged, and even plan for the future and solving problems. Continue reading
Estimates indicate that approximately 11% of school-aged children in United States have attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Further, approximately 2/3 of these children are currently being medicated for this diagnosis. The most common medications are essentially stimulants like amphetamines or methylphenidates, including drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
The areas of the brain that are potentially damaged or disrupted by these medications include the basal ganglia, brain structures that are involved in coordinated movement. The other area that is potentially involved is the cerebellum, which also plays a role in movement. Continue reading
We talk a lot about how environment and lifestyle choices impact your cognitive health, but have you ever considered that where you choose to live may be a key factor in determining the health of your brain? Continue reading
As we have talked about so many times in these pages, our lifestyle choices play a fundamental role in determining not just how our brain functions today, but its long-term destiny as well.
My good friend Max Lugavere became a globally-recognized citizen scientist, as it relates to brain degeneration, as a consequence of his mother’s battle with a neurodegenerative condition. In his new book, Genius Foods, Max details how he was basically left empty-handed at being able to do anything meaningful to help his mother in her battle. He visited many of our country’s most well-respected academic institutions and hospitals, and ultimately received nothing more than a list of meaningless medications. Continue reading
How much alcohol should we consume? We have all heard that there are health benefits associated with low level alcohol consumption, like drinking a glass or two of red wine each day. Indeed, I have made this suggestion in my blogs and in many of the books I have written. While we do know that alcohol is, in and of itself, toxic to nerve cells, the scientific literature would tell us that there is decreased risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease in individuals who consume small amounts of alcohol each day.
In a new study appearing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers again attempted to unravel the facts as it relates to the beneficial effects of alcohol. Before you get put off by this study’s somewhat compelling (Beneficial effects of low alcohol exposure, but adverse effects of high alcohol intake on glymphatic function) title, allow me to explain. Continue reading
As I have emphasized over the past decade, the fundamental mechanism that underlies neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other issues (think diabetes, coronary artery disease, and even cancer), is the process of inflammation. We’ve got to do everything we can in terms of our lifestyle choices to bring inflammation under control. Dietary choices like choosing to limit sugar and carbohydrates, avoiding gluten, eliminating vegetable oils (corn oil, sunflower oil), increasing intake of healthful fats (olive oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds), and favoring fiber-rich foods, are all fundamental building blocks of a lifestyle that helps to reduce the risk for excess inflammation.
We know that there is a higher level of the chemicals that mediate inflammation in the blood of individuals with higher blood sugar, caused by many of the poor choices outlined above. Again, higher blood sugar correlates with higher levels of inflammation. Continue reading
I have spoken at length about the importance of exercise for increasing the gene expression of BDNF, a protein that increases the growth of new brain cells. As previously mentioned, research has shown that people with higher levels of BDNF are at a lower risk of developing dementia.
In this new study, exercise in people age 50 or over is demonstrated to have significant effects on cognition. The report is a meta-analysis, meaning a review of other research publications (in this case, 39 studies). It’s a comprehensive look at how exercise impacts the brain!
Over the past several years I have been writing about the detrimental effects of type 2 diabetes on brain health. For example, we’ve seen an extensive amount of research published that shows a strong relationship between even subtle elevations of blood sugar and future risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we know that elevation of blood sugar is related to a reduction in size of the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. As it turns out, this reduction is correlated with both a decline in cognitive function as well as mood disorders. Continue reading