Category: Brain Health

The Scary Side of Sugar: You Know It Expands Your Middle, but Did You Know It Slows Growth in Your Brain?

Halloween may be over, but there’s a good chance you’ve got plenty of Halloween candy lying around your house. Maybe you’ve got a bowl of unclaimed miniature Snickers from trick-or-treat no-shows. Or maybe you simply know where your kids hid their stash of goodies. Either way, you—and your kids—probably have access to lots of sugary goodies from the October 31st tradition.

We don’t need to tell you that indulging your sweet tooth by binging on all that candy isn’t good for you. You already know that too much sugar will impact the size of your waist. Did you also know it can also impact the size of your brain?

Here’s how it works:

Your body produces a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF). This chemical is a good thing, because it helps your brain grow and create new neurons. In other words, if you want a healthy brain with the ability to expand neural connections and function well, you want as much BDNF as possible.

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Link Between Adult ADHD and the Second Most Common Form of Dementia

September is National ADHD Awareness Month, and in their ongoing quest for answers, researchers continue to discover new things about the common diagnosis, estimated to affect up to 16% of school aged children and close to 5% of adults. In the United States alone, roughly 8.8 million adults are thought to struggle with the condition.

A new study has found a link between adult ADHD and a certain form of dementia.

After Alzheimer’s, DLB is the second most common form of dementia. DLB stands for, of all things, “Dementia with Lewy Bodies.” Lewy bodies, named after the doctor who discovered them, are spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells that disrupt the normal functioning of the brain’s important chemical messengers.

Currently DBL accounts for 10% of dementia cases (although many doctors think it is vastly underdiagnosed, since it shares some characteristics with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease).

In a recent study, researchers in Argentina studied  509 people in their 70s (360 of them with DLB) and discovered that nearly half of the men and women who ended up with DLB in their senior years also had adult ADHD. The occurrence of adult ADHD in seniors with DLB was more than three times the rate in the group without DLB.

Dr. Angel Golimstok, one of the authors of the study, says that it looks like the same neurotransmitter pathway problems are involved in the development of both conditions. 

Traumatic Brain Injury Miracle: John Keller’s Amazing Journey to Recovery

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Traumatic brain injury. Crushed pelvis. Seventy (70!) days in a coma. John Keller may have survived the horrific motorcycle accident that derailed his life, but his fight for life had just begun.

After 14 surgeries and 344 days in the hospital, John Keller was released to go home—but life was anything but normal for the 34-year-old.

John says that, more than a year after his accident, his traumatic brain injury left him so impaired that, “I could meet somebody and forget their name in 30 seconds.” His vision, speech and ability to think were also impacted.

In this riveting video, John’s dad describes the mixed blessing of bringing his son home after 344 days in the hospital. He explains, “John went into the hospital on a gurney, in a coma, and we’re so thankful that he walked out. But what do you do after they walk out? John had come to a certain level in his understanding, his functions and his speech, but he needed to go further.”

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Why Dumbbells Make You Smarter

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Turns out there’s a link between strength training and brain fitness. So much so that a recent study published in the Archives of Neurology discovered that people with more muscle strength cut their chances of developing Alzheimer’s in half! The study was conducted on a group of people with an average age of 80 years. Among this group, only one out of ten people with stronger muscles developed Alzheimer’s, compared to two out of ten people with weaker muscles.

Another study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, has shown that strength training has even more impact on brain fitness than balance and toning exercises.  The study followed 155 women ages 65 to 75. Half the women were asked to work out with dumbbells and weight machines a couple times a week for a year. The other half were asked to spend that year doing balance and toning exercises. At the end of the study, the women who had worked out with the weights also improved their scores on cognitive tests, testing higher in the ability to make decisions, resolve conflicts and focus. The women who had done balance and toning exercises, however, actually showed a slight deterioration in cognitive skills.

Using a Different Quadrant of Your Brain Can Help You Lose Weight— And Keep it Off!

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With spring and summer wardrobes just around the corner, many of us are thinking about shedding a few pounds.

Again.

The truth is that, compared to keeping it off, losing weight is a piece of cake (unfortunate metaphor, we admit). In fact, 95 percent of dieters gain their weight back. Sometimes they gain even more than they lost.

So what do the 5% know that the rest of us don’t know?

Researchers are discovering that the secret of people who lose weight—and keep it off—might not be in what they know, but in how they think.

A study of 4500 successful dieters has revealed that people who are successful at keeping weight off tend to process information using the lower left quadrant of their brain (let’s  call this “B” quadrant). People tend to have a dominant quadrant through which they process information. This doesn’t mean they can’t process information in other ways, but the “favored” quadrant is like a mental default the brain automatically uses unless intentionally directed otherwise.

People who favor the “A” quadrant (upper left) tend to be analytical problem solvers, while people who favor the “C” quadrant (lower right) tend to be more focused on emotions and relationships. “D” quadrant (upper right) thinkers are visual thinkers who like fun and risk.

“B” quadrant thinkers, however, are inclined toward structure, discipline and routine. People who lost 30 to 60 pounds and kept it off—often for five years or more—scored noticeably higher in using this portion of their brain. This makes sense since planning meals, counting calories and maintaining a consistent exercise schedule all rely on the kind of structure-friendly skills concentrated in that portion of the brain.

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