Environmental Factors That Affect Dementia

Healthy Living, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

While dementia in it’s various forms is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, recent studies have provided evidence that rates of dementia are going down. Dementia may be influenced in part by a person’s genetics, however, researchers are looking toward environmental factors as a major influence on this recent decrease. These factors include rising levels of education and better practices and treatments related to heart and brain health.

The decline in rates of dementia fits optimistically within the history of modern medicine. In the mid-19th century, tuberculosis seemed to be an incurable condition. Yet through policy reform, improved standards of living, and medical advances, it is much less prevalent today. In a similar way, if we can identify the particular environmental factors that influence rates of dementia, we can encourage better living practices and continue to see a decline in dementia.

Here are a few of the most common environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk for dementia.

Head Injuries

Any impact to the head that disrupts normal brain function is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Falls, vehicle crashes, and sports injuries are the most common ways a person can sustain a TBI. The potential downsides of traumatic brain injury has come to the forefront in recent years, as studies have started to show how detrimental football field concussions can be. This awareness has led the National Football League to adopt stricter regulations and push towards further safety equipment innovations that could lead to safer play in years to come.

The immediate effects may include unconsciousness, difficulty recalling the incident, short term memory problems, trouble speaking, confusion, and problems with hearing or vision. And while these symptoms may only be temporary, depending on the severity of the injury, a TBI can have the long-lasting effect of doubling or quadrupling someone’s chance of developing dementia.

Alcohol Usage

Light to moderate alcohol consumption may actually be good for a person’s health. Positive effects include the potential of lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. However, heavy drinkers are more susceptible to alcohol-related anxiety and types of alcohol-related dementia caused by a thiamine deficiency and poor overall nutrition.

The most common form of alcohol-related dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often involves mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes, difficulty with muscle coordination, and problems with memory and learning. It’s possible these damages will be permanent and a person will require life-long custodial care. Though if this condition is recognized early enough, some of the effects can be reversed if the affected person stops drinking and begins following a balanced diet.

Tobacco Usage

Smoking tobacco causes blood vessels to narrow in the brain and heart that can deprive cells of oxygen and nutrients. The nicotine in cigarette smoke raises a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke and vascular dementia. Exposure to secondhand smoke may also increase the risk of dementia.

Air Pollution

Fine particles in the air have been suspected of contributing to neurodegeneration, leading to dementia. These air pollutants often come from factories, traffic, dust storms, pollen, and wildfires. Most weather forecasts include reports on local air quality, which can help people to avoid excess exposure to outdoor pollutants. However, it’s also important to maintain clean air indoors by minimizing dust, fumes from cleaning supplies, and pet dander.

Lack of Exercise

Regular cardiovascular exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain, which can prevent vascular dementia caused by strokes. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, physical exercise can reduce a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by 50 percent. In order to earn this benefit, they recommend a total of 150 minutes per week of cardio and strength training.

Along with physical exercise, mental exercise can reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia by up to 70 percent. This could involve anything that challenges a person’s brain, such as reading, filling out crossword puzzles, drawing maps from memory, learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument, memorizing song lyrics, drawing, scrapbooking, and playing checkers, card games, and a number of online games and apps that offer a mental workout.

Poor Diet

Certain food choices can decrease or increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia. For example, too much red meat can cause a buildup of iron in the brain which can speed the onset of dementia. Other foods that have been linked to dementia include processed cheeses, smoked meats, microwave popcorn, and refined grains in some pastas, bread, and rice.

In looking for foods with positive effects, eating fruits, veggies, berries, nuts, omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish, and folic acid supplements can help lower your risk of developing dementia and other conditions associated with poor cognitive function. Specific diets like the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet have been highlighted for their ability to reduce a person’s chances of developing high blood pressure and dementia by up to 54 percent.

Considering each of these environmental factors, there are some practical things we can all do to potentially decrease our risk of dementia. Avoiding head injuries, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol use, minimizing our exposure to air pollution, eating properly and exercising regularly can help anyone to live a full, healthy life long into old age. If we do our best to prevent exposure to common, harmful circumstances, we could significantly decrease our individual risk of developing dementia and contribute to an ongoing decline in the condition.

How Massage Therapy Can Help With Depression

Depression

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on identifying, treating, and removing stigma from mental health as a way to improve overall wellness. More people are realizing that certain behaviors are not the result of poor decision making or personality defects, but rather the result of mental illness that can – and should – be treated just the same as a physical illness or disease would be treated. Therefore, fewer people are treating depression like something that people should just snap out of.

In addition to psychotherapy and the proper medication, there are many ways that people can manage their depression through lifestyle changes and alternative therapies. Diet and exercise have been shown to help, as has meditation. Numerous studies have also shown that massage therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. If you’re a massage therapist, that means you might want to start searching for spa equipment to expand your practice to offer more services for depression and anxiety. If you are a person suffering from depression, that means you might want to start scheduling regular massage as part of your routine self-care.

Here’s what the research tells us about how massage therapy can help treat depression:

Reduce Stress

Stress is a known trigger for depression and anxiety. Chronic stress can exacerbate depression or trigger an episode, as can acute stress in some instances. Getting regular massage can help to reduce stress, which enhance the overall treatment plan for managing depression.

Specifically, massage helps to relax the body and to reduce levels of cortisol, which is the hormone released during times of stress. When you feel stress, you are feeling the effects of cortisol. In the long term, continued exposure to cortisol can cause your depressive symptoms to appear or worsen and can increase the risk of other health problems, including metabolic issues and heart problems. In some cases, massage can reduce cortisol levels by as much as half.

Increase Dopamine and Serotonin

Dopamine and serotonin are important neurotransmitters that play a critical role in our moods. The treatment of depression often involves prescribing medications that control how dopamine and serotonin are released or used in our brains.

Massage therapy increases the levels of these so-called “feel good” hormones. By getting regular massage therapy, you can naturally increase the amount of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which will improve your mood without the use of medication. You can get regular massage to enhance the effectiveness of your medication. In some cases, you may even be able to manage your depression with massage and other lifestyle changes alone, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Relieve Pain

Think about how you feel when you are in pain. It does more than cause you physical discomfort. It also brings down your whole mood. You feel irritable and maybe even a little angry. If you have chronic pain that brings down your mood regularly, that irritability and anger can turn to sadness and even depression.

Massage relieves chronic and acute pain, which can improve overall mood and wellness. Again, pain relief shouldn’t be considered a sole solution to treating depression, but it can enhance the overall treatment plan and improve results.

Focus on Self-Care

Therapists often urge patients whom they are treating for depression to put greater focus on self-care, which can be lacking when a person is suffering from depression. Therapists urge patients to do things like get more sleep, eat a healthier diet, exercise, and take time for themselves, all of which will improve positive feelings and give patients greater energy to deal with the lows that depression brings.

Massage helps patients put greater focus on self-care. It is a way for patients to take time for themselves and to treat their bodies well. Improved self-care will help to improve their sense of self-esteem and to reduce their depressive symptoms.

Massage therapy should be seen as a viable alternative therapy for depression and a number of other mental and physical health ailments. If you are suffering from depression, talk with your doctor or therapist about how massage therapy might help to manage your condition, either on its own or in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, therapies, and medications.

 

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12 Amazing Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know {Infographic}

Infographics

12 Amazing Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know

Infographic Credit: SuccessStory.com

The infographic… or more to the point, the information in the infographic… is fascinating. While a few may be subjective, I can certainly see the ration behind most of the 12. For example, spending on people you love makes you happier. True! In all ways true. As far as I’m concerned, that’s why Christmas and birthdays are such happy events – you’re busy buying things for people you love and that’s about as wonderful as it gets.

It goes beyond that, however. It’s more than just the money being spent. I think it’s the amount of time you spend thinking of how happy “she” will be when she opens the box and sees the gorgeous Betsey Johnson earrings or how he’s going to love the Game Stop gift card in his stocking!

The concept of making someone you care about smile makes you, yourself, smile.  The cool thing is, you don’t really even have to spend a lot of money. Reach out and ask someone how their day’s going. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help a busy family member. Buy someone special their favorite coffee shop drink and surprise them with it.

The list goes on. Any time you can make two people happy with one action, you’ve worked a little magic…. especially when you’re one of the two!

Make each moment count double. ~ Joi (“Joy”)

Read More: Psychology Facts on Success Story.

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Left vs Right Brain: The Surprising Truth (Infographic)

Infographics

When I was in school, one of the most fascinating subjects in any science classe, for me, was the brain. Each year, I’d search through my textbook for the chapter (or chapters if I was lucky) dealing with the brain. I decided I’d survive the circulatory system, the respiratory system, and anything else they threw at me… just knowing the brain was ahead was all I needed!

The brain still fascinates me to distraction – how it works, what foods and habits are healthy for the brain, what foods and habits hurt it, the difference between the left brain and right brain, etc. The brain is one of those things that literally becomes more fascinating the more you read about it.

The infographic below – as well as the article that accompanies it (Left and Right Brain – The Surprising Truth) is both informative and fascinating. Like a delicious chapter in a brand new textbook!  After reading the infographic, you’ll definitely want to click through and read the article by Jack Milgram.

Left Brain Right Brain Infographic
Infographic Credit: Custom-Writing.org

(I really do hope you click through and read the great article – you’ll find it all kinds of interesting!)


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The Connection Between Dementia and Dirty Air

Healthy Living, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

As I preach and teach… and nag and nag, I’m sure!… we need to do everything within our power to…

  1. Find any and all things in our lives that pose a potential threat to our mental and physical fitness.
  2. Eliminate these things!
  3. Find any and all steps we can take and changes we can make to improve the health of our brains and bodies.
  4. Implement these things!

In keeping with this theme, I’d like to point you to a great article about the quality of air and its link to dementia. Unlike the kale salads or exercise I’m usually pushing on you, this is a fairly harmless step you can take!

I hope you’ll check out the article and share it with everyone you know: The Connection Between Dementia and Dirty Air

Thanks!

~ Joi


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Turmeric: Surprisingly Powerful in Alzheimer’s Prevention

Brain Food, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Buttery Rice Pilaf with Turmeric and Seasoned Salt

Buttery Rice Pilaf with Turmeric

One of my daughters and I were talking about books the other day (a favorite subject for both of us). We were comparing our favorite subjects to read about. Between us, our subjects covered everything from mysteries to angels and from poetry to ancient Egypt.  Three of my own favorite things to read about and research are: brain health, healthy food, and heart health. Given that one of my main blogs is a mental fitness blog, I guess it’s a good thing the subject fascinates me so much.

 

Fortunately the three intertwine beautifully, so reading about one often means I’m reading about the other two as well. For example, many of the foods and activities that support a healthy brain also support a healthy heart. And healthy eating? It’s at the center for health, period -whether we’re talking about the brain, skin, heart, feet – or anything in between!

I’ve been reading a great deal lately about the benefits of turmeric on the brain – especially when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention.

Curcumin, the key chemical in turmeric, is believed to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s symptoms. In his wonderful new book, “The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan,” David Perlmutter, MD has this to say about Turmeric:

Turmeric is being studied today for its potential applications in neurology. Research shows that it can enhance the growth of new brain cells, as well as increase DHA levels in the brain. In some people, turmeric can even rival the antidepressant effects of Prozac. It’s been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Indian medicine as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments.

Dr. Perlmutter goes on to say that if you’re not eating a lot of curry dishes, he recommends taking a supplement of 500 mg twice daily.

My favorite way to cook with turmeric is by adding it to rice and rice pilaf dishes. In the picture above, I had made a basic rice pilaf and used turmeric and seasoned salt as the seasonings.

Delicious!

Due to the wonderful effects turmeric is now found to have on the brain, more and more recipes are popping up for this tasty, colorful, and brain-healthy spice. A quick Google search can give you a lot of recipes to choose from.

Make each moment count double (and make this the year you get 110 percent serious about your brain’s health!) ~ Joi


The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan

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Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease by Staying in the KNOW…… NOW

Brain Food, Motivational, Must Reads, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

Healthy Brain Happy Life by Wendy Suzuki
Staying on top of scientific research and information can put the odds in your favor when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Fortunately, preventing Alzheimer’s, slowing dementia’s progress, and slowing the onset of  mental problems (hopefully for good) is front and center when it comes to medical research these days. However, the research won’t do you any good if you don’t follow the information and heed the advice.

Below is a list of sources for you to count on. Reading articles and books about the brain actually benefits you two ways..

  • it stimulates the brain
  • it can help save your brain!

When you visit the following website, see if they have an e-mail newsletter and sign up for it. This is a great way to stay on top of the research being done. Also, follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more information as it becomes available.

WEBSITES

All links open in a new window.

  1. National Institute on Aging
  2. Alzheimer’s Association
  3. Alzheimer’s Research Forum

BOOKS

In addition to following online information portals, you should also build a library of books that’ll also stimulate and, hopefully, save your brain! Below are some of my favorite books – I own and highly recommend each one:

All links open in a new window.

When you find a great book that inspires and motivates you, find the author’s website and find and follow them on social media. You can never have too much inspiration and motivation when it comes to living healthy!

ARTICLES

Finally, here is a roundup of some of my favorite articles online about Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and preventing them from showing up on your doorstep. Don’t just read the articles, take notes and make plans to implement the advice – whether it’s in the area of food or habits…. or, better yet, both!

All links open in a new window.

Make each moment count double!
~ Joi


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Taking Your Life Back One Day at A Time

Addictions, Positive Affirmations

It didn’t happen overnight, and unfortunately, the same holds true on the other end: you or a loved one won’t stop overnight either. Addiction is a painful reality that affects everyone. It, of course, takes a toll on the participant, but the family and friends are also victims. Their lives become disrupted. They often feel the same anguish as the person going through it. For a woman and a mother, this becomes an embarrassment to them. They feel like a failure, that they disappointed their children and their family.

It starts out simple enough a drink here and there, a couple of pills or a few trips to a casino and before you know it you’re hooked. It’s a disease that eats away at your very core and takes you away from your true self, piece by piece, until one day you say, I have had enough. By this time you’ve probably lied to just about everyone you love and to yourself that you don’t have a problem. But, in the end, you must face the truth that you are an addict and take one of two roads. You can either pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start anew or go out of this world alone. The choice is truly yours.

The first step is to realize that you are an addict. Admitting this is half the battle. Once you reach this point then you can start the long process of recovery. The good news is that there are many facilities, such as womens drug rehab center, that specialize in treating various forms of addiction. They have a trained staff and are more than qualified to help you achieve a full recovery.

Start by acknowledging to family and friends that you have a problem. This is probably the most painful thing you’ll need to do. It admits to you and loved ones what they themselves already knew. But it also opens the door to unity. When you have the support of family and friends, and you will, you feel an inner strength that I can do this.

You can start by going it alone in the sense that you don’t need to go into a rehab center. But again, depending on the dependency this may not be an option that works for you. If you have family members at home who are willing to ride the train with you, it’s a starting point that you can try. However, more than not, many people find that it’s just too difficult to stop their addiction cold turkey without a doctor and hospital support staff around them.

It’s also important to realize that this addiction did not happen overnight and as much as you would love to wake up and not need your pills, alcohol or gambling habit, it will take courage, resilience and strength to overcome it.  You can do it, but you must be honest will yourself and give you the best chance for success. If it means going into rehab for a few weeks, therapy and monitoring, take it. There is no shame in admitting you have a problem and you need help. There is, however, a selfishness in luring family and friends along falsely, intended or not intended, if you decide to go it alone.

 

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Why the Mediterranean Diet and MIND Diet are SO Healthy for Your Brain

Brain Food, Prevent Alzheimer's Disease, Prevent Memory Loss

These are the Best Foods for Your Brain...

Chef Salad

Chef Salad: Excellent Way to Work in Several Servings of Brain-Healthy Food

We know how beneficial certain things are for the health of our brains and for prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease:

  • physical activity
  • mental workouts
  • “brain foods” such as walnuts, blueberries, and fish
  • reading
  • taking on new hobbies

A growing body of research shows that eating one of the most delicious “diets” in the world, the Mediterranean Diet is also greatly beneficial to our brains.

You already know how incredibly healthy eating “like a Greek” is for your heart – in fact, foods that fall under the heading “Mediterranean Diet” are foods your heart would request if it were able to fill out its own menu!  It just so happens, your brain would sign its name to the same menu.

From the May 2016 Issue of Cooking Light Magazine:

Martha Clare Morris, ScD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University in Chicago…. (has) been researching the MIND diet – a hybrid of the Mediterranean Diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) – to reduce age-related cognitive decline and the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease among more than 1,000 volunteers in the Memory and Aging Project. Her findings: Those who adhered to the MIND diet showed significantly slower cognitive declines – the equivalent of being 7.5 years younger – than those who didn’t. Her team also found that following the MIND diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 54%.

54% is very impressive!  The MIND diet focuses on foods that are shown to benefit the health of the brain.  It’s very easy to implement these foods into your daily diet – simply add more of the following:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash…)
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries..)
  • Beans (at least every other day)
  • Nuts (most days)
  • Whole grains (aim for 3 servings daily, at least)
  • Fish (at least twice a week, not fried)
  • Poultry (at least twice a week – again, not fried)
  • Olive Oil (most days)

Chef salads, smoothies, wedge salads, vegetable soup, stews… these are just a few ways to “sneak in” several helpings of brain-healthy food. Adding fish or poultry to a salad – and creating a “chef salad” is my husband’s favorite approach. You’d be amazed how delicious a well-done chef salad is.

And your brain will appreciate every bite!

Make each moment count double! ~ Joi


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How Can a Life Coach Help You? How Can You Find a Life Coach?

Healthy Living, Infographics

Infographic with Answers to Your Questions

There are a thousand and one ways to change your life. You can join a gym, meditate, think positively, set goals, etc. Another way to change your life is by working with a life coach — a trained professional who has a variety of tools and methods to help you reach your goals and change your life.

If the concept of a life coach isn’t new to you, you still might be wondering, “Okay, but where do I find a life coach?”. This new infographic, Your Find a Coach Guide, outlines everything you need to know. According to the infographic, a life coach can help you:

  • achieve your goals
  • do what you love
  • be successful
  • change your career
  • find happiness
  • be more confident

There are four basic places where you can find a coach. You can try:

  • using a matching service
  • getting a referral
  • searching a coaching directory
  • doing a local search

Good luck in your search!

Find a Life Coach
 

The Complete Guide to Finding a Life Coach

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