OVERVIEW

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce

While modern medicine is well regarded for developing new drugs to prevent and reverse chronic health problems, it has become quite clear in recent years that change in diet and lifestyle habits might provide more effective, much safer and less expensive methods. Comprehensive studies in the field of neurology have determined that unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits can significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases. Conversely, eating a healthy diet, eliminating unnecessary stress and accentuating your brains reserve can delay and possibly stop Alzheimers and many other health problems.

While the American Academy of Neurology warns that prevention of dementia should begin before age 65, I strongly advocate starting this process much earlier, as young as age 30, to prevent this horrific disease from wreaking havoc on your brain. The benefits are numerous. You could add years to your life, improve the quality of your life and general physical and mental health. The longer you can be independent and self sufficient the better quality life you will have.

Our program is broken down into four easy to follow steps. It is important to attend our free lecture series, during these presentations you will Learn about the four step program in four lectures by Dr Vincent Fortanasce, as well as supplemental lectures by notable local physicians and medical experts. Handouts will be provided before the event.

Step # 1 The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet: Food For Thought

Please note, it is important to understand that it is not only what we eat that is important to preventing Alzheimer’s disease-it is also the portions, combinations, types and amounts of nutrients, and specific supplements that help to maximize the hormonal enzymatic, and biorhythms that control your optimal state of neuronal health and mental capacity.

You will follow the “Harmonic Diet”, which means that each meal is comprised of one-third carbohydrate, one-third protein and one-third good fats. This proportion is vital to maintain your hormonal balance of insulin and glucagon’s – essential for brain health.

We will provide a list of specific foods, nutrients, and natural dietary supplements that work to protect your brain from disease and even heal it from injury. For example, blueberries are filled with anthocyanins; that are special chemicals that give them their dark purple color and incredible healing power. In studies, blueberries show a significant reversal in motor dysfunction and dopamine ( a neurotransmitter and “messenger” ) deficiency that correlates with aging.

Foods high in folate reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction. Folate helps to build and maintain new cells, folate is key in making DNA and RNA, It can also prevent changes to DNA that leads to cancer. In the FACIT study people who were an average of 76 years old with high folate levels did 4.6 times better on cognitive test than people with low levels. Low levels of folic acid were associated with high levels of homeocysteine in their blood serum, High levels of homeocysteine is an indication of inflammation oxidative stress and up to 4-fold Increases in Alzheimer’s disease. Taking 800 mcg of folic acid can reduce homeocysteine levels By 26%.

What can high-folate foods do for you?

  • Support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia
  • Help prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood
  • Support cell production, especially in your skin
  • Allow nerves to function properly
  • Help prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures
  • Help prevent dementias including Alzheimer’s disease

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Folate

Age Males and Females
(micrograms μg/day)
14 + 400 -to- 800

Food Sources of Folate and Folic Acid

Food Micrograms %DV
Breakfast cereals fortified with 100% of the DV, 3/4 cup 400 100
Spinach 1/2 cup 100 25
Chickpeas 1/2 cup 141 35
Black beans 1/2 cup 128 32
Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears 85 20

What is the function of folate?

Red blood cell formation and circulation support

One of folate’s key functions as a vitamin is to allow for complete development of red blood cells. These cells help carry oxygen around the body. When folic acid is deficient, the red bloods cannot form properly, and continue to grow without dividing. This condition is called macrocytic anemia, and one of its most common causes is folic acid deficiency.

In the FACIT study people with an average age of 76 with high folate levels did 4.6 times better on cognitive test than those with low levels. Low levels of folic acid were associated with high levels of homocysteine in their serum. High levels of homocysteine are an indication of inflammation and oxidative stress and up to a four-fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease.

Taking 800 mcg of Folic acid and reduce homocysteine levels 26%

Fish

Eating just one serving of fish a week is associated with a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while eating red meats may increase the risk of pro-Inflammatory markers linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Many research studies indicate that those who regularly eat fatty fish or who supplement with fish oil have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Omega 3 fatty acids are known to improve mental function, mood, memory and concentration and have already demonstrated considerable success in the treatment of conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADD and ADHD. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, although research does indicate that Omega 3 fatty acids can slow down the ageing of the brain and possibly delay the onset, as well as slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s.

Red Meats

Though red meat offers many nutritional benefits, health risks of red meat may include the risk of heart disease, breast, and colon cancer. It is usually best to avoid processed meats, such as sausages and bacon. These tend to contain large amount of salt and nitrites, which may impair health.

The method of cooking the meat may play a role in reducing health risks. It is generally recommended not to under or overcook red meat and to avoid grilling. Undercooked meat may contain parasites. Overcooked and grilled meats may contain carcinogens.

When considering red meat and health, another factor is whether the animals were grain or grass-fed. The meat from grass-fed animals has a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids. In addition to being healthier to eat, grass-fed animals frequently have a better quality of life. Grass feeding can be more environmentally sustainable as well.

Many governments suggest the amount of red meat they feel can safely be included in a healthy diet. The amount varies with between nations, but several portions a week are usually acceptable.

Those who choose to include eating red meat may wish to choose leaner cuts of grass-fed animals and to trim off any visible fat before eating.

Ginko biloba

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species and its leaves are among the most extensively studied botanicals in use today. It consistently ranks as a top medicine prescribed in France and Germany.

Ginkgo has been used in traditional medicine to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory. Scientific studies throughout the years have found evidence to support these uses. Ginkgo may be especially effective in treating dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) It also shows promise for enhancing memory in older adults. Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of blood platelets.

Ginkgo leaves contain two types of chemicals (flavonoids and terpenoids) believed to have potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals — compounds in the body that damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body and grow in number as we age. But environmental toxins (including ultraviolet light, radiation, cigarette smoking, and air pollution) can also increase the number of free radicals. Free radicals are believed to contribute to health problems including heart disease and cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Antioxidants such as those found in ginkgo can help neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

There is a danger when Ginkgo biloba is taken with aspirin or Warfarin (Coumadin)

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. It was used originally because it improves blood flow to the brain. Now further study suggests it may work directly to protect nerve cells that are damaged in Alzheimer’s disease. A number of studies have found that gingko has a positive effect on memory and thinking in people with Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.

Clinical studies suggest that ginkgo may provide the following benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Improvement in thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
  • Improvement in activities of daily living
  • Improvement in social behavior
  • Fewer feelings of depression

Several studies have found that ginkgo may be as effective as prescription Alzheimer’s medications in delaying the symptoms of dementia.

Possible Interactions:

Ginkgo may alter the metabolism and effectiveness of some prescription and non-prescription medications. If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use ginkgo without first talking to your health care provider:

Anticonvulsant medications – High doses of ginkgo could make drugs to control seizures, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) or valproic acid (Depakote), less effective.

Antidepressants – Taking ginkgo along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition. Ginkgo may enhance the effects (both good and bad) of antidepressant medications known as MAOIs, such as phenelzine (Nardil). SSRIs include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

Antihypertensive (blood pressure) medications — Ginkgo may lower blood pressure. For that reason, if you take medication to lower your blood pressure you should ask your doctor before taking gingko. There has been a report of an interaction between ginkgo and nifedipine (Procardia), a calcium channel blocker used for blood pressure and arrhythmias.

Blood-thinning medications – Ginkgo has blood-thinning properties and should not be used if you are taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications. There has been bleeding in the brain reported when using a ginkgo product and ibuprofen (Advil), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Blood-thinners include:

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Heparin
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

Medications to lower blood sugar – Ginkgo may increase insulin levels in healthy subjects and decrease insulin levels in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you should not use gingko without first talking to your doctor.

Cylosporine – Ginkgo biloba may help protect the cells of the body during treatment with the drug cyclosporine, which suppresses the immune system.

Thiazide diuretics(water pills) – There is one report of a person who took a thiazide diuretic and gingko experiencing high blood pressure. If you take thiazide diuretics, ask your doctor before taking gingko.

Trazodone – There is one report of an elderly Alzheimer’s patient going into a coma after taking ginkgo and trazodone (Desyrel), an antidepressant medication.

Curcumin a component of the spice turmeric, is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.

The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. USC + UCLA both have done studies on Curcumin, those professors involved are now using curcumin daily.

20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:

  1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
  2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
  3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
  4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to die.
  5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
  6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
  7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloid plaque buildup in the brain.
  8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
  9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
  10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
  11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.
  12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
  13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
  14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.
  16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
  17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.
  18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
  19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
  20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Green Tea

The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It has also been effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots. The latter takes on added importance when you consider that thrombosis ( the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.

Studies have shown that tea catechins protect brain cells in studies on animals and these findings also suggest that tea or green tea extract may be useful for protecting humans from senile disorders.

Other Benefits

New evidence is emerging that green tea can even help dieters. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Researchers found that men who were given a combination of caffeine and green tea extract burned more calories than those given only caffeine or a placebo.

WARNING

Skip the milk, milk in teas deactivates its antioxidant properties

Garlic

Garlic is rich in compounds with antioxidant activity. Garlic can potentially help against a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Garlic also protects blood vessels and prevents plaque build-up in arteries, an important factor in preventing heart disease and stroke. Human studies also show that it reduces cholesterol, decreases blood pressure and increases blood circulation-factors that support overall brain health. Other studies suggest that garlic is also neuro-protective, and that it supports improved learning and memory.

What about Garlic Breath?

Despite all the health benefits of garlic you may feel that “garlic breath” is too much of a deterrent. If this is the case you can take Odorless Garlic Supplement instead.

Some Pointers about Garlic:

  • Garlic is most effective when crushed or chopped and when raw.
  • One clove a day will improve your health and 2-3 cloves will help prevent a cold.
  • When cooking garlic wait until the last 10 minutes of cooking to add the garlic.
  • Be careful about taking too much as it can irritate your digestive system.
  • Don’t microwave garlic as this kills the active ingredients.
  • Don’t take garlic instead of a healthy balanced diet.
  • Garlic supplements may interact with certain drugs such as anticoagulants.
  • Always consult a doctor if you are unsure about anything.

Antioxidant – Allicin, a component of garlic naturally increases antioxidant enzymes atalase and glutathione peroxidase in your blood. It can help against the damaging effects of nicotine and slows the aging process of your liver by inhibiting lipid peroxidation.

Anti-Bacterial – Garlic has 1% of the potency of penicillin and can ward off a number of bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptococcal meningitis, Candida albican and Staphylococcus. The problem with most antibiotics is that bacteria develops resistance to them, however this is not the case with garlic. These benefits were first realized back in the early 19th century when English priests caught infectious fever. The French priests, who ate garlic every day, didn’t.

Blood Clots – Clinical trials, which were published in the Journal of Hypertension, showed that the blood pressure of volunteers was reduced 1 – 5% after taking garlic supplements. This may not sound a lot but this small reduction can reduce the chance of a stroke by 30-40% and heart disease by 20-25%.

The Brain, Coffee & Caffeine

Friend or Foe

What makes caffeine and coffee healthy for the brain? Or does it? We have all heard of what we call coffee crazies, but recent research has shown that populations who drink black, freshly ground coffee have a very low incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism. Yes, coffee seems to be neuro-protective. Several South American societies seem to clearly indicate this.

One of the wonders of coffee is that it seems to act on a different mechanism than we usually think when considering brain health. Our emphasis for concentration has always been in trying to slow down aging. However, more recently the concept of rejuvenating the body, yes that is making it new again is becoming more and more feasible as we learn about the body and the brain and how it works. Yes, the body can not only remove or destroy bad tissue, for instance cancer cell, but can also rejuvenate itself.

Part of the aging process was first known when the telomere was found. The telomere is like a tale of molecules at the end of each cell, DNA that shortens every time that cell divides. When the telomere reaches a critical length, cell can no longer replenish itself. Look at yourself in the mirror. There is wrinkles an example of that very fact. We have found an enzyme called telomerase that seems to regenerate the telomere, just like we have found a brain drive trophic factor called DNDF that can regenerate brain cells. DNDF also is regenerated through exercise, as Gage at Scripps Clinic has shown. So, there seems to be a convergence of coffee along with exercise as a double barrel blast against aging and a boom to rejuvenation. That is what this article is all about. How can you use coffee and exercise to actually rejuvenate your body.

So, let’s begin, how do you activate this rejuvenating process? Caffeine and coffee also are stimulants of BDFT (brain drive trophic factor). It is this brain drive trophic factor that actually stimulates certain genes in the body. One is BAL1, which is a cytoskeletal trophic factor that actually causes increase in bone density and increase in muscle mass. It does this by increasing the number of mitochondria or energy cells in each cell, thereby making the muscles not only larger in size, but having more endurance and strength. The question is how and when to exercise and to drink coffee.

But, before going on, let’s look at coffee with its other properties. Coffee can help weight loss. Coffee can increase basal metabolism up to 20%. Basal metabolism, as you know, is the manner in which the calories are burned off. The more calories you burn at 3000 calories, you have lost one pound of weight. This is not water weight; this is actual body mass loss. Coffee, according to research, stimulates the glutinate which is a brain excitant to make you want to work out. Too much of it, however, can over stimulate the adrenals and also cortisol that can cause stress or what we call the coffee crazies. So, the right amount of coffee is important. One 8oz cup of black coffee is what is advised. Just like one 8oz glass of wine is helpful, 16-24oz is dangerous.

So, as you can see, coffee and exercise seem to go hand-in-hand. Let’s talk about what I call the weekend warriors and their workouts. Most of us don’t have time during the week to have any type of continuous strenuous exercise and wait for the weekends. Some of us run out and play tennis, others golf, others do both and go down to the gym and then go out to play tennis or play golf. What happens by Sunday evening, we have soreness.

Coffee, secondary to studies in the Journal of Pain, can reduce post-exercise pain up to 50%. When it is compared to NSAIDs, such as Motrin and Aleve, they reduce post work out soreness only by 30% and aspirin only 25%; therefore, coffee may be better than we ever imagined. However, as you know, coffee does not protect the joints as NSAIDs that reduce prostaglandins release that cause inflammation in the joints. So don’t think that taking coffee is going to reduce joint soreness, it will only reduce muscle soreness. So going out and playing golf as the weekend warriors, I advise to take a cup of black coffee, freshly ground, and an NSAID such as ibuprofen and in that way reduce both muscle soreness and joint irritation and inflammation. A word of caution, however, is watch out if you have a delicate stomach; both can cause stomach acidity and irritation to the mucosa or fine membrane of the stomach.

How about coffee post work out? nTur is the mechanism that increases protein synthesis in muscles. What this means, of course, is that it increases the size or the leanness of the muscle. Remember, exercise and coffee actual inhibit protein synthesis, that is inhibits this nTur. However, muscle activity causes the stimulation of RGF1. RGF1 then goes to the brain and then stimulate the brain drive trophic factor that we mentioned before. Both caffeine and exercise in inhibiting the nTur is like a rebound phenomenon. It first suppresses the protein synthesis; however, it builds up a pressure, and when they are in effect, that is the caffeine and the exercise effect is over we are at a state to rebuild muscle. Eating protein, not sugar, is essential at this time to maximize muscle growth and build up.

Sugar causes insulin release and causes glucose to be converted into fat rather than protein. When you take in protein, such as lean chicken fish, even cheeses and nuts, these stimulate another hormone in the pancreas called glucagon that increases glucose conversion ultimately to become protein just what we want. We want less fat stored and more protein stored. We want to look lean.

Therefore, the timing of coffee is essential.

Step # 2 Exercise: Daily workout Routines for the Body and Brain

With a black belt in karate and as an Olympic athlete with a Gold Medal in the junior Olympics, I know the importance of physical activity, both personally and professionally. Physical exercise stimulates human growth hormone, regulates blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and blood lipids, and helps to maintain a normal weight. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, which is necessary for quick thinking and creativity. Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and Learning. In the hormonal symphony exercise increases the youthful hormones, growth hormone, thyroid, testosterone and estrogen while decreasing the aging hormone cortisol by 70%.

Exercise reverses the detrimental effects of stress.

Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can be an instant way to blow off tension by boosting levels of “soothing” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What’s fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process, according to a June study from the University of California at San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and not active. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating “by altering blood flow to those areas in The brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again,” says study co-author Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

Exercise increases brain capacity

By brain capacity we mean our overall cognitive abilities. The ability to learn, remember and problem solve. The Fort-formula Isometric exercise program (see DVD) gives you a 10 minute home and 24 minute gym program that strengthens your core (prevents falls) Knee and hip problems while creating new brain cells and connections. Exercise (Isometrics) is like Miracle-grow for your brain.

Exercise lifts depression

Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise has been found to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged during depression. What’s more, animal studies have found that getting active boosts the production of brain molecules that improve connections between nerve cells, thereby acting as a natural antidepressant.

Exercise improves learning

Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors that help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn. Interestingly, complicated activities, like playing tennis or taking a dance class, provide the biggest brain boost. “You’re challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination,” explains Ratey. “Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow.” Complicated activities also improve our capacity to learn by enhancing our attention and concentration skills, according to German researchers who found that high school students scored better on high-attention tasks after doing 10 minutes of a complicated fitness routine compared to 10 minutes of regular activity.

Exercise builds self-esteem and improves body image

You don’t need to radically change your body shape to get a confidence surge from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

Specific Health Benefits of Exercise

Heart Disease and Stroke – Daily physical activity can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, raising your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (good cholesterol) and lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels (bad cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing your heart’s working capacity.

High Blood Pressure – Regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure in those with high blood pressure levels. Physical activity also reduces body fat, which is associated with high blood pressure.

Noninsulin-Dependent Diabetes – By reducing body fatness, physical activity can help to prevent and control this type of diabetes.

Obesity – Physical activity helps to reduce body fat by building or preserving muscle mass and improving the body’s ability to use calories. When physical activity is combined with proper nutrition, it can help control weight and prevent obesity, a major risk factor for many diseases.

Back Pain – By increasing muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular exercise helps to prevent back pain.

Osteoporosis Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation and may prevent many forms of bone loss associated with aging.

Psychological Effects – Regular physical activity can improve your mood and the way you feel about yourself. Researchers also have found that exercise is likely to reduce depression and anxiety and help you to better manage stress.

Millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity.

We will give you a daily regimen of Anti-Alzheimer’s exercises, also known as the 3 S’s — Stretching, Strengthening, and Stepping to boost brawn and brain power.

We will also guide you in basic isometric exercises that will increase strength, bulk, and lean body mass. These isometric exercises include strength training without movements or very little movement of the joints. ( perfect for those with joint pain ) The exercise involve using the force of one limb against another, or a limb or body part against a immovable abject such as the floor or a wall. You can perform isometric exercises alone, at home, and without equipment. It is one of the best and safest ways to increase one’s strength.

Isometric Exercises have been around for thousands of years and are used in both Yoga and Martial Arts. In more modern times fitness pioneers as diverse as Charles Atlas and Bruce Lee have used this form of bodyweight training to build their impressive physiques.

The big advantage that isometrics have over more traditional, un-natural exercises like Weight lifting is due to something called the “synapse effect”. This refers to the fact that your body only uses the minimum number of muscle fibers it needs to at any one time. When you perform a movement like a bench press, there is only a fraction of a second in which all of the muscle fibers are being used to maximum effect. This is in direct contrast to isometric routines in which it’s possible to work all of the muscle fibers at once for up to 10 seconds or more (provided you put in the effort, of course).

Step # 3 Accentuating: The Brains Reserve: Daily Neurobics

So what keeps the brain growing and rewiring? It is now known that novel stimulation is the key. Studies show that people who are less educated and who do not challenge themselves mentally have three to four times the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. In this step, I will teach you “Neurobics”, or training for the mind that can help build brain capacity. Scientific studies show that when people use their brains in challenging ways, more blood flows into the neural regions and new connections form. Performing daily “brain boosters” such as math problems, memorizing list, organizational task, and having other mental Challenges can help. I will divide these “brain boosters” into categories: Memory, Visualization, Thinking, and Reasoning – all stimulating different areas of the brain.

What makes an exercise Neurobic?

To begin with, not everything that’s novel or new provides the kind or strength of nerve cell stimulation that is necessary to activate new brain circuits and enhance neurotrophin production. For example, if you normally write with a pen and one day choose to write everything in pencil, you’ve broken your routine and are doing something new. So, in some small way, you’ve changed the patterns of activity in the parts of your brain activated by touching. But such a small change wouldn’t recruit new sensory associations important enough to engage the circuitry required to really exercise your brain.

Contrast this with deciding one day to change the hand you normally write with. If you are right handed, controlling a pen is normally the responsibility of the cortex on the left side of your brain. When you change to writing left handed, the large network of connections, circuits, and brain areas involved in writing with your left hand–which are normally rarely used– are now activated on the right side of your brain. Suddenly your brain is confronted with an engaging task that’s interesting, challenging , fun and potentially frustrating.

Making multi-sensory associations, and doing something novel that is important or engaging to you –these are the key conditions for a genuine Neurobic exercise.

Step # 4 Rest and Relaxation: Finding your Circle of Quiet

It is imperative that you understand the harmful effects of lack of sleep and chronic stress on the brain. For instance, there is a link between snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and Alzheimer’s disease. People who are chronic worriers (“the worried well”) are twice as likely to develop some form of dementia. Autopsy reports confirm a link between stress and dementia, showing fewer tentacles or dendrites linking the brain cells in people who were identified as being under chronic stress.

In this step of the program, I will outline a practical and proven plan for you to sleep well and give your brain time without stress. Finally, I will discuss the effects of spiritual meditation and give techniques which will activate the left frontal gyrus, the center of optimism of your brain. If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline. We have all seen and experienced this. This diminishes our effectiveness in our job, and can therefore increase stress: As our concentration wanders, we start to make mistakes. As our energy declines, we become less proactive in what we do, reducing our control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control. Make sure you get enough sleep. If you have become used to being tired all the time, you will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally.

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