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SUBJECT: Aging brain Reading notes for Nov 2014

Lots of highlights from additional reading I have done in the past month:

I. Great guide to healthy student nutrition - According to the CDC, “empty” calories account for up to 40% of a young person’s diet, which could lead to real health problems. Our guide goes beyond supplying students with cursory information about nutrition, and takes an in-depth look at why proper nutrition and a well-balanced diet are important to overall health. We do this by detailing: The basic building blocks of nutrition; How unhealthy foods affect us; How to make better choices in a dining hall; Eating well on a budget

II. Science special edition on the Aging Brain (31 October 2014)
1. Being bright at age 11 is 50% of whether your brain will age well -There is one factor that appears to predict late-life cognitive ability better than any other single measure. It's not exercise, education, diet, body mass index, caffeine consumption, or effects of social and intellectual activity, but rather simply an individual's level of intelligence at age 11. Others caution that it does not mean mental function in old age is foreordained. Greenwood says there is growing evidence that activities that improve specific abilities, such as the ability to control attention, may have practical benefits for reasoning and problem-solving. Other factors must account for the remaining 50%. Regardless of how smart they were as children, people in the study who did not smoke, were physically fit, bilingual, or had more education enjoyed slightly better cognitive test scores in old age.
2.Avoid Stress - Certain blotchy patches of abnormal white matter, called hyperintensities, are known to signal brain damage. Research suggests that they are “pretty tightly linked” to high levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.
3.  Longitudinal studies suggest that leading an intellectually challenging, physically active, and socially engaged life may mitigate losses and consolidate gains. In the absence of a strong genetic program, it is open to a host of hazards, such as vascular conditions, metabolic syndrome, and chronic stress, but also open to protective and enhancing factors, such as experience-dependent cognitive plasticity. The central tenet of this model is the distinction between plasticity and flexibility. Whereas flexibility refers to the capacity for variations in behavioral repertoire that do not require reorganization of brain structures and connections, plasticity refers to changes in behavior that do.
4. Mechanisms to gain plasticity (pg 579) - Strategy training, general cognitive training, personality, exercise, sleep, low stress, lifestyle, genes. Neurostimulation of brain with a 9 volt battery appears to improve task performance to youthful levels.
Other articles of interest
1. Roughly 1 in 5 people in a vegetative state can do everything except for move and speak - EEG shows they can still listen and think. pg 531
2. Two-thirds of the world’s countries now have childbearing rates or total fertility rates near or below replacement level. By 2050, there will be 2 billion people over age 60, and 2 billion under 15.

III. DHA and vitamin E reduce dementia risk 47% - A lifelong proper intake of vitamin E is often complicated by the fact that this nutrient is one of the most difficult to obtain through diet alone. It has been estimated that only a tiny fraction of Americans consume enough dietary vitamin E to meet the estimated average requirement.  Vitamin E protects critical fatty acids such as DHA throughout life, and one study showed that people in the top quartile of DHA concentrations had a 47 percent reduction in the risk of developing all-cause dementia.

IV. Practice balance (like yoga) - TWELVE weeks of BodyBalance training improved balance and functional task performance in middle aged and older adults.

V. Readers' questions:
1. Roc, Are supplements such as melatonin and turmeric  beneficial? If so, where might I learn more about dosage? ROC WROTE: Thanks for asking. Basically if you search my website with those as key words, you will find the pages.
Melatonin:  Literature supports 3 mg at bedtime 3 or 4 times per week.
Curcumin (turmeric): lots of hits in many articles - based on all I have read, I just try to have a few shakes of the spice, turmeric, in soup every day. Best thing is that spice kills cancer cells!
2. Roc, i ordered stevia from this group; it is absolutely awful -- not sweet at all. 
ROC WROTE: Sorry to hear stevia was disappointing. The natural sweetener widely used in Europe but harder to find in the US is xylitol, which is much safer than table sugar.  See poster link here.

- Roc, Nutrition Investigator
*To be added or removed from the nutrition research Email List . *To review the disclaimer. *To ask Roc a question. Seeing the interdependent nature of the rest of the universe, Siddhartha saw the empty nature of all phenomena-that all things are empty of a separate, isolated self. – Old Path, White Clouds