Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention

We just received these two very thought-pro­vok­ing essays on Alzheimer’s Dis­ease and brain health, as part of a writ­ing work­shop, led by Susan Hill in Lake­land, Flori­da, with a group of grade 9–11 home­school­ers.

With­out fur­ther ado, here you are both Essays:

Essay A. Pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s at Work

– By Josh H

5,000,000: that is the num­ber of peo­ple in the Unit­ed States alone who are affect­ed by Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Research has shown that those who held jobs such as san­i­ta­tion work­ers or trash col­lec­tors in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are more at risk for Alzheimer’s dis­ease than peo­ple who held jobs such as doc­tors or sci­en­tists at the same age. If every­one knew this, the world would ben­e­fit, and it could impact the lives of every­one.

If every­one in the world knew that cer­tain jobs are more at risk for Alzheimer’s, it could affect them in many ways. First of all, stu­dents would study hard­er so that they will get bet­ter jobs and reduce unem­ploy­ment. This infor­ma­tion could also ben­e­fit peo­ple still in these jobs by demon­strat­ing to them that using their brains can help pre­vent Alzheimer’s. Neu­rol­o­gist David Ben­nett has explained: “This doesn’t mean you should quit your job and go get a Ph.D. Edu­ca­tion prob­a­bly relates to how you use your brain through­out life  your job and leisure activ­i­ties that stretch the mind.”

In addi­tion, it could cause peo­ple who have had sim­i­lar jobs to be test­ed for Alzheimer’s dis­ease ear­li­er and more reg­u­lar­ly, which would be good for them and for the doc­tors treat­ing them. If more peo­ple are test­ed, those who do have the dis­ease will be able to be treat­ed and will be less affect­ed by it. The doc­tors who treat them will also be able to do so more effec­tive­ly if they find out about it ear­li­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this could have a neg­a­tive effect with peo­ple who have jobs which are less like­ly for Alzheimer’s, such as doc­tors and sci­en­tists. How­ev­er, if these peo­ple real­ized they are still at risk but are just less like­ly to get it, it would be pos­i­tive, caus­ing more peo­ple to be test­ed whether they have held a job which is more at risk or not.

In addi­tion to hav­ing a pos­i­tive effect on peo­ple, every­one in the world know­ing that cer­tain jobs are more at risk for Alzheimer’s dis­ease would help pre­vent many cas­es. More peo­ple would prob­a­bly get test­ed if they knew, reduc­ing the num­ber of peo­ple in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. Also, any­thing known about the dis­ease can help doc­tors find ways to pre­vent it. First of all, this infor­ma­tion could help them bet­ter ana­lyze patients for Alzheimer’s; sec­ond­ly, it could be used as a treat­ment for the dis­ease. This infor­ma­tion, although par­tial­ly relat­ed to jobs, is more relat­ed to brain use. This shows the impor­tance of using our brains, and how men­tal health is relat­ed to it. In addi­tion, if doc­tors and their patients knew that brain exer­cise can pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease, it could pos­si­bly be used effec­tive­ly as a treat­ment or even as a cure for Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Know­ing that brain use affects brain health would also cause every­one around the world to use their brains con­stant­ly, no mat­ter what their age or job. If every­body in the world knew that cer­tain jobs are more at risk for Alzheimer’s dis­ease, the infor­ma­tion would be very help­ful for pre­vent­ing and treat­ing many cas­es.

5,000,000 peo­ple in the U.S. are affect­ed by Alzheimer’s, but if every­one in the world knew about that cer­tain jobs are more at risk, this num­ber could be reduced sig­nif­i­cant­ly. The infor­ma­tion would ben­e­fit peo­ple, and could cause them to be test­ed ear­li­er. Also, know­ing this would be very help­ful as a way to pre­vent Alzheimer’s and would be a valu­able tool for doc­tors. If every­one in the world knew that cer­tain jobs are more at risk for Alzheimer’s, it would have a major pos­i­tive effect, and would reduce the num­ber of peo­ple who are men­tal­ly crip­pled by this ter­ri­ble dis­ease.

Ref­er­ences

- “Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Alzheimer pubmed.com. 12 Feb. 2008 .

- “Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Lifestyle pubmed.com. 12 Feb. 2008 .

- Elias, Mar­i­lyn. “Want a Sharp Mind for Your Gold­en Years? Start Now. usatoday.com. 12 Feb. 2008

- Grif­fin, Kel­ly. “You’re Wis­er Now. aarpmagazine.org. 12 Feb. 2008 .

Essay B. A Slip­pery Slope to Senil­i­ty

– By Amber­lyn E.

Gray hair, glass­es and mem­o­ry loss? This stereo­type of a typ­i­cal aging indi­vid­ual is not inevitable. A fast spread­ing epi­dem­ic, Alzheimer’s has many aging peo­ple under­stand­ably scared. How­ev­er, there is an alter­na­tive to becom­ing senile, and men­tal exer­cis­es can help pre­vent it. In addi­tion, lifestyle changes can help keep minds sharp and work­ing at their best. Seniors must not wait until the world becomes a con­fus­ing blur and names fly out the back door like birds from a cage!

Alzheimer’s is a pro­gres­sive degen­er­a­tive dis­ease of the brain result­ing in demen­tia; symp­toms include rest­less­ness, inabil­i­ty to rec­og­nize faces, bad hygiene, for­get­ful­ness, and dif­fi­cul­ty with dai­ly func­tions. This fast-spread­ing dis­ease has claimed 26 mil­lion vic­tims world­wide, with a new diag­no­sis every 72 sec­onds. The world must know how to pre­vent this dis­ease! If no cure is found by 2050, sci­en­tists esti­mate Alzheimer’s will claim 106 mil­lion peo­ple. Ten to twen­ty years before symp­toms are evi­dent, changes to the brain asso­ci­at­ed with Alzheimer’s have already occurred; even some­one who believes he is very healthy could be slid­ing down a slip­pery slope to senil­i­ty unaware. But pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s could change the world.

Many peo­ple won­der how to pre­vent this degen­er­a­tive dis­ease. The answer could rev­o­lu­tion­ize the world, dras­ti­cal­ly decreas­ing the num­ber of indi­vid­u­als who Alzheimer’s reduces to a fee­ble state of depen­dence. Alco­hol, drug abuse, and smok­ing con­tribute to Alzheimer’s, so avoid­ing these sub­stances would be one pre­ven­tive mea­sure. Inter­est­ing­ly, heart and brain health are close­ly con­nect­ed, so things that improve the heart, such as exer­cise, also improve the health of the brain. Anoth­er way of pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s is found in the diet: fish oils have been shown to help pre­vent this dis­ease. In addi­tion, the Omega 3 fat­ty acid docosa­hexaenoic can also help pre­vent it by increas­ing the pro­duc­tion of LR11, a pro­tein that clears away enzymes that make beta any­loid plaques thought to cause Alzheimer’s. Stud­ies have shown that although mem­o­ry is not lost, it can­not be accessed due to plaques in the brain. So if the Omega fat­ty acids could clear away the plaques, mem­o­ry would be restored. If indi­vid­u­als act­ed on these sim­ple pre­ven­tive mea­sures, they could dras­ti­cal­ly the future of the entire world by elim­i­nat­ing numer­ous cas­es of Alzheimer.

Many peo­ple have fall­en prey to believ­ing the lie that noth­ing can pre­vent Alzheimer’s. Actu­al­ly, the star­tling out­break of Alzheimer’s is in part because our cul­ture makes peo­ple lazy and reluc­tant to use their minds. Due to a rumor that the mind can­not make new brain cells after reach­ing adult­hood, most peo­ple believe they can­not improve their brains. On the con­trary, though, the mind can always cre­ate new brain cells. Many com­pa­nies recent­ly began mar­ket­ing prod­ucts such as video games tar­get­ed at adults, mind games, and sudoku hand­helds to pro­mote brain growth. In addi­tion, sim­ple ways of exer­cis­ing the brain and cre­at­ing new neu­ropath­ways exist, such as doing nor­mal rou­tines in a dif­fer­ent way or learn­ing new skills. Play­ing sim­ple but chal­leng­ing games, learn­ing a new lan­guage, or sim­ply mem­o­riz­ing things are oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties. The world has to hear about these pre­ven­tive mea­sures so that they can escape Alzheimer’s. If not exer­cised reg­u­lar­ly, brain cells actu­al­ly die; but if the cells are used, they stay healthy and even grow. Obvi­ous­ly, many ways exist to improve one’s brain that pre­vent the dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease of Alzheimer.

For­tu­nate­ly for every­one, there is an alter­na­tive to los­ing their minds. Although Alzheimer’s is spread­ing fast, many brain-stretch­ing games and exer­cis­es along with lifestyle changes will keep the brain alert and func­tion­ing at its best. So although gray hair and glass­es may be hard to avoid, rest assured that senil­i­ty is avoid­able. Start today and keep your mind sharp and mem­o­ries safe.

Ref­er­ences

- “About Alzheimer’s.” Fis­ch­er Cen­ter for Alzheimer’s Research Foun­da­tion. 14 Feb. 2008 . Gor­man, Chris­tine.

- “Can You Pre­vent Alzheimer’s?” Time. 14 Feb. 2008 . Shute, Nan­cy.

- “New Research Sug­gests Ways to Slow–or Prevent–Alzheimer’s”. U.S. News. 14 Feb. 2008 .

- “Fish Oil May Help Pre­vent Alzheimer’s.” The Wash­ing­ton Post. 14 Feb. 2008 . Dayan, B..

- “Pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Ear­ly On.” Sci­ence Dai­ly. 14 Feb. 2008 . Hill, Car­rie. “How to Devel­op Your Per­son­al Plan for a Healthy Brain”. About.com. 14 Feb. 2008 .

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3 Responses

  1. Jon Emerson says:

    fan­tas­tic cou­ple of arti­cles! now, is it true what they say?

  2. Yeah.. jog­ging your mind as impor­tant as jog­ging your body.. got­ta keep think­ing and cog­nat­ing or else your mind drifts off into a daze and becomes lazy like an over­weight body.. Good arti­cle.. We need more peo­ple jog­ging their minds..

  3. Helene Zemel says:

    There is def­i­nite­ly some­thing to the “use it or lose it” prin­ci­ple. As a piano teacher, I have had many adults come to me for lessons real­iz­ing how impor­tant it is to learn new skills to pre­vent the onset of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease.

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