Use It Or Lose It

No.  I am not talking about sex (although this may be true).  Brain cells need stimulation in order to “stay sharp”.  Regular brain exercise is as necessary as regular general bodily exercise.  Research from Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 800 older Americans over 4.5 years.  The individuals who challenged their brains several times per week had a 33% lower risk of Alzheimer’s than people who participated in brain-stimulating activities just several times a month.  Although I didn’t see bingo on the list, other activities included reading, doing puzzles, playing cards, doing crosswords and visiting museums.  Use them (brain cells) or lose them – does apply here.

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Diagnosing Parkinson’s With The Voice

When doctors ask you to say “ahhhh”, it is usually to look at the condition of your throat. Doctor examining throat Dr. Max Little, Chairman of the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative, has developed Speech Recognition software which compares a patient’s voice to a database of vocal recordings of Parkinson’s patients and those who do not have the disease.  Early testing of the technology have demonstrated it to be 99% accurate, and the project is currently amassing 10,000 further recordings to further assess the software’s ability to detect Parkinson’s.  Apparently, those individuals with Parkinson’s show specific vocal patterns e.g., tremors.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease and affects one million people in the USA.  There is no lab test specific for the disease.   Parkinson’s has the best outcomes when identified early – as the disease has no cure – but the progression of the disease can be slowed by pharmaceutical therapy. The diagnosis, up until now, has relied on clinical assessments of stress, muscle reflexes, gait, brain scans and so on.  The use of this voice recognition technology is showing great promise.  Calling your doctor may soon take on a whole new meaning.

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Why Should You Work Out In The Morning?

Testosterone burns fat, builds muscle and increases sex drive in men and women.  Testosterone, like most steroid hormones, has a daily rhythm – highest in the morning and decreasing over the day.  It has been suggested that our ability to perform follows the same trend i.e., testosterone levels can predict our physical performance over the day.  A team at Swansea University, lead by Professor Kilduff,  evaluated the effect of training in the morning on testosterone response throughout the day.

Using testosterone levels derived from saliva sampling, 18 semi-professional rugby Morning  exercise and black clockplayers were divided into three groups:  the control or resting group; the sprint group (5 x 40 meters) and weight-training (bench press and squat) group.  A follow-up saliva sample was taken before the players completed a performance test (back squat and bench press, 40m sprint and jump test).

The results showed the circadian decline in testosterone levels was negated by morning training.  In other words, working out (especially with weight training) in the morning  keeps the testosterone levels from dropping during the day and increases performance in power sports at least six hours after the initial workout.

If you recall in a previous blogs (2 and 3), I mentioned the reasons why maintaining testosterone levels is extremely important for men and women.  Here is a short list:  Increases bone density, decreases cholesterol, helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, prevents and treats depression, protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, excess body fat and arthritis, enhances memory and cognition, and protects against Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.   Perhaps changing how and when we exercise may reduce our tendency to certain health conditions by maintaining optimal steroid hormone levels.

Until next time……

Dr. Gatis

Jealousy Can Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

Negative emotions can and do have an effect on our physiology.  The Chinese have known for centuries  that anger can affect the liver, grief can affect the lungs, the kidneys can be affected by fear and so on.  Now mainstream medical science has confirming data – at least when it comes to emotions like jealousy, fear and anger.  Having jealous or insecure thoughts has weird effects on the brain – in particular, the amygdala – the part of the brain that is involved in our perception of fear, anger and disgust.  The amygdala releases the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline as part of your stress response.  The stress response is useful and necessary when it is short-lived but chronic stress andHuman Emotion the long-term release of these hormones affects the immune system and the cardiovascular system in deleterious ways.

Having chronic or obsessive thoughts of your partner being unfaithful or with another lover, or competition (real or imagined) with another in the workplace, for example, activates the amygdala and the release of stress hormones that can raise blood pressure – and blood pressure spikes when under stress have been linked to some forms of dementia.  A study out of Kyoto University in Japan, of 800 women over 38 years-of-age who felt most stressed or anxious, were at increased risk of Alzheimer’s and long-term distress.  The bottom line is that if you are feeling “out or your mind” with jealousy or insecurity, the result,  on a physical level, may just be literally “losing your mind”. Could it be that a high self-esteem and self-concept can protect us in some way from these mind-related diseases? Food for thought.

Until next time,

Dr. Gatis