Good news about Alzheimer’s and lifestyle

An important neuropathological study revealed

  • The most common Alzheimer’s pathology was vascular disease (which is preventable).
  • Just 10-30% of clinical Alzheimer’s cases have pure Alzheimer’s-like pathology

From @thebraindocsDrs Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, practicing neurologists:

“For a long time, researchers only focused on identifying abnormal protein deposition in the brain resulting in Alzheimer’s disease, but with advances in tools and our understanding, we now know that there is a HUGE overlap between vascular (blood vessel) disease in the brain and clinical Alzheimer’s disease. And this study helped us understand it better. 

1,161 people donated their brains to be studied after their death. Only 10-30% of the cases were pure Alzheimer’s-like pathologies, and a larger percentage of the pathologies were attributable to stroke, cerebral amyloid angiopathy (abnormal protein deposition in blood vessels), atherosclerosis, and arteriolosclerosis – all vascular diseases that are profoundly influenced by factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose metabolism – which in turn are influenced by lifestyle – what you eat, how much you move, your sleep patterns, etc.”

I have taken care of countless patients and some family members with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a nightmare for the patient and their caregivers. I want to do everything I possibly can to avoid passing this burden on to my children, and this is great news – by managing the lifestyle factors that I can control, I am significantly reducing my risk of living this nightmare myself. 

SOURCE    SOURCE

Plant Protein to Prevent Frailty

Check out THIS ARTICLE in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle that followed 85,000 women from 1980-2010 and found that:

Women with a higher intake of plant protein had a lower risk of developing frailty after adjustment for all relevant confounders [relative risks across quintiles of consumption: 1.00, 0.94, 0.89, 0.86, and 0.86; P-trend < 0.001]. In contrast, those with a higher intake of animal protein intake had a higher risk of frailty [relative risks across quintiles of consumption: 1.00, 0.98, 0.99, 1.00, and 1.07; P-trend 0.04]. The intake of total and dairy protein showed no significant association with frailty in the full model. Substituting 5% of energy from plant protein intake at the expense of animal protein, dairy protein, or non-dairy animal protein was associated with 38% (29%, 47%), 32% (21%, 42%), and 42% (33%, 50%) reduced risk of frailty.” SOURCE

As Dr. Garth Davis stated, it’s not hard to find an online influencer and even some doctors claiming that animal protein is superior to plant protein based on the fact that rodent studies have demonstrated higher absorption of amino acids like leucine which they claim may help grow muscle & prevent sarcopenia with aging; however, is that always a good thing? Studies are showing that an aging pathway – mTOR – is activated by leucine…food for thought, for sure! And make sure to include resistance training with weights to benefit muscle preservation as you age as well!

*I’m not a physician & this isn’t medical advice*

Healthy Travel Tips!

Woo Hoo! It’s time to travel!  Got Spring Break coming up or a summer vacay planned? Here are some tips to stay healthy.

First, don’t derail all your progress just because you’re not at home! Things you eat & do (or don’t do) on vacation definitely count.  You can have fun & be a little more flexible, but don’t go crazy.  If you typically follow 80/20 or 90/10 during the week at home for things like alcohol, sugar or working out, pick another split & stick to it – maybe 60/40 or even 50/50. 

Look at your daily routines & think about what you can easily carry over on vacation. I always have my warm water first thing in the morning before coffee, and my Natural Calm at night before bed to help with sleep & regularity (don’t start taking NC on the road, it can cause issues – start at home first & then stay consistent with it on your trip).

  • Stay hydrated! It helps prevent dehydration (duh!) and helps with digestion & regularity.  Feel free to add Nuun tabs (make sure you don’t get the ones with caffeine) or Ultima powder.  Bring along your reusable water bottle & keep it filled and with you! This is especially true when flying.
  •  You’ll probably be eating things that aren’t in your usual diet. Consider taking digestive enzymes with meals containing foods or ingredients that aren’t your usual. 
  • Get gassy/upset tummy when flying? You’re not alone!  Check out THIS ARTICLE  stating that lower air pressure & a rapid increase in air pressure actually do make you more likely to have issues with gas. Consider consuming lower FODMAP foods the day prior to travel and taking something with simethicone (like Gas-X) just before boarding and maybe a few times mid-flight. Avoid carbonated beverages in flight and move around the cabin as well. You may also want to think about self-massage for digestion before & after your flight – VIDEO HERE.
  • Make sure to have at least one 100% meal per day – oats with fruit for breakfast, a big salad with light dressing for lunch, grilled protein (whether it’s seafood or tofu) and steamed veg are some suggestions. 
  • Enjoy some indulgences but make sure they’re worth it! Savor the decadent dessert at a restaurant, but skip the Kit Kat at the airport or gas station.
  • Bring along healthy snacks for the trip – I pack raw nuts and fruit (fresh or dried).
  • Stay active – get all of your steps in for the day! I love trying new boutique fitness classes when I travel, but feel free to also hit the hotel gym, see if your gym has reciprocity with a facility near you. Some members-only videos that would be great while traveling are:
    •  Lower Body Mini Band Workout HERE
    • Body weight HIIT with modifications HERE
    • 5 grounding yoga poses before bed  HERE 
  • Prioiritize sleep – aim for your usual number of hours per sleep.  It likely won’t be a problem to catch up on a little extra sleep, but don’t sleep in too much, stay up too late, or do anything that you know will throw you off (like sleeping with the TV on, excessive scrolling, eating too close to bedtime, excessive alcohol close to bedtime.)
  • Schedule your work: try your best to have designated work time & truly be ‘out of office’ the rest of the time. Schedule any calls/meetings and do any other tasks around those times, then disconnect & be present & enjoy your trip!
  • Keep your space somewhat clutter-free. No one loves living out of a suitcase. I’ve recently started unpacking soon after checking in & will never go back! When your environment is cluttered, your mind is cluttered & you are less likely to make good decisions.

What am I missing? Share your favorite travel tips in the comments!

Exercise timing and cognitive performance

This one goes out to all my high-performing friends!

We all know that  an exercise routine can improve cardiovascular health, increase bone density, maintain body weight, improve insulin response and improve balance and strength…but, did you know that movement can also lead to improved cognitive functioning? Yep, regular activity can reduce the risk of depression & anxiety, improve sleep and overall quality of life and can impact cognitive performance. 

A recent study showed that cortical oxygenation was most improved after moderate exercise while  processing speed was lower after high-intensity exercise, possibly due to fatigue. Researchers have also found that single sessions of mind-body therapies such as yoga have led to memory and processing speed improvement.

While I definitely recommend consistently incorporating a variety of movement modalities, there may be some benefit to the timing of type of exercise  as it relates to cognitive demand and performance. 

So if you have a big negotiation, presentation or meeting, maybe go for a moderate intensity workout beforehand (strength training, perhaps?) and save the HIIT training for another day or after the big *thing*. 

Read more in THIS STUDY.

easy ways to drink more water

We all know that there are tons of reasons *why* we need to drink more water (improved organ function, improved brain function, to keep skin looking good, improve digestion, etc). Generally, ~64 oz or 1/2 your body weight in ounces are the minimum amounts recommended. Ask your doc what’s right for you – it is possible to have too much water, and you don’t want to end up hyponatremic!

Here are my top tips to make it easy to get your water in:

  • Start the day with 8-16 oz of room temp water
  • Invest in some cute stainless steel or glass vessels and fill them with water, infused water, or herbal tea in the morning & make sure to finish them by the end of the day. Sit them out on your kitchen counter or desk so you won’t miss them!
  • Have 1 bottle of water on your commute in the morning and leave another in your car to drink on the way home. I used to keep a bottle of my favorite herbal tea in my car to enjoy on the way home from the hospital – if I used boiling hot water in the morning, it was still warm at the end of the day in my HydroFlask!
  • Try infused water: add some cucumber slices, citrus slices, frozen watermelon cubes, or whatever sounds good.
  • Enjoy added electrolytes (Nuun & Ultima – available at Kroger or Whole Foods – and Omnourish -available online – are the ones I use most).
  • Herbal (no caffeine) tea and mineral water (eg Pellegrino, Perrier) count as ‘water’, but I don’t include sparkling waters and definitely not caffeine. The others are fine to enjoy, but shouldn’t count as “water intake”.