Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry – May Protect Aging Synapses

When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition.

University of California – San Francisco. “Exercise alters brain chemistry to protect aging synapses: Enhanced nerve transmission seen in older adults who remained active.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220107100955.htm (accessed January 8, 2022).

I was about to write a snarky comment but I forgot what it was.

Journal Reference – Kaitlin Casaletto, Alfredo Ramos‐Miguel, Anna VandeBunte, Molly Memel, Aron Buchman, David Bennett, William Honer. Late‐life physical activity relates to brain tissue synaptic integrity markers in older adults. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2022; DOI: 10.1002/alz.12530

MIND Your Diet

MIND diet is associated with better cognitive functioning independently of brain pathology, suggesting that the MIND diet may contribute to cognitive resilience in older adults.

Dhana, Klodian et al. ‘MIND Diet, Common Brain Pathologies, and Cognition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults’. 1 Jan. 2021 : 683 – 692. — https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad210107

So, what is the MIND diet?

The traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern includes mainly whole, minimally processed plant foods including cereal grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and fish with small amounts of meat, milk, and dairy products and a regular modest amount of alcohol.4 The DASH diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and includes whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts, and is reduced in fats, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages.4 Combining the two diets, the MIND diet emphasizes natural, plant-based foods, specifically promoting an increase in the consumption of berries and green leafy vegetables, with limited intakes of animal-based and high saturated fat foods.

What Are the Components to the MIND Diet? — https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(15)01251-4/fulltext

I became aware of the MIND diet earlier this year. It’s nice to know my dietary pattern has a name.

Alcohol (just a wee bit) Lowers CVD Mortality Risk

Moderate alcohol intake – defined as no more than one alcoholic drink for women and two for men per day – may be associated with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease when compared with individuals who abstain from drinking or partake in excessive drinking, according to a new study. Of the 53,064 participants, 7,905 (15%) experienced a major adverse cardiovascular event: 17% in the low alcohol intake group and 13% in the moderate alcohol intake group. People who reported moderate alcohol intake were found to have a 20% lower chance of having a major event compared to low alcohol intake (in adjusted analysis), and also had lower stress-related brain activity. Kenechukwu Mezue, MD, the study’s lead author, cautions that these findings should not encourage alcohol use, but that they could open doors to new therapeutics or prescribing stress-relieving activities like exercise or yoga to help minimize stress signals in the brain.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, May 6, 2021 accessed 05.08.21 — https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2021/05/05/14/48/new-acc-21-research-explores-flu-vaccines-sleep-htn-secondhand-smoke-alcohol-and-stress-acc-2021

My liver understands but does not necessarily agree with the findings of this study.

Why Lockdowns Worked in March and Why Lockdowns No Longer Work

The researchers found that after one day of total isolation, the sight of people having fun together activates the same brain region that lights up when someone who hasn’t eaten all day sees a picture of a plate of cheesy pasta.

“People who are forced to be isolated crave social interactions similarly to the way a hungry person craves food. Our finding fits the intuitive idea that positive social interactions are a basic human need, and acute loneliness is an aversive state that motivates people to repair what is lacking, similar to hunger,” says Rebecca Saxe, the John W. Jarve Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of the study.

The research team collected the data for this study in 2018 and 2019, long before the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Their new findings, described today in Nature Neuroscience, are part of a larger research program focusing on how social stress affects people’s behavior and motivation.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “A hunger for social contact: Neuroscientists find that isolation provokes brain activity similar to that seen during hunger cravings.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201123120724.htm (accessed November 23, 2020).

Vitamin D and Calcium Reduce Incidence of Recurrent Vertigo (BPPV)

The multi-center study included 957 people in South Korea with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo who had undergone canalith repositioning maneuvers—head movements that shift displaced calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear. The intervention group included patients who received 400 IU vitamin D and 500 mg calcium carbonate twice daily for 1 year when their baseline serum vitamin D level was below 20 ng/mL along with patients who had higher baseline levels and took no supplements. An observation group had no baseline testing or interventions.

The supplements significantly reduced the annual vertigo recurrence rate by 24%. There were 0.83 recurrences per 1 person-year in the intervention group compared with 1.10 in the observation group. Patients with greater vitamin D deficiencies at baseline derived the most benefit.

JAMA. 2020;324(16):1599. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.18695 — https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2772275

BPPV = benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. The original study in Neurology and the JAMA summary both use the word “prevent” in their respective titles. I think reduce is a more apt description. Semantics aside a 24% reduction in recurrent BPPV episodes is significant.

And yet another example of nutritional deficiencies underlying another disease.

Anti-psychotic Added to Antidepressant Linked to Higher Mortality

The current investigators analyzed national healthcare claims from the US Medicaid program from 2001 to 2010 for 39,582 Medicaid beneficiaries (mean age, 44.5 years; 78.5% women) diagnosed with depression. Patients with alternative indications for anti-psychotic therapy, such as schizophrenia, psychotic depression or bipolar disorder, were excluded.

After a period of at least 3 months of treatment with a single antidepressant, more than half of the patients (56.6%) augmented their treatment with one of these atypical anti-psychotics: quetiapine, risperidone, aripiprazole or olanzapine. The remaining patients (43.4%) added a second antidepressant. The average chlorpromazine-equivalent starting dose for all atypical anti-psychotics was 68 mg/day, which increased to 100 mg/day during follow-up.

A total of 153 patients died during 13,328 person-years of follow-up, including 105 who augmented with an atypical anti-psychotic and 48 who augmented with a second antidepressant.

Compared with those who added a second antidepressant, those who added an anti-psychotic had a 45% increased risk of dying during follow up (adjusted hazard ratio,1.45; 95% CI, 1.02 – 2.06).

Antipsychotic Added to Antidepressant Linked to Higher Mortality – Medscape – Oct 07, 2020. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/938707?src=rss#vp_1

Here’s when you should (and shouldn’t) trust your gut

Here’s when you should (and shouldn’t) trust your gut

This was an interesting article from Fast Company written by…

A neuroscientist!

Now, we live in a world that values logic and considers emotions as weak. It seems like decisions based on intuition have little or no place in today’s society. Over time, we’ve neglected the gut and the limbic brain, and placed the cortex on a pedestal. We’ve demoted depth, passion and instinct to fixate on surface-level capabilities—exams, rote-learning, and transactional relationships. We are more connected with material gain than joy. At the same time, increased stress, processed food, and antibiotics have massively diminished the biodiversity of our gut flora, which compromises more than our physical resilience.