Dance away Dementia

I recently heard an interesting tidbit:  Research shows that regular partner dancing is the most effective activity to ward of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Really!?  Above Sudoku!?!

I consulted my all-knowing friend Google, and found that indeed, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York conducted a  study demonstrating this.  The study spanned 21 years and followed 469 senior citizens, measuring mental acuity and monitoring rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s.  They compared both cognitive and physical activities, including regular (3-4 times/week) swimming, cycling, walking, golfing, playing tennis, partner dancing,  doing housework, reading, writing, playing cards, and playing musical instruments.  The study showed that of all the activities – both cognitive and physical – regular dancing was the most effective for lowering the participants’ chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

This can be interpreted several ways.  Partner dancing involves concentration and memorization, decision making, coordination, balance, endurance, strength, and flexibility, for starters.  Multiple areas of the brain are simultaneously engaged, the cardiovascular system is challenged, etc.  Science can prove the cognitive and physiological benefits of dancing, but what I find so significant is that partner dancing requires a partner.  It involves human touch, communication, trust, and teamwork.   It’s like one-on-one play for adults.

Here’s my take on it:  Health can be managed via a barrage of tests, supplements, medications, devices, and procedures, but I truly believe that for humans to really thrive, we also need each other.  Our emotional selves need attention just as our cognitive and physical selves do.  We need relationships – touch, communication, trust, and humor.  Partner dancing is the perfect synthesis of mental, emotional, and physical therapy.

So, eat your greens, take your vitamins, laugh, play, and hold the hand of someone dear to you.  Toss in some music and a  little fancy footwork, and you’ll be wowing your great grandchildren with detailed accounts of 1988 decades from now.

Naturopathic Approach to Maintaining a Healthy Brain

Listen to Naturopathic Approach to Maintaining a Healthy Brain

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Nature Cures Clinic’s found Dr. Greg Eckel discusses various ways that we can maintain our brain health.  He and his guest colleague explain that memory decline is not just a “sign of aging”, but it’s a sign of not aging well and isn’t normal.  A long life of oxidative stress, which the brain is especially vulnerable to, puts the brain in a position of being more prone to develop neurological diseases as we get older.  Through a naturopathic approach, they’ll share with you many ways that we can protect our brains from this oxidative stress, leading to devastating disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, memory loss, and even strokes.

Ginkgo and MS

Diseases of the nervous system are dramatically on the increase. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and others have been increasingly prevalent for the past decade, and the rise shows no signs of slowing.Unfortunately, there are essentially no therapies available to effectively halt or reverse the progre,ssion of these conditions.

A new study conducted at by the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) offers an encouraging treatment for at least one aspect of multiple sclerosis.

The small study compared the mental acuity of MS patients who were taking the herb ginkgo biloba with other MS patients who were taking no ginkgo. The finding was that the group taking ginkgo scored significantly better in testing. The difference between the two groups was described by the lead researcher as “comparable to differences in scores between healthy people ages 30 to 39 and those ages 50 to 59.” Continue reading “Ginkgo and MS”

Fish Oil and Alzheimer’s

The essential fatty acids found in fish oil are vital to health. Research has shown that by getting enough of those fatty acids, DHA and EPA, in one’s diet, the risk of many chronic diseases drops dramatically. Now a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience illustrates yet another reason to include fish oil as part of your daily supplement plan.

Most Americans eat a diet deficient in essential fatty acids. These fats are needed for cardiovascular health, immune system health, brain function, and may other important functions in the body. This new research has found that a diet supplemented with DHA (decosahexanoic acid) protected mice from developing the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The amount of decrease was not small. Continue reading “Fish Oil and Alzheimer’s”