We’ve known for some time that beta-amyloid protein clumps are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. When these sticky protein clumps form plaques around brain cells, the cells are unable to communicate with other brain cells, and inflammation eventually destroys the surrounded brain cells.
Researchers at Washington University learned that serotonin reduces beta-amyloid production in our brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved with appetite, sleep, memory and mood. Sufferers of depression have low levels of serotonin in their brains.
The Washington University researchers decided to determine if antidepressants also reduce beta-amyloid production, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Their findings indicate that antidepressants indeed do reduce the production of beta-amyloid production in our brain.
The researchers, however, don’t recommend using antidepressants to prevent Alzheimer’s, since the drugs come with severe side effects.
The question, then, is how do we increase serotonin levels in our brain without drugs? Serotonin supplements are out of the question, since serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. And this question has been asked before by researcher Simon Young. He addressed this question in his article “How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain without Drugs.”
There’s some evidence that self-induced changes in mood from negative to positive thoughts can increase serotonin levels in our brain. This may be easier for some than others.
One method is to use meditation specifically targeted to reduce stress and create a more positive attitude. There’s no guarantee your brain serotonin levels will increase, but your chances are better than not meditating.
Evidence is good bright light, such as sun light, increases brain serotonin levels. People living in northern climates may consider using artificial sun light therapy. Most respond well to bright light therapy with improvement in mood, and serotonin levels.
Exercising skeletal muscles appear to increase serotonin levels, and levels of serotonin’s precursor tryptophan. Exercise also improves mood, which is associated with increased levels of brain serotonin.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea. It helps improve serotonin function in our brain by blocking the effects of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids block the function of various brain chemicals, including serotonin. And L-theanine is one of the few chemicals that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Other research found that theanine also is able to reduce the levels of beta-amyloid in our brain.
You can increase your intake of theanine by drinking 3 glasses of tea, especially green tea, a day, or take a theanine supplement, which is readily available.
One possibly way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease is to reduce the formation and function of beta-amyloid in our brain. Serotonin and L-theanine are two possible candidates to accomplish that job.
We can increase our intake of theanine by drinking more tea or taking a supplement. We can increase our brain serotonin levels by enjoying more sunlight, exercising more and finding ways to improve our mood. A healthy Mediterranean type of diet also decreases our odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
As in most cases, a healthy lifestyle is a major factor in staying healthy.
The spirit of Jack LaLanne is probably saying, “I told you so!”
The basic conclusion of a UCLA study is, “the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death.” But why is muscle mass important for your health and longevity?
First, you need muscle to be physically active, and physical activity is an essential element of health for humans. Why? Because the only way to remove lethal toxins from every tissue in your body is to expand and contract skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle is the pump that removes these harmful chemicals made by your cells.
Second, muscle converts blood sugar into energy. The less muscle mass you have, the less ability your body has to metabolize blood sugar or glucose. If you don’t convert glucose into energy, it gets stored as fat. And if you chronically take in a lot more glucose than you need, your body builds up dangerous levels of belly and liver fat, which are linked to heart disease, strokes and cancers.
Another important role of muscle is found in an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled “The under appreciated role of muscle in health and disease.” In short, your muscle mass is a critical reservoir of amino acids during fasting periods.
During periods of fasting, like when you’re sleeping, your body breaks down muscle cells to maintain a constant supply of amino acids to all the other tissues in your body. Your body uses these amino acids to repair tissue throughout your body while you fast. Without this constant supply of amino acids, your body would eventually fall apart, and you would die.
These amino acids also keep your immune system functioning to fight diseases like cancer, and pathogen invasions into your body. I think you would agree that this is an important function to maintain health.
What are some of the best ways to develop and maintain a healthy amount of muscle mass?
- Stay physically active. The less you use your muscles, the less you’ll have.
- Do strength training type of exercises like dumbbell exercises and core exercises.
- Limit your dietary consumption of sugars and low-fiber carbs.
- And eat healthy, lean proteins from fruits, vegetables, legumes, cold water ocean fish, fowl and egg whites.
Want to be healthier and live longer as you age? Make sure to develop and maintain a healthy amount of muscle mass in your body. It’s important for physical activity, toxic waste removal, glucose metabolism and a vital source of amino acids during fasting periods. And you can have a healthy amount of muscle mass with adequate strength training type of exercises, and a healthy diet of high quality proteins.
Make Jack proud.
You’ve probably seen it in movies where the training sergeant tells the young recruit to ‘suck in that gut.’ This may be an attempt to create a sleek and slender military warrior, but as far as health is concerned, this is bad advice. It’s bad advice because it promotes shallow breathing.
Why is deep breathing better?
According to the Harvard Health Publications article, “Take a Deep Breath,” deep breathing “slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.” Deep breathing also allows oxygenated air to reach the small blood vessels at the bottom of your lungs. In turn, your lungs and breathing become more efficient in removing carbon dioxide from your body.
Deep breathing is sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. It is frequently used by yoga and meditation practitioners. This may be the reason why people who frequently meditate experience lower stress levels and blood pressure.
When you practice deep breathing, your abdomen should expand outward. This allows your diaphragm to drop down and expand your lungs to their fullest volume. Frequent deep breathing exercises will strengthen your diaphragm muscle. A strong diaphragm muscle not only permits you to completely fill your lungs with good oxygenated air, but also helps to empty your lungs of carbon dioxide rich gas.
The article further explains how you can practice deep or diaphragmatic breathing with this exercise:
“Try taking a slow, deep breath. The air coming in through your nose should move downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural). Alternate normal and deep breaths several times. Pay attention to how you feel when you inhale and exhale normally and when you breathe deeply. Shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted, while deep breathing produces relaxation.”
“Now practice diaphragmatic breathing for several minutes. Put one hand on your abdomen, just below your belly button. Feel your hand rise about an inch each time you inhale and fall about an inch each time you exhale. Your chest will rise slightly, too, in concert with your abdomen. Remember to relax your belly so that each inhalation expands it fully.”
You may find it easier to practice meditation by focusing on deep breathing exercises. With frequent practice, deep breathing will become normal. You then can enjoy lower stress levels and lower blood pressure levels for improved health.
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A byproduct of a study on the effects of exercise on breast cancer is that older women who exercise in the morning experience better sleep than those who exercise in the evening, according to the article “Morning Exercise May Help Sleep.” So if you’re wanting better sleep, think about becoming an early bird.
This study didn’t try to find a reason why early birds sleep better. But some speculate that early morning exercise may reset your circadian rhythm toward daily activity and nightly sleep patterns. Whereas exercising at night may tell your body you want to remain active all night.
That’s because exercise raises your body temperature, increases activity hormones and creates lactic acid, all which makes you more restless and discourages sleep. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, requires a slight drop in body temperature, and you definitely don’t want an increase in activity hormones if you’re wanting to sleep.
The WebMD article “Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl” agrees with this speculation by stating: “Morning people, however, also have advantages. Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns, and have more flexible personalities.”
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it may be because you’re trying to do too much in the late afternoons and evenings. Try being more active in the morning, and less active in the afternoon and evenings. And it’s best to do your exercise routine in the mornings.
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In the “10 Things You Need To Know About Losing Weight” video, these weight loss topics are discussed:
- Hunger mentally increases your urge for high calorie foods
- Use a smaller plate size to decrease the amount of food you eat at each meal
- You can eat a larger volume of low calorie foods to help you feel full
- Keep a journal of everything that you eat
- Proteins help you fell fuller longer
- Exposing yourself to a large variety of food choices at each meal will make you eat more
- Calcium in low fat dairy blocks fat absorption
- Exercise afterburn effect
- Stay physically active most of the day