Medical Study Confirms the Revolutionary Benefits of Tai Chi.


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In the largest study to date of the Arthritis Foundation’s Tai Chi program, participants showed improvement in pain, fatigue, stiffness and sense of well-being. The study found that there are significant benefits of Tai Chi for individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, said Leigh Callahan, PhD, lead author.

Their ability to reach while maintaining balance also improved, said Leigh Callahan, PhD, the study’s lead author, associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a member of UNC’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

“Our study shows that there are significant benefits of the Tai Chi course for individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis,” Callahan said. “We found this in both rural and urban settings across a southeastern state and a northeastern state.”

A small number of studies have examined the benefits of tai chi and arthritis pain. Now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put tai chi through the rigors of science.

Callahan will presented these results at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta in 2010.

In the study, 354 participants were recruited from 20 sites in North Carolina and New Jersey. They were randomly assigned to two groups. The intervention group received the 8-week, twice-weekly Tai Chi course immediately while the other group was a delayed control group. All participants received baseline and 8-week follow-up evaluations, after which the control group also received the Tai Chi course.

To be eligible for study, participants had to have any type of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis, be 18 years old or older and able to move independently without assistance. However, they did not have to be able to perform Tai Chi standing. They were eligible for the study if they could perform Tai Chi seated, Callahan said.

Self-reports of pain, fatigue and stiffness and physical function performance measures were collected at baseline and at the eight-week evaluation. Participants were asked questions about their ability to perform activities of daily living, their overall general health and psychosocial measures such as their perceived helplessness and self-efficacy. The physical performance measures recorded were timed chair stands (which are a measure of lower extremity strength), gait speed (both normal and fast) and two measures of balance: a single leg stance and a reach test.

At the end of eight weeks the individuals who had received the intervention showed moderate improvements in pain, fatigue and stiffness. They also had an increased sense of well being, as measured by the psychosocial variables, and they had improved reach or balance, Callahan said.

Study co-authors, all from UNC, are statistician Jack Shreffler, PhD, Betsy Hackney, BS, Kathryn Martin, PhD, and medical student Brian Charnock, BS.

 

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Stratolaunch confirms Orbital Sciences to build rocket.


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Stratolaunch has officially signed Orbital Sciences to build its air-launched rocket, to be hauled to altitude by one of the largest aircraft in the world. The contract confirms that Orbital will design and build the rocket, capable of launching 6,100kg (13,500lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO). Orbital was previously engaged to make conceptual studies, and was considered to be the odds-on favorite for design. Partner Scaled Composites will design and build the carrier aircraft, which has no formal name as of yet.

While few design characteristics have been formally released, Stratolaunch indicates that the launch vehicle (LV) will have both solid and liquid-fueled stages. A report from NASAspaceflight.com says the LV will have two solid-fuel core stages and a liquid-fuel upper stage, potentially powered by two Rocketdyne RL-10 engines.

Design models and concept artwork show horizontal stabilizers on the aft end of the LV, allowing the rocket to turn itself upwards after release, as well as a vertical stabilizer for course correction.

“We’re not ready to give anybody any of the details of the rocket yet,” says Orbital. “Today is really more about Stratolaunch saying, we’ve concluded the study contract with Orbitaland we’re now moving ahead with the design and development of the rocket with details to follow.”

SpaceX, initially favoured to build a rocket based on its Falcon 9, dropped out citing major design changes.

The carrier aircraft, currently under construction, will be built largely of composite materials, using subsystems and six engines scavenged from two ex-United Airlines 747-400s. The system requires a 12,500ft runway for takeoff, but has an operational radius of up to 1850km (1,000nm). The aircraft is scheduled for test flights in 2016.

Orbital also builds the Pegasus, a smaller rocket air-launched by a modified Lockheed L-1011, currently the only operational air-launch rocket in the world.

“We have a lot of operational expertise, from a design/development standpoint to operational methodologies, everything from how to integrate it with the carrier aircraft and all the flight dynamics,” says Orb

Albert Einstein Discovers New Planet. Really…


Portrait Of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein didn’t care much about planets, and you can hardly blame him. After all, when you’re busy transforming physics with such revolutionary discoveries as the four-dimensional curvature of spacetime and the equivalence of matter and energy, you don’t have time to worry about trivia.

Yet one of Einstein’s weirder ideas has led to the identification of a new planet, about twice as massive as Jupiter, orbiting a star some 2,000 light-years from Earth — a discovery Einstein never even envisioned but one that may never have happened without him. Indeed, David Latham, a Harvard astronomer who collaborated on the discovery, originally doubted it was even possible to do what he (under Einstein’s guiding hand)  recently succeeded in doing. “I thought it was silly,” he says. “I thought the effect was so small we’d never detect it.”

The effect in question is “relativistic beaming,” and it dictates that when a bright object is coming right at you, the warping of spacetime caused by that motion will force its light into a narrower, more focused beam that looks brighter than it really is. While Einstein never suggested using that phenomenon to look for planets, Latham’s Harvard colleague Avi Loeb andOhio State’s Scott Gaudi did, in a theoretical paper published in 2003.

Their reasoning: as a planet orbits its star, its gravity pulls on the star, first one way, then the other. If the planet is lined up more or less edge-on from the perspective of Earth, that pulling will yank the star toward Earth, then away. When it’s coming toward Earth, relativistic beaming will make the star look brighter, and when it’s moving away, it should get dimmer.

In fact, the very first exoplanets were found in a similar sort of way, back in the 1990’s, except that those first planet-hunters were looking for a shift in color, not brightness. That’s because motion toward the observer makes starlight look a little bluer than it really is, while motion away stretches the light wave and makes it look redder (this so-called redshifting applies to entire galaxies, not just stars; it’s how astronomers discovered, back in the 1920’s, that the universe is expanding).

Finding planets by shifts in color is hard enough: first-generation planet hunters like Berkeley’s Geoff Marcy faced a lot of skepticism from  colleagues for even bothering. But this new technique is even tougher, requiring measurements of changes in brightness  as small as a few parts per million. Back in 2003, when Loeb and Gaudi proposed the idea, it was indeed silly to try.

But once the Kepler spacecraft went into orbit in 2009, it wasn’t quite so ridiculous, so Latham, along with Israeli astronomers Simchon Faigler and Tsevi Mazeh, plus several others set out to see if it could be done. They weren’t looking just for the beaming effect: the star-planet system, they figured, should brighten and dim for two other reasons. First, a close-in orbiting planet should raise tides on the star, making it bulge into a very slightly oval shape that follows the planet as it orbits, just as tides in Earth’s oceans follow the Moon in its orbit. When the bulge is pointed right at Earth, the star looks just a little smaller than normal, and thus a bit dimmer. When the bulge points off to the side, the star looks bigger and brighter.

Source: Scientific American

 

Honeybee Food May Contribute to U.S. Colony Collapse.


Bee keepers’ use of corn syrup and other honey substitutes as bee feed may be contributing to colony collapse by depriving the insects of compounds that strengthen their immune systems, according to a study released on Monday.

Bee keepers’ use of corn syrup and other honey substitutes as bee feed may be contributing to colony collapse by depriving the insects of compounds that strengthen their immune systems, according to a study released on Monday.

U.S. bee keepers lost nearly a third of their colonies last winter as part of an ongoing and largely unexplained decline in the population of the crop-pollinating insects that could hurt the U.S. food supply.

A bee’s natural food is its own honey, which contains compounds like p-coumaric acid that appear to help detoxify and strengthen a bee’s immunity to disease, according to a study by scientists at the University of Illinois.

Bee keepers, however, typically harvest and sell the honey produced by the bees and use substitutes like sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to feed them.

“The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses,” according to the study, which was published on May 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Apiary Inspectors of America said in May that more than 30 percent of America’s managed honeybee colonies were lost during the winter of 2012-13, up sharply from around 22 percent the previous winter but still close to the six-year average. The losses vary year to year, but a huge and prolonged multiyear decline threatens the species and crop pollination.

Honeybees pollinate fruits and vegetables that make up roughly one-quarter of the American diet, and scientists are split over whether pesticides, parasites or habitat loss are mainly to blame for the deaths.

Similar losses have been recorded in Europe where lawmakers have moved to ban three of the world’s most widely used pesticides for two years amid growing criticism from environmental activists.

Agrichemical and pesticide makers like Monsanto, Bayer AG and Syngenta are also launching projects to study and counter colony collapse.

Few deny that pesticides – particularly a class of commonly used insecticides called neonicotinoids – can be harmful to bees in the laboratory. It is unclear what threat the insecticides pose under current agricultural usage. Some scientists say habitat decline and disease-carrying parasites, such as the Varroa mite, are the chief cause of bee deaths.

Source: Scientific American

 

 

Mars trip beyond astronauts’ radiation limits.


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Radiation levels measured by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover show astronauts likely would exceed current US exposure limits during a roundtrip mission to Mars, say scientists.

The rover landed on Mars in August to search for habitats that could have supported past microbial life.

Results taken during Curiosity’s eight-month cruise to Mars indicate that astronauts would receive a radiation dose of about 660 millisieverts during a 360-day roundtrip flight, the fastest travel possible with today’s chemical rockets. That dosage does not include any time spent on the planet’s surface. A millisievert is a measurement of radiation exposure.

The research was published in this week’s edition of the journal Science.

NASA limits astronauts’ increased cancer risk to 3 per cent, which translates to a cumulative radiation dose of between about 800 millisieverts and 1200 millisieverts, depending on a person’s age, gender and other factors.

“Even for the shortest of (Mars) missions, we are perilously close to the radiation career and health limits that we’ve established for our astronauts,” says NASA’s chief medical officer Dr Richard Williams.

An astronaut living for six months on the International Space Station, which flies about 400 kilometres above Earth, receives a dosage of about 100 millisieverts.

An abdominal X-ray scan generates about 10 millisieverts.

At NASA’s request, the Institute of Medicine panel is looking into ethics and health standards for long-duration spaceflights.

“We’re looking at that 3 per cent standard and its applicability for exploration-type missions,” adds NASA’s Edward Semones, spaceflight radiation health officer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“The snapshot today is that we would exceed our limit,” says Semones.

NASA also is looking into alternative propulsion technologies to speed up the trip to Mars and different types of spacecraft shielding.

Information from Curiosity about how much and what type of radiation astronauts can expect on the Martian surface is due to be released later this year.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au

 

 

 

 

More Satisfaction, Less Divorce for People Who Meet Spouses Online.


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More than one-third of American marriages today get their start online — and those marriages are more satisfying and are less likely to end in divorce, according to a new study.

The research, which was funded by the online-datingsite eHarmony, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Meeting online is no longer an anomaly, and the prospects are good,” says lead author John Cacioppo, a professor of social psychology at the University of Chicago. “That was surprising to me. I didn’t expect that.”

The research involved a Harris Poll of nearly 20,000 Americans who got married between 2005 and 2012. It found that 35% of people met online. But while 8% of those who met off-line got separated or divorced, the percentage for those who met online was just 6%. Although these differences narrowed after controlling for factors that affect divorce rates such as income, education and number of years married, they remained significant, Cacioppo says.

The study also found increased marital satisfaction among people meeting online, compared with off-line venues like at college or in bars.

Eli Finkel, a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University who has published research critical of the online-dating industry, said in e-mail to several journalists that the research is “impressive” with a “large sample” and “fascinating findings.” However, Finkel thinks that the conclusion that online marriages are better is premature.

“The study is a good one,” he says. “It suggests that one can meet a serious romantic partner online. That’s a big deal. But any conclusions that online meeting is better than off-line meeting overstep the evidence.” Finkel explains that the differences between the two venues overall are not large enough to support this claim.

(MORE: Stand by Your Man: Physical Proximity May Help Oxytocin to Keep Men in Relationships Faithful)

The study does not suggest that meeting online in and of itself actually improves matchmaking or somehow causes marriages to be better. In fact, both online and off, different types of meeting places were linked with different marital prospects.

Not surprisingly, for example, growing up together or meeting at school, through friends or through a religious group were linked with more satisfying marriages than meeting at a bar or club or on a blind date. Oddly, however, meeting at work was just as bad as finding a spouse at a bar or nightclub.

In terms of online venues, marriages begun in chat rooms or online communities were less satisfying than those initiated via online-dating sites, although dating sites themselves varied in terms of the marital satisfaction reported.

“In chat rooms and off-line, you meet only the people who are around and not large numbers of people,” Cacioppo says as a possible explanation for this finding. “If you do online dating, all of sudden, there’s a world of possibilities.”

Another potential explanation for differences between online and off-line marital success has to do with personality. “If you have good impulse control, you may be more likely to meet your spouse [deliberately] online rather than impulsively at a bar,” he says.

Of dating sites, eHarmony fared particularly well — a finding that may raise suspicion because of the funding source. However, the study could not determine whether or not this has anything to do with how it matches people or anything else specific to the site. Because it advertises itself to those who are seeking a spouse, eHarmony may simply attract more people who are ready to settle down. A marriage-focused website, Cacioppo says, “is not appealing if you are just looking for a hookup.”

Cacioppo notes one additional reason why the online world might be conducive to matchmaking — an explanation that might surprise many online daters who have met people whose bodies didn’t exactly match their pictures. “There is some experimental work going back more than 30 years now, which [shows that] meeting [via computer or text] leads people on average to be a little more honest and self-disclosing,” he says.

“When you are face to face, there is face-saving,” he explains. “When you don’t [see each other], you can be more comfortable being yourself.” Being more open, the same studies found, led people to like each other more — something that could obviously influence romantic connections.

When it comes to playing Cupid, it’s still not clear whether online dating ultimately makes better matches. But given the large number of people who meet their mates this way, the good news is that at least it doesn’t seem to make matters any worse.

Source: Time.com

 

How to Build a Smarter Internet.


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To keep the Web from collapsing under the weight of ever more data, the network needs to radically change the way it handles information, says the head of Bell Labs Research

The number of smartphones, tablets and other network-connected gadgets will outnumber humans by the end of the year. Perhaps more significantly, faster and more powerful mobile devices hitting the market are producing and consuming content at unprecedented levels. Global mobile data grew 70 percent in 2012, according to a recent report from Cisco, which makes much of the gear that runs the Internet. Yet the capacity of the world’s networking infrastructure is finite, leaving many to wonder when we will reach the upper limit and what we will do when that happens.

There are ways to boost capacity, of course, such as adding cables, packing those cables with more data-carrying optical fibers and off-loading traffic onto smaller satellite networks, but these steps simply delay the inevitable. The solution is to make the overall infrastructure smarter. Two main components are needed: computers and other devices that can preprocess and possibly filter or aggregate their content before tossing it onto the network, along with a network that better understands what to do with this content, rather than numbly perceiving it as an endless, undifferentiated stream of bits and bytes.

Source: Scientific American

 

More

Time Travel Tunnel Discovered in China.


Time Travel Tunnel China

A time travel tunnel was discovered in China. The “time tunnel” as the locals call it, is said to be able to reverse time.

Is time travel possible? Perhaps…a time travel tunnel apparently exists in GuiZhou China.

The tunnel is over 400 meters long and apparently when driving through the tunnel, the time on your cell phone jumps back one hour.

The reporter who wrote this article for China’s Gui Yang Evening News personally tested this tunnel and reported the phenomenon happened eight out of ten times after driving through the tunnel on May 22.

So basically here’s how it works, say you enter the tunnel at 9 am and exit at 9:05 am, the time on your cell phone will display 8:05 am. The time is corrected after traveling a kilometer from the tunnel, according to mobile phone users.

So far there has been no explanation about this phenomenon.

Watch the video on youtube:.

URLhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j8yXERqm4m0#action=share

 

 

 

 

Job interview preparation: an essential checklist.


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Good preparation is essential to a successful job interview. Here’s our guide to the basics you’ll need to cover to plan and practise your performance.

 

When you’ve been invited for an interview, your thoughts naturally turn to giving a winning performance on the day. A bit like exams, interviewscan creep up on you, but good preperation is the key to success.

So, here’s a checklist to signpost you to areas you may want to address. Some of it may seem a bit obvious but, because many people don’t interview frequently, it’s worth reminding yourself of the process.

Plan as far in advance as possible

Work on answers to the most common interview questions. The “tell me about yourself” or “talk me through your CV” questions are normally asked to ease you in, so make sure you’re ready for them.

Have a short, two or three minute response that you can give comfortably. Start with a strong statement, such as: “I am a project manager with 15 years’ experience of technology projects in the media sector.” Then follow this with a summarised chronological story showing how you got to your current career position. No career history is perfect, but if you have gaps in your CV – or lots of short jobs – have a way of telling the story around them without becoming defensive.

Read carefully through the job and person specification, identifying your experiences that demonstrate the skills or knowledge gained. Again, practise articulating each one. Writing down an answer is a good way to do this — reading it aloud, recording yourself or having a mock interview is even better.

Now think about how you’re going to address the more tricky questions, such as, “where would you like to be in five years’ time?” or “what are your weaknesses?”.

If it’s not explicit in the invite, find out the format of the interview and the number of people involved beforehand. It’s not that you have to prepare particularly differently, but if you’re expecting a relaxed chat with a HR person and you get five senior people grilling you, it’s likely to throw you.

Research the company, paying attention to news stories, their website and strategic plans. See if you can also speak to someone in your network who works or has worked there.

Before the interview

Prepare your interview outfit: shine the shoes and plan grooming things like getting a haircut. Dressing well can increase your confidence as well as boosting your professional image.

Work out where you’re going, travelling times and transport options. If you can factor in more time and locate a coffee shop nearby, it may help to reduce travelling anxiety. Have a copy of the job description and the person specification on you and a couple of copies of your CV, all in a neat folder or portfolio case. Read through them again before you head in.

During the interview

It’s very easy to be so intently focused on giving a good interview thatyou forget that it’s a two-way process. Notice how the reception feels, how people behave towards each other, how the interview is run, and what sense you get from the interviewer. You may even want to ask: “How do you find working here?”

Don’t be afraid to pause and think. You don’t need to fire back an answer in the first millisecond — and sometimes it’s good to acknowledge that you’ll need a few moments for consideration. In general, people speak too quickly in interviews because they’re nervous, so slow down if you notice yourself racing.

Source: The Guardian

Make sure you’re clear about the next steps following the interview. Many organisations take a lot longer than they say to get back to you, so it may be worth saying: “So you’ll let me know by next Monday? If I don’t hear by Wednesday is it ok to drop you a line?”

After the interview

As soon after the interview as you can, find a quiet place and write down as many of the questions that you were asked as you can remember. Rank how you answered them on a scale of one to ten. Work on the answers in order from lowest to highest so that you can improve for future interviews.

The next day, you could drop a line to the interviewers thanking them for the opportunity, and asking any questions that may be outstanding. But don’t pester or stalk: some companies prefer a defined process where you don’t contact people directly. If you don’t hear by the allotted time, follow up.

Whether or not you are successful in securing the role, look at is as a good opportunity to engage people, grow your network and get better for next time round. If you’re not successful then ask for feedback, although many organisations are coy in case feedback is used against them.

And if you’re successful, well done. Now it’s time to start thinking about the second round of interviews.

Source: The Guardian

Vitamin B May Protect Against Alzheimer’s, Say Researchers.


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Story at-a-glance

  • B vitamins may slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease
  • High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s; B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine
  • Among participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, blood levels of homocysteine were lowered as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent
  • Folic acid is a synthetic type of B vitamin used in supplements and fortified foods, while folate is the natural form found in foods; if you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid

Alzheimer’s disease is currently at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans — including one in eight people aged 65 and over — living with Alzheimer’s disease.1 By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years, it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans.

While the cause of this condition is believed to be a mystery, it’s becoming increasingly clear that what you eat, or don’t eat, can influence your risk as well as the rate at which the disease progresses. B group vitamins, in particular, especially folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, are again making headlines for their powerful role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

B Vitamins May Reduce Brain Shrinkage by Up to 90 Percent

High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine. In a 2010 study,2 participants received relatively high doses of B vitamins, including:

  • 800 micrograms (mcg) folic acid — US RDA is 400 mcg/day
  • 500 mcg B12 (cyanocobalamin) – US RDA is only 2.4 mcg/day
  • 20 mg B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) — US RDA 1.3-1.5 mg/day

The study was based on the presumption that by controlling the levels of homocysteine, you might be able to reduce the amount of brain shrinkage, which tends to precipitate Alzheimer’s.

Indeed, after two years those who had received the vitamin-B regimen suffered significantly less brain shrinkage compared to those who had received a placebo. In those who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial, their brains shrank at half the rate of those taking a placebo.

The latest study takes this research a step further, showing not only that B group vitamins may slow brain shrinkage but that it may specifically slow shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.3

Among participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, blood levels of homocysteine were lowered as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent. The researchers noted:

“ … B vitamins lower homocysteine, which directly leads to a decrease in GM [gray matter] atrophy, thereby slowing cognitive decline. Our results show that B-vitamin supplementation can slow the atrophy of specific brain regions that are a key component of the AD [Alzheimer’s disease] process and that are associated with cognitive decline.”

Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 Also Shown to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

According to a small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology,4 people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin), the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent.

This makes a strong case for ensuring your diet includes plenty of healthful B-vitamin sources, such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and wild-caught fish. Leafy green vegetables, beans and peas also provide some B vitamins, but if you eat an all vegetarian or vegan diet, vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients your body is most likely deficient in, as it is naturally present in foods that come from animals, including meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products.

This is also a strong argument to use fermented foods and limit sugar intake. Consider that the entire B group vitamin series is produced continually within your gut, assuming it is continually replenished and reseeded with healthy flora from organically grown raw foods, particularly the flora-dense cultured traditional fermented foods, e.g. yoghurt, sauerkraut, or failing that, a good probiotic supplement.

B-Vitamin Deficiencies Tied to Brain Risks

Even if you eat animal foods, vitamin B12 requires a complex system in your body involving intrinsic factor to bind to it so it can be actively absorbed in the end of your small intestine (terminal ileum). As you grow older, the ability to produce intrinsic factor decreases and may cause a deficiency state. Studies from the U.S. Framingham trial show one in four adults are deficient in vitamin B12, and nearly half the population has suboptimal blood levels.

This is important to be aware of, and correct if it applies to you, as people with high levels of markers for vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to score lower on cognitive tests, as well as have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of the vitamin may lead to brain shrinkage.5

A previous study on the impact of vitamin B12 on brain wasting also found that seniors with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study had a greater decrease in brain volume at the end.6 Those with the lowest B12 levels had a six-fold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.

Interestingly, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 — they just had low levels within a normal range. This goes to show that “normal” is not necessarily the same as “optimal” when you’re talking about nutrients. You don’t have to be clearly deficient in order to experience a decline in brain health. The study’s lead researcher commented on this, saying:

“Our results suggest that rather than maintaining one’s B12 at a level that is just above the cut-off for deficiency, it might be prudent to aim to keep it higher up than normal range.”

Folic Acid Versus Folate: What’s the Difference?

Hearing about the benefits of B vitamins for your brain health might make you consider trying a supplement. However, it’s important to know the difference between folic acid and folate before you do. Although often used interchangeably, folic acid is a synthetic type of B vitamin used in supplements and fortified foods, while folate is the natural form found in foods. Think: folatecomes from foliage (edible leafy plants) and not supplement bottles as a guideline.

There is some research suggesting that taking high doses of synthetic folic acid may actually increase your risk of cancer, immune system damage or other health problems.7 Further, in order for folic acid to be of use to your body, it must first be activated into its biologically active form – L-5-MTHF. This is the form that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to give you the brain benefits noted. However, nearly half of the population has difficulty converting folic acid into the bioactive form because of a genetic reduction in enzyme activity. For this reason, if you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.

More Dietary Strategies for Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease

Ensuring you have adequate levels of B vitamin in your diet is just one dietary strategy to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and protect your brain health, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also hold true for your brain. As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, and starve yourself of enough essential fatty acids, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage.

Alzheimer’s disease was tentatively dubbed “type 3 diabetes” in early 2005 when researchers learned that the pancreas is not the only organ that produces insulin. Your brain also produces insulin, and this brain insulin is necessary for the survival of your brain cells – that is, until the brain starts resisting chronically elevated levels of it, and it becomes toxic.

You may already know I have become passionate about warning of the dangers of fructose. There is no question in my mind that regularly consuming more than 25 grams of fructose per day will dramatically increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Consuming too much fructose will inevitably wreak havoc on your body’s ability to regulate proper insulin levels.

In one study from UCLA, researchers found that rats fed a fructose-rich and omega-3 fat deficient diet (similar to what is consumed by many Americans) developed both insulin resistance and impaired brain function in just six weeks.8 Additionally, recent research has also shown that intermittent fasting also triggers a variety of health-promoting hormonal and metabolic changes similar to those of constant calorie restriction — including reduced age-related brain shrinkage.

According to Professor Mark Mattson, head of neuroscience at the US National Institute on Ageing:9 “Suddenly dropping your food intake dramatically — cutting it by at least half for a day or so — triggers protective processes in the brain.” He likens the effects to those from exercise, stating intermittent fasting could help protect your brain against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

A Comprehensive Anti-Alzheimer’s Lifestyle

Memory loss and cognitive impairment are NOT “normal” parts of aging. While even mild “senior moments” may be caused by the same brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, these cognitive changes are by no means inevitable! People who experience very little decline in their cognitive function up until their deaths have been found (post-mortem) to be free of brain lesions, showing that it’s entirely possible to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place… and one of the best ways to do this is by leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes:

  • Limit fructose. As mentioned, most everyone will benefit from keeping their total fructose consumed to below 25 grams per day.
  • Improve magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain barrier, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed.10 Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.

Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s.

  • Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. This is indirectly related to fructose, as it will clearly lead to insulin resistance. However other sugars (sucrose is 50% fructose by weight), grains and lack of exercise are also important factors.
  • Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins: As mentioned, these vitamins appear useful in protecting against brain shrinkage and may even help treat Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory loss.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate, such as the one described in my nutrition plan. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.
  • High-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding most fish because, although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
  • Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50% mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
  • Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc.
  • Exercise regularly. It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,11 thus slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has also shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains12 and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.
  • Coconut Oil may offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. One of the primary fuels your brain uses is glucose, which is converted into energy. When your brain becomes insulin resistant, atrophy due to starvation can occur. However, ketone bodies, or ketoacids, can also feed your brain, perhaps better, and prevent brain atrophy. It may evenrestore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in patients affected by diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy, and a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil, which is approximately 66% MCT by weight. It can also be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease by using a ketogenic diet with coconut oil.

  • Astaxanthin is a natural pigment with unique properties and many clinical benefits, including some of the most potent antioxidant activity currently known. As a fat-soluble nutrient, astaxanthin readily crosses your blood-brain barrier. One study found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress, as well as make a potent natural “brain food.”13
  • Gingko biloba: Many scientific studies have found that ginkgo biloba has positive effects for dementia, including improving cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia.
  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can help stabilize cognitive functions among Alzheimer’s patients and may slow the progression of the disease.
  • Avoid flu vaccinations, as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
  • Eat plenty of blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Avoid anticholinergic and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein. In fact, last year the FDA required statin manufacturers to list “memory loss” as a known side effect of their use.

Source: mercola.com