Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, a respected expert on exercise and brain health and founder of Niftey After Fifty fitness center, has been urging his clients to exercise for decades. He claims, “We can grow new neurons and synapses through exercise and proper diet. The result of exercise programs for seniors can be felt almost immediately even though the growth of neurons and cerebral connections may not be evident for weeks after exercising…Many of the brain stem cells lurk within the hippocampus -- the seat of memory –and when stimulated grow into new brain cells.”
Dr. Zoë Lewis, a Miami-based consultant for hospices, suggests that in addition to Mediterranean diet, perhaps the Indian diet, or at least curcumin, the curry spice that makes turmeric yellow, ought to get more study relative to its reduction of Alzheimer’s risk. She states, “Curcumin has helpful anti-inflamatory properties,” says Dr. Lewis, who is working toward a book to be titled “Seasonings for Reasoning.” She referred to research done at the University of California at Los Angeles in 2001 that indicated turmeric may play a role in slowing down the progression of the neurodegenerative disease, which may help to explain why rates of Alzheimer's are much lower among the elderly in India than in their Western peers.
Her advice tracks well with the recommendations of some practitioners in the alternative medicine community, including Nicole Smith, an acupuncturist in San Juan Capistrano, California. She adds “When you stop to look at the traditional western medical model, it involves drug intervention over a consistent diet and exercise plan,” Smith says adding: “It is my belief this is a huge mistake. Food was meant to be our medicine. The problem is, most of the food people consume is devoid of nutrition and cannot protect us as it was designed.”
Smith continues saying, “Meat and poultry (which was consumed in low amounts in the study) is a highly processed and treated food containing many chemicals, including nitrates, hormones, dyes, etc. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, for one, which prevent and protect us against disease.” Smith argues that “It is the difference between going into battle injured, hungry, and tired with no gear for protection vs. being strong, well-fed, and bearing a sword and shield. Exercise is great for the brain, and increases blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. And it can be as simple as walking daily, taking regular dance classes, riding a bike. It doesn't have to be hours toiling at the gym.”
Story by Doug Burton.