Saturday, June 30, 2018

Food, brain health and Alzheimer's

Learn more HERE.

Imagine for a moment that you surmount life's outrageous fortunes and you go over the hurdles, and then you face toward the end of your life the reward for your appropriate and successful aging, the loss of your most human qualities--your ability to reason, make decisions, remember.

That is the fate that my Aunt Barbara faced and a percentage of Americans must deal with. That is, a large fraction of us, if we don't find solutions, ultimately will will suffer the syndrome called Alzheimer's disease.

If you live to 85, you have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.

With the enormous increase in people achieving the age of 65, we cannot allow this disease to become the scourge it already is. Alzheimer's will be much more prevalent in the future by the ironic fact that medical science is helping us live longer.

Now, it is the case that not everyone will suffer this tragic disorder. Currently, experts say that if you live to 85, you will have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.

Researchers and doctors are focused now on making Alzheimer's a treatable condition since indications are that the disease can begin up to 20 years before symptoms such as memory loss manifest themselves.

For example, some scientists believe that a simple test, an exam of the retina (considered part of the brain) by a eye examination, can show early build up of the plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of the disease.

The model of Alzheimer's treatment would be a disease such as diabetes, in which symptoms can be detected and treated with diet, exercise and medications. We treat but don't cure diabetes.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Childhood brain trauma lasts a lifetime

From Healing the Brain, by David Balog

How trauma affects the developing brain.

Traumatized Children and Youth in Romania--A Tragedy of Epic Proportions
Beginning in the 1960s, the country of Romania's harsh economic policies meant that most families were too poor to support multiple children. So, without other options, thousands of parents left their babies in government-run orphanages.

By Christmas day 1989, when revolutionaries overthrew the government, an estimated 170,000 children were living in more than 700 state orphanages. As the regime crumbled, journalists and humanitarians swept in. In most institutions, children were getting adequate food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional problems.

Unlike growing up in a family, the children didn't have lots of interactions with adults holding them, talking to them, singing or playing with them, and that lack of stimulation affected their brain development.

An American scientist who went to study the crisis, recalls "a boy in a red T-shirt and sweats skipped up to me, grabbed my hand, and wouldn’t let go. His head didn’t reach my shoulders, so I figured he was eight or nine years old. He was 13, my guide said. The boy kept looking up at me with an open, sweet face, but I found it difficult to return his gaze.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What childhood trauma does to the brain

What does PTSD look like in infants and children?

Animal models have taught us that stressing the mother in pregnancy can alter brain development in the offspring; and that prolonged separation of infant from mother impairs in the newborn other aspects of brain development and function. Furthermore, inconsistent maternal care and maternal anxiety, for example, from food insecurity, produce anxiety in offspring and contribute to the predisposition to diabetes, which itself has adverse effects on the brain.

Learn about the brain in clear language.
....Studies on children growing up in adversity have added to the information gained from animal research. Chaos in the home and inconsistent parenting impairs development of self regulatory behaviors, which can lead to substance abuse, earlier onset of sexual activity, bad decision making, and poor mood control.

School-aged children (ages 5-12)
These children may not have flashbacks or problems remembering parts of the trauma, the way adults with PTSD often do. Children, though, might put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They might also think there were signs that the trauma was going to happen. As a result, they think that they will see these signs again before another trauma happens. They think that if they pay attention, they can avoid future traumas.

Children of this age might also show signs of PTSD in their play. They might keep repeating a part of the trauma. These games do not make their worry and distress go away. For example, a child might always want to play shooting games after he sees a school shooting. Children may also fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives. For example, a child might carry a gun to school after seeing a school shooting.