Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Alzheimer's starts in your childhood"

"Alzheimer's starts in your childhood" Dr. Fortanasce was speaking to a packed hall. In all honesty, I jumped out of my skin when I heard this. Dr. Fortanasce was hosting this free seminar that helps us understand about what we can do, to change our lifestyles, to avoid getting the dreaded Alzheimer's disease. " Clinical studies have shown that 42% of the world's Alzheimer's population is in US". So the question is is it diet? or is it in our genes?

Dr. Fortanasce went in to details of our diet and compared diet of people from other nations. "Chinese don't drink as much wine as we do. Is that why they don't get Alzheimer's?  Wait a minute, Italians drink ten times more than what we Americans do, yet they don't have as many cases of Alzheimer's as we do".  Okay this was getting interesting.  How about Genes? Is it that we Americans are having it in our genes?  "Japanese living in America is having more chances of Alzheimer's than born and raised Japanese living in Japan".  Okay, I am confused. Is it the air we breathe? or the water we drink? Or is it because we live in our cars more than in our home.

"It is our lifestyle. Today's lifestyle rides on stress, bad diet, excessive TV, lack of sleep etc etc. We disturb our natural equilibrium and all these have a telling effect on our system. Alzheimer's is a direct effect of us abusing our own system". Our body needs nourishing and balanced diet. Our body also needs exercise, rest and relaxation. Our brain is like iron. If you don't use it it will rust.

Serotonin, Melatonin, and Sleep

In "The Secrets of Serotonin," Carol Hart explains that serotonin has a close relationship to the body's sleep-wake cycle. Serotonin levels are highest in the brain stem when you are awake and active, and almost completely absent when we enter REM sleep, the deepest stage of sleep. During sleep, the body's level of melatonin rises sharply. The production of melatonin is dependent on its synthesis in the pineal gland, which is powered by serotonin. While light increases the production of serotonin, darkness spurs on the synthesis of melatonin. Paired together, these two neurotransmitters are key in maintaining the sleep cycle.

Hart notes that anything that disrupts the rhythm of serotonin and melatonin production will disturb the natural sleep cycle. When you suffer from jet lag, for instance, your serotonin production cycle follows that of your home time zone and has trouble getting on track. During the winter, when sunlight inadequately triggers the production of serotonin, sleep cycles can also be interrupted.(source,

Science Daily reported in 2002 that research completed at the Brain and Behavior Institute at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands found that depletion of tryptophan and serotonin "appears to impair memory and learning." The depletion of serotonin with age may increase the likelihood of diseases that affect the memory, such as dementia and Alzheimer's. (Source :- )

While light increases the production of Serotonin, darkness increases the production of melatonin. There should be a healthy balance between the twoo, not a situation of one more than the other. Watching late night TV shows and then getting up in the morning and rushing off to work is typical lifestyle in US. This contributes to  increasing  chances of getting Alzheimer's.

"35% of people who eat bread at a restaurant are more likely to go for the dessert. When it is time for dessert, desert the place" There was few laughter around the room. "When you go for a hamburger, what do you eat first? Fries? Studies shows that by eating carbs first, your ghrelin level goes up creating a craving for carbs and we consume more carbs than our body needs. Red Wine is good for you" I was happy to hear that. What tickled me the most was the picture of the evolution of man. We are all familiar with the ones from apes to neanderthal. This time there was one after the neanderthal, which was a fat sloppy modern man with a jar of soda in his hand. This way more than funny, little do we realize how we harm ourselves.   Speaking of diet, Dr. Fortanasce, gave us sufficient information on what to avoid and what is good for you.

"Do you know which three profession has the highest probability of getting Alzheimer's?"  Dr. Fortanasce was on a roll. "Doctors. Lawyers and policemen" He was looking around the room for agreement. " Do you see the reason? What do these professions have in common?  STRESS". I raised my hand from the back of the room " Doctor, can you add a fourth group, for Small Business Owners?" . The whole room burst out laughing. The talk by Dr. Fortanasce was very useful. I must admit that I learned a lot. Dr. Fortanasce is the author of the book "The Anti-Alzheimer's Prescription". It is a great book and I highly recommend this reading.
Dr. Fortanasce encourages D.E.A.R program as a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. D.E.A.R stands for Diet, Exercise, Accentuate your brain reserve, Rest & relaxation. I learned a lot about the diet and the exercises that we should be doing. The lecture series continues every Tuesday and it would be wonderful for anyone with interest to participate.

Okay guys, I plan to go home now, it is almost 8:00 PM. I need my food, exercise and rest to star tomorrow with  fresh energy. Good night everyone.

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