Tuesday, April 08, 2008

PBS: Fight Alzheimer's Early, with Majid Fotuhi


On Tuesday April 8, MPT and other PBS stations aired “Fight Alzheimer’s Early: 6 Steps to Keep Your Brain Young,” with Majid Fotuhi, MD. Fotuhi (I believe from India) also has a book “Memory Cure: How to Protect Your Brain Against Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease" (McGraw-Hill, 2004). His website is here.

The program was interrupted twice with appeal for donations, and the recommendations were in three groups, adding to six. They are
(1) Don’t worry about Alzheimer’s
(2) Keep your heart and circulation strong
(3) Unleash hidden potential in your brain, as with hobbies
(4) Avoid stress, use laughter, practice meditation
(5) Eat a proper diet low in salt and processed sugar
(6) Exercise

Dr. Fotuhi showed a model of the brain, with the cortex, and hippocampus. The later is a dark ovoid in the middle of the brain and is essential to precise memorization, as with names. Fotuhi says you can regrow your brain, although science generally says you can’t replace neurons, but you can grow new synapses among them, and retrain other parts of the brain to take over function. (In fact, teenage grow consists of pruning unwanted connections, and strengthening the connections that the personality wants, such as for music, chess, sports, etc, which is one reason why talents and abilities are so concentrated.)

Fotuhi says that one can have some amyloid plaques in the brain without significant memory problems. The presence of mini-strokes or transient ischemic attacks is likely to start the symptoms. Consuming the spice curcumin may retard the formation and accumulation of amyloid; the spice is used with poultry in India and the incidence of Alzheimer’s is lower by age in India than in other countries.

If Alzheimer's Disease really is preventable with lifestyle habit changes, then this observation can have a major impact on our health care and eldercare policy, relieving adult children of load of having to care for (or else place in nursing homes) parents with the disease, which can go on for years until death.

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