Your Weekly Dose of #5ThoughtsFriday: A description of what we think is important at BIAMD

November 3, 2017

8:00am–4:30 pm
#5ThoughtsFriday is Powered By :
Here are the 5 things we thought were
worth sharing with you this week:
Credit: inabstracting (#86. Migraine), via Wikimedia Commons.
Worldwide, a little over a billion people experience migraine headaches, or around  14% of the world population . Meanwhile, 13% of US adults are effected, which is around  37 million  migraine sufferers. Besides the detrimental effect to a person’s health and quality of life, migraines account for a loss of $36 billion to the US economy each year. Yet, medical science has failed to locate the source of such headaches or how to cure them.

There isn’t even a consensus on what might be causing them. Today, we have two prevailing theories. One is something causes the blood vessels in the head to narrow, leading to brain ischemia or an insufficient blood supply, which in turn causes a migraine. The second is an  electrical disturbance in the brain .

Now, one researcher in a review published in the journal Headache, offers an entirely different explanation. Dr. Jonathan M. Borkum of the University of Maine says, migraines are a protective mechanism meant to ward off oxidative stress, allowing the brain to protect and repair itself, and  shielding it from functional decline.

The Positive Aspect of Migraines?
Ketogenic diets are this year’s weight-loss silver bullet. While we should approach every diet with a healthy dose of skepticism, the more studies being conducted on ketosis—the state your body enters when producing elevated amounts of ketone bodies, which are constructed via fatty acid metabolism in your liver—the more the benefits are accruing. 

Weight loss is a continually trending topic, though such popular pastimes sometimes lead to deeper inquiry. In the case of ketogenic diets, two new studies published in Cell Metabolism show how cutting back carbohydrates and intermittent fasting not only helps with weight, but may stretch out your life while improving your memory along the way—in mice, at least. 

A quick primer: your body burns fat as well as carbs for energy. Since our culture lives on carbs, with pretty much every processed food from a box or wrapped in plastic being carb- or sugar-dominated (which equates to the same thing once the saliva begins breaking down the nutrients in your mouth), we use the carbs and store the rest as fat. Hello obesity levels. Remove the carbs and your body turns to fat for energy. Burn the fat, weight loss follows. 

Unfortunately your brain can’t burn fat for its outsized energy needs. It requires sugar.

Weight loss and better memory?

Put another stick of butter on my steak, please!
With so much to do in so little time, it’s hard, seeming next to impossible sometimes, to  squeeze in some TLC . But, especially for the on-the-go types, creating Zen space is not only good for de-stressing, it’s also good for maintaining good brain health.

A recent study shows that starting from the mid- to late 20s, the brain begins to wither and starts losing some of its functionality. “The brain starts to get smaller from the mid-20s onward,” says Dr. Florian Kurth of UCLA’s Department of Neurology. “It’s probably not something that we notice for a long time. People start to notice this later in life when they start to forget things.”

His team, headed by Dr. Eileen Luders, ran  a test between 50 meditators against a control group of 50 non-meditators . The meditators beat out the non-meditators in keeping their brain mass, whereas the non-meditators showed less brain mass in the scanned images.

Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazur and her team also did  a longitudinal study on meditation . It showed that meditation changes the brain after eight weeks. A scan image showed increased thickening of four brain regions in the non-meditators after just eight weeks of participating in the meditation program.

A healthier brain is good reason to start a meditation practice if you haven’t begun already.

So what first steps can you take?

 2) What We Are Reading That You Might Enjoy...
Alan Alda, the award-winning actor and bestselling author, tells us the fascinating story of his quest to learn how to communicate better, and to teach others to do the same. With his trademark humor and candor, he explores how to develop empathy as the key factor.

Alan Alda has been on a decades-long journey to discover new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? is the warm, witty, and informative chronicle of how Alda found inspiration in everything from cutting-edge science to classic acting methods. His search began when he was host of PBS's Scientific American Frontiers, where he interviewed thousands of scientists and developed a knack for helping them communicate complex ideas in ways a wide audience could understand--and Alda wondered if those techniques held a clue to better communication for the rest of us.

For The Book

  (If you decide to buy anything mentioned in #5ThoughtsFriday, don't forget to use  Amazon Smile  and select the Brain Injury Association of Maryland as your donation beneficiary.) 
1) Quote We Are Contemplating...

"Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”

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  Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend.
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