Alzheimer’s Disease tied to infections

Alzheimer’s Disease and Infectious agents: a new line of research, and hope.


amyloid plaques in brain from salmonella infection

Salmonella bacteria, represented by the red spots, entrapped in a cage of proteins called beta amyloid, represented in green. (Credit Robert Moir and Rudolph Tanzi, Massachussets General Hospital and Harvard Medical School)

The possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is closely tied to infections that cause the development of amyloid plaques is BIG news indeed. Exactly what causes the plaques has proved to be elusive for many years. As reported in this NY Times piece, researchers at Harvard have found that when infectious agents cross the brain blood barrier in non-human animal subjects, their brains respond by enveloping them in plaques consistent with the ways in which they form in Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It’s “early days” yet, but this could prove to be a very fruitful line of inquiry.  Until an underlying cause, or set of causes for a disease is discovered, both treatment and prevention are severely restricted.

Read more here “Could Alzheimer’s Stem from Infections?  It Makes Sense, Experts Say” New York Times article here:


The Rogue Immune Cells That Wreck the Brain

Solving a mystery behind brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.


brain cell oligodendrocyte

A type of brain cell known as an oligodendrocyte

Is it possible that many common brain disorders, despite their wide-ranging symptoms, are caused or at least worsened by the same culprit, a component of the immune system? If so, could many of these disorders be treated in a similar way—by stopping these rogue cells?

Beth Stevens thinks she has solved a mystery behind brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

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The Best Exercise for Cardiac Patients

April 14, 2016

After a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, the natural inclination is to be careful, and until you are stable, that is a good idea. However, a growing number of studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is safe, well tolerated and superior to moderate exercise for cardiac patients from a wide range of cardiac events.


HIIT consists of alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of lower-intensity effort for recovery. It means less time exercising, with the same or greater health benefits than those derived from low-intensity endurance training.

High-intensity workouts can be done in the comfort of your home with little or no equipment in a 10-20 minute session. For more in-depth information on HIIT please refer to HIIT: NOT JUST FOR ATHLETES.

For decades HIIT has been used to train elite athletes, but a growing number of scientific studies show that it is also effective and safe for cardiac patients.

A very large 2012 study of 4,846 patients with coronary heart disease clearly demonstrated that high-intensity exercise provides greater health benefits than moderate-intensity exercise for patients with coronary heart disease, and most importantly, is safe to do.

Studies have shown that HIIT is superior to moderate exercise for a number of heart patients including:

In addition to helping with so many types of heart disease, it has also been shown that the greater the intensity of the exercise, the better. A 2014 study of 112 coronary heart patients had them engage in high-intensity interval training at three different intensity levels of <88%, 88–92%, and >92% over a 12 week period. There were health improvements in all three groups, but the higher the intensity of the exercise, the bigger the improvements.

To top it all off, a 2016 randomized study of 19 patients with ischaemic heart failure showed that after 12 weeks of HIIT there was significant improvement with regard to the symptoms of anxiety and depression versus no improvement with moderate exercise.
Exercise has numerous benefits for cardiac patients, including weight loss, and these benefits are amplified with HIIT,  which is also easier to stick with than traditional cardio workouts.

Particularly for those not used to regular exercise, HIIT may require specific assessment or instruction. It is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare practitioner or a certified trainer before starting an exercise program.

Intermittent fasting may reduce breast cancer recurrence

orange juice breakfastFindings in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology show that women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer may lower their risk of the recurrence of tumors if they extend their nighttime fasting to 13 hours or more.  “…may be a simple, non-pharmacological strategy for reducing a person’s risk of breast cancer recurrence and even other cancers” said lead author Catherine Marinac.


Our apple-rating:  5

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This is an older study;  and an observational study.  Also, lifestyle factors have not been taken into consideration.  Promising conclusion.  Adds to a number of other studies showing the benefit as stated in our article “Intermittent Fasting”.

For more from this article:

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What makes some people happy and healthy?

Guardian article about Pearson’s book “The Life Project”

In March 1946, scientists recorded the birth of almost every British baby born in one, cold week. They have been following thousands of them ever since, in what has become the longest running major study of human development in the world.

Helen Pearson spent the last five years researching these studies, read her article here.  

Helen Pearson is the author of The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives is published by Allen Lane.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi: Widespread benefits for many ages and conditions


tai chiTai Chi is a traditional form of mind/body practice that began in China, and has become popular around the world. There are several traditions of Tai Chi, but all of them have in common a set of movements originating in the martial arts. They are incorporated in Tai Chi as a more peaceful and meditative practice. It is a graceful form of exercise that gently increases blood flow and the movement of lymph through the body. Tai Chi is generally understood to be beneficial for a number of physical ailments such as osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal problems and has been shown to improve balance, especially in aging individuals (1) as well as helping to control blood pressure (2).

One of the most intriguing uses of Tai Chi is for treating pain and other problems in patients with various disabilities—where it can be very effective. Until recently there have been no studies of this practice in the most severely affected among the disabled: those with spinal cord injury. However a recent rigorous small scale study of 26 participants enrolled in a 12 week seated Tai Chi course of weekly sessions demonstrated benefits in terms of pain, emotional well-being, sense of physical well-being and spiritual connection even among severely compromised patients with spinal cord injury. More study is required, but this initial study is very encouraging for what is generally an intractable condition (3). If Tai Chi can help the severely disabled, imagine what it might do for the more able-bodied.


While Tai Chi is often promoted for its benefits to the elderly, especially in fall prevention and in various degenerative conditions, it can benefit people of all ages. The largest systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi actually looked at many studies of its impact on a much younger population: students in higher education (4). The serious consequences of stress create special risks for students in higher education across the health spectrum–from psychological to physical issues. Because Tai Chi integrateimgress physical exercise with mindfulness techniques, it can relieve stress and many other associated conditions.

The systematic review reported on research in both in the English and Chinese literature. It included randomized controlled trials and other survey types of studies. A total of 76 studies were compiled, analyzed and ranked in terms of evidence. This yielded a huge combined study sample of 9,263 participants. A total of 81 health outcomes were extracted and ranked. Four primary and eight secondary outcomes were found. The primary outcomes among this younger group showed that Tai Chi is very likely to increase flexibility, reduce symptoms of depression, decrease anxiety, and improve interpersonal sensitivity. Secondary outcomes included improved lung capacity, balance, cardiovascular exercise abilities, quality of sleep, symptoms of compulsion, somatization, phobias, and decreased hostility. In other words, Tai Chi made rather highly stressed younger people happier, more connected and less fearful–along with providing some solid exercise benefits. Such outcomes form the essence of what makes for good overall health.


(1) Rogers, C. (2016) “Tai Chi to Promote Balance Training” Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics (36) 1: 229-249
(2) Pan, X; Yi, Z; Tao S. (2015) Effects of Tai Chi exercise on blood pressure and plasma levels of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide in real-world patients with essential hypertension. Critical and Experimental Hypertension (37) 1:8-14

(3) Kazuko, S; Kartaslk, D; Carufel, P; Kao M-C; Zheng, P. (2016) “Seated Tai Chi to alleviate pain and improve quality of life in individuals with spinal cord disorder” The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine (39) 3: 353-358.

(4) Webster, CS; Luo, AY; Krägeloh, C; Moir, F; Henning, M. (2016) “A systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi for students in higher education” Preventive Medicine Reports (3): 103-112.