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Sports Medicine Blog


Information shared here is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice on personal health matters. For personal medical advice, or if you are concerned about a medical condition or injury, please see your healthcare provider for evaluation and care.

  1. Better Diet, Better Brain

    A study published in June 2018, The Rotterdam Study, showed that a better quality diet is related to larger brain tissue. This can have an impact on an aging brain and the risk for dementia. Brains do tend to shrink with age. However, a diet high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, dairy, and fish and a low intake of sugar-containing beverages was associated with larger brain volumes.
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  2. More Diet and Cognitive Function

    by , November 13th, 2015 at 07:45 PM (Sports Medicine Blog)
    Diet and Cognitive Function

    The August 12, 2015 edition of Nutrients (open access) had an interesting review article on diet and cognitive deficits. Here are some of the points I found most interesting:
    The reviewers found that mid-life BMI could be more important in predicting a decline in cognitive functioning than late life BMI. Low BMI is often associated with illness, so itís much harder to tease out the effect of BMI in late life.
    Obesity is associated with systemic inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and reduced cardiovascular fitness. Any of these conditions affect cognition.
    Some studies have shown that a diet high in fat and refined sugars is correlated with impaired hippocampal function and the associated impaired memory. Interestingly, this impairment also reduces sensitivity to internal signals of hunger, which in turn promotes overeating and obesity.
    Other studies looked at the types of fats that people were eating. Some studies show that higher intake of saturated fatty acid is associated with impaired memory. Other studies show that a higher omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fat ratio was associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. That would be a diet rich in fish and nuts and seeds and lower in meat and poultry.
    High intake of simple sugar has also been associated with lower cognitive function. Sugar can increase inflammation in the body and brain.
    Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may help reduce the risk for cognitive decline. Studies have gone both ways, showing benefit and no benefit. When compared to animal studies, animals were supplemented for more than 10% of their (short) lifespan. For humans this would mean supplementing for more than 6-8 years for an effect to be noticed. So the time to start would be in midlife.
    Curcumin, the active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric, has also been shown to be helpful in preventing cognitive decline, although much more research in this area needs to be done. Curcumin is sold in supplement form. However, when buying curcumin, it is important to note that absorption can be an issue. There are now various products on the market that improve absorption over eating it raw or as a spice in food.
  3. Optimal Brain Function and Exercise

    by , September 14th, 2015 at 07:16 PM (Sports Medicine Blog)
    PLOSOne published a study on the effects of exercise on cognition in individuals older than 65 year. 100 sedentary individuals with no cognitive deficits and who were not insulin-dependent diabetics, had no significant hearing or visual problems, and no major cardiorespiratory or musculoskeletal impairments in the last two years, were recruited for the study. They were then randomized to either no intervention, 75, 150, or 225 minutes of semi-supervised aerobic exercise per week. The study was conducted over a 26 week period of time. Over the course of the intervention, those who exercised had improved cardiorespiratory fitness, with those exercising longer and more intensely having the greatest benefit. All the exercise groups improved their attention span and their visuospatial processing, with more intense exercise having more benefit. Those who adhered to the protocols saw more improvement than those who didn't. An individual's cardiorespiratory fitness at the end of the study was the best predictor of cognitive gains.
    This study is interesting because it was prospective: they all started out the same, and those that exercised improved compared to those who didn't. It is also interesting because even those in the 75 minutes per week group showed improvement. However, more was better.