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‘Reversing’ Alzheimer’s: Here are exercises to make the brain more resilient

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‘Reversing’ Alzheimer’s: Here are exercises to make the brain more resilient

Can Alzheimer’s disease be reversed?

Dr. Heather Sandison, a renowned expert in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia care, believes that reversal isn’t just possible — but that it’s already happening in multiple patients. 

In her new book “Reversing Alzheimer’s: The New Tool Kit to Improve Cognition and Protect Brain Health,” which was published by HarperCollins on June 11, Sandison — who is based in California — offers a step-by-step guide to helping Alzheimer’s patients improve their overall brain health.

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One of the core elements of Sandison’s program is a focus on exercise as one of the most important lifestyle factors in preventing and controlling dementia. 

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Research has shown that physical activity can reduce the likelihood and progression of Alzheimer’s. 

Dr. Heather Sandison, at left, is a naturopathic doctor specializing in neurocognitive medicine and the founder of Solcere Health Clinic, San Diego’s premier brain optimization clinic, and Marama, the first residential memory care facility to have the goal of returning cognitively declined residents to independent living. (Dr. Heather Sandison/iStock)

In the excerpt below, Sandison offers some specific recommendations for the types of exercise that can benefit patients living with the disease. 

Read an excerpt from ‘Reversing Alzheimer’s’

Dr. Heather Sandison: Need a new motivation to be active? Exercise is medicine for the brain and provides an amazing array of benefits. 

Most obviously, exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain. That means getting your body moving will deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your brain while also flushing away more waste products. 

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Exercise also strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system, which helps improve blood flow even when you’re not working out; it also reduces the risk of arterial plaques that might disrupt blood flow to the brain and contribute to dementia.

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The overarching reason that exercise is such a powerful health protector is that it is what’s known as a hormetic, or a beneficial stressor. 

Basically, when you put your body through its paces, the body is forced to use up resources, and your tissues can even be broken down a bit. (That’s what happens when you lift weights: Your muscles tear a tiny bit.) 

Dr. Heather Sandison

Dr. Heather Sandison, an expert in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia care, believes that reversal isn’t just possible but that it’s already happening in multiple patients.  (Dr. Heather Sandison)

In that sense, you’re introducing stress to your system, but that stress is a force for good, because it triggers your body to get more efficient at using its resources and your tissues to grow back even stronger. In other words, exercise makes your body — including your brain — more resilient.

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Exercise benefits several of the root causes of neurological disease.

It improves structure by increasing your cardiovascular capacity and boosting circulation, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

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It reduces stress in multiple ways — by giving you an outlet to blow off steam, by producing feel-good hormones such as endorphins and lowering the stress hormone cortisol, and, depending on what kind of exercise you choose, getting you outside and into nature, which is a well-known stress reliever. 

It can also be social, and a great way to spend time with friends or even meet new people, which helps address the loneliness and social isolation that The Lancet lists as one of the modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

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"Reversing Alzheimer's"

In her new book “Reversing Alzheimer’s: The New Tool Kit to Improve Cognition and Protect Brain Health,” published by HarperCollins on June 11, Sandison — based in California — offers a step-by-step guide to helping Alzheimer’s patients improve their overall brain health. (HarperCollins)

It improves sleep by tiring you out.

It strengthens immune function, which reduces the risk and effects of infection — all those muscular contractions and moving against gravity improves the flow of lymphatic fluid, which delivers immune cells and flushes away invader cells.

“Exercise benefits several of the root causes of neurological disease.”

It promotes detox, both through increased circulation and through sweating. 

It improves signaling, as challenging and strengthening your muscles triggers the release of multiple signaling molecules, known as exerkines, that have demonstrated neuroprotective functions.

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Dr. Heather Sandison

“The overarching reason that exercise is such a powerful health protector is that it is what’s known as a hormetic, or a beneficial stressor,” Sandison writes in her new book. (Dr. Heather Sandison)

If you do only one thing: Change up your current exercise routine in a way that challenges your brain and amps up the intensity. 

If you are a devoted walker, find a new route that includes hills or stairs. If you’re open to trying something different, check out a new exercise class that you’ve been meaning to try.              

Categories of exercise: some familiar, some cutting-edge

There are four types of exercise that you want to prioritize. Four may sound like a lot, but they are not mutually exclusive. 

You can combine at least two types of exercise in one session — you can turn strength training into cardio by performing your strength moves in high-intensity intervals, or you can make your cardio dual task by doing something that requires your mental focus while you move.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is what we think of as “cardio” — it gets your heart and blood pumping and includes forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, biking, dancing and swimming.

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Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, and what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain, because your heart sends the brain the blood, oxygen, and nutrients that your brain relies on to function.

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Your first goal with adding more exercise to your life is to get 150 to 200 minutes of aerobic exercise each week so that you get your heart rate into the vigorous zone of 70-85% of maximum heart rate. 

Listening to your body and adjusting your intensity level based on your perceived exertion is one of the best ways to know if you are pushing yourself hard enough.

Strength training    

Strength training — also known as resistance training — is just what it sounds like: using weights or other forms of resistance to build muscle tissue.

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Building muscle — particularly in the big muscle groups of the legs, hips, and torso — is directly related to brain health, because these muscles generate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a “fertilizer” for the brain, cueing it to create new neuronal connections and promoting neuroplasticity.

Woman lifting weight

Alzheimer’s patients should aim for at least two strength-training sessions per week, notes the author of a new book.  (iStock)

You want to aim for at least two strength-training sessions per week. Strength training doesn’t have to involve your standard barbells and bench pressing your body weight. 

You can use resistance bands, light dumbbells, or even the weight of your own body in exercises like squats, lunges and planks. 

Even climbing stairs or hills counts as strength training and cardio in one activity, because they get your heart rate up as they also keep the muscles of the legs and hips strong.                    

Dual-task training

This next-level form of exercise combines physical movement with a cognitive challenge. The simplest form of this is walking and talking. 

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What is a cognitive challenge will vary from person to person, but if you’re in prevention mode, listening to a foreign language lesson or a nonfiction book while you walk outside or ride the stationary bike, and then pausing the recording to recap what you’ve just learned every few minutes, is a good option. 

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For some people, going to a Pilates or yoga class or other class where you really have to pay attention to the teacher’s cues constitutes dual-task training — but not if it’s something you’ve been doing for long enough that you can zone out. 

“Exercise is such a powerful health intervention that if we could just bottle it, we could probably get rid of chronic disease.”

And if you have already started experiencing measurable cognitive decline, dual-task training may look like going on a walk while pointing out the names of the plants that you pass along the way, or having someone quiz you on the names of family members, or recalling family stories or important dates. 

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Wherever you are, you want to be working right on your edge — you can almost feel the wheels of your brain turning in order to stay focused.

Contrast oxygen therapy

This relatively unique form of training alternates the amount of oxygen in the air you breathe as you exercise — an approach that encourages the tiniest blood vessels (known as your microvasculature) throughout your body, including your brain, to open up, resulting in greatly enhanced blood flow. 

It’s similar to going to altitude to train and build your aerobic capacity, and it is incredibly valuable for cognitive function.         

Walk

“Exercise does take time and effort, but making this one activity a regular part of your life addresses so many causal factors of dementia that it can profoundly reduce your risk,” Sandison says in her book. (iStock)

This type of exercise does require specialized gear. You can buy the device, or go find a clinic near you where you can try it out. It does require you to wear a mask that is hooked up to a machine while you exercise, and when the oxygen saturation is low, it can be intense because you have to work harder to bring in enough air. 

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In other words, contrast oxygen therapy is not for everyone. But if you are willing and able, it can be dramatically helpful.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health 

Honestly, exercise is such a powerful health intervention that if we could just bottle it, we could probably get rid of chronic disease. 

Exercise does take time and effort, but making this one activity a regular part of your life addresses so many causal factors of dementia that it can profoundly reduce your risk.

Excerpted with permission from the new book, “Reversing Alzheimer’s: The New Tool Kit to Improve Cognition and Protect Brain Health” (HarperCollins) by Dr. Heather Sandison, copyright © 2024 by Dr. Heather Sandison. All rights reserved. 

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Ask a doctor: ‘Is it safe to swim underwater with my eyes open?’

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Ask a doctor: ‘Is it safe to swim underwater with my eyes open?’

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Hot summer days include plenty of pool or beach time for many people — but it’s important to stay safe while swimming.

While it may be tempting to open your eyes underwater, experts warn that prolonged exposure could put your vision at risk.

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Fox News Digital spoke with Brian Boxer Wachler, M.D., an ophthalmologist in Beverly Hills, California, who is also a medical reviewer with All About Vision, an online resource, about what happens when people take a peek while swimming.

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A quick glance likely won’t be harmful, the expert said — but extended periods of underwater peeping could cause problems.

“Usually when people open their eyes underwater, the [eyes] begin to feel irritated and they will close their eyes pretty quickly,” Wachler said. 

It may be tempting to open your eyes underwater, but experts warn that prolonged exposure could put your vision at risk. (iStock)

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When swimming in pool water, the chlorine can irritate the eyes, he warned.

Chlorine can cause damage to the outer layer cells that protect the cornea, Dr. Muriel Schornack, a Mayo Clinic optometrist in Minnesota, stated on the clinic’s website.

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As a result, the eye may become red, irritated or sensitive to light, the doctor warned. 

You may also notice blurred vision.

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Man swimming underwater

Swimming in saltwater or untreated freshwater can potentially introduce bacteria into the eyes, a doctor said. (iStock)

“A lot of folks who are highly nearsighted or highly farsighted like to wear their contact lenses while they’re swimming — and if chlorine soaks into those lenses, now you’ve got a reservoir of chlorine on the surface of the eye that’s likely to do damage,” Schornack noted on Mayo Clinic’s site.

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With saltwater or untreated freshwater, the effects can be even harsher, and can potentially introduce bacteria into the eyes, Wachler warned.

blue eye contact lens

For people who wear contacts while swimming, chlorine can soak into the lenses and cause problems, a doctor said. (iStock)

“Microscopic organisms are found in various bodies of water, and can be both beneficial and harmful,” he said.

Bacteria such as E. coli can thrive in contaminated freshwater, while saltwater teems with decomposers like Vibrio, according to the ophthalmologist.

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“Viruses like those causing hepatitis A can linger in polluted water,” he said. 

“Protozoa such as Giardia can cause diarrhea if ingested from untreated sources, while molds like Aspergillus may be found in damp areas around freshwater.”

Signs that you should see a doctor

If you’ve been swimming with your eyes open for an extended period, watch out for signs of irritation like redness, itchiness and a burning sensation, Wachler advised. 

Woman swimming

For those who want to look underwater while swimming, experts recommend wearing goggles to protect the eyes.

“You might also experience watery eyes or increased sensitivity to light,” he said. 

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“These are usually temporary and go away on their own.”

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If you notice a thicker discharge, have trouble seeing or experience severe pain, it could be a sign of infection and warrants a trip to the doctor.

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For those who want to look underwater while swimming, experts recommend wearing goggles to protect the eyes.

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Follow these 9 safe hiking tips to prevent tragedy on the trail

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Follow these 9 safe hiking tips to prevent tragedy on the trail

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Recent hiking-related deaths have spotlighted the need for safety protocols.

While experts agree that hiking is considered a good form of exercise, they stress the importance of being prepared before heading out on the trail, especially during the hot summer months.

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Outdoor enthusiasts shared the following important tips to help prevent hiking hazards.

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1. Study the hiking area before your trip

Before heading out on a hike, familiarize yourself with maps, landmarks and any restricted areas or required permits, say trail experts.

Outdoor enthusiasts shared tips to help prevent trail hazards amid a flurry of recent hiking-related deaths this summer. (iStock)

“Research the terrain, trail difficulty, weather conditions and local wildlife,” Joey Coe, a trip leader for Backroads, a California-based travel touring company, told Fox News Digital. 

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Coe also suggested saving a photo of the trail map on your phone to reference while hiking.

Although cell phones and mapping apps can be helpful, it is important to have a backup paper map in the event of a lost signal, according to Guy deBrun, a lecturer at the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management at James Madison University in Virginia. 

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“Knowledge of how to use a paper map is imperative,” deBrun, who is also an instructor in wilderness first aid, told Fox News Digital in an email.

Hikers should also know the difficulty level of the planned route, according to the American Hiking Society, a nonprofit based in Silver Springs, Maryland. 

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Snack on trail

Pack lightweight, high-energy foods such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars and sandwiches, and avoid bringing perishable items unless you have proper storage, experts said regarding outdoor hikes. (iStock)

“It’s also helpful to identify possible emergency exit points,” Maggie Peikon, manager of communications with the American Hiking Society, told Fox News Digital via email. 

Online forums and trail reviews can also provide valuable information about the terrain, she added.

2. Set a ‘time plan’ for your hike

Whether you are setting off alone or with a group, let someone know your expected time frame for arriving at predetermined spots along the trail, experts recommend.

“Knowledge of how to use a paper map is imperative.”

One approach is to create a “time control plan,” which considers linear distance and elevation. 

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A general rule of thumb is to travel two miles per hour, adding one mile for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. 

“Most novices fail to plan for elevation gain,” deBrun told Fox News Digital.  

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“One thousand feet of elevation gain adds one mile to your total mileage. So, if you are hiking five miles and gaining 2,000 feet, you [should] consider it seven miles. Divide by two miles an hour to estimate your time.”

It is also important to project the amount of daylight you will have during your excursion to avoid returning in the dark if you don’t have the necessary gear to hike at night.

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3. Know your limits

It’s best to start small and build, starting with short, easy, well-marked trails that match your fitness level, experts agreed.

“Take breaks as needed, and don’t push too hard,” said Coe. 

Peikon added, “If you’re feeling too tired, or realize you’re not going to make it to your destination within the time frame you prepared for, turn around and err on the side of caution.”

Map and compass

Before heading out on a hike, trail experts recommend familiarizing yourself with maps, landmarks, and any restricted areas or required permits. (iStock)

It’s also important to stay on the trail, she said.

“Avoid taking shortcuts. Getting off the trail for any reason can easily result in becoming directionally disoriented and getting lost.” 

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4. Maintain a safe distance when hiking

Aim to keep a distance of at least a few feet between hikers to avoid accidents and allow space for wildlife, experts advised. 

For people hiking in a group, it’s best to avoid taking up the whole trail width, according to the American Hiking Society.

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Hikers going downhill should yield to those going uphill.

Also, be wary of potential poisonous vegetation in that region so you can keep a safe distance and avoid accidental contact, experts cautioned.

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5. Prepare for weather conditions

Hikers should consider local weather patterns when deciding what to wear on a hike, experts told Fox News Digital.  

“In many mountainous areas, lightning storms regularly occur in the afternoon,” deBrun said. “Hikers should take this into account.”

Coe recommended dressing in layers to help adjust to changing temperatures. 

“Moisture-wicking, quick-drying materials are best,” he said.

Bear or bug spray

In areas where bears are prevalent, experts suggest packing bear spray to use in the event of an unexpected encounter.  (iStock)

Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and rain gear, experts advised.

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For family hiking trips, it’s important to be aware of children’s body temperature. “If you are carrying a child, he or she may be cold while you are burning up,” Peikon said. 

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“Conversely, you may feel chilled while your child is warm from running around and playing.”

If multiple children are on the hike, dress them in bright, visible clothing so you can more easily spot them, Peikon said.

6. Wear comfortable, supportive footwear

Multiple hiking trip leaders suggested wearing sturdy, well-fitted hiking boots with good ankle support. 

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“Break them in before your trip to avoid blisters,” Coe cautioned.

Kids hiking

If multiple children are on the hike, dress them in bright, visible clothing so you can more easily spot them, an expert said. (iStock)

Running shoes or trail runners can be appropriate, deBrun said, but hiking boots may be more appropriate in wet or rocky terrain.

7. Bring along essential equipment

Pack a compass or GPS, whistle, flashlight, a basic first aid kit and trekking poles (if needed), said experts.

Teach children to blow the whistle several times in the event they wander away from the group, they also advised. 

Pack a compass or GPS, whistle, flashlight, a basic first aid kit and trekking poles (if needed). 

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“Be aware of your group’s medical needs and any potential allergies,” Coe said. 

Hikers might also want to consider taking a wilderness first aid course, he added.

      

In areas where bears are prevalent, experts suggest packing bear spray to use in the event of an unexpected encounter. 

It’s also a good idea to check with local animal experts about how to navigate an encounter with wildlife.

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8. Stay fueled and hydrated

Pack lightweight, high-energy foods such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars and sandwiches, and avoid bringing perishable items unless you have proper storage, experts said.

Couple on a hike

Aim to keep a distance of at least a few feet between hikers to avoid accidents and allow space for wildlife, experts advised.  (iStock)

It is also important to leave no trace of food behind. 

“Carry out all trash and leftover food to avoid attracting wildlife and to prevent littering,” Coe advised.

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Packing enough water is essential.

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“Bring at least half a liter of water for every hour you plan to be hiking,” Peikon said — even more when hiking in the heat.

Selfie hiking

Selfies can distract hikers from their surroundings, which can increase the risk of falls or cause them to miss a hazard, according to hiking experts.  (iStock)

Very few water sources are safe to drink without purification, deBrun cautioned.

“Research water sources and bring a water purification system for longer hikes,” he said.

9. Use caution with cellphones and selfies

Selfies can distract hikers from their surroundings, which can increase the risk of falls or cause them to miss a hazard, according to hiking experts. 

“It is always tragic to hear of fatalities due to selfies, which does happen every year in U.S. national parks,” Coe told Fox News Digital.  

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If you need to use your phone, stop walking and stay aware of your surroundings, he said.

“Use your phone only for emergency calls and navigation as needed,” Coe added.

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The Intermittent Fasting Diet: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be? | Woman's World

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The Intermittent Fasting Diet: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be? | Woman's World



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