Posts tagged with "Alzheimer’s disease"

Can intermittent fasting improve your health?

November 23, 2018

According to research by the Calorie Control Council, a typical Thanksgiving dinner can carry a load of 3,000 calories. That’s about 500 more calories than most Americans eat in a whole day—and also about 500 more than it takes to gain one pound.

And that’s also why, on the day after the holiday, many of us might be wondering about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting—one of the buzziest diets out there right now. After all, why diet diligently all week when you can drop the excess weight by skipping food entirely just two or three days out of seven?

Fans of this form of dieting say they have lost as much as 8% of their body weight within eight weeks by cutting calories by 20% every other day. They also say they are healthier and have less inflammation.

WebMD theorizes that the possible secret behind the diet’s health benefits is that fasting puts mild stress on your body’s cells. Scientists think that the process of responding to this stress can strengthen the cells’ ability to fight off some diseases—even disorders as serious as heart disease and cancer.

But are these claims legit? Honestly, researchers say, not enough is known yet to confirm whether fasting is advisable or not.

As Liz Weinandy, a staff dietitian at the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, admitted to Men’s Health magazine in a recent interview, ““I don’t think anybody knows.This is all preliminary.”

In fact, the magazine says, most of the press coverage of intermittent fasting and its purported immune system benefits has focused on just one study: In 2014, Valter Longo— a professor of Gerontology and the director of the USC Longevity Institute—found that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimicked fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of older mice—including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.

The test was part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects—involving yeast, mice, and humans— o be published by the journal Cell Metabolism in June 2015.

Longo and his team had both mice and human cancer patients fast for four days. During the fast, both the mice and the cancer patients discarded old blood cells; once the fast was broken, their bodies produced shiny, new cells to take the place of discarded ones, thus effectively regenerating their immune systems.

In fact, Longo found, in the pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects.

Results of of the study led the USC team to conclude that prolonged periods of fasting could reduce the harsh side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients—in fact, some patients are already trying this on their own, based on a story posted this year by U.S. News & World Report)—or even boost immunity for healthy people.

A 2015 study by Yale Medical School went one further, finding that hat a compound produced by the body when dieting or fasting can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Convinced and ready to start? First, read a few cautions from Men’s Health.

First, most intermittent fasting plans recommend not eating between 16 to 24 hours— a much shorter period of time than the four-day fast in Longo’s study. For this reason, Longo says it’s unlikely that his study has any long-term implications about the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

Your body won’t eliminate old cells “until two, three, or four days into the fasting,” he told the magazine. “It takes even longer for the system to start really breaking down muscle, breaking down immune cells, breaking down different tissues.”

Indeed, the report says, future studies will require a broader sample size than Longo’s, so we can determine how fasting affects different groups of people —for instance, the elderly, or diabetes patients, or those with low-functioning immune systems.

What’s more, if you have an active lifestyle, cut back on exercising because fasting could potentially drain your stores of sodium and potassium—two electrolytes that are essential for kidney, heart, and muscle function.

And finally, don’t forget to drink. Water is always a great choice, all day, every day. Sparkling water is fine—but don’t use artificial sweeteners. They will wreak havoc on your insulin levels and defeat your end purposes entirely.

Research contact: melissa.matthews@hearst.com

All is not lost: When dementia patients wander, GPS devices can locate them quickly

August 27, 2018

Now where was I? That’s a phrase many of us use when we lose track of our thoughts for a moment. However, for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, that question often should be taken much more literally.

The disorientation that comes with these diseases often results in wandering—a common and serious concern for caregivers, who may fear that their loved ones are oblivious to their surroundings, or frightened and even in danger, according to Alzheimers.net.

Life-saving GPS devices can help caregivers to quickly track and find wanderers, before they go too far astray. Among those recommended by Alzheimers.net are the following:

  • AngelSense is a device that can be attached to a patient’s clothing and can only be removed by the caregiver. It provides a daily timeline of locations, routes, and transit speed—and sends an instant alert, if a loved diverts from a safe radius. Caregivers can use the device to listen in to what is happening around their loved one; to receive an alert if the patient has not left for an appointment on time; or to communicate with a lost person, wherever he or she may be.
  • GPS Smart Sole fits into most shoes and allows caregivers to track their loved one from any smartphone, tablet, or web browser. The shoe insert is enabled with GPS technology and allows real-time syncing, provides a detailed report of location history, and empowers users to set up a safe radius for their loved one.
  • iTraq can be used to track pretty much anything—from loved ones to luggage. This tracker pairs with a smartphone app and, for seniors, includes a motion or fall sensor that will send an alert if a fall is detected. It also has a temperature sensor. The company’s newest device, the iTraq Nano is marketed as “the world’s smallest all-in-one tracking device that has global tracking, two months of battery life, is water and dust resistant, and is able to be charged wirelessly.” The device also has an SOS button that will send an instant alert to friends and family, notifying them of their loved one’s precise location.
  • MedicAlert Safely Home originally was created to help emergency responders treat patients who could not speak for themselves. Today, the device also helps people with dementia who wander. The device is worn as a bracelet and—when a loved one goes missing—caregivers can call the police and have the police call the 24-hour hotline to get the location of the missing person. Caregivers also can call the hotline themselves to get information. In addition to a tracking device, the bracelet has important medical information engraved on it.
  • Mindme offers two lifesaving devices—one,a location device; and the other, an alarm. The alarm allows the user to alert a Mindme response center, in case of a fall or other emergency. The locator device is specifically designed for people with dementia or other cognitive disabilities. The simple device works as a pendant that can be put in a bag or pocket and allows caregivers to track the user online at any time. Caregivers also can set a radius for the user and receive an alert if the person travels outside that zone.
  • PocketFinder was founded in 2005 by a single parent who wanted to know the whereabouts of his young son. Their slogan, “If you love it, locate it!” says it all. Tracking everything from luggage to pets to children to seniors, the company offers a wide range of emerging technological products. PocketFinder is designed to be the smallest tracker on the market: The device can fit in the palm of your hand. It has a battery life up of to one week and allows caregivers to track wearers through a user-friendly app. The device was updated in January 2017 and now includes three location technologies—including GPS, Cell ID, and Google Wi-Fi Touch. It now also has an SOS button.
  • Project Lifesaver provides enrolled seniors with a personal transmitter that they wear around an ankle. If they wander, the caregiver calls a local Project Lifesaver agency and a trained team will respond. Recovery times average 30 minutes and many who wander are found within a few miles of their homes.
  • Revolutionary Tracker has location-based systems to keep tabs on seniors who may wander. This GPS-enabled personal tracker features an SOS button for emergencies and offers real-time tracking ability. The device allows multiple seniors to be tracked at the same time and syncs directly to a caregiver’s smart phone or computer.
  • Safe Link, also GPS-enabled, is a small device carried by the person who may wander. The device periodically sends its geographic coordinates to central server; and family members and caregivers can view the wearer’s location via website. The device needs to be charged and worn at all times. All devices have an SOS button for emergencies.
  • Trax is touted by the company as “the world’s smallest and lightest live GPS tracker.” The device sends position, speed, and direction through the cellular network directly to your app on a smartphone. Trax comes with a clip that is easy to attach to a loved one. The app allows caregivers to set “Geofences” and will send an alert if a loved one enters or leaves a predetermined area. Trax Geofences have no size limit: Caregivers can create as many fence areas as needed, and can schedule when those virtual fences are in effect.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018. This number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older and about 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. One in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia.

Research contact: @alzassociation