Ask me everything: Brain health and knowledge

When it comes to complex biology, the brain rules. To understand how the brain controls our movements, behavior, thoughts and memories – and how that changes when things go wrong – we asked Stanford neurologist Sharon Sha to weigh. About #AskMeAnything she talks about all the neurotic things – from how you can sharpen your mental acuity, to what happens when the memory is lost.

Sha, who specializes in caring for patients with cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders, weighed on many issues related to the brain and cognition, and even shared a peek about what it was like to work actor Chris Hemsworth who played tor in several Marvel Studios Avengers movies) of a documentary.

Below is a compilation of the questions and answers hosted on our Instagram account. The following questions and answers have been slightly edited for clarity.

What can be done to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease?

Great question! The best way to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is exercise.

There is a lot of data (and more to come!) That shows that exercise helps stimulate the brain. A lot like when we get a surge of endorphins while by exercising, we can create something in the body that nourishes the brain. Some scientists believe that a protein called brain neurotrophic factor – or BDNF – helps the brain and memory center (on hippocampus), in particular.

Other ways to reduce the risk are to keep your brain stimulated, eat a Mediterranean diet that is healthy for the heart, sleep well and communicate.

The best tip for sharpening focus / concentration for students?

Take breaks! There is evidence to support the notion that even a 20-minute walk in nature helps to improve concentration. The thought behind this is that the constant stimulation of technology puts a great demand for our attention (emails, text messages, etc.), but disconnecting and focusing on the sights and sounds of nature improves our attention and working memory.

When the memory is lost, is there a way to bring it back?

Unfortunately, if the memory is lost due to Alzheimer’s disease, there is no way to restore it. The best thing is do your best to reduce the risk of dementia with lifestyle measures such as exercise, healthy eating, keeping your brain active, communication, good sleep and good mood! Someone can use parts of the brain, which work well for surrounding solutions such as keeping lists, using a calendar, maintaining routine actions, and attracting help.

What was it like working with Thor also known as Chris Hemsworth?

Chris was amazing. He is such a professional. He was the producer of a documentary series filmed for National Geographic for the potential of the human body so he would contribute with great ideas and suggestions for the content. It’s a lot of fun too, although I think I’m more fun!

Sharon Sha and Chris Hemsworth. Credit: Nutopia

Are there certain foods that are Better for your brain?

IN Mediterranean a heart-healthy diet is best for your brain. We don’t know what’s in the diet that helps our brains, but it’s probably lean protein, lots of vegetables and fruits, and few fried foods. If your culture is not like that MediterraneanI usually suggest no changing your diet completely. Rather, I suggest you eat healthier versions of the foods you know, increasing vegetables and decreasing Unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, there is no magic food or pill we can take.

If I forget passwords or forget why I entered a room, is this normal or a sign of cognitive decline?

We can all go into a room and forget the reason we did it. This can be part of normal aging, distraction or poor sleep! It can also be part of a degenerative disease such as dementia. The pattern of symptoms and whether it affects your ability to function independently may help to understand this symptom in the context of whether there is dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Is there any memory exercises or activities that I need to do with my grandmother (short-term memory loss)?

What does your grandmother like to do? Does he like to build, to knit, to talk about old memories / photos, to dance, to listen to music? Let her interests guide you and encourage her to talk about them, to communicate with them, to teach you about it! The things that stimulate her will help her keep her brain as sharp as possible – and teach you more about it!

How does music affect the brain?

No one really knows how it affects the brain. However, music can have strong associations with emotions that I can “Tag ‘memories very well such as when old favorite song wears back memories and related feelings to the song. That’s why I often suggest to patients with Alzheimer’s disease to play old happy songs to inspire and reassure us.

Does making puzzles or other games help prevent memory loss?

Yes! But they don’t have to be puzzles or games. Everything that stimulates your mind is good for the brain. Something that is interactive is even better for your brain!

Photo by alphaspirit

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