Tag Archives: football games

What about football and the athlete’s brain?

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, so I am totally interested in any new information on the subject. I am also a passionate fan of the National Football League.

The following is from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Bulletin.

by-lemat-works

Most fans will track first downs and touchdowns on Sept. 7, the opening game of the National Football League’s (NFL’s) 2017 season. If he tunes in, Robert Stern, PhD, no doubt will focus on any traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that occur during the game. These can range from mild TBI – as in a concussion – to severe TBI.

Dr. Stern also will watch for those more common head impacts that do not result in symptoms of concussion or draw the attention of the television cameras.  Called “subconcussive” trauma, those hits are associated with a brain disease that is the focus of Dr. Stern’s research.

Dr. Stern is the Director of Clinical Research for the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center and Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center Clinical Core, both at Boston University.

“Alzheimer’s disease is my primary focus professionally,” Dr. Stern said. “But some years ago, I started to learn more about another neurodegenerative disease called CTE. I soon realized that CTE had the potential to become a major public health issue. That’s when CTE research became a passion.”

CTE is a progressive, degenerative brain disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease, found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. That brain trauma could include concussions as well as those subconcussive hits to the head that do not have symptoms. The trauma can trigger a series of events in the brain that progressively destroy its tissue, resulting in CTE. The symptoms that accompany CTE are similar to Alzheimer’s disease: changes in memory and cognition as well as changes in mood and behavior. Eventually, it can lead to dementia.

TBI, CTE & Alzheimer’s: Are they Connected? 

Is there a connection between TBI, CTE and Alzheimer’s?

“I used to refer to TBI as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, because early research suggested that,” said Dr. Stern. “However, more recent research suggests that the relationship between the two is not very clear.”

That means people who experience TBI at any age – a hit on the football field as a youth or a fall on the stairs as an older adult – do not appear to increase their chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Concussion Controversies in Sports

Now let’s head back to the football field.

A 2016 Harris Poll showed pro football is continuing its reign as America’s favorite sport. Its popularity persists in spite of concern about the sport’s long-term impact on players’ brain health that began in the early 2000s. At that time, autopsies of deceased American football players revealed evidence of CTE. Years later, research from the BU center published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players had CTE.

Dr. Stern estimates that in some contact sports like football, there can be 1,000 or more subconcussive hits per season of play. And these impacts can leave their mark on an athlete and eventually lead to CTE.

“There’s research that indicates even after one season of youth football, children ages 8-10 years old,  had structural changes to their brains that were directly associated with the number of hits to the head they received,” Dr. Stern said. “Research from my team at BU has shown a dose-response relationship between the total estimated number of those repetitive head impacts a football player receives through youth, high school, and college football, and later life cognitive impairments and problems with depression and behavior. We have to take these repetitive head impacts seriously.”

And thanks to Dr. Stern, that message is getting out.

Want to learn more about head injury and CTE? Join Dr. Robert A. Stern, PhD, Clinical Core Director of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center online as he discusses the role of head injury in developing dementia later in life. 

  • Thursday, August 24th, 2-3 PM Eastern (11 AM-12 PM Pacific / Arizona, 12-1 PM Mountain, 1-2 PM Central)
  • Can’t make it to the live webinar? Don’t worry! Just register as if you will attend and we will send you a recording that you can view at your convenience,
  • Sign up now.
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Filed under aging brain, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's risk, brain damage, brain function, brain health, dementia, football

Heading a football causes instant changes to the brain

I am not a big fan of the game of soccer, or, as it is known everywhere but in the U.S., football, but there are lots of kids playing it  here and their parents should know about this.

Researchers from the University of Stirling have explored the true impact of heading a football, identifying small but significant changes in brain function immediately after routine heading practice.

The study from Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence published in EBioMedicine is the first to detect direct changes in the brain after players are exposed to everyday head impacts, as opposed to clinical brain injuries like a concussion.

headingpic-banner.jpg

Football players headed a ball 20 times, fired from a machine designed to simulate the pace and power of a corner kick. Before and after the heading sessions, scientists tested players’ brain function and memory.

Increased inhibition in the brain was detected after just a single session of heading. Memory test performance was also reduced by between 41 and 67 percent, with effects normalizing within 24 hours.

Played by more than 250 million people worldwide, the ‘beautiful game’ often involves intentional and repeated bursts of heading a ball. In recent years the possible link between brain injury in sport and increased risk of dementia has focused attention on whether football heading might lead to long term consequences for brain health. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, brain damage, brain function, brain health, Exercise, soccer

What’s in Doritos? – Infographic

We have just begun football season here, so Sundays in many homes will be characterized by folks in front of flat screens cheering on their favorite team. I plead guilty. Sunday is my favorite day of the week during football season because there are games all day, followed by Sunday Night Football.

All this has to do with the fact that while we are watching we are also munching, munching. I make popcorn in coconut oil that is as healthy as it is delicious. I hope you have a similar salubrious solution to game time munchies. I ran across this infographic on Doritos and wanted you to see it. Doritos is not the answer to your game time craving.

Check out my Page – Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for further details on healthy snacks.

Infographic-What-is-in-Doritos

Enjoy the game!

Tony

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Filed under calories, snack foods, Snacking

What are the Best and Worst Super Bowl Snacks?

Okay, the Big Day has finally arrived. It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Yay! The Broncos and Seahawks square off late this afternoon for what many consider the grandest prize in all sports, the Lombardi Trophy. Unlike most other football games, we will all be staying on our couches and watching the numerous commercials that interrupt the action. And, while watching this afternoon we will be snacking, whether we are home, at a friend’s place for a party or out at a bar with a giant flatscreen. Therein lies the rub. I love watching the game and have struggled through the ups and downs of the past season to get here, but, like you, I love to snack while watching the game.

Boiled Edamame with a dusting of coarse salt.

Boiled Edamame with a dusting of coarse salt. Yum.

One of the best snacks that I will be munching on today, and I was surprised to learn that WebMD agrees with me, is Edamame, or soybeans in the pod. Costco sells them by the bag and it takes only five minutes to boil them up. Sushi places serve them with a dusting of giant salt crystals. You can match those by picking up some Coarse Kosher Salt at your supermarket. A four ounce serving of Edamame amounts to around 120 calories. There is also four grams of fat, no saturate fat or cholesterol, eight grams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of healthy vegetable fiber and 12 grams of body-building protein. The fact that the beans are still in the pod helps to make them a great finger food as you have to crack them out before you can eat the beans inside. For my money, this extra step adds to their appeal and it slows down my consumption to some extent.

On the negative side, one of the worst snacks according to WebMD, are Mozzarella Sticks. WebMD says, “There’s something about a stick of warm, gooey cheese that is irresistible — until you take a look at the nutritional facts. A typical order has 930 calories, 48 g of fat, and 2,640 mg of sodium. That puts mozzarella sticks pretty much on par with chicken wings.

For a slideshow of WebMD’s Best and Worst Appetizers click the link. The slideshow also gives the skinny on Onion Blossoms vs. Vegetable Kabobs, Spinach Artichoke Dip vs. Spinach Salad, Cheese Fries vs. Crab Cakes. Check out their entire spectrum at the link above to read them all.

Instead of beer or diet soda, do yourself a favor by drinking something healthy like coconut water or just plain ice water for something clean and healthy without any dangerous chemicals. Check out my Page – What’s wrong with Soft Drinks? also Snacking – the good, the bad, and the ugly for more on this topic.

Enjoy the game with a clean conscience.

Buon Appetito!

Tony

Are you pulling for the Broncos or Seahawks? I confess I am torn. As a long time NFL fan, I want to see Peyton Manning get his second ring. On the other hand on a personal basis, my former brother in law, Dan Quinn, who I have known since he was a teenager, is the mastermind of  the Seahawk’s defense, their defensive coordinator. I would love to see Dan get his first Super Bowl ring. 

Que sera, sera.

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Filed under calories, diet soda, sodium, Super Bowl, vegetables, Weight