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Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


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How Collette beat the blues and balanced mood swings

From the age of 15 Collette started to become increasingly anxious, depressed and unable to cope with school. At 18 she was given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. "The years that followed bought with them many high and low moods. It took very little to stress me out and I would become anxious and overwhelmed easily. I used to get frequent infections and have to take antibiotics all the time. I had to take life one day at a time.”

Collette then came to the Brain Bio Centre clinic for help. Like so many people diagnosed with bipolar Collette had been on a number of medications - antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and an antidepressant – and on top of the symptoms related to the disorder she also had to contend with drug side effects which included an extreme lack of energy and memory problems. Collette's programme at the Brain Bio Centre clinic began with a full psychiatric and nutrition assessment. Following the consultations she was tested for neurotransmitter imbalances and food intolerances.

The test results that followed revealed that Collette had low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenalin and was intolerant to a number of foods, including cow's milk and gluten.She started on a protocol that included dietary advice and a supplement programme. Intolerant foods were removed from her diet and her nutritional therapist recommended reduction of...

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November 2014

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Don't panic: you are probably adrenalin dominant

At the Brain Bio Centre we see people with a variety of symptoms including anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, insomnia, but also often with physical symptoms such as muscle aches, cramps, restless legs, hot flushes, feeling cold and having cold extremities and high blood pressure, all of which are classic symptoms of adrenalin dominance. We often measure our patient's adrenalin levels to find out what is going on.

The body produces adrenalin under two circumstances. Firstly, as a response to an actual stress to enable the 'fight or flight' response. This changes your breathing, making you gasp, to get more oxygen in; it pushes up your blood pressure to get rapid circulation, and triggers protein to be turned into glucose so you don't run out of fuel for the fight or flight.

Secondly, adrenalin is produced as a response to low blood sugar levels. The brain is incredibly dependent on a permanent supply of glucose to function. So, when glucose levels in the blood are getting low it triggers an increase in adrenalin, which enables protein to be turns into glucose.

The trouble is that the pace of 21st century living both gives us non-stop stress signals and the way we eat...

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September 2014

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Schizophrenia – is personalised nutrition the way forward?

Most people assume that there is no ‘cure’ for schizophrenia yet evidence for a beneficial role for nutritional therapy has been growing. Today a review of effective nutritional interventions has been published in the Nutrition Journal showing a number of important avenues that should be explored.

According to co-author Lorraine Wilder, whose research was gratefully funded by Food for the Brain, thanks to your donations, "There is a considerable body of evidence of benefit from many nutrients. Schizophrenia is clearly a spectrum disorder, and only by assessing a person's unique biochemical imbalances can they be intelligently addressed with nutritional therapy. Given that a third of people don't respond to anti-psychotic medication, and the drawback of their side-effects, it is time for trials testing a personalised nutrition approach to this condition as an adjunct to conventional therapy."

Her research has identified four main areas:

• Oxidative stress, which is higher in those suffering from schizophrenia, and the role, among others, of N-acetyl cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid
• Essential omega-3 and 6 fats
• B vitamins and methylation
• Immune-mediated and inflammatory factors, including allergies

At the Brain Bio Centre we routinely test for all these possibly contributing factors and treat our patients accordingly. Simona is a case in point.
Biochemical tests at the clinic identified a number of nutritional deficiencies, as well as intolerance to dairy. Acting on this information was a revelation for her and has made a real difference to how she feels, "Taking supplements to address the deficiencies has had a direct impact on my energy levels and reduced the sedative effect of my medication, and using niacin (B3) therapy has helped with the ruminations in the evening". With the support of nutritional therapy she has managed to cut down on her medication, of which was one of her main goals.

Often, the onset of problems occurs in teenage years and at times of increased stress. Rachel was diagnosed with psychosis in her first year at university, and was suffering from the side effects of medication as much as from the symptoms of her illness when she first came to the clinic. However, she observed a significant improvement in symptoms within weeks of following her Brain Bio Centre nutritional therapy programme, which included supplementing vitamin C and essential fats. Her mental clarity and concentration is vastly improved and, according to her doctor, she will be completely off medication soon.
Dr Megan Arrol PhD, co-author of this review, is helping us design and run a clinical audit and research trial comparing the effects of treating schizophrenia with a personalised nutrition approach with conventional treatment alone.

We need to raise a further £18,000 for a clinical audit and £44,000 for a randomized intervention trial. If you would like to help please become a Friend of Food for Brain, or make a one-off donation here.

22nd September 2014

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Direct Effect of Sunshine on Suicide

Importance It has been observed that suicidal behavior is influenced by sunshine and follows a seasonal pattern. However, seasons bring about changes in several other meteorological factors and a seasonal rhythm in social behavior may also contribute to fluctuations in suicide rates.

Objective To investigate the effects of sunshine on suicide incidence that are independent of seasonal variation.

Design, Setting, and Participants Retrospective analysis of data on all officially confirmed suicides in Austria between January 1, 1970, and May 6, 2010 (n = 69 462). Data on the average duration of sunshine per day (in hours) were calculated from 86 representative meteorological stations. Daily number of suicides and daily duration of sunshine were differentiated to remove variation in sunshine and variation in suicide incidence introduced by season. Thereafter, several models based on Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated.

Main Outcomes and Measures Correlation of daily number of suicides and daily duration of sunshine after mathematically removing the effects of season.

Results Sunshine hours and number of suicides on every day from January 1, 1970, to May 6, 2010, were highly correlated (r = 0.4870; P < 10−9). After differencing for the effects of season, a mathematical procedure that removes most of the variance from the data, a positive correlation between number of suicides and hours of daily sunshine remained for the day of suicide and up to 10 days prior to suicide (rmaximum = 0.0370; P < 10−5). There was a negative correlation between the number of suicides and daily hours of sunshine for the 14 to 60 days prior to the suicide event (rminimum = −0.0383; P < 10−5). These effects were found in the entire sample and in violent suicides.

Conclusions and Relevance Duration of daily sunshine was significantly correlated with suicide frequency independent of season, but effect sizes were low. Our data support the hypothesis that sunshine on the day of suicide and up to 10 days prior to suicide may facilitate suicide. More daily sunshine 14 to 60 days previously is associated with low rates of suicide. Our study also suggests that sunshine during this period may protect against suicide.

11th September 2014

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