The downside of poor sleep: Poor sleep linked with inflammation
We all know that poor quality sleep usually leaves us feeling less well, both physically and mentally, than good sleep. In this study, researchers measured the effect of stress on markers of inflammation and compared these in people who sleep well with people who don’t sleep well. The subjects were 83 otherwise healthy older adults (50+ years).
They found that, in response to stress tests, the poor sleepers had significantly higher measures of inflammation (the marker is called IL-6) than the good sleepers. Our comment: The significance of this is that heightened inflammation increases the risk of mental health disorders and degenerative conditions such as dementia, so any factor which contributes to inflammation may be considered to contribute to these conditions. If you aren’t sleeping well, then sleeping pills can help in the short term, but, as was reported in the news recently, carry significant risks if used over the medium to long term. If you’re not sleeping well, take a look at ourInsomnia page on the website. Heffner KL, Ng HM, Suhr JA, France CR, Marshall GD, Pigeon WR, Moynihan JA. (2012) Sleep Disturbance and Older Adults' Inflammatory Responses to Acute Stress. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]
30 November 2012
Feeding the autistic brain: Mediterranean Diet is associated with a healthier brain
White matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) is a marker of blood vessel damage in the brain, and is measured by MRI. In this study, 1000 people with an average age of 70 years had their diets assessed for comparison to a Mediterranean style eating pattern.
It was found that the greater the subject adhered to a Mediterranean style diet, the lower the WMHV burden, indicating a healthier brain. Our comment: A Mediterranean dietary pattern is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil, contains moderate amounts of dairy, eggs and poultry, and is low in meat and sugar. Gardener H, Scarmeas N, Gu Y, Boden-Albala B, Elkind MS, Sacco RL, Decarli C, Wright CB. (2012) Mediterranean diet and white matter hyperintensity volume in the northern Manhattan study. Arch Neurol. 69(2):251-6.
30 November 2012
Feeding the autistic brain: Multi-nutrients reduce symptoms and improve biological function
Multi-nutrients reduce symptoms and improve biological function Dietary studies for autism are also few and far between for the same reasons as outlined above in relation to ADHD.
The next best thing is a study involving supplementation – it’s not quite representative of real dietary changes as a change in food would be of course, but at least it can be carried out in a double-blind randomised controlled fashion which eliminates any bias and carries much more weight within the scientific community. The following is just such a study. It involved giving 141 children and adults with autism, a multi-nutrient formula containing a broad range of vitamins and minerals or a placebo. Their symptoms were assessed before and after the study which ran for three months. Fifty-three of the children in the study also had blood measures taken of nutritional and metabolic status(biomarkers) before and after. In terms of symptoms, the supplemented group had significantly greater improvements than the placebo group on the following scores: Parental Global Impressions (PGI-R), Hyperactivity, Tantrumming, Overall and Receptive Language. The change in the PGI-R was strongly associated with a number of the biomarkers suggesting that there is a relationship between changes in biomarkers and changes in symptoms. Levels of many vitamins, minerals, and biomarkers improved including markers of oxidative stress thought to be elevated in autism, as well as markers of key biological processes such as methylation and sulphation. Our comment: Many children on the autistic spectrum who are brought to the Brain Bio Centre eat very restricted diets – this is often a feature of autism. While we work with parents to make gradual changes to broaden their diet to include more food sources of essential nutrients, we also use supplementation to provide these nutrients in the meantime. Anecdotal experience and this study illustrates that this approach may improve both symptoms and biological function. Early improvements can also ease the process of broadening the child’s diet making it a virtuous cycle of improvement. Adams JB, Audhya T, McDonough-Means S, Rubin RA, Quig D, Geis E, Gehn E, Loresto M, Mitchell J, Atwood S, Barnhouse S, Lee W. (2011) Effect of a vitamin/mineral supplement on children and adults with autism. BMC Pediatr. 11:111.
30 November 2012
Omega-3 fish oil boosts mood in depressed elderly
Depression is a common problem in the elderly. In this study, 46 older women with depression (aged 66-95 years) were given either a fish oil supplement (2.5g of omega-3) or a placebo.
After the 2 month study period the women on the supplement had a significantly improved mood compared with those the placebo when assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale. The researchers were also interested in whether blood levels of essential fatty acids changed as a result of supplementation. They found an improved (lowered) ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in both the whole blood and red blood cell membranes, reflecting the increased intake of omega-3. Immunological parameters (various immune system messengers) were also measured, however there were no significant differences in these. Our comment: This paper adds to the body of evidence supporting the consumption of oily fish and fish oil to support mood in the elderly. Rizzo AM et al, (2012) Comparison between the AA/EPA ratio in depressed and non depressed elderly females: omega-3 fatty acid supplementation correlates with improved symptoms but does not change immunological parameters. Nutr J. Oct 10;11(1):82. [Epub ahead of print]
30 November 2012
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