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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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Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss

BACKGROUND:
Brain health may be affected by modifiable lifestyle factors; consuming fish and antioxidative omega-3 fatty acids may reduce brain structural abnormality risk.

PURPOSE:
To determine whether dietary fish consumption is related to brain structural integrity among cognitively normal elders.

METHODS:
Data were analyzed from 260 cognitively normal individuals from the Cardiovascular Health Study with information on fish consumption from the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The relationship between fish consumption data collected in 1989-1990 and brain structural MRI obtained in 1998-1999 was assessed using voxel-based morphometry in multiple regression analyses in 2012. Covariates were age, gender, race, education, white matter lesions, MRI-identified infarcts, waist-hip ratio, and physical activity as assessed by the number of city blocks walked in 1 week. Volumetric changes were further modeled with omega-3 fatty acid estimates to better understand the mechanistic link between fish consumption, brain health, and Alzheimer disease.

RESULTS:
Weekly consumption of baked or broiled fish was positively associated with gray matter volumes in the hippocampus, precuneus, posterior cingulate, and orbital frontal cortex even after adjusting for covariates. These results did not change when including omega-3 fatty acid estimates in the analysis.

CONCLUSIONS:
Dietary consumption of baked or broiled fish is related to larger gray matter volumes independent of omega-3 fatty acid content. These findings suggest that a confluence of lifestyle factors influence brain health, adding to the growing body of evidence that prevention strategies for late-life brain health need to begin decades earlier.

4th September 2014

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Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

A recent meta-analysis of studies testing the effects of omega 3 fish oil supplements on depression concludes that 'the use of omega-3 is effective in patients with diagnosis of major depressive disorder and on depressive patients without diagnosis of major depressive disorder.' The study pooled the results of 18 trials and found that patients with major depressive disorder were twice as likely to respond to fish oils than placebo and those with less severe depression were almost five times as likely to respond to fish oil.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24805797

28th July 2014

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