food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


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'Mental Health - The Nutrition Connection' was an informative presentation led by the Brain Bio Centre Clinic team that took place earlier this year.


Topics included depression and anxiety, schizophrenia and related symptoms, a focus on children's health in regards to autism, ADHD, learning and behaviour, Alzheimer's and dementia, and an update on drug-nutrient interactions and the challenges of using nutritional approaches in the NHS.


The seminar is available to purchase on a USB and includes filming of the lectures and accompanying notes. 


To read more on the content or to purchase please click here



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Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program

Abstract: This report describes a novel, comprehensive, and personalized therapeutic program that is based on the underlying pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and which involves multiple modalities designed to achieve metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND). The first 10 patients who have utilized this program include patients with memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). Nine of the 10 displayed subjective or objective improvement in cognition beginning within 3-6 months, with the one failure being a patient with very late stage AD.

Six of the patients had had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time of presentation, and all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained, and at this time the longest patient follow-up is two and one-half years from initial treatment, with sustained and marked improvement. These results suggest that a larger, more extensive trial of this therapeutic program is warranted. The results also suggest that, at least early in the course, cognitive decline may be driven in large part by metabolic processes. Furthermore, given the failure of monotherapeutics in AD to date, the results raise the possibility that such a therapeutic system may be useful as a platform on which drugs that would fail as monotherapeutics may succeed as key components of a therapeutic system. 



29th October 2014

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Dietary supplementation of walnuts improves memory deficits and learning skills in transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Abstract: Previous in vitro studies have shown that walnut extract can inhibit amyloid-β (Aβ) fibrillization, can solubilize its fibrils, and has a protective effect against Aβ-induced oxidative stress and cellular death. In this study, we analyzed the effect of dietary supplementation with walnuts on learning skills, memory, anxiety, locomotor activity, and motor coordination in the Tg2576 transgenic (tg) mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD-tg). From the age of 4 months, the experimental groups of AD-tg mice were fed custom-mixed diets containing 6% walnuts (T6) or 9% walnuts (T9), i.e., equivalent to 1 or 1.5 oz, respectively, of walnuts per day in humans. The control groups, i.e., AD-tg and wild-type mice, were fed a diet without walnuts (T0, Wt).


These experimental and control mice were examined at the ages of 13-14 months by Morris water maze (for spatial memory and learning ability), T maze (for position discrimination learning ability), rotarod (for psychomotor coordination), and elevated plus maze (for anxiety-related behavior). AD-tg mice on the control diet (T0) showed memory deficit, anxiety-related behavior, and severe impairment in spatial learning ability, position discrimination learning ability, and motor coordination compared to the Wt mice on the same diet. The AD-tg mice receiving the diets with 6% or 9% walnuts (T6 and T9) showed a significant improvement in memory, learning ability, anxiety, and motor development compared to the AD-tg mice on the control diet (T0). There was no statistically significant difference in behavioral performance between the T6/T9 mice on walnuts-enriched diets and the Wt group on the control diet. These findings suggest that dietary supplementation with walnuts may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, or slowing the progression of, or preventing AD.



23rd October 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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