Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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How Does Diet Affect Mental Health? A New Study Shows The Way Age Factors In

What you eat can have a huge impact on your mental health, which many people who deal with mental health conditions have learned firsthand. I have clinical depression and general anxiety disorder, and I feel much more stable when I’m eating regularly and prioritizing fresh foods. Previous research has shown that diet can affect mental health conditions like depression, ADHD, and anxiety. But according to a new study, the foods that impact your mental health change as you age. Researchers at Binghamton University in New York say our diet affects our mental health in different ways as we get older, so millennials and baby boomers should actually eat different diets to support their mood.

Researchers surveyed people between 18 and 29 years old and people who were 30 years old and older. They asked them to fill out an anonymous questionnaire about their diet and foods that are linked to changes in mood. After analyzing the data, researchers found that young adults reported benefitting benefited from frequent meat consumption, which can improve brain function. But the story was different for older adults, who need food that increases the antioxidants in your system (antioxidants can help avoid cell damage) for optimal mental health. People over 30 also reported feeling better when they avoided coffee and skipping breakfast, according to the research. What you eat can affect mental health, but if you’re looking for resources to help improve mental health issues, it’s always best to talk to a medical professional.

Lead author Lina Begdache, who is an assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, said in a press release that one of the study’s biggest takeaways is that diet choices will affect people differently depending on how old they are.

“One of the major findings of this paper is that diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus mature adults,” Begdache said. “Young adult mood appears to be sensitive to build-up of brain chemicals. Regular consumption of meat leads to build-up of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood.”

The most effective way to handle mental distress is talking to a doctor or therapist who can help you figure out your options. But if you’re looking to adjust your eating habits to support your mood and you’re under 29 years old, exercise and meat consumption may be the way to go.  The researchers found that people who were sedentary and ate meat less than three times a week “showed a significant mental distress.” If you’re not a meat eater, you can try foods like nuts, avocados and dark chocolate to get a dopamine release. For people over 30, antioxidants are a major key. It’s never a bad idea to consume antioxidants, but the effect is more profound as you age. As you get older, your body produces oxidants that can cause disturbances in your brain chemistry, so eating foods with antioxidant qualities can help avoid unnecessary mental distress. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some grapes, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and green vegetables like kale and broccoli, which can all help improve mental health.

The study tells people over 30 to stay away from foods that trigger the sympathetic nervous system, like coffee. It can feel impossible to stay away from the sweet taste of caffeine, but it increases activity in your sympathetic nervous system, which can lead to stress. According to Begdache, “our ability to regulate stress decreases” as we age, so if you’re looking to adjust your diet for mood support, know that carbohydrates can also potentially trigger the sympathetic nervous system.

The study shows that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet and mental health. Your brain changes as you get older, so it makes sense that you may need to make adjustments to your diet as you age if you choose to include foods that support your mood. It’s not always realistic to eat healthy foods, especially because eating regular meals and keeping a balanced diet is a hard adjustment to make for people who are mentally healthy, let alone those who already deal with mental illness. Healthy foods can also be inaccessible to people who can’t afford them, or who live in food deserts. But if you are looking for ways to change up your food routine with an eye toward your mental health, this study is something to keep in mind. I have a few years left before I need to avoid coffee, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

By AYANA LAGE     December 12, 2018
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Some Video Games Are Good For Older Adults’ Brains

If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s the finding of a new Canadian study by Université de Montréal psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz. Published in PLOS ONE, it was done in cooperation with the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), Benjamin Rich Zendel of Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Véronique Bohbot of Montreal’s Douglas Hospital Research Centre.

In two separate studies, in 2014 and 2017, young adults in their twenties were asked to play 3D video games of logic and puzzles on platforms like Super Mario 64. Findings showed that the gray matter in their hippocampus increased after training.

The hippocampus is the region of the brain primarily associated with spatial and episodic memory, a key factor in long-term cognitive health. The gray matter it contains acts as a marker for neurological disorders that can occur over time, including mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.

West and his colleagues wanted to see if the results could be replicated among healthy seniors.

The research team recruited 33 people, ages 55 to 75, who were randomly assigned to three separate groups. Participants were instructed to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, take piano lessons (for the first time in their life) with the same frequency and in the same sequence, or not perform any particular task.

The experiment lasted six months and was conducted in the participants’ homes, where the consoles and pianos, provided by West’s team, were installed.

The researchers evaluated the effects of the experiment at the beginning and at the end of the exercise, six months later, using two different measurements: cognitive performance tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure variations in the volume of gray matter. This enabled them to observe brain activity and any changes in three areas:

  • the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that controls planning, decision-making and inhibition;
  • the cerebellum that plays a major role in motor control and balance; and
  • the hippocampus, the centre of spatial and episodic memory.

According to the MRI test results, only the participants in the video-game cohort saw increases in gray matter volume in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Their short-term memory also improved.

The tests also revealed gray matter increases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cerebellum of the participants who took piano lessons, whereas some degree of atrophy was noted in all three areas of the brain among those in the passive control group.

What mechanism triggers increases in gray matter, especially in the hippocampus, after playing video games? “3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring.,” said West. “Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region.”

Conversely, when the brain is not learning new things, gray matter atrophies as people age. “The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect,” said West. Added Belleville: “These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer’s, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease.”

“It remains to be seen,” concluded West, “whether it is specifically brain activity associated with spatial memory that affects plasticity, or whether it’s simply a matter of learning something new.”

Story Source:
December 6, 2017     Materials provided by Université de Montréal. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Greg L. West, Benjamin Rich Zendel, Kyoko Konishi, Jessica Benady-Chorney, Veronique D. Bohbot, Isabelle Peretz, Sylvie Belleville. Playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal grey matter in older adults. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0187779 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187779


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This Nutrient Balance Reverses Brain Aging

The right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may help promote healthy cognitive aging, new research finds.

While we are used to hearing about the benefits of the fatty acids in fish and fish oils, that is only half the story.

Omega-6 fatty acids can come from nuts, seeds and other oils.

Typically, Western diets have too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

Together, a balance of these fatty acids may help to reduce age-related decline and maintain the integrity of cortical structures.

Ms Marta Zamroziewicz, who led the research, said:

“We studied a primary network of the brain — the frontoparietal network — that plays an important role in fluid intelligence and also declines early, even in healthy aging.
In a separate study, we examined the white matter structure of the fornix, a group of nerve fibers at the center of the brain that is important for memory.”

The researchers examined the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in adults aged 65 to 75, along with their brain structure.

The best balance of fatty acids for brain health.

Ms Zamroziewicz explained that it takes more than just fish and fish oils to keep the brain healthy with age:

“A lot of research tells us that people need to be eating fish and fish oil to get neuroprotective effects from these particular fats, but this new finding suggests that even the fats that we get from nuts, seeds and oils can also make a difference in the brain.”

A second study found a link between a balanced amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and greater memory preservation in older adults.

Ms Zamroziewicz explained:

“These findings have important implications for the Western diet, which tends to be misbalanced with high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Professor Aron Barbey, who co-authored the study, said:

“These two studies highlight the importance of investigating the effects of groups of nutrients together, rather than focusing on one at a time.
They suggest that different patterns of polyunsaturated fats promote specific aspects of cognition by strengthening the underlying neural circuits that are vulnerable to disease and age-related decline.”

The study was published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience (Zamroziewicz et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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23 Things You Never Knew About Your Brain

I’m the engine that keeps you running all day long, and I’m here to share the mysteries of how I really work. I have a lot on my plate: 100 billion nerve cells So you might want to take a moment before you blame me for not being fast enough, failing to get easy math right, or even forgetting your friend’s birthday. It’s not really my fault: Information travels through me between the rates of 0.5 meters per second and 120 meters per second. Even though I weigh about three pounds, I’m a fuel guzzler that uses 20% of your body’s energy. Google is making me weak A 2011 study from Columbia University found that you’ve been relying more on the Internet, less on me. That means I’m going to forget more over time. Study author Betsy Sparrow, PhD suggests we should focus on “greater understanding of ideas and ways of thinking,” and less on memorization. Some of us crave junk food. Some of us don’t. In one study, subjects were shown the names of foods they liked, and the parts of me that got excited were the same parts activated in drug addicts. This may have to do with dopamine, the hormone linked to motivation and pleasure, say researchers. The thinking goes that those with fewer dopamine receptors may need more food to make me happy. There’s a powerful link between music, nostalgia, and me In a 2010 study, researchers found just listening to a meaningful song from childhood brought on a happiness triggered by the fond memories. I can predict future events Findings from a 2012 study reveal exciting new evidence that my front-most region, the frontopolar cortex, helps predict future events from past experiences. It’s not exactly psychic-superpowers, but I am able to make short-term predictions and think strategically about the future by drawing conclusions from recent patterns. For instance, the study’s participants could anticipate slot machine payoffs based on previous trends in the games. I get distracted easily when we go shopping Two cool new studies: One looked at the MRIs of participants watching deceptive ads (think: late-night infomercials). When I was cloudy from stress, lack of sleep, or low awareness, I was most likely to urge you to buy. Another study on shoppers noticed I may subconsciously push you to more expensive products if attractive, potential mates are nearby, so we impress them. (Here are some signs you might have a shopping addiction.) Sometimes, even I think you should trust your gut Conscious thought doesn’t always lead to the better choice: One study showed students to be happier when they used me for simple decisions, and used their “gut” for more complex ones. In another study, participants let my unconscious state do the grunt work, and they showed less buyer’s remorse. So: When you think hard on a big decision (new job), don’t get stuck on one of the factors (salary, long-term potential, location, et cetera) and instead, sleep on it. Brain games might not do much for me. Seriously. In a recent study, 11,430 volunteers aged 18 to 60 completed a series of online tasks for a minimum of 10 minutes a day, three times a week, for six weeks. Even though participants improved at the tasks, researchers believe that there wasn’t a boost in general memory and learning abilities. Want to get sharp in your downtime? Listen to more music: Stanford University researchers found that it helps me better organize chaos, pay attention, make predictions, and update memory. After all, happy music triggers positive memories. I get stimulated easily, and not by what you might expect A 2011 study in Addiction Biology found that frequent tanning will fire off the same “reward” response for me as drug addiction (ie, I  want to do it again and again). Ditto for binge eating, being popular on Facebook (!), or other obsessive activities. Find healthy ways to stimulate me: exercise, spending time with friends, treating yourself to a day of relaxation. Ladies: I’m more moody with you. Sorry. Physically, I’m about ten percent larger in men than women. It doesn’t make guys smarter, it just lets me control their different bodies. Neurologically, it’s more common for women to suffer from mood disorders—but men are more likely to have ADHD or language disabilities. I peak in my 20s Memory starts declining at around 27! Even though my ability to function doesn’t start deteriorating until as early as 45, we will start losing some of my cells in your 20s. Beat the odds: Eat your way sharp with these seven research-backed foods like blueberries, that help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, maintain your memory, and boost my acetylcholine levels (which helps improve memory function). Drinking yourself stupid? It’s all myth Yes, alcohol disrupts brain function and hurts motor activity, like speaking or walking in a straight line. But it doesn’t kill off entire cells; and adults who drink in moderation do not risk losing brain cells. As a bonus, a glass of red wine a night might protect me from stroke damage, according to a 2010 study.

You can train me to be less impulsive In an isolated 2012 study, researchers found that people in a simulated gambling task could teach themselves to be more cautious bettors. With more research, scientists believe they can help with new developments in treating addiction and impulse-control disorders like ADHD. Your cell phone scares me New research from the National Institute of Health showed that less than an hour of cellphone use can speed up my activity in the area closest to the phone antenna. Although the verdict isn’t out yet on cell phone usage and cancer, many more studies reveal cellphone radiation to be linked with other disturbances, like sleep problems. Do us both a favor and limit use, or try a headset or earpiece. Some parts of me never sleep It’s important for you to get a good night’s sleep, even if I’m busy: Sleep helps stabilizes memories. It also may help me process them, by encoding the emotional bits and ditching the unnecessary details to remember the order of events. I can be reprogrammed to be happier In one study, adults classified as pessimists showed higher death rates over a 30-year period than those who were optimists. To rewire me to become more optimistic, take positive actions! Recent research shows that genes play only a 30 to 40% role in your life outlook, and you can shift from being a pessimist to an optimist over time. Meditation is groovy A recent report found that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks showed significant changes in my parts linked to memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Try silently repeating a calming word again and again to prevent distracting thoughts from inundating your brain, or focus on your breathing to be more in the moment. Try following these meditation tips. I can trick you into thinking busy means fit. But being swamped at the office or home isn’t the kind of activity I need to stay healthy. People lose concentration by being immobile; exercise helps me rewire and shield against Alzheimer’s disease, among many other health benefits. Help me by fitting in at least three to five sessions of cardio for 30 minutes a week. Can’t swing that? Walk to work, park your car farther from the supermarket, take the stairs, or try dozens of other ways to get more movement in your day. Here’s what I like you to eat: omega-3s, vitamin B, complex carbs, antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids help my intellectual performance. Choline (the fat-like B vitamin in eggs and other foods) minimizes fatigue and increases my alertness without a trip to the closest Starbucks. It also helps with memory and stress resistance. Complex carbs are useful to improve my mental performance. Laughter really is the best medicine for me. My amygdala and hippocampus (two parts linked to depression) light up when I hear laughter, as does my nucleus accumbens, which is a key player in pleasurable feelings. Chuckling reduces stress hormones and lowers blood pressure too, decreasing your chance of heart attack and stroke. In one 2012 study, researchers found an increase in oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”, which enhances my reward centers), when subjects listened to infant laughter. This may just explain the YouTube popularity of laughing baby videos. I get better with exercise. Exercise helps more than just keeping your bones strong and heart pumping. Art Kramer, from the University of Illinois, found that memory—one component of my many functions that declines with age—can improve with treadmill usage just three days a week, working up to an hour a day. Exercise increases blood flow to me, which delivers vital oxygen and glucose. MRIs revealed that areas pivotal for decision-making, planning, and multitasking also improved in those who went on the treadmill. Watch your blood pressure. There’s a large body of research connecting high blood pressure and how I function. Hypertension (high blood pressure) puts a constant stress on me and your cardiovascular system, and it can physically be spotted on MRIs as white matter lesions. Don’t ignore warning signs like having a “high-normal” reading, blood pressure creeping up slowly, or only getting high readings at the doctor’s office. (We bet you didn’t know this one surprising activity may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.) Prevent (or better manage) diabetes to keep me healthy. In June 2012, a nine-year longitudinal study showed that participants with diabetes who didn’t control their blood sugar levels suffered from cognitive decline. Take control of your diabetes or prevent the disease completely by swapping everyday foods high in sugar for healthier choices, staying active with exercise, and seeing your doctor regularly. Sources: “The Odd Brain: Mysteries of Our Weird And Wonderful Brains Explained,” Reader’s Digest Magazine, Emotion, USA Today, New York Times, Science , NewsObserver.com, Addiction Biology, NPR.org, PsychCentral.com, faculty.washington.edu, brainfacts.org, Boston.com, PsychologyToday.com, BMJ.com, bbc.co.uk, news.columbia.edu, prevention.com, nature.com, cbsnews.com

BY PERRI O. BLUMBERG
source: www.rd.com


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The Type of Nuts That Boost Brainwaves

How to strengthen brainwaves related to cognition, learning, memory and even healing.

Eating nuts regularly strengthens brainwaves related to cognition, learning, memory and even healing, new research finds.

Pistachios were particularly good at boosting the brain’s gamma wave response.

Gamma waves are critical for faster cognitive process, learning, memory and even sleep.

Peanuts, meanwhile, enhanced the brain’s delta response.

The delta response is important for deep sleep, healing and healthy immunity.

Because of their antioxidant content, nuts have already been shown to benefit the heart, reduce inflammation and slow the aging process.

Dr Lee Berk, the study’s first author, said:

“This study provides significant beneficial findings by demonstrating that nuts are as good for your brain as they are for the rest of your body.”

For the research, different people ate six different types of nuts: walnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, cashews and almonds.

Their brain waves were measured using EEG recordings.

All the different types of nuts contain antioxidants, with walnuts containing the highest levels.

The study’s authors write:

“Nuts are a major source of flavonoids.
They are potent antioxidants with known mechanisms that provide cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that absorbed flavonoids penetrate and accumulate in brain hippocampal regions involved in learning and memory.”

The study was presented at Experimental Biology 2017  (Berk et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Is Strep Linked to Scary Kids’ Behavior Disorder?

When Garrett Pohlman was diagnosed with strep throat in 2007, his illness didn’t respond to antibiotics. Then the strange behaviors began.

Diana Pohlman says her son, who was 7 years old at the time, had been easygoing up to that point. But he developed severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms overnight. He became paranoid – worrying about things like radiation from the TV and light switches. He had tics and anorexia and started having frequent episodes of rage.

“He was not anyone I recognized. He was a completely different child,” she says. “It was a nightmare. At first I thought maybe he had been molested. Then I thought he had a brain tumor.

“He became so delusional he would climb on the roof thinking it was the front door. He would jump in front of cars and out of moving cars, and he had self-harm fantasies. He was afraid to leave the house. We had to pick him up and wrap him in a sheet to get him out of the house. At the age of 7,” Pohlman says.

 

He was not anyone I recognized.
He was a completely different child.
Diana Pohlman

The search for answers was long and expensive. After many months, the family found their way to a psychiatrist who knew about a disorder called pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, or PANDAS, a condition she says several specialists didn’t know about. That led to medical treatment that included long-term antibiotics, having his tonsils and adenoids removed, and eventually two rounds of immunoglobulin, or IVIG treatments.

Recovery was slow, but after 2 years, by the age of 9, Pohlman says the severe symptoms stopped. For another 2 years, he had what she calls mild and manageable symptoms that eventually dissipated.

But rather than move on from PANDAS, the boy’s mother decided she needed to help other parents trying to figure out these mysterious symptoms. She founded the nonprofit PANDAS Network in 2009 to raise awareness, support families, and push for more research to better understand how to diagnose and treat the condition.

“When I realized doctors didn’t understand it, I thought I better not quit working on this because how will anyone else ever get help,” Pohlman explains. “It is abysmal. It has been shocking how misinformed doctors are about the term ‘PANDAS.’ ”

Little is known about how or why the syndrome happens, and not all doctors believe there is a connection. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recognize a link between strep and the syndrome.

“You will not find consensus from pediatric infectious disease doctors that PANDAS even exists, much less what to do about it and how to manage the patients,” says Meg Fisher, MD, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. “We still haven’t had the definitive article or study or demonstration to really get some solid clinical evidence behind this. My problem is, even if you believe in the syndrome, it’s totally unclear what you should do to help those patients. All of the information is anecdotal.”

What Is PANDAS/PANS?

Susan E. Swedo, MD, at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), first identified PANDAS in the 1990s after she reported on a link between the fast onset of OCD and group A streptococcus, more commonly known as strep.

You will not find consensus from pediatric infectious disease doctors that PANDAS even exists, much less what to do about it and how to manage the patients.
Meg Fisher, MD, Unterberg Children’s Hospital, Monmouth Medical Center

PANDAS happens when strep triggers a misdirected immune response that causes inflammation in a child’s brain. Pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, or PANS, is a larger umbrella term that has to do with cases with a trigger other than strep, including infections like walking pneumonia or the flu.

Both disorders appear in childhood, typically between the ages of 3 and 12. While blood tests may help identify infections, there are no lab tests or other indicators for PANDAS or PANS.

Doctors diagnose the syndrome when children suddenly get severe OCD or eat a lot less food, along with at least two of the following symptoms: anxiety, depression, irritability or aggression, behavioral regression, ADD- or ADHD-like symptoms affecting schoolwork, sensory or motor problems, troubled sleep, and frequent urination.

The PANDAS Network says in some cases, the emotional symptoms can weaken children and make them homebound. Other children are OK at school but fall apart at home. The NIMH describes the start of symptoms as “dramatic,” happening “overnight and out of the blue.”

“The consensus of scientists and clinicians is that it needs to be sudden and severe,” says Margo Thienemann, MD, co-director of the PANS program at Stanford University Medical Center in California. “Sudden can be overnight. Some people can say exactly what time it started or that it happened over a couple of days. But they all say this isn’t their child anymore. Even if they don’t believe someone can be possessed, it feels that way. What happened? Why are they doing these things? Why can’t they stop?”

Swedo estimates that it impacts about 1% of elementary school-aged children and is likely under-diagnosed. The PANDAS Network estimates 1 in 200 children have it. Thienemann says her program at Stanford has seen more than 250 patients since it started in 2012. But she says that since their staff is small, they have to narrow down who gets in. One year, they turned away 1,000 patients because they couldn’t handle any more.

Thienemann says this is why they have helped write guidelines to allow health care providers to identify and treat these children. “It takes a multidisciplinary team to manage. A psychiatrist, pediatrician, or rheumatologist can’t do it alone. You need all these different vantage points to diagnose and coordinate care,” she says.

There are now PANS centers in California and Arizona, and some doctors around the country treat the disorder.

The NIMH says research suggests IVIG can ease symptoms and may be used in severe PANDAS cases, but it warns it has many side effects — including nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness — and there is a chance of infection with this sort of procedure. Parents say it is also expensive and often not covered by insurance.

Some families say they also see improvement when they have their children’s tonsils and adenoids removed, although no studies show that works.

streptococcus pneumonia bacteria

Controversy

Not all in the medical community agree that strep or other infections can trigger these kinds of behaviors. There is also much debate about whether treatments are effective.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recognize a link between strep and PANDAS, a March 2017 article in AAP News, sent to the group’s 66,000 pediatrician members, discusses the disorders and the controversy around them. While it’s not the group’s official policy, the article says pediatricians should consider PANS anytime a child “has an abrupt behavior change with obsessive thoughts,” and it points them to material that shows them how to diagnose it.

Fisher says it’s complicated for pediatricians, since there is no evidence that taking out tonsils and adenoids is helpful or that antibiotics work. She says many pediatricians worry that young patients will become resistant to antibiotics if you prescribe them long-term, and many have concerns about IVIG side effects.

“I understand the parents’ frustration, because finding a physician for these patients is very difficult. There are a lot of doctors who are, quote unquote, PANDAS specialists, but there is nothing that is evidence-based about what they are doing,” she says. “Our goal is first do no harm, and it is hard to know how best to help these patients. It is a very frustrating thing. I wish someone would come up with some solutions.”

Thienemann says most parents who find their way to her program are frantic because they can’t get help anywhere else. “Part of that desperation is nobody would listen to them. People say my pediatrician won’t do anything, and my child is trying to jump out of moving cars or a window. They can’t get out of the house, can’t sleep, are urinating on themselves, and have severe separation anxiety,” she says.

 

There is something medically wrong. There isn’t a finger to be pointed. There are questions to be asked and answered.
Ali Claypoole

Parents say it is obvious something isn’t right.

“I thought she had schizophrenia or severe mental illness,” says Kelly, a mother in Maryland who asked that we not use her last name to protect the privacy of her 7-year-old daughter, Maggie, who has PANDAS. “It was rapid-onset OCD, and then we were spending our entire life trying to keep her from jumping out of cars, hurting herself, biting us, and losing her mind.”

“There is something medically wrong. There isn’t a finger to be pointed. There are questions to be asked and answered,” adds Ali Claypoole, whose son, now 9 years old, first showed PANDAS symptoms at the age of 6. “Our world is turned upside down, and from where I am, it’s almost like parents are more informed than the doctors. I find the civilian community is much more understanding, interested, and willing to learn about this than the medical community. It makes me mad.”

Going Forward

More research is now being done.

In a 2017 large-scale study of key parts of the PANDAS theory, researchers looked at 17 years of data out of Denmark and found that young patients with a positive strep test had higher chances of having of mental disorders, especially OCD and tic disorders, compared with those without a positive strep test. Non-strep throat infections also carried a higher chance of these types of mental disorders in children, although it was less – perhaps pointing to the chance that other infections can trigger the symptoms.

It is really the brain inflammation  
that is central to this disease.
Dritan Agalliu, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center

In 2016,  Dritan Agalliu, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, published a study showing that immune cells produced in the nose after multiple strep infections appear to be the culprit for the disease. These cells enter the brain via the nerves that are responsible for the sense of smell, and they damage the blood vessels and synapses in the brain.

Agalliu says this research helped explain a crucial step in the disease: how antibodies that the body makes to attack strep or other infections cross the blood/brain barrier in these children and attack parts of their brain by mistake; similar to what happens in other autoimmune diseases of the brain, like multiple sclerosis.

The NIHM recently awarded Agalliu nearly $2 million to keep studying the disorder. He says it should be called post-streptococcal basal ganglia encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. He’s also doing research funded by a private donor, looking at genetic chances of having the disorders to understand why a small number of children who get multiple strep infections are prone to get the disease.

“It is really the brain inflammation that is central to this disease. If we think about PANDAS/PANS this way, it will relieve a lot of controversy and make therapies more acceptable for patients,” Agalliu says. “I am hoping with our next publication, we can alleviate any potential question that this is an autoimmune disease.”

There’s also increasing interest in looking at PANDAS as a type of Sydenham chorea, defined by abnormal movements, OCD, mood swings, and other emotional symptoms that follow strep infection.

The NIMH now has a group for PANDAS and PANS. The PANDAS Network is working to make information about the disorders part of continuing medical education for pediatricians, and a working group has created handouts to educate school personnel nationwide to help children with these disorders get back to their classrooms.

So will children outgrow PANDAS? Like most other things associated with this disorder, there is no consensus.

Doctors who focus on the disorders say when patients can get to them, improvement is possible. “If we get people as early as possible, maybe even at the onset of illness, I think we do a good job of being able to tamp down inflammation and help them a lot and maybe get them all the way better,” Thienemann says. “If someone has been dealing with it for 10 years, I think they may develop ongoing autoimmune problems and there may be damage to their brain. Recovery might not be as complete, but I think we can still help them.”

Three years after he first showed symptoms, Claypoole’s son had a full remission at the age of 9 after IVIG treatments. But after a few months, he got strep again and the PANDAS symptoms returned, but they were less severe. Kelly’s daughter Maggie has seen her symptoms subside for a while, only to return. Her doctors prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories after each new episode. She takes both medications daily for months on end. She has also had two rounds of IVIG. “Every time we do an intervention, the baseline gets better, but it doesn’t end the problem. She is not symptom-free,” Kelly says.

Pohlman says her son, now 17, is a straight-A student who plays football and the cello and is applying to college. He is symptom-free.

“Once I understood that Garrett’s brain was on fire from an infectious illness, I barely could believe his body would have the capacity for a full recovery,” she says. “Could he have the normal life I had expected for my child? So I look at him now in amazement.”

 

By Jennifer Clopton       Nov. 10, 2017     WebMD Article Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on November 10, 2017

Sources
Ali Claypoole, Maryland.
Kelly, Maryland. (Requested not using last name)
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source: WebMD 


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Can Green Tea Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Green tea is touted as an amazing superfood replete with many healing benefits, from its anti-cancer properties to its heart health boosting compounds. So it is no surprise that green tea has been linked with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. But new research found that it may offer more protection than originally believed.

Green tea is high in antioxidants that fight off harmful free radicals. By some estimates the antioxidants found in green tea may be 20 times more potent than vitamin E, which is a proven brain health booster. But new research shows that green tea is even better than just its amazing antioxidants.

According to a new study by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society found that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has yet another health benefit—it stops beta amyloid plaques linked to Alzheimer’s from forming. Beta amyloid plaques have long been known as causal factors in Alzheimer’s but finding ways to stop the harmful plaques from forming has been the task of many researchers. Beta amyloid plaques disrupt communication between brain and nerve cells, creating the memory loss and dementia, which are the trademark signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

This new research found that EGCG in green tea effectively prevented plaques from being able to damage healthy cells. While the exact mechanism by which EGCG achieves this protection is not fully clear, the discovery is an exciting one into brain health and Alzheimer’s disease.

This ground-breaking research offers hope to the 50 million people worldwide who already suffer from Alzheimer’s disease since EGCG may slow the plaque’s progression and therefore the disease’s progression as well. It may also help anyone looking to prevent the disease, which is probably most people.

This research supports earlier research in the medical journal Brain Research that also found that green tea consumption can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Other research in the American Journal of Medicine found that regular tea consumption can cut the risk of cognitive decline in half, which is impressive by anyone’s standards.

While the research is still quite early so it is not clear exactly how much green tea or its protective compound EGCG is needed to reap the brain protective effects, most experts agree that a few cups of green tea daily should be helpful with brain health. Earlier research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank two or more cups of tea each day were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The benefits were not linked to tea’s caffeine content which is lower than the caffeine found in coffee.

To make green tea: add one or two teaspoons of green tea leaves to a cup of boiled water, preferably in a tea strainer. Let steep for five minutes. Pour over ice if you prefer a cold beverage.  And don’t worry—it contains a lot less caffeine than coffee or black tea. Green tea contains about 55 mg of caffeine per cup while coffee typically contains between 125 and 200 mg per cup.

If you’re not a big fan of the taste of green tea, try it blended with other types of tea, such as ginger or lemongrass. You can also try icing it with some stevia to sweeten the beverage and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a delicious green tea lemonade.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include:  Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds:  The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook          November 9, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
 
source: www.care2.com