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This Food May Help You Sleep Better

Forget warm milk. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania says that fish may be the key to a good night’s sleep.

The paper, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, found an association between regular fish consumption and high sleep quality among Chinese schoolchildren, likely thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Largely as a result of that improved sleep, the researchers found, the children also scored higher on IQ tests.

“There’s a relationship between fish consumption and higher cognitive functioning. What what we document here is that it’s the better sleep that explains the relationship,” says Adrian Raine, one of the paper’s authors and a professor of criminology, psychiatry and psychology at Penn. “From A to B to C: From fish consumption to better sleep to higher cognitive functioning.”

The researchers asked 541 schoolchildren in China between ages 9 and 11 to describe their eating habits, including how often they ate fish. Their parents, meanwhile, were asked to answer questions about the kids’ sleep patterns. Researchers then administered IQ tests when the children turned 12.

They found links between eating fish regularly — the more, the better — and both improved sleep and higher IQ scores. But, Raine explains, it appears that many of the cognitive benefits can be traced back to bedtime. “The brain is so much more plastic early on in child development,” he says. “We might anticipate that fish consumption earlier in life may be particularly beneficial for a child’s sleep and cognitive functioning.”

While the study focused on kids, Raine says “it’s quite reasonable to imagine that these findings can also apply to adults,” citing studies that have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can alter psychological functioning in adults.

Eating fish just a few times a month may improve your brain functioning, Raine says. (Fish and omega-3s have also been shown to be good for your heart.)

“The important thing is really having a balanced diet. It needn’t be a lot,” Raine says. “Even if parents could just get fish on the table once a week, that could be enough to make a bit of a difference over at school and in long-term performance, and especially sleep.”

By JAMIE DUCHARME       December 22, 2017      TIME Health
source: time.com
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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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Reduce The Damaging Effects Of Sugar On Your Brain

9TH MAY 2016    MINA DEAN

In 2014 North Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup each.

Fructose consumption can damage hundreds of genes.

But the good news is that DHA — an omega 3 fatty acid — can reverse this damage, scientists have discovered.

Fructose is a sugar commonly found in the Western diet.

Most of the fructose in the American diet comes from high-fructose corn syrup or is consumed in sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts.

According to the Department of Agriculture, in 2014 each American consumed about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup.

In addition, most baby food and fruit contains fructose.

However, the absorption of the fruit sugar is mostly slowed down by the fibre in fruit.

On top of that there are other healthy components found in fruit which are important for the body and the brain.

Our brain cell membranes naturally contain DHA but this amount is not enough to fight diseases.

A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help to reverse the damage to the genes caused by fructose.

Dr Xia Yang a senior author of the study at UCLA University explained:

“DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable.
And we can see why it has such a powerful effect.”

Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, the co-senior author of the paper, pointed out that the only way to get DHA is from our diet:

“The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet.
DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory.
It is abundant in wild salmon and, to a lesser extent, in other fish and fish oil, as well as walnuts and flaxseed.”

drinking a glass of sugar

The study was carried out on rats.

They were divided into three groups for six weeks.

During this period one group only drank water with no fructose and no DHA.

The second group consumed fructose water and a DHA rich diet.

The other group received water with fructose equivalent to a litre of soda per day.

The tests run on the rats showed that a high-fructose diet impaired the rats’ memory.

However, the fructose and DHA group showed similar results to those that drank only water.

This strongly suggested that the harmful effects of fructose were eliminated  by DHA.

The study showed that fructose had altered more than 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the metabolic control centre in the brain) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (a brain region for regulating memory and learning).

The alteration in human genes could lead to conditions such as bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, depression and other brain diseases.

More tests on the rats also showed that those on a high-fructose diet had higher triglycerides, glucose and insulin levels.

These are similar indicators associated with obesity and diabetes in humans.

The study was published in EBioMedicine (Meng et al., 2016).


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Why You Might Want to Start Taking Fish Oil

Alexandra Sifferlin     @acsifferlin      April 26, 2016     

Combining depression drugs with nutrient supplements could make them more effective

Finding ways to make antidepressants more effective could help the millions of people who take them for depression. Now early research suggests pairing the medication with certain supplements, including omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D, could be one way to do so.

In the new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers looked at what happened when some supplements were paired with antidepressants. They combed 40 clinical trials that tested antidepressants taken in conjunction with omega-3s, vitamin D and zinc—nutritional supplements sometimes used to help treat depression, often called nutraceuticals.

The researchers found that people who took omega 3s with antidepressants reported fewer depressive symptoms compared to people taking antidepressants alone. While omega-3s had the most powerful effect, other nutraceuticals also improved the effects of antidepressants, including S-adenosylmethionine, a synthetic form of a compound formed naturally in the body that helps maintain cells and brain chemicals; methylfolate, a form of folate; and vitamin D. Mixed results were seen for zinc, folic acid, vitamin C and the amino acid tryptophan.

Research suggests that the supplements tested in the studies target some of the similar brain processes and pathways as antidepressants. Though recent research has been somewhat mixed, omega-3 supplements have been found to potentially benefit parts of the brain thought to be linked to depression and mood.

omega3

“Omega-3 fatty acids appear to exert a range of biological activity which may be beneficial for improving mood,” says study author Jerome Sarris, head of the ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne, in an email. “The question remains whether when combined with medication, a unique beneficial interactive effect is occurring, or whether it is due to two distinct yet complementary mood elevating effects.”

Even though millions of Americans take antidepressants, there’s a lot experts don’t know about the drugs, including how exactly they work and why some people respond to them better than others. Antidepressants also appear to have a powerful placebo effect; recent data suggests that anywhere from 30-45% of response to an antidepressant is due to the power of placebo. Figuring out how to make the drugs more effective could help a lot of people.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the results, which show some positive benefit,” says Dr. Richard Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College who was not involved with the study. “There are many methodology concerns about individual studies, like small sample sizes. But the results of this study clearly justify more rigorous large randomized clinical trials of nutraceuticals in the treatment of depression.” Nutraceuticals are largely unregulated, he says, “so quality and purity is a concern.”

The researchers did not turn up major safety issues and found that overall the supplements were well-tolerated; the most commonly reported side effects were constipation, stomach upset and diarrhea. Still, people should consult with their physician about what supplements and medications to take, they conclude. Based on the findings, which need to be replicated in larger studies, taking supplements alongside antidepressants may be a low-cost way to improve treatment.

source: time.com