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3 Tasty Foods That Protect The Brain From Ageing

Some foods can keep your brain young.

Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries all reduce cognitive decline related to age, research finds.

All three fruits contain high levels of flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation in the brain and body.

The research was carried out on data from 121,700 women, who were followed up over decades.

Dr Elizabeth Devore, the study’s first author, said:

“As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important.
Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.”

The results showed that high berry intake was linked to a delay in cognitive ageing equivalent to 2.5 years.

In other words: berries made their brains work as though they were 2.5 years younger.

Dr Devore said:

“We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults.”

Berries are also one of the central components in the ‘MIND’ diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blueberries in particular seem to have a powerful effect on the brain.

One recent study looked at the effects of concentrated blueberry juice:

“Concentrated blueberry juice improves cognitive function in older people, new research finds.
Those who drank the juice also had better blood flow and activation in their brains as well as improvements to working memory.
The boost to brain power is likely down to the flavonoids in blueberries.”

Strawberries also have other research backing up their protective effects, as do walnuts.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology (Devore et al., 2012).

source: PsyBlog


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Five Foods That May Increase Your IQ

A healthy diet as you’re growing up may help you have a higher IQ, while a diet high in processed foods, fat and sugar may result in a lower IQ, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in February 2011. Many of the same foods typically recommended for a healthy diet may also be good for your IQ.

Fish and Omega-3 Sources

Omega-3 fats, found in many types of fish and seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, are important for infant brain development. An article published on the Association for Psychological Science website notes that children given omega-3 fats have higher IQs than those who don’t consume much of these essential polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats may also help protect against dementia as you get older. Oysters are also a good seafood choice, because they’re rich in zinc. Zinc deficiency may adversely affect brain development, according to a review article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013.

Children and pregnant women are particularly sensitive to contaminants in fish, so choose those that are high in omega-3 fats but low in contaminants, such as wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, mussels and rainbow trout for the recommended two servings per week of seafood to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.

Fruits and Vegetables

Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and orange and red fruits and vegetables, may help protect your brain function and your memory as you age because of the beta-carotene and vitamin C they contain.

A diet rich in herbs, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables and cheese resulted in a higher IQ in children than a diet that included higher amounts of sweet and salty snacks, according to a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in July 2012.

Another study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2009, came to a similar conclusion, showing that children who ate higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods had higher IQs.

Iron-Rich Foods

Iron-deficiency anemia may impair your attention span, IQ and ability to concentrate, so eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Increasing iron intake only appears to help IQ when children are deficient in iron, however, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article. Iron-rich foods include lean meats, oysters, beans, tofu, spinach, sardines and fortified breakfast cereals.

Other Protein-Rich Foods

Diets higher in protein and lower in fat may help improve your concentration because of the dopamine your body releases with protein consumption. Soy protein may be particularly helpful, since it also contains lecithin, which may improve memory and brain function. Lowfat dairy products, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are all nutritious sources of protein.

Get Plenty of B Vitamins and Choline

Foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 and choline may also help keep your brain healthy, limiting your risk for dementia, depression and neurological disorders. They are also important for cognitive development, so if children don’t get enough of these vitamins they may have a lower IQ. Folate is available in fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beef liver, rice, asparagus, black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts and avocado, and most animal-based foods contain vitamin B-12. Good sources of choline include beef, eggs, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

by JESSICA BRUSO       Jun 17, 2015


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Targeting Gut Bacteria May Be The Key To Preventing Alzheimer’s

Diet could be a powerful mode of prevention.

A new study suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

Mounting research continues to show the links between the health of the gut and that of the brain. Now, a new study from Lund University in Sweden finds that unhealthy intestinal flora can accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The report, published Feb. 8 in the journal Scientific Reports, demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have a different gut bacterial profile than those that do not have the disease.

The gut microbiome is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle factors. This suggests that a gut-healthy diet may play a powerful role in preventing one of the most feared diseases in America.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease and in the near future we will likely be able to give advice on what to eat to prevent it,” study author Dr. Frida Fak Hållenius, associate professor at the university’s Food for Health Science Centre, told The Huffington Post. “Take care of your gut bacteria, by eating lots of whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.”

In the new study, Hållenius and her colleagues revealed a direct causal association between gut bacteria and signs of Alzheimer’s in mice. When a group of bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of rodents with Alzheimer’s, they developed brain plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s. When the bacteria-free mice were colonized with the bacteria of the healthy rodents, however, they developed significantly fewer brain plaques.

Beta-amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain are a central marker of the disease. These sticky protein clumps accumulate between the brain’s neurons, disrupting signals and contributing to the gradual killing off of nerve cells.

“We don’t yet know how bacteria can affect brain pathology, we are currently investigating this,” Hållenius said. “We think that bacteria may affect regulatory T-cells in the gut, which can control inflammatory processes both locally in the gut and systemically ― including the brain.”

The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated.

The gut microbiome is intimately connected with the immune system, since many of the body’s immune cells are found in this area of the stomach, Hållenius added.

Anything that happens in the digestive tract can affect the immune system, she explained. “By changing the gut microbiota composition, you affect the immune system of the host to a large extent.”

The findings suggest that Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than health experts previously thought. The composition of bacteria in the gut is determined by a mix of genetics and lifestyle factors. Diet, exercise, stress and toxin exposure all play a huge role in the gut’s bacterial makeup.

Now, the researchers can begin investigating ways to prevent the disease and delay its onset by targeting gut bacteria early on. And in the meantime, anyone can adopt a plant-based, whole foods diet and probiotic supplementation as a way to improve the health of their microbiome.

“The diet shapes the microbial community in the gut to a large extent, so dietary strategies will be important in prevention of Alzheimer’s,” Hållenius said. “We are currently working on food design that will modulate the gut microbiota towards a healthier state.”

The study is far from the first to show a connection between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s. In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed 10 different ways that the microbiome may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

“The contributions of microbes to multiple aspects of human physiology and neurobiology in health and disease have up until now not been fully appreciated,” that study’s authors wrote.

By Carolyn Gregoire      Feb 21, 2017
 


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Strawberries Remain at Top of Pesticide List, Report Says

An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Wednesday, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration.

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are widely used in producing food to control pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. In addition to their uses in agriculture, pesticides are used to protect public health by controlling organisms that carry tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.

Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans, according to the World Health Organization. They may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems.

Pesticide residue can remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled, according to the report.

However, a report by the USDA in 2014 found that “overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency” and were not a safety concern to consumers.

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that tested positive for various pesticides and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce is featured on the list, known as the “Dirty Dozen.”

Starting with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, the list features strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.

In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth, but the latest numbers from the USDA showed a sharp increase in pesticide residues on non-organic spinach since the crop was last tested eight years ago.

The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.

The newest additions to the list were pears and potatoes, which replaced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year.

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group’s “Clean Fifteen” list.

This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.

More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

Methodology

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, analyzed more than 36,000 samples taken by personnel at the USDA and the FDA who mimicked consumer practices by first washing or peeling the produce.

To compare the fruits and vegetables, the group came up with a composite score for each type of produce based on six measures of contamination. Some of the measures include the percent of the sample tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a single sample.

Shopping smart

Nutrition experts support the findings and even use the list to make recommendations to their own patients.

“I believe that this is an important source of information,” said Corinne Bush, a clinical nutritionist who was not part of the research.

Bush warns that some pesticides that do not exceed thresholds established by the EPA can still be very harmful, since low-level exposure over time can have extremely damaging effects.

The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.

“If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release.

“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.”

By Johanzynn Gatewood  (CNN)      Wed March 8, 2017
 


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Eating More of This Will Make You Live Longer

By now we know that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for our health, but a new study suggests that eating even more produce can prevent millions of deaths each year.

In the report, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers from Imperial College London conducted a meta-analysis of 95 studies looking at fruit and vegetable intake. They estimated that 7.8 million premature global deaths could be avoided yearly if people ate 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day.

The researchers characterize 10 portions as 800 grams of fruits and vegetables a day. For context, one medium apple is around 182 grams.

Already eating plenty of fruits and vegetables cut people’s risk of early death from heart disease and cancer. But the researchers estimated that if people ate up to 10 portions a day, there would be a 24% lower risk of heart disease, 33% lower risk of stroke, 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% lower risk of cancer, and a 31% lower risk of dying early when compared to not eating any fruit or vegetables.

fruits-veggies

The fruits and vegetables that were linked to lower risk of heart problems included the usual suspects like apples, citrus, and leafy veggies like spinach. Other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts as well as peppers and green beans were linked to potentially lower cancer risk.

The researchers didn’t show why higher portions of fruits and vegetables can led to fewer deaths, but some of the basic nutrients in the produce can improve health. “Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system,” said study author Dagfinn Aune of the Imperial College London School of Public Health in a statement. “This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”But how realistic is it to ask people to eat up to 10 portions of produce? Considering fewer than 18% of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruit and less than 14% eat the recommended amount of vegetables, that will be a challenge.

Alexandra Sifferlin   Feb 23, 2017
source: TIME Health


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How To Beat Major Depression With The Right Diet

World-first study reveals how diet can treat major depression.

Improving dietary quality successfully treats major depression, a large new study finds.

The three-month study recruited people with major depressive disorder.

One group were given support from a clinical dietitian.

A control group were given access to social support, which is also beneficial for depression.

Those in the dietary group saw great improvements in depressive symptoms.

At the end of the study one-third of people who had changed their diet were in remission from depression.

This compared to only 8% in the social support group.

Professor Felice Jacka, the study’s first author, said:

“We’ve known for some time that there is a clear association between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression.
This is the case across countries, cultures and age groups, with healthy diets associated with reduced risk, and unhealthy diets associated with increased risk for depression.
However, this is the first randomised controlled trial to directly test whether improving diet quality can actually treat clinical depression.”

diet

The dietitian encouraged people to eat more of the following food types:

  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • whole grains,
  • legumes,
  • fish,
  • lean red meats,
  • olive oil,
  • and nuts.

At the same time people were discouraged from eating:

  • sweets,
  • refined cereals,
  • fried food,
  • fast-food,
  • processed meats,
  • and sugary drinks.

Professor Jacka continued:

“These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or body weight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change.
Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms.”

The study suggests that dietitians should be made available to those being treated for depression.

Professor Jacka said:

“Mental disorders account for the leading cause of disability worldwide, with depression accounting for the large proportion of that burden.
While approximately half of sufferers are helped by currently available medical and psychological therapies, new treatment options for depression are urgently needed.
Importantly, depression also increases the risk of and, in turn, is also increased by common physical illnesses such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Successfully improving the quality of patients’ diets would also benefit these illnesses.”

The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine (Jacka et al., 2017).

FEBRUARY 15, 2017                source: PsyBlog


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Pears: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Pears are a mild, sweet fruit with a fibrous center. They are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber and pack all of these nutrients in a fat-free, cholesterol-free, 100-calorie package.

Consuming pears may help with weight loss and reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, if eaten as part of an overall healthy diet.

This Medical News Today Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of the pear and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more pears into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming pears.

Possible health benefits of consuming pears

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of a number of health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like pears decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and a lower weight.

Fiber

Pears are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine has developed an AI (Adequate Intake) guideline for fiber.

They recommend that men under the age of 50 consume 38 grams per day and women under the age of 50 consume 25 grams per day.

For adults over 50 years age, the recommendation for men is 30 grams per day and for women is 21 grams per day.

Many people in America do not get even 50 percent of their daily recommendation.

The National Institute of Medicine based its recommendation on a review of the findings from several large studies. They found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Just one medium-sized pear provides 6 grams of fiber, about 24 percent of the daily need for a woman under 50.

Treating diverticulosis

Diverticulitis is when bulging sacs in the lining of the large intestine become infected or inflamed. High fiber diets have been shown to decrease the frequency of flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating a healthful diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables, and fiber can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon.

Although the exact cause of diverticular disease is still unknown, it has repeatedly been associated with a low fiber diet.

pears

 

Weight loss

Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber help to keep you feeling fuller for longer and are also low in calories. Increased fiber intake has been shown to enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol

Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol.

Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

Diabetes

A high-fiber diet is associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes and more stable blood sugar levels.

Digestion

The fiber content in pears prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Detox

Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Pears are approximately 84 percent water, which helps keep stools soft and flush the digestive system of toxins.

Nutritional breakdown of pears

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one medium pear (approximately 178 grams) contains:

  • 101 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 27 grams of carbohydrate (including 17 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber)
  • 1 gram of protein

Eating one medium pear would provide 12 percent of daily vitamin C needs, as well as 10 percent of vitamin K, 6 percent of potassium and smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folate.

Pears also contain carotenoids, flavonols, and anthocyanins (in red-skinned pears). In the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, pears and apples were found to be among the top contributors of flavonols in the diet.

Possible health risks of consuming pears

Fruits, like apples and pears, contain a higher amount of fructose compared with glucose; they are considered a high FODMAP food. A diet high in FODMAPs may increase gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea in people suffering from irritable bowel disorders.

FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols;” these are all forms of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates. A diet low in these types of carbohydrates has been shown to decrease common symptoms for people who are FODMAPs sensitive.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

 
Written by Megan Ware RDN LD
 
Reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine Knowledge center             Tue 22 November 2016