Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


5 Comments

Massive Study Yields Exciting Findings about Gut Health and the Microbiome

Gut health could be the biggest trend in the health field right now. Everywhere I turn people are discussing the importance of their gut health and how it is linked to their overall health, as well as the benefits of probiotics. And, for good reason: a growing body of research shows that what happens in our gut expands well beyond the gut.

Now new research shows that the health of your gut is significantly influenced by what you eat. A new study assessed 15096 fecal samples provided by 11336 people, published in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, found some exciting facts about gut health and the microbiome, which is the total of all the microbes in a living being.

We each have a microbiome and no two microbiomes are alike, although there can be some similarities between them. The microbiome is a sort of microbial fingerprint. And, thanks to the new research, we have greater insight into the effect of diet on our microbiome. Here are some of the findings from this exciting study:

1) Plant-based diets produce the most diverse microbiomes. Diverse microbiomes seem to confer health benefits. Consider people who struggle to lose weight: earlier research in the journal Beneficial Microbes shows that they tend to have less diverse strains of beneficial bacteria and a lower ratio of beneficial microbes to harmful ones.

2) Eating more than 30 types of plant foods weekly yields the most diverse microbiome. In other words, it’s important to eat a plant-based diet but also one that has tremendous diversity. So, expand your horizons when it comes to trying new vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains. Your microbiome will thank you. And, who knows? You might even discover a new favorite food.

3) There is a lower incidence of bacterial resistance in those who eat the greatest variety of plant foods weekly. This is great news since more and more varieties of harmful bacteria like E. coli and MRSA are, not only becoming more prevalent, they are also becoming resistant to the typical drug treatment: antibiotics. This is an astounding discovery on its own. We tend to assume that all of a certain variety of bacteria have the same level of potency against humans, but the research shows that people who eat a large variety of plant-based foods are less likely to be host to these disease-causing, resistant bacteria. People who ate more than 30 types of plant foods weekly had less resistance to antibiotics.

4) The gut bacteria of people suffering from mental health issues, including: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder were more similar to others suffering from mental disorders than to those who do not suffer from mental disorders. While the scientists conducting the study did not draw any conclusions, there may be a possible connection between gut health and mental health. Certainly other research suggests that is indeed the case. Research in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found a link between gut bacteria and increased activity in brain pathways that improve brain health and reduce depression risk.

microbiome

How can you reap the benefits of this exciting research?

There are endless ways to boost the variety of plant-based foods you consume, but the following ones should help you get started:

  1.    Start by replacing meat in your diet with plant-based options. Start with Meatless Mondays but don’t hesitate to go meatless the rest of the week as well
  2.    The next time you pass by that odd-looking fruit or vegetable in the produce section of your grocery store, add it to your cart. It’s easy enough to find recipes for lesser-known foods using a quick Internet search. And, most importantly, add the food to your diet.
  3.    Instead of just snacking on almonds or another nut, branch out to try Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc. Choose raw, unsalted varieties.
  4.    Rather than just add a can of kidney beans to your soup, stew, or chili, opt for bean varieties you are less familiar with. That could include: chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans, Romano beans, black beans, navy beans, etc.
  5.    The next time a snack attack strikes, choose a piece of fruit or a bowl of mixed berries.
  6.    When you have a craving for salty foods, choose traditionally-fermented pickles, pickled green beans, pickled beets or other foods with live cultures. Not only will you be getting a wider variety and a greater quantity of plant-based foods, you’ll also help expand the beneficial microbes you consume. Be sure to choose pickled foods that state “live cultures” or “unpasteurized” on the label.

 

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook May 31, 2018
 Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
 
source: www.care2.com
Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Essential Oil That May Help Fight PTSD

Inhaling the essential oil could help reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Orange essential oil is a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, new research suggests.

The oil — derived from the skin of an orange — could provide a better option than drugs, which generally have unwanted side effects.

Ms Cassandra Moshfegh, the study’s first author, said:

“Relative to pharmaceuticals, essential oils are much more economical and do not have adverse side effects.
The orange essential plant oil showed a significant effect on the behavioral response in our study mice.
This is promising, because it shows that passively inhaling this essential oil could potentially assuage PTSD symptoms in humans.”

People already use many different essential oils for therapeutic purposes.

Sometime they are diffused in to the air, sometimes applied to the skin and they can also be consumed in foods.

This study on mice tested the effects of the essential oil on their fear response.

The results showed that the mice exposed to orange essential oil were psychologically protected against a traumatic experience.

Genetic analysis also suggested a potential mechanism for this effect.

The study was published in The FASEB Journal (Moshfegh et al., 2016).

 
source: PsyBlog    MAY 5, 2017


Leave a comment

A ‘Brainwave’ to Help Fight PTSD

Study is preliminary, but suggests an acoustic ‘feedback’ technology might help some patients

Technology using a patient’s own brainwaves might offer hope against tough-to-treat PTSD, new research suggests.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop as a reaction to a terrifying event, such as war, natural disasters, sexual assault and other physical violence or trauma. People with the condition may have prolonged anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares and other life-altering symptoms.

“Conventional treatments for PTSD are often not sufficient for addressing this difficult condition,” noted Mayer Bellehsen. He directs the Feinberg Division of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and Their Families, in Bay Shore, N.Y.
“While traditional behavioral treatments offer significant relief, many people cannot tolerate the treatment and discontinue prior to experiencing the full benefits,” Bellehsen explained.

The new study was led by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. The investigators sought to tackle PTSD from another angle, through the patients’ own brainwaves.

The study involved 18 patients who completed an average of 16 successive, daily sessions of what the researchers called “noninvasive closed-loop acoustic stimulation brainwave technology.”

During the sessions, the patients’ brain activity was monitored and certain brain frequencies were translated into acoustic tones that were then relayed back to the patients via earbuds.

“It’s as if the brain can look at itself in an acoustic mirror, recalibrate its patterns towards improved balance and reduced hyperarousal, and can relax,” study lead author Dr. Charles Tegeler, professor of neurology, said in a Wake Forest news release.

After the sessions, nearly 90 percent of the patients reported clinically meaningful decreases in PTSD symptoms, Tegeler’s team said.

“The effects of chronic stress are killing people and the medical profession has not yet found an answer for how best to treat them,” Tegeler said. “We believe there is a need for effective, noninvasive, nondrug therapies for symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which is why we conducted this trial.”

Bellehsen reviewed the findings and was cautiously optimistic.

The research is “a novel approach to thinking about and devising treatments for PTSD,” Bellehsen said. The brainwave approach seemed to help many participants, he added, and “it is notable that most [patients] seemed to tolerate the intervention and did not experience negative events in the course of the treatment.”

However, this remains a small pilot study and “these findings need to be viewed with caution as there is much more work to be done before these efforts can lead to a clinically meaningful intervention,” Bellehsen said. That work should include a larger study group, plus clinician-rated measurements of PTSD symptoms, not the patient self-reports the current study relied on, he explained.

Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov directs behavioral health at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. Reviewing the new findings, he agreed that “any progress in the management of PTSD is very welcome.”

But he also agreed with Bellehsen that a larger, better-controlled and better-evaluated study is needed.

“It would be great to see a larger study demonstrating good results,” Pinkhasov said.

The study was published online April 19 in the journal BMC Psychiatry.

By Robert Preidt     HealthDay Reporter     WebMD News from HealthDay       WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2017
 
Sources: Mayer Bellehsen, Ph.D., director, Mildred and Frank Feinberg Division,  Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and Their Families, Bay Shore, N.Y.; Aaron Pinkhasov, M.D., chairman, department of behavioral health, NYU Winthrop Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.; Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, news release, April 19, 2017
source: www.webmd.com


2 Comments

Experts Urge Huge Expansion of Online Therapy For Mental Illness

A “massive and growing” mental health burden across the world can only be tackled successfully with a major expansion of online psychiatric resources such as virtual clinics and web-based psychotherapies, specialists said on Tuesday.

With resources tight and the global mental health system only serving around 10 percent of patients even now, specialists speaking at the European Congress on Psychiatry (ECP) said the web is the only option for significant extra treatment capacity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week mental disorders – in particular depression – are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 percent since 2005, the WHO says, and a lack of support for mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need. [L2N1H70MW]

Michael Krausz, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a leading specialist at the World Psychiatric Association, said “E-mental health” should be a major part of the answer.

“Through a proactive approach we can create an additional virtual system of care which could build capacity, improve the quality of care and make mental health care more effective,” he told the ECP.

Web-based psychological treatments such as online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have proven effective in several conditions including depression and anxiety. Krausz said there is also potential for online CBT to be modified for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Online assessments, web-based psychotherapies,… and online research strategies will significantly change the field,” he told the congress.

Technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence can also be used in certain therapies for anxiety, and various online games and apps are being developed to support treatment of depression in children.

In another example, scientists at King’s College London have developed an avatar-based system to help treat people with schizophrenia who hear distressing voices.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland,; Editing by Stephen Powell)         Mon Apr 3, 2017


2 Comments

Trauma Symptoms, Causes and Effects

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. In a case such as this, help may be needed to treat the stress and dysfunction caused by the traumatic event and to restore the individual to a state of emotional well-being.

What Are the Main Sources of Trauma?

Trauma can be caused by an overwhelmingly negative event that causes a lasting impact on the victim’s mental and emotional stability. While many sources of trauma are physically violent in nature, others are psychological. Some common sources of trauma include:

  • Rape
  • Domestic violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Severe illness or injury
  • The death of a loved one
  • Witnessing an act of violence

Trauma is often but not always associated with being present at the site of a trauma-inducing event. It is also possible to sustain trauma after witnessing something from a distance. Young children are especially vulnerable to trauma and should be psychologically examined after a traumatic event has occurred to ensure their emotional well-being.

What Are the Signs of a Person Suffering from Trauma?

While the causes and symptoms of trauma are various, there are some basic signs of trauma that you can look out for. People who have endured traumatic events will often appear shaken and disoriented. They may not respond to conversation as they normally would and will often appear withdrawn or not present even when speaking.

Another telltale sign of a trauma victim is anxiety. Anxiety due to trauma can manifest in problems such as night terrors, edginess, irritability, poor concentration and mood swings. While these symptoms of trauma are common, they are not exhaustive. Individuals respond to trauma in different ways. Sometimes trauma is virtually unnoticeable even to the victim’s closest friends and family. These cases illustrate the importance of talking to someone after a traumatic event has occurred, even if they show no initial signs of disturbance. Trauma can manifest days, months or even years after the actual event.

Emotional Symptoms of Trauma

Emotion is one of the most common ways in which trauma manifests. Some common emotional symptoms of trauma include denial, anger, sadness and emotional outbursts. Victim of trauma may redirect the overwhelming emotions they experience toward other sources, such as friends or family members. This is one of the reasons why trauma is difficult for loved ones as well. It is hard to help someone who pushes you away, but understanding the emotional symptoms that come after a traumatic event can help ease the process.

Physical Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma often manifests physically as well as emotionally. Some common physical signs of trauma include paleness, lethargy, fatigue, poor concentration and a racing heartbeat. The victim may have anxiety or panic attacks and be unable to cope in certain circumstances. The physical symptoms of trauma can be as real and alarming as those of physical injury or illness, and care should be taken to manage stress levels after a traumatic event.

 

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Trauma

All effects of trauma can take place either over a short period of time or over the course of weeks or even years. Any effects of trauma should be addressed immediately to prevent permanence. The sooner the trauma is addressed, the better chance a victim has of recovering successfully and fully.

Short-term and long-term effects of trauma can be similar, but long-term effects are generally more severe. Short-term mood changes are fairly normal after trauma, but if the shifts in mood last for longer than a few weeks, a long-term effect can occur.

Trauma Medication: Drug Options

While trauma, unlike some other mental disorders, is induced by an event or experience, it can be treated through the use of certain medications. Not all trauma requires medication, but it can be a useful tool in treating the symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety and depression. It is important to work with a healthcare professional to determine whether medication is necessary.

Trauma Drugs: Possible Options

Drug options will depend on the individual’s psychological and medical history as well as the severity of the symptoms. If depression is severe and felt over an extended period of time, it may be treated with common antidepressant drugs. Clinical depression is defined as any depressive episode lasting longer than three months. Many trauma victims fall under the category of anxiety sufferers who are eligible for anti-anxiety medication.

Medication Side Effects

One of the considerations in whether or not to medicate for the symptoms of trauma is the presence of medication side effects. All medications have side effects, and the severity varies widely depending on drug class and individual body chemistry. Some side effects are more manageable than others, and potential negative side effects should always be compared to the potential benefit to the patient.

Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for victims of trauma to turn to drugs as a means of self-medicating and coping with the effects of trauma. Government studies estimate that 25 percent of people experience trauma before the age of 16, and those individuals are much more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Medication Overdose

Medication overdose occurs when someone ingests a significant enough amount of medication to cause physical harm. Overdose often occurs in conjunction with substance abuse, but it may be accidental and occur under regular circumstances. Any instance of overdose should be taken seriously, and professional help should be sought to ensure that an overdose does not reoccur and to determine if the cause is substance abuse.

Depression and Trauma

Depression and trauma have high comorbidity rates, and feelings of despair, malaise and sadness can last longer than a few days or even weeks. When a trauma occurs, post-traumatic stress disorder often occurs. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that depression is between three to five times more likely to occur in trauma victims who develop PTSD than in the general population.

Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Trauma

When the symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety become too much to cope with through normal means, many victims of trauma turn to substance abuse. As mentioned, victims are much more likely to develop addictions than other members of the general population. It is essential for the loved ones of a trauma victim to look out for the symptoms of addiction after trauma, even if the addiction is the only outward sign of PTSD.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin