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Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

Fighting Cancer by the Plateful

No single food can prevent cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference. At mealtimes, strike a balance of at least two-thirds plant-based foods and no more than one-third animal protein. This “New American Plate” is an important cancer fighting tool, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Check out better and worse choices for your plate.

Fighting Cancer With Color

Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients — and the more color, the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases the risk for multiple cancers, including colon, esophagus, and kidney cancers. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables.

The Cancer-Fighting Breakfast

Naturally occurring folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast.  You can find it in abundance on the breakfast table. Fortified breakfast cereals and whole wheat products are good sources of folate. So are orange juice, melons, and strawberries.

More Folate-Rich Foods

Other good sources of folate are asparagus and eggs. You can also find it in beans, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. The best way to get folate is not from a pill, but by eating enough fruits, vegetables, and enriched grain products. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should take a supplement to make sure they get enough folic acid to help prevent certain birth defects.

Pass Up the Deli Counter

An occasional Reuben sandwich or hot dog at the ballpark isn’t going to hurt you. But cutting back on processed meats like bologna, ham, and hot dogs will help lower your risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. Also, eating meats that have been preserved by smoking or with salt raises your exposure to chemicals that can potentially cause cancer.

Cancer-Fighting Tomatoes

Whether it’s the lycopene — the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color — or something else isn’t clear. But some studies have linked eating tomatoes to reduced risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Studies also suggest that processed tomato products such as juice, sauce, or paste increase the cancer-fighting potential.

Tea’s Anticancer Potential

Even though the evidence is still spotty, tea, especially green tea, may be a strong cancer fighter. In laboratory studies, green tea has slowed or prevented the development of cancer in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells. It also had a similar effect in lung tissue and skin. And in some longer term studies, tea was associated with lower risks for bladder, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. But more research in humans is needed before tea can be recommended as a cancer fighter.

grapes

Grapes and Cancer

Grapes and grape juice, especially purple and red grapes, contain resveratrol. Resveratrol has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, it has prevented the kind of damage that can trigger the cancer process in cells. There is not enough evidence to say that eating grapes or drinking grape juice or wine (or taking supplements) can prevent or treat cancer.

Limit Alcohol to Lower Cancer Risk

Cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast are all linked with drinking alcohol. Alcohol may also raise the risk for cancer of the colon and rectum. The American Cancer Society recommends against drinking alcohol, but if you do, limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink a day if you are a woman. Women at higher risk for breast cancer may want to talk with a doctor about what amount of alcohol, if any, is safe based on their personal risk factors.

Water and Other Fluids Can Protect

Water not only quenches your thirst, but it may protect you against bladder cancer. The lower risk comes from water diluting concentrations of potential cancer-causing agents in the bladder. Also, drinking more fluids causes you to urinate more frequently. That lessens the amount of time those agents stay in contact with the bladder lining.

The Mighty Bean

Beans are so good for you, it’s no surprise they may help fight cancer, too. They contain several potent phytochemicals that may protect the body’s cells against damage that can lead to cancer. In the lab these substances slowed tumor growth and prevented tumors from releasing substances that damage nearby cells.

The Cabbage Family vs. Cancer

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale. These members of the cabbage family make an excellent stir fry and can really liven up a salad. But most importantly, components in these vegetables may help your body defend against cancers such as colon, breast, lung, and cervix. Lab research has been promising, but human studies have had mixed results.

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Dark green leafy vegetables such as mustard greens, lettuce, kale, chicory, spinach, and chard have an abundance of fiber, folate, and carotenoids. These nutrients may help protect against cancer of the mouth, larynx, pancreas, lung, skin, and stomach.

Protection From an Exotic Spice

Curcumin is the main ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric and a potential cancer fighter. Lab studies show it can suppress the transformation, proliferation, and invasion of cancerous cells for a wide array of cancers. Research in humans is ongoing.

Cooking Methods Matter

How you cook meat can make a difference in how big a cancer risk it poses. Frying, grilling, and broiling meats at very high temperatures causes chemicals to form that may increase cancer risk. Other cooking methods such as stewing, braising, or steaming appear to produce fewer of those chemicals. And when you do stew the meat, remember to add plenty of healthy vegetables.

A Berry Medley With a Punch

Strawberries and raspberries have a phytochemical called ellagic acid. This powerful antioxidant may actually fight cancer in several ways at once, including deactivating certain cancer causing substances and slowing the growth of cancer cells. There is not, though, enough proof yet to say it can fight cancer in humans.

Blueberries for Health

The potent antioxidants in blueberries may have wide value in supporting our health, starting with cancer. Antioxidants may help fight cancer by ridding the body of free radicals before they can do their damage to cells. But more research is needed. Try topping oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, even salad with blueberries to boost your intake of these healthful berries.

Pass on the Sugar

Sugar may not cause cancer directly. But it may displace other nutrient-rich foods that help protect against cancer. And it increases calorie counts, which contributes to overweight and obesity. Excess weight is also a cancer risk. Fruit offers a sweet alternative in a vitamin-rich package.

Don’t Rely on Supplements

Vitamins may help protect against cancer. But that’s when you get them naturally from food. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research emphasize that getting cancer-fighting nutrients from foods like nuts, fruits, and green leafy vegetables is vastly superior to getting them from supplements. Eating a healthy diet is best.

REFERENCES:
American Cancer Society
American Institute for Cancer Research
Medical News Today
Michaud, D. The New England Journal of Medicine, May 6, 1999.
The Ohio State University Extension Service

 Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on April 24, 2022

source: www.webmd.com


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Study finds folic acid treatment is associated with decreased risk of suicide attempts

The common, inexpensive supplement was linked with a 44% reduction in suicide attempts and self-harm.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the US, with more than 45,000 people dying by suicide in 2020. Experts recommend many strategies and treatments to decrease the risk of suicide, including psychotherapy, peer support, economic support, and medications like antidepressants. Few if any would be likely to put folic acid supplements on that list, but a recent study done at the University of Chicago may change that.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on September 28th, used data from the health insurance claims of 866,586 patients and looked at the relationship between folic acid treatment and suicide attempts over a two-year period. They found that patients who filled prescriptions for folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, experienced a 44% reduction in suicidal events (suicide attempts and intentional self-harm). Robert Gibbons, PhD, the Blum-Riese Professor of Biostatistics and Medicine at the University of Chicago, the lead author of the study, is hopeful that these findings could improve suicide prevention efforts, especially because of how accessible folic acid is.

“There are no real side effects, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, you can get it without a prescription,” Gibbons said. “This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.”

Gibbons initially became interested in folic acid in the context of suicide because of a previous study in which his group looked for relationships between risk of attempting suicide and 922 different prescribed drugs. The study simultaneously screened each drug for associations with increases and decreases in suicide attempts. Surprisingly, folic acid was associated with a decreased risk of suicide attempt, along with drugs expected to be associated with risk of suicide, like antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics.

This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.

Robert Gibbons, PhD

One of the challenges of this earlier study was to analyze the effects of many drugs in a large-scale data set, which is difficult. Many people take more than one drug, and drugs can have different effects when taken together than when taken alone. It can also be difficult to get meaningful results from studies like these that look for relationships in large data sets because of confounding factors, which can cause two variables in a study, like suicide and a drug, to seem to have a direct causal relationship with each other. Sometimes, these are actually both related to a confounding factor, such as socioeconomic status or health-conscious attitudes, or because they are prescribed for a condition that is associated with suicide (e.g. depression). But Gibbons and his group were able to partially eliminate these complications by comparing subjects to themselves before and after being prescribed a drug, instead of comparing subjects who did and did not take the drug to one another.

In fact, they initially thought folic acid had only shown up in their study because of a simple explanation, but that turned out not to be the case. “When we first saw this result, we thought it was pregnancy. Pregnant women take folic acid, and pregnant women tend to have a low suicide rate, so it’s just a false association. So, we just did a quick analysis to restrict it to men. But we saw exactly the same effect in men,” Gibbons said.

To investigate and further confirm the relationship between folic acid and suicide risk, Gibbons and his co-authors did this new study and focused specifically on folic acid, and accounted for many possible confounding factors, including age, sex, mental health diagnoses, other central nervous system drugs, conditions that affect folic acid metabolism, and more. Even after adjusting for all these factors, filling a prescription for folic acid was still associated with a decreased risk of attempting suicide.

They even found that the longer a person took folic acid, the lower their risk of suicide attempt tended to be. Each month of being prescribed folic acid was associated with an additional 5% decrease in risk of suicide attempt during the 24-month follow-up period of their study.

It also occurred to the authors that maybe people who take vitamin supplements in general want to improve their health and would thus be less likely to attempt suicide. To address this possibility, they did a similar analysis with another supplement, vitamin B12, as a negative control. But unlike folic acid, there didn’t seem to be any relationship between vitamin B12 and risk of suicide.

Although Gibbons and his co-authors were careful to adjust for confounding factors, they cannot yet say for sure whether the relationship between folic acid and suicidal events is causal; that is, they don’t yet know if taking folic acid will directly cause a person’s risk of suicide to become lower. To know for sure, the authors are following up this study with a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether folic acid directly lowers the risk of suicidal events, including ideation, attempts and completion. This will involve randomly splitting subjects into two groups, giving a placebo to one group and folic acid to the other and comparing the rate of suicidal events over time.

If their findings are confirmed in the new research, folic acid would be a safe, inexpensive, and widely available suicide prevention strategy, and potentially help save thousands of lives.

September 28, 2022

By Lily Burton
PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

source: https://biologicalsciences.uchicago.edu

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Which Foods Boost the Immune System?

Can certain foods boost the immune system? We look at what to eat to prevent illnesses and stay well

Can foods boost the immune system? If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you’re not alone. When it comes to preventing infections, we roughly know the drill. Wash your hands thoroughly. Sanitize surfaces. Stay home if you’re not feeling well. But many of us remain unsure as to what to eat to prevent our bodies from constantly getting ill.

It’s easy to fall prey to marketing gimmicks deployed by food brands. After all, it’s comforting to think that there is a single superfood or supplement out there that can supercharge our immunity and solve all of our health problems. But in reality, it’s way more complicated than that.

It’s definitely true that certain vitamins can provide a boost to our immune system. But at the same time, our bodies are complex machines with sophisticated needs. Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet may be much more beneficial to our health than popping vitamin supplements. So if you’re interested to know whether foods can actually boost the immune system, keep reading. Here, we’ll discuss what and how to eat in order to keep yourself fit and healthy.

WHICH FOODS BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

Fruits

Fruits are one of the most nutrient-dense food groups. Packed with vitamins, minerals and many different biologically active compounds, they can provide a great boost to your immune defenses. Every type of fruit has something to offer your health and wellbeing. To get the most benefit, make sure to include a whole rainbow of plants in your diet.

Having said this, certain fruits may have stronger immunoprotective properties than others. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes, are a perfect example of foods that can boost the immune system. They’re widely known to be one of the best sources of vitamin C, a nutrient routinely used to treat viral and bacterial infections. But that’s not the only compound that makes them so effective. Citrus fruits are also rich in flavonoids, particularly hesperidin. Hesperidin is a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation and respiratory viruses. According to an article in Frontiers of Immunology, regular consumption of citrus fruit juices can increase the number of infection-fighting white blood cells and decrease the levels of inflammatory markers in the body.

Another family of fruit that’s been shown to promote a healthier immune system is berries. Multiple studies have shown that berries contain antioxidant, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.

Vegetables

If you want to boost your immune system, one of the best ways is to include more vegetables in your diet. Similarly to fruits, this food group provides a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They’re also a great source of fiber and prebiotics – compounds that feed the good bacteria living in our gut. And keeping our gut health in check will in turn have a beneficial impact on our immune responses. To maximize your chances of staying free from infection, include many different types of vegetables in your diet.

Red bell and chili peppers are a great source of vitamin C, almost on par with citrus fruits. They also contain an alkaloid called capsaicin. According to a review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, capsaicin possesses strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and as such, has the potential clinical value for pain relief, cancer prevention and weight loss.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, can also contribute to a stronger immune system. They contain high levels of vitamin C and E, as well as compounds called glucosinolates. As described in the Molecules journal, glucosinolates have been shown to be protective against many different types of cancer, including breast, brain, blood, bone, colon, gastric, liver, lung, oral, pancreatic and prostate.

Broccoli is another great example of a food that can boost your immune system. Apart from containing many vitamins, polyphenols and glucosinolates, it’s also a great source of substances called sulforaphane and quercetin. According to a review published in Phytochemistry Reviews, sulforaphane is highly involved in detoxification and neutralization of chemical carcinogens and free radicals. Quercetin also displays powerful antioxidant, anti-allergic and antiviral properties.

Special attention should also be given to green leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce and spinach. Spinach is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables. Multiple studies have demonstrated its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, and cholesterol-lowering abilities. It provides a solid dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including a carotenoid called lutein. As suggested in a review in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, lutein has been shown to stimulate the production of antibodies and fight bacterial infections.

Mushrooms

There’s been a growing interest in the immune-strengthening properties of mushrooms. This food group provides a good deal of selenium and B vitamins, both of which have an important role in our immune health. Furthermore, mushrooms contain a range of highly specific immunomodulatory and anti-cancer proteins, as described in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

Many types of mushrooms are beneficial to our health, but recently the attention has been directed particularly at shiitake mushrooms. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, regular consumption of shiitake significantly improves white blood cell and antibody production in the body.

Fermented foods

Fermented food and drink has a long history. They were among the first processed food products consumed by humans – and for many good reasons. The fermentation process improves the shelf life, safety and flavor of foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi. It also enhances their nutritional properties.

Many fermented foods contain strains of beneficial live bacteria, often referred to as probiotics. Probiotics can stimulate immune system function through enhancing natural killer cell toxicity, regulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increasing white blood cell count, according to a study in the Food Control journal.

Seafood

When it comes to foods that boost the immune system, seafood may not be the first thing to cross your mind. But this food group has a lot to offer. Oily fish, for example, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, melatonin, tryptophan and polyamines. According to a review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, regular fish consumption can lead to better gut health and a reduced risk of developing inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Shellfish – including shrimp, lobsters, oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, crabs, krill and snails – also contain significant quantities of immune-stimulating bioactive peptides, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In fact, oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, which is linked to immune health.

Spices and condiments are great for increasing the flavor of dishes, but that’s not the only thing they’re useful for.

Garlic is a great example of a food that can boost the immune system. According to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition, garlic appears to stimulate the production and regulate the functioning of white blood cells, cytokines and immunoglobulins. Regular consumption can contribute to the treatment and prevention of respiratory infections, gastric ulcer, and even cancer.

Garlic

Ginger is another example. According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, ginger has a strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and anticancer potential.

What’s more, black pepper may also be able to boost the immune system. Due to its antibacterial properties, it’s long been used as a food preservative. It contains a compound called piperine, which according to a review published in the Phytotherapy Research journal, displays numerous health benefits.

In the last several years, researchers have also been extensively studying the immunomodulatory properties of turmeric. Recent studies have demonstrated that curcumin – the main active ingredient of turmeric – shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-regulatory properties and can reduce the risk of several types of cancers.

HOW TO INTEGRATE IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS INTO A BALANCED DIET

Many foods have the ability to boost the immune system, but how can you make sure you’re including them in your diet?

Firstly, make sure to focus on eating wholefoods and cooking from scratch. Also, try to avoid highly processed foods – items such as packaged bread, microwave meals and breakfast cereals may appear healthy, but they tend to be largely devoid of immune-supporting nutrients. If you feel peckish, try to snack on citrus fruit and berries. When it comes to larger meals, try to add a solid portion of vegetables, mushrooms, fish, shellfish and fermented foods to your plate. Experiment with spices and condiments too.

It’s also good to make sure that your cooking processes don’t destroy immune-boosting nutrients. For example, fruits and vegetables are sensitive to heat, so don’t overcook them. Instead, stick to steaming and gentle processing. According to an article published in Food Science and Biotechnology, prolonged boiling, frying and baking may result in reduced levels of vitamin C, A, D, E and K, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. In fact, broccoli may lose up to 50% or more of its vitamin C when boiled.

If you’re not a fan of the taste of turmeric or mushrooms, consider dietary supplements. Many brands offer good quality extracts made from immune-boosting foods. It’s also relatively easy to top up on probiotics in the form of tablets or capsules – for best results, look for quality products with multiple different bacteria strains. If you are thinking of changing your supplement routine, however, it’s best to consult your doctor first.

OTHER WAYS TO BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Increase your physical activity levels

There’s no doubt that being more active is one of the best things you can do for your physical health and mental wellbeing. It’s also a great way to boost your immune system. According to an article published in the Nutrition journal, exercise intensity and duration are closely linked to the functioning of multiple immune system components.

Researchers from the Sports Medicine journal also pulled together the results of multiple studies and concluded that higher levels of habitual physical activity is associated with a 31% lower risk of contracting an infectious disease and a 37% reduced risk of dying from it.

Prioritize quality sleep

Maintaining good sleep hygiene can make a huge difference to your quality of life. But getting enough sleep is also an important factor in immunity. A good snooze helps to balance the levels of hormones and cytokines that are responsible for regulating the inflammatory responses in the body, as described by a study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Some animal studies have also shown that interactions between immune signaling molecules and brain neurochemicals increase significantly during infection, indicating that we tend to sleep differently when we are sick. Researchers suggested that during infection, these sleep alterations help our body to recover faster.

Keep your stress levels under control

Short bouts of stress can help us to survive dangerous situations. But when that stress becomes chronic, it can have a serious impact on our physical health.

In an article published in the Brain and Behavior journal, researchers speculate that chronic stress severely disrupts immune system signaling and increases the levels of inflammation in the body. There’s also a growing body of evidence to suggest that stress-reducing interventions have a direct impact on our susceptibility to infections. For example, multiple studies have shown that engaging in mindfulness meditation may result in decreased markers of inflammation and improved immune signaling.

By Anna Gora

www.livescience.com


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The Vitamin Deficiency Linked To Autoimmune Disorders

A vitamin that reduces autoimmune disease risk by almost one-quarter.

Vitamin D supplementation over five years is linked to lower autoimmune disease risk of 22 percent, a study reveals.

Inflammatory disorders such as thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and polymyalgia rheumatica are examples of autoimmune diseases (AD).

AD can lead to life-threatening complications and death as currently there are no cures for AD and only a few treatments seem to be effective.

However, past research has highlighted that vitamin D and omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acid supplements may benefit many patients with these conditions.

A study called ‘VITAL’ assessed 25,871 participants to see whether supplementation of vitamin D or omega-3 or a combination of these two have any impact on reducing AD rates.

Participants were divided into different groups; receiving either 2,000 IU vitamin D3 or 1,000 mg of fish oil a day or a combination of both.

The fish oil capsule contained 460 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 380 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The research team found that those who received vitamin D with fish oil or vitamin D alone were less likely to develop AD.

omega3

Dr Karen Costenbader, the study’s senior author, said:

“This is the first direct evidence we have that daily supplementation may reduce AD incidence, and what looks like more pronounced effect after two years of supplementation for vitamin D.

Now, when my patients, colleagues, or friends ask me which vitamins or supplements I’d recommend they take to reduce risk of autoimmune disease, I have new evidence-based recommendations for women age 55 years and older and men 50 years and older.

I suggest vitamin D 2000 IU a day and marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), 1000 mg a day—the doses used in VITAL.”

The results show that 5 years vitamin D supplementation reduced autoimmune disease by 22 percent in patients with AD.

Whereas supplementation of fish oil with or without vitamin D reduced the AD rate by only 15 percent.

“Autoimmune diseases are common in older adults and negatively affect health and life expectancy.

Until now, we have had no proven way of preventing them, and now, for the first time, we do.

It would be exciting if we could go on to verify the same preventive effects in younger individuals.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in BMJ (Hahn et al., 2021).

March 10, 2022    source: PsyBlog


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3 Mental Problems Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 6, 2021        source: PsyBlog

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Vitamin D Reduces the Need for Opioids in Palliative Cancer

Patients with vitamin D deficiency who received vitamin D supplements had a reduced need for pain relief and lower levels of fatigue in palliative cancer treatment, a randomized and placebo-controlled study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet shows. The study is published in the scientific journal Cancers.

Among patients with cancer in the palliative phase, vitamin D deficiency is common. Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may be associated with pain, sensitivity to infection, fatigue, depression, and lower self-rated quality of life.

A previous smaller study, which was not randomized or placebo-controlled, suggested that vitamin D supplementation could reduce opioid doses, reduce antibiotic use, and improve the quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.

244 cancer patients with palliative cancer, enrolled in ASIH, (advanced medical home care), took part in the current study in Stockholm during the years 2017-2020.

All study participants had a vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study. They received either 12 weeks of treatment with vitamin D at a relatively high dose (4000 IE/day) or a placebo.

The researchers then measured the change in opioid doses (as a measurement of pain) at 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the start of the study.

“The results showed that vitamin D treatment was well tolerated and that the vitamin D-treated patients had a significantly slower increase in opioid doses than the placebo group during the study period. In addition, they experienced less cancer-related fatigue compared to the placebo group,” says Linda Björkhem-Bergman, senior physician at Stockholms Sjukhem and associate professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Sciences, and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

On the other hand, there was no difference between the groups in terms of self-rated quality of life or antibiotic use.

“The effects were quite small, but statistically significant and may have clinical significance for patients with vitamin D deficiency who have cancer in the palliative phase. This is the first time it has been shown that vitamin D treatment for palliative cancer patients can have an effect on both opioid-sensitive pain and fatigue,” says first author of the study Maria Helde Frankling, senior physician at ASIH and postdoc at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Science and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

The study is one of the largest drug studies conducted within ASIH in Sweden. One weakness of the study is the large drop-out rate. Only 150 out of 244 patients were able to complete the 12-week study because many patients died of their cancer during the study.

The study was funded by Region Stockholm (ALF), the Swedish Cancer Society, Stockholms Sjukhems Foundation and was carried out with the support of ASIH Stockholm Södra and ASIH Stockholm Norr.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Maria Helde Frankling, Caritha Klasson, Carina Sandberg, Marie Nordström, Anna Warnqvist, Jenny Bergqvist, Peter Bergman, Linda Björkhem-Bergman. ‘Palliative-D’—Vitamin D Supplementation to Palliative Cancer Patients: A Double Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Multicenter Trial. Cancers, 2021; 13 (15): 3707 DOI: 10.3390/cancers13153707

source: ScienceDaily     August 5, 2021
 


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Feeding the Brain

Our body’s control centre needs a healthy diet

“You can’t wink your eye without nutrients being involved, never mind think, remember, learn, or sleep.” So says brain expert Aileen Burford-Mason, author of The Healthy Brain: Optimize Brain Power at Any Age. Find out more about how to feed your body’s command and control centre.

When people embark on the path to healthy eating, they’re often motivated by a desire to lose weight or to help fend off disease. It’s less common for people to embrace a wholesome diet to boost the well-being of their brain.

This is something that puzzles Toronto-based biochemist, immunologist, and cell biologist Aileen Burford-Mason. An expert in orthomolecular nutrition, she says the brain requires proper nutrition to function optimally. In fact, as the most metabolically active organ of the body, the brain uses nutrients at 10 times the rate of any other tissue or organ in the body.

Our body’s command and control centre

“Over the years, it has really astonished me how many times people have said, ‘Why would the brain need food?’” Burford-Mason says. “You can’t wink your eye without nutrients being involved, never mind think, remember, learn, or sleep. There are nutrients involved in every single function of the body. The purpose to eating is to get all the essential nutrients into us, without which we can’t function.

“Because it has such high needs for nutrition, the brain may be the first to warble when we’re short,” she adds. “It may be the first place to tell us, with anxiety, depression, not being able to sleep. There’s so much evidence now that nutrition is at the root of developing dementia. It’s a huge concern.”

Burford-Mason first became interested in the body’s nutrient needs while studying biochemistry at University College in her native Dublin, Ireland. She went on to complete a PhD in immunology in England. Having emigrated to Canada in 1988, she was formerly an assistant professor in the pathology department at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine and director of a cancer research laboratory at Toronto General Hospital. The orthomolecular nutrition consultant is now also the author of The Healthy Brain: Optimize Brain Power at Any Age (Patrick Crean Editions, 2017).

With her book, Burford-Mason wanted to distill complex, scientific information into practical steps people can take to improve the state of their grey matter. Also known as biochemical or functional nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition (which takes its name from the Greek word ortho, meaning correct) uses diet, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements to support the body’s health and healing mechanisms.

What is commonly overlooked by doctors and the public alike, she says, is that, for optimal physiological functioning, the body needs all the nutrients all the time; these compounds all interact with and affect each other.

For instance, it’s well established that people living in Canada are likely to be deficient in vitamin D. However, for the sunshine vitamin to be metabolized, the body needs magnesium.

A well-oiled machine

“It’s like the interactivity of all the components of your car,” Burford-Mason says. “It doesn’t matter whether there’s no gas in the tank or no spark plugs or a wheel is missing; with any of those, you’re going nowhere.

“Even if it’s something small, like a wheel nut missing, eventually something will go wrong; the same thing applies to nutrition. All of the nutrients are needed all the time, and the absence of one, no matter how obscure you might think it is, can compromise the way the others work.

“People have talked about exercise and brain games for brain health; all of this is important, but you can’t keep tweaking spark plugs and making sure there’s air in the tires if you’re forgetting the gas,” she says. “Nutrition has been overlooked.”

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Food for thought

Broadly speaking, the best thing people can do to enhance brain health via nutrition is to load up on vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), and fruit. These foods are abundant in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytochemicals, which are plant-based chemicals that help reduce the risk of infections and many conditions, including cancer and heart disease. “Phytochemicals can build up in the brain and protect it from damage,” she says.

You can’t have too many vegetables, legumes, and fruit, though Burford-Mason encourages variety and cautions that people who are diabetic or trying to lose weight will want to limit their intake of fruit and starchy vegetables.

Avoid sugar. “If there is one thing that is damaging to the brain and should be left out of a diet, that is sugar,” she says. “Sugar is the new smoking. We have absolutely everything to be gained from cutting back on sugar or cutting it out. The sugar we get should come from vegetables and fruit.”

Rules for brain-healthy eating

  • Choose unprocessed foods.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods such as eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Lighten the glycemic load. Limit yourself to one serving of starchy food per day, such as bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta.
  • Eat good fats, such as avocado, seafood, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), and olive and coconut oils.
  • Have protein at each meal. Sources include chicken, turkey, tuna, shrimp, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, lentils, and tofu.

Tips for picking a multivitamin

If you take nothing else on a daily basis, a multivitamin should be your first choice. “They’re the core of the nutrient regimen, because it’s a little bit of everything,” says Aileen Burford-Mason. “You’re plugging gaps. They’re a jumping-off point, not a total solution.”

  • Choose a type tailored to your gender and age group.
  • Look for the widest spectrum of trace minerals; molybdenum is a good indicator of completeness.
  • Select a multi with at least 25 mg of most of the B vitamins and 400 mcg of folic acid. An imbalance of these two (too much folic acid, not enough Bs) has been linked with memory problems in the elderly.
  • You may need to supplement magnesium and vitamin C, as their levels will likely be low in a multi.

Must-have supplements

  • vitamins C, D, E, and K
  • omega-3 fats (fish oil)
  • magnesium
  • vitamin B12

The brain’s need for B vitamins likely exceeds the recommended daily intakes, especially if you exercise vigorously or work your brain hard. Although multis contain ample folic acid, it’s rare to find one that has sufficient B12. Low levels of B12 are linked to age-related cognitive decline, and prolonged B12 deficiency has similar symptoms as vascular dementia.

Additional supplements to consider

  • L-tyrosine, for stress, anxiety, and memory improvement (recommended for adults only)
  • L-theanine, for stress, anxiety, “busy brain syndrome,” insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • melatonin, for insomnia

WRITTEN BY Gail Johnson  @YVRFitFoodie

Gail Johnson is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast journalist based in Vancouver.

www.alive.com


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How to Stay Calm and Healthy During a Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is understandably causing panic in many people. Yet, fear doesn’t help anything. So how can you remain calm—and healthy—and help others in the process? How can you be a positive emotional contagion that helps not only yourself but others feel better about the global situation?

Buying six months’ worth of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning goods, and food won’t help. Really.

Yes, it might give you a little peace of mind. I know my full pantry, refrigerator, and freezer (and large package of TP) do, indeed, provide me with a sense of security during this pandemic.

But purchasing more than what you need for a week or two, stockpiling as if the world were ending…that isn’t helpful. First, it leaves others without supplies—ones they might actually need. (Some people are out of toilet paper and just want a few rolls!) Second, the buying frenzy only adds to the emotional upheaval, panic, and overwhelm you and others feel.

So, let’s talk about what will help you stay calm and healthy during a pandemic.

Act Wisely
In North America as in most parts of the world, we are focused on taking precautions and acting wisely. We are practicing social distancing by staying home more, not gathering in large groups, and washing our hands and using hand sanitizer…a lot.

We are also doing other things. My acupuncturist closed his clinic to do a deep clean. My husband is being interviewed virtually for a gig (rather than in person). Companies have asked employees to work from home. My 96-year-old mom’s new doctor told her not to come to the office for a routine visit.

The key is to avoid potential exposure—from you or someone else, like eating out, attending large events, spending time in crowded places, or flying. Yet, you also want to live your life to the fullest extent possible.

How can you live fully while stuck at home? It’s not as hard as it seems.

Stay focused on your priorities and take action in ways that are appropriate and safe. For example, you can hunker down and write your book, shoot and share videos to promote a product, conduct virtual meetings, build the website you never have time to create, declutter, and exercise from the comfort of your home.

Or be a positive force for good. A friend of mine said she had started calling those people she knows who live alone. A neighbor of mine that goes into town daily offered to shop for those in our community who can’t or don’t want to leave their homes.

4 Ways to Stay Calm During a Pandemic

See yourself as a leader and role model. Your job is to be calm and centered amidst the chaos. That means you have to quell your own fear and panic.

Here are four ways to remain calm:

1. Limit your intake of news. I’m not saying you shouldn’t remain informed. Of course, you want to do so! But don’t watch the news incessantly.

I remember after 9/11, I watched identical CNN broadcasts for hours waiting for a new report. I have found myself doing the same in the last few days…watching or listening to the news to hear updated news about the pandemic.

Constant consumption of news just feeds your panic and fear. Watch the news only once or twice per day. In this way, you remain informed without allowing yourself to obsess all day long. I, too, have begun to limit how much I watch the news or consume information about the coronavirus via social media or the Internet.

2. Stay busy. If you have nothing to do, you will find your mind trained on fearful thoughts. Or you will seek out other panicky people on social media or television.

Focus on your agenda. What did you want to get done today? What projects could use your attention? Take action on these things so your mind and body remain busy…and calm.

Plus, being productive will make you feel better in general.

3. Increase your mental, emotional and physical self-care routines. These will provide you with a more peaceful countenance no matter what is going on around you.

Now is the time to increase or start a meditation practice. Try meditating twice daily.

Make sure you exercise daily. Exercise makes you happier and reduces stress. Plus, it helps you remain healthy. Try a quick walk outside to boost your mood.

Train your brain on the positive. What might you gain by staying home for a few weeks? How might you make being housebound a pleasant experience? What might be the outcome of a self-quarantine—for yourself and others?

4. Have faith. It’s been said that faith is more important than fear, and in the case of a pandemic, that’s true.

We know that “this, too, will pass.” So focus on a positive future, one where no one gets the coronavirus, travel bans are lifted, large gatherings are safe, and you no longer need to stay at home.

7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself During a Pandemic

Now is a great time to take a serious look at your health routines. Are you taking good care of yourself? Not only do you want to increase your level of emotional and mental health by staying calm, but you also want to improve your physical health.

To help you boost your immune system and ward off illness, here are seven common-sense things you can start doing today.

1. Wash Your Hands (and More)
You’ve heard this ad nauseam and seen all the cartoons as well, but it’s sound advice. Wash your hands for more extended periods and more often—especially after touching surfaces, shaking hands, handling any items made of plastic, glass, or cardboard. Wash your hands also after opening mail, receiving packages, or putting away groceries.

Along with hand washing comes the following advice: avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes (especially if you haven’t washed your hands first).

If you feel unwell or have a compromised immune system, consider wearing a mask, too.

2. Use Hand Sanitizer and Sanitizing Wipes
I know these can be difficult to find right now, but if you have some, use them to clean surfaces and to cleanse your hands after touching anything. Don’t forget to wipe off the plastic or cardboard boxes of food you purchase at stores or any packages your receive via mail delivery services—or wash your hands afterward.

The Internet has a host of articles on making your own hand sanitizer and wipes. So, if you can’t purchase any, make your own.

3. Sleep Enough
If you are working from home or quarantined for any reason—sick or not, sleep needs to become your priority. Actually, even if you are still working, sleep should be non-negotiable.

To boost your immune system, sleep eight hours per night…or more. Sleep helps fight off infectious diseases. In fact, there are studies that show that sleeping less than seven hours increases your chances of getting sick considerably. This is not the time to be sleeping only five or six hours per night!

4. Eat a Healthy Diet
Help your body fight off illness and stay strong by eating healthy foods rather than sweets and junk. You’d be amazed at how much difference a nutrient-rich diet makes on your immune system.

And cook healthy meals at home for the time being. Stop frequenting restaurants, salad bars, and fast-food places. Even take-out or delivery could introduce a source of infection.

5. Boost Your Immune System
If you don’t already take multi-vitamins, start doing so. I could go into a long discussion of what supplements to take, but I’m not an expert or doctor. Find a herbalist or nutritional counselor who can help you determine what supplements are best for you.

There are also a host of herbs that boost your immune system. Of course, check with your doctor before adding anything new to your diet.

Some people will claim that supplements and herbs are effective only because of their placebo effect. It doesn’t matter why they work; all that matters is that they help you stay healthy.

6. Lower Your Stress Level
The immune system reacts badly to stress. Fear and anxiety put your body into the flight-or-fight mode, which is driven by your sympathetic nervous system. This response is your body’s reaction to danger and helps you survive stressful and life-threatening situations.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “During the fight or flight response, your body is trying to prioritize, so anything it doesn’t need for immediate survival is placed on the back burner. This means that digestion, reproductive and growth hormone production, and tissue repair are all temporarily halted. Instead, your body is using all its energy on the most crucial priorities and functions.”

The article goes on to explain, “Living in a prolonged state of high alert and stress can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.” Indeed, chronic stress is known to suppress immune function and increase susceptibility to disease.

So…again…stay calm! Meditate. Pray. Exercise. Watch funny movies. Go for a walk in the woods or on the beach. Take a nap. Read a book.

Don’t watch the news or engage in conversations about the pandemic that raises your level of stress.

7. Focus on the Positive
Drop the end-of-the-world mindset. Be a positive emotional contagion. Guide conversations toward something other than the pandemic. Be happy and upbeat and help others stop feeding the negative emotional cycle.

And think positive thoughts. Feel grateful for whatever you can—the rain, the sun, your elderly parents’ safety, the paycheck you just received, the spring flowers in bloom, the call from your friend or child, the extra time to read a book, or the new opportunities coming your way.

While you are at it, stop complaining about things that are out of your control, like empty shelves at the supermarket, the kids being home from school, not being able to attend a concert or the theater, or anything else. Complaining doesn’t help you or anyone else.

You will find it easier to stay positive and grateful if you remain present. Stop focusing on the past or the future. Stay in this moment.

This, Too, Shall Pass
Finally, remember, this pandemic will pass. It may take a little while, but the coronavirus will peter out. When it does, you and I—and the entire world—will be more prepared next time, if there is a next time. And we will find that the aftermath provides new opportunities, deepened relationships, and a different view of what it means to be part of a global community.

While you wait for the situation to change, be a force for good—a positive emotional contagion that infects everyone you encounter. By staying positive, calm, and healthy, you keep those around you calm and healthy, too.

If you have helpful advice to add to this post, please share it in a comment below. And share this post with anyone you feel might benefit.

Note: It’s important to stay informed about the state of coronavirus for the health and safety of your friends, family, and co-workers. Please visit the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control websites for up-to-date information. Also, be sure to check out your local health agencies and authorities for updates about your area.

 

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pandemic

 

Staying Healthy During a Pandemic: 10 Immune-Boosting Tips

During the current coronavirus outbreak, you’re probably (very rightfully so!) concerned for your health and that of your family. The CDC has several recommendations for preventative action against coronavirus, including social distancing, hand-washing, and clean frequently touched surfaces daily.

We 100% agree with all of these recommendations, but additionally believe it’s prudent to do everything possible to boost your immune system to decrease the likelihood of getting sick (with coronavirus or any other seasonal bug, for that matter!)

Here are 10 easy ways you can help strengthen your immune system.

Eat immune-boosting foods.

​Examples include: ginger, turmeric, honey, garlic, lemon, mushrooms, and bone broth.

Take immune-boosting supplements.

​Try elderberry, zinc, vitamins A, C, and D, spirulina, and selenium.

Raise your core body temperature. Studies have found evidence that higher body temps help certain types of immune cells to work better, and thus make it better able to fight infection. Your body knows what it’s doing when you have a fever while sick! It’s thought that you can encourage the same benefits by proactively raising your body temp.

Try a sauna, steam bath, or move your body to break a sweat.

Get your veggies on: eating lots of veggies, especially leafy greens which are full of antioxidants, can help your body fight viruses and other free radicals.

​The more diverse your diet (and especially veggie intake), the better!

Take antiviral supplements. 

Some good ones include echinacea, colloidal silver, licorice root, apple cider vinegar, and probiotics.

Prioritize sleep: studies show that sleep can help build your immune system and fight infection.

Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Need some help getting a good night of rest? Check out these tips!

Get your exercise on! Exercise has many great benefits and one of those is that it builds a stronger immune system.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week – we say shoot for at least 20 minutes a day, every single day. Check out this 7-minute at-home workout that works – do it 3x for bonus points.

Ditch bad habits such as smoking and excessive drinking, as they can decrease ability to fight infection.

Reduce stress. The hormones released when you are stressed have been shown to have a negative effect on the immune system.

Try going for a walk, meditating, doing a YouTube yoga flow, or gratitude journaling.

Get some sunshine. A natural dose of vitamin D from the sun can do wonders not only for your mood but also your immune system – studies have shown that it can even decrease the length and severity of infections.

​Go outside for at least 15-20 minutes a day even if it’s just on your patio or backyard.

Have any other immune-boosting best practices? We would love to hear them! Please share them at hello@cleanfitbox.com. 

Stay healthy, friends!
March 17, 2020    by  Rene


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Vitamin Deficiencies Can Mess With Your Mental Health


There are mood-related signs you’re low on nutrients like vitamin D.
Here’s how to tell and what to do about it.

You’d be hard-pressed not to stumble on a social media #ad for vitamin packs. Trendy supplement brands like Ritual or Care/Of promise their products will help alleviate a series of vitamin deficiencies, which companies warn can cause health issues ― including problems with your mental health.

We know we need proper nutrients in order to function properly. But just how much of an impact do they really have on our minds?

“Optimal mental health requires adequate availability and absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino and fatty acids as essential building blocks for our brain cells and neurotransmitters,” said Dr. Jennifer Kraker, a New York-based psychiatrist who specializes in nutrition and mental health. “When our nutritional biochemistry is imbalanced, our mental health is affected.”

For most people, a healthy diet will take care of that. For others, a doctor may need to prescribe a vitamin supplement if the body doesn’t metabolize nutrients properly. (And they don’t have to come in an aesthetically pleasing glass bottle or Instagram-worthy capsule. Drug store brands will do just fine.)

“Because we’re all unique, one person may tolerate lower levels of a certain nutrient (such as vitamin D) very well, and another might not,” Kraker said. “Rinse and repeat for most all micronutrients.”

Nutritional deficiencies can tinker with your mental health on a sliding scale ― everything from mild to disruptive symptoms, depending on the person. Research has found certain deficiencies can contribute to anxiety and depression, as well as exacerbate symptoms in people with specific mental health disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder. A deficiency can also just slightly impact your emotional well-being.

“More commonly, nutrition-related issues are experienced as symptoms like reduced ability to manage stress, increased anxiety or edginess, lower mood, and poorer concentration or focus,” said Nicole Beurkens, licensed psychologist and board-certified nutrition specialist at Horizons Developmental Resource Center in Caledonia, Michigan.

Of course, mental health is complex and nutrients may be a minimal part of the puzzle (or sometimes they don’t influence it at all). That said, there are some cases where they play a role. There’s plenty that scientists are still working to discover and debunk about the food-mood connection and the impact that specific deficiencies can have on our mind, but here are some of the key nutritional players they’ve managed to suss out so far.

Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin influences the expression of over 1,000 genes that regulate mood, sleep, as well as the protection and synthesis of neurons (the cells in our brain and nervous system that run the show).

There are vitamin D receptors throughout the body and brain, some of which are located in regions that influence mood, alertness, motivation, memory and pleasure.

“Vitamin D also regulates genes that make the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can include depression, anxiety, irritability and fatigue.

Vitamin B12
Besides helping with the formation of those ever-important neurons mentioned above, vitamin B12 plays a role in regulating mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, as well as stress hormones like norepinephrine.

“It also functions on a molecular level to aid in the detoxification of homocysteine, a neurotoxin for the brain that’s associated with depression,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include fatigue, brain fog, numbness and tingling, shortness of breath and more.

Vitamin B6

“Vitamin B6 concentrations are roughly 100 times higher in the brain than the body as a whole, implying importance in mental health function,” Kraker said. It’s a co-factor in making the brain’s feel-good chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.

And, like B12, vitamin B6 helps the body keep homocysteine levels in check, which helps with mood issues, Kraker said. People with kidney disease or malabsorption problems are the ones who are most likely to be deficient in B6.

Magnesium
In mental health, magnesium helps to regulate the stress response and is considered to be one of nature’s mood stabilizers, Kraker said.

It’s pretty uncommon to be deficient in magnesium, but it does happen. Symptoms that might indicate you’re low can include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and mood changes.

Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral with many important roles in brain function, Kraker said. It also helps vitamin B6 do the best job possible of making feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

Most people naturally get enough zinc through their diets. A deficiency can occur in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, vegetarians and people with gastrointestinal disease. Symptoms can include loss of appetite or taste, loss of temper, depression and learning difficulties.

Iron
Besides regulating oxygen delivery throughout the body and brain, iron helps to create and balance mood-regulating chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

“Those most at risk for an iron deficiency are fertile women, the elderly, and vegans who aren’t particularly mindful about how to eat to prevent an iron deficiency,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of an iron deficiency can include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and dizziness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s contain components called DHA and EPA, both of which play an important role in brain function: “They ward off inflammation, maintain brain cell health, and improve communication between brain cells,” Kraker said. They can also help with mood.

Symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency can include mood issues, often accompanied by dry skin, fatigue, allergies and chronic thirst.

How To Figure Out If You Have A Deficiency — And What To Do About It
Before we go any further, one important note we want to reiterate: This all isn’t to say overhauling your diet or taking vitamin supplements on your own will completely cure any mood-related symptoms. Other interventions like talk therapy and medication are the best-known ways to improve mental health issues.

You should look at nutrition as “an important adjunctive treatment to maintain health and prevent relapse, or use lower doses of pharmaceutical interventions,” Kraker said.

There are several physical signs that can clue you into whether there’s a potential deficiency brewing, Beurkens said. These can include frequent headaches, GI symptoms (think: constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating), weak nails, dry skin or eczema, hair loss and many others.

“High stress levels also often accompany … symptoms and can negatively impact nutrient levels,” Beurkens added.

Similarly, adjusting to a new set of life stressors can impact how you take care of yourself and deplete nutrient stores in the process ― say, a recent move has you eating differently, a new job has upended your go-to lunch habits, or a newly diagnosed autoimmune condition has you adjusting to a whole new way of functioning.

Getting a comprehensive workup of your nutritional status can be helpful in getting to the root cause of what’s going on.

“Physical and mental health are interconnected, so nutrition should always be a part of the discussion when mental health symptoms are raised as a concern,” Beurkens said. “Unfortunately, this rarely happens.”

Start by opening up to your physician or psychiatrist about your suspicions: Share with them the symptoms you’re experiencing, a highlight reel of what your eating habits are like, and anything else you feel might be relevant, such as relatives who have the same deficiency.

Ask your doctor to either order relevant bloodwork that’s consistent with your symptoms or refer you to someone who specializes in both mental health and nutrition. (The Institute for Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine for Mental Health, and the Walsh Research Institute all list doctors trained in this manner.)

“You know your body and your life best, so if something feels off, it probably is,” Kraker said.

With the right treatment plan ― which can include input from your doctor along with a psychologist or psychiatrist ― you’ll hopefully find a solution that works best for you.

By Krissy Brady     02/17/2020

 

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Magnesium May Improve Memory

Only 32% of Americans Get Recommended Daily Allowance of Magnesium, Researchers Say

Having trouble remembering where you left your keys? Forgot the name of an acquaintance?

A new study suggests that increasing your intake of magnesium, an essential mineral found in dark leafy vegetables and certain fruits, beans, and nuts, may help combat memory lapses associated with aging.

In the study, published Jan. 28 in Neuron, neuroscientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tsinghua University in Beijing found that increasing brain magnesium using a newly developed compound, magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), improves learning abilities, working memory, and short- and-long-term memory in rats. The magnesium also helped older rats perform better on a battery of learning tests.

“This study not only highlights the importance of a diet with sufficient daily magnesium, but also suggests the usefulness of magnesium-based treatments for aging-associated memory decline,” one of the study’s authors, Susumu Tonegawa, says in a news release. Tonegawa works at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

Although the experiments were conducted in rats, the results have implications for humans, the researchers say.

Half of the population of the industrialized world has a magnesium deficiency, researcher Guosong Liu says in the release. “If MgT is shown to be safe and effective in humans, these results may have a significant impact on public health.”

Liu and his colleagues at MIT developed MgT after discovering in 2004 that magnesium might enhance learning and memory. Liu is co-founder of Magceutics, a California-based company that develops drugs for the prevention and treatment of age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Magnesium for Better Memory

The researchers examined how MgT stimulates changes in synapses, the junctions between neurons that are important in transmitting nerve signals.

They found that in young and old rats, MgT increased plasticity, or strength, among synapses and promoted the density of synapses in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays important roles in spatial navigation and long-term memory.

Other experiments performed within the study found that MgT treatment boosted memory recall under partial information conditions in older rats but had no effect in young rats. Aging causes dramatic declines in the ability to recollect memories when incomplete information is provided, the authors write.

“Because [magnesium] is an essential ion for normal cellular functions and body health, many physiological functions are impaired with the reduction of body [magnesium],” they write. The researchers cite that only 32% of Americans get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.

The researchers conclude that the study provides “evidence for a possible causal relationship between high [magnesium] intake and memory enhancements in aged rats.” They also call for further studies to investigate the relationship between dietary magnesium intake, body and brain magnesium levels, and cognitive skills.

The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adults 19-30 years old is 400 milligrams/day for men and 310 milligrams/day for non-pregnant women. For adults 31 and older, it is 420 milligrams/day for men and 320 milligrams/day for non-pregnant women.

By Joanna Broder        FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES
WebMD Health News           Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD         January 27, 2010
 

 

The Best Supplements

Magnesium for Depression

A controlled study of magnesium shows clinically significant improvement.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. Years ago, I wrote about the importance of magnesium for the brain; it remains my most read blog post to this day.

We get most of our magnesium from plants (almonds, black beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate are all good sources), but it’s the bacteria in the soils that enable plants to absorb magnesium, so all sorts of environmental influences can deplete magnesium in our food, from pesticides that kill off bacteria to potassium-based fertilizers (can be taken up by plants in lieu of magnesium and calcium). Food processing, antacids, diuretics, caffeine, and alcohol can also decrease magnesium absorption. For these reasons, the modern human tends to need more magnesium and get less, leaving a lot of people chronically depleted. Blood levels remain fairly stable, because without magnesium in a narrow range, the heart can stop beating…every ICU doctor checks magnesium levels on patients pretty much every day, and repletes magnesium levels by the bag full to keep up with a patients’ needs under such intense stress as a critical illness.

Increased stress increases magnesium loss (as described here), and the environment may not readily replace it. Since magnesium is such an important mineral to the brain as a part of almost every part of the stress response, recovery, and repair, it seems self-evident to study magnesium as how it relates to brain function and common stress-related ailments such as clinical depression. Small studies have been found to be helpful for folks with fibromyalgia and major depression and type II diabetes. However, most of the studies that have been done are, admittedly, terrible.

The major flaw in most studies is they used insufficient amounts of magnesium oxide. On the face of it, magnesium oxide is about 60% elemental magnesium, which sounds pretty good. However, it is also a very stable compound, so often doesn’t disassociate into the parent compounds and give you the free magnesium you need.

Therefore, out of a 250mg tablet, you might only absorb 6mg. Magnesium malate is only 6.5% magnesium, but almost all of that is available to be absorbed. Magnesium citrate is also highly absorbable and 16% bioavailable. However, it is more likely than the other formulations to cause diarrhea. For a recent and much improved clinical trial of magnesium for depression, the researchers decided to use magnesium chloride.

The full text of the paper is free online at PLOS One. First the flaws: it was not double blinded, placebo controlled. Folks knew whether they were taking magnesium or not. However, the researchers did employ a crossover design as a control. In the first weeks of the study, half the patients took magnesium chloride (12% elemental magnesium and pretty much 100% bioavailable), and then in the second phase of the study, the first half was switched off magnesium while the other half of the patients took the supplement. The study wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small either, with 126 depressed participants. The scale used to measure depression is my personal favorite, the PHQ9, and the average score was just over 10, which corresponds to a moderate depression. Some patients were on meds, others in therapy, some in neither, but the main key is that other treatments for depression did not change in the course of the study…magnesium chloride was added.

Participants were given 2000mg (248mg of elemental magnesium) daily for 6 weeks on an immediate or delayed (until week 7, the crossover) schedule. Depression scores on average over the trial dropped by 6 points, which brought the mean from moderately depressed to mild or minimally depressed, a clinically important change. Anxiety scores also improved. Participants reported reduced muscle cramps, aches and pains, constipation, and decreased headaches during the magnesium trial (all of these are known already to improve with magnesium supplementation and are signs of magnesium depletion). When asked after the trial if they would continue magnesium, over 60% said yes. Those that didn’t complained that magnesium didn’t help or it caused diarrhea (n = 8).

The positive effect of magnesium supplementation was gone within 2 weeks of stopping the supplement, indicating a relatively quick clearance.

Important notes:

Although the association between magnesium and depression is well documented, the mechanism is unknown. However, magnesium plays a role in many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. It is a calcium antagonist and voltage-dependent blocker of the N-methyl-D-aspartate channel which regulates the flow of calcium into the neuron. In low magnesium states, high levels of calcium and glutamate may deregulate synaptic function, resulting in depression. Depression and magnesium are also both associated with systemic inflammation. The finding that those participants taking an SSRI experienced an even greater positive effect points toward magnesium’s possible role in augmenting the effect of antidepressants.

So…it would have been nice to have a blinded study. However, magnesium supplementation is both inexpensive and pretty safe. The amount of magnesium in this trial was below the recommended daily allowance of elemental magnesium, and as long as you have normal kidneys, it’s difficult to take too much (diarrhea tends to limit outrageous usage). Magnesium can interfere with some medications and vice-versa, so check my old post for that info. For depression and constipation or headaches or restless legs or fibromyalgia, it makes sense to at least try magnesium for a few weeks. Those who prefer not to supplement can be encouraged to add nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate (a palatable and healthy prescription).

In the meantime, keep an eye on PubMed, because the studies are (slowly) getting better!

Emily Deans MD         Jan 28, 2018


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2 Supplements That Prevent Heart Disease And Cancer

The most recent trial confirms that two nutrients can reduce deaths from heart attacks and cancer.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can significantly reduce heart attacks and vitamin D supplementation can significantly lower the number of deaths caused by different types of cancer.

Researchers studied 26,000 American adults in the VITAL clinical trial for five years to see if fish oil or vitamin D would definitely ward off cardiovascular disease or cancer.

The outcomes were reassuring: marine omega-3 fatty acid intake was linked to a significant drop in heart attacks.

One-and-half servings per week of dietary fish intake showed the maximum heart health benefits, but higher dietary fish intake didn’t help more.

The greatest decrease in heart attacks was seen in African-Americans.

The benefit of 1 gram of omega-3 fish oil supplementation showed a small decrease in major cardiovascular events like stroke and death from cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol intake at a dose of 2000 IU per day showed a significant decrease of death from cancer for those who took it for at least two years.

However, supplementation with vitamin D3 capsules didn’t significantly lower incidence of any type of cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, the study’s first author, said:

“The pattern of findings suggests a complex balance of benefits and risks for each intervention and points to the need for additional research to determine which individuals may be most likely to derive a net benefit from these supplements.”

Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director, said:

“With heart disease and cancer representing the most significant health threats to women, it is imperative that we continue to study the viability of options that prevent these diseases and help women survive them.”

The 1 gram omega-3 fish oil supplementation used in the VITAL clinical trial was Omacor, a prescription medicine for adults.

The capsule contains 840 milligrams marine omega-3 fatty acids, of which 465 mg is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 375 mg is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was presented at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Chicago (Manson et al., 2019).

source: PsyBlog
suppliments

2 Supplements That Double Weight Loss

Many overweight people are deficient in this essential nutrients.

A vitamin D supplement combined with calcium supplementation can help weight loss, research suggests.

People in the study who took vitamin D and calcium supplements lost more belly fat and experienced greater loss of fat mass.

One study has shown that people drinking more milk, which contains vitamin D and calcium, can double weight loss.

Up to half the world’s population may be deficient in vitamin D.

A deficiency in vitamin D could help to increase people’s appetite, research suggests.

Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.

Around half of people who are obese have a calcium deficiency.

The body cannot produce calcium, so relies on it from food intake.

Foods high in calcium include dairy products, seeds, nuts and dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale.

The study included 53 overweight or obese people.

They were split into two groups with one put on an energy-restricted diet, that included 500 calories per day less than required.

The rest were put on the same diet, but also given calcium and vitamin D supplements.

The calcium supplement was 600 mg, while the vitamin D3 supplement was 125 IU.

The results showed that people taking calcium and vitamin D together lost 6 pounds of fat, while those in the comparison group only lost 4 pounds of fat.

The study’s authors write:

“Calcium plus vitamin D3 supplementation for 12 weeks augmented body fat and visceral fat loss in very-low calcium consumers during energy restriction.”

Although the exact mechanism for how calcium and vitamin D aid weight loss is not known, the authors speculate:

“The greater decrease in fat mass observed in the calcium+D group of the current study could result from several factors attributing to calcium metabolism.

First, a calcium-rich diet is shown to increase fat oxidation, promote fat cell apoptosis, and reduce lipid absorption due to the formation of insoluble calcium-fatty acid soaps in the intestine, which are eventually excreted in the feces.

Second, high dietary calcium intake is associated with suppression of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25-(OH)2D) levels which in turn act to decrease calcium influx into the cell.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003).

The study was published in the Nutrition Journal (Zhu et al., 2019).

source: Psyblog


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Four Nutrients You Probably Need More Of

Chances are, you need to boost your intake of at least one or two nutrients. Even the most disciplined eaters can be, unknowingly, skipping out on key essentials, which can eventually drain energy and lead to health problems.

According to Health Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), conducted in 2004, many people’s diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals. (Results from the 2015 CCHS have yet to be released.)

Haphazard eating and an increased reliance on heavily processed foods can undermine your diet.

Certain eating plans can also shortchange your body of nutrients.

A low-carbohydrate diet (e.g., ketogenic, Atkins-style) can deprive you of gut-friendly fibre, vitamin C and folate, a B-vitamin that repairs DNA in cells. Gluten-free diets can lack fibre and folate, too.

Even if you do eat the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, you might need more. Aging and certain medications can interfere with nutrient absorption.

Sure, you can take a supplement to bridge nutrient gaps. And, in some cases, I recommend that you do.

Adding whole foods to your diet, though, should be your first line of defence. Along with vitamins and minerals, whole foods deliver fibre, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

Nutrients to pay attention to

Vitamin A

It’s necessary for normal vision and immune function. Yet, according to Health Canada, more than one-third of Canadians don’t consume enough.

There are two types of vitamin A in foods: retinol, ready for the body to use, and carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Foods high in retinol include beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, milk and cheese.

It’s carotenoids, though, that many people need more of. In addition to providing vitamin A, research suggests that a higher intake can help guard against heart attack, stroke and certain cancers.

Outstanding sources include sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, collards, kale, dandelion greens and cantaloupe. You’ll absorb more carotenoids if you eat your meal with a little fat.

fruits veggies

Vitamin B12

As many as 35 per cent of Canadian adults don’t consume the daily recommended 2.4 mcg of B12, a nutrient needed to make red blood cells, repair DNA and keep our nerves working properly.

B12 is found primarily in animal foods – meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Some foods are fortified with B12, including plant-based “milks” (1 mcg per cup) and soy products. Fortified nutritional yeast, sold in natural-food stores, is also high in B12.

If you’re over 50, you might be getting less B12 than you realize. The absorption of B12 from foods relies on an adequate release of stomach acid. As many as 30 per cent of older adults have atrophic gastritis, a condition that reduces the stomach’s ability to release acid.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs used to treat ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease, interfere with B12 absorption by reducing stomach acid. Metformin, a medication that controls blood sugar, also reduces B12 absorption.

Older adults, vegans and people taking PPIs and metformin long-term should take multivitamin or B-complex supplements to ensure they’re meeting daily B12 requirements.

Vitamin C

More than one-third of our diets fall short of vitamin C, used to make collagen, help the immune system work properly and enhance iron absorption from plant foods. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage.

The recommended daily intake is 75 mg (women) and 90 mg (men). (Smokers need an extra 35 mg.)
Include at least two vitamin C-rich foods in your daily diet such as red and green bell peppers (152 mg and 95 mg per ½ medium, respectively), oranges (70 mg per 1 medium), kiwifruit (64 mg each), strawberries (98 mg per cup), cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and tomato juice.

To prevent chronic disease, some experts recommend a daily intake of 200 mg, an amount you can get by eating at least 5 daily servings (2.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium

As many as 4 out of 10 Canadians consume too little magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and muscle and nerve function. That’s likely because some of the very best sources – pulses, leafy greens, bran cereal – are not everyday foods for many people.

Eating a diet high in magnesium is also tied to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and colon cancer.

Adults need 310-320 mg (women) and 400-420 mg (men) each day. Excellent sources include oat bran, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans, lentils, tofu and edamame.

People who are likely to take a proton pump inhibitor long-term should take a daily magnesium supplement (200 to 250 mg) in addition to eating magnesium-rich foods.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

November 4, 2018      Leslie Beck