Monday, May 7, 2012

Omega 3 oils prevent Alzheimer’s plaques

New research of 1,219 cognitively healthy elderly (age >65 years) has shown consumption of Omega 3 oils is associated with a reduction of plasma beta amyloid plaques (Y. Gu). The protein, plasma beta amyloid plaques, have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study reported that one gram increase of Omega 3 oils above the normal consumption was associated with a reduction of 20-30% of the plasma beta amyloid plaques.

This builds on a comprehensive list of both animal and human studies which show a reduction of Alzheimer’s with increased omega 3 consumption. According to a 2005 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services meta‑analysis that reviewed 497 studies, high EPA and DHA consumption may help ward off Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In another study of adults aged 65-94, those who ate fish at least once a week had a 60 per cent lower risk of developing the disease compared to those who never or rarely ate fish. A series of studies with biotech mice with Alzheimer disease indicated that deficiency in the omega-3 DHA hastened the development and severity of Alzheimer disease in these mice.

From these and many more studies researchers believe that a critical period of two years or more before the onset of dementia may therefore be critical for the anti-inflammatory effects of the omega-3s, a suggestion that boosts dietary guidelines to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake from dietary or supplemental sources. But don’t wait till you have the disease already as the Omega 3 oils have many, many other benefits

Recently I blogged on the benefits of Vitamin D for reducing Alzheimer’s and other work that shows Tumeric to also be effective in prevention. This calls for more Omega 3, Tumeric and more sunlight if you want to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Junk food increases depression

In the latest study (Public Health Nutrition March 2012 15 : pp 424-432) consumers of fast food were 51% more likely to develop depression compared to those who eat little or none. Even more convincing the study found a dose-response relationship. That is, the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression. The study looked at the consumption of fast food (hamburgers, sausages, pizza) and processed pastries (muffins, doughnuts, croissants) of  8,964 participants with a median follow-up of 6·2 years. In their normal conservative mode the scientists concluded that fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption may have a detrimental effect on depression risk. Not just fast food (take-aways), the study found that even eating small quantities of commercial baked goods was linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression. In an earlier study by the same authors they found a 42% increase in the risk associated with fast food

Depression is a serious and debilitating condition that can affect anyone. It is estimated that around 35% of the population will develop mild to severe depression in their lifetime. Australian Bureau of Statistic indicate that on average one in every five females and one in eight males will experience depression during their lifetime. Moreover, there are around one million of Australian adults and 160000 adolescents who live with depression each year.

Adding to the weight of this study a large number of studies have shown that particular components of the diet such as n-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins as well certain minerals supplements, can decrease the rate of depression.
Many studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids to significantly reduce depression levels. Countries where there is large fish consumption among the people tend to have a lower rate of depression than societies where fish is not a prominent staple in the diet. Western countries with a low to moderate per capita fish intake of 11-32kg had an annual prevalence of depression in the range of 3-6%.  Countries such as Japan who have a high per capita fish consumption of 68kg had a depression rate of 0.12%. The more omega-3s in your blood, the more serotonin you are likely to make and the more responsive you become to its effects. It also reduces your risk of heart attack, storke and so many other chronic illnesses.

The research consistently shows that people with either low blood levels of the B-vitamins especially folic acid are more likely to be depressed. In a study of hospitalised older people participants who received a normal hospital diet plus multivitamin and mineral supplements for six weeks found lower levels of depression regardless of the initial level of depression of the individual. The authors wrote, “Many epidemiological and case-control studies have shown associations between folate and vitamin B12 deficiency and depression. In a study of 3,500 over-65-year-olds in Chicago over an average of 7.2 years of follow-up, the researchers noted that increased intakes of vitamins from food and supplements B6 and B12 were associated with a ‘decreased likelihood of incident depression.’ For every 10-milligram increase in the intake of vitamin B6 and for every 10-microgram increase in vitamin B12, the risk of developing symptoms of depression was decreased by two percent per year.

A number of studies have found lower levels of zinc and chromium in depressed patients. In one study seven out of the ten depressed patients taking chromium showed a big improvement, versus none on the placebo. A larger study of 113 patients found that after eight weeks 65% of those on chromium had had a major improvement, compared to 33% on placebos

Unfortunately most processed foods are low in nutrients including omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and the minerals like zinc and chromium.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Prebiotics are good for inflammation in the gut

Another study ( Gopalakrishnan et al)  showed that supplementing with Galacto-oligosaccharides reduced colitis (inflammation) in test mice. Prebiotics are the foods that feed the good gut flora they are fermentable fibers that beneficially affect the host by stimulating the growth of specific microbial populations. They are commonly found in fruit, vegetables nuts and other plant foods.

Prebiotics are not well digested in the upper gut and are therefore available to be metabolised by commensal as well as probiotically supplemented bacteria residing in the lower GI tract. Studies suggest that such non‑digestible oligosaccharides may have a range of health benefits.

Plants with high levels of prebiotics are found in such foods as onion, asparagus, chicory, banana and artichoke. Studies indicate a dose of 4 g per day is sufficient to induce a prebiotic effect 
A combination of probotics and prebiotics is known as synbiotics which boost the number of beneficial bacteria and improve the colonisaion in the gut.

The gut microbiota plays an essential role in intestinal immunity. the treament with GOS lead to a significant increase in the percentage of NK cells in the spleen and a 1.5-fold increase in fecal Bifidobacterium ssp. These data suggest that GOS reduces colitis by modulating the function and trafficking of NK cells and may provide a novel therapeutic strategy for individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.