A round-up from Breast Milk to Cinnamon to Mental Health

Healthy prevention





Breast milk is risky for adults, study warns

  • BMJ 18th June 2015

A recent craze for adults to consume human breast milk that they buy online from websites claiming benefits has no scientific basis and may pose serious health risks, UK and US experts have warned after reviewing evidence.

“Human milk consumption by adults purchasing milk online is ill advised,” said the experts, led by Sarah Steele, from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.1 “Health professionals and regulators both must be aware of this growing trend and issue public guidance against the purchasing of human milk from internet sources for adult as well as infant feeding,” the group warned.

Component of cinnamon could prevent colorectal cancer

Cinnamon components have been associated with health benefits in the past, but a new US study published in “Cancer Prevention Research” now indicates that the component cinnamaldehyde may be a potent inhibitor of colorectal cancer.

In their study, the researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson found that cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavor and smell, protected the mice against colorectal cancer. In particular, the animals’ cells had acquired the ability to protect themselves against exposure to a carcinogen through detoxification and repair.

“Given cinnamon’s important status as the third-most-consumed spice in the world, there’s relatively little research on its potential health benefits,” said study author Georg Wondrak. “If we can ascertain the positive effects of cinnamon, we would like to leverage this opportunity to potentially improve the health of people around the globe.” The next step in the research is to test whether cinnamon, as opposed to cinnamaldehyde, prevents cancer using this same cancer model.

Preventive interventions have highest impact on healthy people

Preventive interventions among healthy people save more lives than treating people who had already developed heart disease. This is the result of a Swedish study published in “PLOS One”. In Sweden, three quarters of the decline in mortality from coronary heart disease can be attributed to changes in risk factors among the healthy population.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg analysed data on coronary deaths in Sweden from 1986 to 2002. During this period, mortality from coronary heart disease decreased by 53 per cent in men and by 52 per cent in women. They analysed to what extent this could be ascribed to primary prevention – interventions against risk factors in healthy people – or secondary prevention – the treatment of people already diagnosed with the disease.

The scientists found that 75 per cent of the decline was due to primary prevention. Most of this improvement was based on changes in three risk factors: cholesterol levels, blood pressure and smoking. Lower cholesterol levels accounted for 54 per cent of the decline in mortality among the entire population and 16 per cent among people with heart disease. Lower blood pressure was responsible for a 17-per cent reduction in the general population and one per cent in those already ill. Quitting smoking accounted for seven per cent of the decline in mortality.

People older than 55 benefitted most from the preventative measures. The effect was more pronounced in men.

95 per cent of the world’s population has health problems

Having no health issues is apparently a rare occurrence. According to an international study, 95 per cent of the world’s population has at least one health problem; every third person even suffers from more than five conditions. The data was published in “The Lancet”.

For the Global Burden of Disease Study, a team led by Theo Vos from the University of Washington (Seattle) analysed sources of information on health problems from the past 23 years (1990 until 2013). The statistics ranged from serious diseases to milder conditions. As expected, health issues in industrial countries differed from those in developing countries.

In 2013, musculoskeletal disorders (back pain, neck pain, arthritis) were among the most common ailments and accounted for almost half of the health burden worldwide. Over the course of the study period, the number of years lived with disability increased from 530 to 760 million years. The proportion of people having health problems increased from one fifth to one third of the world’s population.

In most industrial countries, lower back pain, followed by injuries from falls, neck pain, chronic bronchitis and depression were the most common conditions. These were followed by disorders such as hearing loss, migraine, anxiety disorders, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. In central Europe, falls contributed a disproportionate amount to the health burden. In eleven out of 13 countries, they constituted the second leading cause of disability.

In low-income countries, other problems are prevalent. Disability from wars is the leading contributor to poor health in Cambodia, Nicaragua and Ruanda, anxiety disorders are common in Caribbean nations, and diabetes is the third biggest contributor to disability in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela. In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is the key driver of the increasing health burden.

One tenth of the world’s population is affected by eight causes of chronic disorders: cavities (2.4 billion people), tension-type headaches (1.6 billion) and iron-deficiency anaemia (1.2 billion). These are followed by the hereditary disease, favism (G6PD deficiency) with 1.18 billion sufferers, age-related hearing loss (1.23 billion), genital herpes (1.12 billion), migraine (850 million) and ascariasis (800 million).


The Growing Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health — and the Best Foods for It

Korin Miller‎ June‎ ‎11‎, ‎201

Load your diet with the nutrients listed below, which are particularly helpful for boosting mental health. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s a no-brainer: Eating a balanced diet helps you to look and feel good. And now researchers say that eating well may even help fight depression.

A new scientific review published in the journal the Lancet Psychiatry that involved 18 researchers from around the world stresses the role that good nutrition plays in mental health.

“Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality [and potential nutritional deficiencies] and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies,” researchers said in the review.

And we’re seeing real-life proof of the relationship between food and a better psychiatric outcome: A study published in 2013 in the journal Neurocase  followed two women with bipolar disorder over two years. The women were put on a ketogenetic diet (high fat, moderate protein, low carb), and their moods stabilized better than they did with medication alone.

But the link between diet and the risk of developing depression isn’t the same for everyone. “If your diet is deficient in some nutrients, it can have many effects on the brain,” study co-author David Mischoulon, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a co-author of the Lancet study, tells Yahoo Health. “It can be subtle in some people and may result in psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and so forth in others.”

Mischoulon and his team identified specific nutrients that are particularly helpful with boosting mental health, pointing out that many are often found in the Mediterranean diet.

Here are the foods in which those particular nutrients are often found:

The nutrient: Omega-3 fatty acids Best sources: Fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds

These foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to improve brain health. “We can’t say with 100 percent confidence that deficiencies in omega-3s cause depression, but there seems to be a greater risk that you will become depressed if you’re omega-3 deficient,” says Mischoulon.

Registered dietitian-nutritionist Karen Ansel, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life, recommends eating at least two servings of salmon, oysters, or sardines a week to get optimal omega-3 intake, adding that you can also eat more frequent servings of chia and flax seeds, walnuts, and canola oil to reap the benefits.

The nutrient: Complete proteins  Best sources: Eggs, poultry, and soy

Complete proteins contain the essential amino acids that are vital to keep your body functioning properly. “That includes mood regulation,” says certified dietitian-nutritionist Jessica Cording. People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet should combine foods to get more of these amino acids, such as eating rice and beans, or peanut butter and bread.

The nutrient: Folate Best sources: Lentils, chickpeas, and spinach

These foods are rich in folate, which produces mood-balancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. “In fact, many people who struggle with depression have low folate levels in their blood,” says Ansel. Magnesium, which is also found in spinach, has been linked to mood regulation as well, study researchers found.

The nutrient: Vitamin D Best source: Mushrooms

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, Ansel says, and it can be found in the edible fungi. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources, so Ansel recommends that people have their blood tested to make sure they’re not deficient. If they are, a supplement can help.

The Nutrient: Zinc Best source: Pumpkin seeds

The zinc found in pumpkin seeds is “really important for immune function and mood regulation,” says Cording, adding that oysters are also especially high in zinc.

The nutrient: Iron  Best source: Red meat

Red meat contains the most highly absorbable iron that your body can use, Cording says, and researchers flagged the mineral as a depression battler. If you’re a vegetarian, you can also get iron from nuts, beans, and dark leafy greens, Cording says.

While the new findings are important, New York City psychologist Isaiah Pickens, PhD, stresses that good nutrition alone won’t cure a person who is suffering from depression.

“Even with all this new information, it’s important to keep therapy in mind,” he tells Yahoo Health. “Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy helps people start to shift the way they view the world around them; nutrition can play a role in that.”

Mischoulon notes that more research about the role of nutrition in mental health is needed, adding, “If we can identify a stronger link between some of these nutrients and mental illness, it will give us a framework for making specific recommendations of what people should include in their diet and how much.”Healthy prevention

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