Monday, December 26, 2011

Coffee Consumption Lowers Depression by Twenty Percent in Women

Depression is a chronic and recurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, including approximately one of every five U.S. women during their lifetime. Loss of productive work hours has become a significant problem in the workplace making the development of strategies to prevent the debilitating condition a priority for research scientists.

The result of a peer-reviewed journal study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine explains that consumption of caffeinated coffee can reduce the symptoms of depression in women in a dose dependent manner. This is an important finding because coffee is a popular beverage already consumed by many. Just three to four cups of java each day may just help lift your spirits and improve feelings of melancholy.

Four Cups of Coffee Consumed Daily Found to Lower Depression Symptom by 20%
The authors of the study noted that 80% of worldwide caffeine consumption is in the form of coffee, the most commonly used CNS (central nervous system) stimulant. The research leader, Dr. Michel Lucas and his team set out to determine if the consumption of coffee or other drinks containing caffeine might be linked to depression risk. To conduct the study they gathered data on 50,737 women with an average age 63 years. It was determined that none of them had depression when the study began.

The participants were part of the Nurses' Health Study and were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire detailing their caffeine and coffee consumption over a 24 year period. The researchers determined how often they consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinated coffee, non-herbal teas, caffeinated sodas (sugared or low calorie) and all types of caffeine-free soft drinks as well as chocolate intake. For the purpose of this study, depression was defined as having a diagnosis of clinical depression and being prescribed regular antidepressants during the previous two years.

Coffee Found to Lower Depression in Women in a Dose Dependent Manner
During the course of the study analysis, 2,607 new cases of depression were recorded among the participants. From the data collected, researchers found that women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15% less likely to develop depression compared to those who drank a maximum of one cup of caffeinated coffee per week. Further they determined women who drank at least 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk than the females consuming only one cup per day.

Interestingly, the consumption of decaffeinated coffee had no impact on depression risk, an indicator that a synergistic link exists between chemical compounds in coffee and caffeine to produce the risk-lowering effect. Study authors concluded "In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee." Drinking two to four cups daily of a caffeinated coffee beverage may provide significant depression-lowering benefits in women.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vitamin B12 Increases Brain Volume and Improves Memory and Cognition

Many people are aware that vitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to a decline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blood declines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tract leading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain.

Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitive link between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark of cognitive decline and Alzheimer`s dementia. Supplementation with the biologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage and preserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and Cognitive Decline Among Elderly
The study involved 121 participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans over a period of four and a half years. Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.

MRI scans were analyzed to measure total brain volume and look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included seven measures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability and perceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semantic memory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associated with dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin B12 Levels Improve Cognitive Abilities and Can Help Prevent Stroke
Researchers determined that having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitamin B12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteine levels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk of cerebrovascular events.

Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Tangney concluded "Our findings suggest that … vitamin B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts." Vitamin B12 deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may very well be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer`s disease cases over the past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactive form of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) to regulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dietary Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Health-minded individuals are well aware that a diet high in natural fruits and vegetables equate to vibrant health and dramatically lowered risk of many chronic diseases. The result of a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides details on how specific fruit and vegetable consumption lowers the incidence of many types of colon cancer, the third most prevalent form of the disease.

Foods such as apples, broccoli and cauliflower each lower the risk of cancer initiation in different parts of the colon while high sugar, fiber-void fruit juices are shown to increase risk of the illness. Nutrition scientists from Australia provide important documentation to confirm the importance of eating a colorful selection of fruits and vegetables to lower colon cancer risk.

Diet Packed With Vegetables and Fruits Shown to Lower Multiple Colon Cancer Risk Factors
Nutrition researchers have designed studies to examine the effect of healthy diet on colon cancer risk in the past, but the protective effect has been debatable as they do not provide specific results for different foods on the key regions or subsites of the colon. Professor Lin Fritschi, PhD, head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and her research team set out to investigate the link between fruit and vegetables and three cancers in different parts of the bowel: proximal colon cancer, distal colon cancer and rectal cancer.

The controlled study included 918 participants with a confirmed colon cancer diagnosis and compared them with 1021 individuals with no history of the digestive disease. All participants completed extensive nutritional and demographic questionnaires to account for potential conflicts such as socioeconomic status. Analysis of the data showed that specific fruit and vegetables from similar varietal families affect risk for colon cancer in different portions of the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage and Sprouts Lower Most Common Type of Colon Cancer
With respect to different fruit and vegetable consumption, the researchers found a reduced rate of proximal colon cancer was linked to eating brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. In addition, both total vegetable intake and total vegetable and fruit intake were linked to a lower risk of distal colon cancer. And finally a significant reduction in distal colon cancer risk was linked to dark yellow vegetables and apples.

There should be no doubt that natural fruits and vegetables consumed raw or minimally cooked to retain the active enzymes is a critical factor in digestive health to dramatically lower the risk of colon cancer and other chronic conditions as well. This study conveys the important nature of eating a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, high in phytonutrient content to provide a protective shield at different colon subsites and throughout the body.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Omega-3 Fats Help Lower Premature Death Risk by Eighty Percent

Many people make the potentially fatal presumption that aging, chronic diseases and premature aging are natural events that come with advancing years. A plethora of current research studies confirm that nothing could be farther from the truth. In addition to super-nutrients such as resveratrol, curcumin and vitamin D optimization, researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Clinical Cardiology provide documented evidence that beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources and supplementation slash the overall risk of an early death.

The long-chain fats DHA and EPA elicit a profound effect on the heart and brain to ameliorate chronic diseases that bring an early demise to millions of unsuspecting individuals each year. Health-minded individuals today are used to hearing about the myriad of benefits associated with eating fish and supplementing with Omega-3 fats.

Omega-3 Fat Supplementation Slashes Risk of All-Cause Mortality in Half
A wealth of peer-reviewed studies provide solid evidence that the DHA and EPA fatty acids help to prevent heart disease and sudden death from a heart attack, lower depression incidence and reduce stroke and dementia risks as well. New research shows that optimal Omega-3 blood levels lower the risk of dying from all causes by 85% in high risk patients who had suffered a prior heart attack.

Intrigued by the result of this research, scientists wanted to understand if mortality was affected in individuals with no evident heart disease. A group of men aged 64 to 76 years were supplemented with Omega-3 fats (2.4 grams per day) for a period of 3 years. During that time, the participants showed a 47% reduction in risk of dying from any cause compared to a placebo group. Women experienced a 44% lower risk of death in a similar study.

Omega-3 Fats Lower Systemic Inflammation and Balance Omega-6 Ratios
Researchers from the American Heart Association journal Stroke commented on the ground-breaking conclusions of multiple Omega-3 studies, “Evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that EPA+DHA supplementation ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 g/d (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces subsequent cardiac and all-cause mortality.” Omega-3 enriched foods and supplements help to improve the critical balance with Omega-6 fats to lower systemic inflammation. This provides the primary risk-reduction mechanism associated with the long-chain fat.

In addition to fatty fish (salmon, snapper, scallops and shrimp), non-meat food sources of Omega-3’s include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, raw tofu and cooked soybeans. The body does not efficiently process EPA and DHA fats from vegetarian sources, though strong evidence exists that these food sources still provide exceptional health benefits. To be certain you achieve optimal Omega-3 blood saturation levels as referenced in these studies, nutrition experts recommend supplementing with 2.4 grams per day of combined EPA and DHA (read package labels to ensure proper dose). When supplementing, check that the fish oil (krill oil is also an excellent option) is molecularly distilled to avoid contamination.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zinc is Essential to Improve Brain Communications and Improve Memory

Zinc is an essential mineral known to improve skin tone, aid wound healing, fight cancer and shorten the length of the common cold. Researchers publishing in the journal Neuron now identify the crucial role this super-nutrient plays in support of memory formation and cognitive stability. Additionally, they have found that zinc may also play a part in controlling the devastating occurrence of epileptic seizures.

For the first time, scientists have been able to watch zinc in action as the nutrient regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus to improve memory and learning capabilities. Ensuring proper intake of zinc is an important step toward optimal brain function and may prevent cognitive decline as we age.

Zinc Improves Communication between Neurons to Improve Cognition
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaborated to study the effects of zinc on brain function. Scientists experimenting with mice used a chemical that binds with zinc to eliminate it from the brain of the test animals. They found that in the absence of the mineral, communications between neurons was significantly diminished and that zinc is vital for controlling the efficiency between nerve cells in the hippocampus.

For more than a half century, scientists have understood that high concentrations of zinc are deposited within nerve cells, called vesicles that package the transmitters which enable nerve cells to communicate. The highest concentrations of brain zinc are found among the neurons of the hippocampus that control the high functions of learning and memory.

Researchers Find Zinc Levels in the Brain Control Memory and Learning Functions
By artificially regulating the level of zinc in the brain of the test animals, researchers were able to confirm that eliminating zinc from the neural vesicles also prevented enhanced communication. By increasing levels of the mineral, they were able to significantly restore enhanced communications in the hippocampal region to improve learning and memory capabilities.

The results of this study conducted using mice can be extrapolated to humans because zinc is known to play a similar role in the brain of both species. Zinc deficiency in the typical western diet is rapidly becoming a serious problem that threatens human health. Due to poor farming practices and the abundance of nutrient-deprived processed foods, many children and adults suffer from a chronic insufficiency of the mineral.

Over time, lack of zinc from dietary sources can result in immune system depression, decline in sexual health and increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Ideal dietary sources of zinc include liver, beef and lamb. Vegetarians can include nuts, seeds and peas to obtain the micronutrient. Alternatively, zinc supplements are available (30 to 50 mg per day) to help maintain healthy systemic levels that improve memory, learning and cognition.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Olive Oil and Nuts Lower Heart Disease Risk Better Than Pharmaceuticals

More vindication for a natural Mediterranean-style diet including plenty of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and nuts was released in an advanced study published by the prestigious journal Atherosclerosis. Early results from a Spanish study with more than 7500 participants’ demonstrates that high quantities of dietary EVOO and a variety of different species of nuts is more effective in managing and preventing a heart event than traditional drug therapy.

Many physicians place their patients on the standard prescription of beta blockers and ACE inhibitors in a desperate effort to prevent advancing heart disease, even though repeated studies prove these drugs are detrimental to long-term health. Include copious amounts of EVOO and nuts in your diet to dramatically lower heart disease risk and avoid the need for risk drugs.

Study Provides Proof of Natural Diet over Drugs in the Fight against Heart Disease
To conduct the study, researchers placed the participants into one of three groups following either a Mediterranean style diet receiving 15 liters of EVOO over a 90 day period, a nut group consuming 30 grams per day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts or a standard low-fat diet. Among those participants over the age of 55, the scientists found that carotid artery thickness was significantly reduced in the EVOO and nut groups for individuals with already thickened arterial walls.

Researchers commented, “A modification in the entire diet pattern managed to achieve in just one year, results that pharmaceutical drugs did not – even after two years of treatment.” Lead study author, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez was impressed that a diet concentrated on natural food sources high in beneficial fats improved cardiovascular risk outcomes more than Pharma options. The study also found that the traditional low-fat (high carbohydrate) diet frequently prescribed by physicians and dieticians today has no health benefits and allows for heart disease to progress unabated.

Monounsaturated Fats From EVOO and Nuts Improve Vascular Elasticity
Most alternative health practitioners understand that a dramatic reduction of wheat-based carbohydrates coupled with increased monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 sources can provide for vascular elasticity to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. No drug can make the same claim, despite billions of dollars spent to market and promote unnecessary pharmaceutical options to millions of unsuspecting patients.

Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez concluded “We thus observed… a significant improvement and regression of lesions having taken place in those cases that had followed a Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil or nuts.” After just 90 days of EVOO or nut consumption, lipoprotein ratios improved enough to deliver significant improvement in heart disease risk for both men and women following the diet. To lower your risk of heart disease, adopt a Mediterranean-style eating pattern and be certain to include a healthy dose of EVOO (unheated) and unprocessed nuts (not roasted, cooked or heated).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

White Fleshed Fruits and Vegetables Cut Stroke Risk in Half

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America, affecting nearly one million people and taking the lives of 150,000 each year. Researchers publishing in the American Heart Association journal Stroke have found that increased consumption of white fleshy vegetables and fruits such as apples and pears leads to a dramatic decline in both incidence and death from a stroke.

This study is the first to differentiate between different colors in fruits and vegetables and the risk for developing a specific disease or illness. Beneficial phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids found in the white flesh and skin of apples and pears can dramatically lower your risk of suffering the devastating physical damage caused by a stroke.

Apples and Pears Can Cut Stroke Risk by More Than Fifty Percent
Nutrition scientists have long known that the brightly colored skin and flesh of fruits and vegetables confer the health benefits normally associated with eating these foods. To further examine this link, researchers examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable color group consumption and contrasted with 10-year stroke incidence in a cohort of 20,069 adults, with an average age of 41. Participants were disease free at the outset of the study and were asked to complete a 178-item food frequency questionnaire detailing foods consumed over the past year.

Fruit and vegetable consumption was broken into four distinct groups, based on pigment color: Green, including dark leafy vegetables, orange/yellow, mostly citrus fruits, red/purple, mostly red vegetables and white, of which 55 percent were apples and pears. Follow up proceeded for a period of ten years during which time 233 strokes were confirmed. Green, orange/yellow and red/purple varieties of fruits and vegetables were found to have no correlation to stroke incidence.

Fruits and Vegetables of All Colors Needed to Lower Disease Risk
White fleshed fruits and vegetables demonstrated a 52% lower incidence of stroke over the ten-year period when those consuming the highest amounts were compared to the group with the lowest intake. The researchers found that each 25 gram per day increase in white fruits and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke (the average apple is 120 grams).

The lead study author from Wageningen University in the Netherlands concluded “To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables… For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake.” Apples and pears are high in a nutrient known as quercetin and fiber that may convey part of the stroke risk reduction. It`s critical to eat a diet packed with fruits and vegetables of all colors to take advantage of the unique disease-fighting characteristics to be uncovered for a multitude of different carotenoids and flavonoids in future research studies.