Monday, November 26, 2012

Fast Food Diet Boosts Risk of Depression by More than Fifty Percent


Providing more evidence to the motif ‘you are what you eat’, scientists have found that eating a fast food diet increases the risk for depression by more than fifty percent. The food we eat today will provide the structural network for the cellular matrix that we need to support basic metabolism, cellular regeneration and repair. This is especially pronounced in brain neurons, as grey matter is largely composed of the omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA. When we don’t provide these basic building blocks, especially in the early formative years, the body is forced to use inferior fats such as those provided by hydrogenation, most frequently found in fast and processed foods.

Consumption of Fast Foods and Baked Goods Doubles Risk of Depression
Scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, publishing in the Public Health Nutrition journal have determined that eating commercially baked goods (cakes, croissants and doughnuts) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza) is linked to a 51 percent increase in the incidence of depression, compared to those who eat little or none of these foods.

Researchers conducting the study found that risk of depression could be predicted in a dose-dependent manner. Lead study author, Dr. Almudena S├ínchez-Villegas commented “the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression.” The study found that those participants eating the largest amount of fast food and commercially baked goods are more likely to be single, physically inactive and generally exhibit poor dietary habits. Typically these individuals consumed less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil, and were more likely to smoke or work more than 45 hours per week.

Strict Elimination of Convenience and Fast Foods Dramatically Lowers Rate of Depression
High consumption of commercially baked goods or fried foods subjected to the oil degradation process known as hydrogenation results in trans-fats that have been shown to dramatically increase heart disease risk in past studies. This current research demonstrates that these misshapen and synthetically processed trans-fats interfere with the proper function of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain and alter normal electrical activity necessary for intercellular signaling.

Depression among children and adults is expanding at an alarming rate, with 121 million people diagnosed worldwide. Antidepressants prescribed to manage depression are largely ineffective and only work to mask the underlying cause of the illness. A wealth of scientific evidence now points to proper nutrition as an effective tool to halt and even reverse depressive episodes. The study team advised against a diet including baked or fried foods, and emphasized the need for whole, natural foods containing plenty of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and fresh pressed virgin olive oil to significantly lower risk of depression.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

High Vitamin D Levels Critical to Prevent Chronic Inflammatory Diseases



The connection between cellular saturation of the prohormone, vitamin D and development of chronic conditions ranging from cancer, dementia, stroke and heart disease have been well documented among forward-thinking scientists for at least a decade now. The specific mechanism of action has not been well documented though, as most studies have not drawn a clear line between blood levels of vitamin D and disease prevention.

High Vitamin D Status Inhibits Inflammatory Messengers to Prevent Chronic Disease
Researchers from National Jewish Health reporting in The Journal of Immunology have discovered specific molecular and signaling events by which vitamin D inhibits inflammation to help prevent and possibly even treat a host of potentially deadly diseases. Current levels considered satisfactory by most medical professionals did not inhibit the inflammatory cascade, leading to the progression of many forms of disease. Conversely, individuals that maintain significantly higher blood levels of vitamin D had lower levels of inflammatory markers known to aggravate disease progression and were protected against the major killers so prevalent today.

The study author, Dr. Elena Goleva noted that this research “goes beyond previous associations of vitamin D with various health outcomes. It outlines a clear chain of cellular events, from the binding of DNA, through a specific signaling pathway, to the reduction of proteins known to trigger inflammation.” Current guidelines call for minimum vitamin D blood serum levels of 20 ng/ml, a benchmark set decades ago that was intended to prevent rickets in children and promote bone health. Researchers conducting this study found improvement in inflammation levels at a minimum of 30 ng/ml. leaving millions at risk for chronic disease.

Check Vitamin D Blood Levels Every Six Months to Prevent Inflammation
Scientists conducting this study examined the specific mechanisms exhibited by vitamin D to act on immune and inflammatory pathways. They incubated white blood cells with different saturation levels of vitamin D and then exposed the culture to an inflammatory molecule known to promote intense inflammatory responses. Cells exposed to low levels of vitamin D (less than 15 ng/ml) produced excessive levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha, associated with disease development and progression. The highest level of inflammatory inhibition occurred at 50 ng/ml and above as cells become fully saturated with the prohormone and maximum immune response is observed.

Researchers identified a new location where the vitamin-D receptor appears to bind directly to DNA and activate a gene known as MKP-1, interfering with the inflammatory cascade promoted by long-term stress and a highly refined, processed food diet. Dr. Goleva concluded “The fact that we showed a dose-dependent and varying response to levels commonly found in humans also adds weight to the argument for vitamin D's role in immune and inflammatory conditions.” Maintain your vitamin D blood levels above 50 ng/ml (measured with the 25(OH)D test) to afford maximum protection against chronic inflammatory-mediated diseases.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chronic Stress Promotes Protein Brain Tangles and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease


Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an initial loss of short term memory and the ability to form rational and permanent thoughts. Protein tangles known as tau aggregates strangle neural synapses, blocking the vital flow of neurotransmitter and electrical signals necessary to form memories and personality. Once considered a disease of the aging, this form of dementia is increasing at a startling rate in younger individuals, largely due to a processed and refined food diet, environmental factors and long-term chronic stress.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have published the result of a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explaining the mechanism behind continual exposure to stressors so common in our rapid-paced lifestyle, and the unnatural accumulation of insoluble tau protein aggregates in brain tissue. They explain that neurofibrillary tangles are one of the physical hallmark signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and have been shown to contribute to disease progression in people under chronic stress conditions during the course of past studies.
Chronic Stress is Positively Linked to Physical Brain Changes Leading to Alzheimer’s Dementia
The study team, using a mouse-based model, noted
we found that repeated episodes of emotional stress, which has been demonstrated to be comparable to what humans might experience in ordinary life, resulted in the phosphorylation and altered solubility of tau proteins in neurons… these events are critical in the development of NFT pathology in Alzheimer's disease.” Researchers determined that the effect was most pronounced in the hippocampus of the brain, an area linked to the formation, organization and storage of memories.
The scientists are quick to note that the type of stress that is associated with the development of tangles in the brain is not acute stress, defined as a single, passing episode. They determined that chronic, long term stress that never ceases is far more threatening to the brain and promotes tau protein aggregates to accumulate. Acute stress is actually considered useful for brain plasticity and helps to facilitate learning.
Engage in Stress Reduction Techniques to Reduce Stress and Disease Risk
Chronic stress continually stimulates and activates stress pathways in the brain that lead to pathological alteration of stress circuitry in the brain. The researchers describe chronic stress as too much of a good thing gone bad. Lead study author, Dr. Robert Rissman
commented on their findings “As people age, perhaps their neuronal circuits do too, becoming less robust and perhaps less capable of completely rebounding from the effects of stress.”
Certainly we cannot entirely eliminate stress from our daily lives, and the results of this study conclude that small amounts of acute stress are important to maintain brain plasticity and for the formation of new memories. The problem arises when the level of stress never abates, and our brain is unable to recover from the massive amount of new stimuli we experience from chronic stress. Reduce your stress level to a minimum, as this will provide yet another crucial lifestyle modification that can help prevent chronic illness and ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Short Sleep Duration Significantly Decreases Heart Disease Risk


A startling number of people take a good night sleep for granted, despite the mounting body of evidence to support a restful sleep between six and eight hours every evening. In the past, studies have made a loose correlation between the numbers of hours of sleep each night and risk of diseases ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease and dementia. Researchers from the University of Chicago are presenting the result of a study to the American College of Cardiology that explains a direct link between sleeping a minimum of six hours each night and dramatically increased risk of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure.
The study team found that individuals sleeping much more than eight hours each night had a significantly higher prevalence of chest pain or angina and coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart with blood and oxygen. The bottom line is simple: controlling the duration of restful sleep in a totally darkened room is a modifiable risk factor that can significantly reduce risk of heart diseases and related chronic illnesses.
Sleeping Less Than Six Hours Each Night Doubles Heart Attack Risk
Researchers examined
3,019 patients, aged 45 years or older participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, designed to assess a broad range of health issues. The study showed that people getting less than six hours of sleep each night were two times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure. Conversely, those individuals that slept more than eight hours a night were two times more likely to have angina and 1.1 times more likely to have coronary artery disease.
Clearly the duration and quality of sleep is an identifiable risk factor for heart disease, robbing your health in a similar manner to poor dietary choices and lack of physical activity. The principal study investigator, Dr. Rohit Arora commented “We now have an indication that sleep can impact heart health, and it should be a priority… based on these findings, it seems getting six to eight hours of sleep everyday probably confers the least risk for cardiovascular disease over the long term.”
Sleep Seven to Nine Hours Each Night in a Fully Darkened Room to Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk
While this research did not directly determine how sleep duration affects heart health, past studies have implicated
hyper-activation of the sympathetic nervous system, glucose intolerance, diabetes, increased cortisone levels, blood pressure, resting heart rate and inflammatory markers, all known risk factors for increased risk of cardiovascular disease. As researchers continue to determine the link between sleep and heart disease, the message is clear: ensure a restful sleep between six and eight hours each night in a fully darkened room to dramatically lower heart disease risk.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Curcumin Prevents Brain Degenerative Diseases Including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s


Curcumin, the bioactive compound found in the Indian curry spice turmeric and commonly referred to as ‘holy powder’, has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat wounds, infections, and other health problems. Today researchers are using the power of the evolving science of epigenetics to reveal how curcumin is crucial in the fight against many forms of cancer, as it causes metastatic cells to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis.
Researchers from Michigan State University, publishing the result of a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry have found that this amazing natural compound is able to prevent the destructive formation of alpha-synuclein proteins that are the hallmark presentation in many neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is one a very select group of structures that is able to cross the delicate blood-brain barrier to affect biochemical and electrical activities in the brain. The turmeric derivative has demonstrated the unique capability to prevent clumping or aggregation leading to disease development.
Curcumin Aids Protein Folding to Prevent Brain Tangles and Degeneration
The team lead researcher, Dr. Basir Ahmad and scientists conducting the study commentedOur research shows that curcumin can rescue proteins from aggregation, the first steps of many debilitating diseases… more specifically, curcumin binds strongly to alpha-synuclein and prevents aggregation at body temperatures.”
The team used precise lasers to study the split-second formation of proteins known as ‘protein folding’. Normally, proteins are folded at lightning fast speed at the direction of genes and DNA sequences. Damage to DNA caused by poor diet and lifestyle factors from epigenetic alterations results in mis-folded proteins and neurodegenerative disease.
Supplement with Curcumin Daily to Prevent Protein Clumping and Lower Disease Risk
Researchers found that when curcumin attaches to alpha-synuclein it not only stops clumping, but it also raises the protein’s folding or reconfiguration rate. By slowing the speed that the proteins form, curcumin effectively inhibits abnormal protein clumping to prevent tangles and damage to the nerve synapses. Chemical and electrical communications are retained that help to help prevent the early manifestation of Parkinson’s disease.
Curcumin can be added to the diet with liberal use of the Indian curry spice in meal preparation. Many people do not enjoy the taste of curry infused foods. For those individuals, nutrition advisors recommend a standardized supplement (std. to 95% total curcuminoids for maximum bioavailability) providing 300 to 500 mg daily to prevent neurodegenerative decline.