Category Archives: diet mental health

MEDICAL researchers love fish. The reason: a person who eats fish lives longer as it combats a lot of health threats. “If you eat a modest amount of fish, you dramatically decrease your risk of dying from a heart attack,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a researcher of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Findings from 30 large studies conducted around the world show that people who consume just one or two servings of fish per week lower their risk of a fatal heart attack by an average of 36 percent.

That’s good news for Filipinos as the Department of Health ranks heart disease as the number-one killer in the country. “The death toll from cardiovascular diseases in the country is about one every seven minutes,” says Dr. Philip S. Chua, one of the country’s top cardiologists.

Cardiovascular diseases don’t affect the heart itself but also the blood vessel system, especially the veins and arteries leading to and from the heart.

If you have already had a heart attack, shifting to a high-fish diet can cut your chances of future deadly attacks by one third.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body derives from food. Omega-3s (and omega-6s) are known as essential fatty acids because they are important for good health. The body cannot make these fatty acids on its own so omega-3s must be obtained from food, particularly fish.

The American Heart Association suggests that a person should eat at least two servings of oily fish each week to help keep his hearts healthy. Among the fish species high in omega-3s are bas (striped), herring, mackerel (Atlantic), oysters (Pacific), sablefish, salmon, trout (freshwater), and tuna.

Shrimp may not be considered a fish but it is still seafood. One study found that people who ate shrimp everyday for three weeks had a relatively small rise in LDL (touted to be the “bad cholesterol”) but an even greater jump in HDL (“the good cholesterol”). Result: Their heart disease risk actually went down.

Consuming oily fish may likewise reduce the risk of developing asthma.

In a University of Cambridge study of 770 volunteers, researchers found that those with symptomatic asthma were less likely to report having eaten fish at least twice a week throughout the year than those without asthma.

Study author Dr. Bipen Patel believes that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may reduce the production of substances that can cause constriction and inflammation in the airway.

The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil have also been found to treat many medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.

Heavier children more likely to have social problems

In the Western world obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, and now more children are overweight than ever before. Apart from the obvious health problems associated with carrying round extra weight like an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, it seems mental health might be at stake too.

More likely to suffer emotionally and socially

A recent study carried out by Australian researchers found that obese 8 and 9 year olds were more likely to suffer emotionally and socially than other children who were not overweight reports Health Day News.

The children who had a high BMI (body mass index) before the age of 5 had up to a 20 percent greater risk of suffering socially by the time they reached the age of 9.

Which comes first?

One question that has often been asked is whether social problems lead to weight gain or whether it’s the other way round.

“There have been a number of studies over the past 5 to 10 years looking at whether or not obesity in young children and adolescents is related to emotional, behavioral and mental health problems,” noted Dr. Julie Lumeng, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about which direction that relationship goes in — does obesity cause children to be unhappy, or is it that unhappy children are more likely to become obese? Many people think it goes in both ways.”

According to the researchers being overweight may have contributed to their unhappiness perhaps as a result of being teased or socially ostracized.

However, the researchers also note that the effect of obesity may be different in countries where obesity levels are higher. In the Australian sample of 3,363 children only 4 or 5 percent were obese whereas in the United States the number of obese children is around 17 percent.

Fast foods and video games don’t help

These days with fast foods and video games children are not getting the kind of nutrition children had in the past and are also spending a lot more time slumped in front of a screen indoors instead of running around outside.

There is little doubt that children who are overweight are more likely to face problems with self esteem and to suffer health problems than children who are not. It has to be said that unless parents take more responsibility for their children’s weight earlier in life through improved nutrition and adequate exercise, the extra pressure on a child from carrying around extra pounds is bound to take its toll at some point either physically or mentally or both.

Drinking coffee may protect against depression

People suffering from depression are often told to cut down on the amount of coffee they drink but now it seems that drinking a few cups of coffee may not be such a bad thing after all.

20 percent reduced risk

New research from America has found that drinking four or more cups of coffee cut the risk of depression by around 20 percent when compared to drinking only one cup or less of caffeinated coffee a week.

The protective benefit of coffee was also linked to dose, for example, two or three cups of coffee reduced the risk by 15 percent.

The results took into consideration other potential risk factors such as medical conditions, smoking, amount of exercise and even marital status.

10 year study

The research involved Over 50,700 women who had taken part in the Nurses’ Health Study which began in the late 90’s and lasted 10 years.

During the course of the study just over 2,600 of the participants developed depression although none of the women had depression at the start of the study. More of the women who developed depression drank little or no coffee.

More research needed

Coffee is known to have an effect on brain function as a result of the caffeine but the researchers say they can’t be certain of a causal link between coffee and reduced risk of depression and more research is needed to confirm their findings.

A similar link was not found with decaffeinated coffee or with chocolate or even other sources of caffeine such as tea and soft drinks.

Dr Michael Lucas, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston wrote:

 

“Our results support a possible protective effect of caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression

“Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption may contribute to prevention or treatment of depression”.

The findings have been reported in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

A previous study from Finland also found a link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of suicide.

Reducing the risk of Cancer, Stroke and Heart Disease – major new study testing Omega 3 fish oils and vitamin D3

Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke are undeniably the three most major health problems we all face today and indeed are three biggest killers in the Western World. Anything that can be done to reduce the number of people becoming sick or dying as a result of these diseases has got to be welcome news.

Both Vitamin D and Omega 3 fish oils have been hitting the headlines lately due to their potential to have a positive impact on overall health as well as specifically on certain health problems and diseases. Now a major new US study is underway which is aiming to test the effectiveness of Omega 3 fish oils and Vitamin D3 for reducing the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The VITAL Study

VITAL (VITamin and omegA-3 triaL) is being carried out by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston Massachusetts and will be funded by the National Institutes of Health.

VITAL began recruiting volunteers in January and will continue to recruit throughout the rest of this year. However, it’s not necessary to live in the area as no clinic visits are necessary and all the supplements and questionnaires will be sent by post.

What’s different?

To date there have been numerous studies involving all sorts of nutrients, including Vitamin D and Omega 3, many of them concentrating on the positive effect they can have on people who are already sick, but what about preventing disease in the first place?

What is different about this study is that first of all it will be a huge trial involving around 20,000 volunteers, but it will also only be recruiting healthy volunteers.

Large Primary Prevention Trials Lacking

In the detailed description of the trial it states “Existing data from laboratory studies, epidemiologic research, small primary prevention trials, and/or large secondary prevention trials strongly suggest that these nutritional agents may reduce risk for cancer or cardiovascular disease, but large primary prevention trials with adequate dosing in general populations are lacking.”

As this is such a large study on healthy people it means we will be able to more clearly identify the protective benefits over a period of time.

 According to VITAL researchers “Although the omega-3s haven’t made headlines as often as vitamin D lately, scientific research regarding their health benefits remains promising though inconclusive. VITAL is the first and only large trial to study the health effects of omega-3 supplements in people who are generally healthy.”

 Who can take part?

If you are interested in taking part, then you are eligible to participate in the trial if you are a woman aged 55 or over, or a man aged 50 or older and you have not previously suffered from a heart attack, cancer or stroke. However, you must also agree not to take other fish oil supplements or vitamin D supplements at a level of more than 800 IU daily, throughout the trial.

4 Groups

Each of the volunteers will be randomly assigned to one of 4 groups and will be given two pills a day. These will be a Vitamin D3 supplement and an Omega 3 supplement, or a vitamin D3 placebo and an Omega 3 placebo, or a Vitamin D3 supplement and an Omega 3 placebo, or an Omega 3 supplement and a Vitamin D3 placebo. The amount of Vitamin D3 given in the trial will be 2000 IU and the amount of Omega 3 fish oil will be 1 gram.

The participants will also be required to complete a questionnaire each year that will ask questions about health, lifestyle, exercise, diet, smoking, medication and dietary supplements, family medical history and any new medical diagnosis.

Ancillary Studies

In addition to the main study, VITAL will also conduct ancillary studies to determine other health benefits of Omega 3 and Vitamin D including their effect on the risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Memory Loss or Cognitive Decline
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Infections
  • Depression
  • Chronic knee pain symptoms
  • Physical disability and falls

Reducing risk

Prevention is better than cure as they say so if taking a simple supplement such as Vitamin D or Omega 3 fish oil can reduce the risk then great. There is a slight concern with Vitamin D as too much of it can lead to vitamin toxicity, however, as far the VITAL study is concerned, the researchers have taken steps to ensure that no one will be deficient in Vitamin D and no one will receive too much.

We can get Vitamin D from sunlight but our bodies are unable to make Omega 3 fatty acids so we have to source them from the diet, however, as it isn’t advisable to eat too much fish, the main source of Omega 3 fatty acids, we are kind of stuck unless we supplement with fish oil.

The VITAL study is due to last until June 2016 so we’ll have to wait 5 years for the final results which will identify once and for all the protective benefits of these vitally important nutrients. However, why wait for five years as there is enough evidence to show that adequate amounts of Vitamin D and Omega 3 are absolutely necessary for good health.

Omega 3 reduces stroke damage says new study

According to a brand new study by researchers Jasna Kriz and Frederic Calon from the Universite Laval’s Faculty of Medicine in Canada and published in the journal ‘Stroke’ eating a diet that is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids could reduce the amount of brain damage incurred after a stroke.

The neuro-protective benefit appears to come from the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega 3. “It prevents an acute inflammatory response that, if not controlled, is harmful to brain tissue” said Kriz

According to the Stroke Association, around 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year resulting in around 53,000 deaths. So what exactly is a stroke and can we do anything to prevent one?

Blood supply to the brain

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off which can result in damage to brain cells or death of the brain cells causing loss of function in the body.

Causes

There are 3 main things which can cause a stroke and these are atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries and thickening of the artery walls), a ruptured Aneurysm (an aneurysm is a weak spot on the artery wall), or a blood clot which forms in the heart caused by arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) which then travels to the brain.

Risk Factors

High blood pressure can increase the risk of both heart disease and stroke and so can high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol). Medical conditions such as existing heart disease and diabetes can also increase the risk as well as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and smoking and drinking. If you have already suffered a stroke then you are at risk of suffering another one.

Reducing the risk

The obvious things would be to stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

Diet plays a massive role in how healthy or unhealthy we are in general and should not be underestimated. Modern diets are not ideal for promoting good health as they tend to contain high levels of Omega 6, which is found in meat and dairy products, processed foods, confectionery and vegetable oils. There is nothing wrong with this in theory as Omega 6 fatty acids are just as important to our health as Omega 3 fatty acids.

Unfortunately, Omega 3 is not in such plentiful supply with the most abundant sources of it found only in cold water oily fish and fish oil supplements but nowadays we just don’t eat the same amount of fish that we used to in the past and at the same time we have increased our consumption of processed foods.

The Omega 3 Omega 6 imbalance

The implications on health of an imbalance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids becomes startlingly clear when we look at how these fatty acids behave in the body.

Amongst other things, too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 can increase inflammation in the body, promote weight gain, thicken the blood, increase triglyceride levels and the levels of bad cholesterol, increase blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, inflammatory conditions, cancer, and even depression and other mental health problems.

It’s no coincidence that previous studies have found that a diet rich in Omega 3 can reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and depression as well as numerous other health problems.

Omega 3 helps to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce Triglyceride levels
  • Reduce Cholesterol levels
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Thin the blood
  • Regulate irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Alleviate symptoms of depression
  • Keep artery walls clear of debris
  • Improve memory and mental processing
  • Boost the immune system

It is now clear from countless studies that Omega 3 can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, that’s why we are told it’s so important to continue to eat fish, just not too much due to the toxins they can contain. However, many of the risk factors that apply to heart disease also apply to strokes. By reducing these risk factors then it goes without saying that you also reduce the risk of suffering from a stroke.

Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke

There has been some concern that due to the blood thinning effect of Omega 3, bleeding times can be increased and that this could maybe increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain), however, a study by Skerrett P J, and Hennekens C H published in 2003 entitled “Consumption of fish and fish oils and decreased risk of stroke” no such association was found.

“No association was observed between consumption of fish or fish oil and hemorrhagic stroke. These data support the hypothesis that consumption of fish several times per week reduces the risk of thrombotic stroke but does not increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke” the researchers concluded.

If you are concerned about your health for any reason, or if you have an existing health problem, it’s always advisable to speak to your doctor before making major changes to your diet or before taking fish oil supplements.

Benefits of Omega 3 during pregnancy and beyond

Omega 3 supplements taken during pregnancy may help protect the child against future bouts of illness says a recent study from Mexico. The study has been published online in the journal “Pediatrics”.

The researchers from an Emory University found that the babies born to mothers who had been given Omega 3 in the latter half of pregnancy (from 18 to 22 weeks until childbirth) had fewer colds at one month, three months, and six months of age, and if the infants did get ill, the duration of the illness was shorter than the illnesses suffered by other babies whose mothers had received a placebo.

Altogether, over 1100 pregnant women and 900 babies were involved in the study. Some were given 400 mg of Omega 3 supplements daily whereas the remainder of the women received a placebo.

Healthier babies

The findings of the Mexico study showed that women who were given Omega 3 supplements delivered healthier babies when compared with the control group.

  • At the age of one month, the babies whose mothers had taken Omega 3 had a 25 percent reduction in cold symptoms and had fewer problems with phlegm and wheezing.
  • At 3 months of age they spent 14 percent less time being ill.
  • At 6 months of age the babies had shorter bouts of sickness and symptoms such as fever, runny nose, breathing difficulties and rashes, although they had longer bouts of vomiting.

“This is a large scale, robust study that underscores the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy” said Usha Ramakrishnan, PhD, associate professor, Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Previous studies by the same researchers have shown that women who had taken Omega 3 supplements during pregnancy gave birth to heavier and taller babies.

Reduced risk of postnatal depression

It’s not just the babies who benefit when the mother takes Omega 3, the women themselves do to. Over the past few years a number of research studies have shown that women who consume higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy appear to have a reduced risk of post natal depression after the birth of their baby.

Anyone who has ever suffered from post natal depression will know the devastating effect it can have, not just on the women suffering, but on the rest of the family too.

Dr Joseph Hibbeln of the US National Institutes of Health analysed data from over 40 studies involving more than 14,000 women in 23 countries and found a clear correlation between fish consumption and post natal depression.

Basically he found that the higher the amount of fish consumed the lower the incidence of post partum depression.

Many women unaware

Interestingly, a survey carried out a few years ago by the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) involving 500 women revealed that over half of them (59 percent) were unaware of the importance of Omega 3 during pregnancy and in the first few years of life. However, most were aware of the importance of other nutrients such as folic acid, Calcium and vitamin D.

Although the benefits of Omega 3 are more widely portrayed now, the message may still not be getting through. If more people were aware of the need for an adequate amount of Omega 3 fatty acids in the diet, not just during pregnancy and in the first few years of life, but right throughout life, then perhaps our overall health and quality of life would improve. Most of us are familiar with the importance of vitamins and minerals for good health, not so much the benefits of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Why?

Health benefits only recently discovered

Omega 3 fatty acids are relative newcomers to the good nutrition arena, they were originally discovered in the early part of the 20th century and were called Omega 3 because of their chemical structure as they have at least 3 double bonds with the first one appearing on the third carbon bond from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain.

The amazing health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids were only really discovered a few decades ago in the 1980’s when Danish researchers discovered that Inuit Eskimos had lower rates of heart disease than other populations despite eating a diet very high in fat as they consumed large amounts of oily fish.

Fats have received a lot of bad press in the past but what we know now is that we need the right kinds of fats in our diet. Now we have learned that Omega 3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids, are important for the development of the brain and vision, they can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower inflammation in the body, lower triglyceride levels and bad cholesterol, reduce the risk of depression and other mental illnesses as well as alleviate depression symptoms, and can even improve brain function.

3 main players

There are 3 main players in the Omega 3 chain and they are ALA (alpha linolenic acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). ALA can be found in plant and vegetable sources whereas significant amounts of EPA and DHA are only found in oily fish and some algae.

Concerns

One of the concerns about eating large amounts of fish in this day and age is that fish is contaminated with industrial pollutants, particularly mercury, however, high grade fish oil supplements have had the pollutants removed leaving only concentrated Omega 3.

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, or if you have an existing health problem, it’s advisable to speak to your doctor before taking Omega 3 supplements just in case there are any contraindications that might apply to you. For example, Omega 3 has a blood thinning effect so caution is advised if you are already taking blood thinning medication such as Warfarin or Aspirin.

 

Eating Well Can Stave off Depression (Fish oil)

Recent studies have proven that something as easy to change as your diet, the very fuel you put into your body can affect not only your physical, but your mental health too.

The research has noted that what we eat determines our mood, our immune system and our weight. It was noted amongst those studied that by and large in western society we eat unhealthy foods. The advice that comes with the research makes for interesting reading. The scientists advising that if someone you love or you yourself are suffering from depression, then the figuring out of a healthy eating plan along with a trained nutritionist can go a long way to improving the mental well being of the individual.

The research came with a number of tips for those unhealthy eaters.

The first point of advice being; just to eat. Yes not eating is as destructive to our mental well being as is eating badly. When you do not eat you are depriving your body of the nutrients and vitamins that are essential to its upkeep. Not eating will lead to disorders and deficiencies. The disorders it leads to include depression.

At the opposite end of the spectrum when we eat too much we are affecting our mental as well as our physical health. If what we are ingesting is composed mainly of processed or fatty foods then illness can ensue. Illness is a precursor to depression in many ways. It has been noted by some researchers that taking in a subnormal amount of essential fatty acids exacerbate the problem.

These essential fats are contained in flax seeds and fish.

The scientists advise eating cold water fish on a bi-weekly basis. Oils should not be ignored along with dark green leafy vegetables and grains. If you are a heavy drinker then they advise the changing of this habit also, for the betterment of mental health.

Whilst the scientists admit that diet alone may not be enough, it is a definite part of the battle against depression covered. Living a healthier lifestyle is the approach that they advise. It seems absurd, but we may be eating foods that we are allergic to without our knowing, and even these it appears can lead to the onset of illness and with that depression. An allergist can help you out here if you feel that things are just not right.

Tasty Treats Keep the Blues Away

There has always been a notion out there that chocolate treats can help us get over times of sadness, but now it is official. That chocolate pick-me-up really can pick us up when we are feeling down, according to a study concocted by The Black Dog Institute at The Prince of Wales Hospital In Australia.

Women recount time and again how eating mountains of the stuff can aid them through their breakups, it has been on Sex and The City, and in reality it has been a part of our collective consciousness for years. Men in trouble with their wives have relied on the boxes of wonder to get her back into a good mood for decades and beyond.

Were it to have been a mere legend and old wives tale until now, well now it is official, with the study researchers finding that yes indeed chocolate may help in cases of depression. There is another layer underneath the top tasty treat of info however, with the finding has come pointers towards a long sought after piece of depression information; that is the cause.

It was out of a desire to put under investigation the links that exist between cravings for chocolate and the style of personality of the individual. So too the researchers were seeking out atypical depressive symptoms.

The chase for info came from the everyday fact that there are certain people who crave chocolate when they are down, and there are people who do not.  The purpose of the study on this note was to determine what are the similarities(If any) across these people to see if the craving were about the personality traits, or the depressive symptoms. Seems clear enough, but what did they uncover?

3000 individuals were accessed for information through online questionnaires. The findings configured that people who pertain to a higher-order neurotic personality type along with holding the atypical depression symptoms were the individuals most likely to crave chocolate. The study also noted that more women than men crave chocolate in this way (but we knew that already didn’t we.) The fact that women function in this way means that there is a potentially a hormonal input to the craving.

EPA Fish Oil Cancer, Muscle Mass

Related topics: Omega-3, Research, Nutritional lipids and oils, Cancer risk reduction, Weight management

Omega-3 rich fish oil supplements may help cancer patients to prevent the muscle loss and malnutrition which commonly accompanies chemotherapy, according to new research.

EPA rich omega-3 supplements may help chemotherapy patients, say researchers.

The study, published in Cancer, found that patients supplemented with 2.2 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day maintained weight, muscle mass, and adipose tissue throughout approximately 10 weeks of chemotherapy, despite having a mean weight loss of 6.3 percent over the previous 6 months.

In the same time, patients receiving standard treatment with no supplementation were found to loose an average of 2.3 kilograms.

“Fish oil may prevent loss of weight and muscle by interfering with some of the pathways that are altered in advanced cancer . This holds great promise because currently there is no effective treatment for cancer-related malnutrition,” said Dr. Vera Mazurak, from the University of Alberta, Canada, who led the study.

The researchers said that a nutritional intervention with two grams of fish oil (in the form of EPA) per day may provide a benefit over standard care, by allowing cancer patients to maintain weight and muscle mass during chemotherapy.

Omega-3 for the big C?

Chemotherapy can cause cancer patients to lose muscle mass and become malnourished, leading to fatigue, decreased quality of life, an inability to receive necessary treatments, and shorter survival.

The researchers explained that previous studies have suggested that supplementing the diet with fish oil – which contains omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – may help patients maintain or gain muscle mass.

To test the theory the team compared the effects of fish oil with that of standard care (with no supplementation) on weight, muscle, and fat tissue in newly referred non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Computed tomography (CT), a form of medical imaging that can precisely quantify skeletal muscle, was used by the researchers to assess the effects of EPA supplementation on skeletal muscle in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“The efficacy of fish oil to prevent muscle loss has been the focus of several studies, but to the best of our knowledge the current study is the first to use CT images to provide a direct measurement of the effect of fish oil on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue depots,” said the researchers.

They added that the study was also unique in using an early intervention in newly referred patients -with the goal of preventing weight and muscle loss during chemotherapy.

Study details

Mazurak and her colleagues reported that 40 patients completed the study; with 16 receiving EPA fish oil supplementation (at a dose of 2.2 grams of EPA per day), and 24 patients receiving standard care.

Skeletal muscle and adipose tissue were measured using CT images, whilst blood was collected and weight was recorded at baseline and throughout chemotherapy.

The authors reported that patients receiving standard care experienced an average weight loss of 2.3 kilograms, whereas patients receiving EPA supplementation maintained their weight.

Blood analyses revealed that the patients with the largest rise in bloodstream EPA concentrations also had the greatest muscle mass gains.

Mazurak and co-workers reported that nearly 70 percent of those in the fish oil group either maintained their pre-chemotherapy muscle mass or gained mass. By comparison, less than 30 percent of the non-fish oil group maintained their original muscle mass, they added.

Fishy benefit

They research team said the results of the study indicate that supplementation with EPA fish oil reduces muscle and adipose tissue wasting in lung cancer patients, and provides a benefit over patients treated with standard care and receiving chemotherapy.

Mazurak and her colleagues noted that fish oil may be beneficial to patients with other forms of cancer and other chronic diseases that are associated with malnutrition, as well as to elderly individuals who are at risk for muscle loss. However, they noted that the results of the current study “require verification in larger randomized trials.”

Source: Cancer
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/cncr.25933
“Supplementation with fish oil increases first-line chemotherapy efficacy in patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer”
Authors: R.A. Murphy, M. Mourtzakis, Q.S.C. Chu, V.E. Baracos, T. Reiman, V.C. Mazurak

Mediterranean diet keeps your mind sharp – new research

We are constantly hearing about why we should be following a Mediterranean diet to help prevent heart disease and keep us in good physical shape; it seems hardly a day goes by without seeing some report in the national press and other media.

Now though, there’s new research out that shows how a Mediterranean diet which consists mainly of fish, vegetables, olive oil, and even moderate consumption of wine, may help slow down age related cognitive decline and keep our minds sharper for longer. So what’s that about?

The research involved analysing the diets and assessing the cognitive health of 3,759 older residents living in the South side of Chicago who were all part of the Chicago Healthy Aging Project, a project which continually evaluates the cognitive health in adults over 65 years of age.

On a three yearly basis, the participants filled in a questionnaire designed to find out how much they consumed 139 different foods which included fish, fruits, vegetables, non-refined cereals, potatoes, and also wine. The residents also had their cognitive health assessed and were given memory and basic maths tests.

The researchers gave a maximum score of 55 to those who adhered strictly to the typical Mediterranean diet. The average score for the participants in the study was 28.

However, those who had higher scores were found to have a slower rate of age related mental decline than those who had lower scores. It’s important to note that this was after other contributing factors were taken into account such as education level etc.

Christy Tangney, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University, who was the lead author of the study said in a press statement that the “more we can incorporate vegetables, olive oil, and fish into our diets, and moderate wine consumption, the better for our aging brains and bodies”.

Interestingly, the researchers also looked at how closely the participants followed the Healthy Eating Index 2005 which is based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating for Americans and found there was no relationship between closely following that diet and the rate of cognitive decline.

The results of the study have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.