Archives for March 2012

The Link Between Fast Food and Depression Has Been Confirmed

According to a recent study headed by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, eating commercial baked goods (fairy cakes, croissants, doughnuts, etc.) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza) is linked to depression.

Published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, the results reveal that consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression.

Furthermore, a dose-response relationship was observed. In other words this means that “the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression,” explains Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, lead author of the study, to SINC.

The study demonstrates that those participants who eat the most fast food and commercial baked goods are more likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits, which include eating less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. Smoking and working more than 45 hours per week are other prevalent characteristics of this group.

A long-term study

With regard to the consumption of commercial baked goods, the results are equally conclusive. “Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression,” as the university researcher from the Canary Islands points out.

The study sample belonged to the SUN Project (University of Navarra Diet and Lifestyle Tracking Program). It consisted of 8,964 participants that had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. They were assessed for an average of six months, and 493 were diagnosed with depression or started to take antidepressants.

This new data supports the results of the SUN project in 2011, which were published in the PLoS One journal. The project recorded 657 new cases of depression out of the 12,059 people analysed over more than six months. A 42% increase in the risk associated with fast food was found, which is lower than that found in the current study.

Sánchez-Villegas concludes that “although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being.”

The impact of diet on mental health

Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. This figure makes it one of the main global causes of disability-adjusted life year. Further still, in countries with low and medium income it is the leading cause.

However, little is known about the role that diet plays in developing depressive disorders. Previous studies suggest that certain nutrients have a preventative role. These include group B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil. Furthermore, a healthy diet such as that enjoyed in the Mediterranean has been linked to a lower risk of developing depression.

 

Reference

Sánchez-Villegas A, Toledo E, de Irala J, Ruiz-Canela M, Pla-Vidal J, Martínez-González MA. Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption and the risk of depression. Public Health Nutr 2012; 15 (3): 424-32.

 

Mercury Toxicity Presenting as Chronic Fatigue, Memory Impairment and Depression

In a group of 465 patients diagnosed as having chronic mercury toxicity (CMT), 32.3% had severe fatigue, 88.8% had memory loss, and 27.5% had depression. A significant correlation was found between CMT and the Apo-lipoprotein E4 genotype (p=0.001). An investigation into an additional 864 consecutively seen general practice patients, resulted in 30.3% having evidence consistent with CMT, and once again a significant correlation was found with the APO-E4 genotype (p=0.001). Removal of amalgam mercury fillings when combined with appropriate treatment resulted in a significant symptom reduction (p<0.001) to levels reported by healthy subjects.


Reference

Wojcik DP, Godfrey ME, Christie D, Haley BE. Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory impairment and depression: diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand general practice setting (1994-2006). Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27 (4): 415-23.

 

 

Biomarkers for Autism Discovered

An important step towards developing a rapid, inexpensive diagnostic method for autism has been taken by Uppsala University, among other universities. Through advanced mass spectrometry the researchers managed to capture promising biomarkers from a tiny blood sample. The study has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Translational Psychiatry.

There are no acknowledged biomarkers for autism today. Researchers at Berzelii Centre and the Science for Life Laboratory in Uppsala who, in collaboration with colleagues at Linnaeus University in Sweden and the Faculty of Medicine in Tehran, Iran, who have discovered some promising biomarkers.

Many diseases are caused by protein alterations inside and outside the body’s cells. By studying protein patterns in tissue and body fluids, these alterations can be mapped to provide important information about underlying causes of disease. Sometimes protein patterns can also be used as biomarkers to enable diagnosis or as a prognosticating tool to monitor the development of a disease. In the current study disruptions of the nervous system were in focus when the scientists studied protein patterns in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

To identify potential biomarkers (peptides or proteins), the researchers performed a detailed protein analysis of blood plasma from children with ASD compared with a control group. Using advanced mass spectrometric methods, they succeeded in identifying peptides consisting of fragments of a protein whose natural function is in the immune system, the complement factor C3 protein.

The study is based on blood samples from a relatively limited group of children, but the results indicate the potential of our methodological strategy. There is already a known connection between this protein and ASD, which further reinforces the findings, says Jonas Bergquist, professor of analytical chemistry and neurochemistry at the Department of Chemistry – BMC (Biomedical Centre) in Uppsala.

The hope is that this new set of biomarkers ultimately will lead to a reliable blood-based diagnostic tool.

 

Reference

Momeni N, Bergquist J, Brudin L, Behnia F, Sivberg B, Joghataei MT, Persson BL. A novel blood-based biomarker for detection of autismspectrum disorders. Transl Psychiatry (2012) 2, e91, doi:10.1038/tp.2012.19

 

Popcorn: the snack with even higher antioxidant levels than fruits and vegetables

Popcorn’s reputation as a snack food that’s actually good for health popped up a few notches today as scientists reported that it contains more of the healthful antioxidant substances called “polyphenols” than fruits and vegetables. They spoke at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, being held in San Diego, USA this week.

Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a pioneer in analyzing healthful components in chocolate, nuts and other common foods, explained that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about 4 percent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables.

In another surprising finding, the researchers discovered that the hulls of the popcorn –– the part that everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth –– actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.

“Those hulls deserve more respect,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “They are nutritional gold nuggets.”

The overall findings led Vinson to declare, “Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called “whole grain,” this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way.”

Vinson cautioned, however, that the way people prepare and serve popcorn can quickly put a dent in its healthful image. Cook it in a potful of oil, slather on butter or the fake butter used in many movie theaters, pour on the salt; eat it as “kettle corn” cooked in oil and sugar — and popcorn can become a nutritional nightmare loaded with fat and calories.

“Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course,” Vinson said. “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”

Likewise, Vinson pointed out that popcorn cannot replace fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and other nutrients that are critical for good health, but are missing from popcorn.

Vinson explained that the same concentration principle applies to dried fruit versus regular fruit, giving dried fruit a polyphenol edge. Previous studies found low concentrations of free polyphenols in popcorn, but Vinson’s team did the first study to calculate total polyphenols in popcorn. The amounts of these antioxidants were much higher than previously believed, he said. The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips.

The new study found that the amount of polyphenols found in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving. In addition, one serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the U.S. Fruits provide 255 mg per day of polyphenols and vegetables provide 218 mg per day to the average U.S. diet.

Michael G. Coco, an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of Scranton who participated in the study, said he benefited in several ways.

“From working on this project with Dr. Vinson, I’ve gained experience and many insights in doing scientific research,” said Coco. “Besides the obvious things like learning how to use instrumentation and perform analyses, I’ve also learned that research is extremely satisfying, especially when you discover or think of something no one else has thought of.”

 

Diet and Autism

Researcher Karl-Ludvig Reichelt and his colleagues at the National Hospital in Oslo have found that autistics have more peptides, or fragments of proteins in the urine than healthy people. The effect of this peptide accumulation is an opium-like effect in the brain. The autistics function better socially and achieve greater benefit from teaching and other stimulus when they eat a diet with low protein content without gluten and dairy products. The Norwegian nutrition physiologist Dag Viljen Poleszynski is also interviewed in this film. This is a trailer of the film FOOD? (2005).

 

Autistic Child Fully Recovered with Biomedical Treatment

Mrs. Holly Riley is the mother of a fully recovered autistic child. Her son Quinn was diagnosed with Autism around the age of two and yet in a just a few short years, through the use of biomedical treatment and traditional autism therapies, he was able to come out of the Autism fog. Holly discusses also her experiences related to vaccination and autism. (Produced by Larry Cook, 2010-2011).