Alcohol Abuse and Neuropsychological Tests

This study, which was presented at the 18th Annual National Academy of Neuropsychology Conference, examined the effects of chronic alcohol abuse on test scores of neuropsychological tests in patients who experiences a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The researchers compared the results of the tests between two groups: those with and those without a history of chronic alcoholism.

They found the TBI patients with a history of alcoholism had difficulty on the tests that measured higher level brain functioning—such as verbal fluency and categorization. The authors conclude:

“The findings lend support to the hypothesis that pre-existing executive system deficits exist in the chronic alcoholic and that poorer performance is related to the additive effect of chronic [alcohol] use and sustained brain injury.”

Professionals who work with TBI patients need to take a careful history, to be aware of the history of alcoholism, as such a history can dramatically influence the results on neuropsychological exams.

Kreuch, TJ, Falcon P, Gabel B, Hudson D. Effects of chronic alchohol abuse on neuropsychological test performance in individuals with traumatic brain injury. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology 1999;14(1): 34.

Drinking in Moderation Eases Fibromyalgia

Drinking in Moderation Eases Fibromyalgia Winding down with a glass of wine could ease fibromyalgia symptoms. In a new study, patients with fibromyalgia who drank alcohol in moderation had fewer symptoms and a better quality of life than nondrinkers.

Mayo Clinic researchers believe alcohol could reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) by increasing a neurotransmitter in the brain known as GABA. However they also pointed out that nondrinkers as a group may have more severe fibromyalgia and could be avoiding alcohol if they are using opioid painkillers.

The study, published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, included 946 patients enrolled in the Mayo’s Fibromyalgia Treatment Program. The patients completed a number of tests to assess their fibromyalgia symptoms, quality of life, and overall health. They were also asked to report how frequently they consumed alcohol.

People drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol (3-7 drinks a week) had higher physical function and quality of life scores, less fibromyalgia symptoms, and less pain than nondrinkers. This association held after adjusting for BMI and social variables. Heavy drinkers ( more than 7 drinks a week) did not experience the same benefits.

The researchers explained that people with fibromyalgia tend to have lower amounts of GABA in their brain. GABA is an inhibitory transmitter, and not having enough of it may cause the nervous system to react in a way that amplifies pain. It’s possible that alcohol binds to the GABA receptor in the central nervous system to reduce the transmission of pain.

“However the effects of alcohol may also be due to improved mood, socialization and tension, and while moderate drinkers have fewer symptoms there are still many questions about how this happens,” stated researcher Dr. Terry H. Oh in a press release. The authors cautioned against FMS patients increasing their consumption of alcohol since more research is needed.

If you’re not looking to up your alcohol intake anytime soon, patients with fibromyalgia can benefit from natural treatments like chiropractic care.

Reference

Kim C, et al. Association between alcohol consumption and symptom severity and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013; 15 (R42). doi:10.1186/ar4200.

Which vitamins are right for you?

Do you take vitamins? If so, you’re in the company of more than half of Americans who report taking a multivitamin or other dietary supplement. These tiny little capsules have garnered a lot of attention in the news lately.

The varying results from these studies remind us of the complexity of nutrition and vitamins. While many supplements can be beneficial for your health, other supplements still need further research to understand their full impact.

There are some guidelines though that can help you determine which supplements you should include in your diet:

First, not all supplements are created equally. Low-grade supplements are often not as soluble, which means the body has difficulty accessing the nutrients. If you’re going through the trouble of taking vitamins, you want to make sure they’re high-quality so your body can experience the full benefits. Many chiropractors have quality supplements on hand in their office or can recommend good sources.

Second, there seems to be a consensus among doctors that the best way to receive vitamins is through eating healthy food.  A lot of people have grown accustomed to eating primarily processed foods which often lack the nutritional benefits of unprocessed foods. And taking a vitamin isn’t a simple answer to that lack of nutrition either. Nutrients inside of food interact in complex ways that can’t always be replicated in supplements. Taking supplements can be a good way to enhance your healthy diet or fill-in if you have vitamin deficiency, but they aren’t meant to replace a healthy diet. Ask your doctor for more information about healthy nutrition and vitamin deficiency.

Finally, every person will have a unique set of vitamin needs. What supplements you should take depends on several factors like your diet, age, and sex, whether your have a deficiency. Your chiropractor has received nutritional training and can counsel you on which supplements are right for you.

Your chiropractor does more than just treat pain; they’re there to help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Dark Chocolate: Good for your sweetheart and your heart

Getting chocolate from a sweetheart could benefit your romance and your heart. A new study suggests that dark chocolate can help prevent heart problems. At an estimated annual cost of $42 a person, dark chocolate could reduce fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events.

Previous research suggested that chocolate can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels but every study has been short-term in scope. To estimate the long-term effects of chocolate consumption, researchers analyzed data from the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyles study which included 2,013. Using statistical models and risk-prediction algorithms, researchers estimated how daily consumption of dark chocolate would affect patients with metabolic syndrome over 10 years. Under the best case scenario, daily consumption could prevent 70 nonfatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular incidents for every 10,000 people. If patients were only 80% compliant, those numbers dipped to 55 and  10 respectively. Even with these lower numbers, researchers concluded that eating dark chocolate is a cost-effective preventive measure.

But milk-chocolate lovers be weary: these cardiovascular benefits are only apparent in chocolate containing 60-70% coco or enriched with polyphenols. The coco bean is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids with antihypertensive properties and positive metabolic effects. Flavonoids have also been shown to slow cognitive decline in older adults and prevent stroke.

 

References

Zomer E, Own A, Magliano D, et al. The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a Markov model. British Medical Journal 2012; 344:e3657.

 

Dark Chocolate: Good for your sweetheart and your heart

Getting chocolate from a sweetheart could benefit your romance and your heart. A new study suggests that dark chocolate can help prevent heart problems. At an estimated annual cost of $42 a person, dark chocolate could reduce fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events.

Previous research suggested that chocolate can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels but every study has been short-term in scope. To estimate the long-term effects of chocolate consumption, researchers analyzed data from the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyles study which included 2,013. Using statistical models and risk-prediction algorithms, researchers estimated how daily consumption of dark chocolate would affect patients with metabolic syndrome over 10 years. Under the best case scenario, daily consumption could prevent 70 nonfatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular incidents for every 10,000 people. If patients were only 80% compliant, those numbers dipped to 55 and  10 respectively. Even with these lower numbers, researchers concluded that eating dark chocolate is a cost-effective preventive measure.

But milk-chocolate lovers be weary: these cardiovascular benefits are only apparent in chocolate containing 60-70% coco or enriched with polyphenols. The coco bean is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids with antihypertensive properties and positive metabolic effects. Flavonoids have also been shown to slow cognitive decline in older adults and prevent stroke.

 

References

Zomer E, Own A, Magliano D, et al. The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a Markov model. British Medical Journal 2012; 344:e3657.

Citrus and flavones reduce risk of stroke

We know citrus for its immunity-boosting vitamin C properties, but the fruits may have another health benefit: reducing your risk of stroke. Citrus fruits are a good source of flavones, a subclass of flavonoids, that were tied to lower rates of stroke in a recent analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study. Flavonoids are a class of plant pigments that act as antioxidants and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

In the study, 69, 622 participants completed questionnaires on their food intake every four years for 14 years. Researchers also tracked whether participants had strokes, and which types of strokes they had.

Using a state-of-the art food database, researchers analyzed participants’ diets for the presence of six common flavonoids. They discovered that people who consumed less flavones had an increased risk of ischemic strokes. In the fourteen years of the study, ischemic strokes occurred more frequently than other types of strokes.

Citrus was not the only source of flavonoids in participants’ diets. Tea, non-sugary citrus juices, apples, and blueberries all contributed to increasing participants’ flavonoid intake. But only flavones were linked to a significant decrease in strokes, and none of the flavonoids were associated with a decrease in hemorrhagic strokes.

There’s no magic vitamin or nutrient for preventing strokes, but an overall healthy, balanced diet may significantly decrease your risk. Talk to qualified nutritionist or a chiropractor trained in nutrition to learn more about healthy dietary and vitamin choices.

Anderson, Pauline. Flavanones in Citrus Fruit May Lower Stroke Risk. Medscape Today. February 23, 2012. //www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759097. Accessed April 3, 2012.

Cassidy, A, Rimm E, O’Reilly E, Logroscino G, Chiuve S, Rexrode K. Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women. Stroke 2012;doi: 10.1161/​STROKEAHA.111.637835.

Eating berries delays memory decline

A handful of berries a week could make a difference in preventing memory loss, suggests a new analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS).

Typically older adults experience gradual memory decline as the years pass. In the study, women with increased berry intake slowed their memory decline by as much as 2.5 years.  The best part? The benefits of berries were seen with just one serving of blueberries a week or two servings of strawberries.

The cognitive-boosting benefits of berries is likely a result of the high amounts of flavonoids they contain. Flavonoids are plant pigments with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, berries have a subclass of flavonoids called anthocyanidins which “can cross the blood-brain barrier and localize in the hippocampus, known to be an area of the brain involved in learning and memory.” Since inflammation and oxidative stress may contribute to cognitive impairment,  anthocyanidins could slow cognitive decline in older adults. The study echoes results from other research suggesting the benefits of certain flavonoids in reducing the risk of stroke.

The study analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a cohort of 121,700 female nurses aged 30-55 years old. NHS tracked participant’s lifestyle choices  starting in 1976. From 2011 to 1995, a subgroup of women ages 70 and up were evaluated for cognitive function every two years. The researchers then compared these results with over 20 years of data on the women’s berry consumption.

It’s important not rely on one food to prevent cognitive decline. Other factors like exercise and socioeconomic status likely influenced the results in this study, analysts not involved with the study pointed out. Dr. David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic told Medscape Medical News that studies on the association of dietary habits and health outcomes are “notoriously hard to replicate.”

Although there’s no magic food or vitamin that will prevent cognitive decline, a diet rich in vegetables and fruit combined with a regular exercise routine may be the best way to prevent a number of diseases and disorders. A chiropractor trained in nutrition can assist you in making healthy dietary choices to maximize your health.

 References

Devore E, Kang JE, Breteler M, and Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology. E-published ahead of print. DOI: 10.1002/ana.23594.

Lowry, Fran. Eating Berries Linked to Delay in Cognitive Decline. Medscape Today. May 1, 2012. Accessed May 2, 2012. //www.medscape.com/viewarticle/763013.

 

The vitamin fibromyalgia patients are missing

Fibromyalgia patients are at risk of vitamin D deficiency according to a new study from Ireland. In the study, 36% of fibromyalgia patients had deficient levels of vitamin D and 62% had insufficient levels. That meant only 15% of patients were getting adequate levels of the vitamin.

The patients were mostly middle-aged women. Researchers pointed out that the women’s vitamin D levels may have been affected by the fact they lived in seldom-sunny Ireland. When it is sunny, patients may still choose to stay indoors because of their disability and pain.

Low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, cancer, and more. Vitamin D helps the body maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. It also allows the body to absorb calcium to strengthen the bones.

Previous research has investigated the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and musculoskeletal pain with conflicting results. In some studies, fibromyalgia patients had low levels of the vitamin but in others their levels were no different than control participants.  In one study vitamin D supplementation appeared to have no specific clinical benefits for fibromyalgia patients.

Still, there does appear to be link between vitamin D deficiency and muscle pain. While more research is needed to understand this link, vitamin D supplements could benefit the overall health of fibromyalgia patients.

Consult with your chiropractor or health practitioner to learn which vitamins are right for you.

 

References

Jan A, et al. “Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in patients with fibromyalgia”BSR 2012; Abstract 231.

Walsh, Nancy. Medpage Today. Vitamin D May be Help in Fibromyalgia. May 3, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2012. //www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/BSR/32497.

Vitamin D deficiency increases fracture risk in older adults

Vitamin D supplements could prevent brittle bones but many older adults lack sufficient levels of the vitamin. In a recent survey of older adults who sustained fractures, 64% had deficient vitamin D levels and 90% had insufficient calcium levels. Taking high doses of vitamin D could be an important preventive measure for older adults, a new study suggests.

In the study, high doses of vitamin D reduced the risk of hip fractures in older adults by 30% and the risk non-vertebral fractures by 14%. The meta-analysis differed from previous studies because researchers examined the actual amount of vitamin D participants consumed rather than the amount they were assigned to take. Of the 31,022 adults surveyed, those who took at least 800 IU of vitamin D had the largest reduction in fractures.

Taking vitamin D supplements could improve bone and spinal health, regardless of age. Consult with your chiropractor or health practitioner to determine whether vitamin D supplementation makes sense for you.

Bischoff-Ferrari H, et al. A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. N Engl J of Med 2012; 367:40-49.

No Relief From Junk Food Ads

Parents and doctors face an uphill battle in getting kids to eat well. With $1.6 billion spent every year to convince kids to choose junk food, it’s no wonder many parents find meal time a constant source of conflict. Despite industry promises to start advertising more healthy foods to children, the onslaught of television ads for unhealthy foods has not decreased, according to a December 2009 study by the University of Arizona.

The study was commissioned by Children Now, a public policy group in California, to find out the impacts of a 2007 pledge by major food companies to stop advertising unhealthy foods to children. The group used a measure developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called GO-SLOW-WHOA. GO is for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. SLOW refers to higher fat or sugary foods that should be eaten in moderation. WHOA products are those highest in fat and added sugar, which children should eat only “on special occasions, in small portions.”

The study found that 72% of the food advertising to children is for WHOAproducts. GO foods accounted for just 1% of advertising. Less than one in 100 food ads, therefore, show a product that kids can safely eat on a daily basis.

SpongeBob SquarePants and other popular characters are one of the most effective tools for advertising food to kids– in fact, use of these characters in food advertising has doubled in the last four years. Unfortunately, the study found that nearly half of all food advertised by SpongeBob and other characters is for unhealthy WHOA products. This is especially concerning because food marketing has been demonstrated as a significant factor in the epidemic of childhood obesity.

What does this mean for parents and health care practitioners? Chiropractors should take note, because their holistic approach to patient health recognizes the importance of diet and nutrition to the ability of the body to heal itself. The link to spinal health, in particular, is especially relevant due to other recent studies linking childhood obesity with low back pain and disc abnormalities. Parents should consult their health care practitioners about the ways that diet impacts their children’s overall wellness.

————

University of Arizona (2009, December 14). Food industry faulted for pushing high-calorie, low-nutrient products. ScienceDaily. The entire report can be found on the website of Children Now.

Federal Trade Commission. Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents.  p. ES-2.