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

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.

Childhood obesity linked to back problems

Overweight children are at greater risk of back pain and lifelong spinal problems, according to a study presented in November of 2009 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers demonstrated a link between higher body mass index (BMI) in children and disc abnormalities, primarily in the lower back.

“We observed a trend toward increased spine abnormality with higher BMI… These results demonstrate a strong relationship between increased BMI in the pediatric population and the incidence of lumbar disc disease,” said the study’s primary author, Dr. Judah Burns, from The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, according to an article in Science Daily.

Body mass index alone appeared to be the determining factor in disc deterioration. Children who had experienced back trauma or related injuries that could cause back pain were removed from the study. The identification of obesity’s contribution to early spinal problems may be a key to the prevention of significant back problems in adulthood.

More than 17% of children ages 6-19 are overweight, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, recent studies in Europe show that 39% of adolescents report low back pain at least once a month. It is critical that childhood obesity and its impacts on spinal health be addressed early to prevent future disability.

———————–

Burns J, Erdfarb AJ, Schneider J, Ginsburg D, Taragin B., and Lipton ML. Radiological Society of North America. “Overweight Children May Develop Back Pain and Spinal Abnormalities.” Science Daily

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Childhood Overweight and Obesity” 20 October 2009

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “Prevalence of Low Back Pain and Its Effect on Health-Related Quality of Life in Adolescents” 1 January 2009.

Herbal Supplements Better Than Drugs for Migraine

New research has revealed that butterbur, a natural herbal supplement, may be better at preventing migraines than several commonly-prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (frequently called NSAIDs).

Researchers analyzed 49 studies on migraine treatments performed from 1999 to 2009. They then rated the various treatments on their ability to prevent migraines. The research was part of new set of guidelines for treating migraines developed by the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology.

The researchers concluded that among natural and over-the-counter preventative treatments, herbal supplements of butterbur were the most effective for preventing migraines. Taking supplements containing magnesium, feverfew, and riboflavin were also shown to be as effective as some drugs at preventing migraine occurrences. The researchers rated these supplements, along with NSAIDS like ibuprofen and naproxen, “probably effective” for preventing migraines.

Many treatments are available for migraine prevention. However, few patients actually take them. The journal Neurology has published research showing that while 38 percent of migraine sufferers would benefit from preventive medication, but only 3-13% use it. As a result, the American Academy of Neurology has placed a new emphasis on preventing in their new guidelines.

Preventive medications are taken daily to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Many of these treatments are available without a prescription. However, Stephen Silberstein of the AAN

says patients should consult their doctors to determine correct dosage to control their migraines. This can change, since migraines can become better or worse over time. Chiropractic care and regular exercise are two additional natural treatments that have been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.

Photo by Adam KR via Creative Commons.

References

Holland S, Silberstein S, Freitag F, et al. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: Report of the quality standards subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology 2012; 78 (17): 1346-1353.

Lipton RB, Bigal ME, Diamond M, Freitag F, et al. Migraine prevalence, disease burden, and the need for preventive therapy. Neurology 2007; 68(5): 343– 349.

New guidelines: treatments can help prevent migraine. American Academy of Neurology. Press Release. April 23, 2012. Accessed May 30,2012. //www.aan.com/press/index.cfm?fuseaction=release.view&release=1062.

Preventing Stroke with Nutrition

Between 1970 and 2008, the risk of stroke in high income countries fell by 42%. This time period coincided with increased public awareness of the health dangers of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking. Further understanding of the role of nutrition in the incidence of stroke is crucial to developing strategies to minimize this risk.

A recent review examined the evidence linking poor nutrition, over-nutrition, obesity, and diet to the risk of stroke by examining the results of studies examining nutrition and stroke risk.

The findings of this review are diverse. Among the most important findings are: Dietary supplementation with antioxidants, calcium, and B vitamins does not reduce the risk of stroke, while diets that are low in salt and sugar while high in potassium could reduce the risk of stroke. The overall quality of the diet, and balance between energy intake and expenditure (avoiding over-nutrition or malnutrition) seem to be more important determinants of stroke risk than individual foods or nutrients.

Further research is needed to add to the evidence relating to the association of nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns with stroke risk. A doctor of chiropractic trained in nutrition can advise you on making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent stroke and other conditions associated with aging.

Reference

Hankey GJ. Nutrition and the risk of stroke. Lancet Neurology 2012; 11: 661-81.

Infant Colic Reduced with Diet Changes

Dietary changes could decrease crying in infants with colic, according to a recent literature review. The study confirmed that switching to a hydrolysed protein or soy-based formula and modifying mothers’ diets reduced symptoms of colic in infants. Colic is responsible for an estimated 10-20% early pediatric doctor visits and the condition can be the source of significant stress and exhaustion for parents.

The exact causes of colic are still unknown. While recent research suggests that it could be related to infant headache, previous research suggests colic is related to the immaturity of the infant gut. Dietary changes are a common treatment for infant colic because they offer a simple, drug-free therapy, the authors of the review observed.

In their review, researchers examined 55 studies evaluating the effects of diet modification on colic. In a 2009 study, infants fed partially hydrolysed or soy-based formula had a significant reduction in crying that lasted at least 14 days. For breastfed babies in another study, mothers following hypoallergenic diets for seven days (no tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat or fish) reported their babies had a 37% reduction in crying.  Researchers pointed out that this strict diet may be difficult to follow for extensive periods of time, and hard for low-income families to implement. Still, they suggested that mothers may be able to reduce infant crying by limiting their intake of “allergy-associated” foods.

Before making any significant dietary changes though, researchers wrote that “expert nutritional guidance should be sought as very restricted maternal diets have the potential to be nutritionally inadequate.”

A chiropractor trained in nutrition could advise you in using nutrition and other natural therapies for reducing infant colic.

Reference

Iacovou M, et al. Dietary management of infantile colic: a systematic review. Maternal and Child Health Journal 2012;16(6):1319-1331.

Should Non-Celiac Patients Go Gluten-Free?

Is “gluten-free” just the latest diet craze? That’s what critics say who point out that despite the growing popularity of gluten-free diets, only 2% of Americans have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease, according a 2012 survey.

People with celiac disease can have dangerous allergic reactions when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat. Some doctors say there’s no need for patients to avoid gluten if they don’t actually have celiac disease since doing so without a balanced diet could deprive them of much-needed nutrients found in wheat products. But many people argue that going gluten-free helps them gain more energy, lose weight, and ease gastrointestinal symptoms.

Recent research suggests that gluten intolerance isn’t limited to those with celiac disease. A 2011 study included 34 patients with irritable bowel syndrome who did not have celiac disease but said that a gluten-free diet controlled their symptoms.

To test whether the improvement in symptoms was simply the result of the placebo effect, the participants were given two slices of bread and one muffin to eat daily during the study. Half of the participants received bread and muffins containing gluten and half received gluten-free versions specially formulated to be identical in taste and texture to the regular versions. Participants were unaware of which version they received and were simply told to record their symptoms during the study. In the gluten group, 68% of people said their symptoms worsened with more bloating, pain, tiredness, and loose stool.

“Although this study does not identify a mechanism for non-celiac gluten intolerance, it provides the most convincing evidence yet for the existence of this condition,” stated William F. Balistreri, MD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who commented on the research in a recent article from Medscape.

These findings, along with other recent research, led a panel of celiac experts to conclude that there is a broad umbrella of “gluten-related disorders”, even in people without celiac disease. However they still do not know how many people are affected by non-celiac gluten  sensitivity, or even how to reliability diagnose it.

Although more research is needed to understand non-celiac gluten sensitivities, many patients with irritable bowel syndrome, Chrone’es disease, or other gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from avoiding gluten. Experts caution against going gluten-free without the guidance of health provider however.

“Certainly, getting tested for celiac disease before commencing a gluten-free trial is still optimal,” Dr. Balistreri explained. That’s because people with celiac disease have an increased risk of cancer, are forced to adhere to a lifelong strict diet, and may have an inherited intolerance requiring family members to be screened, he pointed out.

A doctor of chiropractic trained in nutrition may be able to identify whether you have a gluten sensitivity, and support you in making healthy nutrition decisions.

References

Balistreri W. “Could this patient have ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity’? Medscape Today. February 11,2013. Accessed March 14, 2013. //www.medscape.com/viewarticle/778320?src=wnl_edit_specol&uac=178718CJ.

Biesiekierski JR, Newnham ED, Irving PM, et al. Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106:508-514.

Ludvigsson JF, et al. The Oslo definitions for coeliac disease and related terms. GUT 2012; 62 (1): 43-52.

Adolescence is a Crucial Time for Optimum Nutrition

Ensuring a healthy future for your teenager is no easy task. Many teens have poor diets, consuming soda, junk food, and unhealthy snacks. Some teenagers may limit their food intake to an unhealthy intake level in an attempt to stay or become thin. Even a teenager who seems to be have a relatively healthy diet may lack certain crucial nutrients.

Guidelines set forth by the FDA for nutrient intake levels are based on an amount that is meant to keep the “average adult” from developing a deficiency in that nutrient. Not only is this not optimum for the very best health we can achieve, it also doesn’t reflect the needs of a teenager undergoing so many physiological changes.

In a recent article printed in the Critical Review in Food Science and Nutritionjournal, the authors explain that calcium needs are increased in adolescents due to extreme bone and muscle development as well as hormonal changes. This puts them at risk of developing deficiencies that can lead to poor bone health later in life. Once we are around 30 years old, we’ve already built up the bone stores that we will then use for the remainder of our lives. Therefore, building these levels up through optimum calcium intake early in life can help prevent and slow bone loss.

A doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your teen’s overall health, bone health, diet, and lifestyle to form a treatment plan designed to optimize your teen’s health now and for the future.

Mesias M, Seiquer I, Navarro MP. Calcium nutrition in adolescence. Critical Review in Food Science and Nutrition.  2011 Mar;51(3):195-209.