Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: January 2015

What is Collagen and Why Do We Need it?

AntioxidantsIf you are interested in anti-ageing products, you will probably know that the promise of many of them is to “increase collagen production”. 

But what is collagen, and why do we need it? Put simply, collagen is a form of connective tissue, the glue, if you like, that holds our bodies together.  As we age, we lose collagen, and you can see the results externally as skin starts to sag and create wrinkles.  Internally, you may feel it as aches and pains as collagen’s “cushioning” of muscles and bones deteriorates.

A multi-billion pound industry has grown up around discovering ways to restore this “elixir of youth”, from creams, to drinks, to collagen pills.

But there are more natural and easy ways to prevent the loss of collagen, including avoiding sun damage to the skin, staying hydrated by drinking lots of  water, and ensuring your diet is packed full of vitamin C rich foods.

The antioxidants in fresh fruit and vegetables help to combat the free radicals in the body that actively attack collagen cells, resulting in diminished collagen production.

Fatty Acids in Fish May Shield Brain from Mercury Damage

Fatty Acids in Fish May Shield Brain from Mercury DamageNew findings from research in the Seychelles provide further evidence that the benefits of fish consumption on prenatal development may offset the risks associated with mercury exposure.

In fact, the new study, which appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that the nutrients found in fish have properties that protect the brain from the potential toxic effects of the chemical.

Three decades of research in the Seychelles have consistently shown that high levels of fish consumption by pregnant mothers — an average of 12 meals per week — do not produce developmental problems in their children. Researchers have previously equated this phenomenon to a kind of biological horse race, with the developmental benefits of nutrients in fish outpacing the possible harmful effects of mercury also found in fish.

However, the new research indicates that this relation is far more complex and that compounds present in fish — specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) — may also actively counteract the damage that mercury causes in the brain.

“These findings show no overall association between prenatal exposure to mercury through fish consumption and neurodevelopmental outcomes,” said Edwin van Wijngaarden, PhD., and associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Public Health Sciences and a co-author of the study. “It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially adverse effects of mercury.”

The new study comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and international agencies are in the process of revisiting fish consumption advisories to better reflect the health benefits of nutrients found in fish. The FDA’s current guidance — which recommends that pregnant women limit their consumption of certain fish to twice a week — was established because of the known risk of high level mercury exposure on childhood development.

Mercury is found in the environment as a result of both natural and human (e.g. coal plant emissions) activity. Much of it ends up being deposited in the world’s oceans and, as a result, fish harbor the chemical in very small amounts.



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