Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Category: Nutrition Research (Page 1 of 22)

Oily Fish and Depression

If you suffer from low mood it is worth checking that you are getting enough fish in your diet.

Oily Fish and Depression…

A team of scientists from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China recently published a study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health that shows a link between depression and fish in the diet.

The research was very comprehensive: it analysed data from over 150,000 people from 26 studies that were carried out between 2001 – 2014. Of the 26 studies, 12 showed a direct correlation between frequent fish consumption and depression with those who ate the most fish having as much as 17% reduced risk of depression.

Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines, are a great source of omega-3s that are vital for brain health.

B Vitamins may tackle depression

Research has also been published in the medical journal Maturitas. The results of the research showed that many sufferers of depression had a Vitamin B deficiency. They also found links between the B vitamins, the immune system and depression. It is thought that low levels of the B vitamins lead to a weaker immune system which could be a contributing factor to depression. A Vitamin B complex could therefore be something worth bearing in mind for anyone with any feelings of depression.

Source

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Psychology of a Perfect Diet

Many of us with an interest in nutrition and health make the assumption that there must be a perfect diet: a perfect way to eat, a perfect nutritional system, the one way of consuming food that trumps all other approaches.

I know I used to. If you follow this thinking, all you need do is discover this one perfect diet and you’ll hit the jackpot. By finding the perfect diet, you can have perfect health, perfect weight, perfect energy, perfect looks, and live forever…

So, who wouldn’t want to find this perfect diet?

Now this may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, and I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek here – but the reality is, I see far too many people, including experts, who take this dogmatic stance — there has to be one perfect diet… 

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Health Benefits of Taking a Nap

Make like a Mediterranean and have a siesta, it could be great for your health.

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology explores the benefits of taking a nap. The team of scientists led by Dr Kallistratos from Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens monitored 386 participants (200 men and 186 women – average age 61.4 years old).

All of them had hypertension. The researchers recorded a number of things including sleep time, blood pressure, lifestyle habits, BMI (Body Mass Index) and echocardiographic measurements.

The results showed that sleeping for 60 minutes after a midday meal gave an average blood pressure reading (over 24 hours) that was 4mm of mercury lower and the participants’ blood pressure continued to drop by 2% and used less medication.

I know that it’s not realistic to imagine that everyone has the luxury of taking a nap for an hour after lunch, but if you’re able to do it at the weekend or on a day off, you should. Resting after lunch is also great for your digestion.

References: European Society of Cardiology

Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

Junk Food Shrinks your Brain

Junk food shrinks your brain – yes, really…

Eating junk food can diminish the size of the part of your brain that is linked to learning, memory and mental health.

The study which was published in BMC Medicine look at 255 people and used MRI scans to measure the size of the hippocampus region of the brain, alongside their regular diets. The researchers found that those who ate a healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish had a larger hippocampus than those who ate more sugar, salt and processed meat in their diets.

The findings are relevant to  mental health, depression and Alzheimer’s, which are a growing concern for the ageing population.

If you are reliant on processed foods and junk food take heed. Try and clean up your diet to include more fresh produce and keep sugar, salt and saturated fat to a minimum.

take a break

Why you Should Take a Break

Why you should take a break during your working day.

Do you get a chance to take a break during your working day? What you do in your break can have a knock on effect on your job satisfaction and wellbeing. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology looked at data from 95 employees (from 22 – 67 years old) over a typical 5-day workweek. The breaks were recorded and overall the scientists reviewed 959 break surveys.

Here were the 4 key findings:

1. The best time of day to take a break was mid-morning.

2. The best breaks were when the employees did things that they enjoyed. This could be going to the gym, going for a walk, chatting to a friend/colleague.

3. Good breaks have a positive effect on your health and job satisfaction.

4. Taking short, frequent breaks is preferable to one long break.

So there you have it. It‘s important to take breaks during the working day. Make sure you get the most out of yours.

References: Give me a better break: Choosing workday break activities to maximize resource recovery.

aging and intelligence

Ageing and Intelligence

Things are looking up for ageing and intelligence.

A group of population experts from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IILSA) have published a study (published in journal PLOS ONE) that looks at data that was collected in Germany between the period of 2006 – 2012.

Older people are getting smarter, but not fitter

The IILSA researchers found that cognitive test scores increased for both men and women at all ages from 50 – 90, while physical and mental health declined. Low-educated men aged 50 – 64 were even more likely to suffer.

One explanation for the improvement in cognitive performance is lifestyle. The lead researcher, Nadia Steiber suggests that life has become more cognitively challenging; from the use of technology and people working longer in more demanding jobs. On the other hand, people are less physically active which is why obesity is on the rise.

It’s great to hear that intelligence is booming in the ageing population but it’s important that you stay active as well. Whether you walk, swim or take a Pilates class it is important for your overall health and wellbeing to keep moving.

References: Population Aging at Cross-Roads: Diverging Secular Trends in Average Cognitive Functioning and Physical Health in the Older Population of Germany

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PUFAs Keep Children Lean and Healthy

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A diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAS, helps keep children lean and healthy.

A recent study has shown that children who have a diet rich in PUFAS are leaner with less belly fat than those who don’t. The study published in the Journal of Nutrition looked at children between the ages of 7 – 12 years old.  The children and their carers completed questionnaires on their food intake. The children were also scanned to assess their levels of belly fat. The results showed children who had plenty of PUFAS in their diet were leaner, with less body fat and belly fat.

PUFAs are good for everyone. We can’t make them in our bodies so we have to get them from food. They make up cell membranes and nerve coverings. They are also important for controlling inflammation, blood clotting and muscle movement. Good sources of PUFAS include tree nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, cashews), oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines) and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed).

References: Higher Intake of PUFAs Is Associated with Lower Total and Visceral Adiposity and Higher Lean Mass in a Racially Diverse Sample of Children

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Calcium & Magnesium Reduce Metabolic Syndrome

good nutrition adviceCalcium and magnesium reduce metabolic syndrome.

With obesity on the rise, the risk of metabolic syndrome increases as the two are closely linked. A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found calcium and magnesium could reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

The research carried out by Case Western Reserve University (U.S.) used data from 9,418 adults and found that women who were meeting the US Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for magnesium and calcium had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. It was bad news for men, though, who appeared to need over the RDA for their risk to be lowered.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of characteristics that include fat around the middle, glucose intolerance and high blood pressure (hypertension). The syndrome is also associated with high levels of harmful fats in the blood linked to heart disease, cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Good food sources of magnesium include pulses, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables and whole grains. Good food sources of calcium include white beans (cannellini), dried figs, kale, black-eyed peas, almonds and tofu. It is also worth taking a good quality supplement to support your diet.

References: Dietary intake of calcium and magnesium and the metabolic syndrome in the National Health and Nutrition Examination

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Psoriasis Link to Depression

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Psoriasis link to depression

If you suffer from psoriasis, no matter how severe, you could be at risk of depression. A study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Summer Meeting in New York 2015 has made a connection between the skin disease and mental illness.

The researchers used data from over 12,000 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Three percent of the participants had psoriasis and 8% had major depression. Of those with psoriasis, 16.5% had symptoms of major depression.

Psoriasis is a skin disease that can take its toll on both your self-esteem and your quality of life. As well as having to live with discomfort and itching sufferers are often worried about what other people might think of them. The scientists that carried out this study recommend those who are struggling with psoriasis seek help to manage their condition.

References: Research links psoriasis, depression

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High Salt Intake: Overeating Fatty Food

good nutrition adviceHigh salt intake could lead to overeating fatty food.

Two studies published in the Journal of Nutrition and Chemical Senses confirm the relationship between high salt and high fat intake. The first study took 49 participants aged 18 – 54 and gave them tomato soup with four different fat concentrations and five different salt concentrations.

The researchers found that those who preferred and detected the lower-fat soups also favoured the option with no added salt, leading them to conclude that salt masks fat.

The second study consisted of 48 adults (18-54) who attended four lunches over a six-day period. The lunch was the same each time with different concentrations of salt and fat. The scientists found that the participants consumed up to 11% less energy when their lunches were low salt, high fat. However, they ate much more when the lunch was high fat, high salt.

Your body should have an inbuilt mechanism to tell you when it’s full but this mechanism is blocked when salt is added to food. If you struggle with overeating watch your salt intake. Eating out and convenience foods will be the most problematic as these foods tend to contain much more salt than you would naturally add at home.

The solution? Make as much of your food as possible so you know what goes in it.

References: Effects of Salt and Fat Combinations on Taste Preference and Perception

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