October 11

Probiotics for anxiety; home floor plan and overeating; nutrition for social kids; B12 and dementia and other research snippets….


New nutrition research is published daily and so I thought I’d do a very simple round-up of some of the papers that came to my attention in September. I used to do this every month for a magazine in England that I wrote for.

Research from America has suggested our modern love of open plan eating may not be great for the waistline. A study of college students has shown that floor plans may influence how much we eat. When the living area was separate to the kitchen/food area, the students ate significantly less food.

Food in easy reach basically leads to eating more. My comment – I feel there is a lot to be said for this. It is so common to always get yourself a snack every time you go in the kitchen so if you’re always in the kitchen area of your home, might this be playing a part in snacking a bit too much?

Just being aware of this can help stop you grabbing for a snack every time you think about it. http://eab.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/08/18/0013916516661822

A new systematic review (this is considered the highest form of evidence) has reported significant benefits for supplementing with probiotics (good bacteria in the digestive tract) for reducing anxiety and depression. The Canadian team combined the data from ten studies investigating the effects of probiotics and have found definite psychological benefits of probiotic supplements. They’ve called for more research into specific strains of bacteria.

My comment – It is not a coincidence that often poor brain health usually coincides with digestive problems. The gut-brain superhighway is incredibly important and the influence that gut bacteria has on our overall health is increasingly being proven to be wide-spread and significant. If you look after your friendly bacteria they’ll look after you – quite simple really!

​An article published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy has shed light on what may be driving the increase in eczema that usually starts in early childhood. Previous studies have suggested that skin problems such as eczema may be triggered when the baby is developing in the womb.

Vitamin B3 has been previously linked to eczema hence this study focused on investigating if levels of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) and compounds related to an essential amino acid tryptophan may play a part in healthy skin development.

The researchers looked into the levels of vitamin B3 in the mother in the last trimester and linked these levels to the likelihood of the child having eczema at 6 months and a 12 months of age. They found that higher levels of vitamin B3 during pregnancy reduced the risk of eczema at 12 months of age. Vitamin B3 is naturally found in meats, poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds. My comment – this is an excellent example of how important eating well during pregnancy is.

There are many unanswered questions in the medical community as to why we are seeing an unwanted increase in childhood health problems. We just can’t keep ignoring the impact that poor quality food has on our society. Increasing B vitamins in general may help improve skin conditions.

Vitamin B12 has also been in the spotlight recently. Firstly though a bit of background – Vitamin B12 is one of the biggest (in size) nutrients absorbed in the body. It can only be absorbed in the presence of good levels of stomach acid which releases a substance called intrinsic factor which allows B12 to be absorbed. B12 is only found naturally in animal derived foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and fish. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include very low energy, irritability, anxiety and tension, weakness, heart palpitations and being short of breath, tender sore muscles, pale skin and constipation. As I see a lot of people with stress and digestive problems I also see a lot of B12 deficiency symptoms.

When it comes to B12 it is definitely a case that you may be eating it but are you absorbing it properly?

So the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has last month published results from a new study investigating the link between B12 and brain health in older adults with memory problems. The research team recruited 100 people aged 50 to 80 years old with mild cognitive impairment. They found that those with the lowest levels of B12 had the most impaired memory and learning ability. They also found that the structure of the brain was altered with low B12 levels.

My comment – B12 is an essential nutrient but it’s so important to seek proper advice before just supplementing. As I said your digestive system needs to be working properly to absorb it and this is the same whether you are taking a supplement or just eating good food. Improvements in health can be enormous when you get your levels right.

This paper focused on B12 and dementia, which is a terrible condition for everyone involved. It illustrates how much is potentially within your control to prevent or limit the devastating effects when you get the right advice and implement the right anti-ageing strategies.

Essential fats and children: A Swedish study has investigated the impact of supplementing children with essential fatty acids DHA and EPA on their reading skills. 154 children were randomly assigned to either have an essential fatty acid supplement or a placebo for three months. Their reading ability was tested at the start and end of the trial.

The researchers found that the kids who’d taken the supplement had a significant improvement in their reading compared to those who’d taken the placebo.  When the parents were questioned, the kids who had attention problems were shown to have benefited the most from the supplement.

My comment – our modern diet has very little essential fatty acids and the brain cells need essential fats for brain signalling and healthy brain function. If you and your kids are not eating good levels of fish, nuts and seeds than supplementing makes a lots of sense.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016 Aug 22. Epub ahead of print]

A related study in Maternal and Child Nutrition has shown that children with no signs of nutrient deficiencies have better social development. Over 1500 children aged 3 years of age were assessed for social skills and malnutrition. Researchers found that children without obvious signs of iron, riboflavin, niacin, and protein deficiency had much better development of social skills than children with even one sign of a deficiency. They also showed that as levels of nutrients increased so did the social skills of the kids.

My comment – good food = happy, sociable kids = happy parents = the best outcome for everyone. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mcn.12321/abstract


anxiety, B12, dementia, probiotics, research

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