April 2, 2014

Health Roundup: Atkins diet for depression, vegetarians less healthy, Earl Grey, Donepezil

Can an Atkins-style diet really fight depression? Research suggests low-carb, high-fat foods can drastically improve mental health

'It's a very new field; the first papers only came out a few years ago,' Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia tells The Washington Post.  'But the results are unusually consistent, and they show a link between diet quality and mental health.
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Jodi Corbit, a 47-year-old mother from Catonsville, Maryland, had been battling depression for decades before adopting the Ketogenic diet in a bid to lose weight. To her surprise, she not only shifted several pounds, but also her lifelong depression.
'It was like a veil lifted and I could see life more clearly,' she explains. 'It changed everything.'
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The Ketogenic diet has long been used, as far back as 500 BC in fact, to treat seizures, and widely-published research has shown that it can result in an up to 90 per cent decrease in seizures for patients with epilepsy.  It's also been shown to help with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even cancer. Scientists admit they aren't entirely sure why this is, and it's still more of an association  than a direct cause and effect.

The Spray-On Surgical Film That Could Make Sutures Redundant

Vegetarians are less healthy and have a worse quality of life than meat eaters, according to a study by the University of Graz, Austria.

According to the study, those who abstain from meat are "less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment." Vegetarians were twice as likely to have atopy (allergies), a 50 percent increase in cancer and a 50 percent increase in heart attacks. They also drank less alcohol.

Getting married is good for your heart, say scientists. 

People who are married are 5% less likely to have diseased arteries. They are also 19% less likely to have peripheral arterial disease.  The link between artery health and marriage particularly clear in under 50s

A cup of Earl Grey 'as good as statins' at fighting heart disease, study finds

Scientists believe bergamot, a key ingredient in Earl Grey tea, can significantly lower cholesterol

Drug helps adults learn as fast as children by making the brain more 'elastic'

Donepezil is used to improve memory function in Alzheimer’s patients. Children learn skills quickly as their brains go through 'critical periods. Researchers found donepezil can revert adult brains to these periods. It increases the 'elasticity' of the brain making it capable of learning rapidly. Researchers rewired a visually impaired patient’s brain to process images. The drug works by boosting chemicals in the brain that reduce with age

Researchers have discovered a pill that helps adults learn new skills as quickly as children.

A professor at Harvard rewired the brain of a visually impaired women to process images by giving her Alzheimer’s drug donepezil.  The pill boosts chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are both found in high concentrations in the brains of young children.

Health Care Among the Disaffiliated Digital Natives

Millennials seem to trust depersonalized, national institutions more than voluntary communities or local institutions. One way to summarize all of the data unearthed by Pew is to say that social capital is lower among Millennials than it was even for Boomers, and it is getting lower.

But one very immediate reason for concern is the relationship between strong social capital and effective health care. A large number of studies have found that marriage, kinship networks and other forms of and social support correlate with good health, and are crucial for surviving major illnesses and even economizing on care costs. Moreover, the cultural and financial challenges eldercare presents become more acute the more socially isolated people become. These powerful but non-political factors, unfortunately, tend to be overlooked in a national health care debate that is overwhelmingly focused on policies and mechanics.
Posted by Jill Fallon at April 2, 2014 5:12 PM | Permalink