June 22, 2017

Health Roundup: Olive oil good, lack of sleep bad for brain, Parkinson's, exercising spiritual muscles good

Extra-virgin olive oil prevents dementia by prompting the brain to clear out harmful debris, reveal scientists

Lead researcher Professor Domenico Pratico, from Temple University in Pennsylvania, said: 'We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy.' Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out unwanted debris left in the body. Mice with induced Alzheimer's who were fed a diet of olive oil had higher levels of autophagy in the brain, according to researchers.  Professor Pratico said: 'One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity - the integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet.

Your brain may eat itself when you’re overtired: study

Sleep deprivation actually causes the brain to feed off of neurons and synaptic connections, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience says.  In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain starts to eat itself.

Neuroscientist Michele Bellesi, from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, led a study examining the brain’s response to poor sleep habits using well-rested and overtired mice....“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” ... “But it may cause harm in the long term, and could explain why a chronic lack of sleep puts people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.”
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During sleep, glial cells, or astrocytes, clear the brain of  synapses to rejuvenate the brain while  the microglial cell destroys “old and worn out cells via a process called phagocytosis — meaning ‘to devour’ in Greek,”...These processes have a positive effect while you sleep, rewiring and replenishing the brain for the next day. Essentially, the brain is eliminating what’s irrelevant, holding onto what’s vital, and making room for new memories....However, when you stay awake, the cells actually go into overdrive and start hurting the brain instead.

Fat-soluble statins may increase risk of Parkinson's disease

The team examined medical insurance claim data from 50 million people. Of these, they selected 22,000 people living with Parkinson's disease, 2,322 of whom were newly diagnosed with the disease....

"Statin use was associated with higher, not lower, Parkinson's disease risk, and the association was more noticeable for lipophilic statins, an observation inconsistent with the current hypothesis that these statins protect nerve cells," she says. Although more studies are needed to better understand these results, Prof. Huang advocates for a cautious use of statins, particularly for those patients at higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's is partly an autoimmune disease, study finds

Researchers have found the first direct evidence that autoimmunity—in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues—plays a role in Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative movement disorder. The findings raise the possibility that the death of neurons in Parkinson's could be prevented by therapies that dampen the immune response.

The study, led by scientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, was published in Nature.  Study co-leader David Sulzer, PhD, professor of neurobiology (in psychiatry, neurology and pharmacology) at CUMC said. "The idea that a malfunctioning immune system contributes to Parkinson's dates back almost 100 years.. "But until now, no one has been able to connect the dots. Our findings show that two fragments of alpha-synuclein, a protein that accumulates in the brain cells of people with Parkinson's, can activate the T cells involved in autoimmune attacks."

Can church services extend your lifespan? 

Behavioral scientists at Vanderbilt University studied 5,500 people of all races and both genders. Two-thirds of them (64 percent) regularly attended worship sessions. The team found the religious participants scored better in terms of heart health, nutrition, and metabolic health. The effects of attendance at worship services remained after education, poverty, health insurance, and social support status were all taken into consideration.

The study was led by Marino Bruce, a behavioral scientist and ordained Baptist Minister, who worked with nine co-authors on the study, including Keith Norris, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 'We've found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health.' ....'We found that they go to church for factors beyond social support,' Bruce said. 'That's where we begin to think about this idea of compassionate thinking, that we're trying to improve the lives of others as well as being connected to a body larger than ourselves.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at June 22, 2017 12:06 AM | Permalink