In this week’s article we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles to be in the news, five items comprising:
- Characteristic chemical signature for chronic fatigue syndrome identified
- Vegans should take vitamin B12 supplements ‘permanently’: German Nutrition Society
- Parkinson’s protein test could lead to earlier diagnosis
- Sleep ‘resets’ brain connections crucial for memory and learning, study reveals
- Scientists study link between unhealthy pregnancy diet and ADHD
Characteristic chemical signature for chronic fatigue syndrome identified
“Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious and maddening condition, with no cure or known cause. But researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, using a variety of techniques to identify and assess targeted metabolites in blood plasma, have identified a characteristic chemical signature for the debilitating ailment and an unexpected underlying biology: It is similar to the state of dauer, and other hypometabolic syndromes like caloric restriction, diapause and hibernation.
Dauer is the German word for persistence or long-lived. It is a type of stasis in the development in some invertebrates that is prompted by harsh environmental conditions. The findings are published online in the August 29 issue of PNAS.
“CFS is a very challenging disease,” said first author Robert K. Naviaux, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, pediatrics and pathology and director of the Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It affects multiple systems of the body. Symptoms vary and are common to many other diseases. There is no diagnostic laboratory test. Patients may spend tens of thousands of dollars and years trying to get a correct diagnosis.””
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Vegans should take vitamin B12 supplements ‘permanently’: German Nutrition Society
“It is “difficult or impossible” for vegans to get enough nutrients like vitamin B12, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has said in a position paper now cited by the government.
“With a pure plant-based diet, it is difficult to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients. The most critical nutrient is vitamin B12”, the DGE wrote in its review of scientific literature now cited on the German government’s website.
Other potentially critical nutrients include protein, “indispensable” amino acids, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins like riboflavin, vitamin D and minerals like calcium, iron, iodine, zinc and selenium.
“Since rejecting any animal foods increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies and thus of health disorders, a vegan diet is not recommended by the DGE during pregnancy or lactation, or for children or adolescents of any age.”
However the said people who do choose to follow vegan diet should permanently take vitamin B12 supplements and have vitamin B12 intakes regularly checked by a physician and “select very specifically nutrient dense foods and fortified foods, in order to ensure supply of nutrients, particularly critical nutrients.””
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Parkinson’s protein test could lead to earlier diagnosis
“A test of how sticky a protein molecule is could help diagnose the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, a study from the University of Edinburgh suggests.
Scientists said early work on a small number of samples proved very accurate.
Sticky clumps of the molecule are found in the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s – and in those of some dementia sufferers.
A Parkinson’s disease charity said the results were “hugely promising” but larger studies were now needed.
The study is published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
Using samples of spinal fluid from 38 patients, researchers looked for a protein molecule called alpha-synuclein using a highly-sensitive technique.
The molecule is found in healthy brains but it is only when the protein sticks together in lumps that it causes problems, making brain cells die or stopping them performing properly.
These sticky clumps are called Lewy bodies and are found in the brains of those with Parkinson’s and those of some dementia patients.
In their tests, the Edinburgh researchers correctly identified 19 out of 20 samples from patients with Parkinson’s and three samples from people who were thought to be at risk of the condition.”
Sleep ‘resets’ brain connections crucial for memory and learning, study reveals
“In a study published on Tuesday, researchers show for the first time that sleep resets the steady build-up of connectivity in the human brain which takes place in our waking hours. The process appears to be crucial for our brains to remember and learn so we can adapt to the world around us.
The loss of a single night’s sleep was enough to block the brain’s natural reset mechanism, the scientists found. Deprived of rest, the brain’s neurons seemingly became over-connected and so muddled with electrical activity that new memories could not be properly laid down.
But Christoph Nissen, a psychiatrist who led the study at the University of Freiburg, is also excited about the potential for helping people with mental health disorders. One radical treatment for major depression is therapeutic sleep deprivation, which Nissen believes works through changing the patient’s brain connectivity. The new research offers a deeper understanding of the phenomenon which could be adapted to produce more practical treatments.
“Why we sleep is a fundamental question. Why do we spend so much of our lives in this brain state? This work shows us that sleep is a highly active brain process and not a waste of time. It’s required for healthy brain function,” said Nissen.”
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Scientists study link between unhealthy pregnancy diet and ADHD
“A diet high in fat and sugar during pregnancy may be linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children with behavioural problems early in life, experts have found.
The research, led by scientists from King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Bristol, is believed to be the first to indicate that an unhealthy diet alters the baby’s DNA in a way that might lead to brain changes and later ADHD.
ADHD and conduct problems are the most common reasons for child mental health referral in the UK and tend to occur in tandem. More than 40% of children with a diagnosis of behavioural problems also have a diagnosis of ADHD.
A high fat, high sugar diet in pregnancy had already been associated with behavioural problems and ADHD, but the study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry on Thursday, attempts to look at the processes involved.
Studying participants from the Bristol-based “Children of the 90s” cohort, the experts compared 83 children with early-onset persistent conduct problems with 81 children who had low levels of conduct problems. They assessed how the mothers’ nutrition changed IGF2, a gene involved in foetal development and the development of the cerebellum and hippocampus, areas of the brain implicated in ADHD.
The results showed high fat and sugar diets of processed food and confectionery were associated with greater modification of IGF2 in both sets of children. Higher IGF2 methylation was also associated with higher ADHD symptoms between the ages of seven and 13, but only for children who showed an early onset of behavioural problems such as lying or fighting.”
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If you have any questions regarding the health topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
[email protected], 01684 310099
Amanda Williams and the Cytoplan Editorial Team: Joseph Forsyth, Simon Holdcroft and Clare Daley