January 9, 2012
By Ryan Jaslow
Do diets that claim to reduce symptoms of ADHD in kids actually work?
A new review of ADHD diets by pediatric researchers suggests healthy eating could actually help kids reduce their ADHD symptoms. But the researchers warn a diet probably shoud not be the first line of defense against ADHD, but merely a supplement to other proven therapies such as medication.
“Supplemental diet therapy is simple, relatively inexpensive, and more acceptable to patient and parent,” the authors wrote in the review, published in the Jan. 9 issue of Pediatrics. “Public education regarding a healthy diet pattern and lifestyle to prevent or control ADHD may have greater long-term success.”
For the study, Dr. J. Gordon Millichap and Michelle M. Yee, researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University in Chicago, reviewed 70 studies on diet-based treatments for ADHD.
Some diets that have been thought to reduce symptoms of ADHD include the preservative-free Feingold Diet, a sugar-restricted diet, an “elimination diet” that avoids potential food allergens, and diets loaded with Omega-3 fatty acid supplements that supposedly boost brain health. What did the researchers have to say?
The Feingold Diet, which says to avoid foods like apples, grapes, luncheon meet, hot dogs, cold drinks, and anything else with orange and red dyes, was not proven to be effective by other studies, the researchers said. Parents who wish to follow this diet need patience, perseverance, and an understanding doctor and nutritionist, the authors wrote.
What about sugar? On the surface it seems giving a kid too much sugar can boost hyperactivity, but the researchers said the majority of studies it looked at failed to demonstrate that a diet high in sugar or artificial sweeteners had an effect on a child’s behavior or cognitive function, thus questioning the importance of a low-sugar diet for kids with ADHD. The authors realize despite their findings, the perception that sugar makes a kid more hyperactive is unlikely to change.
Did any of the diets actually work?
November 2, 2011
By Dr. David Jockers
Most people associate testosterone with facial hair, gigantic muscles & illegal steroids. Naturally produced testosterone plays a very important role in male/female metabolic function. Lowered testosterone is a chronic epidemic that is threatening lives all around the world. Boost your testosterone levels naturally through healthy lifestyle measures.
Testosterone is an anabolic steroid hormone that plays a critical role in metabolism, sex drive, muscle building, mood regulation, memory & cognitive function. Normal testosterone levels play a huge role in maintaining optimal weight as well as reducing risk of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, & certain cancers.
Women produce testosterone but in significantly lower amounts than men. In the man, testosterone is produced in the testes and adrenal glands.
Meanwhile, women produce it in the adrenals & ovaries. Testosterone is known to peak in the early twenties and then drop about 10% with each successive decade. Post-menopausal women lose the function of their ovaries and are at risk for low testosterone later in life. With inadequate testosterone, women are at much greater risk for developing osteoporosis/osteopenia and other chronic diseases.
Men are said to lose 1.5% of their testosterone production each year beyond 30. Men, who lose a greater proportion of their testosterone, are said to have andropause. The Alliance for Aging Research has indicated that one third of American men over the age of 39 have reported two or more symptoms of low testosterone. Symptoms of male andropause include lowered libido, decreased muscle mass, increased abdominal fat accumulation, depression and lack of drive.
The changes involved in andropause are gradual over time. They often go unnoticed for years. In a large study of 858 males over 40, men with low testosterone had an 88% increase risk of death compared with those who had normal levels.
The key to stabilizing testosterone levels begins with an anti-inflammatory diet. This should be loaded with phytonutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Grains and sugars stimulate higher levels of insulin and cortisol. Cortisol is the anti-thesis to testosterone. The body produces high cortisol when faced with chronic chemical, physical, & emotional stressors. Healthy blood sugar balance is critical to stabilizing cortisol and boosting testosterone.
Healthy fat sources are extremely critical for good hormone function. Fats and cholesterol play a critical role in forming the structure and rigidity of our cell membranes. These fats impact cell messaging by acting as enzyme and hormone regulators. The nutrition plan should consist of ample amounts of good fats such as avocado, coconut, & olive oil. Saturated fats, cholesterol, conjugated linoleic acids and essential omega 3 fatty acid from healthy grass-fed animal products are excellent.
Xenoestrogens, artificial hormone mimicking substances, are linked to lower testosterone levels. These xenoestrogens are found in tap water, plastics, home cleaning agents, deodorants, soaps, make-up & body lotions. Many medications also contain heavy amounts of synthetic xenoestrogens as well. Avoiding these sources along with ensuring a diet rich in raw and lightly cooked fruits and vegetables will provide fiber and phytonutrients that help the body eliminate these toxic substances.
July 20th, 2011
By: Nancy Walsh
Smoke gets in your ears — if you’re a teen exposed to secondhand smoke — and is associated with hearing loss, a large study suggested.
Exposed adolescents were 1.83 times more likely to experience low-frequency hearing loss than those who had no exposure, according to Dr. Anil K. Lalwani and colleagues from New York University in New York City.
And the greatest risk for hearing loss — a 2.72-fold increase — was in those with the highest levels of exposure as determined by serum cotinine levels, Lalwani’s group reported in the July Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
The list of potentially harmful outcomes associated with exposure to secondhand smoke continues to grow, from low birth weight to behavioral and cognitive problems and respiratory tract infections — and more than half of U.S. children are exposed.
In the first study to examine secondhand smoke exposure and sensorineural hearing loss in young people, the investigators analyzed cross-sectional data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
They identified 1,533 nonsmokers ages 12 to 19 who had undergone audiometric testing and whose serum cotinine levels had been measured.
Low-frequency sensorineural hearing loss was defined as a pure-tone level above 15 dB for 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz, while high-frequency loss was a level above 15 dB for 3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz.
Overall rates of hearing loss ranged from 3.68 percent for bilateral high-frequency hearing loss to 9.55 percent for unilateral low-frequency hearing loss.
Yet only 18.43 percent of the teens with these forms of hearing loss were aware of the problem.
Other factors associated with hearing loss included a history of eczema, black race, and having been cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit.
When participants were divided into quartiles by level of serum cotinine, the prevalence increased from 7.53 percent in nonexposed adolescents to 17.05 percent of those with the highest level of this marker of tobacco exposure.
The researchers noted that the link of secondhand smoke exposure with elevated thresholds ranging from 0.5 kHz to 8 kHz suggests “that the injury to the inner ear is global.”
In addition, the unilateral hearing loss is probably an early phase of ocular damage that is likely to progress in severity, they cautioned.
The elevated thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz were particularly important, according to Lalwani and colleagues.
“These mid-to-high frequencies are critical for hearing in humans and are responsible for the clarity of hearing that allows us to discriminate between similar sounding words,” they observed.
Possible mechanisms by which secondhand smoke could result in auditory damage include effects on the vasculature of the inner ear and injury from nicotine or other components of the smoke.
Hearing loss in young children has been shown to interfere with not only speech and language development, but also cognitive function, academic progress, and social interaction.
But newborns and young children are routinely screened for hearing difficulties, while adolescents are not.
The findings of this study suggest that teens who are exposed to secondhand smoke should have their hearing tested, and parents and caretakers should be made aware of the auditory hazards of their smoking.
Limitations of the study include its use of cross-sectional data which doesn’t allow assignment of causation, lack of information on duration and sources of secondhand smoke exposure — including prenatal exposure — and absence of data on other factors such as exposure to loud noises.
The researchers also were unable to rule out the possibility that some of the participants had conductive, rather than sensorineural, hearing loss.
They concluded, “Future studies need to investigate the adverse consequences of this early hearing loss on social development, academic performance, behavioral and cognitive function, and public health costs.”
July 23, 2010
Researchers from Northwestern University recently published a series of data in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, revealing that music plays an important role in nervous system development. According to various, diverse scientific literature, musical training improves the brain’s overall ability to learn new things.
After poring through data from numerous labs and research centers around the world, Nina Kraus, lead author of the report, and her team, came to realize how valuable music is in enhancing learning ability.
“The brain is unable to process all of the available sensory information from second to second, and thus must selectively enhance what is relevant. Playing an instrument primes the brain to choose what is relevant in a complex process that may involve reading or remembering a score, timing issues and coordination with other musicians,” she explained.
In other words, musical training helps to develop the foundation for thinking by which cognitive function is able to improve throughout a person’s lifetime.
“Science has studied the effects on humans of various kinds of sound, and the consensus is that the right sort of music definitely has a beneficial effect on our state of health,” explains Alfred Vogel in his book The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine.
The data also revealed that children who receive musical training are more adept at interpreting pitch changes in speech, and they generally have a better vocabulary and reading ability than children who receive no musical training.
April 21, 2010
By Mary Brophy Marcus
Computer brain games may not offer the big mental boost many were hoping for, suggests new research, but brain scientists and brain-game experts don’t all agree on the findings.
The study, out this week in Nature, is the largest of its kind, say scientists from England’s Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and the Alzheimer’s Society U.K. They said in a Tuesday press briefing that brain-training games, used by millions, may not increase general brain power on other tasks or increase IQ.
“Participants did get better at games they practiced. The more they trained, the better they got. But there was still no translation to any general improvement in cognitive function,” said lead author Adrian Owen, assistant director of Medical Research Council.
The online experiment was sponsored by the BBC and involved more than 11,000 people between the ages of 18 and 60. They were split into three groups, including two groups that played different brain-training games that are similar to commercially available games, and a control group that was asked to go online and find answers to questions about topics such as music.
Participants trained for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week, for up to six weeks, Owen said. All took standard cognitive assessment tests at the start and finish of the study. While players increased their skills the more they played a specific game, that improvement didn’t transfer to other activities or to a higher score on intelligence tests, said Owen and colleagues.
Duke psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s expert Murali Doraiswamy said it’s the best study done to date and a good reality check. “There was so much hype surrounding brain games,” he said.
But it’s not a death knell for gaming, Doraiswamy said. “I still think brain games offer tremendous potential for helping people with conditions such as ADHD and learning disabilities, but this study puts the burden of proof now on game manufacturers to show that they really offer meaningful benefits.”
Study shortcomings include the fact that it didn’t focus on the aging population, a group targeted by brain-game makers, experts said.
And it did not look at benefits of more intense training, said Alvaro Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of Sharp Brains, a San Francisco market research firm that specializes in cognitive science. “This study shows random brain exercise doesn’t transfer, but it does not deny that transfer can work if a person engages in more intense and targeted brain-training,” Fernandez said.
All Headline News
By David Goodhue
Seattle, Washington, United States (AHN) – Moderate exercise in middle aged and older people may lead to a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, and an intense, six-month aerobic exercise regimen may lead to improvement in people who already have the condition, according to University of Washington researchers.
Mild cognitive impairment is characterized by the researchers as the state between normal thinking, learning and memory changes that occur with age and dementia. About 10 to 15 percent of people with the condition progress to dementia every year, compared with 1 to 2 percent of the general population, the researchers said in a statement.
Out of a total of 29 participants in the study who were on average 70 years old, 23 were assigned high-intensity exercise for 45 to 60 minutes four days a week.
This group showed improved cognitive function compared to the control group, and the effects of exercise were more pronounced in women than in men.
The researchers said this difference may be related to the differences in the metabolic effects of exercise. Changes to the body’s use and production of insulin, glucose and the stress hormone cortisol differ in men and women, the researchers said.
The study is published in the January issue of Archives of Neurology.
To determine the effect of a fatty diet on memory and muscle performance, researchers studied 32 rats that were fed low-fat rat chow and trained for two months to complete a challenging maze. The maze included eight different paths that ended with a treat of sweetened condensed milk. The goal was for the rat to find each treat without doubling back into a corridor where it had already been. The maze was wiped down with alcohol, so the rat had to rely on memory rather than sense of smell.
All of the rats studied had mastered the maze, finding at least six or seven of the eight treats before making a mistake. Some rats even found all eight on the first try.
Then half the rats were switched to high-fat rat chow (comprised of 55 percent fat), while the remaining rats stayed on their regular chow (which had 7.5 percent fat). After four days, the rats eating the fatty chow began to falter on the maze test — all of them did worse than when they were on their regular chow. On average, the rats on the fatty diet found only five treats before making a mistake. The rats who stayed with their regular food continued the same high level of performance on the maze, finding six or more treats before making a mistake.
Half of the rats had also been trained to run on a treadmill. After only a few days on the high-fat diet, the rats performed 30 percent worse on the treadmill. After five days of testing, the treadmill performance of the rats eating fatty foods had declined by half. The study results appear in The Faseb Journal, which is the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
“We expected to see changes, but maybe not so dramatic and not in such a short space of time,’’ said Andrew Murray, the study’s lead author and a lecturer in physiology at Cambridge University in Britain. “It was really striking how quickly these effects happened.’’
Although the human data aren’t yet published, the researchers have also performed similar studies of high-fat diets in healthy young men who then performed exercise and cognitive tests. Dr. Murray said he is still reviewing the data, but the short-term effect of a fatty diet on humans appears to be similar to that found in the rat studies.
It’s not clear why fatty foods would cause a short-term decline in cognitive function. One theory is that a high-fat diet can trigger insulin resistance, which means the body becomes less efficient at using the glucose, or blood sugar, so important to brain function.
Fatty foods appear to have a short-term effect on exercise performance because the body reacts to high fat content in the blood by releasing certain proteins that essentially make the metabolism less efficient. “It’s thought to be a protective mechanism to get rid of excess fat,’’ Dr. Murray said. “But it was making muscles less efficient at using oxygen and fuel to make the energy needed to run.’’
The findings are particularly relevant to people who may not worry about binging on fatty foods because they exercise regularly.
“Exercise is a good way of burning it off, because you’re burning the calories off,’’ Dr. Murray said. “But in terms of actually trying to put in a good time if you’re running, it will limit your performance.’’