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So…. it seems that the evidence in favour of a multi-nutrient beneficially affecting brain function and cognition is increasing. The British Journals of Nutrition[1], Psychopharmacology,[2] Biological Psychology[3] and Human Psychopharmacology[4] have published a series of studies examining the effect of a multivitamin/mineral on mood and cognitive function.

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Ring Ring, Ring Ring – just what does answering your mobile by placing it next to your ear actually do to your brain. Whilst it is clear that many people have become surgically attached to their mobile phones – or at least it seems that they are bound together, and that once on the phone many become deaf and immune to all around them. In fact listening to intimate halves of conversations taking place 20 feet away provides plenty of opportunity to create amusing scenarios in between burst of indignation there have been many epidemiological studies suggesting this has a more significant long term effect that train rage.

A paper out on Feb 23rd in JAMA confirms that phones held to the head long enough to discuss the weather, location, emotional needs and business contracts (a longish time – 50 mins or longer) increases activity in the brain closest to the antennae – and not in a good way I suspect.[1]

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Oral Glutathione Equivalent to IV Therapy!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 by | Comments: 14
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Michael Ash BSc DO ND F.DipION and Marty Jones PharmD review the changing face of glutathione and explore the acetylated form as an alternative to IV glutathione therapy.

Reduced glutathione also known as glutathione or GSH is found in all living systems.[1] Lowered tissue GSH levels have been observed in several disease conditions.[2] The restoration of cell GSH levels in a number of these conditions have proven to be beneficial. Thus, strategies to boost cell glutathione level are of marked therapeutic significance.

GSH is the smallest of the intracellular thiols (a compound that contains the functional group composed of a sulphur-hydrogen bond (-SH) hence its unpleasant smell when mercaptans are released)  and its high donating electron capacity combined with dense intracellular concentration provides significant oxidative reducing capacity.[3]

B Vitamins Slow Brain Shrinkage

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 by
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The rate of whole brain atrophy was significantly less in the vitamin B complex treated group. The figure above courtesy of Plos One shows the brain of one female participant on placebo (left) and one female participant on vitamin B complex on the right. Blue areas indicate areas of brain atrophy. Rates of atrophy were .76% per year in the vitamin B group and 1.08% in the placebo group--a highly statistically significant reduction (p value<.001).

There is a growing awareness that brain atrophy is a miserable consequence of aging and when combined with loss of mental function it makes for a very unattractive outcome. The paper out in September 2010 from the research team at Oxford showed that moderate doses of the supplement containing B Vitamins: Folic acid (0.8 mg/d), vitamin B12 (0.5 mg/d) and vitamin B6 (20 mg/d) over 2 years could halve the rate of brain shrinkage – a physical symptom associated memory loss and dementia in the elderly.[1]

At the end of the trial the effects of the vitamin treatment were found to be dramatic, and most pronounced in participants who started out with the highest rates of brain shrinkage.

On average, taking B vitamins slowed the rate of brain atrophy by 30%, and in many cases reductions was as high as 53% were seen.

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B Vitamins Beat Depression

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 by
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This month’s (August) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition presents a longitudinal study supporting the use of B vitamins in the management of mental health.

In Nutritional Therapy practice when we are faced with patients who seem to be struggling with depression and are finding recovery hard as well as trying to prevent recurrence after resolving their current symptoms we often think – B Vitamins

But what is the evidence for this apparently normal recommendation – is there anything of substance that supports the therapeutic use of these water soluble vitamins.

To date most studies have been conducted using a cross sectional approach[1],[2] (a class of research methods that involve observation of some subset of a population of items all at the same time, in which, groups can be compared at different ages with respect of independent variables) rather than the preferred prospective style investigations (an analytic study designed to determine the relationship between a condition and a characteristic shared by some members of a group). A prospective study may involve many variables or only two; it may seek to demonstrate a relationship that is an association or one that is causal. Prospective studies produce a direct measure of risk called the relative risk.

Butyrate Improves Bowel Transit

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by | Comments: 3
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Problems such as poor transit or constipation are common, and can produce significant misery for the individual compromised in this manner. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid, manufactured in the gut by the anaerobic fermentation of dietary fibres by resident microbiota. It is proposed that apart from its already well understood properties that it has another remarkable effect – the ability to increase the neuronal concentration of the Enteric Nervous System.[1]

Butyrate-generating foods and supplements might become an effective and simple option to prevent or treat functional gut disorders via modulation of enteric neuroplasticity.

Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by
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The potential cognitive gains linked to the role of gastrointestinal bacteria continues to attract international interest. The scientific community are becoming entranced with the notion that our bacterial exposure affects not only the local tissues, but also others including the brain.

Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behaviour.  Mice fed live cultures of Mycobacterium vaccae were able to learn and complete a maze twice as fast as control mice were the key comments delivered at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology last week.

Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

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Prof Bruce Ames has developed the concept of Triage consumption, where micronutrient needs and availability may not always be in synchronicity and has recommended that a larger overall consumption of micronutrients on a daily basis be considered a judicious way to limit DNA damage associated with aging and disease.

I have proposed that the expensive urine criticism is perhaps one of the most damaging of slights, and that Victor Herberts slur on the use of increased exogenous nutrients via supplementation has created more damage to human health than it has saved. A paper out in the American Journal of Nutrition, May 2010 has added some further clarity to this discussion.[1]

What is the Best Test for Coeliac Diagnosis?

Thursday, 06 May 2010 by | Comments: 1
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Coeliac disease is regarded as a common disorder, yet many clinicians miss the cardinal signs that indicate further investigation is warranted. Coeliac disease is becoming an increasingly recognised autoimmune enteropathy caused by a permanent intolerance to gluten. Once thought to be a rare disease of childhood characterised by diarrhoea, coeliac disease is actually a multisystemic disorder that occurs as a result of an immune response to ingested gluten in genetically predisposed individuals and includes non gastrointestinal symptoms such as depression.

So how can practitioners decide if their patient has wheat intolerance or is requiring strict gluten avoidance to reduce the risk of linked diseases.

A paper out in the Journal of The American Medical Association on May the 5th looks at a variety of papers published since 1947 until 2009 to determine the evolution of investigative tests and to see which was most accurate. Two principle mechanisms for valid confirmation were identified.[1]

Alzheimers Postponed by Diet!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010 by
Reading Time: 3 minutes

If Alzheimer’s is a disease related to adverse inflammatory responses over time, could one of the largest and most regular antigenic burden – our foods have a significant impact on risk of development. What level of conviction would we as humans looking at a future of declining cognitive function require to moderate our food selection.

The journal Archives of Neurology in April 2010 published a paper looking at the role of a protective diet over time on the risk of Alzheimer’s development in northern Manhattan, New York.[1]

As humans we are prone to wide food selection and isolated or synergistic combination become complex. To try and resolve a methodological error risk, this group used an alternative strategy called dietary pattern analysis.[2] Instead of looking at individual nutrients or foods, pattern analysis examines the effects of overall diet.

A group of 2,148 older adults (age 65 and older) without dementia living in New York were selected. They  provided information about their diets and were assessed for the development of dementia every 1.5 years for an average of four years. Several dietary patterns were identified with varying levels of seven nutrients previously shown to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk:

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