Curated Content

Bringing you the latest news, research and other interesting content from the world of health & fitness.

Older curated content:

7th April 2016

Did you know you have a second brain? For a few years now the medical community has studied the “brain in our gut”, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). In a short article researchers from John Hopkins Medicine discuss the effect of gut health on mental wellbeing:

Unlike the big brain in your skull, the ENS can’t balance your checkbook or compose a love note. “Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination,” explains Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology

To do all of the above, the gut must be an excellent communicator, sending millions of messages to the big brain in our skull. This means that what’s happening in our stomach can affect our mental state.

“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

This new-found link between the ENS and CNS is slowly changing the way medicine treats digestive and mental health problems:

“Our two brains ‘talk’ to each other, so therapies that help one may help the other,” Pasricha says. “In a way, gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in digestive conditions) are like counselors looking for ways to soothe the second brain.”

But that is not all. As research continues to discover the full extent of the connection between gut and brain.

Pasricha says research suggests that digestive-system activity may affect cognition (thinking skills and memory), too. […] Discovering how signals from the digestive system affect metabolism, raising or reducing risk for health conditions like type 2 diabetes. “This involves interactions between nerve signals, gut hormones and microbiota—the bacteria that live in the digestive system,” Pasricha says.

To read the full article on the John Hopkins Medicine website, click here.

27 February 2016

Do you believe that the food you eat can directly impact how long you live? It has been long debated, but new research not only proves that this is true, but also shows exactly how the link between food and longevity works.

Here are some excerpts from Dr Michael Greger’s article in the Daily Mail:

Many people assume the diseases that kill us are pre-programmed into our genes. High blood pressure by 55, heart attacks at 60, maybe cancer at 70, and so on . . . But for most of the leading causes of death, our genes usually account for only 10–20 per cent of risk.
The other 80-90 per cent of risk? It’s our diet and lifestyle. The typical Western diet is the number-one cause of premature death and the number-one cause of disability. In other words, a long and healthy life is largely a matter of choice.

However, there is something you can do about it…

But adhering to just four simple healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases: not smoking, not being obese, getting half an hour of exercise a day, and eating more healthily (defined as consuming more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less meat).

…and here’s how:

In each of your cells, you have 46 strands of DNA coiled into chromosomes. At the tip of each chromosome, there’s a tiny cap called a telomere, which keeps your DNA from unravelling and fraying. Think of it as the plastic tips on the end of your shoelaces. Every time your cells divide, however, a bit of that cap is lost. And when the telomere is completely gone, your cells can die.
Consuming fruits, vegetables and other antioxidant-rich foods has been associated with longer, protective telomeres. In contrast, consuming refined grains, fizzy drinks, meat (and fish) and dairy has been linked to shortened telomeres.

It’s been proven by research…

The pioneering researcher Dr Dean Ornish teamed up with Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of telomerase. They found that just three months on a whole-food, plant-based diet, coupled with exercise, could significantly boost telomerase activity — the only intervention that had been shown to do so.
What about our other big killers? The four leading causes of death in the UK are: 1) heart disease; 2) dementia and Alzheimer’s; 3) stroke; 4) lung cancer [...] there is only one unifying diet that may help prevent, arrest, or even reverse each of them. And that is a whole-food, plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meats, dairy products, eggs and processed foods.

Hold on, you don’t have to become a grass-grazer!

By the way, I’m not telling you to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. I’m arguing for an evidence-based diet, and the best available balance of science suggests that the more whole plant foods we eat, the better — both to reap their nutritional benefits and to displace less healthy options.

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One response to “Curated Content

  1. Pingback: Research Thursdays: Is the Gut our Second Brain? | Inspired by Miranda·

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