brain

Food For Thought

Food for Thought?

 

10 quick things to do to feed your brain -

 

1. Water.

2. Berries.

3. Polyunsaturated fats with Omega 3 and DHA like salmon, fatty fish like trout, seeds, nuts.

4. Cut out processed foods which contain unhealthy fats, sugars and additives like preservatives.

5. Dark leafy vegetables rich in minerals, vitamins and taste delicious.

6. Foods and drinks containing Tumeric.

7. Wait for this - Dark Chocolate!

8. Eggs.

9. Oranges.

10. Drink Green Tea.

Photo Credit: YasminBin

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Early childhood adversities linked to health problems in tweens, teens.

 

Repost from eurekalert

Study is first to point to brain changes that underlie poor health in some children

 

Washington School of Medicine

 

Adverse experiences in childhood -- such as the death of a parent, growing up in poverty, physical or sexual abuse, or having a parent with a psychiatric illness -- have been associated with physical and mental health problems later in life. But new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that multiple adverse experiences in early childhood are linked to depression and physical health problems in kids as young as 9 to 15. Further, the researchers have identified a potential pathway in the brain to explain how such stressful experiences influence poor health in kids.

The researchers found that a key brain structure involved in regulating emotions and decision-making is smaller in kids who have lived through three or more adverse experiences before the age of 8, compared with kids whose lives were more stable. Young children who faced multiple adverse experiences also were 15 percent more likely to develop severe depression by their preteen and early teen years and 25 percent more likely to have physical health problems, such as asthma and gastrointestinal disorders. Due to the health problems, these kids were more likely to miss school.

The new findings are published Oct. 30 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

"We did not expect we would see health problems in children so young," said senior investigator and Washington University child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD. "Our findings demonstrate how powerful the psychosocial environment can be. A child's brain doesn't develop based solely on its genetic infrastructure. It's influenced by the stresses of poverty, violence, the loss of a parent, and other adverse experiences, which together can have serious health consequences evident as early as the teen and preteen years."

The study involved 119 children, who were ages 3 to 6 when the project began. The researchers tracked adverse experiences in the kids' lives -- which also included experiences such as natural disasters, a parent's arrest, or a parent with a serious illness requiring hospitalization. The children in the study averaged more than five such experiences before the age of 8.

The researchers also performed multiple MRI brain scans of these children when they were ages 6 to 13. The first scans, performed when the children reached school age, showed that the inferior frontal gyrus was smaller in children who had more adverse experiences. The researchers also determined that the structure appears to be part of a pathway through which the stresses of adverse childhood experiences may influence mental and physical health.

"People exposed to adversity early in life experience changes in the volume of the inferior frontal gyrus that probably can make children more vulnerable to behavioral issues and bad decision-making," theorized Luby, director of Washington University's Early Emotional Development Program. "We suspect that such changes are associated with issues such as poor diet, risky and more dangerous behavior and generally not taking very good care of yourself, and overall, this contributes to poorer mental and physical health outcomes."

Previous research has connected adverse childhood experiences to problems such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness in older people, but no one had looked at whether those stressful experiences are linked to health problems in adolescents. And until now, researchers had not been able to explain how such experiences could contribute to poor health in these kids.

The researchers found that when kids had three or more adverse experiences, they also had smaller brain volumes that, in turn, were associated with lower scores on a scale that measures how well a child expresses emotions. Poor emotional expression has been associated with depression and worse social and emotional outcomes.

Such children also had more physical health problems. Parents reported that kids who had more adverse experiences were more likely to have significant health problems that appeared to affect school attendance.

In earlier research, Luby, who also is the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry, found that kids can be resilient and, with nurturing parenting, may be able to overcome individual stressors such as poverty or the loss of a parent. This new research indicates that when kids accumulate multiple stressors, the experiences pile up and cause problems early in their lives, and family members and doctors need to be aware of the powerful influence of these psychosocial risks so that kids can get the help they need.

Luby added that the study could alter the way doctors and researchers think about the development of disease.

"We know toxins in the environment can contribute to disease, but this study suggests that kids can experience physical and mental health problems from exposure to psychosocial 'toxins,' too," she said.

Luby and her colleagues plan to continue tracking the health of these children as they grow into adulthood. Meanwhile, the researchers also are beginning a multidisciplinary study to follow pregnant women and their infants to see whether psychosocial stressors and adversity experienced during pregnancy and the first three years of a child's life also affect brain development and overall health.

 

Luby JL, Barch D, Whalen D, Tillman R, Belden A. Association between early life adversity and risk for poor emotional and physical health in adolescence: a putative mechanistic neurodevelopmental pathway. JAMA Pediatrics, Oct. 30, 2017. DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3009

This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant numbers MH090786.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

 

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Scientist explores the mysteries of the gut - connection

By Karen Frances Eng

The brain in your head and the one in your gut are always exchanging info. But how do they do it? Neuroscientist Diego Bohórquez is trying to find out the answers.

If you were asked where the human body’s nervous system is located, you’d probably answer “the brain” or “the spinal cord.” But besides the central nervous system, which consists of those two organs, our bodies also contain the enteric nervous system, a two-layer lining with more than 100 million nerve cells that spans our guts from the esophagus to the rectum. The enteric nervous system has been called “the second brain,” and it’s in constant contact with the one in our skull. That’s why just thinking about food can lead your stomach to start secreting enzymes, or why giving a speech can lead to your feeling queasy.

Until recently, scientists thought the two systems communicated solely via hormones produced by enteroendocrine cells scattered throughout the gut’s lining. After sensing food or bacteria, the cells release molecular messengers that prompt the nervous system to modulate behavior. But it turns out the process may be much more direct. Intriguingly, Duke University gut-brain neuroscientist Diego Bohórquez, a TED Fellow, has found that some enteroendocrine cells also make physical contact with the enteric nervous system, forming synapses with nerves. This revelation opens the door to rethinking how we might affect these signals — and might someday change how we treat conditions as varied as obesity, anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, autism and PTSD.

What fueled Bohórquez’s interest in the gut-brain connection? Chickens.After he moved to the US from Ecuador, his first position was as a visiting research scholar at North Carolina State University, where he worked in a nutrition laboratory that focused on chickens. “In poultry production, the biggest challenge is to feed the hatchling chicks as soon as possible so the bird can achieve its maximum growth potential,” Bohórquez says. “My PhD advisor came up with the idea to feed the chicks in the egg before they hatch. This in-ovo feeding consisted of delivering enzymes into the amniotic fluid of the embryo right before it hatched.” Bohórquez was surprised at how this practice changed what the chicks did after they hatched. “The unfed chickens came out of the egg and slept for five or six hours. But the ones fed in ovo went straight to eat,” he says. “They were also more alert, spent time looking around, and pecked each other. I became intrigued about how ingested nutrients alter behavior.”

A friend’s gastric bypass surgery also fueled his curiosity. “A friend was struggling with obesity and, as a last resort, decided to have gastric bypass surgery. It worked. She lost a lot of weight, and it resolved her diabetes,” he recalls. “But most strikingly, her perception of taste changed. She used to be repulsed by the sight of runny egg yolks, but after the surgery, she craved them.” Such a change in taste has been well documented in some patients who’ve undergone bariatric surgery, but scientists aren’t sure how or why it happens, says Bohórquez. “It’s a new subject, but rewiring the gut appears to physically change how we perceive the taste of food in the brain.”

While scientists have known that nutrients are sensed in the gut by enteroendocrine cells, the exact way this happens was murky. They understood that when stimulated, enteroendocrine cells release hormones that either enter the bloodstream or activate nearby nerves to affect how we eat. “My focus has been to figure out how a sensory signal from a nutrient is transformed into an electrical signal that alters behavior,” Bohórquez says. He and his colleagues began taking a close look at enteroendocrine cells, using 3D electron microscopy. Imaging them in this way revealed a whole new structure that hadn’t been seen before. “It turns out enteroendocrine cells not only have microvilli, or tiny protrusions, exposed to the gut, but they also have a foot-like extension, which we called the neuropod,” says Bohórquez. “It became evident that enteroendocrine cells have similar physical attributes to neurons, so we wondered whether they might be wired to neurons, too.”

The secret to tracking synaptic connections: a special kind of rabies. The key to illuminating the process was inserting a tiny amount of modified fluorescent rabies virus into the colon of a mouse. “Rabies is a virus that infects neurons and spreads through synaptic connections, so when used in a modified form that only allows it to jump one neuron at a time, it’s useful for tracking neural circuits,” Bohórquez explains. Seven days after undergoing this procedure, the enteroendocrine cells of the mouse colon glowed green, offering evidence that the sensor cells were indeed behaving as neurons. Bohórquez then bred a mouse that would allow the tracking rabies to make a second jump. When he delivered the tracking rabies into the colon of this new mouse, the enteroendocrine cells and the nerves that they connected to lit up, demonstrating the existence of a physical synapse between the sensor cells and its nervous system — and a physical connection that hadn’t been seen before.

Charting the communication pathway between the gut and brain could someday lead us to new treatments for disorders and conditions. A number of diseases — autism, obesity, anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, PTSD and chronic stress — share a symptom known as altered visceral sensing, or a hyper- or hyposensitivity to gut stimuli. “For instance, clinical observations have suggested that some children with anorexia may be hyper-aware of the food they ingest from an early age,” says Bohórquez. “Under normal circumstances, this process happens without detailed spatial and temporal awareness, but those children can feel what’s going on in there, which triggers anxious feelings.” With this knowledge, scientists may better understand other disorders that have been thought to be solely psychological.

Can our enteroendocrine cells smell, taste and touch? They possess the same molecular receptors that enable mechanical, chemical and thermal sensing in your nose and mouth, says Bohórquez. “These mechanisms are just beginning to be studied, and it’s where research is headed.” And beyond the gut, he points out, the lining of our body’s organs — including our lungs, prostate and vagina — all possess sensor cells similar to enteroendocrine cells. “Future exploration will continue to uncover how the brain perceives signals from these organs and how they affect how we feel,” he says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Frances Eng is a contributing writer to TED.com, dedicated to covering the feats of the wondrous TED Fellows. Her launchpad is located in Cambridge, UK.