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Most Nutritional Therapists are comfortable in the concept and application of concentrated essential fatty acids especially fish oils as a means of altering abnormal inflammatory pathways in the body. Some EFA’s are perceived to be anti-inflammatory and others pro-inflammatory. Whilst the simplistic dichotomy of interpretation (Omega 3 Anti/Omega 6 Pro) has kept many a student content that they have mastered the art of complex fatty acid biochemistry – the reality is that cell membranes operate in a state of competitive inhibition with fatty acids of all carbon chain lengths and their role is highly sophisticated and complementary.

So…the paper out in the journal Cell this month (Sept 2010) from the lab of Prof. Olefsky at the University of California is a really exciting addition to the extensive research available – in that it elegantly describes a key anti-inflammatory mechanism using a G-protein coupled receptor.[1]

A study published August 2010 in the Journal Pediatrics looked at a large cross-sectional study of Japanese teenagers and describes that a higher intake of fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is independently associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms in boys but not in girls.[1]

Now whilst it is generally felt that the role of fatty acids is vital in terms of brain health and function there is a scarcity of substantive epidemiological evidence to support direct benefits in terms of inhibiting depression.

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The saying is ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, or if you are English ‘what happens in Blackpool….’ but the same cannot be said about what happens in utero, as increasing evidence supports the understanding that the maternal nutritional environment and early feeding affects the health of the foetus beyond infancy and into adulthood.[1],[2] An article in Nature’s Mucosal Immunology this month explores some of the key events in foetal and neonatal immune management.[3] It stimulated a revisit to the area of what to consider for parents to be and mums of young children when they ask ‘is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce the risk of allergy or atopy in my child’.

The first moments, weeks and months of life can determine the health outcomes of an individual over the duration of their lifetime and this knowledge represents a significant choice for prospective parents. Fortunately the remarkable adaptability of the immune and central nervous system means that there are numerous opportunities in the early years of life to positively influence health outcomes even if the early stages were less than optimal.

The immune system in humans and animal is complex, all the more so because it crosses over all tissues. The traditional view has been that the immune system keeps itself in check, and that is mostly the case. However, for some years there has been a development of a neural feedback loop comprehension that helps to answer some of the complex mechanisms and remarkably ties in the role of a nutritional strategy for immune management. This is known as the inflammatory reflex.

The inflammatory reflex, a prototypical neural circuit that modulates innate immunity, is activated by the presence of cytokines or other inflammatory products in tissues that triggers afferent (a nerve that passes impulses from receptors toward or to the central nervous system) action potentials travelling in the vagus nerve. The ascending information is relayed to brainstem nuclei that control efferent (nerves that convey nervous stimulus from the brain to other parts) neural signals in the form of action potentials transmitted back to the periphery via the vagus nerve.

Whilst this may sound complex – few subjects that combine neurology and immunology aren’t… the outcome suggested meets simple strategies, based on complex mechanisms.

Michael Ash BSc(Hons) DO, ND, DipION reviews the possibility that strategically selected foods and food concentrates represent a valid therapy for inflammatory illnesses.

There is substantive interest in the potential translation from bench to bedside of simple safe strategies to modify the adverse effects of inflammation. Approaching from a preventative and restorative angle the numbers of papers being published on the role of orally ingested bacteria (probiotics) and in this article – the herb Tumeric (active ingredient of which is curcumin) is presenting increasingly supportive evidence for their reasonable and safe clinical use.

Modern analytical techniques are helping to reveal novel opportunities for inflammation control in the gut and the systemic tissues in new ways that even a few years ago would have been thought of as very alternative!

coverimageCompared with our ancestors, Western societies today lead a lifestyle that is much more sedentary, probably as a result of cultural changes stemming from modern socio-economic morays. Taking into account differences in body size, our energy expenditure per kilogram of body weight has been estimated to be <40% of that of our prehistoric ancestors.[1] Current estimates suggest that 7 out of 10 adults are inactive or lack adequate conditioning,[2] and this lack of adequate exercise, combined with dietary indiscretion, has contributed to the worldwide epidemic of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD, is now considered to be around 20–30% prevalence in Western countries.

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The Safe Foundation for a Healthy Pregnancy

APA logoThe omega-3 DHA is an “essential” fatty acid that the body cannot produce and must be consumed through diet or supplementation. The baby must acquire its DHA from its mother, and she must obtain it by increasing the omega-3s in her daily diet or from daily supplementation.[1] International recommendations suggest that pregnant and nursing women consume 300-600mg of DHA every day to ensure that mothers remain healthy during and after pregnancy, and that their babies have every opportunity for healthy development.[2]

Pain Killers Adversely Inhibit Vaccination Benefits

Monday, 16 November 2009 by | Comments: 2

622804The questions concerning the benefits Vs risks of vaccination in light of the recent global approach to H1N1 (novel influenza) vaccine recommendations has thrown this area of medicine under a very bright spotlight. Leaving aside the question ‘to vaccinate or not’ a recent article has raised a simple and useful question. If I take a non steroidal pain killer (NSAID’s) to reduce post vaccine discomfort, or are ingesting them for other reasons does it affect my vaccine promoted immune response?

IBD’s are characterised by wasting and chronic intestinal inflammation induced by many different cytokine-mediated pathways. It is clearly recognised that medical and surgical interventions do not cure Crohn’s disease because relapse is the rule after remission.

Until a few years ago, IBD was classified into Th1-dependent, that is, Crohn’s disease, and Th2-dependent, that is, ulcerative colitis, phenotypes. However, in recent years, it has been shown that new T-cell subclasses, that is, Th17 and regulatory T cells (TR), exist independently of Th1 and Th2 and that they play a central role in modulating IBD.

agro_coverA  report just published by the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA), the equivalent to the UK’s Food Standards Agency has described organic foods as being better for you,contain less pesticides and nitrates, both of which have been linked to a range of health problems including diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

This up-to-date exhaustive and critical evaluation of the nutritional quality of organic food  has found organic foods have higher levels of minerals and antioxidants, counter opposing the recent FSA report that questioned the benefits of growing and consuming organic foods.

Published in the peer reviewed journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development  this review carries substantive scientific opinion. It defines a number of advantages provided by the organic food production methods.

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