Vegas, Pregnancy, Immunity and Allergy Prevention!

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.

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Vitamin E Prevents Alzheimer’s?

A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has raised the interesting correlation between a single nutrient with multiple components and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) reduction.[1] Whilst this is early days in terms of definitive strategic planning the indications are that mixed tocopherols are able, when present in adequate quantities in the plasma to confer a risk reduction in the region of 50%. This is a compelling ration of benefit to risk for anyone planning to try to mitigate their future brain disease and whilst correlation is not the same as causation the benefits of modest supplementation with suitable Vit E supplements makes for an attractive addition to the recommendations I have described earlier.

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Atishoo – that’s D’ one!

Vitamin D Vs Influenza A

Lets face it, right now we are still recovering from the various revelations about the novel variant H1N1 or swine flu non event (in terms of pandemic effects) to be looking to see if we can manage the more common seasonal influenza. Plus spring is in the air and we all know that colds and the flu viruses seem to be less vigorous during the time of the year we actually see the sun!

However a rather neat randomised trial to see if Vitamin D supplementation had any prevention effect in school children adds further weight to the evolving understanding of its innate immune activation potential.[1]

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Multi Vitamins May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

There is an area of discovery related to food supplement ingestion and cancer prevention that has been attracting a lot of interest. Namely; does taking food supplement (of mostly indeterminate quality) provide women with a benefit or risk in terms of breast cancer. A recent post reviewed a study of Swedish women,[1] where the indications were of increased risk, compared to other studies that were either indicative of reduced risk, or benign.

This latest study suggests women who take multivitamin tablets along with calcium supplements seem to have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Interestingly the Swedish study also indicated that calcium was a mineral of benefit for reducing risk.

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Lifestyle Changes Better Than Drugs for Diabetes Prevention

A series of papers out in the New England Journal of medicine on March the 14th 2010 have failed to add any substantive weight to the use of medication in the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. [1],[2],[3]

The continued expansion of the western global waistline and incidence of diabetes has provided fertile opportunity for a wide range of clinical trials designed to uncover strategies for incidence of diabetes reduction.[4] There is no surprise in the discovery that making significant changes to people’s lifestyles, eating less and being more active, the primary causes of weight gain, also have a consistent reduction in type II diabetes risk. The real success has also been in the associated benefits in reduction of related cardiovascular disease risk[5] and raising of mood.[6]

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Gut Bacteria May Make You Fat

Obesity: A consequence of adverse inflammation & microbial disruption?

By Michael Ash BSc(Hons) DO, ND, FDipION

Published in CAM 2005

Overweight and obesity are serious, chronic medical condition associated with a wide range of debilitating and life threatening and economically burdensome conditions. The recent and extensive increases in obesity among Europeans are eroding many recent health gains.

Paradoxically the economically wealthier communities of the world continue to over consume food and food products, whilst other nation communities still suffer from food deprivation and starvation, due in the main to drought, floods, ‘acts of God’, corruption and conflict. Approximately 9.5% of the global burden of disease is currently attributable to being underweight,[1] whilst there are now hundreds of millions of people (>500) in developed and developing countries that are overweight or obese. This condition of excessive weight is now so common that it is rapidly replacing malnutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant cause of ill health[2]. An escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world.

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Disease Incidence Prevention by Serum 25(OH)D Level

In the last few years a considerable consensus across the scientific community has begun to emerge concerning the fat soluble nutrient Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is unique – unlike ALL other vitamins very little comes from our food. Almost all of our Vitamin D is produced by the upper surface of our skin during direct exposure to UV radiation in strong sunlight. However in the UK and most of the USA the sun is too low in the sky from November until March to produce any Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. The fat soluble nutrient supplies are meant to rely on a summer exposure to increase our stores to supply what we need during the winter.

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Soft Drink Intake Linked to Pancreatic Cancer Risk

The February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention published a paper showing a staggering 87% increase in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer associated with an intake of 2 or more sugary soft drinks per week. The group of scientists were careful to exclude other lifestyle risks such as smoking, caloric intake and type II diabetes to extrapolate this risk association.

The proposed mechanism is related to the increased surge of insulin – a known pancreatic cancer promoter after the consumption of sugar laden soft drinks. Fruit juice, another sweet beverage was also tested but the researchers did not find any link with increased risk for pancreatic cancer.

This may be due to the small group looked at for the study, additional nutrients found in juice as opposed to the sugary beverage and the fact that fruit juice is often consumed by people who follow a healthier lifestyle.

However, the study group are confident that the ingestion of the high sugar soft drinks play an independent role in the development of pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and difficult to manage of all cancers.

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Expensive Urine or Effective Triage?

Victor Herbert, the outspoken Harvard nutrition scientist, was quoted by the United States well read Time magazine in a famous 1992 cover story about nutrition as saying that vitamins just gave one “expensive urine.”

This one liner has acted as a simple rebuke to the consumption of additional nutrients as food supplements – or at least the water soluble ones. It is repeated by the medical community wedded to the model that food will supply all we require, and by the skeptics who seek an easy one liner to dismiss thousands of research papers that contradict this simplistic and invalid statement.

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Toxins Damage The Immature Brain – A Review

The Brain is a highly sensitive collection of tissues about which much is known. However a greater proportion of understanding is yet to be elucidated. One of the areas of interest, especially as the burden of psychological problems continues to grow is in the effects of exogenous toxins on the formation and function of the brain.

The WHO recognises that the burden of mental ill health will continue to grow and may become the second biggest health complaint by 2020. The increasing data sets supporting the role of nutrition and toxicity being either causes or aggravants means that we as nutritional therapists will see an increasing number of patients presenting hungry for specialist knowledge to reduce the burden of their mental ill health.

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