The Vitamin Deficiency That’s Putting Your Mental Health At Risk

The Vitamin Deficiency That’s Putting Your Mental Health At Risk post imageThe Vitamin Deficiency That’s Putting Your Mental Health At Risk post image

The deficiency is linked to depression and poorer brain function, lower verbal fluency and even dementia.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depressive symptoms and more negative thoughts, research finds.

Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to cognitive impairments in young people.

Foods that have high levels of vitamin D include oily fish and eggs but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.

That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.

The research was carried out on 225 patients being treated for psychotic disorders and 159 well people.

Among people with psychosis, higher levels of negative symptoms and depression were found in those with low vitamin D levels.

Problems with processing speed and verbal fluency were also found among young people with low levels of vitamin D.

The findings fit in with previous research that low vitamin D levels are linked to depression.

The vitamin is also thought to play a role in regulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for mood.

Vitamin D deficiency has even been linked to dementia.

The study’s authors conclude:

“In a clinical setting, this could support vitamin D as adjuvant therapy in treating co-morbid depressions in psychotic disorders

The associations between low vitamin D levels and increased negative and depressive symptoms, and decreased processing speed and verbal fluency are good arguments for planning large scale randomised controlled studies in target populations, in order to reach conclusions about vitamin D’s potential beneficial effect in psychotic disorders.”

The study was published in the journal Schizophrenia Research (Nerhus et al., 2016).

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Unlock The Secrets To A Longer Life With The Right Mix Of Fruits And Veg

The right amount of fruit and vegetables for long-life and a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

People who eat high amounts of fruits and vegetables every day are more likely to be protected from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and many other long-term illnesses.

Despite this, barely one-in-10 people consume an adequate amount of fruits or vegetables regularly.

According to a study, eating 3 servings of vegetables and two of fruits a day is the right ratio for your five-a-day recommended intake to optimise lifespan.

Dr Dong Wang, the study’s first author, said:

“While groups like the American Heart Association recommend four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, consumers likely get inconsistent messages about what defines optimal daily intake of fruits and vegetables such as the recommended amount, and which foods to include and avoid.”

The study analysed data regarding fruit and vegetable intake which was obtained from 2 million adults in 29 countries.

They found that:

  • Five servings of fruits and vegetables per day was linked to reduced death risk.
  • Eating three servings of vegetable and two servings of fruits every day was linked to the utmost longevity.
  • Participants who had five servings of fruits and vegetable a day were 13 percent less likely to die from any illnesses than those who had two servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Also, they had a 35 percent reduced risk of dying from lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a 12 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease, and a 10 percent reduced risk of dying from cancer.
  • Not all fruits and vegetables are equal: Vitamin C-rich and beta carotene-rich fruit and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruits, and carrots, and green leafy and cruciferous vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale showed benefits, while starchy vegetables such as corn and peas, potatoes, and fruit juices didn’t show any benefits in terms of lowering death risk or increasing longevity.

Dr Wang said:

“People should ideally consume five servings of fruit and vegetable each day.

This amount likely offers the most benefit in terms of prevention of major chronic disease and is a relatively achievable intake for the general public.

We also found that not all fruits and vegetables offer the same degree of benefit, even though current dietary recommendations generally treat all types of fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables, fruit juices and potatoes, the same.”

Dr Anne Thorndike from Harvard Medical School in Boston and chair of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, said:

“The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.

This research provides strong evidence for the lifelong benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and suggests a goal amount to consume daily for ideal health.

Fruits and vegetables are naturally packaged sources of nutrients that can be included in most meals and snacks, and they are essential for keeping our hearts and bodies healthy.”

The study was published in the journal Circulation (Wang et al., 2021).

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The Personality Trait Linked To A Healthy Brain

People with this trait tend to have larger brain volumes in critical areas, a study finds.

Conscientious people tend to have larger brain volumes in critical areas, research reveals.

People who are careful, efficient and self-disciplined, have more gray matter in their frontal and medial temporal brain regions.

These areas are critical for many functions, including reasoning, taking action and controlling the emotions.

The link could be explained by conscientious people being more likely to look after their health: so, their brains shrink less with age.

In contrast, neurotic people — those who tend to get nervous or sad — have smaller brain volumes in these regions.

This link may be due to chronic stress causing brain shrinkage.

The conclusions come from a study including 79 people aged 44 – 88 who were given personality tests and brain scans.

Dr Denise Head, study co-author, explained the results:

“Our data clearly show an association between personality and brain volume, particularly in brain regions associated with emotional and social processing.

This could be interpreted that personality may influence the rate of brain aging.”

One of the ways being neurotic may affect brain volume is through stress.

Chronic stress does all sorts of damage to the brain over the years.

Dr Jonathan Jackson, the study’s first author, explained:

“We assumed that neuroticism would be negatively related to structural volume.

We really focused on the prefrontal and medial temporal regions because they are the regions where you see the greatest age changes, and they are also seats of attention, emotion and memory.

We found that more neurotic individuals had smaller volumes in certain prefrontal and medial temporal parts of the brain than those who were less neurotic, and the opposite pattern was found with conscientiousness.”

It is not clear from this study that being neurotic, or lacking conscientious, causes reduced brain volume.

One theory is that the early stages of Alzheimer’s may prompt a change in personality.

Dr Jackson said:

“It might be that changes in personality track onto those people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

We know that there are degenerative processes going on before the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

We want to be able to see if the subtle personality changes might be particular to an early clinical picture and possibly see if one can predict who will become demented based on personality changes.”

The study was published in the journal Neurobiology in Aging (Jackson et al., 2012).

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The Simple Sign That Predicts Your Future With Type 2 Diabetes

An easy way to predict if you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Poor handgrip strength could be a sign of type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to scientists.

Handgrip strength is an easy and quick test to single out those who are at high risk for developing T2D.

The study of 776 people with no history of T2D found that risk of the disease decreased by half for those scoring higher in handgrip strength.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and more than 10 percent of the US population are living with this disorder.

Although unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, obesity, getting older, and family history are conventional risk factors for developing diabetes, sometimes the disease can’t be predicted in time.

Therefore, loss of muscle and reduced strength can be an important indicator of serious health conditions and has been associated with heart disease, cancer, and early death.

A recent review of 10 studies revealed that people scoring higher in handgrip strength test were 27 percent less likely to have diabetes.

The current research asked participants to grip a hand dynamometer with maximum effort for five seconds.

They found that those who had higher handgrip strength were at a 50 percent lower risk of diabetes.

When they combined this test with other conventional risk factors the prediction of T2D improved even more.

Dr Setor Kunutsor, the study’s first author, said:

“These findings may have implications for the development of type 2 diabetes prevention strategies.

Assessment of handgrip is simple, inexpensive and does not require very skilled expertise and resources and could potentially be used in the early identification of individuals at high risk of future type 2 diabetes.”

Also, it appears that women’s handgrip strength was a better predictive tool for T2D than for men.

Professor Jari Laukkanen, study co-author, said:

“These results are based on a Finnish population.

Given the low number of events in our analyses, we propose larger studies to replicate these findings in other populations and specifically in men and women.”

The study was published in the journal Annals of Medicine (Kunutsor et al., 2020).

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The Best Exercise To Prevent Cognitive Decline

With age, blood flow to the brain and arterial function decreases — but this decline can be slowed.

High-intensity interval training is the best exercise for preventing cognitive decline, research suggests.

Interval training is more effective than continuous training for increasing blood flow to the brain, scientists found.

Interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of maximum effort, followed by periods of rest.

Interval training comes in a variety of guises: sometimes on a bicycle, other times running, jogging or speed walking

Typically, it involves exercising at maximum intensity for 30 seconds and then taking four minutes to recover.

This cycle is then repeated a few times.

Dr Tom Bailey, study co-author, said:

“As we age, the flow of blood to the brain and arterial function decreases.

These factors have been linked to a risk of cognitive decline and cardiovascular events, such as stroke.

Finding ways to increase brain blood flow and function in older adults is vital.”

The study included 21 people who either did interval cycling or who cycled continuously for around 10 minutes.

The results showed that blood flow in the brain was greater during interval training.

Dr Tom Bailey, study co-author, said:

“One of the key takeaways from the study was that both the exercise and the rest period were important for increasing brain blood flow in older adults.

This study shows that interval-based exercise was as effective as continuous exercise for increasing brain blood flow in older adults during the periods of activity, and more effective than continuous exercise when we measured the overall blood flow increases during both the exercise and the rest periods.

The benefits of exercise on brain function are thought to be caused by the increase in blood flow and shear stress, the frictional force of blood along the lining of the arteries, which occurs during exercise.

This study aimed to identify the type or format of exercise that causes the greatest increases in brain blood flow, so we could help to optimize exercise programs to enhance brain function.”

The study was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (Klein et al., 2019).

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How To Live A Longer Life By Maintaining Optimal Sodium Levels

The study sheds light on the critical link between sodium levels and aging, with potentially life-altering implications.

Drinking plenty of water slows down the aging process, improves sleep, and lowers the odds of having lung and heart disease, a study finds.

Those who do not get enough fluids were found to have high levels of sodium and consequently were more likely to age quicker, develop various conditions, and die earlier.

The study analysed health data from 11,255 participants in their 50s with a 25-year follow-up period.

The results revealed a strong connection between sodium levels and the aging process.

The team found that those with blood sodium levels higher than the normal range (135–146 mmol/l) aged faster and were at higher risk of developing health issues such as dementia, diabetes, lung disease, blood circulation disorder, heart failure, and stroke.

They suggest a serum sodium level of 142 mmol/l should be used as the starting point in clinics to identify individuals at risk.

Staying hydrated

When we don’t drink enough or are dehydrated (losing more fluid than take in), it leads to higher amounts of sodium in the blood which can cause serious damage to the cells.

On the other hand, staying hydrated will have an anti-aging effect and will reduce the risk of long-term diseases.

Dr Natalia Dmitrieva, the study’s first author, said:

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.”

Previous studies have shown that elevated serum sodium levels can increase heart disease risk.

This study went further and examined how high sodium intake can affect biological aging.

They looked at 15 risk factors such as cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure and how well participants’ respiratory,  immune system, heart, kidney, and metabolism were doing.

They found that those with serum sodium levels above 142 mmol/l had a 15 percent greater risk of being biologically older than their actual age.

The odds were increased to 50 percent for adults with levels above 144 mmol/l and they had a 21 percent elevated risk of dying at a younger age.

Moreover, those with levels above 142 mmol/l were 64 percent more likely to develop serious conditions such as dementia, lung disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

However, increasing daily water intake would lower sodium concentration and help those with levels above 142 mmol/l.

Recommended intake of water

The National Academies of Medicine recommends a daily fluid intake of 1.5-2.2 litres equivalent to 6-9 cups for women and 2-3 litres or 8-12 cups for men.

Some people, though, due to their health conditions might need specific medical guidance.

Dr Manfred Boehm, study co-author, said:

“The goal is to ensure patients are taking in enough fluids, while assessing factors, like medications, that may lead to fluid loss.

Doctors may also need to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”

The researchers hinted that half of the world population’s daily fluids intake is less than the recommended amount.

Dr Dmitrieva said:

“On the global level, this can have a big impact.

Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, which is why…

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This Type of Conversation Makes You Happier

All personality types benefit from this type of conversation.

Having more meaningful or ‘deep’ conversations makes people happier, research finds.

Whether extravert or introvert, people who exchanged more meaningful information about relationships, politics or whatever, were happier.

At the other end of the scale, trivial chat or ‘small talk’ had no link to happiness, one way or the other.

Professor Matthias Mehl, who led the study, said:

“We do not think anymore that there is an inherent tension between having small talk and having substantive conversations.

Small didn’t positively contribute to happiness, and it didn’t negatively contribute to it.

With this study, we wanted to find out whether it is primarily the quantity or the quality of our social encounters that matter for one’s well-being.”

For the study, small recording devices were used to capture snippets of everyday conversation from 486 volunteers.

Professor Mehl explained the difference between small talk and a substantive conversation in their study:

“We define small talk as a conversation where the two conversation partners walk away still knowing equally as much — or little — about each other and nothing else.

In substantive conversation, there is real, meaningful information exchanged.

Importantly, it could be about any topic — politics, relationships, the weather — it just needs to be at a more than trivial level of depth.”

Personality had no effect on how much of a happiness boost people got from deep conversations, Professor Mehl said:

“We expected that personality might make a difference, for example that extroverts might benefit more from social interactions than introverts or that substantive conversations might be more closely linked to well-being for introverts than for extroverts, and were very surprised that this does not seem to be the case.”

Although small talk was not linked to happiness, it is still necessary, said Professor Mehl:

“I think of it like this: In every pill, there’s an inactive ingredient, and it’s a nice metaphor, because you cannot have the pill without the inactive ingredient.

We all understand that small talk is a necessary component to our social lives.

You cannot usually walk up to a stranger and jump right into a deep, existential conversation because of social norms.”

Perhaps, says Professor Mehl, people could be prescribed a deep conversation as a treatment:

“I would like to experimentally ‘prescribe’ people a few more substantive conversations and see whether that does something to their happiness.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Milek et al., 2018).

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One Personality Trait That Boosts The Immune System

People with this personality trait believe they can control their lives and make improvements.

Optimism aids the recovery of stroke survivors, a study finds.

More optimistic stroke survivors have lower levels of inflammation and less physical disability after three months.

In general, the personality trait of optimism is linked to a very much longer life.

Being optimistic — a trait that can be boosted — can increase the odds of reaching 85-years-old by up to 70 percent.

The power of optimism to lengthen life may be partly down to its enhancing effect on the immune system.

Optimistic people tend to expect positive outcomes in the future.

Critically, optimists believe they can control their lives and make improvements.

Being optimistic is frequently linked to improved health outcomes.

For example, optimism has been previously linked to better heart health.

Dr Yun-Ju Lai, the study’s first author, said:

“Our results suggest that optimistic people have a better disease outcome, thus boosting morale may be an ideal way to improve mental health and recovery after a stroke.”

The study included 49 people who had had strokes.

They were asked about their levels of optimism and these were compared with their recovery.

The results showed that more optimistic people tended to have lower levels of bodily inflammation, as evidenced by interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein levels.

The more optimistic people were, the lower their levels of these inflammatory markers.

Chronic inflammation tends to harm the brain and impairs the body’s ability to recover.

Dr Lai said:

“Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient.

Mental health does affect recovery after a stroke.”

Increase your optimism

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic.

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well.

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper.

The study was published in the journal Stroke (Lai et al., 2020).

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