Tidbit of the Day 4/22/14: More on the Brain-Gut Connection and #IBS
Researchers from the University College, Cork suggest that psychological factors such as anxiety and depression may be central drivers of inflammatory changes in IBS rather than inflammation originating in the gut itself. Cytokines are a family of molecules that modulate the immune response; some promote inflammation (pro-inflammatory cytokines) and others reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory cytokines). Elevated levels of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, is found in the blood in those with IBS and higher levels of IL-6 are associated with depression and anxiety in those with IBS. This association of mood with cytokine activation exists more so than in healthy controls who were presumably psychologically healthy.
Tidbit of the Day 5/15/14: Should Mental Health Screenings be Included in Well-Visits for Teenagers? Mental health is just as important as physical health. Sometimes mental health is easily overlooked. Depression is seen in 5-20% of teenagers. Sharolyn Dihigo a nurse practitioner at the University of Texas at Arlington researched a quick test called Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) that patients would fill out in the waiting room before seeing a doctor. The doctor could then look at the results and determine if the patient should be referred to a mental health professional. Dihigo thought that it would be easier for patients to talk about mental health by giving the test to the patients before seeing the medical professional. Additionally the CES-DC is a short test with only 20 questions and asks questions about feeling sad, eating, and sleep habits of patients within the last week. CES-DC may help patients receive the correct treatment and start the conversation about mental health.
Tidbit of the Day 5/10/14: Impulsivity and Food Addiction
A recent study from Boston University Medical Center found that models who have impulsive tendencies and were presented with a diet high in sugar for an hour showed binge eating habits. Models who have less impulsive tendencies were also shown the diet high in sugar for an hour did not give into impulsive eating of the food. Impulsive models were found to have a greater activation of transcription factor Delta-FosB in the nucleus accumbens of the brain compared to the less impulsive models. This area of the brain is involved in pleasure and reward. Researchers thought that the Delta-FosB activation could be involved in food and drug addiction.
Tidbit of the Day 5/18/14: Mindfulness Training for the Marines
A recent study from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and Naval Health Research Center looked at how mindfulness could help marines before and after combat. Mindfulness training involves awareness exercises of the mind and body including meditation. Trainees learn to become aware of sensations such as breathing, tightness in the stomach, and changes in heart rate. The researchers conducted the study by teaching the marines mindfulness practices before having them participate in a mock combat situation. They found that the marines that had the mindfulness training returned to their resting baselines faster than the marines without the training. Additionally, the marines with the mindfulness training improved their immune function and had less activity in the brain. Past research has shown that military personal who have high activity in certain parts of the brain are more likely to show symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Mindfulness training before combat can better prepare the marines for dealing with stressful situations in combat and decrease the rate of mental illnesses that many veterans face.
Tidbit of the Day 3/18/14: Probiotics May Help Autism
A study in mice by the California Institute of Technology found that the microbes in the guts of baby mice with autism-like behavior differed from those who didn't display that behavior. The researchers gave the mice Bacteriodes Fragilis, a probiotic known to boost the immune system, and their abnormal behaviors subsided.
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