Findings of a new study suggest that symptoms of autism may occur earlier than expected. The study found that children who developed autism averted their attention from the face of those who were speaking to them, and failed to pay attention to key aspects of the face related to speech processing such as the eyes or mouth as early as 6 months of age. Being able to identify the disorder early may give parents a chance to begin therapeutic intervention earlier, potentially altering the course of their child's development in a positive way.
If you feel like you can't download your stress to you child, you may want to think again. A study looking at the effects of a mother's stress on her child found that children not only pick up on their mother's stress, their heart responds as if they themselves have been stressed even when they don't experience the stress themselves. Women who had a 12-14 month old infant were exposed to one of 3 situations where they gave a speech and were given either positive feedback, negative feedback, or no feedback at all. When the mother was reunited with her child, her child's heart responded in a way that was indicative of the mother's experience. Not only did the children whose mothers were given bad feedback have higher heart rates than those who received positive feedback, the children of the women who responded most strongly to the stress had higher heart rates than those that responded less to the stress. time to take up meditation.
A study on providing better access to healthy food in low income areas found that while providing access to healthy food improved people's perception of accessibility, it did not translate in to healthy food behaviors. The study, conducted in a low-income area of Philadelphia, shows that providing healthy food choices isn't enough to get people to make healthy food choices and did nothing to reduce obesity or increase fruit/vegetable consumption. Educating the public on why they should make healthy food choices is likely necessary to provide the incentive to do so since unhealthy food tends to be cheaper and more convenient to make.
A study on the effect of lowering blood pressure on reducing cognitive decline in patients with Type 2 Diabetes found that intensive blood pressure therapy had no effect on reducing cognitive decline. In addition to not reducing cognitive decline, the patients who underwent intense blood pressure lowering therapy had lower total brain volumes than patients who underwent standard blood pressure lowering therapy. The takehome from this...Ameliorating symptoms of a condition doesn't typically resolve the problem. Big surprise there.
A study on sugar found that high sugar consumption dramatically increases your risk of dying from heart disease whether you are obese or not. In people who consumed 15% of their calories from sugar, the amount found in 2 cans of soda per day and the average US consumption, the risk of dying from heart disease increased by 20% compared to those who consumed less than 10% of their calories from sugar. In those who consumed 25% of their calories from sugar, an amount 10% of people manage to hit, the risk of dying from heart disease increases by 300%.
Researchers looking at the effects of diets high in Omega 3 oils found that monkeys who were fed a high Omega 3 diet had better neural connections in the brain when compared to monkeys who ate a diet low in Omega 3 fatty acids. The enhanced brain connectivity was similar to what you would see in a human. This supports the notion that omega 3 fatty acid consumption likely played a pivotal role in the evolution of the human brain. It is believed that our primate ancestors climbed out of the trees and scavenged the organ meats from fallen prey. Organ meats are particularly high in the Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA. DHA is crucial to brain development as it is a major structural component of the human brain.
Looks like those low fat diets may have lowered cholesterol, but they don't lower heart disease risk. A review on the effects of dietary focus found that focusing on a diet of whole foods such as nuts, vegetables, fruits, and fish was more effective than focusing on a diet low in fat when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack. The Mediterranean diet was particularly effective, but any diet that reduces processed food while focusing on whole nutritious foods would do the trick. Hopefully this reduces the ridiculous focus on macronutrients(Carbs and fat particularly) that seems to be prevalent today.
Another study on the Mediterranean diet found that it was effective at reducing risk for the metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol that are associated with heart disease. The study found improvements in all risk factors in firefighters who followed the diet, and the improvements were greatest in those who followed the diet more consistently. Those who followed the diet best saw a 35% decrease in risk for the metabolic syndrome. This study is pretty neat because the firefighters weren't told to eat a Mediterranean diet, researchers came up with a way of assessing how closely the firefighters' diet resembled the Mediterranean diet and compared that to health outcomes. Of course, this means this study only show a relationship, it could simply be that people who eat a diet closer to the Mediterranean diet are more health conscious as most nutritional recommendations follow principles of that diet.
Add better vision through old age to the list of benefits you can get from exercise. A study in animals found that exercise slowed retinal degeneration in mice. Mice were exercised on a treadmill for 2 weeks and measured the damage their eyes experienced from bright light. The mice who exercised had less damage from the light and higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF) than mice who didn't exercise. When the effects of BDNF were blocked in the exercising mice, they were not protected from the damage from the light, indicating that BDNF plays a pivotal role in the process. BDNF has been researched heavily because it also appears to be pivotal in the enhanced brain function seen in people who exercise as it enhances neural connections in the brain.
Finally, studies have shown that pesticide exposure are associated with an increased risk Parkinson's disease. A new study found that this risk is epigenetic, and can increase a person's risk of Parkinson's by up to 600% depending on their genetic make up. It is important to note that the study didn't look at exposure to the particular pesticide from ingesting food, it came from using the pesticide at home or outside. This shines a light on why we need to be careful before we start introducing these types of things to the population as a whole. While using pesticides may present no risk to a large percentage of the population, it may present a huge risk to a small percentage of the population who carry a specific gene variant. So while the numbers on a study may show that there is little effect of exposure to most of the population, that's likely no solace to the few who get a disease like Parkinson's from it.