CAN SLEEP LOSS AFFECT YOUR BRAIN SIZE?
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Embargo expired: 3-Sep-2014 Citations Neurology
Source Newsroom: American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
Newswise — MINNEAPOLIS – Sleep difficulties may be linked to faster rates of decline in brain volume, according to a study published in the September 3, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Sleep has been proposed to be “the brain’s housekeeper”, serving to repair and restore the brain.
The study included 147 adults 20 and 84 years old. Researchers examined the link between sleep difficulties, such as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, and brain volume.
All participants underwent two MRI brain scans, an average of 3.5 years apart, before completing a questionnaire about their sleep habits.
A total of 35 percent of the participants met the criteria for poor sleep quality, scoring an average of 8.5 out of 21 points on the sleep assessment. The assessment looked at how long people slept, how long it took them to fall asleep at night, use of sleeping medications, and other factors.
The study found that sleep difficulties were linked with a more rapid decline in brain volume over the course of the study in widespread brain regions, including within frontal, temporal and parietal areas.
The results were more pronounced in people over 60 years old.
“It is not yet known whether poor sleep quality is a cause or consequence of changes in brain structure,” said study author Claire E. Sexton, DPhil, with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
“There are effective treatments for sleep problems, so future research needs to test whether improving people’s quality of sleep could slow the rate of brain volume loss. If that is the case, improving people’s sleep habits could be an important way to improve brain health.”
The study was supported by Research Council of Norway, the U.K, National Institute for Health Research, Wellcome Trust, Norwegian Research Council, European Research Council and University of Oslo.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 28,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS MAY BE TIED TO INCREASED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Embargo expired: 5-Sep-2014 Citations Journal of Industrial Ecology
Source Newsroom: University of Michigan
Newswise — ANN ARBOR—If Americans altered their menus to conform to federal dietary recommendations, emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases tied to agricultural production could increase significantly, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.
Martin Heller and Gregory Keoleian of U-M’s Center for Sustainable Systems looked at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of about 100 foods, as well as the potential effects of shifting Americans to a diet recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
They found that if Americans adopted the recommendations in USDA’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010,” while keeping caloric intake constant, diet-related greenhouse gas emissions would increase 12 percent.
If Americans reduced their daily caloric intake to the recommended level of about 2,000 calories while shifting to a healthier diet, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by only 1 percent, according to Heller and Keoleian.
A paper by Heller and Keoleian titled “Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss” is scheduled for online publication Sept. 5 in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.
“The take-home message is that health and environmental agendas are not aligned in the current dietary recommendations,” Heller said.
The paper’s findings are especially relevant now because the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is for the first time considering food sustainability within the context of dietary recommendations, he said.
In its 2010 dietary guidelines, USDA recommends that Americans eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood. They should consume less salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugar and refined grains.
The guidelines do not explicitly state that Americans should eat less meat. However, an appendix to the report lists the recommended average daily intake amounts of various foods, including meat. The recommended amount of meat is significantly less than current consumption levels, which Heller and Keoleian estimated using the USDA’s Loss Adjusted Food Availability dataset as a proxy for per capita food consumption in the United States.
While a drop in meat consumption would help cut diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of dairy products—and to a lesser extent seafood, fruits and vegetables—would have the opposite effect, increasing diet-related emissions, according to the U-M researchers.
In the United States in 2010, food production was responsible for about 8 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. In general, animal-based foods are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions per pound than plant-based foods.
The production of both beef cattle and dairy cows is tied to especially high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
For starters, cows do not efficiently convert plant-based feed into muscle or milk, so they must eat lots of feed. Growing that feed often involves the use of fertilizers and other substances manufactured through energy-intensive processes. And then there is the fuel used by farm equipment.
In addition, cows burp lots of methane, and their manure also releases this potent greenhouse gas.
Greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing the U.S. diet are dominated by the meats category, according to Heller and Keoleian. While beef accounts for only 4 percent by weight of the food available, it contributes 36 percent of the associated greenhouse gases, they conclude.
The U-M researchers found that a switch to diets that do not contain animal products would lead to the biggest reductions in this country’s diet-related greenhouse emissions.
But Heller said he is not arguing that all Americans should go vegan, and he believes that animals need to be part of a sustainable agricultural system. However, reduced consumption would have both health and environmental benefits.
In their Journal of Industrial Ecology paper, Heller and Keoleian also looked at wasted food and how it contributes to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. They concluded that annual emissions tied to uneaten food are equivalent to adding 33 million passenger vehicles to the nation’s roads.
POOR HEALTH HABITS LINKED TO FINANCIAL INSECURITY
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Released: 4-Sep-2014 Citations American Journal of Health Promotion
Source Newsroom: Health Behavior News Service Center for Advancing Health
By Milly Dawson, HBNS Contributing Writer
Research Source: American Journal of Health Promotion
* People with low-incomes who felt they had money left over at the end of each month had healthier eating habits than low-income people who felt they could not make ends meet.
* Men with low incomes reported poorer eating habits, more sitting time and more smoking than women with low incomes.
Newswise — Financial hardship, or feeling that one cannot make ends meet, may be more predictive of health risk behaviors than actual income levels for people with low-incomes, finds a recent study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
It is well known that “the poorer you are, the less healthy you are likely to be,” said lead author Amy Harley, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of community and behavioral health promotion at the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Harley and her colleagues took a nuanced approach to search for patterns of health behaviors among low-income groups.
Their research examined data from a 2005-2009 survey of 828 adult residents (41 percent Hispanic and 38 percent non-Hispanic Black) living in three Boston-area cities. Age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, country of birth, language spoken and perceived financial hardships were identified as potential predictors of three health behaviors: eating, sedentary behavior and smoking habits.
As a measure of financial hardship, participants reported how cash-strapped they felt at the end of each month. Those with some money left at the end of each month were significantly more likely to eat better and to report no smoking than those who felt they did not have enough to make ends meet. The relationship between perceived financial hardship and total time sitting (sedentary behavior) was not significant.
The study found that men were significantly more likely to report less healthy eating and more total sitting than women and were twice as likely to report current smoking. Harley observed that there has been less attention to men’s health than in women’s and hopes that these findings might increase interest in men’s health.
Cheri Wilson, MA, MHS, assistant scientist in the Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, commented that these findings move the discussion of health and poverty beyond viewing low socioeconomic status as the sole cause of disparities. People often view health choices made by those lacking money as poor personal decisions, she noted. In fact, people’s health choices strongly reflect the environments in which they “live, work and pray.”
Rather than calling a patient who has not followed advice to improve health habits noncompliant, really helping him would require making suggestions that account for the resources available in his environment, Wilson added. These findings highlight the need for health promotion leaders to consider diverse predictors of health behaviors, she emphasized, noting that financial hardship as a predictor is more robust than just socioeconomic status (income or education) and “supports the notion that economic policy is health policy.”
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