New Under the Sun:
Volume 1, Issue 4
Greetings!! It is now April. One-quarter of the year is already past. This would be a good month to check up on how well you are doing meeting your goals and carrying out the resolutions you decided upon in January. Still on track? Great! Need a little re-alignment? That’s OK. This is the month to readjust and reaffirm.
News Updates: This month’s issues include research on the relationship between folic acid and Alzheimer’s Disease, several pregnancy related topics, and vitamin C and vision.
Folic Acid and Alzheimer’s Disease: Researchers studied the impact of folic acid deficiency in mice and the relationship to Alzheimer’s Disease. They found that folic-acid (folate) deficient mice had impaired ability to repair DNA damage to neurons, which primed the neurons for further damage, eventually resulting in the changes associated with Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. The inability to repair DNA was associated with elevated levels of homocysteine. Adequate levels of folic acid appear to keep homocysteine levels in check. Hippocampal brain cells incubated in a culture with methotrexate (a drug used to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis) showed the same negative changes. This is because folic acid metabolism is inhibited by methotrexate. The same research group had previously found that folic acid deficiency was associated with Parkinson’s disease. This research points to the possibility that a diet rich in folic acid could aid in inhibiting the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Kruman II, Kumaravel TS, Lohani A, Pedersen WA, Cutler RG, Kruman Y, Haughey N, Lee J, Evans M, Mattson MP. 2002 Folic acid deficiency and homocysteine impair DNA repair in hippocampal neurons and sensitize them to amyloid toxicity in experimental models of Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci 22(5):1752-62.
Combating the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders the AnthroHealth way: Eat a diet rich in folic acid/folate. Spinach, oranges, and kidney beans are all great sources of folate, although gram for gram, spinach is by far the best. A spinach salad a day may keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
Pregnancy Related Topics:
1. Fish intake and pregnancy outcome: A Danish study of 8729 pregnant women followed them from 16 weeks of pregnancy to delivery of the infant. At 16 and 30 weeks of gestation, the women completed questionnaires, with the one at 16 weeks asking about fish consumption prior to and during the early weeks of pregnancy. An analysis of the data found that women with no fish consumption prior to becoming pregnant or during the first trimester of pregnancy were 3.6 times as likely to have a preterm delivery than were women who ate fish at least twice each week. Those with the highest fish consumption had a preterm delivery rate of 1.9% whereas those who ate no fish had a preterm delivery rate of 7.1%. The omega-3 fatty acids in the fish are necessary to appropriate fetal development. http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/324/7335/447
2. Mother’s age and pregnancy outcome: Research dating back to the 1950s indicated that women who are 35 or older when they become pregnant tend to have more problematic pregnancies and birth outcomes. There is renewed interest in this topic due to the increasing numbers of women who are delaying childbirth into their late 30s or even 40s. In the US, women who delay their first birth into their 30s increased 100% between 1970 and 1990, while that for women in their 40s increased 50%. Canadians have seen similar changes. The data from Alberta indicate that there was an increase in the number of births to women 35 and older from 8.4% to 12.6% between 1990 and 1996. Researchers in Lebanon compared birth outcomes for younger women (age 20 – 30) with those of older women (age 40 or older). They found that the older mothers had a doubled rate of preterm delivery, almost 2.5 times the rate of cesarean delivery, and about twice the rate of pregnancy complications, including hypertension, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. Seoud MA, Nassar AH, Usta IM, Melhem Z, Kazma A, Khalil AM 2002 Impact of advanced maternal age on pregnancy outcome. Am J Perinatol;19(1):1-8; and http://my.webmd.com/content/article/1689.51965
3. Pregnancy and breast cancer: A study of 91,000 French women and breast cancer found that those women who delayed childbearing into their 30s (had their first full-term pregnancy completed at age 30 or older) were 63% more likely to develop breast cancer prior to menopause than were women who had their first full term pregnancy prior to age 22. The older women also had a 35% higher probability of developing breast cancer post-menopausally. Those women who never gave birth had the highest risk of breast cancer. On the plus side, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) did not appear to have an effect on breast cancer risk. Clavel-Chapelon F; and the E3N-EPIC Group. 2002 Differential effects of reproductive factors on the risk of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer. Results from a large cohort of French women. Br J Cancer;86(5):723-7.
Pregnancy the AnthroHealth way: Prior to becoming pregnant, and during pregnancy, increase your fish intake, particularly of fatty fish which have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Since large, long-lived fish may have toxins in their tissues that could be detrimental to fetal development, eat only small, short-lived fatty fish such as herring and sardines. If eating fish is not possible, taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may be warranted. Much research has shown that the best pregnancy outcomes are for women in their 20s. If possible, for optimal outcome, you should have your first child prior to age 25 and should have completed your family by age 35.
Vitamin C and Vision: Researchers used a cohort of 492 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. The women were non-diabetic, had not been diagnosed with cataracts, and were between the ages of 53 and 73. Based on a careful examination of the opacity of their optical lenses and their dietary information, the researchers determined that women younger than age 60 who had an intake of more than 361 mg of vitamin C each day were 57% less likely to develop cortical cataracts than were women who had an intake of less than 140 mg each day. Those who had vitamin C supplementation for ten or more years were 60% less likely to develop cortical cataracts than were those who had no vitamin C supplementation over the same period. The risk for posterior subcapsular cataracts was reduced in those with an adequate intake of carotenoids who had also never smoked. Taylor A, Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr, Hankinson SE, Khu PM, Rogers G, Friend J, Tung W, Wolfe JK, Padhye N, Willett WC. 2002 Long-term intake of vitamins and carotenoids and odds of early age-related cortical and posterior subcapsular lens opacities. Am J Clin Nutr Mar;75(3):540-9
Vision the AnthroHealth way: We are probably all aware that beta-carotene found in carrots and other orange and red vegetables is good for eyesight. However, it now appears that vitamin C is also necessary for optimal vision. Besides citrus fruits, vitamin C is found in strawberries, tomatoes, and red bell peppers, among other fruits. Eat 8 – 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day to preserve your vision and your overall health.
AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: Do you feel like you get every bug that is passed around? Are you eating a nutritious diet, but still getting sick frequently? Then maybe the problem is that you are not getting enough nightly sleep. Adequate sleep is the most important factor in fighting infectious disease; more important than diet. It is during sleep (particularly REM or dreaming sleep) that the immune system produces elevated levels of interleukin-6. Inadequate sleep, even the loss of one hour per night, is enough to disrupt the proper functioning of the immune system, allowing an infectious disease to invade your body. Adults generally need 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night while children and adolescents require 10 – 12 hours. Sleep well! Redwine L, Hauger RL, Gillin JC, Irwin M. Effects of sleep and sleep deprivation on interleukin-6, growth hormone, cortisol, and melatonin levels in humans. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2000;85:3597-3603.
© 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.