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Recent medical findings for a healthier body

Spicing up breastfeeding

Unlike standard infant formulas, mother’s milk does not taste and smell the same every day. Studies tell us that the taste experience while breastfeeding does influence eating behaviour in adults. However, there is not a direct translation between what the mother eats and what the baby tastes. For instance, active flavour ingredients from garlic and coffee do pass into breast milk but flavours from fish oil and tea do not. In a new study, researchers wanted to establish if pungent substances from chilli, pepper and ginger are found in breast milk. Using a mass spectrometer, they found that one hour after a mother consumed a curry dish, the pungent component piperine was still present in breast milk. The concentration was below the taste perception of an adult and the researchers guess that the baby may not be aware of the taste, but the exposure may increase their tolerance for spicy substances in later life.

Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research

Mushrooms and depression

For a new study, data was gathered from more than 24,000 adults across 11 years. Analysis of diet and mental health outcomes revealed that people who ate mushrooms regularly were less likely to have depression. Mushrooms contain ergothioneine, an antioxidant, and research shows that antioxidants have
a preventive role in several conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Mushrooms are the highest known dietary source of ergothioneine. The ever-popular button mushrooms are also a good source of potassium, which is known to reduce symptoms of depression. Other mushroom species also contain neurotrophic factors that influence nerve growth and hence conditions such as depression. However you slice it, this research suggests that eating mushrooms is a good way to prevent depression and other mental health issues.

Source: Journal of Affective Disorders

Music and plastic brains

You know how enjoyable it is to listen to your favourite music, and now it has been shown that effects go deep in your brain. When people with mild cognitive impairment listen to favourite music of personal significance there are changes in the neural pathways of the prefrontal cortex and improvements in neuroplasticity. Music does, indeed, have charms.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Coffee and cognition

For this study, researchers from Edith Cowan University examined the rate of cognitive decline in 200 people over more than a decade. They found that subjects with no memory impairment at the start of the study but who had high rates of coffee consumption had a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (a condition which precedes Alzheimer’s). Specifically, higher coffee intake was associated with better cognitive function in terms of planning, self-control and attention. Coffee also reduced the formation of plaques that are involved in developing Alzheimer’s. According to the research, if you only drink one cup of coffee a day and increase that to two cups a day, you can reduce your cognitive decline by 8 per cent in just a year and a half. It could also reduce plaque formation in the brain by 5 per cent. That extra morning latte just became medicinal.

Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Sleep and ageing

As you age you experience both positive and negative aspects of the ageing process. However, some focus more on the negative, and we know that having a negative perception of ageing leads to more problems with physical and mental health. In research on more than 4400 people aged over 50, researchers noticed many subjects were commenting on their relationship with sleep. As a result they decided to conduct a survey specifically on sleep. They found that people who rated their sleep the worst also felt older and perceived their own physical and mental ageing more negatively. The implication of this is that focus should be given to optimising sleep as you age because the positive effects become
a self-fulfilling cycle.

Sources: Behavioural Sleep Medicine

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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