More evidence that fish is brain food

Older adults in developing countries who regularly eat fish seem to have a lower risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 15,000 older adults living in China, India or one of five Latin American countries, the odds of having dementia generally declined as fish consumption rose.

For each increase in participants’ reported fish intake — from never, to some days of the week, to most or all days of the week — the prevalence of dementia dipped by 19 percent.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, mirror evidence from some studies in developed nations.

The findings also suggest that the fish-dementia link does not simply reflect the benefits of a generally higher-quality diet. The study found that adults who got the most meat in their diets tended to have a somewhat higher prevalence of dementia than those who never ate meat.

The findings are based on a one-time survey and do not prove cause-and- effect, note the researchers, led by Dr. Emiliano Albanese of King’s College London in the UK.

“More substantive evidence,” they write, will come from the next phase of the research, which is following these older adults over time to see whether fish intake is related to the risk of developing dementia in the future.

If fish does protect the aging brain, researchers believe that the benefits probably come from the omega-3 fatty acids found most abundantly in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna.

Lab studies show that omega-3 fats have a number of properties that could help stave off dementia — including actions that protect nerve cells, limit inflammation and help prevent the build-up of the amyloid proteins seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

These latest findings are based on surveys of 14,960 adults age 65 or older living in China, India, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru or Venezuela. The relationship between higher fish intake and lower dementia prevalence was consistent across all countries, with the exception of India.

The link also held when the researchers factored in participants’ incomes, education and lifestyle habits like smoking and fruit and vegetable intake — suggesting that differences in socioeconomics do not fully account for the finding.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2009.

Want to imporve your skin? The Great Skin Diet

This article from Self Magazine shows you what to look for, and what foods to AVOID to improve your complexion. And to optimize the results from your diet, don’t forget to supplement with omega-3, coenzyme Q10 and grape seed extract and use skin care products that are safe for the skin!

The great-skin diet

All sorts of supplements, special eating plans and complexion drinks promise glowing skin from the inside out. But not everything that is being dished out is based on science. SELF digested the research and polled experts to determine which foods to add to your diet to truly benefit skin, which may be worth an occasional munch and which to pass up. Get ready to eat, drink and be beautiful!

By Beth Janes
From the October 2008 Issue

Proven complexion perfecters

Pile these on your plate. All pack nutrients essential for healthy skin.

Strawberries, citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli

Beauty benefit: a smooth texture
Eat-right evidence: Vitamin C, plentiful in this produce, is vital for the production and formation of collagen, skin’s support structure, says Toby Amidor, R.D., director of nutrition for DietTV.com in New York City. And a strong support layer helps smooth what’s on top and prevent wrinkles, she says. Aim for: two 1-cup servings of fruit and 1 cup of red peppers and/or broccoli a day

Sunflower seeds and almonds

Beauty benefit: sun protection
Eat-right evidence: These seeds and nuts are loaded with vitamin E. Collectively, antioxidants act like an army, protecting skin from UV-spawned free radicals. But E is on the front lines; skin’s top layers contain high levels that guard cells’ outer membrane so cells stay healthy. Plus, strong membranes hold water in, keeping skin hydrated. Aim for: 2 tablespoons hulled seeds or 23 almonds daily

Dark orange, leafy green and red veggies

Beauty benefit: a fresh complexion
Eat-right evidence: Squash, sweet potatoes and spinach are full of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Your body converts it to vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover so skin’s surface is smooth, says Valori Treloar, M.D., coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland House Publishing). Carotenoids may also decrease skin’s sensitivity to sun. Aim for: three 1-cup servings a day

Fortified cereal, lean meat, pork, poultry, oysters

Beauty benefit: a youthful glow
Eat-right evidence: You’ll get zinc and iron, minerals key to skin functioning. Zinc contributes to cell production, plus natural cell sloughing, which keeps dullness at bay. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen to skin, helping give you a glow, says David Bank, M.D., a derm in Mount Kisco, New York. Aim for: 1 serving of cereal (a cup), 1 palm-sized serving of meat or poultry or 3 oysters per day

Water

Beauty benefit: dewy skin
Eat-right evidence: Skin cells contain mostly water, and if you’re dehydrated, skin will look and feel parched, too. But you needn’t chug 8 cups a day; University of Pennsylvania researchers found no studies to back up the recommendation. Simply ward off dehydration—and dryness—by drinking when you’re thirsty. Aim for: 6 cups a day. It’s a good starting point, says Keri Gans, R.D., of NYC.

Smart skin suggestions

New research hints at these foods’ beauty power, but effects aren’t totally proven yet. No need to wait, though; the goodies are part of a healthy diet.

Wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, walnuts

Beauty benefit: fewer wrinkles
Eat-right evidence: These fish and nuts, plus fortified eggs, are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation in the body caused by sun and stress. “Inflammation produces free radicals, and free radicals contribute to aging by attacking collagen,” says Susan Taylor, M.D., a dermatologist in Philadelphia. But research still needs to connect the dots definitively and show that the anti-inflammatory abilities of omega-3s translate to younger-looking skin, she says. One study did find that older people who consumed more fish and veggies over their life had fewer wrinkles than those who ate more meat, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports. The research didn’t focus solely on fish, however; vegetables’ antioxidants, for example, may have been a factor. Aim for: two 5-ounce servings of fish per week; on other days, 1 oz of walnuts or 2 omega-3 eggs

Whole wheat and grains

Beauty benefit: clearer skin
Eat-right evidence: In the past, derms have maintained that unless you wipe greasy fingers on your face, food doesn’t cause zits. But some are rethinking the party line: Australian researchers found that a low-glycemic diet (more whole grains, protein and produce versus refined carbs such as white bread) may reduce acne. One explanation: Low-glycemic foods keep insulin steady, and refined carbs and sugar spike it. The surges may boost production of androgens, hormones that, when elevated, can cause zits. After 12 weeks of a low-glycemic diet, subjects’ pimple counts dropped 20 percent, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes. More studies are needed to prove the link, but no doctor will discourage you from eating whole grains and veggies! Aim for: 3 servings a day (one serving equals a slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked grains)
Today’s special: gorgeous skin If your complexion could choose everything you ate for the day, here’s what would be on the menu, says Keri Gans, R.D., who put together this plan.

Breakfast

  • 1 cup whole-grain, fortified cereal such as Total
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries or 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 cup green tea

Lunch

  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • 5 oz chicken breast
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 leaf lettuce
  • 1/8 of avocado
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 medium apple

Dinner

  • 5 oz wild salmon
  • Spinach salad
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • Toss with 1 tbsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato

Snacks/dessert

  • 8 oz nonfat plain yogurt or 1 part-skim string cheese
  • 1 oz sunflower seeds
  • 1 small orange or 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 oz dark chocolate or 1 glass red wine

Beauty treat or trouble?

Guess if the following foods are good or bad for your skin—and find out the reasons why.

Sweets

Trouble Chowing candy and other sugary snacks may make you feel like a kid, but it’s likely aging you. The rush of glucose into your bloodstream sets off a process known as glycation, in which sugars attach to proteins and form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These molecules naturally build up in skin as you get older, but the more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you have. Bad news: They cross-link with collagen and elastin fibers, making the normally resilient tissues weak or inflexible, Dr. Bank says. And skin that doesn’t bounce back easily leads to wrinkles and sagging. In fact, the study showing fish lovers had fewer wrinkles revealed the opposite for those with a sweet tooth.

Dark chocolate

Treat Although there might be some truth to the claims that sugar-laden chocolate contributes to acne (and wrinkles), the high-quality, dark variety—70 percent or more cocoa—may actually be good for your skin. Preliminary studies found that cocoa’s flavonols (a potent type of antioxidant) can help increase blood flow, supply skin with oxygen, improve skin hydration and reduce sun sensitivity. But dark chocolate is high in calories, so treat yourself to only 1 oz a day.

Milk

Trouble Got acne? Milk may not be doing your skin good. Three new studies have found a connection between teens’ milk intake and pimples. This could potentially translate to adults; however, it’s not been proven. More research is under way, but the probable explanation is hormone-related. Androgens naturally found in milk (even organic versions without added hormones) may add to a drinker’s own level of androgens, which are associated with oily skin and acne. Milk also raises insulin levels and contains growth factors that act like insulin, Dr. Treloar says. Both may lower the production of molecules that bind to and deactivate hormones—meaning there may be more free-roaming androgens able to cause pimples. It’s too early to prescribe a dairy ban for anyone zit-plagued. But it may be worth experimenting with a milk-free diet if you have excessive, stubborn breakouts, Dr. Treloar says. (Be sure, however, to take a calcium supplement with vitamin D.)

Spicy foods

Trouble Rosacea sufferers know to avoid five-alarm meals. But if you have fair, sun-damaged skin, hot-and-spicy foods may lead to the condition or to a red, blotchy complexion. “UV exposure weakens blood vessel walls. If your skin then repeatedly flushes, which swells vessels, they may not be able to shrink back down,” Dr. Treloar says.

Wine

Treat Reds are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that help fight skin-damaging free radicals. But sip no more than one glass a day, says Katherine Brooking, R.D., of NYC. Excessive alcohol halts your body’s release of its antidiuretic hormone. As a result, you make extra visits to the ladies’ room and end up not only feeling dehydrated, but having skin that looks dry, with a dull tone and more visible wrinkles. So enjoy wine in moderation—and make a toast to great skin!

What if you can’t get all the right foods every day? Then a high quality pharmaceutical grade supplement which provides optimal levels of all the essential nutrients should be part of your daily diet.

Fish oil during pregnancy may slash infant allergy

Supplements of omega-3-rich fish oils during pregnancy may reduce the risk of food allergy and eczema in children, according to a new study from Sweden.

The occurrence of eczema and food allergies was 16 and 13 per cent lower, respectively, in infants of mothers receiving the fish oil supplements during pregnancy and the early months of breast-feeding, compared to placebo, according to findings published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
“This randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study shows that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy and lactation may reduce the risk of developing allergic sensitization to egg, IgE-associated eczema and food allergy during the first year of life,” wrote the authors, led by Catrin Furuhjelm from Linkoping University.
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is the predominant antibody associated with an allergic response.
The new study adds to the ever-growing list of studies supporting the potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA. Much of its healthy reputation that is seeping into consumer consciousness is based largely on evidence that it can aid cognitive function and may help protect the heart against cardiovascular disease.
From mother to child
Furuhjelm and her co-workers recruited 145 pregnant women with allergies, or with partners or other children with allergies. Starting at the 25th week of their pregnancy, and continuing for between three and four months of breastfeeding, the women were randomly assigned to receive either daily fish oil supplements providing 1.6 g of EPA and 1.1 g of DHA (Bio Marin capsules from Pharma Nord, Denmark), or placebo.
Using a range of tests, including clinical examination, skin prick tests, and blood tests for IgE, the researchers observed a 2 per cent prevalence of food allergy in the omega-3 group, compared to 15 per cent in the placebo group.
Furthermore, the incidence of IgE-associated eczema was only 8 per cent in the omega-3 group, compared to 24 per cent in the placebo group.
“Our findings suggest that the mechanisms leading to sustained IgE antibody production early in life may be inhibited by the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA,” wrote Furuhjelm.
What’s happening?
Commenting on the mechanism, the Linkoping-based scientists proposed several possibilities. Both DHA and EPA may produce changes in the fluidity of the membranes of immune cells, and reduce the levels of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA). By inhibiting the metabolism of AA, the formation of the less inflammatory eicosanoids is favoured, which may be linked to lower allergic sensitization in the children, said the researchers.
“Additional anti-inflammatory effects of EPA andDHA in early immune development through bioactive lipids, lipoxins, neuroprotectines and resolvins, have been discussed but it is not clear whether those are plausible explanatory mechanisms regarding our findings,” they said.
Food allergy rises
The number of allergic disease has also been rising, with an estimated eight per cent of children in the EU suffering from food allergies, according to the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations.
The most common food allergen ingredients and their derivatives are cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soybeans, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.
Source: Acta Paediatrica
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01355.x
“Fish oil supplementation in pregnancy and lactation may decrease the risk of infant allergy”
Authors: C. Furuhjelm, K. Warstedt, J. Larsson, M. Fredriksson, M. Fageras Bottcher, K. Falth-Magnusson, K. Duchen

The danger with many Omega-3 fish oils available on the retail shelves is the risk of mercury and other heavy metal contamination. Make sure that you purchase a pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement which is guaranteed to be mercury free.

Diet high in omega-3 fatty acids offers protection against advanced prostate cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids offers protection against advanced prostate cancer, even in men who carry a particular variant in the COX-2 gene that is known to raise the risk of the disease.

“Previous research has shown protection (by omega-3 fatty acids) against prostate cancer, but this is one of the first studies to show protection against advanced prostate cancer and interaction with COX-2,” Dr. John S. Witte of the University of California, San Francisco noted in a statement from the American Association for Cancer Research.

Witte and colleagues studied 466 men diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and 478 healthy matched controls. They assessed diet using a “food frequency” questionnaire and genotyped the men for nine COX-2 variants.

The researchers report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research that increasing intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids — the kind found in dark fish, like salmon, and shellfish — was strongly associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Men who consumed the most long-chain omega-3 fatty acids had a 63 percent reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer compared to men who consumed the least.

“Importantly,” Witte and colleagues say, this protective effect was even stronger in men who carried the COX-2 variant, rs4647310, which is a risk factor for prostate cancer.

Specifically, men with low intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and this particular variant had a more than fivefold increased risk of advanced prostate cancer. But men with high intake of omega-3 fatty acids had a substantially reduced risk, even if they carried the COX-2 rs4647310 variant.

In other words, the increased risk of prostate cancer associated with the COX-2 rs4647310 variant was “essentially reversed by increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake by a half a gram per day,” Witte said.

“If you want to think of the overall inverse association in terms of fish, where omega-3 fatty acids are commonly derived, the strongest effect was seen from eating dark fish such as salmon one or more times per week,” he added.

SOURCE: Clinical Cancer Research, online March 24, 2009.