Saturday, September 13, 2008

Meat, fish and milk protect against brain shrinkage?

This study was conducted with some caution about confounding factors (Abstract here) so deserves some respect. The causal inferences are speculative nonetheless. The possibility of a third factor influencing both B12 levels and brain shrinkage could not be excluded and this is, after all, a poorly understood field. If the theory is correct, however, we should see a lot of vegetarians with shrunken brains! I must say that I would not be too surprised if that were found! There has after all been some evidence to suggest that tofu causes dementia!. So maybe tofu eating is the third factor! (Just joking)

A diet rich in fish, meat and milk could help to protect against memory loss in old age, a new study has shown. The findings suggest a key vitamin found in the foods helps to prevent brain shrinkage, which has been linked to memory problems.

Researchers at the University of Oxford studied 107 people aged 61 to 87 and found those with lower levels of the vitamin in their blood were six times more likely to experience brain shrinkage than those with higher levels. The vitamin, B12, found in meat, fish, fortified cereals and milk, is crucial to the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Research has shown that many elderly people have low levels of the vitamin.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, which helped fund the research, published in the journal Neurology, said: "This study suggests that consuming more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk as part of a balanced diet might help protect the brain. Liver and shellfish are particularly rich sources of B12. "Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common problem among elderly people in the UK and has been linked to declining memory and dementia. "700,000 people live with dementia in the UK, and more research like this is urgently needed if we are to tackle this cruel condition."


Australia: Parent anger over lunchbox police

Rules on junk food in schools will be sent to all principals this week amid parent anger over teachers inspecting children's lunchboxes and confiscating items viewed as unhealthy. Education Department chief executive Chris Robinson told The Advertiser last night guidelines would be reissued to all state schools and preschools. This follows reports yesterday of several schools ordering teachers to search children's lunchboxes for "inappropriate" food. In some cases, confiscated items were not replaced, leaving children to go hungry.

Mr Robinson said the department's ban on junk food under the Right Bite strategy launched last year by Health Minister John Hill and Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, applied only to food and drinks sold in school canteens and vending machines. Birthday cakes and food or drinks from home are not covered by the ban. But according to a February 27 memo sent to principals and preschool directors by department deputy chief executive Jan Andrews, each school has discretion to ignore those instructions. "It is up to each school and preschool community and their governing council to decide how to use the guidelines to encourage healthier eating beyond the requirement that bans junk food in school canteens and vending machines," the memo said.

Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni said schools were confused by the "mixed message". "Parents are rightly angry - it should be about education and not confiscation, and kids should not go hungry because food is taken from lunchboxes," he said.

Mr Robinson, speaking yesterday on radio FIVEaa, said: "Teachers don't have any role in going through children's lunchboxes, that's entirely a matter for parents and the healthy eating guidelines don't cover (them)."

But Seaview Downs mother Cassandra Liebeknecht told The Advertiser that staff at her son's preschool had, over time, confiscated a small packet of potato chips and fruit bars. "Where do you draw the line? Is white bread with jam on it healthy," she asked.

Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said: "This is an abuse of power. "No school teacher has the right to go into a child's lunchbox and arbitrarily deem some food acceptable and some not. It is a blatant interference in the rights of parents and has to stop now."


1 comment:

susan allport said...

Thought you would be interested in this short omega-3 video: