Monday, June 10, 2013

Breast really is best if you want a brainy baby (?)

Naive hi-tech nonsense. IQ is a strong predictor of breast-feeding and IQ  is strongly genetically inherited.  Control for IQ among the mothers would be needed if this were to tell us anything about breast feeding as such

Breast milk boosts brain development in babies by up to 30 per cent, according to a new study.

Children exclusively fed breast milk for at least three months have up to 30 per cent extra growth in the key parts of the brain which control language, emotion, and understanding, say scientists.

The study of under-fours showed children who have breast milk as part of their diet have a clear advantage when it comes to brain development.

Research carried out at Brown University, in the U.S., found that by the time the babies had reached their second birthday a discernible difference could be seen in their brain structure.

Dr Sean Deoni, an engineering professor and lead author, said: ‘We're finding the difference [in white matter growth] is in the order of 20 to 30 per cent, comparing the breastfed and the non-breastfed kids.’

Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans were taken of the babies who had been fed a diet of breast milk in the earliest stages of their development, and of those who had been fed formula milk.

The scans showed that babies fed breast milk alone had the fastest growth in myelinated white matter - tissue packed full of long nerve fibres that link different parts of the brain that are used for learning.

The babies who were weaned on a diet of formula were found to have the least white matter.

Dr Deoni's team carried out the study to see how early the changes in brain development took place.

‘We show that they're there almost right off the bat,’ he said.
Scans show that babies fed breast milk alone have the fastest growth in myelinated white matter - tissue packed full of long nerve fibres that link different parts of the brain that are used for learning

Scans show that babies fed breast milk alone have the fastest growth in myelinated white matter - tissue packed full of long nerve fibres that link different parts of the brain that are used for learning

Researchers looked at the brains of 133 babies who were born on time and came from similar families.

By comparing the myelin in older and younger children they were able to calculate how breast milk influenced the development of white matter.

The researchers backed up the results of the scans with a set of basic cognitive tests that showed language performance, visual reception and motor control were all better in the breastfed children.

The team found that the longer the babies were fed with breast milk the more developed their brains were, especially in the areas of the brain associated with movement and coordination.

While the Brown study published in the journal NeuroImage is not the first to link breastfeeding with improved development in the young, Dr Deoni claimed it is the first time MRI scans have been used to compare the brains in breastfed and non-breastfed children.

Dr Deoni said: ‘I think it's astounding that you could have that much difference so early. I think I would argue that combined with all the other evidence, it seems like breastfeeding is absolutely beneficial.’


Food authoritarianism in national parks

No definition of "healthy" and no evidence that the preferred foods will have a positive health effect

How about some goat cheese with huckleberry coulis and organic watercress after you've worked up an appetite by hiking in a national park? Or maybe some juniper-smoked bison with arugula?

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced on Wednesday that as part of a new "Healthy Parks, Healthy People" initiative, America's national parks will offer visitors a greater variety of nutritious foods.

“Today, as part of the administration’s efforts to promote healthier choices, we are adding yet another reason to visit our national parks and increasing the number of healthy food options available to visitors at parks from coast to coast."

Jewell said the new initiative is in line with President Barack Obama’s “commitment to health and well-being” and First Lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity.

I want to emphasize this is about choice,” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said at the event on the National Mall, where chefs from park concessions around the country cooked up samples. “American people like their choices."

But while visitors may have a choice, vendors do not: Concessionaires who renew their contracts with the government will be required to include at least two “healthy” options, according to Kathy Kupper, spokesperson for the Park Service. Vendors with existing contracts will follow the new guidelines on a voluntary basis until the contract comes up for renewal.

Executive chefs from national parks around the country prepared some of the offerings at an event on June 5, 2013 to announce new guidelines for park food vendors. ( Starr)

Jarvis said the changes don't mean park visitors must eat healthy food. Traditional fare such as hot dogs and chicken tenders will still be available from food vendors who already sell those items. But, added Jarvis, “There’s no reason to take a vacation from eating well when you visit a national park.”

Gerry Gabrys, one of several National Park food vendors attending the event, said customers want healthier foods.

Some of the fare served at Wednesday's event included “Free-range Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Cake and Fennel Salad,” “Crisp Filo, Goat Cheese with Caramelized Pecans, Huckleberry Coulis and Organic Watercress,” “Juniper Smoked Bison Strip Loin with Arugula and Low-fat Horseradish Crème Fraiche,” and “Griddled Cumin-Scented Chesapeake Bay Seafood Taco.”

Those entrees are more likely to be served at restaurants in some of the bigger national parks, such as Yellowstone and the Shenandoah.

The new healthy food standards and sustainable food guidelines are spelled out in detail in a six-page document.

In addition to providing more nutritious food options, the National Park Service is encouraging park food concessions to incorporate locally grown or raised items, when available.

The new guidelines include the following:

-- 30 percent of beverages should have no added sugar.

-- Offer half servings or reduced portion servings when possible such as when items are prepared in bulk like pasta and soups and are served to order.

-- Offer coffee that is fair-trade certified and shade grown.

-- Where seafood option are offered, provide only those that are “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list, certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, or identified by an equivalent program that has been approved by the National Park Service.

-- For grab and go food establishments, ensure that healthier options are placed where they are noticeable and likely to be purchased.

-- Do not offer fried items as “specials” or “featured” items.

The guidelines will help the National Park Service meet "Action Goal #8 – Eat Well and Prosper,” the text states.

“Providing additional choices is good for our customers and good for our business,” said Gabrys, CEO of Guest Services, Inc. “All of us have seen a growing consumer demand for healthy food and we are committed to meeting the needs and desires of park visitors while keeping prices affordable.  The new guidelines include many efforts already underway by the industry and reflect the close collaboration and positive partnership we enjoy with the National Park Service.”


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