Sunday, August 04, 2013
How feasting on steak and spinach can cut the chances of Alzheimer's
These findings are explainable as indicating a general syndrome of biological fitness. Anaemics are less fit so go on to get dementia too
Iron-rich foods such as steak, spinach, liver and nuts could cut the risk of dementia in later life, say researchers.
A study has found that people with anaemia – where levels of red blood cells are lower than normal – were more likely to develop conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
The most common cause of anaemia, besides heavy blood loss, is iron deficiency, suggesting that a dietary change could help protect against dementia.
Researchers made the connection between dementia and anaemia after studying more than 2,500 adults aged between 70 and 79.
‘Anaemia is common in the elderly and occurs in up to 23 per cent of adults aged 65 and older,’ said lead researcher Dr Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California San Francisco.
‘The condition has also been linked in studies to an increased risk of early death.’ Of those who took part in the study, 393 had anaemia at the start, while all those involved were given memory and brain power tests.
At the end of the study, 445 – or about 18 per cent – had developed dementia.
The research found those who had anaemia at the start of the study had a nearly 41 per cent higher risk of developing dementia than those who were not anaemic.
The link remained after considering other factors, such as age, race, sex and education, says a report in the medical journal Neurology.
Of the 393 with anaemia, 89, or 23 per cent, developed dementia, compared to 366 of the 2,159 who did not have anaemia, or 17 per cent.
Dr Yaffe said anaemia may play a role in dementia by reducing oxygen supplies to the brain, which can damage neurons and have been shown to reduce memory and thinking abilities.
Dr Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘Maybe our parents were right to tell us that we should eat more spinach.
‘This interesting research suggests that lower iron levels may have a link with cognitive health later on in life.
‘However, more research is needed and we shouldn’t make the jump to claim that anaemia causes dementia.
‘The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Enjoy a balanced Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables, oily fish and even the occasional glass of red wine, take regular exercise and don’t smoke.’
Dr Eric Karran of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘This large study adds to previous observations of a link between anaemia and a higher dementia risk, but it hard to say with any certainty that anaemia is a causal factor in the condition.’
‘While age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, current research suggests that lifestyle choices may have an influence on our dementia risk.’
How clean water and soap can make a child TALLER: Good hygiene 'increases nutrients absorbed and could add half a centimetre to an under-five'
It is hard to critique a meta-analysis without re-doing the whole project but Cocharane analyses are generally rigorous and the small height advantage reported is reasonable in view of the known relationship between nutrition and height
Simply improving the quality of water and using soap could make children grow taller, according to the first study of its kind.
Researchers found that basic methods to maintain good hygiene could add half a centimetre to a five-year-old as poor personal care can increase the risk of infection in the gut, thereby reducing the amount of nutrients absorbed.
It could also reduce the prevalence of stunted growth, which irreversibly affects physical and mental development of an estimated 165million children worldwide, by up to 15 per cent.
The study's authors say the findings are key to tackling the 'burden of undernutrition' which causes 3.1million deaths annually and accounts for nearly half of all deaths of under-fives.
The study was carried out for the Cochrane Review and authored by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and charity WaterAid.
It examined 14 studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Chile and Nepal using data on 9,000 children.
Yael Velleman, one of the authors and a senior policy analyst at WaterAid, told The Independent that the link between disinfecting water, sanitation and nutrition could explain why children in some countries are shorter than others in equally developed nations.
Five years ago, the World Health Organisation estimated that 50 per cent of childhood malnutrition is associated with repeated diarrhoea or intestinal worm infections.
Professor Tim Wheeler, deputy chief scientific advisor to the Department for International Development (DfID), which funded the research, said the report supports the use of soap and clean water 'as one of the best ways to prevent contracting diarrhoea and stopping children losing the essential nutrients vital for them to grow.'
Lead author, Dr Alan Dangour, who is also a senior research fellow at the DfID, added: 'Providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene is an effective way to reduce the incidence and associated deaths from diseases such as diarrhoea – which remains the third biggest killer of under-fives worldwide.
'For the first time our analysis suggests that better access to these services may also have a small but important impact on the growth of young children.'
Posted by jonjayray at 12:35 AM