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To improve students’ mental health, study finds, teach them to breathe
When college students learn specific techniques for managing stress and anxiety, their well-being improves across a range of measures and leads to better mental health, a new Yale study finds.
The research team evaluated three classroom-based wellness training programs that incorporate breathing and emotional intelligence strategies, finding that two led to improvements in aspects of well-being. The most effective program led to improvements in six areas, including depression and social connectedness.
The researchers, who reported findings in the July 15 edition of Frontiers in Psychiatry, said such resiliency training programs could be a valuable tool for addressing the mental health crisis on university campuses.
“In addition to academic skills, we need to teach students how to live a balanced life,” said Emma Seppälä, lead author and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Program at Yale School of Management. “Student mental health has been on the decline over the last 10 years, and with the pandemic and racial tensions, things have only gotten worse.”
Researchers at the Yale Child Study Center and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI) conducted the study, which tested three skill-building training programs on 135 undergraduate subjects for eight weeks (30 hours total), and measured results against those of a non-intervention control group.
They found that a training program called SKY Campus Happiness, developed by the Art of Living Foundation, which relies on a breathing technique called SKY Breath Meditation, yoga postures, social connection, and service activities, was most beneficial. Following the SKY sessions, students reported improvements in six areas of well-being: depression, stress, mental health, mindfulness, positive affect, and social connectedness.
A second program called Foundations of Emotional Intelligence, developed by the YCEI, resulted in one improvement: greater mindfulness—the ability for students to be present and enjoy the moment.
A third program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which relies heavily on mindfulness techniques, resulted in no reported improvements.
In all, 135 Yale undergraduate students participated in the study.
Across college campuses, there has been a significant rise in student depression, anxiety, and demand for mental health services. From 2009 to 2014, students seeking treatment from campus counseling centers rose by 30%, though enrollment increased by just 6% on average. Fifty-seven percent of counseling center directors indicated that their resources are insufﬁcient to meet students’ needs.
The researchers say resiliency training tools can address the overburdening of campus counseling centers directly. In the sessions. “Students learn tools they can use for the rest of their lives to continue to improve and maintain their mental health,” said co-first author Christina Bradley ’16 B.S., currently a Ph.D. student at University of Michigan.
Researchers administered the training sessions in person, but the courses can also be taken remotely.
“Continually adding staff to counseling and psychiatric services to meet demand is not financially sustainable—and universities are realizing this,” Seppälä said. “Evidence-based resiliency programs can help students help themselves.”
Davornne Lindo ’22 B.A., a member of the Yale track team who participated in the SKY Campus Happiness program, said practicing breathing techniques helped her to manage stress from both academics and athletics. “Now that I have these techniques to help me, I would say that my mentality is a lot healthier,” Lindo said. “I can devote time to studying and not melting down. Races have gone better. Times are dropping.”
Another participant in the SKY program, Anna Wilkinson ’22 B.A., said she was not familiar with the positive benefits of breathing exercises before the training, but now uses the technique regularly. “I didn’t realize how much of it was physiology, how you control the things inside you with breathing,” Wilkinson said. “I come out of breathing and meditation as a happier, more balanced person, which is something I did not expect at all.”
Meta-analysis concludes efficacy for ginkgo cognitive function support and safety in Alzheimer disease
Hubei university – China
According to news originating from Hebei, People’s Republic of China, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, “The objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba preparation for the treatment of Alzheimer disease (AD). Both English (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library databases, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register) and Chinese (WanFang, Chinese Biomedical, CNKI, and VIP databases) databases were systematically and independently searched by 2 authors from their inception until July 3, 2019.”
Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research, “All relevant studies included AD patients who were treated with Ginkgo biloba. The efficacy and safety of the medicine were used as the main measurement index. Seven studies (N=939) were identified and analyzed. When compared with placebo, Ginkgo biloba showed exact validity in cognitive function and global clinical assessment (cognitive function section: risk ratio=1.98, 95% confidence interval=1.52-2.59, Z=5.12, p<0.001; according to Clinical Global Impression Change: odds ratio=3.119, 95% confidence interval=2.206-4.410, Z=6.44, p<0.001). Adverse events were mild.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Ginkgo biloba preparation has reliable efficacy of cognitive function and global clinical assessment and safety in the treatment of AD.”
Higher BPA levels linked to more asthma symptoms in children
Johns Hopkins University
Children in low-income neighborhoods in Baltimore tended to have more asthma symptoms when levels of the synthetic chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) in their urine were elevated, according to a study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine.
While some products, including baby bottles, no longer contain BPA, exposures to BPA remain almost universal, and there are still concerns that, especially in childhood, those exposures might have a health impact.
Boys with elevated BPA were found to be at higher risk for having more asthma symptoms, the study found. The researchers found no statistically significant link between BPA levels and asthma symptoms among the girls in the study. The researchers also found that higher levels of two common chemicals closely related to BPA–BPS and BPF–were not consistently associated with more asthma symptoms. Like BPA, BPS and BPF are found in many consumer products, including food cans and beverage bottles.
For their analysis, the researchers examined clinical data and urine samples, taken at three-month intervals over a year, from 148 predominantly Black children in Baltimore. They found consistent links between higher BPA levels in urine and measures of recent asthma severity.
The study, published July 28 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, is thought to be the first to examine children’s environmental exposures to BPA, BPS, and BPF and their associations with asthma severity.
“Our findings suggest that additional studies are needed to examine this BPA-asthma link, given the high burden of pediatric asthma and widespread exposure to BPA in the United States,” says lead author Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Bloomberg School. “This is especially important given that Black Americans have higher asthma rates than whites and also, according to CDC data, have higher exposure to these chemicals than whites.”
BPA is a chemical building block used to make polycarbonate plastic as well as some epoxies. Produced at the rate of about 7 million tons per year worldwide, it can leach from polycarbonate bottles into the liquids they contain, and from epoxies that line cans of soup and other food items. A 2011 study published found that eating soup from cans lined with BPA-containing epoxy caused study participants’ BPA levels to rise by a factor of almost 20.
BPA can activate estrogen receptors on cells, which suggests that it may have hormone-like effects–disrupting human biology even at very small exposure levels. Animal studies have found evidence that the chemical can have pro-inflammatory effects. Epidemiological studies have found that people with higher BPA levels in their urine are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and some other conditions. Children are in principle more vulnerable, to the extent that they use BPA-containing products more often than adults do. Due to consumer concerns, companies stopped making BPA-containing baby bottles and sippy cups more than a decade ago, and have largely switched to non-BPA can epoxies.
BPS and BPF are close chemical relatives, or analogs, of BPA, and are found, for example, in can-linings and thermal-printer receipts–often as replacements for BPA. They too can interact with estrogen receptors, although very little is known about their health impacts at current exposure levels.
In the new study, Quirós-Alcalá and colleagues examined the link between BPA and asthma. More than 25 million Americans, including about one out of twelve children, have this airway inflammatory disorder.
While prior studies in children have linked higher BPA levels to a greater likelihood of developing asthma, the researchers here looked for a link between BPA exposure and the extent of symptoms in established asthma–or asthma “morbidity,” as epidemiologists call it.
To do this, they analyzed clinical data, as well as stored urine samples, from the Mouse Allergen and Asthma Cohort Study (MAACS), which was conducted from 2007 to 2010 in Baltimore and covered 148 asthmatic children between 5 and 17. The study included 85 boys and 63 girls. Most of the children (91 percent) were Black, and most (69 percent) came from households with annual incomes below $35,000. Each child in the study was evaluated by doctors every three months for a year, and at these visits the child’s caregiver filled out a questionnaire about the child’s recent asthma symptoms and medical care.
Quirós-Alcalá and her colleagues found BPA in every urine sample taken during the study, with a mean concentration of 3.6 nanograms per milliliter–consistent with one study of low-income minority children in the U.S., but several times higher than levels measured in other groups.
The children in the study varied greatly in their urine BPS levels, and the researchers found that a ten-times-greater level of BPS was associated with a 40 percent increased chance of having had “coughing, wheezing, or chest tightness” in the prior two weeks, along with an 84 percent and 112 percent increased chance of reporting an acute care or an emergency-room visit in the prior three months.
When the researchers analyzed the children by sex, they found that these associations remained statistically significant only for the boys.
The analysis also showed that BPS and BPF levels in urine of the 148 children were much lower on average than those for BPA, and in some urine samples were not found at all. Higher BPS or BPF levels were not consistently associated with more asthma morbidity.
This was an associational study and does not prove that BPA exposures caused health effects, but it suggests that more conclusive studies of cause and effect should be done, the researchers say.
“If these findings are confirmed in future studies, then avoiding or limiting contact with BPA sources may be advisable for families who have children with asthma,” Quirós-Alcalá says.
Calcium and vitamin D nutrient deficiencies lead to higher risk for osteoporosis
Study finds calcium and vitamin d nutrient deficiencies lead to higher risk for osteoporosis in low income US population
Pharmavite LLC, the makers of Nature Made vitamins, minerals and supplements, announced the publication of a research article in the journal PLoS ONE, which examines inadequate nutrient intake and its relationship to poor bone health, specifically risk of osteoporosis. The research was a cross sectional analysis of the U.S population [from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data], with a specific focus on those below the poverty line with food insecurities.
Poverty can be a barrier to routinely acquiring adequate nutrient intakes, specifically for calcium and vitamin D, to ensure bone health with the ultimate goal of preventing of osteoporosis. Age, gender and dietary intake are major factors that contribute to osteoporosis prevalence. This study examined the relationship between markers of poverty with calcium and vitamin D intake and osteoporosis in Americans, 50 years and older.
“This study continues to demonstrate how prevalent nutrient deficiency is among the U.S. population, and even more so, among lower income individuals and those with food insecurities. Yet, we know that nutrient adequacy is imperative in supporting overall health and wellness, including immune health, at a time when that is heavy on everyone’s mind,” said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, Vice President of Science & Technology at Pharmavite.
In the U.S., 25% of older Americans live below the poverty line. Within this population, 68% have inadequate calcium intakes, and 46% have inadequate vitamin D intakes. Gender, ethnic, and socio-economic differences impact overall risk for inadequate calcium and vitamin D intakes and subsequent osteoporosis risk, as seen in some of the study key findings:
- American women over the age of 50 consistently have inadequate calcium intake regardless of their economic status.
- Inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D affects poverty-stricken men more than women with respect to osteoporosis risk.
- Non-Hispanic Black men with a low income have two times greater risk for developing osteoporosis.
“Improving the consumption of nutrient-rich and fortified foods among individuals that live in poverty can help to decrease their chances of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, dietary supplements can play a critical role in helping any underserved population meet their nutrition needs –including making supplements readily available through programs like SNAP, for example,” adds Mitmesser. “Our research demonstrates that participants with SNAP benefits and more access to food, have fewer nutrient inadequacies which helps them meet their nutrition needs.”
It has been estimated in the U.S. population age 50 and older, about 10.2 million suffer from osteoporosis, and 80% of these affected cases are females. In addition, there are potentially 43.4 million people, or 44% of the population with osteopenia, which is a bone condition that often leads to osteoporosis. More than two million osteoporosis-related fractures occur annually, leading to more than 19 billion dollars in health care costs in the US.
Study: Vitamin C plus quercetin a solid remedy for coronavirus
New research published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology has revealed that vitamin C combined with quercetin represents a powerful natural remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
Entitled, “Quercetin and Vitamin C: An Experimental Synergistic Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Related Disease (COVID-19),” the paper takes a detailed look at the antiviral properties of these two nutrients, which together show incredible promise in helping Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) patients recover.
It explains that quercetin has the ability to interfere “at multiple steps of pathogen virulence,” including at “virus entry, virus replication, (and) protein assembly” to inhibit the viral infection and proliferation. And when combined with vitamin C, quercetin is effective “for both the prophylaxis and the early treatment” of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as other respiratory tract infections.
In case you are unfamiliar with it, quercetin is a plant pigment in the flavonoid family that possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-protective properties. It has also been studied extensively for its ability to inhibit polymerases, proteases, and reverse transcriptase, as well as to suppress DNA gyrase and bind viral capsid proteins.
This might sound like complicated language to the average “Joe,” but suffice it to say that quercetin, especially when amplified by the presence of vitamin C, obstructs viral infection, as well as viral replication and proliferation.
Exercise in early life has long-lasting benefits
Exercise in early life counteracts some of the damaging programming effects of a high-fat diet, a new Auckland study shows.
University of Auckland (New Zealand), July 30, 2020
The researchers, from the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, found that bone retains a “memory” of exercise’s effects long after the exercise is ceased, and this bone memory continues to change the way the body metabolises a high-fat diet, and published these results in Frontiers in Physiology.
The research team compared the bone health and metabolism of rats across different diet and exercise conditions, zeroing in on messenger molecules that signal the activity of genes in bone marrow. Rats were either given a high-fat diet and a wheel for extra exercise in their cage, a high-fat diet but no wheel, or a regular diet and no wheel. In the rats given a high-fat diet and an exercise wheel, the early extra physical activity caused inflammation-linked genes to be turned down.
High-fat diets early in life are known to turn up, or increase the activity of other genes that cause inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural self-protective response to acute infection or injury, but the ongoing, low-grade inflammation linked to high-fat diets can harm cells and tissues and raise the risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Exercise also altered the way the rats’ bones metabolised energy from food, changing energy pathways that disrupt the body’s response to a high-calorie diet.
“What was remarkable was that these changes lasted long after the rats stopped doing that extra exercise – into their mid-life,” says Dr Justin O’Sullivan, a molecular geneticist at the Institute. “The bone marrow carried a ‘memory’ of the effects of exercise. This is the first demonstration of a long-lasting effect of exercise past puberty. The rats still got fat, but that early extra exercise basically set them up so that even though they put on weight they didn’t have the same profile of negative effects that is common with a high fat diet.”
Dr O’Sullivan says this may help scientists understand why, even though obesity and diabetes are often linked, some people with obesity do not develop diabetes. “It also strongly emphasises the health benefits of exercise for children.”
Dr’ O’Sullivan’s co-investigators were PhD student Dharani Sontam, Professor Mark Vickers, and Professor Elwyn Firth, all from the Liggins Institute.
With rising rates of overweight and obesity in children, it is important to understand the effects of these conditions on bone health, says Professor Vickers, an obesity specialist. “Obesity is governed by many genes. This work highlights the utility of small animal models in teasing out gene-environment interactions in health and disease.”
Professor Firth, who studies bone development, explains that childhood and adolescence are periods of rapid bone growth. “If you reach optimal bone mass early in life, you’re less likely to suffer from broken bones or other bone-related problems as an adult. Load-bearing from exercise and higher bodyweight is good for growing bones, but this and other evidence shows that if the extra weight comes from higher body fat mass, bone development may be subnormal,” he says. “Bone metabolism strongly influences energy metabolism in the body, and metabolism – what you do with energy from diet – is the central crux of why some children and adults become obese.”
The team hopes to repeat the experiment to see if the changes persist into old age, and if varying the exercise – when it begins, how much the rats do, and how long they do it for – could alter other genes, affecting other aspects of fat metabolism beneficially.
Molecular mechanisms: Could omega-3 metabolite offer hope in battle against age-related diseases?
Louisiana State University, 28-Jul-2020
A signalling molecule produced by the the omega-3 fatty acid DHA could be used to target age-related conditions and diseases including stroke and Alzheimer’s, new research suggests.
A greater understanding of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could lead to effective targets and therapies for a variety of diseases, according to a new review published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The team from LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine reported that DHA has been found to produce signalling molecules (docosanoids) when the body’s state of equilibrium is altered due to disease or injury.
One docosanoid in particular, Neuroprotectin D1 (NDP1), is said to protect neurons in the retina and brain, causing researchers to believe this could be a possible route of therapy.
“It is our hope that this knowledge will contribute to managing early stages of such devastating diseases as Alzheimer’s stroke, traumatic brain injury, age-related macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and others,” said lead researcher Professor Nicolas Bazan.
Omega-3 and health
Omega-3, found in foods such as salmon, tuna, algae and walnuts, is well-researched and has many suggested and established health benefits, including established EFSA claims relating to the the maintenance of normal vision, brain function, function of the heart, maintenance of normal blood triglycerides level normal blood pressure.
Furthermore, research has suggested that omega-3 may play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease , reducing cardiovascular disease risk and decreasing mortality rates in postmenopausal women .
According to the omega-3 index, an 8% percentage of omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) + DHA in red blood cells is desirable, while a score of 4% is considered a danger zone.
DHA and NPD1
The new review sheds light on the role of DHA and its NDP1 metabolite on homeostasis changes in the body.
According to the team behind the study, the molecule provokes neuroprotection in cases of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and in experimental stroke. Administration of the molecule was also found to reduce stroke damage and also save tissue in the rim surrounding the stroke core, said Bazan and colleagues.
Furthermore, in case of Alzheimer’s disease, NPD1’s inflammatory properties have been suggested to play a part in preventing the progression of the disease.
Previous research has shown clinical symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s include neuro-inflammation, damage to dendritic spines and problems with cell-to-cell communication, all of which coincide with decreased DHA levels in the brain.
Could DHA prevent cell death?
The US-based researchers suggest that NPD1’s inflammatory properties help restore a state of equilibrium in the body, aiding the recovery of cells, and preventing cell death.
“Cell death is considered to be reversible until a first ‘point-of-no-return’ checkpoint is passed,” said Bazan, who noted that although cells can die in multiple ways, by far the most studied forms of cell death are apoptosis and necrosis.
“In degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, age-related macular degeneration and stroke, dysregulation of apoptosis is a central event,” he said.
However, the team believes that NPD1 can prevent cells from reaching this ‘checkpoint’ in cell death activation pathways, including apoptosis, necrosis, necroptosis, pyroptosis, and pyrnecrosis.
“Understanding the molecular mechanisms of action of dietary essential fatty acids will lead to effective treatments of diseases and conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, and other retinal and neurodegenerative diseases,” Bazan said.