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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Does unhappiness cause poor health?

People tend to think that unhappiness causes disease or illness, but a recent study shows that this is not true.

Dr Bette Liu from the University of New South Wales in Australia looked at over a million women (aged 55-63) over a 10 year span.

The researcher found that only after becoming sick did rates of happiness decrease, not the other way around.  The conclusion of this study is that poor health causes unhappiness. Dr Lie says: "We found no direct effect of unhappiness or stress on mortality".

Therefore, it makes very good sense to focus on being healthy, as a way to stay happy.

It's almost obvious that if focused on health ( good nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, hydration),  that happiness would follow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What is the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB)?

The BBB is a semi-permeable membrane (of glial cells) which protects the Central Nervous System (brain & spinal cord) from toxins and changes in blood composition.

The BBB can be broken down by high blood pressure, microwaves, hyperosmolitity, radiation, infection, trauma, inflammation, schema, and pressure.

BBB dysfunction can lead to neural damage. Diseases such as MS, encephalitis, stroke, or tumours can also damage the BBB.

The brain is metabolically one of the most active of all organs in the body. The brain does not store energy so it therefore needs a continuous supply of glucose and oxygen to meet it's energy requirements. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What is potassium (K)?

Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte essential for healthy organ function. It is needed to build protein, break down and use carbs, build muscle, control the acid base balance in the body, and control the electrical activity of the heart. It also protects blood vessels from oxidative damage.

Adults should consume about 4,700 mg/daily and the mineral is found in bananas, avocados, nuts, citrus, green vegetables, milk, potatoes, yam, parsley, fish, meat, chocolate, coconut water, bran. Dried apricots have the highest concentration of potassium per calorie of any food. Many processed foods contain no potassium.

A low level of potassium is called hypokalemia and a high level called hyperkalemia. Low levels are caused from alcoholism, use of diurectics, abuse of laxatives, magnesium depletion, bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and diet of only processed foods.

Studies show that diets high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why is fat bad for the brain?

A high fat diet produces inflammation in the body, including in the brain.

Inflammation stimulates the microglia, which are part of the brains' immune system, and whose function is to destroy infection, by moving (staying active).

In obesity, these cells stop moving but eat brain synapses instead of the infectious bodies they are meant to destroy.  Functioning synapses are needed for learning which is a very important brain function.

On a mouse study, it was found that the effects of a high fat diet can be reversed in two weeks.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What are microglia?

Microglia is a type of glial cell which acts as the main form of immune defense in the central nervous system (brain and spine).

They make up between 10-15% of all brain cells, and are extremely sensitive; they are  supported by potassium.

These cells move about and "eat" plaque, damaged neurons, and infectious agents.

The blood-brain barrier prevents most infectious material from entering the brain, but if it does, microglia must act very quicky to decrease inflammation and destroy the infection.

Because the blood-brain barrier (BBB), prevents antibodies from crossing it, microglia do the job of fighting infection instead.

If inflammation increases instead of decreases, the microglia stop functioning effectively.