Lifestyle Works

Need to Feed our Children Well

An alarming 22 percent of U.S. children live in poverty, which can have long-lasting negative consequences on brain development, emotional health and academic achievement. A new study, published July 20 in JAMA Pediatrics, provides even more compelling evidence that growing up in poverty has detrimental effects on the brain.

In an accompanying editorial, child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, writes that "early childhood interventions to support a nurturing environment for these children must now become our top public health priority for the good of all."

In her own research in young children living in poverty, Luby and her colleagues have identified changes in the brain's architecture that can lead to lifelong problems with depression, learning difficulties and limitations in the ability to cope with stress.

However, her work also shows that parents who are nurturing can offset some of the negative effects on brain anatomy seen in poor children. The findings suggest that teaching nurturing skills to parents -- particularly those who live below the poverty line may provide a lifetime of benefit for children.

"Our research has shown that the effects of poverty on the developing brain, particularly in the hippocampus, are strongly influenced by parenting and life stresses experienced by the children," said Luby, the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry and director of Washington University's Early Emotional Development Program.

The study in JAMA Pediatrics, by a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that low-income children had irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20 percent gap in achievement explained by developmental lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

"In developmental science and medicine, it is not often that the cause and solution of a public health problem become so clearly elucidated," Luby wrote in the editorial. "It is even less common that feasible and cost-effective solutions to such problems are discovered and within reach."

Based on this new research and what already is known about the damaging effects of poverty on brain development in children, as well as the benefits of nurturing during early childhood, "we have a rare roadmap to preserving and supporting our society's most important legacy, the developing brain," Luby writes. "This unassailable body of evidence taken as a whole is now actionable for public policy."

~Washington University, St Louis, July 20, 2015

Chamomile Cuts Risk of Thyroid Cancer?

The tiny, daisy-like flowers from the chamomile plant have long been valued for their medicinal properties. At least as far back as Roman times, chamomile was used in teas and extracts to promote relaxation and restful sleep as well as to support the health of the digestive system. Topically, it was used to even skin tones and to bring out highlights in blonde or light-colored hair. It is a popular treatment for the conditions mentioned above even today. However, apparently the healing power of chamomile goes far beyond promoting digestive function and sound sleep. Modern research is also discovering that the bio-active compounds in these tiny, sweet-smelling flowers can also help to reduce the chances of thyroid cancer. While this form of cancer can often be treated successfully with either surgery or radioactive iodine treatment (or both), it is even better to prevent it in the first place! Let's look at the research.

The New Study

The study that has everyone talking is one that was recently published in the European Journal of Public Health. Three groups of volunteers were studied for this research: The first was a group of 113 thyroid cancer patients who were compared to another group of 138 cancer-free patients and 286 patients who have a history of benign thyroid disease. All three groups received detailed questionnaires so that researchers could determine such factors as their daily dietary habits, overall medical history, general lifestyle and beverage consumption (including the consumption of coffee and tea).

The Results

What the researchers found was that those who consumed the highest amounts of chamomile tea had the lowest chances of developing thyroid cancer. And the percentage was significant: A person consuming 2-6 cups of chamomile tea on a weekly basis has a whopping 70 percent less chance of thyroid cancer development; if this practice had been going on for 30 years or longer, they were 80 percent less likely to suffer from the onset of this disease. Researchers noted, "our study suggests, for the first time, that consumption of chamomile tea is linked to a lower incidence of thyroid cancer as well as other benign thyroid diseases". They believe that this correlation between chamomile tea consumption and reduced thyroid cancer risk is due to one of the compounds in chamomile called apigenin, which has clinically proven anti-cancer properties..., July 28, 2015

Recipe of the Month

Brain Boosting Smoothie
    1 orange
    1 cup raspberries       
    2 T lemon juice
    2 figs
    8 brazil nuts
    ½ cup soya milk
    10 leaves butter leaf lettuce or spinach (approx 30 grams)
all ingredients together and enjoy.