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August 2010

High-fat diet alters brain signalling
Research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) has found that prolonged exposure to a high fat diet is linked to changes in levels of dopamine, a brain chemical involved with the brain's reward system. This builds on previous research which has seen that dopamine transporter numbers result from obesity and exposure to a high-fat diet.

The authors measured changes in dopamine levels after rats consumed a high fat diet. High-fat diet rats exhibited both reduced release and reduced re-uptake of dopamine compared to those consuming a low-fat diet. These results highlight the role of brain systems that regulate motivation and willingness to work for food reward. Researcher Mitchell Roitman says, “Our research shows that these changes lead to major differences in the way dopamine functions in the brain."


Caffeine reduces errors made by shift workers
A new study at the London School of Tropical Medicine has found that shift workers who consume caffeine make fewer errors. Scientists reviewed data from 13 trials, examining the effects of caffeine on performance in shift workers in various work situations, tasks and neuropsychological tests. When compared to placebos and naps, caffeine reduced errors and improved performance in tests. While injuries were not measured directly in any of the trials, better performance is thought likely to result in fewer injuries.

Researcher Katherine Ker says there should be further studies to examine the effects of caffeine compared to other measures in order to reduce mistakes made by shift workers.

Full text:  Ker K, Edwards PJ, Felix LM, Blackhall K, Roberts I. "Caffeine for the prevention of injuries and errors in shift workers"Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 5.

Largest clinical study ever conducted on treating depression with Omega-3 shows encouraging results
Omega-3 supplements are effective in treating major depression in patients who do not suffer from any anxiety disorders, according to a study published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.  The study was the largest yet to look at Omega-3's usefulness in treating major depression. Omega 3 was not effective for all participants, but did improve symptoms in  those diagnosed with depression who did not have an anxiety disorder. The effect of the fatty acid was found to be comparable to that of conventional antidepressant treatment.

Many patients choose to stop taking medication and use alternative treatments which have not been fully evaluated, “That is why it was important to assess the efficacy of Omega-3, one of the most popular alternative approaches”, explains lead researcher Dr. Francois Lesperance.

Full article:

Risk to pregnant women from Bisphenol-A (BPA)
The National Toxicology Program has said it has "some concern" that BPA - a chemical used to line food cans - may affect brain development and behaviour in foetuses and young children.  Researchers analysing 50 cans of food found BPA in 92 per cent of samples. For example, one can of a Del Monte product contained 138 micrograms of BPA per serving - a level linked to changes in prostate cells and increasingly aggressive behaviour in animals.

A study from the National Workgroup for Safe Markets advises pregnant women to limit their consumption of food and drinks packaged in metal cans that often contain the "oestrogen-like" chemical bisphenol A. BPA is also used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics- which are used to make toys, beverage containers and other products.


Chocolate compound may protect against stroke damage
New research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that the flavanol epicatechin (EC), a compound found in dark chocolate and tea, may protect against brain damage following a stroke.

In the study, led by associate professor Dr Sylvain Doré, mice were fed with different doses of EC before inducing an ischaemic stroke. The treated mice had significantly less brain damage and reduction in brain function. The greatest benefits were seen within 3.5 hours after treatment.  The researchers hope these findings will improve research and understanding of  acute stroke damage, and chronic brain-wasting diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Full article:

Nutrient may offer benefit for people with Down Syndrome
Choline - a nutrient found in  egg yolks, liver, nuts and some vegetables - may offer long-term benefits to people with Down syndrome if consumed by mothers during pregnancy and nursing. In a study at Cornell University, choline-supplemented Down Syndrome model mice showed improvement in impulsivity, attention span, and emotional control compared to unsupplemented mice. Supplementation was also found to protect against neurodegenerative conditions commonly seen in Down Syndrome.

This is the first study to look specifically at maternal choline intake in a rodent model of Down Syndrome. It confirms previous findings that benefits are limited to early stages of development, and that choline supplementation in adulthood does not offer these benefits.


Study links ADHD to diet
A study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggests that ADHD (attention defecit hyperactivity disorder) in adolescents could be linked to Western diets. Researchers looked at the dietary patterns of adolescents and classified diets into 'Healthy' (high in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish) or 'Western' patterns (high in total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium).  The team went on to see which adolescents had been diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 14.

“We found a diet high in the Western pattern of foods was associated with more than double the risk of having an ADHD diagnosis compared with a diet low in the Western pattern', said lead researcher Dr Wendy Oddy.  “When we looked at specific foods, having an ADHD diagnosis was associated with a diet high in takeaway foods, processed meats, red meat, high fat dairy products and confectionery.” The researchers say more studies are needed to uncover what is behind the observed link.

Educational achievement improved by US National School Lunch Program
A new article in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management has evaluated the long-term effects of participation in the National School Lunch Program, concluding that it leads to a significant increase in educational opportunity and attainment, but an insignificant increase in health levels from childhood to adulthood.

The study asserts that the low-cost, subsidised lunches offered to children in the programme may have encouraged children to attend school more than they would have, based on data on educational attainment from the U.S. Census.  These findings have implications for poor countries that are considering introducing large scale school feeding programs similar to the National School Lunch Program. 


Eating foods rich in vitamin E associated with lower dementia risk
Consuming more vitamin E in the diet may reduce risk of dementia, according to a report in Archives of Neurology.  At the beginning of the study, participants underwent a home interview and clinical examinations and provided dietary information. The researchers focused on dietary intake of the antioxidant vitamins E, C, and beta-carotene, and flavonoids from food sources. The third of individuals who consumed the most vitamin E were found to be 25 percent less likely to develop dementia than the third of participants who consumed the least. Dietary intake levels of vitamin C, beta carotene and flavonoids were not associated with dementia risk. Previous studies have not found supplementation of vitamin E to be helpful in reducing dementia risk.


High levels of different vitamin E types reduce Alzheimer's risk
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease has found that high levels of several vitamin E components in the blood are associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer's disease in older age. Most previous studies have looked at the effect of just one form of vitamin E:  a-tocopherol. However there are eight forms of the vitamin available from the diet.

It was found that subjects with higher blood levels of all the vitamin E forms had a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to subjects with lower levels.  The risk was reduced by 45-54%, depending on the vitamin E component. The protective effect of vitamin E seemed to be related to the combination of the different forms.

Full text:

Organophosphates linked to ADHD
Parents have been urged to wash fruit and vegetables, and be aware of the pesticides they use in the home after researchers found that the chance of having ADHD increased with pesticide exposure. Such pesticides and insecticides have been previously linked to behavioural symptoms common to ADHD – such as impulsivity and attention problems. In the study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health identified children as meeting the criteria for ADHD. They then tracked breakdown products from pesticides in the children's urine and found those with high levels were almost twice as likely to develop ADHD as those with undetectable levels. In children with higher-than-average levels of the most common breakdown product, dimethyl triphosphate, the odds were nearly twice as high.


Increased fruit and veg consumption reduces dementia risk.
A study published in the British Medical Journal has investigated a number of ways of lowering dementia risk, including dietary, lifestyle and educational changes. Researchers looked at 1,433 healthy people aged over 65 in France for up to seven years, testing cognitive ability through reading tests. They concluded that public health initiatives aimed at four major areas could help prevent 40 per cent of cases of the condition. Together, eliminating depression and diabetes and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption were estimated to lead to an overall 20.7 per cent reduction in incidence of dementia.

Full article:

Link between vitamin D and mental agility in elders
A 2009 study published in the Journals of Gerontology has looked at the relationship between blood concentrations of vitamin D and performance in neuropsychological tests. In the study, led by epidemiologist Katherine Tucker,1000 participants who receive home care were grouped according to vitamin D status and 35 per cent of participants were found to have adequate blood levels of vitamin D. These participants fared better in cognitive performance on the tests than those with lower levels, particularly in areas such as cognitive flexibility, perceptual complexity, and reasoning. This is relevant as many elderly populations are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Low vitamin D levels linked to cognitive decline in elderly
Older adults with low vitamin D levels may be more likely to experience declines in thinking, learning and memory over a six-year period, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 858 adults, aged 65 or older at the beginning of the study, completed interviews and had their blood tested for vitamin D levels.  At three points cognitive function, assessing overall cognition, attention and executive function, or the ability to plan, organize and prioritize were measured. Those who were severely deficient in vitamin D were 60 percent more likely to have substantial cognitive decline in general over the following six years, and 31 per cent more likely to experience declines in executive function than those with sufficient levels.


Possible link between low vitamin D levels and Parkinson's Disease
A new study published in Archives of Neurology indicates that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, although the exact relationship is still unclear.  The study is the first to show that low vitamin D levels can help predict whether someone will later develop Parkinson's disease. Researchers at Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare measured vitamin D levels from more than 3000 people and then followed those people to see whether they developed Parkinson's. People with the lowest levels of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's, compared to the group with the highest levels.

Previous research had suggested a link between low vitamin D and Parkinson's, but whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship is unknown. Vitamin D may help protect the population of neurons gradually lost by people with Parkinson's disease, author Marian Evatt MD writes in her editorial.


Possible vitamin D link in multiple sclerosis.
Studies conducted by neurologists at the University at Buffalo have found a potential association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Lower vitamin D status is already known to be associated with raised risk of developing MS.

Analysis of blood samples from MS patients found that most had insufficient vitamin D levels. Of patients with 'secondary-progressive' type MS only seven percent had sufficient vitamin D. MRI scans and neuropsychological tests were performed, which alongside the blood results showed that low levels of total vitamin D are associated with increased disability, brain atrophy and brain lesion load in MS patients. Verbal fluency and visual-spatial memory may also more likely to be affected when vitamin D levels are insufficient.
Sarah A. Morrow, MD, assistant research professor and lead author on the study is continuing her research to clarify these relationships.




National Care-Farming Initiative (NCFI) Conference: 16th September 2010, Shropshire.
NCFI Care Farming – Working Partnerships. 3rd National Care Farm Conference
Venue: Harper Adams University College, Shropshire.
Time: 9.00am – 4.30pm
Contact: Lisa Chapman
Telephone: 01952 815324/815300
Fax: 01952 812125

FAB- Food and the Brain- Conference 23rd Septmeber 2010, Oxford.
Nutrition and the brain: Why diet matters for mental health and performance
Duration: 9.15am to 4.30pm (Registration 8.45am-9.10am)
Venue: The Saïd Business School, Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP
An opportunity to hear from a panel of leading experts, researchers and practitioners about how nutrition affects behaviour, learning and mood.
Contact Information: Fiona O'Fee  +44 (0)1463 667318

May 2010


Food-brain study shows benefits for Mediterranean diet
While the benefits of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular health are now well known, a study at Columbia University suggests that such a diet may also benefit brain health. The study found that a diet rich in salad dressing, tomatoes, nuts, fish, cruciferous vegetables, dark and green leafy vegetables, fruits, and poultry may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 38 per cent. It was thought that the benefits may be linked to higher levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; vitamin E, and folate.
The study is published in the Archives of Neurology.

Gluten free diet does not improve autism
A recent review has examined research into a link between autism and the consumption of certain proteins. The researchers found that there was only 'limited and weak' evidence to support a theory that autism could be improved by eliminating gluten or casein from the diet. In addition, it was suggested that following such strict diets may have a negative effect on bone health.
The study is published in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages 328-339.

Low vitamin B diet linked to Parkinson's Disease
Inadequate intakes of vitamin B6 have been liked to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. No such link was found between the disease and levels of other B vitamins, however. While the study does not prove that Parkinson's Disease is caused by low levels of vitamin B6, it does highlight the need for further research to clarify whether increased levels may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Published online ahead of print:

Study confirms brain benefits of omega-3 fat for healthy older people
A study published by the supplier Martek Biosciences has confirmed the brain health benefits of DHA consumption for older people with age-related cognitive decline. Those who took the algal DHA capsules had nearly double the reduction in errors in tests than those who took the placebo over six months. The findings support previous research associating decreases in plasma DHA with cognitive decline. The researchers say that the Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Study (MIDAS) is the first large, randomized and placebo-controlled study demonstrating the benefits of algal DHA in maintaining and improving brain health in older adults.

… Large trial finds no evidence to support brain benefits of omega-3 in older people!
Directly contradicting the research above, the largest trial to date to test the benefits of omega-3 supplementation on brain health has found no benefits associated with the fatty acids. The Older People And n–3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (OPAL) Study, supported by the Food Standards Agency, tested the hypothesis that supplementation with omega-3 fats, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may maintain cognitive function in later life.  The trial found no change in cognitive function scores or any secondary cognitive outcome over a 24 month period.

Grape chemical boosts circulation to brain
Resveratol, a chemical found in grapes, has been found to boost blood flow to the brain according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The chemical was not found to boost cognitive performance, however. More research is needed to establish how resveratol works, and the researchers are awaiting results from studies currently under way in Italy and Eqypt.


A Celebration of DHA – Discovery, Achievement and Challenges for Global Health 40 Years - 26th and 27th May
From: The Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition & The Mother and Child Foundation.

  • Duration: Evening opening session plus one full day 
  • Location: London 
  • Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London

Speakers include Dr Michael Crawford, Nicolas Bazan, Bill Lands, Rodolfo Brenner, Gene Anderson, Claudio Galli, Andrew Sinclair and Jean-Marie Bourre.
In addition to highlighting significant biochemical discoveries and clinical achievements involving DHA, this meeting will have a session on the role of DHA in human brain evolution. The presentation will also consider the major global challenge of maintaining brain health in the 21st century.
Contact Information: Rachel Gow

Food and Health Forum meeting - 22nd June
Location: Committee Room 2, House of Lords, London.
Guest speakers:  Professor Ricardo Uauy and Dr Alan Dangour will be speaking about the results of the Opal Study (see above), the overall aim of which was to try to define a simple and effective dietary intervention to maintain cognitive function in later life.
Contact: Patricia Constant Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum


April 2010


Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acid may improve mental function in middle age - 1st March

Increased levels of the omega-3 fatty acid  DHA (docosahexaenonic acid) were associated with improved nonverbal reasoning, vocabulary, mental flexibility, and working memory in people between 35 and 54, while intakes of other omega-3 fatty acids ALA  and EPA  were not, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.

“These findings suggest that DHA is related to brain health throughout the lifespan and may have implications for clinical trials of neuropsychiatric disorders,” wrote the researcher Matthew Muldoon, suggesting that additional experiments and clinical trials in both healthy and clinical samples are warranted.
Full article: Journal of Nutrition: published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/jn.109.119578

Role of vitamin D in mood reviewed - 8th March

Researchers at Loyola University Chicago have reviewed evidence surrounding the role of vitamin D in mood regulation. "Vitamin D deficiency continues to be a problem despite the nutrient's widely reported health benefits," says Sue Penckofer, PhD. This is likely to be worse in the winter when people spend less time in sunlight - a natural source of vitamin D. The review found that diet alone may be insufficient to manage vitamin D levels, although a combination of dietary intake, exposure to sunlight, and vitamin D2 or D3 supplementation could work.

Loyola faculty members plan to take vitamin D research a step further by evaluating whether vitamin D supplements improve blood sugar control and mood in women with diabetes, as depression is associated with increased insulin resistance, and women with diabetes tend to have greater rates of both problems.

Exposure to fast food makes us more impatient, study shows - 25th March

Researchers have found that the mere exposure to fast food and related symbols can make people more impatient. Participants were exposed to fast food symbols in three different experiments. Those who saw the symbols for just a few milliseconds (or recalled a time when they ate fast food) rushed tasks unneccessarily, showed an increased preference for time-saving products, and were more reluctant to save money. "We're finding that the mere exposure to fast food is promoting a general sense of haste and impatience regardless of the context." says co-writer Chen-Bo Zhong.
Full article:

Compulsive eating found to have same neurobiological mechanisms as drug addiction - 23rd March

A study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that the brain's pleasure centres become  less responsive as obesity develops. In the study, rats quickly developed compulsive overeating habits, consuming larger quantities of high-calorie, high-fat foods until they become obese. They lost control over their eating behaviour, overeating even when they anticipated receiving electric shocks. When the junk food was replaced by healthier food, they refused to eat. The same changes occur in the brains of rats that overconsume cocaine or heroin, and are thought to play an important role in the development of compulsive drug use.

The researchers then investigated D2 receptors in the brain, which respond to dopamine- a neurotransmitter released in the brain by pleasurable experiences. Receptor levels were significantly reduced in the brains of the obese rats - a phenomenon also seen in human drug addicts.

Pesticide linked to childhood developmental delays - 25th March

Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos is associated with early childhood developmental delays, according to a study by researchers at Columbia University.

The study examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York City. Chlorpyrifos was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001, but is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables. Some campaigners contend that such chemicals drift from treated agricultural fields to nearby yards, homes and schools.

High chlorpyrifos exposure was associated with significant decreases in both the Psychomotor Development Index score and the Mental Development Index score in 3 year-olds. The association remained significant even when adjusting for social and neighbourhood differences, and exposure to other harmful environmental factors.



FAB Research Conference, Edinburgh - Nutrition for Behaviour, Learning and Mood - 5th May

  • Duration: 9.30am to 4.30pm (Registration 8.45am-9.20am)
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Venue: The Carlton Hotel, North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1SD

An opportunity to hear from a panel of top UK experts, researchers and practitioners about how nutrition affects behaviour, learning and mood.

Speakers/ Topics:

  • Dr Roma Armstrong: Welcome and Introduction: Scottish Academic Health Sciences Collaboration and the opportunities it offers 
  • Prof Michael Crawford: Implications of modern-day diets for human brains - what's gone wrong, and how can we put it right?
  • Dr Alex Richardson: They are what you feed them: good nutrition leads to better learning and Food and Mood
  • Rachel Gow: ADHD - facts, myths and solutions
  • Dr Paul Clayton: Understanding our immune system and how we can prevent allergies and infections
  • Dr Frank Ryan: The brain food diet - how to stay young in mind
  • David Rex: Practical dietary approaches to autism, ADHD and related conditions. The psychology of food choices; putting theory into practice

Contact: Fiona O'Fee 01463 667318
Full details:  

A Celebration of DHA – Discovery, Achievement and Challenges for Global Health 40 Years - 26/27 May

From: The Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition & The Mother and Child Foundation.

  • Duration: Evening opening session plus one full day
  • Location: London
  • Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London

Speakers include Dr Michael Crawford, Nicolas Bazan, Bill Lands, Rodolfo Brenner, Gene Anderson, Claudio Galli, Andrew Sinclair and Jean-Marie Bourre.
In addition to highlighting significant biochemical discoveries and clinical achievements involving DHA, this meeting will have a session on the role of DHA in human brain evolution. The presentation will also consider the major global challenge of maintaining brain health in the 21st century.

Contact Information: Rachel Gow 07957 187034

Nutrition and addiction at ORT House Conference Centre, London - 5th May

Convenor: Martina Watts, DipION NTCC, Nutrition Consultant and Therapist.

The conference examines the importance of nutrition in prevention, and the potential underlying nutritional and biochemical factors involved in addictive behaviour.


  • Explore ways of introducing nutritional approaches to treatment programmes
  • Encourage discussion between participants and presenters and develop networking opportunities
  • Restore nutritional and biochemical imbalances affecting neurotransmitters and reward pathways in the brain
  • Support liver detoxification and repair digestive function
  • Improve blood sugar regulation and reduce excessive cravings


  • Chair: Heather Rosa Principal Lecturer and Course Leader Nutritional Therapy, School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster, London
  • Dr Marcus Roberts Director of Policy and Membership, Drugscope
  • Oscar Umahro Cadogan Nutrition Consultant and Author, Nordic Clinic, Copenhagen 
  • Dr Simon Moore Violence and Society Research Group, Cardiff University
  • Jan Baxendale Support Services Manager, Redbank Community Home, St Helens, Merseyside
  • Helen Sandwell Nutritionist working in the drugs treatment field 
  • Jane Nodder Senior Lecturer and Clinic Tutor, School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster, London
  • Antony Haynes Nutritional Therapist and Lecturer, The Nutrition Clinic, London  
  • Dr Bob Johnson Consultant Psychiatrist, James Nayler Foundation, Ventnor

Full details:

January 2010





Amino acid may speed recovery from brain injury
A recent animal study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that supplementation with certain amino acids can speed recovery from traumatic brain injury. Feeding branched-chain amino acids to brain-injured animals restored the balance of neurochemicals and improved cognitive performance.

Improved mood found with low fat, but not low-carb diet, says study
New research has found differences in long term effects on mood between low-carb and low-fat diets. While losing weight is thought to improve the psychological state of overweight and obese people, the duration of this effect may differ depending on the diet followed. While the amount of weight lost and the short term-improvement in mood was similar between both diets, those following a low-carb diet began to revert to  a more negative mood after eight weeks.

Study on caffeine addiction in young people underway
A neurobiologist at the university of Buffalo has begun a four-year study on the addictive effects of caffeine in people aged between 12 and 17. The first part of the study has found gender differences in addictive behaviour, as males in the study worked harder and longer than females on a computer-based exercise to obtain caffeinated drinks. Two draft reports on the second part of the study—a double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-response study of the effects of caffeine on the teenagers' blood pressure, heart rate, and hand tremor - will be published soon. The third part will examine the effect of caffeine consumption in adolescence on later use of legal or illegal drugs.

High intake of amino acid methionine could increase Alzheimer's risk
 A diet high in methionine - an essential amino acid found in red meat, fish, beans and other foods - may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in Current Alzheimer Research. This is thought to occur as excess methionine is converted to harmful homocysteine - previously linked to a higher risk of dementia. In the study, one group of mice was fed a regular diet and the other group a diet high in methionine. The mice with the high methionine diet levels had significantly increased homocysteine levels; more amyloid plaque (a marker of Alzheimer's development); and a diminished capacity to learn new tasks.

Green tea chemical combination may hold promise for Alzheimer's treatment
Scientists at Boston Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania have found that a combination of two chemicals can prevent and destroy amyloids - protein structures that cause neurodegenerative disorders. The team exposed amyloid structures in yeast to a combination of the green tea component EGCG and another chemical, DAPH-12, and found that they all broke apart and dissolved. The team are expected to further explore the therapeutic potential of this combination in neurodegenerative disease.

Polyphenol-rich diet may delay Alzheimer's onset
A study at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) showed that mice fed a diet based on polyphenols and fatty acids had more cell growth in the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus - both of which are damaged in patients with Alzheimer's disease.  The results suggest that the diet is capable of inducing the generation of new cells in the adult brain, and of strengthening the neural networks which become affected with age and in neurodegenerative disease. In addition, the same diet mix was found to prevent damage caused by oxidation or neural death in cell cultures in vitro. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Appetite hormone link to Alzheimer's
High levels of leptin - a hormone linked to appetite regulation - may be associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. A twelve year study found that those with the lowest levels of leptin were more likely to develop the disease than those with the highest, building on previous research.  If these findings are confirmed, leptin could possibly be used in prevention or treatment Alzheimer's, or as an indicator of brain aging. Further investigation is needed, however.

Grape variety may promote healthy brain function
Research presented at the 4th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health (ICPH) indicates that Concord grape juice may play a role in maintaining healthy brain function in certain populations. The research, from the University of Cincinnati, demonstrated that drinking Concord grape juice may provide a benefit for older adults with early memory decline. In the study, those drinking the juice demonstrated significant improvement in list learning; short-term retention and spatial (nonverbal) memory.

Omega-3 fats linked to improved nervous system function
The omega-3 essential fatty acids commonly found in fatty fish and algae help animals avoid sensory overload, according to new research. The finding connects low omega-3s to the information-processing problems found in people with schizophrenia; bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders; Huntington's disease; and other afflictions of the nervous system. The key finding was that two omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – appear to be most useful in the nervous system, maybe by maintaining nerve-cell membranes. The authors concluded that not enough DHA in the diet may reduce the ability to handle sensory input.

EFSA confirms omega-3 benefits
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed that the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and ALA, can benefit eye and cognitive development in babies. Following commentary on a claim rejected in March, EFSA affirmed its original stance that there was no need for additional supplementation of DHA and ALA  because it exists at adequate levels in the diet. The EFSA supported the role of the fatty acids in foetal and newborn eye and brain development but said there is an adequate supply in breast milk.


Commissioning for Change - Care Farming: an innovative new solution to health and social challenges
Date:    Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Time:    10.30am – 3.30pm
Venue: Benjamin Franklin Room, RSA, John Adam St, London
Cost:    £75 per person
For more information on care farming visit the National Care Farming
Initiative's website at:
To book, visit:
3rd DDN/Alliance conference: 'Right here, Right now' – an annual conference for service user involvement
Thursday, 4 February 2010, Birmingham
The event will feature presentations from service users from all different backgrounds and throw open new challenges for better policy and practice. It is open to those who use drug and alcohol services, alongside treatment providers, policymakers, DAAT coordinators, commissioners and drug and alcohol workers.
Food and Behaviour Research – Events 2010
Food and Behaviour Research have announced provisional plans for a series of one-day conferences in 2010. Details of venues and dates are still awaiting confirmation, but the regions and dates are as follows:
Manchester – March 2010
Edinburgh – May 2010
Bristol – June 2010
Oxford (The Saïd Business School) – September 2010
Contact events co-ordinator, Ruth Whitfield, at if you are interested in helping to promote or support these events.

Food & Mental Health: The project promotes understanding of the links between good diet and mental wellbeing, addressing the many implications of the growing evidence linking what we eat to the way we feel and behave.

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