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In This Issue
IBS E.Coli Study
Depression helped by nutritional supplements
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IBS E. Coli Study
A study by Canadian investigators, published in the May 2007 Issue of Gut, support a connection between Escherichia coli and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Dr. Denis O. Krause told Reuters Health that "a number of research groups have associated E. coli with IBD, but the exact mode of action is still unclear."
"E. coli from IBD tissue have been shown to produce serine protease autotransporters, a class of peptides that degrade the junctions between cells in the intestine. Degradation of junctions between cell is something we know happens in IBD." Dr. Krause and colleagues at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg examined biopsy specimens from 13 patients with Crohn's disease, 19 with ulcerative colitis, and 15 controls.
The team found that the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae was three to four logs higher in tissues of patients with IBD than in control specimens.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Jonathan M. Rhodes of the University of Liverpool, UK notes that the findings are line with those of other studies and that, along with work in dogs, raise the possibility that " we now have a new therapeutic target."
Depression helped by nutritional supplements
Kyle Roderick in Life Extension Magazine writes about Dr. Henry Emmons who has an innovative regimen for treating depression, one that incorporates nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids along with dietary modifications, regular exercise, and "mindfulness meditation" and similar stress-reduction techniques.
In his recent book, The Chemistry of Joy: A Three-Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom (Fireside, 2005), Dr. Emmons, a Minnesota-based psychiatrist, details how people can master their moods and correct brain-chemistry imbalances with the help of holistic health strategies that combine the best of Eastern and Western disciplines. The book includes tips on implementing dietary changes to optimize levels of brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Observing that most Americans are sleep deprived, sedentary, poorly nourished, or all three, Dr. Emmons maintains that "just a few good nights of sleep can sometimes turn around a mild depression. Studies show that aerobic exercise can help even moderately severe depression within two to four weeks, and that good nutrition coupled with a few choice supplements can help within two to three months."
According to Dr. Emmons, the good news is that for those with milder symptoms who wish to avoid medications, "improvements can be felt nearly as quickly with a combination of diet, supplements, exercise, and stress management."
Dr. Emmons notes that a common problem underlying many cases of depression is a dietary shortfall of essential fatty acids. Even in people who eat low-fat, apparently healthy diets, there is often a relative deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish, flax, and some nuts. Researchers have found that most Americans in 1900 ate a diet supplying a fairly even ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids; today, however, that ratio is about 1:20. "This is vitally important to maintaining good moods," Dr. Emmons explains, "because omega-3s have a role in reducing inflammation, and are also integrated into brain cell membranes, helping to function properly."
In countries like Japan and Norway where people regularly consume fish, rates of depression are much lower than in the US. This has led many researches to try using fish oil supplements in the treatment of mood disorders, and the results have been impressive. "While it may not replace the need for other forms of treatment," Dr. Emmons says, "fish oil helps to reduce the recurrence, or relapse, of both depression and bipolar (manic-depressive) illness."
Dr. Emmons tells us that a recent symposium sponsored by the National Institutes of Mental Health was devoted entirely to the therapeutic use of fats in mental illness. He says that several presenters reported the beneficial effects of essential fatty acid supplementation for depression, bipolar illness, and schizophrenia. Adding essential fatty acids to the diets of research subjects has been associated with improvements in dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as with improved intelligence measures in infants and in adults with Alzheimer's disease.
Regarding the connection between chronic inflammation and depression, Dr. Emmons believes that health fats can positively affect mood. "Certain inflammatory substances-eicosanoids and cytokines-are elevated in major depression," he explains. "These elements promote low-level inflammation, which may affect brain tissue as well as other parts of the body. Antidepressants suppress this harmful activity, but so can increased levels of omega-3s, and probably more efficiently. Interestingly, people who consume more omega-3s seem to have higher levels of serotonin and dopamine byproducts in their spinal fluid, suggesting that their brain levels of these vital neuron-chemicals are also higher."
Since so few Americans ingest adequate amounts of omega-3s, Dr. Emmons suggest that most people supplement with 1-2 grams daily of omega-3s.
A great deal of research suggests that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in the onset of depression. A survey of European studies found that B vitamins were low in 35-50% of patients hospitalized for depression. This is especially significant because multivitamin/mineral supplements have been shown to reduce violent or oppositional behavior. Another important component of Dr. Emmons' approach to resolving depression involves the use of mindfulness-based exercise and stress-reduction techniques, which integrate Buddhist principles with medical science. A perfect example of mindfulness-based exercise and stress reduction is walking meditation.
"Try to do this meditation without focusing on a goal," Dr. Emmons advises. "Try walking just for the sake of being aware of walking, and not for exercise, seeing the sights, or getting somewhere." As with any meditation, your mind will occasionally wander. "As soon as you notice this loss of focus," Dr. Emmons says, "just bring your awareness back to the present moment and to your experience of walking. Practice walking meditation in the morning before going to work, during your lunch hour, or at the end of the day."
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