Chocolate And Brain Health
Cocoa, especially if it is minimally processed, contains high levels of health enhancing antioxidant flavnols – a distinct group of naturally occurring compounds that can be found in a variety of foods such as tea and red wine.
Now, a recent study has shown how this protection can extend to the brain.
It is normal for cognitive function to slightly deteriorate with age. Memory capacity begins to worsen, along with processing speed and the ability to form long-term memories. This decline is different from the cognitive decline that signals possible dementia. Finding a way to slow it down is becoming increasingly important as our population ages.
While previous studies have demonstrated the benefits of cocoa flavanols for people suffering from mild cognitive impairment, the current study focused on healthy people experiencing the usual mental wear and tear that comes with older age.
The researchers, from Italy’s University of L’Aquila and chocolate company Mars enrolled men and women aged 61-85 years with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction, the participants in this controlled, randomised, double-blind study were assigned to one of three groups and given a cocoa drink to consume daily for 8 weeks.
The drinks were nutritionally matched except for their flavanol content which was either high (993 mg), intermediate (520 mg) or low (48 mg).
The high- and intermediate-flavanol cocoa drinks were produced, using Mars’ Cocoapro®, a specially prepared, though not commercially available, flavanol-rich powder, while the low-flavanol drink was made with a highly processed, alkalised cocoa powder that you might find in everyday cocoa products.
Other than the inclusion of the test drink, normal diets and regular lifestyle were maintained throughout the study.
At the start of the study and again after eight weeks, cognitive function was assessed using a battery of tests that examined memory, retention, recall, as well as executive function. Among those individuals who regularly consumed either the high- or intermediate-flavanol drinks, there were significant improvements in overall cognitive function after only eight weeks.
The volunteers, who drank either the high- or medium-flavanol drinks showed significant improvements in their overall cognitive function after only eight weeks. Plus, the group showed reduced blood pressure and improved insulin resistance. The researchers believe these positive results may be due, in part, to improved vascular function.
Study shows that even cognitively healthy individuals can quickly benefit from the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols in their diets.
In addition to evaluating cognitive function, the researchers also monitored insulin resistance, blood pressure and other metabolic markers. Excitingly, there was also evidence of improvements in these cardiometabolic outcomes.
In the high- and intermediate-flavanol groups, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced and insulin resistance was significantly improved. In contrast, only a modest improvement in diastolic blood pressure was observed in the low-flavanol group, with no significant improvements in either systolic blood pressure or insulin resistance among the consumers of the low-flavanol drink.
It is not yet fully understood how cocoa flavanols bring about improvements in cognitive function, but the study’s authors suggest that the improvements in insulin resistance and blood pressure could be revealing.
“Earlier studies suggest a central role for insulin resistance in brain aging,” said Dr Giovambattista Desideri, lead author on the paper. “These results could therefore provide some insight into a possible mechanism of action for the cognitive improvements we have observed.”
CULLED FROM NATURAL HEALTH NEWS
23 Rivers Indigenes Benefit From Free Eye Surgery
Over 23 persons have benefitted from a free eye Surgery organised by a non-governmental organisation, Steve Sandie foundation.
The beneficiaries were selected from the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State.
Sources however informed The Tide during the event that the surgery was bankrolled by a Rivers born philanthropist and politician who does not want his name mentioned.
Speaking at the programme, President, Steve Sandie Foundation, Mrs. Joyce Emmanuel said the programme was to help some indigent members of the society to solve their eyes problem.
She said beneficiaries were selected from the 23 local government areas of the state
Emmanuel said some of the critical cases will be referred while surgery will be performed on those that can be handled by the organisation at the centre.
She commended the donor for his concern on the plight of the less privileged.
According to her, the donor who does not want his name mentioned was so pathetic about giving sights to people.
Emmanuel said that the patients will be diagnosed and treated while serious cases will be referred for treatment at a higher health institutions
She said the organisation which was registered since 2008 has been involved in sensitising women on the values of caesarian operations.
Emmanuel said the group having discovered the need for caesarian section in some delivery cases has been talking to rural women on the need for them to go for it when necessary.
She however said most women who do not go for caesarian operations during delivery are doing so out of ignorance, as it is safe and cost effective.
Some of the beneficiaries of the free eye surgery including Obari Nwafor from Eleme thanked the group and the donor for the opportunity, stressing that the problem had taken him across to Calabar, Cross River State.
By: John Bibor
Heart Disease: WHO Moves To Cut Salt Intake
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed plans to reduce salt intake by 30% by 2025.
This forms part of its latest report on Global report on sodium intake reduction it released recently.
Sodium (salt) is an essential nutrient, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death when eaten in excess. The main source of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride), but it is also contained in other condiments such as sodium glutamate. The report shows that only 5% of WHO member states are protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies and 73% of WHO member states lack full range of implementation of such policies.
Implementing highly cost-effective sodium reduction policies could save an estimated 7 million lives globally by 2030. It is an important component of action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal(SDG) target of reducing deaths from non-communicable diseases. But today, only nine countries (Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Uruguay) have a comprehensive package of recommended policies to reduce sodium intake.
“Unhealthy diets are a leading cause of death and disease globally, and excessive sodium intake is one of the main culprits,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This report shows that most countries are yet to adopt any mandatory sodium reduction policies, leaving their people at risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. WHO calls on all countries to implement the ‘Best Buys’ for sodium reduction, and on manufacturers to implement the WHO benchmarks for sodium content in food.”
A comprehensive approach to sodium reduction includes adopting mandatory policies and WHO’s four “best buy” interventions related with sodium which greatly contribute to preventing noncommunicable diseases.
The apex world health body seek o achieve this milestone through reformulating foods to contain less salt, and setting targets for the amount of sodium in foods and meals, establishing public food procurement policies to limit salt or sodium rich foods in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and nursing homes
Other measures include front-of-package labelling that helps consumers select products lower in sodium, and behaviour change communication and mass media campaigns to reduce salt/sodium consumption.
Countries are encouraged to establish sodium content targets for processed foods, in line with the WHO Global Sodium Benchmarks and enforce them though these policies.
Mandatory sodium reduction policies are more effective, as they achieve broader coverage and safeguard against commercial interests, while providing a level playing field for food manufacturers. As part of the report, WHO developed a Sodium country score card for member states based on the type and number of sodium reduction policies they have in place.
Ewedu Leaf Effective Against Ulcer – Study
If you’ve ever tried the delicious slimy soup called ‘ewedu’ in Yoruba or ‘rama’ in Hausa, you know how slimy it is. Now, this slimy soup can be used as an alternative therapy for the relief of stomach pain and ulcers.
Scientists in a study of Corchorus olitorius leaf, what is commonly called jute leaf, evaluated its effects on the passageway of the digestive system that leads from the mouth to the anus, on the diclofenac-induced gastric ulcers.
In the study, the researchers found that Corchorus trilocularis leaf extract has gastro-protective effects against diclofenac-induced gastric ulcers and attributed this effect to its inhibition of gastric acid secretion through multiple pathways in a dose-dependent fashion.
It prevents the digestive juice from attacking the wall of the stomach, preserves the mediation, increases the stomach’s pH and inhibits gastric acid secretion.
For the study, 36 Sprague dawley rats of either sex weighing 150-200 grams were randomly assigned into a normal control (distilled water), negative control (distilled water plus diclofenac sodium), treatment (200 and 400 mg/kg Corchorus trilocularis Linn plus diclofenac sodium), positive control group (omeprazole plus diclofenac sodium), or comparison group (400 mg/kg aqueous leaf extract of spinach).
In the study, Corchorus trilocularis extract significantly reduced the ulcer index and total acidity in comparison to the diclofenac group. The high dose extract also increased the alkaline nature of the stomach while also protecting the cells of the stomach. However, it did not significantly affect the volume of gastric secretions.
The researchers in the journal, Discovery Phytomedicine, declared “the findings in this study support the use of Corchorus trilocularis Linn by some communities in Eastern Africa for the relief of stomach pain and ulcers.
“In addition, it provides a novel finding that encourages its use as alternative therapy for those with pre-existing gastric ulcers, with the preferred consumption in its original state as a vegetable.”
One of the aggressive factors for gastric ulcer is the unending or high dose usage of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), which are among the most commonly used drugs worldwide. NSAIDs such as diclofenac usually used to relieve swelling and pain associated with conditions like gout, migraine and rheumatoid disease are commonly associated with the development of gastric ulcers.
Despite progress in the production of effective therapies against gastric ulcers, herbs and vegetables still provide an important source of alternative therapy in the prevention of ulcers.
Corchorus trilocularis, which is consumed as green leafy vegetables that are boiled and used as relish or potherb, is used for treatment of diseases of the abdominal organs and seeds for the treatment of stomach ache by some rural communities in India and parts of Eastern Africa.
The leaves and seeds are also administered in cases of fever, and rheumatism since they possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and fever-lowering activity.
This green leafy vegetable is rich in beta-carotene for good eyesight; iron for healthy red blood cells; calcium for strong bones and teeth; and vitamin C for smooth, clear skin, strong immune cells, and fast wound-healing.
Similarly, experts have said that Corchorus olitorius leaf might also inspire future treatment for threatened miscarriage and preterm labour. This was attributable to its alkaloids content. Alkaloids are known to exert reversible smooth muscle relaxant activities.
Scientists in a study of Corchorus olitorius leaf found it significantly decreased the amplitudes of contractions in a dose-dependent manner such that the highest dose applied (666.67/ ìg/ml) achieved a 100 per cent inhibitory effect.
This 2019 online study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology involved Daniel Orieke, Obioma Christopher Ohaeri, Ifeoma Irene Ijeh, Solomon Nnah Ijioma, all from the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.
According to them, “If the results obtained in this study can be extrapolated to man, the Corchorus olitorius methanol leaf extract may be of value in the management of preterm labour and threatened abortion, diarrhoea and inflammations.”
In addition, researchers also suggested that individuals that experience acid reflux or heartburn drink ewedu juice to reduce the stomach acid that sometimes finds its way back through the throat.
In the study, researchers tested the antacid properties of jute leaves (ewedu) in male albino rats with a gastric ulcer over a two-week period that reduced the stomach acid production in a dose-dependent manner.
The 2015 study was entitled ‘Anti-Ulcerogenic and Gastric Antisecretory Effects of Corchorus olitorius Extract in Male Albino Rats’. It involved Bamidele V. Owoyele; W. Abdulmajeed; B. M. Adisa, O. O. Owolabi and Sabitiu A. Oyeleke, all from the University of Ilorin. It was in the Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants.
The study, which includes its pharmacological significance as an antacid, found that the extract of jute leaves and its root had 71.33 per cent antacid activity of a drug. It was in the International Journal of Pharmacy & Life Sciences.
Adapted from Tribune online.
By: Kevin Nengia
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