Welcome to my March news update with the pick of the most interesting stories in health and wellbeing over the last month. Please explore these new findings and be sure to share them with your friends, families and colleagues.
With warmest good wishes, – Dr Rosy Daniel
Groundbreaking medical development
Stimulating spinal cord helps paralysed people to walk again
Three people once paralysed by complete spinal-cord injuries can walk, swim, work the pedals of a bicycle and even paddle canoes, thanks to an implant that stimulates neurons in their spinal cords. In a paper published on 7 February in Nature Medicine1, neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and his colleagues describe the first implant specifically designed to control movement by mimicking the signals the lower body usually receives from the brain and upper spinal cord. How a revolutionary technique got people with spinal-cord injuries back on their feet. A completely severed spinal cord disrupts the electrical signals from the brain that tell parts of the body below the injury how to balance and move, resulting in paralysis that is usually irreversible.
Nutrition & Health
Thinking food: What’s ‘healthy’ and ‘sustainable’?
What constitutes a ‘healthy diet’ has been endlessly debated and the advice on eating changes almost year on year. With the dangerous rise in non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes) which has occurred over the last fifty or so years – significantly accelerating from the 1980s onwards with increasing industrialised food production – it has never been more important to think about what you eat.
Eating prunes may help protect against bone loss in older women
It’s already well known that prunes are good for your gut, but new Penn State research suggests they may be good for bone health, too.In a research review, the researchers found that prunes can help prevent or delay bone loss in postmenopausal women, possibly due to their ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to bone loss. “In postmenopausal women, lower levels of estrogen can trigger a rise of oxidative stress and inflammation, increasing the risk of weakening bones that may lead to fractures,” said Connie Rogers, associate professor of nutritional sciences and physiology. “Incorporating prunes into the diet may help protect bones by slowing or reversing this process.”
Can microdosing psychedelics boost mental health? Here’s what the evidence suggests
In recent years, psychedelic drugs have evolved from a taboo topic to one gaining acceptance in mainstream quarters of society. Psychedelics are even heading for general medical approval, having been designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A growing number are turning to microdosing, regularly ingesting five to 10 percent of the mind-bending amount in a quest to enhance well-being, improve work, or diminish depression and other psychological demons without triggering the drug’s full effects.
‘I forget everything’: the benefits of nature for mental health
Although you’ve likely had seaweed on your cucumber rolls or maybe in the form of a salad, the benefits of seaweed are immeasurable. The beloved marine plant sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, and it’s been deemed a superfood, providing numerous health benefits to those who eat it. That’s why a number of companies in California are currently dedicating time, space, energy, and money to growing it. “The growth of the seaweed aquaculture industry is good for the economy and good for the ocean,” reads an article from the Global Seafood Alliance. “The process of growing seaweed is environmentally-friendly.
COVID’s mental-health toll: how scientists are tracking a surge in depression
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, new fast-spreading variants have caused a surge in infections in many countries, and renewed lockdowns. The devastation of the pandemic — millions of deaths, economic strife and unprecedented curbs on social interaction — has already had a marked effect on people’s mental health. Researchers worldwide are investigating the causes and impacts of this stress, and some fear that the deterioration in mental health could linger long after the pandemic has subsided. Ultimately, scientists hope that they can use the mountains of data being collected in studies about mental health to link the impact of particular control measures to changes in people’s well-being, and to inform the management of future pandemics.
To see lots more exciting news and evidence go to www.health-e-learning.org.uk and see the health-e-information platform.
Researcher – Sophie Daniel, Health and Wellbeing Trust
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