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New Study Reveals: Father’s Pre-Conception Diet Plays Crucial Role in Child’s Health

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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Researchers have discovered that a father’s diet before conception significantly impacts the health of his children. The artwork features an allegorical representation of a fertilization event whereby a fat spermatozoon (in yellow – the fat-symbolizing color), conquers the oocyte (the moon in a sky full of stars) and lights it up by transferring diet-induced epigenetic information. Credit: Philipp BeckA new study shows how a father’s diet before conception can affect his children’s health, suggesting a focus on paternal health and diet could prevent metabolic diseases in offspring.Dr. Raffaele Teperino, who leads the “Environmental Epigenetics” research group at Helmholtz Munich, and his team have explored how a father’s diet prior to conception affects the health of their children. The study concentrated on specific small RNA molecules present in sperm, termed mitochondrial tRNA fragments (mt-tsRNAs). These RNAs are crucial in transmitting health traits across generations by controlling gene expression.For their study, the researchers used data from the LIFE Child cohort, which includes information from over 3,000 families. The analyses showed that the father’s body weight influences the weight of the children and their susceptibility to metabolic diseases. This influence exists independently from other factors such as the mother’s weight, the parental genetics, or environmental conditions.The Father’s Diet Influences the ChildrenTo verify the results of their analysis, the research team subsequently conducted experiments with mice. These mice were fed a high-fat diet, meaning food with a higher fat content than a normal diet. This had effects on the reproductive organs of the animals, including the epididymis. The epididymis is the area in the male reproductive system where freshly formed sperm mature. “Our study shows that sperm exposed to a high-fat diet in the mouse epididymis led to offspring with an increased tendency to metabolic diseases,” says Raffaele Teperino. To deepen the findings, the research team conducted additional studies in the laboratory. They created embryos through in-vitro fertilization (fertilization “in a test tube”). When Teperino’s team used sperm from mice that had been exposed to a high-fat diet, they found mt-tsRNAs from these sperm in early embryos, significantly influencing gene expression. This, in turn, affects the development and health of the offspring.“Our hypothesis that acquired phenotypes over the course of life, such as diabetes and obesity, are transmitted via epigenetic mechanisms across generations, is reinforced by this study. Here, epigenetics serves as a molecular link between the environment and the genome, even across generational boundaries. This occurs not only through the maternal line but, as our research results indicate, also through the paternal line,” explains Prof. Martin Hrabě de Angelis, co-author of this study and Research Director at Helmholtz Munich.Preventive Health Care for Men Wishing to Become FathersThe findings from the researchers at Helmholtz Munich underline the role of paternal health before conception – and offer new approaches to preventive health care: “Our results suggest that preventive health care for men wishing to become fathers should receive more attention and that programs should be developed for this purpose, especially with regard to diet,” says Teperino. “This can reduce the risk of diseases like obesity and diabetes in children.”Background: The Indirect Influence of FathersMitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cell. They have their own DNA, independent of the DNA in the cell nucleus. This mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) produces proteins in the mitochondria via the intermediate mt-RNA and is typically inherited from mothers to offspring. Previously, it was assumed that fathers had no part in the genetic makeup of their offspring’s mitochondria. However, recent studies like this one now show that sperm carry fragments of mt-RNA (“mt-tsRNA”) into the egg during fertilization. The mt-tsRNAs play a role in epigenetics, regulating gene expression in the early embryo: they can indirectly influence the development and health of the offspring by modifying the activity of certain genes in the mitochondria. Thus, fathers have an important, albeit indirect, influence on the genetic imprinting of mitochondria and thereby on the energy metabolism of their children.Reference: “Epigenetic inheritance of diet-induced and sperm-borne mitochondrial RNAs” by A. Tomar, M. Gomez-Velazquez, R. Gerlini, G. Comas-Armangué, L. Makharadze, T. Kolbe, A. Boersma, M. Dahlhoff, J. P. Burgstaller, M. Lassi, J. Darr, J. Toppari, H. Virtanen, A. Kühnapfel, M. Scholz, K. Landgraf, W. Kiess, M. Vogel, V. Gailus-Durner, H. Fuchs, S. Marschall, M. Hrabě de Angelis, N. Kotaja, A. Körner and R. Teperino, 5 June 2024, Nature.DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07472-3

A new study shows how a father’s diet before conception can affect his children’s health, suggesting a focus on paternal health and diet could prevent...

Allegorical Representation of a Fertilization Event Whereby a Fat Spermatozoon

Researchers have discovered that a father’s diet before conception significantly impacts the health of his children. The artwork features an allegorical representation of a fertilization event whereby a fat spermatozoon (in yellow – the fat-symbolizing color), conquers the oocyte (the moon in a sky full of stars) and lights it up by transferring diet-induced epigenetic information. Credit: Philipp Beck

A new study shows how a father’s diet before conception can affect his children’s health, suggesting a focus on paternal health and diet could prevent metabolic diseases in offspring.

Dr. Raffaele Teperino, who leads the “Environmental Epigenetics” research group at Helmholtz Munich, and his team have explored how a father’s diet prior to conception affects the health of their children. The study concentrated on specific small RNA molecules present in sperm, termed mitochondrial tRNA fragments (mt-tsRNAs). These RNAs are crucial in transmitting health traits across generations by controlling gene expression.

For their study, the researchers used data from the LIFE Child cohort, which includes information from over 3,000 families. The analyses showed that the father’s body weight influences the weight of the children and their susceptibility to metabolic diseases. This influence exists independently from other factors such as the mother’s weight, the parental genetics, or environmental conditions.

The Father’s Diet Influences the Children

To verify the results of their analysis, the research team subsequently conducted experiments with mice. These mice were fed a high-fat diet, meaning food with a higher fat content than a normal diet. This had effects on the reproductive organs of the animals, including the epididymis. The epididymis is the area in the male reproductive system where freshly formed sperm mature. “Our study shows that sperm exposed to a high-fat diet in the mouse epididymis led to offspring with an increased tendency to metabolic diseases,” says Raffaele Teperino.

To deepen the findings, the research team conducted additional studies in the laboratory. They created embryos through in-vitro fertilization (fertilization “in a test tube”). When Teperino’s team used sperm from mice that had been exposed to a high-fat diet, they found mt-tsRNAs from these sperm in early embryos, significantly influencing gene expression. This, in turn, affects the development and health of the offspring.

“Our hypothesis that acquired phenotypes over the course of life, such as diabetes and obesity, are transmitted via epigenetic mechanisms across generations, is reinforced by this study. Here, epigenetics serves as a molecular link between the environment and the genome, even across generational boundaries. This occurs not only through the maternal line but, as our research results indicate, also through the paternal line,” explains Prof. Martin Hrabě de Angelis, co-author of this study and Research Director at Helmholtz Munich.

Preventive Health Care for Men Wishing to Become Fathers

The findings from the researchers at Helmholtz Munich underline the role of paternal health before conception – and offer new approaches to preventive health care: “Our results suggest that preventive health care for men wishing to become fathers should receive more attention and that programs should be developed for this purpose, especially with regard to diet,” says Teperino. “This can reduce the risk of diseases like obesity and diabetes in children.”

Background: The Indirect Influence of Fathers

Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cell. They have their own DNA, independent of the DNA in the cell nucleus. This mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) produces proteins in the mitochondria via the intermediate mt-RNA and is typically inherited from mothers to offspring. Previously, it was assumed that fathers had no part in the genetic makeup of their offspring’s mitochondria. However, recent studies like this one now show that sperm carry fragments of mt-RNA (“mt-tsRNA”) into the egg during fertilization. The mt-tsRNAs play a role in epigenetics, regulating gene expression in the early embryo: they can indirectly influence the development and health of the offspring by modifying the activity of certain genes in the mitochondria. Thus, fathers have an important, albeit indirect, influence on the genetic imprinting of mitochondria and thereby on the energy metabolism of their children.

Reference: “Epigenetic inheritance of diet-induced and sperm-borne mitochondrial RNAs” by A. Tomar, M. Gomez-Velazquez, R. Gerlini, G. Comas-Armangué, L. Makharadze, T. Kolbe, A. Boersma, M. Dahlhoff, J. P. Burgstaller, M. Lassi, J. Darr, J. Toppari, H. Virtanen, A. Kühnapfel, M. Scholz, K. Landgraf, W. Kiess, M. Vogel, V. Gailus-Durner, H. Fuchs, S. Marschall, M. Hrabě de Angelis, N. Kotaja, A. Körner and R. Teperino, 5 June 2024, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07472-3

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Harvard Study Reveals: Planetary Health Diet Can Extend Your Life and Save Earth Too

Adhering to the Planetary Health Diet significantly reduces the risk of premature death and environmental impact, including lowered rates of major diseases and reduced greenhouse...

A study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health highlights the dual benefits of the Planetary Health Diet (PHD), which not only reduces the risk of premature death by up to 30% but also significantly decreases environmental impacts. The PHD, which advocates for a varied diet of minimally processed plant foods with limited meat and dairy, is shown to lower greenhouse gas emissions, fertilizer needs, and cropland use, demonstrating the deep connection between dietary choices and both human and planetary health.Adhering to the Planetary Health Diet significantly reduces the risk of premature death and environmental impact, including lowered rates of major diseases and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and land use.According to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, adopting a healthy, sustainable diet, as outlined in the 2019 EAT-Lancet report, can significantly reduce both the risk of premature death and environmental impact. This landmark study is the first to directly assess the effects of following the dietary guidelines proposed in the report, which recommends a diverse intake of minimally processed plant foods while permitting limited amounts of meat and dairy. The researchers refer to this recommended diet as the Planetary Health Diet (PHD).The study was recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.“Climate change has our planet on track for ecological disaster, and our food system plays a major role,” said corresponding author Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition. “Shifting how we eat can help slow the process of climate change. And what’s healthiest for the planet is also healthiest for humans.” While other studies have found that diets emphasizing plant-based foods over animal-sourced foods could have benefits for human and planetary health, most have used one-time dietary assessments, which produce weaker results than looking at diets over a long period of time.The researchers used health data from more than 200,000 women and men enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants were free of major chronic diseases at the start of the study and completed dietary questionnaires every four years for up to 34 years. Participants’ diets were scored based on intake of 15 food groups—including whole grains, vegetables, poultry, and nuts—to quantify adherence to the PHD.Health and Environmental Benefits of the PHDThe study found that the risk of premature death was 30% lower in the top 10% of participants most closely adhering to PHD compared to those in the lowest 10%. Every major cause of death, including cancer, heart disease, and lung disease, was lower with greater adherence to this dietary pattern.In addition, the researchers found that those with the highest adherence to the PHD had a substantially lower environmental impact than those with the lowest adherence, including 29% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 21% lower fertilizer needs, and 51% lower cropland use.The researchers noted that land use reduction is particularly important as a facilitator of re-forestation, which is seen as an effective way to further reduce levels of greenhouse gases that are driving climate change.“Our study is noteworthy given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to consider the environmental impacts of dietary choices, and any reference to the environmental effects of diet will not be allowed in the upcoming revision of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines,” said Willett. “The findings show just how linked human and planetary health are. Eating healthfully boosts environmental sustainability—which in turn is essential for the health and wellbeing of every person on earth.”Reference: “Planetary Health Diet Index and risk of total and cause-specific mortality in three prospective cohorts” by Linh P Bui, Tung T Pham, Fenglei Wang, Boyang Chai, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, Kyu Ha Lee, Marta Guasch-Ferre and Walter C Willett, 10 June 2024, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.DOI: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2024.03.019Other Harvard Chan School authors included Linh Bui, Fenglei Wang, Qi Sun, Frank Hu, Kyu Ha Lee, and Marta Guasch-Ferre.The study was funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants UM1 CA186107, P01 CA87969, R01 HL034594, U01 CA176726, U01 CA167552, R01 HL035464, R01 DK120870, and R01 DK126698.

At least 20 E. coli cases reported after Lake Anna visits, Va. health says

At least seven people have been hospitalized after visiting Lake Anna, public health officials said.

Judy Inglett never dreamed her healthy 15-year-old daughter would end up on dialysis and undergo blood transfusions after swimming at Lake Anna State Park in Virginia over the Memorial Day weekend.Ava was there with family friends and neighbors who had invited her on their boat and rented a house, enjoying the festive recreation area as they have countless times before, her mother said.Within days of coming home, though, Ava developed diarrhea. By the next week, she was in renal failure, her mother said, prompting doctors to rush her to a children’s hospital, where she remained as of Wednesday.Ava is one of 20 people diagnosed with an E. coli infection — that for four children escalated to serious kidney complications — that investigators said triggered lake water testing that has left families second guessing their go-to summertime vacation spot.“Her kidneys took a very hard hit. If we hadn’t brought her in when we did, I could be planning a funeral at this point,” Inglett, of Fauquier County, said Tuesday night after swapping bedside roles with her husband at Inova L.J. Murphy Children’s Hospital.Everyone who reported becoming ill to the state swam or was otherwise exposed to lake water, but public health officials say they do not yet have enough information to know the lake is the culprit.The state has not put any special restrictions on using the lake and encouraged swimmers and boaters to follow regular safety precautions like showering after swimming to wash off possible contaminants, and never drinking untreated water.Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, bacteria infections usually occur after someone ingests food or water contaminated with a small, often invisible, amount of animal or human feces, and symptoms typically develop in three to four days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Of the people who came down with gastrointestinal symptoms typical of an E. coli infection after visiting Lake Anna, at least seven have been hospitalized, said Katherine G. McCombs, director of surveillance and investigation in the Virginia Department of Health Office of Epidemiology.More than half of those sickened are children who generally have more serious reactions to the bacteria than adults. Four children developed severe cases and a condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can cause kidney failure, she said.Symptoms of an E. coli infection include stomach cramps and diarrhea that is often watery or bloody, vomiting, fever and chills. Health officials ask that anyone experiencing gastrointestinal illness after visiting the Lake Anna area during Memorial Day weekend or since contact their local health department and seek medical care if symptoms are ongoing.Lake Anna, a freshwater reservoir an hour from Richmond and Charlottesville, was created in the early ’70s to cool a nuclear power plant operated by Dominion Energy, which returns warmer water to the lake.Warmer water and nutrients can combine to make conditions favorable for algae growth — health officials say signs of algae activity have been detected at Lake Anna and are normal this time of year. The algae is not related to the current illnesses.Staff from the Department of Environmental Quality on Tuesday collected six samples from three areas at the lake to be tested for concentrations of bacteria, including E. coli, said agency spokeswoman Irina Calos. Results are expected by Thursday or Friday, she said.Samples were taken from the sandbar near the confluence of Goldmine Creek, water adjacent to the state park and the Cocktail Cove sandbar. A second round of samples will be collected on June 25, Calos said.Regular quarterly water quality samples taken by the Lake Anna Civic Association on June 4 did not show harmful levels of E. coli, said association president Greg Baker on Tuesday. He said he empathized with the families affected but believes there is no imminent risk to visiting the lake.“The lake is open for business,” he said. “It appears the lake has no E. coli occurrences at this moment but please everybody use common sense. It is a lake, don’t drink the lake water, avoid large gatherings in the lake and enjoy the lake.”Nate Hiner, whose 8-year-old twins were diagnosed with HUS and treated with blood transfusions at Children’s National Hospital, said he is skeptical of testing that shows the lake is safe.“Over 20 cases of this illness with the commonality being this lake. That’s irrefutable evidence that there’s something in that water,” said Hiner, who lives in Spotsylvania.He and his wife Jennifer, who are both paramedics, and their twins hopped on a friend’s boat on May 26 to visit the lake, as they have several times each summer for years. They stopped at a few spots where the children could get out and swim.A few days later their daughter Kinsley developed severe diarrhea that by Friday contained bright red blood, sending them to the emergency room and after a week’s hospital stay with no improvement, Children’s National Hospital. The same day their son Chase began developing similar symptoms and soon both children were receiving blood transfusions at the hospital in Northwest Washington.As of Tuesday, Chase was discharged and Kinsley was steadily improving after a brief transfer to intensive care for profuse bleeding.“It’s very terrifying because there’s nothing these kids can take or do,” Nate Hines said.Alexandra Yonts, a pediatric infectious-disease physician at Children’s National Hospital, said children under 5 are at highest risk for illness.“The biggest thing is good hand hygiene,” she said. “This is something that is transmitted through a fecal-oral route. Somehow you come into contact with feces from an infected human or animal and it makes its way into your mouth.”Other culprits include undercooked meat such as hamburger, petting zoos and especially land-grazing animals like cows. Bodies of water near farms where runoff can wash harmful bacteria into the water, like Lake Anna, should be avoided after a big rainfall, Yonts said.Most infections from harmful strains of E. coli bacteria cause diarrhea and vomiting that require hydration at home, but about 5 to 15 percent of children with this infection develop HUS. Treatments for this serious condition range from monitoring in the hospital to dialysis, or artificial filtration of the blood, and about a quarter of cases will require long-term dialysis or even a kidney transplant, she said.Inglett said her daughter Ava has had four rounds of dialysis and three blood transfusions. As of Tuesday night, doctors were taking a break from dialysis to give Ava’s kidneys a chance to function normally.“Right now, it’s a wait and see,” Inglett said through tears, wondering if her daughter will recover enough to play soccer and field hockey next school year.“Nobody knew this was going to happen,” she said. “She’s been down there so many times and she’s always been fine. It’s a helpless feeling as a parent when you want to fix it and I can’t fix it.”

First-of-Its-Kind Test Can Predict Dementia up to Nine Years Before Diagnosis

Queen Mary University researchers have created a method to predict dementia with high accuracy years before diagnosis by analyzing brain network connectivity using fMRI scans....

Researchers have developed an innovative method for predicting dementia with over 80% accuracy, up to nine years before diagnosis. Using functional MRI to analyze the default mode network of the brain, the team could identify early signs of dementia by comparing brain connectivity patterns with genetic and health data from UK Biobank volunteers. This method not only improves early detection but also helps in understanding the interaction between genetic factors, social isolation, and Alzheimer’s disease.Queen Mary University researchers have created a method to predict dementia with high accuracy years before diagnosis by analyzing brain network connectivity using fMRI scans.Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have created a new technique that predicts dementia with over 80% accuracy up to nine years prior to diagnosis. This method surpasses traditional approaches like memory tests and measurements of brain shrinkage, two commonly used methods for diagnosing dementia.The team, led by Professor Charles Marshall, developed the predictive test by analyzing functional MRI (fMRI) scans to detect changes in the brain’s ‘default mode network’ (DMN). The DMN connects regions of the brain to perform specific cognitive functions and is the first neural network to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.The researchers used fMRI scans from over 1,100 volunteers from UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource containing genetic and health information from half a million UK participants, to estimate the effective connectivity between ten regions of the brain that constitute the default mode network. Predictive Accuracy and MethodologyThe researchers assigned each patient with a probability of dementia value based on the extent to which their effective connectivity pattern conforms to a pattern that indicates dementia or a control-like pattern.They compared these predictions to the medical data of each patient, on record with the UK Biobank. The findings showed that the model had accurately predicted the onset of dementia up to nine years before an official diagnosis was made, and with greater than 80% accuracy. In the cases where the volunteers had gone on to develop dementia, it was also found that the model could predict within a two-year margin of error exactly how long it would take that diagnosis to be made.The researchers also examined whether changes to the DMN might be caused by known risk factors for dementia. Their analysis showed that genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease was strongly associated with connectivity changes in the DMN, supporting the idea that these changes are specific to Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that social isolation was likely to increase the risk of dementia through its effect on connectivity in the DMN.Potential Impact of the ResearchCharles Marshall, Professor and Honorary Consultant Neurologist, led the research team within the Centre for Preventive Neurology at Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute of Population Health. He said: “Predicting who is going to get dementia in the future will be vital for developing treatments that can prevent the irreversible loss of brain cells that causes the symptoms of dementia. Although we are getting better at detecting the proteins in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s disease, many people live for decades with these proteins in their brains without developing symptoms of dementia. We hope that the measure of brain function that we have developed will allow us to be much more precise about whether someone is actually going to develop dementia, and how soon, so that we can identify whether they might benefit from future treatments.”Samuel Ereira, lead author and Academic Foundation Programme Doctor at the Centre for Preventive Neurology, Wolfson Institute of Population Health, said: “Using these analysis techniques with large datasets we can identify those at high dementia risk, and also learn which environmental risk factors pushed these people into a high-risk zone. Enormous potential exists to apply these methods to different brain networks and populations, to help us better understand the interplays between environment, neurobiology, and illness, both in dementia and possibly other neurodegenerative diseases. fMRI is a non-invasive medical imaging tool, and it takes about 6 minutes to collect the necessary data on an MRI scanner, so it could be integrated into existing diagnostic pathways, particularly where MRI is already used.”Hojjat Azadbakht, CEO of AINOSTICS (an AI company collaborating with world-leading research teams to develop brain imaging approaches for the early diagnosis of neurological disorders) said: “The approach developed has the potential to fill an enormous clinical gap by providing a non-invasive biomarker for dementia. In the study published by the team at QMUL, they were able to identify individuals who would later develop Alzheimer’s disease up to 9 years before they received a clinical diagnosis. It is during this pre-symptomatic stage that emerging disease-modifying treatments are likely to offer the most benefit for patients.”Reference: “Early detection of dementia with default-mode network effective connectivity” by Sam Ereira, Sheena Waters, Adeel Razi and Charles R. Marshall, 6 June 2024, Nature Mental Health.DOI: 10.1038/s44220-024-00259-5

Finding your centre: Exploring the benefits of Modern Mental Health Facilities

Modern mental health facilities are changing lives for the better, and here we take a closer look at these benefits. The post Finding your centre: Exploring the benefits of Modern Mental Health Facilities appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

There has been a sea change in mental health treatment in the last several years, with state-of-the-art mental health institutions setting the standard for compassionate, all-encompassing care.  With an emphasis on holistic and individualized care, these centres provide a variety of services to aid people in their quest for mental wellness. Modern mental health facilities are changing lives for the better, and here we take a closer look at these benefits. Holistic and Comprehensive Care In order to treat mental health concerns effectively, a modern mental health facility looks at the whole person, not just their symptoms.  This means that each patient’s unique set of circumstances, including their physiological, psychological, social, and emotional requirements, are considered while developing a treatment plan.  Therapeutic Approaches Among the many treatment modalities offered by these centres are mindfulness-based therapies, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).  Offering a range of therapeutic alternatives allows patients to discover the approaches that suit them best, leading to a treatment experience that is both effective and tailored to their own needs. Integrated Services Treatment is just one part of what a modern mental health facility might offer; patients often receive help with managing their medications, maintaining good physical health, and overcoming co-occurring disorders like substance misuse.  Encouraging long-term rehabilitation and resilience, this holistic approach addresses all areas of a person’s well-being.  Advanced and Evidence-Based Treatments A feature of contemporary mental health centres is the utilization of cutting-edge treatments that are supported by solid data. Incorporating evidence-based practices into patient treatment, these institutions monitor the field closely. Innovative Therapies There is a growing availability of innovative therapies like EMDR, neurofeedback, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). People who have not had good results from conventional treatments now have fresh options thanks to these innovative solutions.  Personalized Medicine Another noteworthy development of a mental health facility is the use of customized medicine, which takes into account environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors. The effectiveness of interventions and the reduction of side effects can be enhanced by modern facilities by customizing therapies to each patient’s unique genetic composition. Supportive and Healing Environments In order for treatment to be effective, the setting must be conducive to healing. Patients are more likely to feel at ease and actively participate in their therapy when they are in a modern mental health facility because of the emphasis on safety, caring, and support. Peaceful gardens, rooms for art and music therapy, and cosy common areas are common features of these facilities that aim to encourage relaxation and wellness. By creating a sense of belonging and community, these settings inspire patients to take an active role in their own rehabilitation. Continuity of Care The focus on continuity of care is a major advantage of contemporary mental health institutions. Patients are provided with ongoing support throughout their journey, from the initial assessment all the way through treatment and aftercare. This assistance is designed to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to keep making progress. Final Thoughts Comprehensive, individualized, and compassionate services are offered by modern mental health facilities, which are leading the way in revolutionizing mental health care. These facilities are changing the lives of people seeking mental wellness by taking a holistic approach, using sophisticated therapies, well-regulated exercise, establishing friendly surroundings, including families and communities, and concentrating on education and prevention. The post Finding your centre: Exploring the benefits of Modern Mental Health Facilities appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.

Popular Myth Debunked: New Study Clears Dark Chocolate of Health Risks

Tulane University’s study confirms that consuming dark chocolate daily is safe for adults, posing minimal health risks and offering significant nutritional benefits. Chocolate enthusiasts might...

A Tulane University study has found that dark chocolate poses no adverse health risks for adults and contains beneficial levels of essential minerals. Testing 155 chocolate samples for 16 metals, researchers discovered that only a few chocolates had concerning cadmium or lead levels, primarily impacting children. Despite some high lead levels in specific chocolates, none posed significant risks. Dark chocolate’s nutritional benefits, including high levels of copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc, may even reduce toxic metal absorption. Geographic analysis revealed that South American chocolates had higher cadmium and lead levels than those from Asia and West Africa.Tulane University’s study confirms that consuming dark chocolate daily is safe for adults, posing minimal health risks and offering significant nutritional benefits.Chocolate enthusiasts might have been concerned by a 2023 Consumer Reports discovery that certain dark chocolate brands may contain dangerous amounts of lead and cadmium.However, a new study by Tulane University published in Food Research International has found that dark chocolate poses no adverse risk for adults and contains nutritionally beneficial levels of essential minerals. The study sampled 155 dark and milk chocolates from various global brands sold in the United States and tested for the presence of 16 heavy metals ranging from the toxic (lead and cadmium) to the essential (copper, iron, zinc). The study then modeled the risk of eating one ounce of the chocolates per day which is equivalent to consuming more than two whole chocolate bars a week.Heavy Metals in ChocolatesThe research found that only one brand of dark chocolate exceeded the international limit for cadmium in bars containing more than 50% cacao (800 micrograms per kilogram) and only four dark chocolate bars had cadmium levels that could pose a risk to children weighing 33 pounds or less, the average weight of a 3-year-old in the U.S.“For adults, there is no adverse health risk from eating dark chocolate, and although there is a slight risk for children in four of the 155 chocolate bars sampled, it is not common to see a 3-year-old regularly consume more than two bars of chocolate per week,” said lead author Tewodros Godebo, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “What we’ve found is that it’s quite safe to consume dark chocolate and milk chocolates.”When tested for lead, two chocolate bars contained levels above California’s interim standards for dark chocolates, but neither was determined to pose adverse risks to children or adults.While two previous studies in the U.S. examined the presence of lead and cadmium in chocolate, this study employed the largest sample size, expanded the scope of testing to 16 metals, and included a risk assessment of toxic metals that accounted for the nutritional contribution of essential minerals.Essential Minerals in Dark ChocolateThe dark chocolates were found to contain high levels of nutrients such as copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc, and several of the chocolates sampled provided more than 50% of the daily requirement for children and adults, Godebo said.“Not only is it packed with these essential minerals, but they can potentially reduce the absorption of toxic metals in the intestine since these metals compete for the same site,” Godebo said.The study found that much of the lead in chocolate comes from the post-harvest processing whereas cadmium comes from the soil and passes through the plant and into the cacao bean.The researchers also sorted the chocolates geographically and found that dark chocolates from South America had higher levels of cadmium and lead than chocolates from Asia and West Africa, the latter of which is a primary source of dark chocolate for the United States.“But even for chocolates from South America, we found there is no adverse risk in eating an ounce per day,” Godebo said.Reference: “Occurrence of heavy metals coupled with elevated levels of essential elements in chocolates: Health risk assessment” by Tewodros Rango Godebo, Hannah Stoner, Pornpimol Kodsup, Benjamin Bases, Sophia Marzoni, Jenna Weil, Matt Frey, Preston Daley, Alexa Earnhart, Gabe Ellias, Talia Friedman, Satwik Rajan, Ned Murphy and Sydney Miller, 20 April 2024, Food Research International.DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2024.114360

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