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Adjunctive Bright Light Therapy for Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial | American Journal of Psychiatry

In seasonal affective disorder (27, 28) and nonseasonal depression (29), the response to morning light therapy is typically attributed to the phase-resetting effects (28). However, the mechanism of response is unclear in bipolar disorder. Combined with a prior night of sleep deprivation, morning (and possibly midday) light therapy can quickly reverse severe bipolar depression in carefully supervised chronotherapeutic protocols (30–32). Compared with morning light therapy, implementing bright light therapy at midday induced robust antidepressant effects and possibly subtle effects on the circadian system (12, 13) that might have mitigated the risk for hypomania or mixed symptoms, as observed in our earlier report (5). But whether the circadian effects of midday light therapy are detectable in bipolar depressed patients and correspond with an antidepressant response requires further investigation. Even so, this novel finding of a significant antidepressant effect from midday bright light therapy offers a real clinical advance and contributes an additional treatment option for bipolar depression.

Sitting still linked to increased risk of depression in adolescents -- ScienceDaily

The Lancet Psychiatry study found that an additional 60 minutes of light activity (such as walking or doing chores) daily at age 12 was associated with a 10% reduction in depressive symptoms at age 18. "Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18. We found that it's not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial," said the study's lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola (UCL Psychiatry).

Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults | British Journal of Sports Medicine

We combined data from two cohorts of approximately 500 subjects each that were studied during the winter and fall seasons. After controlling for important confounders, total days with URTI during the 12-week study were 43–46% lower in the high versus low tertiles for aerobic activity and perceived physical fitness level, respectively, and URTI severity and symptomatology were reduced 32–41%. Limitations in this study include lack of adjustment for all potential confounders including exposure to URTI pathogens at work and from children in the home. Although methodology varies widely, other epidemiologic and randomised exercise training studies consistently report a reduction in URTI incidence or risk of 18–67%.11,–,19 Within certain subgroups such as the elderly or those with high mental stress, the reduction in URTI with aerobic exercise training may have more significance. Fondell et al,15 eg, reported an 18% reduction in URTI risk between high and low physical activity quartiles, but this risk reduction improved to 42% among those with high perceived mental stress. A randomised study of elderly women (mean age, 73 years) showed that walking 30–40 min, 5 days/week, for 12 weeks at 60% heart rate reserve, reduced URTI rates to 20% as compared with 50% among sedentary controls.18 A 1-year randomised study of 115 overweight, postmenopausal women showed that regular moderate exercise (166 min/week, ∼4 days/week) lowered URTI risk compared to controls modestly during the first half year, but then more strongly during the final months.19 The underlying mechanisms for the reduction in URTI risk with aerobic exercise training are still being explored and debated. Each aerobic exercise bout causes a transient increase in the recirculation of immunoglobulins, and neutrophils and natural killer cells, two cells involved in innate immune defenses.16 17 Animal data indicate that lung macrophages play an important role in mediating the beneficial effects of moderate exercise on lowered susceptibility to infection.36 Stress hormones, which can suppress immunity, and pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, indicative of intense metabolic activity, are not elevated during moderate aerobic exercise.16 17 Although the immune system returns to pre-exercise levels within a few hours after the exercise session is over, each session may improve immunosurveillance against pathogens that reduce overall URTI incidence and symptomatology.

Fat cells can sense sunlight—not getting enough increases metabolic syndrome risk

In the latest findings, the research team studied how mice respond when exposed to chilly temperatures—about 40° F. They already knew that mice, much like humans, use both a shivering response and an internal fat-burning response to heat themselves. Deeper analysis revealed that the internal heating process is compromised in the absence of the gene OPN3 and exposure specifically to a 480-nanometer wavelength of blue light. This wavelength is a natural part of sunlight but occurs only in low levels in most artificial light. When the light exposure occurs, OPN3 prompts white fat cells to release fatty acids into the bloodstream. Various types of cells can use these fatty acids as energy to fuel their activities. But brown fat literally burns the fatty acids (in a process called oxidation) to generate heat that warms up the chilly mice. When mice were bred to lack the OPN3 gene, they failed to warm up as much as other mice when placed in chilly conditions. But surprisingly, even mice that had the correct gene failed to warm up when they exposed to light that lacked the blue wavelength.

Humans Roasted Starchy Carbs 170,000 Years Ago | Discover Magazine

Roasting rhizomes and other starchy plant material also makes finding evidence of them, tens of thousands of years later, much more likely. Authors of the new research note that, had the plants been eaten raw, it's unlikely any sign of them would have been preserved in the archaeological record. Something to keep in mind when you hear claims that ancient humans skipped eating starchy plants. The multiple specimens found in the ancient hearth appear to belong to the genus Hypoxis, flowering plants that include H. hemerocallidea, also known as the African potato. Researchers believe the ancient rhizomes they analyzed may belong to H. angustifolia, a species found today in much of sub-Saharan Africa and also the southern Arabian Peninsula. According to the authors, H. angustifolia would have been a reliable, year-round food source for hunter-gatherer groups moving across the ancient Southern African landscape. The rhizome provides about 120 calories per 3.5 ounces and, note the researchers, the relative ease of digging them up could have provided an entire day's caloric needs in about two hours.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race | Discover Magazine

One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5' 9'' for men, 5' 5'' for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5' 3'' for men, 5' for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race | Discover Magazine

While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a bettter balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen's average daily food intake (during a month when food was plentiful) was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It's almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s.

Hope is a key factor in recovering from anxiety disorders: Hope increases in therapy -- ScienceDaily

His study examined the role of hope in predicting recovery in a clinical trial of 223 adults in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for one of four common anxiety disorders: social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. "In reviewing recovery during CBT among the diverse clinical presentations, hope was a common element and a strong predictor of recovery," said Gallagher who reports that moderate-to-large increases in hope and changes in hope were consistent across the five separate CBT treatment protocols.

Teens sleep 43 more minutes per night after combo of two treatments -- ScienceDaily

The treatment had two components: brief, early morning flashes of bright, broad-spectrum white light to reset the teens' circadian clocks, and cognitive behavioral therapy that motivated them to try earlier bedtimes. The findings will be published online Sept. 25 in JAMA Network Open. "Using a passive light therapy during sleep, we can help teens get an extra 43 minutes of sleep every single night," said senior author Jamie Zeitzer, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. The light was delivered by a device in the teens' bedrooms that was programmed to deliver 3-millisecond flashes of light every 20 seconds during the last few hours of sleep. The brief flashes of light did not wake the teens. Zeitzer's previous research on jet lag had shown that exposure to short flashes of light can trick the brain into adjusting to a new time zone, even during sleep.

Sauna Use as an Exercise Mimetic for Heart and Healthspan

Some of the positive benefits of the sauna on heart health may have to do with similar physiological changes that also occur during physical exercise. For example, there is a 50-70% redistribution of blood flow away from the core to the skin to facilitate sweating. You start to sweat. Heart rate increases up to 150 beats per minute which correspond to moderate-intensity physical exercise. Cardiac output (which is a measure of the amount of work the heart performs in response to the body’s need for oxygen) increases by 60-70%. Immediately after sauna use, blood pressure and resting heart rate are lower than baseline similar to physical activity.

Furry friends ease depression, loneliness after spousal loss -- ScienceDaily

They found all individuals who lost their spouse experienced higher levels of depression. However, people without a pet experienced more significant increases in depressive symptoms and higher loneliness than those who had pets. In fact, those who had a pet and experienced the death or divorce of their spouse were no lonelier than older adults who didn't experience one of those events.

Diet's effect on gut bacteria could play role in reducing Alzheimer's risk -- ScienceDaily

In a small pilot study, the researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures -- the chemicals produced by bacteria -- in study participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but not in their counterparts with normal cognition, and found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer's disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI. Through cross-group dietary intervention, the study also showed that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer's markers in the members of both study groups.

The Week That Wasn't: Kimchi, Light Therapy, FDA Bleach Warning

After conducting mouse experiments, the researchers recruited healthy human volunteers, exposed them to intense light for 30 minutes, and analyzed protein levels in their blood to confirm that the biological changes from intense light that they observed in mice also occurred in people. The researchers posit that intense light therapy might be helpful for treating cardiovascular disease.

Ketogenic Diet for Schizophrenia: Clinical Implication

Abnormal glucose and energy metabolism and mitochondrial functioning are emerging as important pathophysiological mechanism in schizophrenia. Therapeutic ketogenic diet shows promise to interfere with these processes resulting in the restoration of normal synaptic communication and alleviation of the devastating psychiatric symptoms. Furthermore, because of the impact of ketogenic diet on systemic metabolism, it is possible that the metabolic features and cardiovascular risk typical of patients with chronic schizophrenia can be addressed by this dietary intervention. However, more research is needed both at preclinical level and in the form of controlled clinical trials before ketogenic diet can take its place in the mainstream of the treatment and management of schizophrenia.

Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome | Nature

Here we show that the short-term consumption of diets composed entirely of animal or plant products alters microbial community structure and overwhelms inter-individual differences in microbial gene expression. The animal-based diet increased the abundance of bile-tolerant microorganisms (Alistipes, Bilophila and Bacteroides) and decreased the levels of Firmicutes that metabolize dietary plant polysaccharides (Roseburia, Eubacterium rectale and Ruminococcus bromii). Microbial activity mirrored differences between herbivorous and carnivorous mammals2, reflecting trade-offs between carbohydrate and protein fermentation.

New therapy targets gut bacteria to prevent and reverse food allergies -- ScienceDaily

Recent insights about the microbiome -- the complex ecosystem of microorganisms that live in the gut and other body sites -- have suggested that an altered gut microbiome may play a pivotal role in the development of food allergies. A new study, led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital, identifies the species of bacteria in the human infant gut that protect against food allergies, finding changes associated with the development of food allergies and an altered immune response. In preclinical studies in a mouse model of food allergy, the team found that giving an enriched oral formulation of five or six species of bacteria found in the human gut protected against food allergies and reversed established disease by reinforcing tolerance of food allergens. The team's results are published in Nature Medicine.

On the keto diet? Ditch the cheat day: Just one dose of carbohydrates can damage blood vessels -- ScienceDaily

"Since impaired glucose tolerance and spikes in blood sugar levels are known to be associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular disease, it made sense to look at what was happening in the blood vessels after a sugar hit." For their test, the researchers recruited nine healthy young males and had them consume a 75-gram glucose drink before and after a seven-day high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The diet consisted of 70 per cent fat, 10 per cent carbohydrates and 20 per cent protein, similar to that of a modern ketogenic diet. "We were originally looking for things like an inflammatory response or reduced tolerance to blood glucose," says Durrer. "What we found instead were biomarkers in the blood suggesting that vessel walls were being damaged by the sudden spike in glucose." Little says the most likely culprit for the damage is the body's own metabolic response to excess blood sugar, which causes blood vessel cells to shed and possibly die. "Even though these were otherwise healthy young males, when we looked at their blood vessel health after consuming the glucose drink, the results looked like they might have come from someone with poor cardiovascular health," adds Little. "It was somewhat alarming."

Virtual reality could improve your balance, study finds -- ScienceDaily

"People with long-term dizziness sometimes rely a lot on their vision and do not use the very quick and effective balance system provided by sensory information from joints and muscles. This can intensify feelings of dizziness, which is very unpleasant. The new study shows a possible treatment method for these conditions," says Eva Ekvall Hansson, researcher and associate professor of physiotherapy at Lund University. Twenty healthy women and men took part in the study, in which they watched a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation of a roller-coaster ride while standing on a platform which registered their postural stability. The researchers investigated how the participants' balance system was affected when visual information was disrupted by the experience of being in a VR environment which gave them a strong sensation of being in movement. The study shows that the human balance system can very quickly cease to rely on vision and use other senses instead, such as sensory information from the feet, joints and muscles to increase postural stability. Differences also emerged in how men and women are affected by watching a VR video. More women had difficulty maintaining their balance in a VR environment and they generally needed more practice before they learnt to use their other senses to increase postural stability.

Stone Age Cave Symbols May All Be Part of a Single Prehistoric Proto-Writing System

And when von Petzinger looked through archaeology papers for mentions or illustrations of symbols in cave art outside Europe, she found that many of her 32 signs were used around the world. There is even tantalising evidence that an earlier human, Homo erectus, deliberately etched a zigzag on a shell on Java some 500,000 years ago. “The ability of humans to produce a system of signs is clearly not something that starts 40,000 years ago. This capacity goes back at least 100,000 years,” says Francesco d’Errico from the University of Bordeaux, France.

A nap a day keeps high blood pressure at bay: Catching some midday shut-eye linked to similar drops in blood pressure seen with other lifestyle changes, some medications -- ScienceDaily

"Midday sleep appears to lower blood pressure levels at the same magnitude as other lifestyle changes. For example, salt and alcohol reduction can bring blood pressure levels down by 3 to 5 mm Hg," said Manolis Kallistratos, MD, cardiologist at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece, and one of the study's co-authors, adding that a low-dose antihypertensive medication usually lowers blood pressure levels by 5 to 7 mm Hg, on average. Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure, which researchers said is on par with what would be expected from other known blood pressure-lowering interventions. In addition, for every 60 minutes of midday sleep, 24-hour average systolic blood pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg. "These findings are important because a drop in blood pressure as small as 2 mm Hg can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack by up to 10 percent," Kallistratos said. "Based on our findings, if someone has the luxury to take a nap during the day, it may also have benefits for high blood pressure. Napping can be easily adopted and typically doesn't cost anything."

You become what you believe

A week later, the participants were given a result, based not on their actual data, but rather on one of two groups into which they had been randomly placed. Some were told they had the form of a gene called CREB1 that makes a person tire easily; others were told they had the high-endurance version. Then they ran on the treadmill again. This time, those who had been told they had the low-endurance version of CREB1 did worse on the test, even if they had the other variant. Compared with their results on the first test, on average their bodies removed toxic carbon dioxide less efficiently, their lung capacity dropped, and they stopped running 22 seconds sooner, the team reports today in Nature Human Behavior. And those who thought they had the high-endurance form of the CREB1 gene ran slightly longer on average before feeling hot and tired, regardless of what gene variant they had. “Simply giving people this information changed their physiology,” Turnwald says. The team also tested a second group of 107 people for its version of FTO, a gene that influences how full we feel after eating. Some versions can also predispose people to obesity. Participants ate a small meal and rated their fullness. After being told, at random, that they had a version of FTO that made them hungrier than average or one that made them easily sated, participants ate the same meal. Those told they had the “hungry” version of the gene didn’t feel any different. But those who were told they had the other version felt less hungry on average after eating; they also had higher blood levels of a hormone that indicates a feeling of fullness.

Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love? - Mad In America

As family members, therapists or doctors, what if we never again promoted or prescribed drugs as a “treatment” because they ultimately impair our frontal lobes and hence our ability to love? Could we jettison all our ugly, cookie cutter, unloving diagnoses—ADHD, conduct disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD? Could we instead help others to discover where their loving engagement with life was discouraged or lost and how to revive it or even to experience it for the first time?

Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love? - Mad In America

I now want to boil down the role of love in our lives into a simple observation: Nearly all human personal or emotional success depends upon being able to give and to accept love, and nearly all human personal failure reflects an inability to do so. My own working definition of love is “joyful awareness”—the experience of happiness over the existence of something or someone, including whatever or whomever inspires us, from family and friends to nature and God. From experiencing romantic love to admiring heroes who lift our ideals; from enjoying the birds that flit about us in our backyard to watching children or animals play—love is an enthusiastic engagement in life. When we love people and pets, as well as God, we became able not only to give love but also to receive it.

An End to Arachnophobia Just a Heartbeat Away - Neuroscience News

For one group of patients, pictures of spiders were presented in-time with heartbeats (during the signalling of cardiac arousal), while for another patient group, pictures of spiders were presented in-between heartbeats. A third control group saw spiders randomly in the therapy sessions. Although there was some improvement among all patients, as you would expect in exposure therapy, those individuals exposed to spiders in-time with their own heartbeats showed a greater reductions in self-reported fear of spiders, anxiety levels and their physiological responses to spiders.

Eye movements take edge off traumatic memories: Human study investigates neurobiology of widely used yet controversial psychotherapy technique -- ScienceDaily

Investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying EMDR in healthy men and women, Lycia de Voogd and colleagues found that both side-to-side eye movement and a working memory task independently deactivated the amygdala -- a brain region critical for fear learning. The researchers show in a second experiment that this deactivation enhanced extinction learning -- a cognitive behavioral technique that reduces the association between a stimulus and a fear response. The reduced amygdala activity is thought to be a consequence of less available resources since they are dedicated to making eye movements.

Take a vacation -- it could prolong your life -- ScienceDaily

Participants were randomised into a control group (610 men) or an intervention group (612 men) for five years. The intervention group received oral and written advice every four months to do aerobic physical activity, eat a healthy diet, achieve a healthy weight, and stop smoking. When health advice alone was not effective, men in the intervention group also received drugs recommended at that time to lower blood pressure (beta-blockers and diuretics) and lipids (clofibrate and probucol). Men in the control group received usual healthcare and were not seen by the investigators. As previously reported, the risk of cardiovascular disease was reduced by 46% in the intervention group compared to the control group by the end of the trial. However, at the 15-year follow-up in 1989 there had been more deaths in the intervention group than in the control group. The analysis presented today extended the mortality follow-up to 40 years (2014) using national death registers and examined previously unreported baseline data on amounts of work, sleep, and vacation. The researchers found that the death rate was consistently higher in the intervention group compared to the control group until 2004. Death rates were the same in both groups between 2004 and 2014.