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Why obesity, underweight condition may up depression in women

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New York, Nov 12: Women who are extremely underweight and obese are likely to be at an increased risk of developing common mood disorders like depression and anxiety, as a result of low feel good neuroactive steroid, finds a study.

Neurosteroid “Allopregnanolone” also known as “allo” is a metabolite of the hormone progesterone — a female hormone.

Allo works by producing a positive mood and feelings of well-being.

The findings showed that in women with anorexia nervosa, blood levels of allo were 50 per cent lower than they were in women with normal body mass index (BMIs).

Women who were clinically obese had allo levels approximately 60 per cent lower than women with normal weights.

Further, participants with lower levels of allo had greater severity of depression symptoms, the researchers noted.

“Depression is an incredibly prevalent problem, especially in women, and also particularly at the extremes of the weight spectrum,” said Karen Miller, professor at Harvard Medical School.

“We are beginning to see more and more evidence that low allo levels are tightly linked to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood disorders,” added Graziano Pinna, associate professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In addition, progesterone levels were similarly low across both groups, suggesting that the decrease in allo in these participants may have been caused by improper functioning of enzymes.

The enzymes that convert progesterone into allo may not be working properly, causing decreases in allo that lead to mood disorders.

For the study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the team recruited women with anorexia nervosa and amenorrhea (whose menstrual periods have stopped) whose body mass indices were less than 18.5, normal-weight women with BMIs between 19 and 24, and obese women with BMIs at 25 or higher.

“Drugs that increase the efficacy of these enzymes may be useful in helping to boost allo levels,” Pinna said.

“The hope is that a greater understanding of mechanisms contributing to these disorders — including abnormalities in the regulation of hormones and their neuroactive metabolites — may lead to new targeted therapies in the future,” Miller noted.

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Eating high-carb diet can help lose weight

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Here’s how a high carb diet may help lose weight. (Photo Credit- Shutterstock)

New York, Sep 25: Struggling hard to shed those extra kilos? If so, foods high in carbohydrates — found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — may help you reduce body weight and fat as well as improve insulin function, suggests a study challenging previous beliefs.

It is because these complex carbohydrates are naturally rich in fibre — a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.

The study, led by US-non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, showed that a plant-based, high-carbohydrate diet can help with weight regulation and body composition and reduce the risk for Type-2 diabetes.

“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates — from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains — are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” said lead author Hana Kahleova, Director at the organisation.

In the study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team included nearly 100 participants for a 16-week randomised clinical trial and placed participants in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or asked them to maintain their current diet.

The plant-based diet group avoided all animal products and added oils and limited fat intake of 20-30 grams per day. There were no limits on calories or carbohydrate intake.

The control group maintained their current diets, which included meat and dairy products. Neither group altered their exercise routines.

The results demonstrated that total carbohydrate intake did not change in the control group, but increased significantly in the plant-based diet group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories.

At the end of the trial, body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume, and insulin resistance decreased significantly in the plant-based diet group. There were no significant changes in the control group, the researchers noted.

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New blood test in pregnancy to predict autism risk in babies

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New York, Sep 22: Researchers have developed a novel blood test for pregnant mothers that can, with nearly 90 per cent accuracy rate, predict the probability of having a child that will be diagnosed with autism.

According to studies, if a mother has previously had a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with the developmental disorder is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.

In the study, led by Juergen Hahn, Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant mothers were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.

Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not.

Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.

The results, appearing in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, showed that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with autism by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with autism.

“These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism,” Hahn said.

“However, it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into,” Hahn noted.

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Eat fish thrice a week to boost your unborn’s eyesight, brain

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London, Sep 21: Pregnant women can enhance the development of their unborn child’s eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during the pregnancy, a new study has found.

The findings suggested that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week.

“The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child’s development,” said lead author Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku in Finland.

“This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development,” Laitinen added.

For the study, published in the journal Pediatric Research, the research team analysed the results of a small group of mothers and their children drawn from a larger study.

The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, along with their blood sugar level and blood pressure.

The team recorded the levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources in the mother’s diet and blood serum, and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month.

Their children were further tested around their second birthday using pattern reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP). This sensitive and accurate, non-invasive method is used to detect visual functioning and maturational changes occurring within a young child’s visual system.

“Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment,” Laitinen noted.

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