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How concussions may lead to depression years later: Can super foods help?

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How can a concussion lead to depression years later? After brain injury, cells on ‘high alert’ prolong immune response, affecting behavior. A head injury can lead immune-system brain cells to go on “high alert” and overreact to later immune challenges by becoming excessively inflammatory – a condition linked with depressive complications, a new animal study suggests, according to the December 9, 2013 news release, "How a concussion can lead to depression years later." The research is published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The findings could help explain some of the midlife mental-health issues suffered by individuals who experience multiple concussions as young adults, researchers say. And these depressive symptoms are likely inflammation-related, which means they may not respond to common antidepressants.

An added complication is that aging already increases brain inflammation

So on top of normal aging concerns, people who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience added inflammation caused by magnified immune responses to so-called “secondary challenges,” such as a second head injury, infections or other stressors.

In mice, these high-alert cells in the brain – called microglia – had an exaggerated response to an immune challenge one month after a moderate brain injury. This increased brain inflammation corresponded with the development of depressive behaviors that were not observed in uninjured mice.

“If we had waited three, six or nine months, the symptoms probably would have gotten even worse,” said lead author Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University and a researcher in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, according to the December 9, 2013 news release, How a concussion can lead to depression years later. “A lot of people with a history of head injury don’t develop mental-health problems until they’re in their 40s, 50s or 60s. That suggests there are other factors involved, and that’s why we’re looking at this two-hit idea – the brain injury being the first and then an immune challenge. It’s as if one plus one plus one equals 15. There can be a multiplier effect.”

This work applies to concussive brain injuries that result in a diffuse – or spread out – trauma to the brain

These are also concussive injuries from which people and animals recover fairly quickly, typically showing no problems with thinking or moving about a week after the injury to the brain. In the study, researchers compared uninjured mice with mice that had experienced a moderate trauma to the brain called a TBI. Injured mice showed some initial coordination problems, but those resolved within a week.

The injured mice also showed signs of depressive symptoms that improved within one month. Godbout and colleagues attributed those symptoms to the expected neuroinflammation that occurs after a traumatic brain injury. In these mice, most of the inflammation had cleared within seven days.

Thirty days after injury, researchers examined the brains of the injured mice to determine whether immune cells had remained on high alert since the injury. As expected, the injured brains contained microglia that had stayed in a “primed” state – meaning they were on standby to respond to a challenge to the immune system. The cells in the brains of uninjured mice did not have the same characteristics.

The injured brains remained on standby to respond to a challenge to the immune system. The cells in the brains of uninjured mice did not have the same characteristics

Under normal circumstances, microglia are the first line of defense and help protect the brain after injury or infection by making proteins and other chemicals that generate just enough inflammation to repair the problem. When they are primed, however, these cells are in a higher state of alert and when they are activated, they generate an amplified immune response that lasts longer than necessary. When these systems are activated with nothing to fight, the circulating chemicals and proteins generate excessive inflammation.

“The young adult mice that have a diffuse head injury basically recover to normal, but not everything is normal. The brain still has a more inflammatory makeup that is permissive to hyperactivation of an immune response,” Godbout said, according to the news release.

The brain was left with a more inflammatory makeup than it had before the head injury

At 30 days after TBI, the mice were injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) – the dead, outer cell wall of bacteria that stimulates an immune reaction in animals. Tests showed that over the course of 24 hours after the injection, TBI mice were much less social than uninjured mice – one type of depressive symptom in these animals. The brains of the TBI mice also had dramatically higher levels of two inflammation-related proteins than did brains from normal mice.

Seventy-two hours after the LPS challenge, injured mice showed additional depressive symptoms, including minimal interest in sugar water – a sign that they avoided what is typically a pleasurable activity. They also showed increased resignation, or a sign of “giving up.”

Uninjured mice behaved normally and the levels of inflammatory proteins in their brains had returned to baseline over the same time period

“These results tell us the TBI mice are having an amplified and prolonged activation of microglia, and that was associated with development of depressive symptoms in the mice,” Godbout said in the news release. His lab is now investigating potential treatments that could either prevent the priming of microglia immediately after injury or later reverse the high-alert characteristics of these cells.

This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging and a Med to Grad scholarship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Co-authors include Ashley Fenn, Yan Huang and Phillip Popovich of Ohio State’s Department of Neuroscience; John Gensel of the University of Kentucky; and Jonathan Lifshitz of Phoenix
Children’s Hospital. Godbout and Popovich also are members of Ohio State’s Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair.

What super foods are healthiest? Can nutrient-dense nutrition help those with inflammation?

Should you eat a handful not a can full of walnuts? Or did your doctor put you on a reversal diet to unclog stuffed-up arteries where you aren't allowed to eat any oils or fats, but for a tablespoon or two daily of ground flax seeds?

Some studies say walnuts could thin your blood. So are they thinning your blood or clogging your arteries all over your body, especially in your neck, arm, blood vessels in your brain, and arteries that move in and out from your heart?

Walnuts and blood flow

You can look up the study where 20 men and women ate 8 to 13 walnuts a day to improve blood flow by making your arteries more elastic. This information appears on page 139 of the book, Super Foods for Seniors, by the editors of FC&A Medical Publishing. Unfortunately, the chapters on super foods mention the results of studies but never include footnotes giving the name of the study or where it can be read. But for some people, nuts aren't allowed in a diet to reverse clogged arteries as are most fats and oils, or most likely a diet at 10% fat daily.

Other studies included in this book of super foods include wild-caught salmon, oranges, asparagus as a way to get folate (one of the B vitamins), and other foods such as avocados, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bananas, blueberries, brown rice, carrots, cranberries, pomegranate juice, and olive oil--all as super foods.

The book also lists the vitamin C content of sweet red peppers, which are high in vitamin C with 226 mg for one medium sweet red bell pepper. But if you feel arthritis pain after eating nightshade vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, you can get your vitamin C from other fruits or vegetables.

Next highest on the list is the papaya, with 188 mg of vitamin C. Other foods mentioned that you'd eat for their vitamin C content include cranberry juice, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, green pepper, orange juice, kiwi fruit, or a whole orange. Orange juice, one cup contains 82 mg of vitamin C, but eating the whole orange for the fiber gives you only 70 mg of vitamin C, assuming the one orange is medium size and the orange juice is one eight-ounce cup.

Why olive oil is particularly healthy above many other oils is that extra virgin olive oil has a compound called oleocanthal. This chemical in olive oil is similar to ibuprofen. The compound, oleocanthal gives the same pungent sensation in your throat as ibuprofen and also has the same ability to reduce inflammation in your body as ibuprofen. The reason to drink a bit of olive oil is to cut inflammation in your body.

In some countries, people use extra virgin olive oil as a mouthwash after flossing their teeth. They rinse and swish with olive oil, spit it out (not in the sink) and then after a half hour of letting the olive oil get rid of some of the inflammation on their gums and teeth, finally brush their teeth at the end of the day. You can swish with olive oil, coconut oil, or sesame seed oil. The idea is to cut inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil has a robust, fruity flavor to drizzle over salads or eggs.

Other super foods used for their ability to cut inflammation or in some cases to thin the blood, include decaf green tea. It's the theanine, an amino acid in green tea that makes blood less sticky or viscous. People who consume the most vegetables, fruits, and green tea have a good chance of avoiding blood clots, unless they have a genetic variation that perhaps makes them throw clots as a possible reaction to adaptation to cereal grains. That is open to further study and between you and your health care team.

As for dried fruits which are high in sugar, figs have a lot of fiber, potassium, and magnesium and in moderation are considered a healthy super food. What may be helpful is to emphasize nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits for their antioxidant values. But please eat portions in moderation so you don't get too many high blood sugar/glucose spikes from eating too much fruit at one sitting. As far as folate, spinach helps, and spinach also contains magnesium.

One cup of spinach supplies you with a healthy amount of magnesium. And pomegranate juice helps improve blood flow in some people, according to a University of California study. According another study, in this case a University of California, Davis study, "Antioxidant Activity of Pomegranate Juice and Its Relationship with Phenolic Composition and Processing," epidemiological studies at UC Davis show that consumption of fruits and vegetables with high phenolic content correlate with reduced cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer mortality (Hertog et al., 1997a,b).

Phenolic compounds may produce their beneficial effects by scavenging free radicals. In the past few years there has been an increasing interest in determining relevant dietary sources of antioxidant phenolics. Thus, red fruit juices such as grape and different berry juices have received attention due to their antioxidant activity.

Pomegranate juice has become more popular because of the attribution of important biological actions (Lansky et al., 1998). Thus, the antioxidant and antitumoral activity of pomegranate bark tannins (punicacortein) (Kashiwada et al., 1992; Su et al., 1988) and the antioxidant activity of the fermented pomegranate juice (Schubert et al., 1999) have been reported. However, detailed investigations of the phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity of the juice have not yet been carried out.

Pomegranate bark tannins (punicacortein) (Kashiwada et al., 1992; Su et al., 1988) and the antioxidant activity of the fermented pomegranate juice (Schubert et al., 1999) have been reported. However, detailed investigations of the phenolic compounds and the antioxidant activity of the juice have not yet been carried out. Pomegranate juice is an important source of anthocyanins, and the 3-glucosides and 3,5-diglucosides of delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin have been reported (Du et al., 1975). So along with other fruits and vegetables, pomegranate eaten in moderation, is also called by many, a super food.

Fiber and Barley as Super Foods

The point is for health most people need enough fiber, about 15-35 grams of fiber daily. Men need more fiber than women. So perhaps some women need around 25 grams of fiber compared to 35 for some men to maintain weight and stay healthy. Fiber, in moderation, is also called a super food. But eat the fiber as part of the food. For example, red raspberries are high in fiber than strawberries. And apples provide good fiber, but are also high in fructose. So choose what you eat for fiber in moderation. The amount of fiber you eat is an individual issue.

Other studies report you might be able to slash your colon cancer risk by 40 percent by eating some barley. Your daily fiber intake may vary from 15 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Soluble fiber found in oat bran or barley may react with the organisms in your large intestine to prevent constipation and perhaps protect against colon cancer. Don't use the white, pearled barley. Use the tan-colored lightly pearled barley that's similar in color to brown rice.

Nitric oxide and nutrient-dense dark green leafy plant foods

You may want to check out a unique article on what nitric oxide from plant foods can do for your body, for example promoting the healthy dilation of veins and arteries, according to the recent article on Dr. Sinatra's website. See the article, "Nitric Oxide Is Critical to Cardiovascular Health." The point of the article is that nitric oxide plays several important roles inside your body.

Foods such as kale may be able to help prevent prevents red blood cells from sticking together to create dangerous clots and blockages. Some people have genetic conditions that prevent their bodies from naturally generates enough nitric oxide in the endothelium that line the blood vessel walls. That condition can lead to various health problems such as hypertension or arterial disease, whereby the lining of the arteries are damaged. When that happens, the nitric oxide isn't able to be produced by the body, at least not in the quantity the body needs. What happens then is the blood vessels can become inflamed or other health problems might develop.

In Dr. Sinatra's article, certain plant foods are suggested. Sure, you could exercise, but too much exercise might create oxidative stress causing more problems. What Dr. Sinatra offers in his article are suggested foods. One example would be organic kale around two or three times a week.

Puree that kale and drink it as a juice or freeze it as sorbet

You can make a juice of the kale if you aren't eating it chopped up finely in a raw salad with other vegetables. Just juice a cup or more of dark green kale, such as the Tuscan-style Lacinato kale with a head of cabbage (any color) and two cups of coconut water or clean, filtered water. Then sweeten, if desired, with two peeled, seedless oranges. Puree everything and drink the kale and cabbage juice or puree like a smoothie. Or freeze it into a sorbet.

If you don't like the taste of kale because it seems bitter to you, puree it in a blender with two cups of coconut water, two peeled seedless oranges, and a small head of cabbage. Then drink that sweet juice or freeze it into a frozen dessert. You can add a spoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or pour in some almond milk into the blender or even a small amount of tofu for variety. Basically, any green leafy vegetable can be pureed or emulsified in a blender with coconut water and the juice of two peeled, seedless oranges to hide the taste of dark green leafy vegetables. By adding a cut up head of cabbage, you make the drink more alkaline and somewhat sweet in the coconut water and oranges. Drink it like a smoothie.

You can see other supplements also mentioned on Dr. Sinatra's site such as L-arginine (if your health condition allows it), vitamin C and E, fish oil, grape seed extact, and Gycine propionyl L-carnitine (GPLC) along with exercise. Check out Dr. Sinatra's article to see what dose he recommends on the site and what the supplement is supposed to do for the human body.

While big 'pharma' works on creating a drug that upstages nitric oxide production, you may find nutrients are what you want such as pureed kale. Vegans have a mantra that food is medicine or at least it can be for certain health prevention measures based on nutrition.

With dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and other dense plant nutrients from foods, you have help getting the healthiest nutrients into your body. So far no drugs are going to 'whip' your body into producing nitric oxide in the amount needed to prevent heart disease unless your genes are programmed to make nitric oxide and the foods you eat are helping your body make nitric oxide in the amount customized to your particular body's needs.

Eat More Kale promotions in Sacramento food markets

Why do increasing numbers of children in Sacramento and their parents want to eat more kale this year? The Eat More Kale movement is about being part of a worldwide movement, a t-shirt revolution. Customers come from all around the globe. When you buy a shirt send a picture of you wearing it somewhere, and let the artist know so he can add it to his wall. If you want to check out his collection of photos you can see them here. Can it be a different New Year's Resolution? It's also about shaping the world with super foods and healthy produce.

In Sacramento last year was marked by sharply rising food prices and an emphasis on eating the super foods, such as kale as well as heirloom vegetables, organic produce, and locally-grown foods. This year will emphasize wearing what you enjoy eating on your favorite t-shirt or windbreaker. That don't refer to food stains.

It means a slogan about how locally-grown super foods can shape the health of Sacramentans for 2012. No matter how wry a face your child makes at the thought of eating a vegetable, especially a leafy green one, more kids and grown-ups really want to be about eating locally, organic, and growing their own veggies, even in community and school gardens.

Yes, more kids at least in Sacramento really want super foods now to show off to friends. It's a backlash against unhealthy foods pushed by fast-foods. Can you believe children actually showing off their t-sheets on "Eat More Kale" and other super-food oriented slogans on t-shirts and other objects, varying from gluten-free to actually naming which foods are healthiest? Can it develop into a science or art project for some kids?

Kale is a super food full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K. It's an ancestor of the cabbage plant, kale is primarily a cold-weather crop with a taste similar to collard greens

It grows in climates that are inhospitable to other vegetables and can get tastier with a hard freeze. Eat More Kale is about supporting small business, business that actually cares and hasn't been swallowed up by the profit-hungry, corporate mentality. In the name of children's nutrition, it's a great idea to give your child an Eat More Kale t-shirt to wear at play or when traveling.

The shirts are distinctive, offbeat, one-of-a-kind works of art. The shirts are printed by a man with one squeegee. When you see someone wearing one of the Eat More Kale t-shirts you will instantly recognize it's personal style, character and the care the artist took to craft it.

Eat More Kale t-shirts also is about eating locally, supporting local farmers, bakers, farmers markets, farm stands, CSA's, community gardens and restaurants, sustainable lifestyles, social commentary and community

Most importantly, the idea is about printing Vermont's one-at-a-time original design t-shirts. Have fun and remember: eat more kale. In past years in the month of December, Eat More Kale was slapped with a lawsuit for just using the "Eat More" slogan. Can you believe, you can't tell your kids to eat more vegetables, kale, or any other healthy food any more without somebody saying the words "eat more" are trademarked or registered and not simply a general idea applicable to any given class of food? See the site, Chick-fil-A Says 'Eat More Kale' Slogan Infringes On Its 'Eat More Chicken.

What if a t-shirt said eat lots of kale or eat kale or eat more of anything healthy? See the sites, 'Eat More Kale' T-Shirts Challenged by Chick-fil-A - NYTimes.com. Also see, Chicken Vs. Kale: Artist Fights Chick-Fil-A Suit : NPR. And check out the video, Video: The RidicuList: Chick-fil-A battles T-shirt guy – Anderson Cooper. How can a t-shirt saying eat more of any given food muddle the image of Chick-Fil-A's "Eat more chicken" slogan? See the site, Chick-fil-A's Response Is Boon To Eat More Kale T-shirt Maker.

Can a business tell people not to say "eat more" in public anymore on their t-shirts? And then there are the sites, Chick-fil-A's Response Is Boon To Eat More Kale T-shirt Maker, and Chick-Fil-A Says Artist Bo Muller-Moore's 'Eat More Kale' Slogan. Well, it would be worse if a t-shirt said "eat less" of any given food as in "eat less transfats" or "eat lower portion sizes." So what's with the generality words so familiar as "eat more?"

Maybe you can say it in another language as "eat more" in Italian is translated as: mangiare di più. So check out the sites, Eat More Kale Gifts, T-Shirts, Stickers, & More - CafePress, Chick-fil-A Says 'Eat More Kale' Shirt Confuses Public, Christian News, Eat More Kale T-Shirt.

Nitric oxide regulates plants as well as people, says a 2008 study

Nitric oxide has emerged as an important signaling molecule in plants - as in mammals including people. In studies of a tropical medicinal herb as a model plant, researchers have found that nitric oxide targets a number of proteins and enzymes in plants, according to an April 27, 2008 news release, "Nitric oxide regulates plants as well as people."

In collaborative work with the research group of Renu Deswal, a faculty member, and her doctoral student at the Botany Department, University of Delhi, India, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Autar Mattoo has identified 19 such targeted proteins and enzymes in Kalanchoe pinnata, also known as "miracle leaf."

These proteins and enzymes are involved in regulating processes from seed germination to cell development to plant death. Notably, they also regulate many other important processes including photosynthesis, sugar metabolism, disease- and stress tolerance in plants.

Mattoo is a plant physiologist with the ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory at Beltsville, Maryland, at the time of the April 27, 2008 news release, "Nitric oxide regulates plants as well as people." The collaborative research suggests that the effects of nitric oxide, a sometimes toxic byproduct of nitrogen oxidation in soil, may have broader implications in plant processes than realized. Its modification of proteins, a process called S-nitrosylation, is increasingly recognized as an ubiquitous regulatory reaction in plants and mammals.

Mattoo and Deswal have shown for the first time that nitric oxide inactivates Rubisco, a major enzyme involved in carbon dioxide fixation and photosynthesis in plants

Kalanchoe represents plants that have a unique method of carbon dioxide fixation that is shared by succulent plants. Kalanchoe has diverse possible medicinal benefits suggesting the presence of interesting processes at work. Mattoo hopes to do similar studies with major crops grown in different production systems, with an eye toward improving both crop yields and quality, including nutritional benefits.

Other scientists have studied nitric oxide targets in the most common model plant, Arabidopsis. Mattoo and collaborators found that Kalanchoe had some nitric oxide targets in common with Arabidopsis, such as Rubisco and drought-protective proteins. They also found new protein targets in Kalanchoe that have not been reported previously. A paper discussing these results is published in the FEBS Journal. See, "S-nitrosylated proteins of a medicinal CAM plant Kalanchoe pinnata– ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase activity targeted for inhibition."

Also check out these other articles on Dr. Sinatra's website: For Impotence, It’s L-Arginine, What is the Best High Blood Pressure Diet? But make sure any supplement you take is indicated by your health care team for your particular condition and won't do any harm. Everybody's different when it comes to how various organs respond to any supplement or in the case of people with allergies or adverse reactions, how some humans respond to specific foods.

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