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Study reveals exercise, nutrition regimen benefits physical, cognitive health

Researchers studied the effects of a 12-week exercise regimen on 148 active-duty Air Force airmen, half of whom also received a twice-daily nutrient beverage that included protein; the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA; lutein; phospholipids; vitamin D; B vitamins and other micronutrients; along with a muscle-promoting compound known as HMB.

They found that both groups improved in physical and cognitive function, with added gains among those who regularly consumed the nutritional beverage, the team reports.

The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

Participants were randomly assigned to the two groups. The exercise regimen combined strength training and high-intensity interval aerobic fitness challenges. One group received the nutritional beverage and the other consumed a placebo beverage that lacked the added nutrients. Neither the researchers nor the participants knew who received the nutrient-enriched beverage or placebo.

“The exercise intervention alone improved strength and endurance, mobility and stability, and participants also saw increases in several measures of cognitive function. They had better episodic memory and processed information more efficiently at the end of the 12 weeks. And they did better on tests that required them to solve problems they had never encountered before, an aptitude called fluid intelligence,” said Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the study with postdoctoral researcher Christopher Zwilling.

“Those who also consumed the nutritional supplement saw all of these improvements and more. For example, they were better able to retain new information in their working memory and had quicker responses on tests of fluid intelligence than those taking the placebo,” Barbey said.

Physical power increased in both groups as a result of the physical training, Zwilling said.

“Power is a measure of physical fitness that is based on several factors, such as how fast a participant can pull a heavy sledge over a set distance, how far they can toss a weighted ball, and how many pushups, pullups or situps they can perform in a set time period,” he said.

The physical training reduced participants’ body fat percentage and increased their oxygen-uptake efficiency or VO2 max. The airmen also performed better than they had initially on several measures of cognitive function. The most notable of these was an increase in the accuracy of their responses to problems designed to measure fluid intelligence.

“But we also wanted to know whether taking the supplement conferred an advantage above and beyond the effect of exercise,” Zwilling said. “We saw that it did, for example in a relationship to resting heart rate, which went down more in those who took the supplement than in those who didn’t.”

Participants who consumed the nutritional beverage also saw greater improvements in their ability to retain and process information. And their reaction time on tests of fluid intelligence improved more than their peers who took the placebo, the researchers found.

“Our work motivates the design of novel multimodal interventions that incorporate both aerobic fitness training and nutritional supplementation, and illustrates that their benefits extend beyond improvements in physical fitness to enhance multiple measures of cognitive function,” Barbey said.

The U. of I. team conducted the intervention with study co-author Adam Strang, a scientist in the Applied Neuroscience Branch of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, along with his colleagues in the Air Force Research Laboratory. The U. of I. team also worked with research fellow and study co-author Tapas Das and his colleagues at Abbott Nutrition, who led the design of the nutritional beverage, which is a mixture of nutrients targeting both muscle and brain. The specially designed beverage provided ingredients that previous studies have shown are associated with improved physical cognitive function.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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Greater involvement by father in infant parenting is beneficial for paternal mental health. Here’s how

A father’s involvement in the parenting of an infant is associated to a lower risk of experiencing paternal depressive symptoms during the first year of the child’s life, according to a study. The study was published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. The investigators in the larger study conducted home interviews with 881 low-income ethnically and racially diverse fathers from 5 different sites in the US, one month after the birth of a child and controlling for social and demographic variables, they examined the three parenting indicators: father time spent with the infant, parenting self-efficacy and material support for the infant. They also assessed paternal depressive symptoms at regular intervals (1, 6 and 12 months after birth) using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale.

The authors found that all three indicators – the greater amount of time fathers spent with their newborn, parenting self-efficacy and ability to provide material support – predicted lower rates of depressive symptoms in the fathers during the following year. The authors also found that only parenting self-efficacy was associated to a higher risk of clinical depression, with the percentage of fathers with symptoms indicating clinical depression being 10% after 1 month, 15% after 6 months and 12% after 12 months. “We found that fathers who were more involved with their infants shortly after their birth were less likely to be depressed a year later,” says Dr Olajide N. Bamishigbin Jr., Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, USA, and first author of the paper. “In our paper, we suggest a few reasons that greater father involvement in parenting would lead to less depression in fathers. For example, fathers who are more involved during infancy may feel more competent as parents and be more satisfied in their role as parents over time, and this could contribute to lower depressive symptoms.”

The present study is one of the first to focus on a larger community sample of low-income fathers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and is paving the way for more research into specifically paternal well-being after the birth of a child. While previous research has focused on paternal involvement as an outcome or a predictor of mother- and child-focused outcomes, this is the first study to examine the link between early paternal involvement with the infant and later paternal depressive symptoms during the first year after a child is born. “Family researchers are recognizing, more and more, the vital roles fathers play in the lives of their children and the functioning of the entire family unit,” said Bamishigbin. “As researchers who care deeply about paternal health, we are excited to be a part of this growing field.”

The findings of this study have important implications for future research on the contributors to father involvement, the effects of early involvement, the link between parental self-efficacy and depression, and the relationship between paternal and maternal depression. The authors emphasise that a deeper understanding of these and related variables might be helpful in designing interventions for expecting fathers and shaping public policies. “In our study, greater early involvement was related to less depression later on. This is very important because, it suggests that, if fathers are involved with their infants early and often, their mental health, and the health of the entire family unit, may fare better,” said Bamishigbin. “This is why we suggest that paid paternal leave policies which can allow fathers the opportunity to be more involved with their kids and gain confidence as a parent early on in their lives, without having to worry about their economic security, and may help allow fathers more opportunities to be involved with their kids and be part of shaping healthier and thriving future generations. In turn, this may improve the well-being of the entire family.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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Childhood sexual abuse: Mental and physical after-effects closely linked

A new Canadian study reveals that the psychological and physical effects of childhood sexual abuse are closely tied. The finding could help healthcare professionals develop more effective interventions and ultimately improve mental and physical health outcomes for survivors of abuse in childhood. Authored by Pascale Vezina-Gagnon, a PhD candidate at Universite de Montreal’s Department of Psychology, under the supervision of Professor Isabelle Daigneault, the study is published today in Health Psychology.

*Twice as many diagnoses

The long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse on survivors’ health have only been recognized recently. An initial study of 1,764 children and adolescents, published in 2018, showed that girls who survived substantiated cases of sexual abuse received 2.1 times as many diagnoses of urinary health issues and 1.4 times as many diagnoses of genital health issues than girls in the general population. This finding prompted a subsequent study to determine why and how sexual-abuse survivors suffered from genitourinary problems more often than their peers in the general population. Specifically, the second study aimed to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon by testing the theory that increased psychological distress is partly responsible for the higher incidence of genitourinary issues – such as urinary tract infections, vaginitis and pain during sex or menstruation – among childhood sexual abuse survivors.

*A combined approach to treatment

“The key takeaway from this study is that one-sided treatment – one that addresses just the psychological after-effects or just the physical trauma– is inadequate,” said Vezina-Gagnon. “We need to follow a combined approach to treatment that doesn’t view these issues as separate.” She added: “Interdisciplinary care is increasingly becoming the standard, and that’s the message we hope our research sends to general practitioners, pediatricians, urologists, gynecologists, psychologists and psychiatrists so that they can help children recover as much as possible.” This is the first study to look at the relationship between genitourinary and psychological issues over such a long period of time – more than a decade – in such a large sample of child survivors of substantiated sexual abuse versus a comparison group.

*1,322 girls studied

The researchers used medical data provided by Quebec’s public health insurance agency, the Regie de l’assurance maladie du Quebec, and the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services. The study involved 661 girls between the ages of 1 and 17 who survived one or more instances of substantiated sexual abuse and a comparison group of 661 girls from the general population. The researchers had access to anonymized data on genitourinary and mental health diagnoses received following medical consultations or hospital stays the girls went through between 1996 and 2013. Several variables were taken into account, such as socioeconomic status, the number of years of access to medical data, and individual predispositions to genitourinary health problems before the sexual abuse occurred. Childhood sexual abuse includes fondling and petting, oral sex, actual or attempted penetration, voyeurism, indecent exposure, inducement to engage in sexual activity and sexual exploitation (prostitution).

*‘A wider range of psychiatric issues’

“The results show that girls who were sexually abused were more likely to see a health professional for a wider range of psychiatric issues–anxiety, mood disorders, schizophrenia or substance abuse–than girls in the comparison group,” said Vezina-Gagnon. “These consultations were also associated with more frequent medical appointments or hospitalizations for genital and urinary issues in the years after the sexual abuse was reported.” The researchers also found that the more girls consulted their doctors or were hospitalized for multiple psychiatric issues (so-called comorbid psychiatric disorders) after experiencing abuse, the more importantly this explained subsequent genital health issues (62%) and urinary health issues (23%). This difference observed between genital and urinary health (62% vs. 23%) may be explained by factors not included in this study, said Vezina-Gagnon. “Additional studies are needed to investigate this difference and determine whether other important variables – ones that we didn’t have information on, such as the severity, length and frequency of the abuse -could be associated with more severe genitourinary health outcomes,” she said.

*Two hypotheses offered

“On an emotional and behavioural level, two hypotheses can be formulated to explain these findings,” said Vezina-Gagnon. The first is that the association is due to a hypervigilant response. Survivors of sexual abuse who are affected by several mental health issues – such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – may become hypervigilant or more likely to notice symptoms related to their genital or urinary health, which would lead them to see their doctor more frequently. “In contrast,” she continued, “the second hypothesis is that the association is caused by avoidant behaviour. Survivors may put off or avoid asking for help or seeing a doctor for genitourinary issues, thereby increasing the risk that such problems deteriorate or become chronic conditions. Gynecological care may trigger memories of past abuse (due to the imbalance of power between patients and doctors, the removal of clothing, feelings of vulnerability and physical pain) and it may therefore be especially difficult for these girls.”

*Toward a holistic approach

The study’s findings align with the scientific literature on health psychology and abuse, and once again highlight how important it is to consider the relationship between physical and mental health,” said Vezina-Gagnon. A holistic approach (body-mind approach) is therefore needed to help girls recover from sexual trauma, she maintains. “In light of these findings, healthcare practitioners should assess the level of psychological distress experienced by survivors of childhood sexual abuse who report genitourinary issues and direct them to the right mental health resources” Vezina-Gagnon said. “The researchers behind this study believe that early and targeted intervention to reduce psychological distress among survivors may be helpful in preventing genitourinary issues from deteriorating or turning into chronic conditions.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. )

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World Rose Day 2020: History and significance of the welfare of cancer patients

World Rose Day is annually celebrated on September 22 in dedication to the welfare of cancer patients. On this day, people around the world work towards bringing cheer and hope into the lives of all those people who have been affected by cancer. More importantly, it seeks to remind patients and their caregivers, that they are not alone in this battle against the deadly disease.

Cancer treatments are quite tasking on the body and mind of those who have been affected. With the changes their bodies encounter and the sheer mental trauma of being ravaged by this disease can wreak havoc with most people. According to Dr. Ganapathi Bhat, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Stem cell Transplant Physician at Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, “The financial costs associated with cancer are often overwhelming. Cancer affects a person’s diet and eating habits in many ways. The illness can in itself cause weight loss, lack of appetite or other problems associated with eating. Cancer also often affects your self-image and self-esteem. Possible changes in physical appearance and depleted health can be frightening. Having cancer can undermine your mental and physical wellbeing.” But by making even the simplest gestures of kindness, each and every one of us can bring some comfort to their lives. Even though that alone is not enough to cure them, it can certainly ease their suffering.

World Rose Day for the Welfare of Cancer Patients was first observed in honour of 12-year-old Melinda Rose from Canada, who was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer known as Askin’s Tumour. Even while the doctors had only given her weeks to live, she went on to live for 6 months and spent her time bringing joy and hope to all the diagnosed people around her. She reached out to all the cancer patients, sharing poems, letters and emails with them, to bring some cheer into their lives. Her kindness and optimism serve as a reminder to us all, that even in the most bleak of all situations, hope is what keeps us going.

By offering roses to cancer patients and their caregivers, people extend their concern and offer tenderness in the face of this harsh disease. Unfortunately, the medical and science fields are yet to come up with an absolute cure for cancer, despite their constant dedication to this cause, we can all contribute in our own way by being mindful of their suffering and ensuring that we care for them and contribute to their strength so that they may continue fighting.

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