CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE IMPROVES WOMEN’S HEART HEALTH

Heart disease kills millions of Americans each year. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which leads to heart attacks. One way to reduce your risk of CAD is to make some lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, stress management and physical activity.   Physical activity is an essential part of being heart healthy. The American Heart Association (AHA) says you need at least 150 minutes of moderate....

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LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN BREAST CANCER TREATMENT

There are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, a testament to the more than 25-year decline in mortality, according to the American Cancer Society. Still, 231,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and about 40,000 will die. Fortunately, there have been some exciting breakthroughs in breast cancer detection and treatment recently.

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PERSONAL TRAINING

If you’re looking for a safe, effective program that will help you get toned, become more flexible or lose weight, personal training could be for you.  A personal trainer will teach you proper form and technique to keep you safe and injury free. But first, he or she needs to know what your goals are – whether you want to lose weight, get healthy and tone up or train for bodybuilding, fitness competitions or powerlifting. Perhaps you’re an older person who wants to work on balance and stability.

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interaction, largely because the brain is somewhat protected,” he said. His study added to the growing evidence that signals from beneficial bacteria nonetheless find a way through the barrier. The 2011 research could not pinpoint exactly how the barrier is traversed. It appears micro-organisms in the gut tickle a sensory nerve ending in the fingerlike protrusions lining the intestine and carry that electrical impulse up the vagus nerve and into the deep-brain structures thought to be responsible for elemental emotions such as anxiety. Cryan and co-author Ten Dinan published a theory paper in the journal Biological Psychiatry, calling these potentially mind-altering microbes “psychobiotics.”


It has long been known that much of the body’s supply of neurochemicals, an estimated 50 percent of its dopamine, for example, and a vast majority of its serotonin, originate in the intestines, where these chemical signals regulate appetite, feelings of fullness and digestion. But only in recent years has mainstream psychiatric research given serious consideration to the role microbes might play in creating those chemicals. Although the exact mechanism that breaks the barriers are not yet known, it seems safe to assert there is a proven link to gut bacteria and mental health.

In 2007, scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in the body. The profound influence of these organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year.


Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down food. Their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effect of prescription drugs. Biologists now believe much of what makes us human depends on microbial activity. The 2 million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome can make the 23,000 genes in the cells seem insignificant in comparison.


“It has enormous implications for the sense of self,” said Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one we have to take seriously when we think about human development.”


Considering the extent to which bacteria influence human physiology, scientists are interested in learning how bacteria may affect the brain. Micro-organisms in the gut secrete a profound number of chemicals, some of which are the same substances used by neurons to communicate and regulate mood, such as dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These, in turn, appear to play

GUT BACTERIA CAN AFFECT YOUR MOOD

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

a function in intestinal disorders, coinciding with high levels of major depression and anxiety. Norwegian researchers examined the feces from 55 people in 2014 and found certain bacteria were more likely to be associated with depressive patients. Overall, researchers have linked anxiety, depression and several pediatric disorders, such as autism and hyperactivity, to gastrointestinal abnormalities.


Research conducted by scientists at the University College Cork in Ireland and McMaster University in Ontario, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2011, has become one of the best-known experiments linking gut bacteria to the brain. Ten years before designing this study, neuroscientist John Cryan thought about microbiology in terms of pathology: The brain is anatomically isolated and guarded by a blood-brain barrier that allows nutrients in but keeps out pathogens and inflammation, the immune system’s typical response to germs. This led Cryan to believe there are certain fields that just don’t seem to interact well.


“Microbiology and neuroscience, as whole disciplines, don’t tend to have had much