Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who used PET and MRI found that patients with mild cognitive impairment had 18% lower serotonin transporter levels in the hippocampus and scored 37% lower in a verbal memory test, compared with healthy controls. The findings in the journal Neurobiology of Disease suggest that increasing brain serotonin function "could prevent memory loss from getting worse and slow disease progression," said researcher Dr. Gwenn Smith.
The gluten-free fad among people without celiac disease is starting to fade, according to dietary trends data, but nutrition experts advise people going off the diet to change their eating habits gradually and carefully choose gluten foods. Registered dietitian Nancy Farrell says grains provide important nutrients and energy, and RD Kelly Toups adds that going gluten-free can be counterproductive for people who are just swapping regular breads and pasta for gluten-free varieties.
Registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom says foods touted as being lower-calorie or healthy -- such as veggie sticks or veggie burgers, gluten-free bread and baked potato chips -- may not be when compared with carrot sticks, regular beef burgers, whole-grain bread and fried potato chips. Rosenbloom says added ingredients and processing in seemingly healthy foods can increase calories, sugar and sodium and reduce health benefits.
A study of South Asian women in CMAJ Open showed a higher risk for gestational diabetes with increased maternal age, a family history of diabetes, higher pre-pregnancy weight and low diet quality. Researcher Sonia Anand said additional studies are needed to see if reducing pre-pregnancy weight and improving diet quality during pregnancy could reduce gestational diabetes rates in this patient population.
The food preservatives butylhydroxytoluene and tributyltin, commonly found in breakfast cereal and seafood, respectively, as well as the polymer perfluorooctanoic acid, used in cookware, may disrupt the hormones responsible for appetite control, a study in Nature Communications found. Scientists grew human epithelium tissue and neuronal tissues and found the hormone disruptors interfered with signaling functions in the gut and brain and damaged mitochondria responsible for proper metabolism of food and oxygen into energy.
Northwestern University has reduced meal costs and changed meal requirements, based on student focus group input. The university this fall will increase plant-based meal options and promote healthy eating at all meals, and one dining hall will have carry-out so students can take food with them.
Following developments and thought leaders outside of the social work profession can lead to a deep pool of fresh ideas, writes social work professor Nancy Smyth.
"I've also found new ideas by listening carefully to my clients -- several of my forays into new technology (e.g., blogging, Second Life) were by inspired by hearing what my clients were doing," she writes.
Social worker and trauma survivor Clint Robson writes that the extreme stress that afflicts many in helping professions is underappreciated and has been studied quantitatively but not qualitatively. Stigma discourages many sufferers from disclosing their needs, he adds.
A social worker has been hired for a two-year assignment assisting homeless people in People's Park at the University of California, Berkeley. Student housing may be built in the park in the future, and the social worker will help assess what supportive services should be offered at that time.
Excessive caseloads, high turnover and an inadequate computer system in Louisiana's child welfare system endangered foster-care children, a legislative audit concluded. Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said she has reorganized the agency, is shifting caseworkers to shortage areas and is improving employee coaching.