Over the past 10 years, in the various books that I have written, there has been a persistent emphasis on the importance of DHA, an omega-3, in terms of brain health. DHA represents over 90% of all the omega-3, polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain, and further, it’s 10 to 20% of all the brain’s fat. DHA is especially concentrated in the gray matter, and is also an important part of the cellular membrane of neurons. DHA also has an important role to play in the functioning and structure of mitochondria, the release of neurotransmitters, the expression of DNA, the creation of the myelin insulation around every neuron, the management of neuroinflammation, and even the growth and differentiation of brain cells.
DHA plays a particularly important role in the frontal lobes, allowing us to maintain executive function, pay attention to the various tasks in which we are engaged, and even plan for the future and solving problems. Continue reading
We often talk about the importance of method of birth on a newborn’s health, not only in the short-term, but in the long-term. Research has found, again and again, that vaginal birth, and the experience of going through the birth canal, exposes a child to various microbes that form the basis for their own gut microbiome. Continue reading
Food allergies, and a specific skin condition called eczema, are rapidly increasing in the youth population. Now, in what may be the largest study of its kind ever performed, researchers are studying a woman’s diet during pregnancy, as well as duration of breast-feeding post-birth, to assess a child’s susceptibility to allergies, as well as risk for conditions like eczema and autoimmune disorders. British investigators, evaluating over 1.5 million people, have come up with some very compelling information.
The research is what’s called a meta-analysis, meaning that it is review of previous studies (over 400 in this case) involving over 1.5 million people, and dating as far back as 1946. The researchers discovered that there was a weak, but nonetheless demonstrable, relationship between breast-feeding and reduced risk of eczema during infancy, as well as reduced risk for type I diabetes. In addition, probiotics seemed to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to cow’s milk.
The data, however, was much more supportive of the relationship between taking a probiotic supplement while 36 – 38 weeks pregnant, and during the first 3 to 6 months of breast-feeding, and risk for childhood eczema. In fact, in those women taking probiotics, risk for eczema in their child was reduced by 22%. The scientist noted that most of the probiotics contained a bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Continue reading
For some time, we’ve been discussing the long-term health implications of method of birth on a child’s future health. Specifically, we’ve been looking at what being born via c-section, instead of a vaginal birth, means for your risks for health complications, including obesity. A new paper, published in the journal science advances and co-authored by the great Dr. Maria Dominquez-Bello, looks at the statistics relating to weight gain in rodents born via c-section or vaginally. Their finding is not very much unlike what you would expect.
As many of you know, one of the central themes of my recent book, Brain Maker, deals with the importance of method of birth in terms of seeding an infant’s microbiome. We now know, moving ahead, that even issues like immunity and inflammation later in life are significantly impacted by how a child is born.
As I did discuss in the book, work by Dr. Maria Dominguez-Bello at New York University centers on this fundamental event in a person’s life, if and how a baby passes through birth canal. Importantly, she seeks to understand how this exposure inoculates the newborn child with the seeds for his or her future microbiome.
In today’s interview, I speak with Toni Harman. Continue reading