By: Yangwenshan Ou
On: 17 December 2020

Can short-chain fatty acids lead to a healthy brain? Learn how dietary fiber products in the gut may benefit mental wellbeing.

What are short-chain fatty acids?Non-digestible dietary fibers are fermented in the gut by specific bacteria. During this process, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The most abundant SCFAs are acetate, propionate and butyrate. Acetate is approximately three times more prevalent in the gut compared to propionate and butyrate, though the actual amount depends on the food type, bacterial composition and bowel transit time. What is the major role of SCFAs in maintaining gut health?The most important role of SCFAs is to act as an energy source for gut cells. When there are not enough SCFAs, the gut cannot perform many...

By: Dr. Berit Skretting Solberg
On: 17 December 2020

Food Frequency Questionnaire – what is it?

If we want to investigate the effects of diet on mental health and behavior, we need methods to reliably measure a person’s diet. Dietary intake can be measured in several ways; 24-hour recall (dietary intake of the past 24 hours), a food diary (dietary intake is recorded in a diary), or by using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). In this blog, I will explain to you more in detail what FFQs are. FFQs are widely used in large scale observational studies as a dietary assessment method. The purpose of FFQs is to obtain frequency and portion size information about food...

By: Prokopis Konstanti
On: 10 December 2020

COVID19 and the effect on the gut microbiota

Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, there is a growing body of evidence showing that it has a direct impact on the gastrointestinal system. Understanding how this system is affected by the disease will help us to better understand its biological mechanisms. Using human cells in petri dishes, researchers from the Netherlands have proven that COVID-19 can infect also gastrointestinal tissue and trigger gut inflammation1. This was later confirmed in living humans, as feces from COVID-19 patients were characterized by elevated levels of the pro-inflammatory marker calprotectin2.  Despite this evidence for the strong link between COVID-19 and our gut,...

By: Jenny McMahon
On: 8 December 2020

How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced our mood?

Throughout this year, we have all felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. The pandemic and related measures such as lockdown have been a major part of lives worldwide and have had a wide range of effects, such as isolation, increased stress and fear of contracting or spreading the virus. One further effect that has been present is a change in lifestyle and health behaviours like alcohol consumption, sleep quality, diet and physical activity. As these behaviours have been shown to be linked to mental well-being and differences in mood, a recent study (1) examined...

By: Indira Paz-Graniel
On: 24 November 2020

A coffee a day might keep cognitive decline away

What if enjoying a cup of coffee everyday could preserve your cognitive functioning when aging? In the last decades, the number of individuals that suffer from cognitive decline has increased exponentially. In parallel with an aging population this is a major public health issue. Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have a multifactorial background, which means that they are caused by many different factors, both genetic and environmental. One of these environmental factors is diet, which has a potential beneficial effect on preventing dementia onset and progression. Coffee is one the most consumed beverages worldwide...

By: Annick Huberts-Bosch
On: 19 November 2020

Lifestyle psychiatry: how could this benefit people with mental disorders?

Mental disorders affect almost 30% of individuals across the lifespan [1]. There are already a lot of psychotherapies and pharmacological treatments available for these individuals. However, there remains a large proportion of people who do not benefit fully form standard treatment [2,3]. Therefore, new approaches towards the prevention and treatment of mental health problems are needed. These can be delivered alongside traditional mental health care. But what could these new approaches include? Lifestyle factors might be an outcome: an emerging body of research has linked both the onset and symptoms of various mental disorders to lifestyle factors. This term refers...

By: Lara Hamzehpour
On: 17 November 2020

“We are what we eat” – How diet impacts our brain structure

Food has become omnipresent and plays a huge role in our everyday life. We eat when we’re hungry, as a reward after a successful work day, as a comfort when we are stressed or sad. We also sometimes eat less and exercise more when we want to lose weight. But what many people don’t know – or seem to forget – is that our brain functioning also depends on what we eat. With the research that I did for my master thesis, I found that a healthy diet and regular physical activity are associated with more grey matter in the...

Till Feldner By: Till Feldner
On: 11 November 2020

Climbing out of Depression: The Bouldering Psychotherapy

Bouldering is increasingly gaining popularity as a leisure sport as it’s both fun and good physical exercise. But perhaps it can even be used as treatment for depression. A recently published study tested the effects of bouldering therapy on depression and found that ten weeks of bouldering therapy was just as effective in reducing depressive symptoms as the usual treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy. This is an important first step in developing new and effective treatments for depression. The need for new treatments for depressionDepression is one of the most common mental diseases all over the world and its prevalence is...

By: Joy Adekanmi
On: 28 October 2020

How low-income parents can reduce their children’s risk of developing problem behavior.

ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is characterized by attention problems and hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in childhood, especially among boys. (1,2) Heritability (genetics) is known to be a main factor in the development of ADHD. However, other risk factors such as gender, diet and socioeconomic status (SES) can strongly influence the development and the course of ADHD in children (you can read more about why ADHD runs in families here). Treatment and management of ADHD include the identification of modifiable risk factors. Some of these risk factors are linked to the consequences of...

By: Dr. Manuel Schlipf
On: 21 October 2020

Vitamin D and Mental Health

Now that autumn has arrived, the sunlight is fading, and leaves are falling. Our vitamin D levels are also at risk of falling because its synthesis in our bodies depends on exposure to the ultraviolet radiation within sunlight.   What is vitamin D and why is it important?The active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, acts as a hormone. In the target cells, it binds to the vitamin D receptor and produces effects on multiple locations. It regulates the concentration of calcium and phosphate and promotes the healthy growth and remodeling of our bones. Calcitriol also has other effects, such as balancing cell growth, neuromuscular,...