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Bipolar disorder: A Balanced diet aides treatment

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Diet quality can affect many aspects of one’s physical health and psychological well-being. New research investigates whether or not these factors can also affect the effectiveness of treatments for mood disorders — particularly bipolar.

These are the “highs,” during which the person feels euphoric and may engage in dangerous behaviors, and the “lows,” characterized by depression and lethargy.



Since two opposite mood extremes characterize this disorder, it is often difficult to treat both the “highs” (or “manic episodes”) and the “lows” (or “depressive episodes”) with the same efficacy.

New research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology congress, held in Barcelona, Spain, now suggests that weight and dietary habits may influence how effective treatments for bipolar disorder actually are.

 In particular, a healthful diet may aid therapy for depressive episodes, note the study authors. They also explain that, conversely, a poor diet could contribute to heightened inflammation, which may have a negative impact on a person’s symptoms.

“If we can confirm these results, then it’s good news for people with bipolar disorder, as there is a great need for better treatments for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder,” states lead researcher Melanie Ashton, from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia.

The team comprised scientists from numerous academic and research institutions across Australia, Germany, and the United States.

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How diet may impact therapy results

Ashton and colleagues conducted a clinical trial for which they recruited 181 participants, of whom 133 provided all the data necessary for the final analysis. All the participants experienced bipolar depression, which is the depressive phase of bipolar disorder.

For a period of 16 weeks, the team randomly allocated all the participants to receive one of three types of treatment:

  • a mix of nutraceuticals (or natural nutrients sometimes used as alternatives to drugs and that may help treat or prevent chronic diseases), including the anti-inflammatory substance n-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • only NAC
  • a placebo
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The investigators administered these treatments alongside the participants’ normal medication for bipolar disorder.

At the start of the trial, the team also collected relevant information from the volunteers, including: their body mass indexes (BMIs), measures of depression, and to what extent they were able to function normally on a day-to-day basis.

The researchers assessed the volunteers’ progress every 4 weeks — including 4 weeks after the cessation of the experimental treatment. They also asked them to answer questionnaires that evaluated dietary habits.

This allowed them to give scores to each participant depending on how healthful their regular diets were.

 Good-quality diets included high consumption of fruit and vegetables, whereas poor diets relied on food high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, as well as excess alcohol consumption.

Ashton and her team categorized healthful diets as anti-inflammatory and poor-quality diets as pro-inflammatory, based on their contents.

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Health & Lifestyle

Cote d’Ivoire: Destroying the Killer Rice

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Authorities in Cote d’Ivoire have destroyed 18,000 tonnes of rice declared to be unfit for human consumption.

This follows tests carried out by the country’s consumer association which had demanded the government to do so after the cargo from Myanmar had been refused entry in Togo, Guinea and Ghana over quality issues.

The national and international quality control tests revealed the unfit nature of the rice.

It should be noted that most African countries depend on imports because local farmers are unable to meet the ever rising demands.

Source: Africanews

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Health & Lifestyle

Mali: Donkeys deliver vaccines as diseases spike with violence

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Reuters DAKAR –

With spiraling ethnic violence exposing more children in Mali to fatal diseases, health workers are using donkeys and boats to deliver life-saving vaccines, charities said on Wednesday.

In the central Mopti region – where 157 people died in one attack last month – suspected measles cases rose five-fold in one year to 98 in 2018, U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said, due to a four-fold jump in unvaccinated children to 70,000.

Motorcycles, which health workers used to reach remote villages, have been banned to reduce militant activity, forcing them to use traditional means like horses, it said.

“The problem of vaccination is directly linked to the current conflict,” said Patrick Irenge, medical coordinator for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is using cars and boats as mobile clinics to reach cut off communities.

“If there is a lull in the violence, a small window that opens, we organize a vaccination campaign.”

Last month’s massacre was the deadliest to date in a conflict between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders which has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in the West African country since it escalated last year.

Pneumonia is one of the top killers of children in Mali and it can be prevented with vaccines – as can measles – but it is too dangerous for many parents to venture out with children.

“Transport is difficult because we don’t have the means to rent a vehicle or a horse cart,” said Aissata Barry, a 34-year-old mother in the village of Kankelena, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nearest health center in the town of Sofara.

“There are rapists on the road. That’s what we’re afraid of,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that one of her neighbors was raped two weeks ago.

Mamadou Kasse, a local health worker who vaccinated Barry’s children, said the number of children he can reach each day has fallen since he swapped his motorbike for an eight-hour ride in a donkey cart with a cooler full of vaccines.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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