WELLNESS AROUND THE WEB
Cold Water Swimming May Protect the Brain From Degenerative Diseases
A “cold-shock” protein has been found in the blood of regular winter swimmers at London’s Parliament Hill Lido, BBC.com reports. The protein has been shown to slow the onset of dementia and even repair some of the damage it causes in mice. Prof. Giovanna Mallucci, who runs the UK Dementia Research Institute’s Centre at the University of Cambridge, says the discovery could point researchers towards new drug treatments which may help hold dementia at bay.
We have known for decades that cooling people down can potentially protect their brains — people with head injuries and those who need cardiac operations are often cooled during surgery, as are babies. Still, what has not been so well understood was why cold has this protective effect.
The Cambridge dementia team discovered the “cold-shock chemicals” that trigger the process in 2015. They cooled ordinary mice, and mice with Alzheimer’s disease and prion (neuro-degenerative) disease, to the point where they became hypothermic, which means their body temperature was below 35C. On re-warming, they found only the ordinary mice could regenerate their synapses — the Alzheimer’s and prion mice could not. At the same time, they found levels of a “cold-shock” protein called RBM3 soared in the ordinary mice, but not in the others. It suggested RBM3 could be the key to the formation of new connections.
A number of other researchers have found similarly higher levels of RBM3 in babies and heart and stroke patients who have been made hypothermic. Unfortunately, the risks associated with getting cold are too dangerous, so cold water immersion is not a potential dementia treatment. Instead, researchers will have to use this new information to develop alternative methods of cognitive preservation.
Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy Necessary for Child’s Cognitive Development
A mother’s vitamin D is crucial in regulating processes including brain development. A recent study showed that mothers’ vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with their children’s IQ, suggesting that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy may lead to greater childhood IQ scores. Additionally, the study described significantly lower levels of vitamin D among Black pregnant women, MedicalXpress.com reports.
Vitamin D deficiency is actually quite prevalent, according to Melissa Melough, lead author of the study. Luckily, there is a relatively easy solution. Although the ideal method of vitamin D intake is through diet and sun exposure, supplements can be a good alternative.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU). Foods that contain higher levels of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs and fortified sources like cow’s milk and breakfast cereals. However, vitamin D is often considered one of the more difficult nutrients to take in via diet.
Additional research is needed to determine the optimal levels of vitamin D in pregnancy, but Melough hopes this study will help to develop nutritional recommendations for pregnant women.
WELLNESS IN THE VALLEY
Baker Announces Stay-at-Home Advisory, Mask Order, Restaurant Curfew
Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new stay-at-home advisory and mask order along with what amounts to a restaurant curfew on Monday in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Massachusetts.
Restaurants will be required to stop providing table service at 9:30 p.m., although they can continue to offer carry out after that time. Liquor sales at restaurants and package stores will also shut down at 9:30 p.m. Indoor recreational facilities like theaters and casinos, youth and adult sports and adult marijuana sales operations will be ordered to close at 9:30 p.m. as well.
The updated face covering order requires everyone over the age of 5 to wear a face covering in public places.
The governor also reduced the limit on indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. All gatherings regardless of size must end and disperse by 9:30 p.m. Fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit.
The new guidelines take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Friday and Baker said they will likely remain in place for at least a month. The goal is to stem the rise in cases and keep from having to revert to Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.
“It’s time once again for us all to do our jobs,” Baker said. “The game here is the same — it’s to bend the trend.”
Massachusetts confirmed 22 new deaths and 1,139 more coronavirus cases Sunday, marking the ninth straight day the state has announced more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases.