Today’s Read: 4 minutes
Sometimes we need to balance what is right for us and for our patients. Today’s news does that. We look at how unhealthy eating can diminish our good intentions, the similarities between psychology and religion, and the potential health risks of marijuana smoking. Plus, a way to cool down while wearing PPE.
Part-time unhealthy eating could have consequences
Regularly consuming a Western (aka an American) diet could diminish benefits from otherwise following a healthy one, such as the Mediterranean diet, finds an observational study out of Rush University Medical Center.
Researchers followed 5,001 adults enrolled in the Chicago Health and Aging Project from 1993 to 2012. Every three years, participants completed two questionnaires: a cognitive assessment that tested basic information-processing skills and memory, and a survey about the frequency they consumed 144 foods.
How closely each of the study participants adhered to a Mediterranean diet, which includes daily consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, fish, potatoes, and unrefined cereals, plus moderate wine consumption, was analyzed. Then, the researchers examined the association between diet adherence and the changes in participants’ cognitive function, episodic memory, and perceptual speed.
They found that participants who adhered closest to the Mediterranean diet, along with limiting foods that are part of the Western diet, experienced slower cognitive decline over the years of follow-up compared to participants who ate more of the Western diet. In addition, researchers found that these Western diet consumers did not experience any beneficial effects from periods when they did consume healthy food but then reverted back to their previous diet.
Future longitudinal studies on diet and cognition among the middle-aged population are needed to extend these findings. But in the meantime, the more we can incorporate green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, berries, olive oil, and fish into our diets, the better it is for our aging brains and bodies.
Religion could be a coping mechanism
Psychological and religious coping mechanisms are very similar, according to research published in the Journal of Religion and Health.
Researchers wanted to determine whether religious people rely on, and benefit from, a coping strategy that closely resembles cognitive reappraisal, or when an individual finds comfort in framing the situation in a more positive light. To do so, they recruited 203 participants with no clinical diagnoses of depression or anxiety. Fifty-seven of the study subjects also answered questions about their level of religiosity or spirituality.
Researchers found that people who used religious coping also tended to have decreased anxiety or depressive symptoms. Specifically, cognitive reappraisal and coping self-efficacy contributed to those decreased symptoms of distress.
The takeaway: When helping a patient or a caregiver cope with distress, knowing if they are religious or not may help you suggest a framework of how to look at the situation.
Marijuana versus tobacco smoking: What you should know
With five more states legalizing marijuana use during the November election, there is a renewed interest in the potential health risks of marijuana smoking. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same toxic combustion products found in tobacco smoke, and a new EClinicalMedicine study is the first to compare chemical exposure from marijuana and tobacco smoking.
Specifically, researchers report that people who smoked only marijuana had several smoke-related toxic chemicals in their blood and urine, but at lower levels than those who smoked both tobacco and marijuana or tobacco only. Two of those chemicals, acrylonitrile and acrylamide, are known to be toxic at high levels.
The investigators also found that exposure to acrolein, a chemical produced by the combustion of various materials and a known contributor of CVD, increases with tobacco smoking but not marijuana smoking. These findings suggest that high levels of acrolein may increase cardiovascular disease risk and that reducing exposure, especially through smoking cessation, may help lower CVD risk.
ONE BIG NUMBER
The ambient temperature nurses experience while wearing PPE over three hours, according to a report in Temperature. Wearing cooling vests may help mitigate the heat stress this causes, suggest researchers.
Here’s some exercise motivation.