Vegetarians might have higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, study says, according to Nina, Avramova for, 4 September 2019.

Vegetarians and vegans may be at a higher risk of stroke than their meat-eating counterparts — although those who don’t eat meat have a lower chance of coronary heart disease, according to the new paper, published in the medical journal the BMJ on Wednesday.
“It does seem that the lower risk of coronary heart diseases does exceed the higher risk of stroke, if we look at the absolute numbers,” said lead researcher Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford. The research found that vegetarians and vegans had a 20% higher risk of stroke than meat-eaters.  The exact reasons for this higher risk found in vegetarians are not clear, said Tong. It is possible that this is due to “very low cholesterol levels or very low levels of some nutrients,” she said.
Still, some researchers were skeptical of the stroke finding.  The research shows that people who cut out meat from their diet are significantly healthier than meat eaters, Dr. Malcolm Finlay, consultant cardiologist at Barts Heart Centre, Queen Mary University of London, told the Science Media Center.  But he said the study put “too much weight on a complex statistical method to try and correct for the fact that the vegetarians were very much healthier than meat eaters.”

Let’s take a look at antidepressants … how they work and how they affect the gut bacteria.

External stimuli may affect how well antidepressants work was reported by Maria Cohut for, 9 September 2019.  Antidepressants are more effective for some people than they are for others, but what factors influence how well they work? Research in mice suggests that exposure to external stimuli may play a key role. 

Silvia Poggini, Ph.D., and Prof. Igor Branchi, alongside other colleagues from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, Italy have conducted some preliminary research in a mouse model of depression that — if replicated successfully in humans — may bring a possibly surprising answers.  Exposure to a stressful versus a relaxing environment, they say, could affect certain molecular mechanisms, influencing how well antidepressants perform. These mechanisms are those of inflammation and neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change and adapt.  Poggini and Prof. Branchi recently presented the results of their experiments through a talk and a poster at this year’s European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The work shows that neuroplasticity and inflammation are interdependent and that to provide the right conditions for the antidepressant to work, inflammation need[s] to be tightly controlled,” says Prof. Branchi.  “We found that neural plasticity in the brain was high as long as we were able to keep inflammation under control. But both too high and too low inflammation levels meant that the neural plasticity was reduced — in line with the reduced efficacy of antidepressants in mice with altered levels of inflammation,” notes Poggini.  More generally, this work shows us that SSRI antidepressants are not one-size-fits-all drugs and that we should look at other options for improving drug response.

Read more:  External stimuli may affect how well antidepressants work


How do antidepressants affect gut bacteria? was written by Ana Sandoiu for, 10 September 2019. 

A recent study that Medical News Today has reported on listed a range of bacteria that contribute to creating neuroactive compounds in the gut — that is, substances that interact with the nervous system, influencing the likelihood of developing depression.  Other research in mice has shown that rodents bred to be germ-free develop symptoms of anxiety and depression and become socially withdrawn.

Researchers led by Sofia Cussotto, from University College Cork, in Ireland, published the first part of their results last year in the journal Psychopharmacology. They have now presented their full findings at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

They found that lithium and valproate — which are both mood stabilizers that can treat conditions such as bipolar disorder — raised the numbers of certain types of bacteria, such as Clostridium, Peptoclostridium, Intestinibacter, and Christenellaceae.

By contrast, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as the antidepressants fluoxetine and escitalopram, stopped the growth of bacterial strains such as Escherichia coli.

“Given that antidepressants, for example, work on some people but not others, making an allowance for [the] microbiome may change an individual’s response to antidepressants. On the other hand, microbiome-targeting effects might be responsible for the side effects associated with these medications,” Sofia Cussotto said.

Read more:  How do antidepressants affect gut bacteria?

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