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Mediterranean diet may prevent age-related blindness

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A Mediterranean diet might significantly reduce risks of a major cause of blindness or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a new study has suggested.

A Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating less meat and more fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains, and olive oil. Mediterranean diet favors vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, olive oil and fish over meat.

Poor diet is emerging as an important factor in the development of a degenerative eye disease called age-related macular degeneration.

A large collaboration of researchers from the European Union investigating the connection between genes and lifestyle on the development of AMD has found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet cut their risk of late-stage AMD by 41 percent.

The findings were published online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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Previous research has linked it to a longer lifespan and a reduced incidence of heart disease and cognitive decline. But only a few studies have evaluated its impact on AMD.

“You are what you eat,” said Dr Emily Chew, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an adviser to the research group that conducted the study.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 5,000 people, aged 55 and older, in the Netherlands. Those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet were 41 percent less likely to develop late-stage AMD than those who did not follow the diet.

The study found that, on their own, none of those individual components reduced the risk of late-stage AMD. Rather, it was the overall diet that significantly reduced the risk.

“Chronic diseases, such as AMD, dementia, obesity and diabetes, all have roots in poor dietary habits. It’s time to take quitting a poor diet as seriously as quitting smoking,” Chew said in an academy news release.

However, the study cannot prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Agencies

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Suicide can’t be predicted by asking about suicidal thoughts : Study

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Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a major Australian study has found.

The findings, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, Sydney that published in the journal BJPsych Open The meta-analysis challenge the widely-held assumption that psychiatrists can predict who will suicide by asking if they are preoccupied with thoughts of killing themselves.

The study showed that 80% of patients who were not undergoing psychiatric treatment and who died of suicide reported not to have suicidal thoughts when asked by their psychiatrist or GP.

“If you meet someone who has suicidal ideation there is a 98 per cent chance that they are not going to suicide,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital.

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“But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he added.

“This study proves we can no longer ration psychiatric care based on the presence of suicidal thoughts alone. We need to provide high-quality, patient-centred care for everyone experiencing mental illness, whether or not they reveal they are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Professor Large said.

About one in 10 people will have suicidal ideation in their lifetime. But the study showed suicidal ideation alone was not rational grounds for deciding who gets treatment and who does not, Professor Large said.

“We know that suicide feeling is pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” Professor Large added.

Suicidal ideation tells us an awful lot about how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, sometimes their diagnosis and their need for treatment but it’s not a meaningful test of future behaviour.

Suicidal feelings can fluctuate rapidly and people may suicide very impulsively after only a short period of suicidal thoughts.

But, people had good reasons not to disclose thoughts of suicide, fearing stigma, triggering over-reactions or upsetting family and friends, and being involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment, Professor Large said.

Professor Large emphasized that clinicians should not assume that patients experiencing mental distress without reporting suicidal ideas were not at elevated risk of suicide.

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