Our bodies host a huge population of microorganisms, dubbed the human microbiome. In recent years, the makeup of critters in our guts has been linked to a plethora of conditions, including depression, heart disease and obesity. And now bug-friendly scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have presented initial findings from the American Gut Project, a crowdsourced initiative that analyzes people’s survey responses and faecal samples to better understand how things like diet, lifestyle and disease affect the human microbiome.

Using data from 11,336 citizens across 45 countries, the researchers discovered that plant-based foods appear to be good news for our gut microbiome. People who ate more than 30 types of plant foods per week had a greater diversity of bugs than those who consumed 10 or fewer types of plant foods weekly. The makeup of plant foods, including fibre, is likely what spurs a more robust and diverse population of microbes.

The project leaders still don’t know what, if any, impact this uptick in microbiota diversity could have on long-term health, but in the meantime, it’s not a bad idea to work more plant-based foods into our daily menus. A good place to start is with walnuts: A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate 42 grams of walnuts (about one-third of a cup) daily for 3 weeks had more beneficial bacteria—including Faecalibacterium—in their digestive tracts than they did after a 3-week period when they did not eat walnuts. It appears the bacteria hunger for the fats and fibre found in walnuts.

Article from Ideafit by Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Could a cure for depression be found in a resistance class (such as body conditioning or pump)?

Data from a study published in JAMA Psychiatry (2018; 75 [6], 566–76) points to that conclusion. The meta-analysis of 33 clinical trials, featuring 1,877 participants, found a link between resistance training (RET) and a reduction in depressive symptoms.

While this study did not try to determine precisely how weight training might affect depression, Brett Gordon, MS, study author and postgraduate researcher for the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick, Ireland, offered some suggestions:

“Cognitive and psychological mechanisms [could] include the expectancy of improved mental health following exercise, social interaction and social support, and improved cognitive control. Neurobiological theories involve systems that [influence] both how depression develops and how exercise affects the brain.”

The study also found that improvements occurred regardless of training volume, a detail Gordon believes could be investigated further.

“Although a lack of consistent reporting limited our ability to more thoroughly examine features of the exercise stimulus, this finding is consistent with previous research examining the effect of RET on anxiety,” he says. “Future trials are needed to explore the optimal RET routine for improving depressive symptoms.”

Article from Ideafit’s Ryan Halvorson.

We’ve all just enjoyed and possibly over-indulged this Christmas and New Year! It’s a wonderful time to relax, spend time with loved ones and enjoy yourself so it’s to be expected that now clothing might be feeling a bit too tight for comfort! I know that I’m going to enjoy wearing a slightly baggier t-shirt to workout in over the next few weeks! If that’s you too, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s been shown that you’re likely to put on roughly 5 to 7 pounds over the winter months and festive period.

At this time of year it’s very easy to pile on a few pounds…

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I suggested she was “amazing” because of her latest bone density scan results (they are AMAZING) – here is her reply via email:

“I am not amazing Annabel – as I may have told you, I am a breast cancer survivor, and the battle never leaves you. I worked in an office for 43 years (and enjoyed my work immensely) but sitting at a desk and working long days, left little time for exercise (I used to do what I could, when I could) and made every effort to walk many miles with my husband at weekends.

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