Alliedhealthcare Headline Animator

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The best antidote to mental decline

A DAILY bowl of strawberries and blueberries may help slow age-related mental decline, research suggests.
Regular consumption of the fruits can delay cognitive ageing by up to 2.5 years, according to information collected from almost 16,000 women.
Scientists in the US analysed health and lifestyle data from the Nurses' Health Study which recruited almost 122,000 registered nurses aged 30 to 55 in 1976.
Between 1995 and 2001, mental ability was measured in 16,010 of the women who were older than 70.
Those who had consumed larger amounts of strawberries and blueberries appeared to experience slower mental decline.
Strawberries and blueberries are rich in flavonoid chemicals that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Study leader Dr Elizabeth Devore, from Harvard Medical Schoolin Boston, said: "We provide the first epidemiologic evidence that berries may slow progression of cognitive decline in elderly women.
"Our findings have significant public health implications as increasing berry intake is a fairly simple dietary modification to test cognition protection in older adults."
The findings are published in the journal Annals of Neurology.
Despite adjusting for influencing factors, the researchers said they could not rule out the possibility of some effect from other lifestyle choices such as exercise.
Dr Eric Karran, from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "Population studies like this can provide useful clues about the effects of lifestyle and diet on cognition but we must be sensible when interpreting the results. The study suggests a link between eating berries and slower cognitive decline but there could be many factors at play.
"It is not possible to say whether the increased consumption of berries resulted in an increased, beneficial level of flavonoid antioxidants in the brain. Further research will be needed to conclude whether antioxidants in berries are beneficial in the brain and we can't assume that simply eating berries could protect against cognitive ageing or dementia."
"Understanding the factors that affect our memory and thinking as we age can help us to understand possible risk factors for dementia.
"Previous evidence has shown that eating fruit as part of a healthy diet in mid-life could help to reduce our risk of dementia and so eating a healthy balanced diet is something we should all be thinking about."
- John von Radowitz

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ten ways to create a mentally healthy workplace

Maintaining a healthy office environment involves more than simply providing benefits and fitness programs. The emotional well-being of your employees is just as important. Here are ten suggestions to help create a mentally healthy workplace:
1. Be proactive. Don’t sit back and wait for problems to come to you. Consider all the things that make your workplace what it is. Examine culture, norms, policies and expectations to find out what you can change to create an environment that’s conducive to promoting mental health.
2. Make it a priority. Mental health is an issue that is often overlooked by employers but it is a very real concern, as a growing number of employees find themselves overwhelmed by the pressures of their jobs, families and finances. In fact, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for people between the ages of 15 to 44. Studies have also shown definitively that mental health disorders – including depression, anxiety, burnout, substance abuse -- cost Canadian companies billions of dollars annually.
3. Be accessible. Be sure that any wellness program can be extended to all employees within your organization, regardless of location or work hours. With advancements in technology, resources such as an on-demand video training modules can provide employees and their family members with 24/7 access to expertise whenever and wherever they need it whether they are at work, at home or on the go on their mobile device.
4. Offer resources. Provide employees with credible sources of information on mental health topics. Easy-to-understand guidance can go long ways towards helping people cope. Sometimes even a five-minute audio or video segment can be enough to help employees.
5. Take a holistic view of mental health. Mental health is not just about diagnosed illnesses. It can also be about many factors that improve a person’s well being. Nutrition, fitness, and good sleep habits for example can play a key role in mental health and happiness.
6. Look beyond the workplace. Personal finances, work-life balance, parenting and elder care are all things employees need to cope with in their daily lives. When developing a wellness program, be sure to look at what resources you can offer to help them meet their personal as well as workplace challenges.
7. Break down the barriers. An employer can play an important role in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. There are plenty of educational resources available to help employers foster a more supportive and collaborative workplace.
8. Be front and centre. Make sure management is actively involved with your mental health messaging. Let employees know you recognize and understand the challenges they face, and that your management is there to support them. Where relevant, share personal experiences within an organization. Be sure to train all levels of management on mental health matters.
9. Watch and listen. Foster an environment where people are comfortable discussing wellness concerns; and listen to their feedback on the programs you’ve introduced. Their input is invaluable in ensuring that the supports you provide are effective.
10. Stay current. Workplace issues can shift from year to year. Make sure that any programs you develop are revisited at least annually so the content stays relevant.
Special to Globe and Mail Update