NeuRA Magazine #28


Multiple studies have found that the food we eat can significantly affect our risk of cognitive impairment. One diet in particular, the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, has demonstrated notable correlations with improved brain health and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

What is the MIND diet?

As the name implies, the MIND diet is derived from the Mediterranean and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. The MIND diet emphasises healthy eating habits with a focus on categories such as nuts, berries, leafy green vegetables, other vegetables, wine, beans, fish, poultry, whole grains and olive oil. It also limits food from unhealthy categories such as fried food, pastries, sweets, butter or margarine, red meat and cheese.

Multiple research studies have looked into whether the MIND diet helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Of a cohort of 960 older adults, researchers found that high adherence to the MIND diet was connected to a slowing down of cognitive decline that typically occurs with ageing.

Find out more

Read our blog: Top 10 foods for reducing your risk of dementia

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Abdominal muscle stimulation to improve bowel function in spinal cord injury

Bowel complications, resulting from impaired bowel function, are common for people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). As a result, people with a SCI have high rates of bowel related illness, even compared with those with other neurological disorders. This includes high rates of abdominal pain, constipation, faecal incontinence and bloating. These problems lower the quality of life of people with a SCI and place a financial burden on the health system. A treatment that improves bowel function for people with a SCI should reduce illness, improve quality of life and lead to a large cost saving for health care providers. Bowel problems have traditionally been managed with manual and pharmacological interventions, such as digital rectal stimulation, enemas, and suppositories. These solutions are usually only partially effective, highlighting the need for improved interventions. The abdominal muscles are one of the major muscle groups used during defecation. Training the abdominal muscles should improve bowel function by increasing abdominal pressure. During our previous Abdominal FES research with people with a SCI, we observed that Abdominal FES appeared to lead to more consistent and effective bowel motion. However, this evidence remains anecdotal. As such, we are going to undertake a large randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Abdominal FES to improve the bowel function of people with a SCI. This study will make use of a novel measurement system (SmartPill, Medtronic) that can be swallowed to measure whole gut and colonic transit time. We will also assess whether Abdominal FES can change constipation-related quality of life and the use of laxatives and manual procedures, as well as the frequency of defecation and the time taken. A positive outcome from this study is likely to lead to the rapid clinical translation of this technology for people living with a SCI.