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'Nutritional geometry' considers how mixtures of nutrients and other dietary components influence health and disease, rather than focusing on any one nutrient in isolation. It is hoped this new model will assist health professionals, dietitians and researchers to better understand and manage the complexities of obesity.
"Our framework throws down the gauntlet to the whole field of human nutrition. It shows that the prevailing focus on single nutrients is not able to help us understand complex chronic diseases, and that an approach based on nutrient balance can help solve the problem," said Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre.
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Recent evidence suggests that pregnancy induces changes in the human brain, too. In a study published a few months ago in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Elseline Hoekzema of Leiden University in the Netherlands and colleagues scanned the brains of about 80 women and men, half of them hoping to become parents. The couples who wanted to have a baby were scanned before pregnancy, then again if they got pregnant, after the baby was born and when the baby turned 2.
Women who became pregnant between the scanning sessions showed neural changes so distinct that a computer could distinguish between pregnant and nonpregnant women based on their brain scans alone. The heightened estrogen and progesterone hormones of pregnancy trimmed back some “gray matter”—the cell branches that connect neurons to each other-—which has the effect of sharpening, not diminishing, mental capacities. The neural pathways that remain are streamlined and strengthened in the process.