IU Dentistry serves smiles to Ronald McDonald House families

This past fall, our Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) ASDA chapter partnered with our local Ronald McDonald House to serve families who are displaced while their seriously ill or injured child receives care at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. We helped provide home-cooked meals for families on a monthly basis, interacting with them and spreading information about our resources at IUSD, which is located across the street. These dinners also served as a time for the family members to share their child’s story and connect with other parents who may be going through similar experiences.

We established this programming because we recognized the need for volunteers at our local Ronald McDonald House, and with the facility being only a short walk away from the dental school, it became a no-brainer in terms of getting dental students and the dental school more involved.

One of the toughest parts of the dinners was hearing some of the heart-wrenching stories from the families. For example, one family had multiple other children at home over four hours away. We listened to how they balanced time between being with their child who was receiving treatment at Riley Hospital and tending to their other children at home. As a dental student, it is so easy to get caught up in the exams, crown preps and denture projects that we may forget about the hardships others are facing right in our backyard. Partnering with and serving at Ronald McDonald House taught us how to be a little kinder and more open to listening to and comforting those in need.

My experience at our dinners was always heart-warming and meaningful. Watching my fellow students come together in the kitchen to serve those away from their home for several weeks or even months allowed me to see how much can be accomplished when a group works together and how big of a difference just a warm meal can make.

It is important to continue outreach to displaced populations such as the families at the Ronald McDonald Houses. For children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing is scarier than not having family nearby for love and support. Ronald McDonald Houses provide places for families to call home so they can be near their child at little to no cost.

My advice for a student wanting to start their own outreach project for displaced populations is to tap into local resources to see how you can collaborate to give back. You can make an even bigger difference when multiple organizations come together united. In addition, be creative and optimistic, realizing that no matter how small or large the project is, ultimately, a difference is being made. This event has impacted my understanding of oral health by illustrating to me how without outreach events, those in the community who may need care the most might not know about it or receive it.

One thing I wish I’d known earlier about the event was how much the families at the Ronald McDonald House truly appreciated the meals and the interactions. I had no idea how meaningful this work would be, and I found that sometimes a parent just needed someone to listen to them. Participating in this event as a health care provider taught me how to truly get to know people in the community who are struggling in some of the most challenging aspects of life, having an ill or injured child. This event illustrated the importance of a group of volunteers coming together for a cause and making a difference in the lives of those displaced from their homes.

~Sydney Twiggs, Indiana ’21

ASDA thanks Colgate for their exclusive sponsorship of the National Outreach Initiative. This backing includes funding for the Dentistry in the Community Grant and free oral health care supplies to any chapter that requests them.

This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.

This content was originally published here.

Vegan and Plant-Based Diets Worsen Brain Health

Summary: Eating a vegan or plant-based diet can be bad for your brain health, especially if you already have a low choline intake, researchers report.

Source: BMJ

The momentum behind a move to plant-based and vegan diets for the good of the planet is commendable, but risks worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health, warns a nutritionist in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr. Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specializing in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr. Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The image is in the public domain.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
BMJ
Media Contacts:
Press Office – BMJ
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Could we be overlooking a potential choline crisis in the United Kingdom?

Choline can be likened to omega-3 fatty acids in that it is an ‘essential’ nutrient that cannot be produced by the body in amounts needed for human requirements. The United States (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)2 recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values. The American Medical Association3 in 2017 published new advice stating that prenatal vitamin supplements should contain “evidenced-based” amounts of choline. Similarly the American Academy of Paediatrics4 5 (from 2018) called on paediatricians to move beyond simply recommending a “good diet” and to make sure that pregnant women and young children have access to food that provides adequate amounts of “brain-building” nutrients with choline being listed as one of these. Unfortunately, in the UK choline is not yet included in food composition databases, main nutrition surveys nor official recommendations. The present article discusses the current choline situation and explains why more needs to be done to include and monitor this essential nutrient in the UK.

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This content was originally published here.