It’s now 2020, the start of a New Year, and for many people that means following a set of resolutions, one of the most common of which will be to lose weight over the next 12 months. But if you’re keen to shed some pounds in 2020, don’t try to do it using fad diets because they don’t work and can even be harmful, says NHS England’s top doctor. Speaking about diet pills, "tea-toxes" and appetite suppressant products, Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said they are not quick fixes. Furthermore, they can even cause side effects, such as diarrhea and heart issues, he added. How to spot a fad diet? Well, according to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), any diet that promises rapid weight loss of more than 2lbs (0.9kg) of body fat a week should be viewed with caution. If it sounds too good to be true, then it more than likely is – despite any celebrity recommendations it might have. The best way to get in shape safely is through sensible eating and regular exercise. Professor Powis also warned the public against using so-called ‘party drips’ as quick fix hangover cures. These nutrient therapy IV drips are usually made up of saline solution, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin C. But some individuals can react badly to them and, in the most serious cases, death can occur due to a toxic overdose.
A new way of cooling human livers could significantly extend the time they can be kept ahead of an organ transplant By supercooling livers to -4C, researchers have been able to triple their viable lifespan to more than one day. It could revolutionise the way organs are stored in the future and allow even more people to benefit from transplants. The team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School pioneered the technology using rats’ livers five years ago. The tiny livers were supercooled, while nutrients and oxygen were pumped around their blood vessels. But developing the technique to work with human organs wasn’t without its challenges. Because they are much larger, human livers are at greater risk of ice crystals forming, which can rupture cells and kill tissue. To overcome this, the researchers used protective agents to prevent the livers from freezing. As a result, they were able to extend their viable lifespans to 27 hours – a significant increase on the current nine hours when organs are stored on ice. Once brought back up to temperature, the livers were found to function normally and also responded as expected when connected to an artificial blood supply. One of the researchers, Dr Reinier de Vries, said: “This is a big breakthrough in organ preservation. “This is the first time that we actually show that it is feasible to preserve human organs at sub-zero temperatures.”
Drinking red wine (in moderation) could be good for your gut, according to researchers from the UK. The team from King’s College London says red wine contains compounds that help increase the number of different types of bacteria that live in the gut. The micronutrients, known as polyphenols, are more abundant in red wine vs. beer, cider and white wine, and act as fuel for microbes living inside the bowel. Polyphenols are found in many fruits and vegetables, including the grapes used to make red wine. The researchers say even just one glass of red wine a fortnight can make a difference, but warn that their findings should not be used as an excuse to binge drink. Publishing its research in the journal Gastroenterology, the team said the “friendly” bugs in our gut help keep us healthy. Even small changes in our gut microbiota – the community of bugs that live there – can make us more susceptible to conditions like obesity, heart disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The gut microbiota of people who drink red wine was found to be more diverse than that of those who do not drink wine. Furthermore, the more wed wine consumed, the greater the levels of diversity – although it’s important to note that nobody involved in the trial was a heavy drinker. Speaking about the findings of their research, Dr Caroline Le Roy said: “If you must choose one alcoholic drink today, red wine is the one to pick as it seems to potentially exert a beneficial effect on you and your gut microbes, which in turn may also help weight and risk of heart disease.”
By adding just a handful of nuts to their daily diet, men could improve their sexual function, a study suggests. The 14-week trial, which involved 83 men split into two groups, found that adding 60 grams of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts to a Western-style diet benefitted sexual function. Reporting their findings in the journal Nutrients, the authors of the study said the group of men who ate the extra nuts each day showed significant increases in two measures of erectile and sexual function: orgasmic function and sexual desire. A previous analysis of the trial data in 2018 yielded signs that eating more nuts also improves sperm quality. “Including nuts in a regular diet significantly improved auto-reported orgasmic function and sexual desire,” the Spanish researchers concluded. They are now calling for further, large-scale studies to determine the effect of eating nuts on sexual function – especially as separate research found that consuming pistachios helped improve erectile function. The theory is that pistachios, like many other nuts, contain antioxidants and arginine, a powerful compound that increases vasodilatation. So, if you are not easily able to follow a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and nuts, you could still reap some of the sexual function rewards by adding just a handful of nuts to your daily diet.
Scientists have developed a heart patch from millions of living, beating stem cells that could help heal heart attack damage. Grown in a lab from a sample of a patient’s own stem cells, the patches are sewn on to the heart and subsequently turn into healthy, working muscle. After three days, the patches start to beat, and after one month, they mimic mature heart tissue. They also release chemicals that stimulate the repair and regeneration of existing heart cells. Tests involving rabbits showed that the patches appear safe and led to an improvement in the function of the heart following a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when a clogged artery leads to the flow of oxygen blood to the heart muscle being disrupted. This causes the heart to be starved of oxygen and vital nutrients, resulting in its pumping power being damaged. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the patches could one day provide an off-the-shelf treatment for patients who have experienced a heart attack. Clinical trials involving humans are set to begin within two years. Speaking about the patches, Researcher Dr Richard Jabbour said: “One day, we hope to add heart patches to the treatments that doctors can routinely offer people after a heart attack. “We could prescribe one of these patches alongside medicines for someone with heart failure, which you could take from a shelf and implant straight in to a person.”
Many people do not get all the nutrients they need from food and so take supplements to compensate. It’s something that’s worth an absolute fortune to the companies that produce them, with people spending around $30 billion per year on supplements in the United States alone. But new research shows that nutrients from supplements are not as good as those from food and that the latter is linked to a lower risk of all-cause mortality and cancer. According to the research paper, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, many people would be much better off spending money on fruit and vegetables instead of supplements. By analysing data from 27,725 participants in the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, found that supplements do not afford the same benefits as eating different foods. For example, getting enough vitamin K from leafy greens and magnesium from legumes, nuts and whole grains was associated with a lower mortality rate. However, consuming 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium in supplement form was associated with a higher cancer risk, while getting excess calcium from food wasn’t. Speaking about the findings of the research, Fang Fang Zhang of Tufts University and study senior author, said: “Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements.” In other words, while supplements can help people who cannot get certain nutrients from foods due to allergies, they are not a silver bullet for health.
People all over the world routinely sit down to eat breakfast every day. And while menus and traditions vary depending on where you are, many people are in agreement that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” That’s because it provides the body with the energy and nutrients needed to start the day. But what bearing does eating breakfast each day have when you are trying to lose weight? Well, according to a new study – the findings of which were published in the BMJ - the answer is not a lot at all. In fact, not only did the study find no evidence that eating breakfast aids weight loss, it also found that skipping breakfast doesn’t have a negative effect and isn’t linked to people feeling hungrier. For the study, the team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, analyzed 13 randomized controlled trials. They found that daily calorie intake was higher in individuals who ate breakfast than in those who didn’t. The authors concluded: “Although eating breakfast regularly could have other important effects, caution is needed when recommending breakfast for weight loss in adults, as it may have the opposite effect.” In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Eating or skipping breakfast has different effects depending on the person’s unique metabolism.
We recently wrote about how an exotic fish could help heal human hearts. Now, new research suggests that a rainforest vine compound is highly effective at killing treatment-resistant pancreatic cancer cells. Known for their ability to survive even the most inhospitable conditions, pancreatic cancer cells are notoriously difficult to kill. It’s one of the reasons why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat and why the condition usually has a poor outlook. Indeed, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is just 12-24 percent. However, researchers from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany and the Institute of Natural Medicine at the University of Toyama in Japan have discovered that a compound found in a Congolese rainforest plant can make pancreatic cancer cells susceptible to nutrient starvation. The compound, ancistrolikokine E3, has anti-austerity properties and inhibits the Akt/mTOR pathway of pancreatic cancer cells. It’s this pathway that enables these cancer cells to thrive even under conditions of low nutrients and oxygen – an ability in the cancer field known as ‘austerity.’ While more research is needed, the compound is seen as promising for the development of future anticancer drugs.
Most people are familiar with the phrase, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but what about an egg a day? New research suggests that a daily egg may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Despite sometimes getting a bad press for their high cholesterol content, eggs, it seems, could help us steer clear of cardiovascular conditions, according to research published in the journal Heart. For their study, researchers from the School of Public Health at Peking University Health Science Centre in Beijing, China analysed survey data relating to more than 500,000 individuals. Of those individuals, 461,213 were free from cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes at baseline. Egg consumption among the study participants was noted and the individuals were followed up with after a median period of 8.9 years. The researchers' found that individuals who usually ate about one egg per day had a 26% lower risk of experiencing hemorrhagic stroke; a 28% lower risk of death due to this type of event; and an 18% lower risk of CVD-related mortality. Current NHS guidelines in the UK relating to egg consumption state: "although eggs contain some cholesterol, the amount of saturated fat we eat has more of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the cholesterol we get from eating eggs". So, in other words, it’s not eggs that are necessarily the problem when it comes to cholesterol, but rather how you cook them. Indeed, eggs are a great source of healthful nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, phospholipids, and carotenoids.
The food you eat could influence the growth rate and spread of cancer, a new study has found. According to scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, breast tumours in mice struggled to grow without the dietary nutrient asparagine, which is found in asparagus, poultry, seafood and many other foods. When mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer were placed on a low-asparagine diet or given drugs to block the amino acid, their tumours struggled to spread. Scientists hope to be able to take advantage of cancer’s so-called culinary addictions in the future and develop new treatments based on certain foods. Prof Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "Interestingly, the drug L-asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is dependent on asparagine. "It's possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients." But before you ban asparagus from your home, be aware that more research is needed, including trials in humans. Also, because asparagine is present in so many foods, it is almost impossible to avoid. Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said people should not drastically alter their diets as a result of this research. "We don't recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors,” she said.
There are all sorts of diets out there, but a certain type in particular could be a "ticking time bomb" for young people's bone health, according to a leading charity in the UK. Dairy-free diets, which see the amount of dairy consumed significantly reduced or cut out completely, says the National Osteoporosis Society, are putting people's health at risk. That's because milk and other dairy products are important sources of calcium, which boosts bone strength. A survey by the charity found that a fifth of under-25s are cutting out or reducing dairy in their diet. Furthermore, its findings suggest many young people are seeking and following dietary advice they find online. While some of this advice can be good, the charity warns that some individuals are restricting what they eat too much. Prof Susan Lanham-New, head of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey and clinical advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society, said: "Diet in early adulthood is so important because by the time we get into our late 20s it is too late to reverse the damage caused by poor diet and nutrient deficiencies and the opportunity to build strong bones has passed." In the UK, the Department of Health recommends 700mg of calcium a day for adults and pregnant women, but that increases to 1,000mg a day for boys and girls between 11 and 18. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the human body and helps to regulate metabolism, promote healthy bones and teeth, controls muscle contraction and blood clotting, and transmits information via the nervous system.
People have long lauded the health benefits of eating walnuts, but now a new study has found that consuming them on a daily basis can help keep age-related health issues at bay. This week, at a health conference in San Diego, the initial findings of the two-year Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study were presented. Involving some 707 healthy adults - who were split into two groups - the clinical trial saw one group eating walnuts for 15% of their daily calorific intake, while the other group ate none. After a year, both groups were found to have gained a similar amount of weight and have similar levels of triglycerides and HDL (otherwise known as 'good' cholesterol). However, the walnut-eating group experienced significant LDL (or 'bad') cholesterol reductions. Dr Emilio Ros, the director of the Lipid clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, which carried out the research in conjunction with Loma Linda University, said: "Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of ageing adults. "It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population." The researchers now want to see whether walnuts have a positive impact on other age-related health issues, such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
When it comes to eating out, many people assume that a nice meal in a restaurant would be considerably healthier than grabbing something at a fast food outlet. However, according to a new study, eating at either establishment can lead to far more calories being consumed than eating a home-prepared meal. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found that Americans who ate out, whether at a full-service restaurant or fast food outlet, typically consumed 200 calories more per day than when they ate at home. Study author Ruopeng An said: "These findings reveal that eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet. In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast food." The study analysed the eating habits of some 18,098 Americans using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2010. Perhaps surprisingly, individuals who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol than those who ate at home – up to 58mg per day more in some cases. Despite the increased cholesterol intake, though, people who ate at full-service restaurants also consumed more healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. The study also revealed that eating out at restaurants increased a person’s daily sodium intake. This is also worrying as many Americans already consume above the upper recommended sodium limit on a daily basis and this poses several health concerns, such as heart disease and hypertension. So the next time you’re in a restaurant and deciding what to eat, think twice before ordering something that is going to have a detrimental effect on your health.
A new study has found that the essential vitamin B12 could trigger outbreaks of acne in susceptible people. The essential nutrient, which is found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, is thought to alter the activity of skin bacteria and that leads to spots and pimples appearing on the skin. Now you may be thinking that this sounds familiar and that’s because vitamin pills have long been associated with acne flare-ups, but until now this phenomenon remained unexplained. It’s hoped that the findings of the research will now lead to the development of new acne treatments and reveal more about why some people develop spots when they take vitamin B12 supplements. The study found that the vitamin affects the metabolism of the bacteria that causes acne. As a result, it secretes an inflammatory compound which triggers spots. The US-based team, led by Dr Huiyang Li, from the University of California, reported their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine: “Our findings suggest a new bacterial pathogenesis pathway in acne and provide one molecular explanation for the long-standing clinical observation that vitamin B12 supplementation leads to acne development in a subset of individuals. “Our study... provided evidence that... interactions between the host and the skin microbiota play essential roles in disease development.” Photo credit: Zliving
Trans fat has long had a bad reputation for playing havoc with your cholesterol because it raises your LDL (the bad stuff) and lowers your HDL (the good stuff). But now a new study has revealed that it could also have a detrimental effect on your memory. The study found that young men who ate high levels of trans fats scored poorly on a simple memory test compared to their peers who consumed lower levels. More specifically, the young men with high daily trans fat intakes remembered 12 to 21 fewer words. Lead study author Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said: "It's a pretty sizeable relationship. This adds to a body of evidence that trans fats are not something that people should be sticking in their mouth." Coincidentally, Dr. Golomb’s study appeared the day after the US Food and Drug Administration announced that partially-hydrogenated oils – one of the primary sources of trans fats – would be phased out over a three-year period. "The purpose of food is to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly," said Golomb. "This actually does the opposite. It subverts cellular and organ function." It’s important to note, however, that the study did not find a direct link between trans fats and memory, but instead shows a potential association. Additional reading: The 22 Worst Foods for Trans Fat Photo credit: Live Trading News
With summer almost upon us, and many parts of Europe already experiencing beautiful warm weather, it’s important to remember that your body is more likely to use the important nutrients it stores to remain at optimum health. So follow this brief guide to make sure you feel at your best during the summer months: 1. Drink plenty of water. This is particularly important if you’re in an extreme hot climate at any point. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol as these will only make you dehydrate which can lead to loss of strength and stamina, and in severe cases it can affect your kidney function resulting in painful kidney stones. 2. Eat raw foods. Summertime brings an abundance of superb fresh produce ready to pick from the tree or ground – or buy from the super market! But wherever you get it, make your mealtimes as colourful as possible. And the less you cook this fresh produce, the better it is foryour health. Your body will take all the goodness and nutrients on offer to help revitalise and energise you. 3. Get active outdoors. Ditch the gym membership and get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and vitamin D. Both will invigorate your body and help clear your mind from your everyday stresses and worries. Of course, if you are unwell during this time and need a consultation or treatment, contact ourInternational Patient Services team who are on hand to make your medical plan easier. Photo credit: © vinzoun - Fotolia.com
Many people follow strict eating regimes before any surgery, be it minor or major. However, few people realise that what you eat after surgery is just as important. This is because surgery is a major trauma on our bodies and as such, they have to significantly repair themselves following any surgical procedure. This is why it’s vital that you give your body everything it needs during this crucial healing stage. Many people think that because they will inevitably be inactive following surgery they should reduce their calorie intake. The opposite, however, is often true and post-surgery patients need additional essential calories and nutrients to facilitate the reparation process. Protein It’s important that you follow a balanced diet after surgery, but one of the key components of this has to be protein. Muscles are often damaged or disturbed during surgery and need protein in order to heal. That’s why it’s important to fill your diet with foods like poultry, meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, beans and nuts. Alternatively, you can use protein supplements to boost your intake and aid the muscle healing process. Vitamins Furthermore, there are a number of vitamins that are vital for the healing process. For example, vitamin C aids in soft tissue repair and vitamin E is important in antioxidant defence. Some individuals may be prescribed vitamin supplements by their medical professional, but the best source, of course, is from food. Almonds, wheat germ, peanuts, sunflower seeds and plant oils are all loaded with vitamin E, while strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and bell peppers contain high levels of vitamin C. Whatever your surgery, it’s important that you don’t shy away from food. The surgeons have done their bit and now it’s time for you to do yours. Photo credit: © NOBU - Fotolia.com
There are many reasons why you should opt to lead a healthy life. Not just for your own benefit, but for that of those around you. In today’s modern life, a combination of lack of time and processed foods are all too commonplace, making it ‘acceptable’ to take the easy road when it comes to your health. But at what cost? The stats say it all - a recent UK Think Tank survey states that the number of overweight and obese adults in the developing world has almost quadrupled to around one billion since 1980. But it’s not too late to start leading a healthier lifestyle. By putting simple steps in place, you and your family can enjoy a long and healthy life together. Top 5 reasons to choose a healthier lifestyle: 1. To be able to fight infections more easily. By eating a healthy balanced diet your body is getting the full range of nutrients it needs to build a solid defence against harmful bacteria. 2. To have reduced body fat. Eating a healthy balanced diet regularly throughout the day will mean your body is continually getting the right proportion of carbs, fats and protein. This in turn ensures your metabolism runs efficiently without the need to store fat – which can occur through dieting or missed meals – so your body fat levels remain normal. 3. To have more energy. As a result of eating a balanced diet and maintaining normal body fat your energy levels will soar. Your body’s internal organs are being given the correct nutrients to function at an optimum level which in turn keeps you alert, active and energised. 4. To sleep better. When your body remains active and alert throughout the day it will naturally need time to recharge at night, so you get a great night’s sleep! 5. To have reduced stress. A combination of a balanced diet, eating regularly, reducing your body fat and having increased energy levels, will calm the body and mind to reduce stress. Photo credit: © kikkerdirk - Fotolia.com