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Eating vegetables is better than taking supplements, finds research

16/04/2019

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.

Omega-3 fish oil supplements provide little vascular health benefit

24/07/2018

Do you take supplements containing omega-3 fish oil in the belief they are helping to protect your heart? A new study suggests you could be wasting your money. Researchers from Cochrane analysed trials involving more than 100,000 people and discovered little proof that omega-3 supplements prevented heart disease. In fact, they say the chance of getting any benefits from such supplements is one in 1,000. However, despite this, the researchers still maintain that eating oily fish as part of a healthy diet is beneficial. Indeed, NHS guidelines state that people should try to eat two portions of fish each week, one of which, ideally, should be oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or fresh tuna. This is so they get enough “good” fats. Speaking about the findings of the research, Prof Tim Chico, a cardiologist from Sheffield University, said: “There was a period where people who had suffered a heart attack were prescribed these on the NHS. This stopped some years ago. “Such supplements come with a significant cost, so my advice to anyone buying them in the hope that they reduce the risk of heart disease, I'd advise them to spend their money on vegetables instead.” Dr Lee Hooper, from the University of East Anglia, said: “The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega-3 fats on cardiovascular health.” Nevertheless, Dr Carrie Ruxton from the UK’s Health and Food Supplements Information Service said supplements containing omega-3 can still play an important role for people who don’t eat oily fish – especially as omega-3 also benefits the brain, eyes and immune function.

Slimming pills bought online can cause serious health problems, says medicines watchdog

05/12/2017

People who are overweight or obese will often do anything to help them lose weight and that includes taking food supplements, slimming teas and other so-called weight loss drugs. But now the UK’s medicines watchdog has issued a warning against the use of slimming pills bought online as they can cause serious health problems. A survey of 1,800 slimmers by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Slimming World found that one in three had bought weight loss pills online and two-thirds had experienced side-effects. When quizzed about why they had purchased such drugs online, 40% said it was because they had not wanted to speak to a GP or pharmacist. Some of the side-effects associated with slimming bills bought online include heart problems, blurred vision and diarrhoea. Some even contain banned ingredients. The MHRS has stressed that people should always go to their GPs for advice in the first instance. As part of its #FakeMeds campaign, the agency has also warned that buying from websites also increases the risk of being ripped off or having their identity stolen. MHRA senior policy manager Lynda Scammell said: "Quick fixes for losing weight may have serious health consequences in the short or long term, including organ failure and death. "It's essential you know what you're buying online and what the risks are. "If you don't, your weight could end up being the least of your worries."

Cravings for high-calorie foods can be reduced by gut bacteria-based supplement

07/07/2016

Most people get cravings for high-calories foods, such as chocolate and pizza, from time to time. But new research suggests that such cravings can be reduced by consuming a supplement called inulin-propionate ester. Researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow found that study participants who drank milkshakes containing the gut bacteria-based supplement were less likely to crave high-calorie foods. Presenting their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers said the supplement works by increasing the amount of propionate in the gut - a compound that is released naturally when a person consumes the fibre inulin, which is found in artichokes, bananas and asparagus. Inulin slows digestion, increase fullness and reduces appetite, and it is already used as a dietary supplement today. For the study, the researchers asked a group of 20 healthy men to drink milkshakes. Half of the group's milkshakes contained inulin-propionate ester, while the other half contained just inulin alone. The researchers then showed the men pictures of different foods; some high calorie, some low calorie. The study participants' brain activities were monitored throughout to see how they reacted to the various pictures. The group that drank the milkshakes containing inulin-propionate ester displayed reduced activity in their brains' reward centres - the caudate and the nucleus accumbens (both associated with food cravings) - but only when they were looking at images of high-calorie foods. In addition to being showed the food images, the men were then given equal-sized bowls of pasta and told to eat as much as they wanted. The inulin-propionate ester group consumed around 10% less than their inulin only counterparts. Dr. Douglas Morrison from the University of Glasgow, who co-authored the study, said that the research illustrates how important gut microbiota signals are for regulating appetite and influencing people's food choices.

Essential Vitamin Triggers Acne, says Study

30/06/2015

  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 

The Dos and Don’ts Following Gastric Band Surgery

03/07/2014

Gastric band surgery is a significant medical procedure and one that will ultimately change your life forever. That’s why you need to assess all the factors before you make the decision to proceed with gastric band surgery. However, while following medical advice leading up to your procedure is important, your aftercare is perhaps even more crucial. After all, you’ll be recovering from a major procedure and your body needs all the help it can get to heal correctly. It’s important that you adhere to strict dietary guidelines following your surgery. It’s of equal importance to take all-round good care of yourself. This is to allow the staple line in your stomach to be given a chance to heal, without being stretched through excessive eating or damaged by physical activity. Here are our top dos and don’ts following gastric band surgery: DON’T over exert yourself physically through lifting and stretching DO contact your medical professional if you have any concerns DON’T play with your stitches DO follow any advice given to you upon discharge DON’T expect to eat normally for quite some time DO drink plenty of fluids – 8 cups a day or as advised by your medical professional DON’T try and eat too much – your stomach will only be able to hold about one cup of food at a time DO eat protein-rich foods to help the healing process DON’T eat foods that are high-calorie or contain a lot of sugar DO chew your food thoroughly before swallowing DON’T eat too quickly DO ensure that you take recommended vitamin and mineral supplements You’re not going to be restricted forever, so it’s important that you take good care of yourself following your gastric band procedure. Find out more about Bariatric surgery and consider spending your vital recovery time in a beautiful country like France.

Foods that heal: optimise your nutrition following surgery

03/07/2014

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

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