The bitter truth about sugar

Recently an American doctor called Robert Lustig has been calling for laws that restrict sugar as if it were alcohol or tobacco. Like many people, I suspect, my initial reaction upon hearing this was: give me a break. Lustig, who thinks sugar is a dangerous poison, has considered several strategies. For instance, we could double the price of fizzy drinks, so children can’t afford them. We could get sweet shops to close in the afternoons, when children are going home from school. We could restrict the advertising of foods with added sugar.
We could even set an age limit for fizzy drinks, possibly 17, so younger kids can’t buy cans of Coke.
Dear me. Whatever next? It’s easy to understand the reasons for controlling tobacco and alcohol — these things are toxic and costly for everyone. If you smoke or get drunk, I end up paying your hospital bills; if you don’t smoke or drink, I pay less tax. So of course alcohol and tobacco should be restricted. Tobacco causes an array of diseases; alcohol can destroy your liver, and it also makes people shout and fight and vomit in the street. Both are addictive.
But sugar? The stuff you sprinkle on your cereal? That makes cakes and chocolate taste nice? My first thought was: yes, I know it’s bad for you. Yes, it rots your teeth — if you don’t clean them afterwards. Yes, if you eat too much, you get fat. Yes, it can tinker with your metabolism, so when you eat sugar, you crave more. And I know first-hand about the phenomenon of the sugar high — I have a six-year-old son.

Source  - Telegraph

Homeopathy 'biologically implausible'

Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at Exeter University, said homeopathic remedies had not been proven to work in clinical trials.
People who still maintain the treatments are effective are "ignoring or misrepresenting the best evidence available", he added. Homeopathy could even be dangerous because it is sometimes used instead of scientifically proven medical procedures such as immunisations, he added.
Prof Ernst, a former homeopathist, is an outspoken critic of unproven treatments provided on the NHS. He once labelled the Prince of Wales a "snake-oil salesman" because of his support for “unproven and disproved” medicine.
The NHS spends about £4 million a year on homeopathy, which is based on the theory that patients can be cured through exposure to a diluted form of the substance that caused their symptoms.
Writing in The Biologist magazine Prof Ernst, now a professor of complementary medicine, said this belief "Is in contrast with the laws of physics, chemistry and pharmacology. Homeopathy is thus biologically implausible.”
He said: “Homeopathy could be (and often is) used as an alternative to effective interventions. For example, the advice from homeopaths not to immunise has become a major cause of low vaccination rates."

Source  - Telegraph

Don't look back in anger at your life

Dwelling on the past may not only stop you from enjoying each day to  the full – it could also be bad for your health.
Research suggests that people who look back at their past experiences full of regrets about missed opportunities or with bitterness about how they have been treated are more likely to fall ill and generally have a poorer quality of life. Those who look back in anger are also more sensitive to pain, it found. It also suggested that focusing too much on the future does not harm health – but can stop people enjoying what they have.
The happiest and healthiest people, according to the researchers, are those who manage to enjoy the here and now, while making time to learn from the past and plan for the future.

Source  - Daily Mail

Beating acne may be a matter of thyme

Beating acne may be simply a matter of thyme.
Research shows that the herb may be better at zapping spots than expensive creams, gels and lotions, including some are available on prescription.
It may also be kinder to the skin and, unlike these powerful peroxide-based treatments, it would not leave irritating bleach marks on pillow cases and clothes.
Acne affects most people at some point in their lives. It most often strikes girls between the ages of 14 and 17. Boys tend to be blighted slightly later, between the ages of 16 and 19. It doesn’t always disappear on adulthood and around 5 per cent of women and 1 per cent of men have acne over the age of 25.
Thyme’s spot-busting potential is being studied by researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Source  - Daily Mail

Nature deficit disorder 'damaging Britain's children'

UK children are losing contact with nature at a "dramatic" rate, and their health and education are suffering, a National Trust report says.
Traffic, the lure of video screens and parental anxieties are conspiring to keep children indoors, it says. Evidence suggests the problem is worse in the UK than other parts of Europe, and may help explain poor UK rankings in childhood satisfaction surveys. The trust is launching a consultation on tackling "nature deficit disorder".
"This is about changing the way children grow up and see the world," said Stephen Moss, the author, naturalist and former BBC Springwatch producer who wrote the Natural Childhood report for the National Trust.
"The natural world doesn't come with an instruction leaflet, so it teaches you to use your creative imagination.
When you build a den with your mates when you're nine years old, you learn teamwork - you disagree with each other, you have arguments, you resolve them, you work together again - it's like a team-building course, only you did it when you were nine."

Source  - BBC

The seeds set to be the next superfood craze

Choking down wheatgrass juice or stuffing your face with acai berries is rarely an enjoyable experience, even if you are sure of the nutritional benefits. But health-conscious Britons could soon feast on a more manageable "superfood" that is now a sensation in New York and Los Angeles.

Chia seeds, once worshipped by the Aztecs as the food of the Gods, could be allowed into products after a review by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes – an expert panel that helps the Food Standards Agency.
That isn't to say they're dangerous. Chia is sold at Holland and Barrett at £12.05 for 400g, but it is advertised as a bread ingredient. The seeds are subject to the same legislation as all "novel" food that enters the UK. Nutritionist Patrick Holford called it "bureaucracy gone wrong".The chia plant is a member of the mint family, meaning pests tend to give it a wide berth. The seeds, which turn black or white when mature, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, minerals and antioxidants. Their soluble fibres make a gloopy mess mixed with liquid, which aids dieters (they make you feel fuller) and diabetes sufferers (they help cut blood sugar levels).

Source  - Independent

Top up on sunshine and vitamin D, says charity

People should go outside and soak up some sunshine to help increase their vitamin D levels, a charity is urging.
Arthritis Research UK says vitamin D deficiency can cause bone loss, muscle function problems and, in some cases, rickets in children.
The government recommends vitamin D supplements for pregnant women and children aged under five. But, on sunny days, a few minutes outdoors should achieve the same results, the charity says.
In January the chief medical officer for England said she was concerned that young children and some adults were not getting enough vitamin D. Figures show that up to a quarter of the population has low levels of vitamin D in their blood and the majority of pregnant women do not take vitamin D supplements.
People aged over 65, pregnant and breast-feeding women and children aged six months to five years old are thought to be most at risk.

Source  - BBC

Drinking coffee regularly can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's

Drinking coffee regularly can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by keeping caffeine levels in the blood topped up, new research shows.
Scientists who tracked elderly patients over a four year period found those with the highest levels of the stimulant in their bloodstream at the start of the study were less likely to suffer the brain-wasting disease. Volunteers who remained healthy had twice as much caffeine circulating in their systems as those who progressed to the early stages of dementia, according to researchers at the University of South Florida.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, support previous studies which showed drinking three cups of a coffee a day can significantly reduce the risk of the incurable illness. Researchers think caffeine may work by triggering a chain reaction in the brain that prevents the damage done by Alzheimer’s.

Source  - Daily Mail

Horse whisper therapy

Youngsters with behavioural problems in Gwynedd are to be taught to "horse whisper" in a bid to improve their confidence and self-esteem.
A new project is starting next month at a farm near Porthmadog. Children will be encouraged to communicate and bond with the horses and learn how their behaviour affects the animals. The project has secured £5,000 from the National Lottery and is one of 56 across Wales to share £203,423 funding. Horse whispering is perhaps most famously associated with the 1998 Hollywood film directed by and starring Robert Redford.
Project manager Lindsey Mitchell said she first saw the positive effect working with horses could have on youngsters while working at a summer camp in Virginia in the USA.
She has also been involved in equine therapy project for children with disabilities in Warwickshire.

Source  - BBC

Making alternative medicine more affordable

It was during one of those strangely mild days in February that Maggie Radford really wanted a drink. She’d been sober for months and knew the cravings would come and go, but this one was lingering. She was already anxious — a Family Day reunion with her estranged son was imminent — so she did the one thing that could put her overworked mind at ease: She took five needles in the ear.
“I went into a kind of dreaming mode,” Radford says.
She was given a simple acupuncture technique called the NADA protocol, an insertion of fine gauge, stainless steel needles into five particular points of the ear, and when she opened her eyes 45 minutes later, Radford says her mind was much calmer.
“I could’ve stayed there all day,” she says.
Her acupuncturist, Ash Yoon, said she could stay as long as she liked. Yoon runs the Toronto Acupuncture Studio (TAS), one of two full-time community clinics in the city. She ministers to up to 16 people in a single session. Unlike the private model, which charges up to $150 per hour, TAS offers a more langorous and affordable option. Payment is on a sliding scale, from $15 to $35 per session, and it is this type of flexibility that allows someone like Radford, who lives off $950 in Ontario Disability Support Payments (ODSP) each month, to receive treatment.
“There’s no other way I could afford this,” says Radford, who has previously attempted private treatment but gave it up as too costly. “No matter how many times I arrive in a funk,” she explains, “I always leave feeling much better.”

Source  -  National Post (Canada)

Can meditation make you a better parent?

My toddler and I recently started a meditation class. I know what you're thinking. What kind of idiot parent would attempt silent mind control in the presence of someone whose idea of quiet time involves sticking pencils up their nostrils and shouting 'Hickory Dickory Dock'?
But now I am that idiot parent. And – despite a cringeworthy moment when my two-year-old pointed to a Buddhist monk and asked, "Why is that man wearing a dress like a lady?" – the meditation is going well. Really well. It's provided me with practical tools for day-to-day life with a toddler. For, let's face it, as adorable as their company can be, relaxing it is not.
Most of the time my daughter, Phoebe, is utterly beguiling – full of songs, giggles and spontaneous dances. But, occasionally, she experiences outbreaks of unmitigated rage. They involve floor-writhing, head-butting and a howling that would make any self-respecting banshee glow with pride. I find them hard to cope with, especially in public. There was an incident over a tuna sandwich in a cafe that I still can't think of without a shudder.
It was my husband who first came up with the idea of meditation. He started a course in it to help him deal with work stress. It all seemed a bit new agey to me: the sort of thing beloved by people who read auras and stick crystals on their kids' heads when they're sick. But then I witnessed the difference in him. He could shrug off incidences of workplace ineptitude that would previously have had him grinding his teeth in fury-induced insomnia at 4am.

Source  - Guardian

The 10p-a-day vitamin supplement that tackles dementia

Modern medicine has let us cheat death. We can replace organs, take pills to stave off heart disease, cure many cancers, and control previously fatal conditions such as diabetes. As a result, the average life expectancy is 80, whereas 100 years ago it was 52. Yet now, if these other illnesses don’t get us, it seems that dementia will.
More than 800,000 Britons suffer from some form of the disease, with 75 per cent of them having Alzheimer’s. All lead to mental decline, memory loss, speech and movement problems, and death.
The world’s bestselling medication for Alzheimer’s (AD) is donepezil, marketed as Aricept until its UK patent ran out last month – and it’s now 80 per cent cheaper as a result.

Source  - Daily Mail

Homeopathy is worthless

Homeopathic potions do not work and it is unethical to give them on the NHS, a leading scientist has claimed.
Edzard Ernst, a professor of  complementary medicine, also described the logic behind homeopathy as bizarre and accused homeopaths of lying to their patients. The NHS spends around £4million a year on homeopathy, despite calls from the British Medical Association for the funding to end.
The discipline – which has won the backing of Prince Charles – claims to prevent and treat  diseases by using dilute forms of materials that in higher concentrations could produce the symptoms of the condition. Homeopaths also believe that the greater the dilution of the medicine, the more potent the potion, and so ingredients are mixed in tiny amounts with water or alcohol.
A typical remedy could have one part of an ingredient to one trillion, trillion parts of water. Although scientists argue the potions are so dilute they are unlikely to contain any of the original substance, homeopaths claim the water retains a ‘memory’ of the active ingredient, which it passes to the body to help fight the illness.
But Professor Ernst said that even if an ultra-dilute homeopathic solution was somehow different from pure water, this would not make it an effective drug.

Source  - Daily Mail

White rice 'could cause diabetes'

Eating white rice may be linked to a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, researchers have said.

A review of four studies involving around 350,000 people found the more white rice people ate, the higher their chance of developing the condition seemed to be. Experts from Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School looked at two studies in Asian people (Chinese and Japanese) and two in Western populations (the US and Australia).
Asian people tended to have a much higher white rice intake than those in the West, averaging three to four servings a day compared with one or two servings per week. The results showed that Asian people have a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, with those who ate the most at highest risk. But even for Western populations with typically low intakes, the researchers said "relatively high white rice consumption may still modestly increase risk of diabetes". In the total population, the experts said that for every extra serving of white rice (assuming 158g per serving), the risk of Type 2 diabetes increased by about 11%.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the authors concluded: "We found that higher white rice consumption was associated with a significantly elevated risk of Type 2 diabetes. This association seems to be stronger for Asians than for Western populations."

Source  - Independent

Rainforest remedy to cure toothache

The agony of toothache can leave you willing to go to the ends of the earth in search of a cure. But you may need to look no further than the depths of the rainforest.
A rare red and yellow plant from the Amazon could offer more effective pain relief than existing drugs and treatments, scientists have claimed.
 The ancient herbal remedy is so potent that it might even replace uncomfortable anaesthetic injections for certain procedures – and provide a natural remedy for teething babies.
Cambridge University anthropologist Dr Francoise Barbira Freedman came across the budded plant more than 30 years ago when living with a secretive Peruvian tribe known for practising shamanism. During her trip she suffered severe pain in her wisdom teeth. She was given the remedy by the tribe’s medicine men and the discomfort ‘went away immediately’.

Source  - Daily Mail

Workers should take a turn about the room every 20 MINUTES, say scientists

It may seem impossible during a frantic day in the office when you don't ever seem to leave your desk, but scientists say we should take a turn about the room... every 20 minutes.
Australian researchers found taking a regular break to walk around helped reduce the body's levels of glucose and insulin after eating.
Though the results, published in the journal Diabetes Care, don't show if this has a lasting health benefit, experiencing large glucose and insulin spikes after a meal is tied to a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
'When we sit our muscles are in a state of disuse and they're not contracting and helping our body to regulate many of the body's metabolic processes,' said study leader Professor David Dunstan, from Baker IDI Heartand Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Prof Dunstan and his team have reported previously that people who watch more than four hours of TV a day are likely to have an earlier death. With this study, they experimented with how prolonged sitting could affect responses to food.

Source  - Daily Mail

Fruit and veg 'give healthy glow'

Even a few weeks of eating fruit and vegetables could improve your skin colour, it is claimed.
University of St Andrews researchers monitored diet in 35 people, finding more colouration in those eating more greens. Other research suggests these changes may make you more attractive.
Other scientists said the study, in the PLoS One journal, might not fully reflect the link between consumption and appearance.
It has been known for some time that certain yellow and red pigments called carotenoids found in many types of fruit and vegetables, can have an effect on skin tone. However it is not clear exactly how much influence a normal healthy diet can have on this effect. The St Andrews scientists recruited 35 students, mostly white, who were quizzed on their fruit and vegetable intake over a six week period.

Source  - BBC

Vitamin E 'may be bad for bones'

Vitamin E supplements may interfere with the process that keeps bones healthy, suggest Japanese scientists.
Writing in the journal Nature Medicine, the Keio University team said mice given large doses had lower bone mass - if the same was true in humans, fracture risk would be increased.
Vitamin E is found in oils, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli and in almonds and hazelnuts. But a UK expert said supplements could be problematic.
The relationship between nutrients such as vitamin D and bone health are well established, but there is far less research which looks at the role of vitamin E.

Source  - BBC

Sun-dried tomatoes linked to hepatitis A outbreak

UK health experts believe sun-dried tomatoes could be the cause of a recent outbreak of hepatitis A.
The Health Protection Agency and the Food Standards Agency fear contaminated samples were to blame for the infection that hospitalised four people and caused illness in another three people in late 2011.
Hepatitis A virus is carried by human faeces and can be passed on through contact with food or water.
Severe cases can lead to liver failure. All of the seven people infected have since made a recovery.
One of the strains of hepatitis A identified in two of the patients was identical to a strain that caused a similar outbreak linked with sun-dried tomatoes in the Netherlands in 2010, says a report.
Four of the patients in this latest outbreak in England said they had consumed sun-dried tomatoes.

Source  - BBC

Taking a daily vitamin pill could prevent skin cancer

A daily vitamin pill could help prevent skin cancer - particularly among women, it has emerged.
Scientists say taking food supplements containing vitamin A can make people less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease. A study found that retinol - a key component of Vitamin A -  could protect  against the illness. The strongest protective effects were found in women and in sun exposed sites, suggesting retinol actually combats skin cancer.
However, there was no association between dietary intake of vitamin A, found in liver, eggs and milk, and a reduction in risk. There was also no reduced risk seen by the intake of carotenoids, which are abundant in vegetables including carrots and tomatoes and soak up compounds that can damage the skin. Previous research with mice has shown retinol and carotenoids can shrink melanoma tumours and improve survival. Retinol is also good for the immune system and eyesight.

Source  - Daily Mail

Selenium supplements for healthy hair and nails 'can increase risk of type-2 diabetes'

Selenium supplements may be harmful to people who already have enough of the mineral in their diet, a study has found.
Possible effects of having too much selenium include an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.
Selenium, a trace mineral found in soil and foods, is essential in small amounts. Low selenium levels have been linked to an increased risk of death, poor immune function and mental decline. There is also evidence that selenium may enhance male fertility and protect against some cancers.
But a new review of clinical trials in different populations has shown mixed results from selenium supplements. In some cases, additional selenium appeared to have adverse effects. This indicates that the supplements only benefit people with too little selenium in their diet, according to Professor Margaret Rayman, from the University of Surrey in Guildford.
She said: 'The intake of selenium varies hugely worldwide. Intakes are high in Venezuela, Canada, the USA, and Japan but lower in Europe. Selenium-containing supplements add to these intakes, especially in the USA where 50% of the population takes dietary supplements.'

Source - Daily Mail