Are spices good for your health?

Spices have been revered for their health benefits throughout history. But can they cure a hangover or help shift those extra Christmas pounds?
Whether you're grating nutmeg into your  speculaas  (Dutch spiced shortcrust biscuits) or sprinkling some cinnamon into your  Glögg  (a Norwegian version of mulled wine), adding a touch of spice is an easy way to make food and drink more appetising.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient belief system in Hinduism, spices can be warming or cooling and are used to affect the balance of the digestive system.
"They act as a stimulus to the digestive system, relieve digestive disorders and some spices are of antiseptic value," explains Dr Krishnapura Srinivasan, a scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India.

Source  - BBC

Prince Charles calls for health services to treat "mind, body and spirit"

The Prince Of Wales called today for a health service that recognises “the core human elements of mind, body and spirit” as well as treating disease.

Charles said health professionals should develop a "healing empathy" to "listen and honour what is being said and not said by patients" so they can find their own way towards better health.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, he set out a vision of healthcare that includes "the physical and social environment, education, agriculture and architecture". The Prince emphasised that he did not want to confront accepted medical wisdom, but suggested reasons for encouraging a wider perspective on healthcare. He said symptoms "may often be a metaphor for underlying disease and unhappiness", and called for a scientific and therapeutic approach that "understands, values and uses patient perspective and belief rather than seeking to exclude them".
Charles drew on the work of several of his charities in Burnley, where inequalities have lowered life expectancy to one of the worst levels in the country, according to the article.
The Prince argued that improvements to the built and natural environment, the arts, education and business would lead to improvements "not only in health, but also in the overall cost-efficiency and effectiveness of local services".

Source  - Independent

Stand up with no hands to live longer

If getting up from a game of Scrabble on the floor this Christmas requires both hands, a lot of sighing and a helpful tug from a grandchild, beware.
For the gloomy message from scientists is that you may not live as long as your flexible counterparts. Those who can sit down and get up using only one hand – or no hands at all – are likely to live for longer, a study found.
But those needing extra assistance, such as getting up on their knees or using two hands, are up to six times more likely to die prematurely. The study found a simple two-minute test could predict the level of overall fitness in middle age that earmarks those likely to enjoy a longer life.
Researchers said the ease with which someone could stand up from a sitting position on the floor – and vice versa – was linked to a reduced risk of dying early.

Source  - Daily Mail

Dr Dog: How beagle Cliff can sniff C. Diff

He is the hound of the hospital ward. Cliff, a two year old beagle with trademark floppy ears, has been trained to sniff out patients infected with a superbug and could potentially save hundreds of lives.

Instead of tracking hares, rabbits and other small game, Cliff puts his nostrils to work on the wards chasing down patients suffering from Clostridium Difficile, the hospital infection that can spread rapidly among the elderly causing lethal outbreaks.
Existing laboratory tests to diagnose the condition are expensive and slow and can delay the start of treatment by up to a week. Using a dog with a sensitive nose to patrol the wards and pick out infected patients is fast, efficient - and popular.
As a scent hound the Beagle has few equals – it can find a mouse in a one acre field in less than a minute. In tests, Cliff correctly identified 25 out of 30 patients with C Difficile – an 83 per cent success rate – and 265 out of 270 negative controls, after just two months training. Unlike the lab technicians, he could screen a complete hospital ward in less than 10 minutes, strolling past each patient’s bed until he came to one with an infected occupant. Then he promptly sat down.

Source  - Independent

Cheap vitamin D 'would boost health'

Greater access to cheap vitamin D supplements would improve the health of at-risk groups, experts say.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says up to 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, leading to a rise in rickets cases.
In the BBC's Scrubbing Up column, the college's Prof Mitch Blair called for concerted action to tackle the problem. The government said those with the greatest need already received free supplements.
The RCPCH said other options to increase vitamin D levels, such as fortifying a wider range of foods, should be considered.
Half of the UK's white population, and up to 90% of the black and Asian people in the country are thought to be affected by vitamin D deficiency. The first signs of deficiency include muscle and bone pain as well as swelling around the wrists and ribs.
A lack of the nutrient is linked to a higher incidence of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis as well as rickets - a disease that causes bones to become soft and deformed. The number of cases of rickets has been rising, from 183 in 1996 to 762 in 2011.

Source   - BBC

Chocolate can help you beat persistent coughs

Chocolate may be a remedy for the common cough, according to new research, writes Roger Dobson.
A compound in cocoa has been shown to reduce symptoms of both acute and chronic coughs.
About 300 people with a persistent cough are taking part in a clinical trial at 13 NHS hospitals where they are being given the naturally occurring chemical theobromine, derived from the raw ingredient of chocolate, twice a day for 14 days. Early indicators are that 60 per cent of patients experience some measure of relief.
Researchers say a daily bar of dark chocolate may contain enough of the active compound to have an effect on a chronic cough.  

Source  - Daily Mail

Drinking coffee halves the risk of mouth cancer

Drinking four cups of coffee a day almost halves the risk of deadly mouth cancer, according to new research.
The latest study shows downing the beverage every day has a powerful protective effect against tumours that form in the mouth and throat. The association held true regardless of how often the person drank alcohol or smoked. Scientists found decaffeinated coffee also reduced the risk, although to a lesser extent, while drinking tea did nothing to prevent the disease.
The latest findings, by a team of researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, suggest it may not be caffeine that protects against the formation of malignant growths in and around the mouth.
Instead, they said, it's likely to be due to some of the hundreds of other naturally-occurring antioxidant chemicals found in coffee. The results back up a similar study published two years ago by a different team of researchers, who found four cups a day slashed cancer risk by 39 per cent.

Source  - Daily Mail

Greg Rutherford won gold thanks to a diving chamber cure

Long-jumper Greg Rutherford’s Olympic triumph, on ‘Super Saturday’, alongside his team-mates Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, will come to define one of the greatest years in British sporting history.
‘This is what I’ve dreamt of my entire life,’ he told the BBC afterwards, voice cracking, as the sound of 80,000 cheers echoed around the stadium.
The 25-year-old, dubbed the ‘ginger ninja’, perhaps had more reason than most to feel emotional. Britain’s first long-jump gold medallist since 1964 suffered years of agony as a result of repeated hamstring tears, which came close to ending his career. His recovery and remarkable return to form is thanks to a controversial treatment – first developed in the Thirties to combat decompression sickness suffered by deep-sea divers.
Called Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT), the principle behind it is simple: deliver higher levels of oxygen to the body at double the normal atmospheric pressure and injuries heal faster. The effects can be felt within days and, as Greg discovered, are transformative – yet, astonishingly, while it is often offered to elite athletes, the NHS refuses to offer it as a treatment for everyday injuries.

Source  - Daily Mail

The new EU rules that say additives are healthier for us than broccoli

We are bombarded with information about healthy eating. Fruit, vegetables, oily fish, grains, eggs, nuts and poultry all come to mind as examples of a ‘healthy diet’. Yet new European rules this month will turn all that on its head.
The Nutrition and Health Claims regulations were brought in to ban misleading or unproven claims on food and drink products, such as weight-loss promises or claims about mental function or heart health. In their place will be a list of health claims authorised by the European Commission.
It means that websites, labels and even brand names will be affected. Gone will be Slimfast, for instance, as there is not enough scientific proof that it helps people slim. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Interstitial cystitis and CAM

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offers new approaches to managing chronic pain conditions like interstitial cystitis (IC). However, there is a lack of published findings on the use of CAM for controlling IC symptoms, including pelvic pain with associated urinary frequency and urgency.
To glean new insights, the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) surveyed IC patients on their use of CAM therapies. Data collected from 2,101 individuals, including 1,982 with a confirmed IC diagnosis, was analyzed by The Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute of Philadelphia.
The survey turned out to be the largest ever of patients with IC in a scientific study. The article “Interstitial Cystitis Patients’ Use and Rating of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies,” published in the November 2012 issue of the International Urogynecology Journal, summarizes the findings.
“A great number of respondents had tried CAM—84 percent. Of much interest is the finding that over half, 55 percent, of physicians recommended CAM to their IC patients,” said Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Interstitial Cystitis Association and one of the authors of the article. “Sixty-three percent of patients reported discussing the safety and effectiveness of a CAM therapy with their doctor, nurse or pharmacist.”

Source  - Interstitial Cystitis Association

How to improve your sleep

Sleep surroundings A lot of people struggle with sleep issues, often due to a stressful lifestyle or too many stimulants. But the health benefits of getting good-quality sleep are immense, so do put some effort into it. One of the ways is to sort out what I call 'sleep hygiene’. This means that, pre-bedtime, you should make sure your bedroom is really quiet, the temperature is comfortable and all light is minimised. Even little things like the light from a digital alarm clock have been shown to keep certain parts of the mind active, so use some eyeshades. You should be getting eight hours of sleep, and the earlier you go to sleep the better.

Source  - Telegraph

Sleeping for an extra hour a night 'helps beat pain'

Sleeping for an hour or more extra a night can dramatically improve an individual’s alertness and reduce their sensitivity to pain, say scientists.

In fact, say the researchers, getting nearly ten hours a night – rather than the recommended eight – is more effective at reducing pain than taking the drug codeine. The study used 18 healthy, pain-free volunteers who were randomly assigned either four nights of their normal sleep pattern or four nights of ten hours in bed.

The American researchers measured daytime sleepiness using the multiple sleep latency test – a standard method used by doctors to diagnose sleep problems in which brain waves, eye movement, heart rate and muscle tone are measured. Pain sensitivity was assessed using a heat source.

Source - Daily Mail

Taking Vitamin D 'may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease'

Women should take Vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

Two new studies show that women who don't have enough Vitamin D as they hit middle age are at greater risk of going into mental decline and developing Alzheimer's. The first of the studies found that women who developed Alzheimer's disease had lower vitamin D intakes than those who did not develop the illness.

Dr Cedric Annweiler, of Angers University Hospital in France, looked at data from nearly 500 women who participated in the Toulouse cohort of the Epidemiology of Osteoporosis study. He found that women who developed Alzheimer's had an average vitamin D intake of 50.3 micrograms a week, whereas those who developed other forms of dementia had an average of 63.6 micrograms per week, and those who didn't develop dementia at all averaged 59 micrograms.

Source  - Daily Mail

Going to bed an hour earlier each night 'lowers blood pressure

Going to bed an hour earlier than usual could help to ward off high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Researchers found people who were showing the early signs of high blood pressure were able to restore readings to healthy levels in just six weeks if they had an extra hour in bed every night. The study, carried out at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, looked at men and women who regularly slept for only seven hours or less a night and were beginning to have borderline high blood pressure readings.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in five adults in the UK and is thought to be responsible for half of all heart attacks and strokes. But despite an array of different drugs available on the NHS, it’s estimated more than half of all patients have ‘poorly controlled’ blood pressure, which means they still have readings in the danger zone above 140mmHg/90mmHg, a measure of the amount of force inside arteries when the heart is forcing blood through them and the force when it relaxes.

Source  - Daily Mail