Why cinnamon is good for you

Few aromas are quite as seductive, or as warmly enveloping, as that of cinnamon, the fragrant bark of the eponymous tropical tree. Just half a teaspoon added to cakes, biscuits or puddings fills the kitchen with an intoxicating scent guaranteed to stimulate the appetite and raise the spirits.
One of the most versatile spices, and therefore a store-cupboard essential, cinnamon can take you on a savoury journey through the Levant, Africa, China and the Indian subcontinent, adding fragrance to stews, curries, and rice dishes; or down a sweeter northern European trail, where it is dangerously effective at transforming a pile of flour and sugar into something utterly addictive. It's easy to overdose on cinnamon simply because it is so pungent, so use it with restraint, or you may be put off it for life.
Why is cinnamon good for me?
A well-used spice in Indian ayurvedic medicine, recent research confirm its healing properties. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that consumption of cinnamon can significantly reduce blood pressure, particularly in people diagnosed as pre-diabetic or type 2 diabetic. Cinnamon seems also to have a beneficial impact of blood-sugar levels, possibly because it aids glucose control by enhancing the effectiveness of insulin. Cinnamon also kills off bacteria that cause gum disease. In Sri Lanka, cinnamon sticks are used as toothpicks.

Eating nuts during pregnancy is safe, new research suggests

Advice to pregnant women to avoid eating nuts may have been not only misleading but at odds with the potential benefits for offspring of doing so, according to research that has found children could be less likely to develop nut allergies if their mothers eat nuts during pregnancy.
The study of more than 8,000 children in the US found that those with non-allergic mothers who ate nuts five times a week or more during pregnancy turned out to have the lowest risk of peanut or tree nut (P/TN) allergies. A British expert said that while the results of the study were interesting, they contradicted other studies that have shown either no effect of nut consumption during pregnancy or suggested a possible risk from increased consumption.
"To make things even more complicated, there is also strong evidence to suggest that nut allergy doesn't develop until after birth and that it is exposure of the infant's skin to nut protein that is most important in the development of allergy," said Dr Adam Fox, consultant children's allergist at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS foundation trust.
"With such differing results from different studies, it is currently impossible to offer advice about exactly what mothers should do regarding nut consumption during pregnancy, but current international guidance is that there is no need to either avoid nuts, nor to actively eat them."

Can acupuncture in your ear help you lose weight?

There's hope if Christmas over-indulgence leaves you with an unsightly spare tyre – because acupuncture on the ear will banish it,  say researchers.
They found it helped overweight people slim down within eight weeks, especially around the midriff. One treatment, which involves inserting needles 2mm deep on five points around the outer ear, was particularly effective at tackling a bulging waistline. But even targeting one spot termed the ‘hunger’ point produced results, they said.
Participants in a two-month study saw their body mass index (BMI) drop by up to 6 per cent and also had less body fat and a smaller waist, says a report published online in the journal Acupuncture in MedicineSo-called auricular acupuncture therapy is based on the understanding that the outer ear represents all parts of the body.
It was first used in France in 1956 by Dr Paul Nogier, who noticed that a patient’s backache was cured following a burn to the ear. In the UK, acupuncture may be offered as traditional Chinese therapy using needles at certain points on the body to boost energy or in a Westernised form of electro-stimulation to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea tested the traditional method on 91 overweight adults, who were all put on the same diet.

Source  - Daily Mail

Pesticides 'could harm brain development of unborn babies'

Pesticides linked to declines in bee populations may also affect human health and harm the brain development of unborn babies, European safety experts have said.
Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) called for further limits on human exposure to two chemicals following research on rats.
One of the pesticides, imidacloprid was associated with brain shrinkage, and reduced activity in nerve signals in newborn rats, while the other, acetamiprid led to reduced weight and reaction times.
The two chemicals are neonicotinoids, designed to attack the nervous system of insects. Three such pesticides are subject to a two-year temporary ban throughout the European Union because of concerns that they are harming bee populations, with major implications for the pollination of plants and crops.
Experts found that the chemicals “may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory," an EFSA statement said. “Some current guidance levels for acceptable exposure may not be protective enough to safeguard against developmental neurotoxicity and should be reduced.”

Vitamin pills are a waste of money

Vitamin pills are a waste of money, usually offer no health benefits and could even be harmful, a group of leading scientists has said.
A study of nearly 500,000 people, carried out by academics from the University of Warwick and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA, has delivered a damning verdict on the claims made by the vitamin supplement industry.
Evidence from the study suggested that "supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults...has no clear benefit and might even be harmful", despite one in three Britons taking vitamins or mineral pills.
According to The Times, scientists involved in the study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that companies selling supplements were fuelling false health anxieties to offer unnecessary cures. The industry in the UK is thought to be worth more than £650 million annually.
Researchers declared 'case closed' on the vitamin and mineral pills after making their conclusion based on the study of half-a-million people along with three separate research papers.

Apple-a-day call for all over-50s

If everyone over the age of 50 ate an apple a day, 8,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes could be avoided every year in the UK, say researchers.
Apples would give a similar boost to cardiovascular health as medicines, such as statins, yet carry none of the side-effects, the University of Oxford researchers say in the BMJThey base their assumptions on modelling, not direct scientific study.
Any fruit should work, but getting people to comply could be challenging. More than two-thirds of adults do not eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, population surveys suggest. And although nine in 10 of us do manage to eat at least one portion a day, Dr Adam Briggs and colleagues, from the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, say we would all benefit from eating more. By their calculations, if adults of all ages could manage to eat an extra portion of fruit or veg a day, as many as 11,000 vascular deaths could be averted each year.

Does eating greens give dads healthier babies?

Finally it is the turn of prospective fathers to be told what to eat – men who want to be dads should ramp up their intake of green vegetables and cut out junk food. A study published in Nature Communications found that fathers with a diet deficient in folate (found in greens such as spinach, sprouts and broccoli) were more likely to have offspring with abnormalities of the head, face and sternum (breastbone) and a build-up of fluid on the brain.
The researchers linked their findings to changes in regions of sperm DNA that are altered by folate. They also found chemical changes in the DNA of genes associated with the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. But before you start storming the vegetable aisle – the study wasn't conducted on humans. The folate-deficient fathers were mice. And although their poor mouslings had nearly 10 times as many abnormalities as those with daddy mice who had eaten their greens, there is no evidence that men who are folate deficient do any harm to their offspring. But while there is no proven link, might such a study make you think twice before refusing that extra helping of sprouts?

Exercise 'better than drugs for stroke and heart disease patients'

Exercise could be better than drugs to combat life-threatening illnesses, a study reveals.
The large-scale investigation found doctors had a better chance of preventing death in patients recovering from a heart attack or stroke by prescribing light fitness instead of pills.
It is the first time scientists have compared the benefits of exercise with heart medication such as statins and beta blockers.

Examining data on 340,000 patients who had been diagnosed with heart disease, chronic heart failure, a stroke or diabetes, the findings published in the British Medical Journal have been touted as revolutionary.

Researchers analysed previous studies and found no marked change between the outcome of exercise and drugs for people who have diabetes or heart disease. For stroke victims, the research swung overwhelmingly in favour of exercise, showing it was far more likely to prevent death than drugs.

The study leader Huseyin Naci, of LSE Health and Harvard Medical School, said more people are consuming prescription drugs but far fewer are exercising.

Source  - Daily Mail

People who drink alcohol outlive those who abstain, study shows

A contentious study is suggesting people who drink regularly live longer than those who completely abstain from drinking.
Research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found those who did not consume any alcohol appeared to have a higher mortality rate, regardless of whether they were former heavy drinkers or not, than those who drank heavily.
Instead, ‘moderate’ drinking, defined as one to three drinks per day, was associated with the lowest mortality rate, according to Business Insider.
A team led by Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas followed 1,824 participants over two decades. They conceded the gender ratio of participants was disproportionate as sixty-three per cent of participants were male. All of the individuals were aged between 55 and 65.
Sixty-nine per cent of the participants who abstained from drinking alcohol died during the 20 year observation period, in comparison to 60 per cent of the heavy drinkers. Only 41 per cent of moderate drinkers died within this time frame.

Why sprout tops are good for you

Even to the most hardened brussels sprouts dodgers, sprout tops – the clusters of leaves that grow at the crown of the sprouts' stalk – may come as something of a revelation. 
These elegant, curved, purple-green leaves look beautiful – like a still life painted by a Dutch old master. In taste terms, they unite the sweet, cabbage-like freshness of young spring greens with a delicate memory of brussels sprouts, but without any of the latter's sometimes testing sulphurous undertones. They cook almost instantly to a submissive silkiness.
Although they have long been a passion shared by allotment gardeners, until quite recently, sprout tops used to lie discarded in the fields after harvest, or were fed to livestock. Happily, the word is out. Sprout tops are currently one of the hottest vegetables to have on your table, and retailers and growers are beginning to appreciate their market potential. So if you remain perplexed by the pre-Christmas sprout stampede, get your hands on some of this "new" (old) vegetable instead.

Mediterranean diet key to dementia battle

Converting Britons to a Mediterranean diet should be placed at the centre of the Government’s fight against dementia, leading clinicians have said in a letter to David Cameron.
Eleven senior doctors, including Claire Gerada, former chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, called for a diet rich in vegetables and low in meat to be placed at the heart of health policy.
In a letter to Mr Cameron and Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, they said that improving public health would be a stronger weapon in the fight against dementia than any drug treatment. Their comments came ahead of a crucial summit in London on Wednesday, at which the G8 group of nations will meet to plan a new approach to research and treatment of the disease.The letter, signed by experts from Britain, France, the United States, Italy and Greece, calls for governments to invest more in teaching the public, including children, about the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle. There is currently no effective treatment for dementia, but the protective effect of a healthy diet is being “largely ignored”, they said.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiology registrar at Croydon University Hospital and one of the letter’s signatories, said: “We are not going to overcome the increasing burden of chronic diseases by prescribing more pills. The medical profession has itself been guilty of placing too much emphasis on drugs, the benefits of which are often grossly exaggerated and fuelled by a powerful pharmaceutical industry, who naturally wish to expand the use of their drugs for financial gain."

Why you should choose a pint over a coffee

Next time you congratulate yourself for choosing a coffee over a beer, you might want to think again.
Researchers have discovered that caffeine can shorten life expectancy, while alcohol can increase it. 

Scientists at Tel Aviv University found that caffeine shortens, and alcohol lengthens, telomeres – the end parts of chromosomal DNA. Just as the plastics tips of shoelaces prevent fraying, telomeres keep chromosomes stable and prevent deterioration when the cells containing them divide. Telomeres become shorter as a person gets older as every time a cell duplicates, the chromosomes are copied into the new cell with slightly shorter telomeres. When the telomeres become too short, the cell dies.

Shorter telomeres are associated with poor health and an increased chance of premature death.
‘For the first time we've identified a few environmental factors that alter telomere length, and we've shown how they do it,’ said Professor Martin Kupiec. ‘What we learned may one day contribute to the prevention and treatment of human diseases.’ The researchers set out to establish if different environmental factors had an impact on telomere length in yeast cells.

Source  - Daily Mail

Doubt cast on vitamin D's role against disease

Scientists have cast doubt on the value of vitamin D supplements to protect against diseases such as cancers, diabetes and dementia.
Writing in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, French researchers suggest low vitamin D levels do not cause ill health, although they did not look at bone diseases. More clinical trials on non-skeletal diseases are needed, they say.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended for certain groups. Recent evidence has shown it may also have a role to play in preventing non-bone-related diseases such as Parkinson's, dementia, cancers and inflammatory diseases.
 Prof Philippe Autier, from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, carried out a review of data from 290 prospective observational studies and 172 randomised trials looking at the effects of vitamin D levels on health outcomes, excluding bone health, up to December 2012.

Why pineapple is good for you

In summer, when berries are abundant, what's the point of pineapple? Why bother wrestling with that spiky intruder when there are home-grown seasonal fruits to eat? But at this time of year, as a complement to autumn's still firm British apple and pear crop, and leafy Spanish and Moroccan citrus, sweet-sharp, heady pineapple really finds a purpose.
We now know that the pay and conditions of workers in tropical places who labour in pineapple fields are often notoriously bad – a powerful argument for buying only Fairtrade pineapples. With this guarantee, you know that the people who grew your fruit earned a living wage and received a little extra premium to use for community projects.
Let your nose be your guide to selecting a pineapple that will eat well. It should smell fragrant, but not of boiled sweets (too ripe) or dank drains (too long in storage).
Why is pineapple good for me?
Pineapple contains a compound called bromelain. The protein-digesting enzymes in it are thought to aid digestion. While not all studies agree on its effectiveness, bromelain is used worldwide as an anti-inflammatory, an anti-coagulant, and is thought to have anti-cancer properties.

Prince Charles and homeopathy: crank or revolutionary?

The Royal family has long been devoted to the practice of homeopathy - in fact, to this day, there is a court homeopath, a position that seems as anachronistic as the royal horologist or the master of the Queen’s music. The Queen’s father, George VI, was a firm convert to the cause, as was his father, George V.
Indeed, Her Majesty is not only devoted to homeopathy, which she also uses on her animals, but the broader spectrum of alternative medicine - and it is said that her avoidance of illness during her 60 years on the throne is due to supplementing her conventional medical regime with herbal remedies.
But it is Prince Charles, famously so in tune with nature that he talks to plants on his Highgrove estate, who is alternative medicine’s staunchest supporter among the Royals - and indeed one of its most enthusiastic advocates in the UK. The practice is, he told the World Health Assembly in Geneva in 2006, “rooted in ancient traditions that intuitively understood the need to maintain balance and harmony with our minds, bodies and the natural world”.
Though his interest in the subject dates back to his childhood, Charles’s public devotion to alternative medicine first became clear in an address to the British Medical Association in December 1982 on the 150th anniversary of its foundation. Charles, sitting in his study at Highgrove, was struggling for inspiration on what to say and wandered over to his bookshelf, where he picked up a tome about the 16th-century physician Paracelsus.

Alternative health: acupuncture

The successful, driven individuals who tend to come through Gerad Kite's Harley Street doors know why they are there. Or at least they think they do. “There is normally one thing that gets them here,” the 52-year-old five-element acupuncturist says with a smile. “They say, 'I’ve got backache,’ or, 'I can’t get pregnant,’ or, 'I feel depressed.’ There is a wide variety of reasons.”
But what concerns Kite, who uses the most traditional form of acupuncture, one that predates the discipline’s 20th-century Traditional Chinese Medicine incarnation by a couple of millennia, is not the symptom but the cause. “Five-element puts you back in touch with that part of yourself that lives intuitively as opposed to in a predetermined way.”
Kite argues that the way we live is making us ill. “If you want to let your life unfold in the best possible way, you need to accept that you are not in control. When people are well they live instinctively, they are not consciously engaged with everything they do.” Five-element draws on Taoist philosophy. “We are brought up to think 'yourself’ is the sum of your thoughts. But in the five-element world, your thoughts are one thing, who you are is something else. The goal is to become more aware of your true self.”

I really believe acupuncture helped me to get pregnant

The surest way to start a spat over the dinner table in strictly rational and empirical, science-worshipping Cambridge, where I live, is to say that you think complementary medicine can sometimes prove effective. It’s tantamount, in many of my friends’ eyes, to declaring yourself a congenital imbecile.
I have enormous sympathy for their views on the matter. I understand that the only proper way of proving the efficacy of a particular treatment is the use of randomised controlled trials, and that anecdotes of “miracle cures” hardly amount to serious evidence. I would be the first to admit that you never hear of anyone who requires a heart by-pass, or liver transplant, being healed by homeopathy or Reiki. I find it just as terrifying as any doctor when a cancer patient declares they’d rather not have an operation because they’re going to sit in a pyramid and meditate with crystals.
At the same time, I have a degree in English literature and I am highly suggestible, hence my fondness for Hamlet’s quote: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Do supplements really help us keep healthy in the winter?

Supercharging our immune systems with supplements seems to be a national obsession, with £36 million spent annually on vitamin C alone, according to the NHS. But which supplements – if any – can help keep us healthy in the winter months? We look at the science behind the claims and ask Dr Anne Mullen, lecturer in nutrition sciences at King’s College London, to comment.
The promise: Echinacea contains phytochemicals called alkylamides, which are thought to stimulate the body’s natural immune system.
The research: Nearly 1,000 published trials on this herb, many industry-funded, have had mixed results. A big review in 2009, by the independent Cochrane Collaboration, found that echinacea had no more effect in preventing colds than a placebo. However, preparations from one particular species (echinacea purpurea) might reduce the duration and severity of colds in adults. Dr Mullen says: “Echinacea supplements come in a variety of forms, which has made it difficult to evaluate their effectiveness.”
Verdict: Not proven for prevention but echinacea purpurea extract might help reduce cold symptoms.

Drinking coffee significantly improves blood flow

Researchers found that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee significantly improved blood flow in the fingers of 27 healthy adults.
Measuring blood flow in the finger provides an indication of how well the body's smaller blood vessels are functioning. Comparing normal-strength coffee with decaf, the caffeinated version increased blood flow by 30% over a 75-minute period.
Professor Masato Tsutsui, a heart expert from the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, said: "This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health."
He presented the findings at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Dallas, Texas.
The study participants were all people aged from 22 to 30 who did not regularly drink coffee. A laser technique was used to study blood circulation in the finger on a microscopic level non-invasively.

Eating nuts 'may prolong life'

People who regularly eat nuts appear to live longer, according to the largest study of its kind.
The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested the greatest benefit was in those munching on a daily portion. The US team said nut eaters were likely to also have healthy lifestyles, but the nuts themselves were also contributing to their longer lifespan. The British Heart Foundation said more research was needed to prove the link
The study followed nearly 120,000 people for 30 years. The more regularly people consumed nuts, the less likely they were to die during the study. People eating nuts once a week were 11% less likely to have died during the study than those who never ate nuts. Up to four portions was linked to a 13% reduction in deaths and a daily handful of nuts cut the death rate during the study by 20%.
Lead researcher Dr Charles Fuchs, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, said: "The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease, but we also saw a significant reduction - 11% - in the risk of dying from cancer."

Prince Charles and homeopathy: crank or revolutionary?

The Royal family has long been devoted to the practice of homeopathy - in fact, to this day, there is a court homeopath, a position that seems as anachronistic as the royal horologist or the master of the Queen’s music. The Queen’s father, George VI, was a firm convert to the cause, as was his father, George V. Indeed, Her Majesty is not only devoted to homeopathy, which she also uses on her animals, but the broader spectrum of alternative medicine - and it is said that her avoidance of illness during her 60 years on the throne is due to supplementing her conventional medical regime with herbal remedies.
But it is  Prince Charles, famously so in tune with nature that he talks to plants on his Highgrove estate, who is alternative medicine’s staunchest supporter among the Royals - and indeed one of its most enthusiastic advocates in the UK. The practice is, he told the World Health Assembly in Geneva in 2006, “rooted in ancient traditions that intuitively understood the need to maintain balance and harmony with our minds, bodies and the natural world”.

Metal in your mobile 'could double chance of stroke

Exposure to a rare metal found in mobile phones could double an individual’s risk of stroke, scientists warned.
High levels of tungsten significantly raises the risk of the disease, particularly for those under the age of 50, a new study has found. Although our current exposure to the precious metal is low, it is being increasingly used in everyday items such mobile phones, computers and light bulbs.
In the past decade, production has almost doubled, as advances in technology continue to drive 
demand.  Experts now fear its increased prevalence could pose a health risk to future generations. During its production, small amounts of the metal escape into the environment, eventually making their way into rivers and farmland.
Exposure to tiny amounts present in the air, drinking water and in the food chain is common, but it remains unclear why certain individuals have higher levels. Researchers said there is no clear evidence linking use of technology such as smartphones and laptops to increased amounts of the metal in the blood.
‘Whilst currently very low, human exposure to tungsten is set to increase,’ said lead researcher Dr Jessica Tyrrell, from the University of Exeter‘We’re not yet sure why some members of the population have higher levels of the metal in their make-up, and an important step in understanding and preventing the risks it may pose to health will be to get to the bottom of how it’s ending up in our bodies.’

Source  - Daily Mail

Does the cold remedy your family swears by really work?

When a cold strikes, you can cross ibuprofen off your shopping list. Last week researchers revealed it might make you worse.
The British Medical Journal reported that when people with respiratory tract infections such as colds, sore throats and chest and ear infections were given paracetamol, ibuprofen or a combination of the two, between 50 and 70 per cent of those taking ibuprofen returned to their GP within a month with worsening symptoms.
This might be because ibuprofen reduces inflammation - and an inflammatory response is part of the body's immune response to the infection.
But what about those other remedies everyone swears by for preventing and treating common winter ailments -  will they make any difference, either? We asked the experts for their view . . .

Source  - Daily Mail

Coffee – good for cancer?

A report today, based on 16 studies, says that drinking three cups of coffee may reduce the risk of liver cancer. Another concludes that coffee reduces prostate cancer risk. But it’s not all good news.
Every day Britons drink 70 million cups of coffee – roughly two each per adult. But is it good or bad for you? Many people get caught in the sugar, nicotine, caffeine trap, thinking this combination is good for energy. But this combination feeds increasing fatigue, anxiety and weight gain. In my own research we surveyed over 55,000 people and found that the two foods that most predict fatigue and stress are caffeinated drinks and sugary foods, both addictive substances. Many become hooked on caffeine and sugar to keep going, gaining weight and losing health as a result. But what are the long-term consequences?
This recent review of 16 studies involving 3,153 people (not that many for surveys) concludes that three cups of coffee a day is associated with halving risk for liver cancer. While some studies have shown an increased incidence of pancreatic cancer with coffee consumption, further studies have not shown such an association. Over the last decade considerable research has been done on the cancer-coffee link. Coffee may also reduce risk of fatal prostate cancer. 

Why almonds are good for you

A stalwart nut in Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat, almonds figure prominently on the seasonal shopping list.
 For freshness, they're a safer bet than walnuts and hazelnuts: less prone to rancidity, so more tolerant of languishing forgotten at the back of a cupboard. When lightly baked, their creamy neutrality gives way to a much nuttier, crunchier character, making them seriously addictive. It's just so tempting to pick them out from the muesli, or the pilaf, and with an aperitif, you can easily nibble your way through a small bowlful without noticing. Ground finely, almonds give you that gloriously squidgy consistency in cakes, frangipani-filled tarts and marzipan. Toasted flaked almonds look gorgeous on top of a creamy trifle
High-protein almonds are ideal for sating the appetite in a healthy way. They are rich in monounsaturated fats; much research now links this type of fat with a reduced risk of heart disease. These nuts are one of the richest sources of vitamin E, which seems to protect against UV light damage and Alzheimer's disease.

How to get the most health benefits from your veg?

Most people would probably admit they eat broccoli more for its health-giving properties than for its flavour.
But new research shows that people who don't cook it in the right way could be wasting their time. Scientists found broccoli loses its cancer-fighting properties when it is boiled or microwaved. The researchers, who presented their findings at the American Institute for Cancer Research Annual Research Conference, found the best way to cook the vegetable is to steam it for three to four minutes.
They say steaming it until it turns a bright green colour can enhance its cancer-fighting compounds. Broccoli is an excellent source of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring plant compound that has been shown to be protective against cancer. The enzyme myrosinase in broccoli is needed for sulforaphane to form - so if the myrosinase is destroyed, sulforaphane cannot form.
The researchers found boiling and microwaving broccoli, even for just one minute, destroys most of the myrosinase it contains. In contrast, they also discovered that steaming it for up to five minutes is the best way to retain the enzyme.
‘Past food processing has tended to focus on improving taste, visuals and microbiological safety,’ said Dr Elizabeth Jeffery, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ‘Now our task is to go further. Processing can ensure that the bioactives – the cancer protective compounds – arrive in your digestive system in a form the body can use.’

Source - Daily Mail

Could eating blueberries add years to your life?

A bowl of wild blueberries a day could protect against a range of health problems including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Regular consumption of the berries over an eight-week period can improve or prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say.  Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. It increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions affecting blood vessels.
On their own, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can potentially damage the blood vessels, but having all three together is particularly dangerous.  Berries are rich in polyphenols - antioxidants that protect cells in the heart and help lower blood pressure.  This means they may help reduce damage to the lining of blood vessels and tackle glucose intolerance - excess sugar in the blood that can lead to diabetes.

Source  - Daily Mail

Why pomegranate is good for you

With its sweetness tempered by a pleasantly bitter, slightly tannic astringency, in my book, no drink is more restorative than fresh pomegranate juice. Extracting that precious garnet juice from the jewel-like seeds of this orb-shaped fruit can be fiddly, so don't wear white, but it rewards you with a concentrated flavour that sweetened, watered down, pasteurised pomegranate "juice drinks" can never rival. And of course, sparkling pomegranate seeds bring flashes of vivid colour and a crunchy texture that brightens up everything from grain-based dishes through to salads.
The small, pink cosmetically pretty pomegranates with smooth, shiny skins usually have relatively insipid, pale juice. For ripeness and copious amounts of deeper-coloured juice, choose larger, maturer fruits with darker, drier, more matt skin that is beginning to sink in slightly at the sides.

How meditation can 'melt away' tension

Nothing creates more stress than when you feel trapped by illness. Negative thoughts and worries leave you burnt-out and create tension in the body, aggravating illnesses and injuries. 
Stress dampens the immune system and  shuts down the body's self-repair mechanisms. Yet while it's impossible to prevent stress arising, mindfulness can teach you how to deal with it.  After practice, you realise that stress (like pain) is a 'message' that melts away once it's 'delivered' or felt with full mindful awareness. When this occurs, happiness and peace fill the void.

Such contentment  boosts the immune system, restarts repair mechanisms and improves quality of life.
This week's meditation is the Tension Release, the final of three exercises taken from my book Mindfulness For Health:  A Practical Guide To Relieving Pain, Reducing Stress And Restoring Wellbeing (Piatkus).

Source  - Daily Mail

Early bedtimes could combat child obesity

Putting children to bed earlier may be a simple way to keep their weight down, research has shown.
Childhood obesity is not only caused by fast food, sugary drinks and lack of exercise, the new findings suggest. 
Lack of sleep also appears to be an important factor. Scientists made the discovery after adjusting the sleep patterns of 37 children aged eight to 11, more than a quarter of whom were overweight or obese.
For the first week of the study, children were asked to sleep their typical amount. During the second week the children randomly had their sleep time either reduced or lengthened. Over the course of the third week, they were given the opposite sleep schedule.
When children increased their sleep, they reported consuming an average 134 fewer calories per day and lost half a pound in weight. Tests showed they had lower fasting levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin.
'Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children’s sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity,” said Dr Chantelle Hart, from Temple University in Philadelphia. 'The potential role of sleep should be further explored.'
The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source  - Daily Mail

Can singing a lullaby ease a child's pain?

Amid the beeping of heart monitors, a more gentle noise can be heard on the wards of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The soft voice of music therapist Nick Pickett and the strumming of his guitar are entertaining the young patients in Bear Ward. All the children here are under three years old. Some are facing the long wait for a heart transplant and are being kept alive by the rhythmic beating of a mechanical heart. Sam Wallace's bed is surrounded by balloons, toys and other reminders of home. His grandmother, Viv Green, says the music has a transformative effect.
"Oh, Sammy loves music, he has always loved music."It just makes him happy. He will sing and dance. He loves to dance, he moves with the music as soon as he hears it and it just brightens him up completely - he's a different boy."

Gardening 'linked to longer lives'

Pottering around the garden or fixing up the house has been linked to a longer life in a study of people over the age of 60.
Older people can struggle to exercise vigorously, but the study said simply getting off the sofa and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle was a lifesaver. The Swedish study of 4,232 people suggested the risks of heart attack and stroke were cut. The findings were published  in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, said elderly people tended to spend more time being sedentary and less time exercising than people in other age groups. So they looked at the activity levels in-between sitting down and full-on exercise - such as fixing up the car, home repairs, cutting the lawn, blackberry picking or going hunting.

Why ginger is good for you

Food is never dull when it contains ginger. 
Some zingy, warming root ginger electrifies and enlivens a dish like nothing else. A stalwart aromatic in Asian and Caribbean cooking, you can incorporate it into a spice paste to build a deep, broad-shouldered flavour, or finely shred it raw over your finished dish as a pungent, tongue-tingling garnish, but it also works brilliantly in western dishes, such as crème brulée. 
Choose big chunky rhizomes that are firm to the touch, without any give, and with smooth, unwrinkled skin – they keep better in the fridge than small ones. Don't be timid or parsimonious with fresh ginger; think in terms of tablespoons, not teaspoons, and aim to use it up quickly when it's dripping with juice.
No wonder ginger occupies a venerable role in ayurvedic medicine as an appetite stimulant and digestive aid. It acts as a carminative (it prevents flatulence) and an intestinal spasmolytic (it soothes the intestinal tract). Modern research supports its efficacy as a safe remedy for travel sickness, and for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Ginger also seems to have an analgesic effect on the joints. Gingerols, the potent anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger, appear to reduce the pain, and improve the mobility, of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

Four women on fighting cancer with alternative therapies.

Cancer is on the rise. According to a recent report by Macmillan Cancer Support, nearly half of all Britons will receive a diagnosis during their lifetime. Billions of pounds are spent researching and trialling conventional medical treatments, and health advances are made year on year, extending the lives of patients beyond what was previously thought possible.
There is not, however, and probably never will be, a “golden bullet” – a cure-all for the array of cancers that threaten us. Cancer is a vast and ever-changing problem, and we must keep finding new ways to confront it. We will rightly continue to turn to the medical profession first. But there is a growing number of people in Britain seeking alternative approaches too, and making their voices heard. It’s a controversial area polarising opinion.
According to the breast-cancer charity The Haven, 89 per cent of its service users found that non-medical, complementary therapies (including herbal medicine and nutritional, energy, touch and mind-body therapies) were “essential” to their recovery.
Sheila Dillon, the presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme and a cancer sufferer, has recently spoken out against the NHS’s refusal to accept that diet matters in the fight against cancer.

'Ozone therapy' endangered patient's life

Dr Philip David Alan Jack, 79, administered 'ozone therapy' to treat a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in rooms rented from a company in Staffordshire.
The patient had more than 120 consultations with Dr Jack and underwent 'major ozone autohaemotherapy' around 80 or 90 times, whereby blood is taken out of the patient, mixed with ozone and re-injected into the vein. The controversial alternative therapy purports to increase the amount of oxygen in the body by introducing ozone into the blood.
Proponents of the treatment claim it can be used to treat cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, but there there are no peer-reviewed papers on the subject. Furious specialists treating the patient at Leicester Royal Infirmary found out about the unorthodox treatment and reported Dr Jack to the General Medical Council.
The medic, who retired from general practice in 1988, but is still fully registered, is facing allegations of misconduct at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.
The GMC say the treatment exposed Patient A to the 'hazard of fatal septicaemia' and that the doctor, who also goes by the names Dr Mathew Jack and Dr David Jack, failed to provide effective treatment as it was of no proven benefit. Dr Jack has admitted that he should have shared information with Patient A's GP and haematologist, but maintains that the treatment is beneficial and of no danger to the patient.

Drink an extra glass of water a day to beat middle-aged spread.

Forget fad diets and punishing exercise routines – the cure to middle-age spread may literally be on tap.
Scientists at Harvard say that drinking just one extra glass of water a day could be the secret to halting an expanding waistline.
The study found that over a 20-year period, adults in their thirties, forties and fifties gained nearly half a stone less simply by replacing one sugar-sweetened drink with a glass of water.
The research, carried out by a team from the Harvard School of Public Health, is one of the most comprehensive investigations into the long-term dietary benefits of drinking water instead of calorie-loaded fizzy drinks or fruit juices. It involved tracking the food and drink consumption of nearly 125,000 people over several decades.  The team looked at adults who took part in three long-term studies carried out in the US from the mid-eighties up to 2007.
Researchers analysed changes in their eating and drinking habits as well as their weight gain on a regular basis over more than two decades. The results, published in the International Journal of Obesity, showed that every four years the men and women in the study gained an average of 1.5 kilos – which works out as more than three pounds. This meant that, over the 20 or so years they were studied, they put on well over a stone as middle age took its toll.

Source  - Daily Mail

Do high doses of vitamin C raise prostate cancer risk?

Men who take high doses of vitamin supplements could be increasing their risk of lethal prostate cancer by nearly 30 per cent, say researchers.
A study of 48,000 men spanning more than two decades suggests popping too many vitamin pills can put them in danger of tumours that are more likely to be fatal.
The researchers linked high doses of vitamin C to an increased risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancer.
The results, by experts from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, in the US, and the University of Oslo in Norway, are not the first to raise the alarm over the dangers of excess vitamin consumption.
Nearly a quarter of adults in the UK are estimated to take antioxidant supplements or multivitamins regularly in the hope that it will help protect them against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. The market for such products is worth around half a billion pounds a year. In recent years, high-dose vitamins have become popular, with people  taking more in the belief that it is  better for them.
For example, health food shops now sell vitamin C tablets in doses of 1,000mg each, but the body needs only about 40mg a day to keep cells healthy and promote healing. In the latest research, the scientists set out to see if antioxidants in vitamin pills and food could reduce the chances of a prostate tumour. From 1986 to 2008 they followed 48,000 men aged between 40 and 75. Every four years, the men completed food questionnaires designed to record their dietary habits.

Source  - Daily Mail

The healing power of your own mind.

Living with chronic pain can be intolerable. 
You feel desperate to do something, anything, to stop the pain but whatever you try seems to fail. And much as you try to distract yourself, one thought dominates: it hurts. 
Being in pain is not only physical but also a mental battle against the painful sensations, wishing them away and trying to endure them.  But doctors now think that struggling like this actually makes your suffering worse. In fact, the latest medical advances show that accepting and exploring sensations of pain and illness can bring more powerful relief than the most commonly prescribed painkillers.
This approach constitutes a new treatment based on the ancient practice of 'mindfulness' meditation, which clinical trials show can reduce chronic pain by 57 per cent. Accomplished meditators can reduce their pain by more than 90 per cent. 
One high-profile practitioner is actress Goldie Hawn. She has said that through mindfulness, 'we can move our set point of happiness'. She set up a programme called MindUp under her Goldie Hawn Foundation to help children deal with stress and emotions and reduce their anxiety. This forms the basis of her book 10 Mindful Minutes, which teaches techniques such as mindful breathing and thinking.

Source  - Daily Mail

Alternative treatment shrinks enlarged prostates.

A ten-second blast of steam could be a promising new treatment for men with an enlarged prostate.
The experimental therapy uses steam to destroy excess tissue caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous condition in which the prostate 'grows' with age.
The prostate is a doughnut-shaped gland - around the size of a walnut - that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of the body. The gland tends to become larger as a man ages, possibly due to changing hormone levels.
As it grows it can press on the urethra, and the first sign of the condition is usually trouble passing urine, difficulty starting even when the bladder is full, and a need to urinate more frequently.  Treatment often involves alpha-blockers, drugs that relax muscle fibres within the prostate. Potential side-effects include dizziness and headaches.

Source  - Daily Mail

Just eat more porridge!

First, a health warning: anyone eating breakfast should skip to the sports section.
In January of this year a group of doctors in Amsterdam published a study using 'friendly bacteria' in the most extreme way possible. They were treating a group of patients with an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile (C.diff) - which grows when your normal bowel bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics. It can cause severe diarrhoea and even death. 
Ironically the treatment of C.diff infections is usually another strong course of antibiotics, but instead the Dutch group used the ultimate probiotic: a faecal transplantation.
That's right: they took donor faeces from healthy volunteers (screened for every imaginable disease) and infused it via a tube into the patients' small intestines. The treatment was so effective that the trial was stopped early. It was a small trial, and not without flaws, but it should prompt research in an area of medicine where we are only just beginning to understand our ignorance: the bacteria living inside us.

Source  - Daily Mail