Is organic food healthier?

After publishing a study showing organic milk has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than ordinarily farmed products, Professor Chris Seal braced himself for the backlash. There is nothing like a study highlighting the benefits, or lack thereof, of organic food, to cause a spat. And Seal’s study in the British Journal of Nutrition last week (alongside another by him on meat that also shows higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids) certainly has its detractors.

The fact that the study was funded by the Sheepdrove Trust, a British charity that supports organic farming, hasn’t helped. Seal says the money paid for analysis only, and that the charity didn’t have any input into the research. The study, a meta-analysis of 196 papers on milk (the other looked at 36 studies on meat), found that organic-grass-fed cows produced milk with 50% more omega-3 fatty acids than that from ordinary dairy cows. These fatty acids are linked to reductions in heart disease. But, while 50% sounds like a lot, full-fat milk is only 4% fat (semi skimmed is 2%) so this translates to an tiny amount more fatty acid in organic milk. Seal argues that if you added in organic cheese and butter, this would increase. But others point out you could get more nutritional benefit buying fruit and vegetables than hoovering up organic dairy produce.

Source  - Guardian

Dirt is good for you. Hurrah!

How pleasing to have my inverted snobbery about sterile houses reinforced by yet more news that grime is good for you.
Of course it is. We’ve been told for years that children need exposure to bacteria and bugs in order for their immune systems to develop. But that still hasn’t stopped the national obsession with killing 99 per cent of all known germs, and hyperbolic phrases such as “not just clean, but hygienically clean”.
Me, I’ve always been ahead of the curve when it comes to boosting my family’s antibodies, with liberal amounts of dust and a bohemian (at least that’s how I’m selling it) attitude to hand washing. Before lunch or after a trip to the loo, it’s mandatory, of course – but when it comes to stroking cats or picnicking or playing in the garden, I’m relaxed, with the emphasis on lax.

NHS to ditch acupuncture for patients with back pain

Exercise is the best medicine for bad backs, and acupuncture should no longer be prescribed for the problem, health officials have ruled.
Fresh guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain state that exercise, including stretching, aerobics and yoga should be the treatment of choice.
Acupuncture has been removed from the list of therapies, due to a lack of evidence that it works. Paracetamol is also no longer recommended for the pain.

The National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence said the popular pills are no better than placebo drugs at tackling acute back pain and that, taken long-term, they can raise the risk of a range of health problems. 
Sufferers should try aspirin, ibuprofen and similar drugs instead, the regulator advised.

Source  - Daily Mail

You really can feel another person's pain

Many of us flinch when we see someone get injured.

Whether they cut their finger while chopping vegetables or accidentally stub their foot – it's common to grimace at the mere sight of their pain.

Most of us assume that we are just having an emotional response – not feeling pain ourselves. But, scientists have revealed that the same brain structures – the anterior insula and cingulate cortex – are activated, whether the pain is personally experienced or empathetic.

And so, even if a person doesn’t experience the injury themselves, they still experience similar symptoms to the person actually going through the pain, according to experts from Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.

Source  - Daily Mail

Don’t hate homeopaths

It has been labelled 'quackery' with no basis in science.

But one expert says homeopathy, an alternative 'treatment' where it is purported highly diluted substances can 'heal' the body,  has been unfairly vilified.
Dr Helen Beaumont, of the Faculty of Homeopathy, which registers and trains health professionals who use homeopathy in their practice, says people cannot discuss the subject without resorting to name-calling

Writing for the medical blogging website The Hippocratic Post, she says just because the evidence on homeopathy is inconclusive, it doesn't mean it is ineffective - and 'gold-standard' trials have proved it works beyond placebo.
Moreover, as it is less expensive than conventional treatments such as drugs, it could save the NHS money at a time of dire financial constraints.
Here, she explains why we should embrace homeopathic practice instead of attacking it...

Source  - Daily Mail

Snacking on BLUEBERRIES could stop dementia developing decades later

Snacking on blueberries from middle age could prevent dementia developing decades later, scientists say.

Experts told a major US conference that a compound in the berries may strengthen the brain’s defences against Alzheimer’s. In the absence of effective drugs, a nutritional option ‘represents a potentially potent approach to mitigate risk for late-life dementia’, they said. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect some 850,000 Britons and cost the economy £26billion a year.

With the search for new medicines largely fruitless, despite hundreds of drug trials and billions of pounds of funding, some experts believe more emphasis should be placed on the benefits of a healthy diet. Candidates include the humble blueberry, a ‘superfood’ already credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer.

University of Cincinnati researcher Robert Krikorian (CORR) studied 47 men and women aged 68-plus who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
The term covers the slight memory lapses that often, although not always, develop into full-blown dementia.

All were given a placebo powder or one made of freeze-dried blueberries to take once a day for four months. The blueberry powder been specially made for the study, and one sachet contained the equivalent of a small teacupful of berries. The volunteers were also put through a battery of mental tests at the study’s start and end, with a focus on memory and thinking skills that are eroded by dementia.

Source  - Daily Mail

Broccoli 'helps lower the risk of liver cancer'

Broccoli has added to its 'superfood' credentials after new research showed it can protect against liver cancer.

The vegetable has soared in popularity in recent years after scientists showed that eating it three to five times per week can lower the risk of many types of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

Now a new study reports that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer. And broccoli may also help counter the development of fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can cause malfunction of the liver and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with a high mortality rate.

Professor Elizabeth Jeffery, of Illinois University in the United States, said: 'The normal story about broccoli and health is that it can protect against a number of different cancers. But nobody had looked at liver cancer.

Source  - Daily Mail

Why you should never enjoy green tea and kale together.

Green tea is known for its many health benefits as a powerful antioxidant.

It is the beverage of choice for the health-conscious among us, complementing a diet rich in other 'superfoods', kale and spinach among them. But, scientists have found consuming green tea with foods rich in iron can cause the beverage to lose its antioxidant powers. 

Study author Dr Matam Vijay-Kumar, of Penn State University, said: 'If you drink green tea after an iron-rich meal, the main component in the tea will bind to the iron. When that occurs, the green tea loses its potential as an antioxidant. In order to get the benefits of green tea, it may be best to not consume it with iron-rich foods.'

Source  - Daily Mail

High fibre diet 'can cut risk of developing breast cancer'

Young girls and women who eat diets high in fibre cut the risk of developing breast cancer, a new study has found.
Researchers at Harvard found that those who who ate more fibre in early adulthood, particularly from fruits and vegetables, were 16 per cent less likely to get breast cancer overall. This figure rose to 24 per cent in breast cancer before the menopause.
Every additional 10 grams of fibre that women ate each day during early adulthood cut the risk by 13 per cent, according to the study.  This amounts to around one apple and two slices of whole wheat bread, or half a cup of kidney beans and cauliflower or squash, according to the study published in the journal ‘Pediatrics’.
Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease among women, according to the World Health Organisation. The latest worldwide figures from 2011 show that over half a million women died of the disease that year. 

Drinking a lot of coffee every day 'could cut the risk of developing multiple sclerosis'

Drinking a lot of coffee every day could potentially cut the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to findings that could help in the search for a cause to the illness.
Consuming more than 900ml – the equivalent of two Grande coffees in Starbucks – may offer up to a 30 per cent reduced risk of the condition, known as MS, experts found. Caffeine is known to have neuroprotective properties and has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses in the body.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and the University of California, Berkeley, looked at two studies. One, in Sweden involved 1,620 adults with MS and a comparison group of 2,788 people without MS. The second was a US study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people.
In both studies, people were asked about their coffee consumption and how long they had been drinking coffee for. The researchers then estimated coffee intake at and before the start of MS symptoms in those who developed the disease, and compared this with healthy groups.

'No proof' salt is bad for your health

A group of scientists are challenging the now conventional wisdom that a low-sodium diet is better for your long-term health, asking whether people should take official advice on the matter with a pinch of salt.
In a new review of the evidence, a team of experts from Columbia University found there were “two distinct bodies of scholarship” on the matter – those who believe reducing salt intake will improve the overall health of the population, and those who don’t.
Watching your salt intake has become one of the core pieces of dietary advice in the UK in recent years, and in the US it has got to the point where New York is requiring by law that restaurants label salt content in their food. So it will be a surprise to many to find that just 54 per cent of the 269 academic reports included in the review found in favour of a salt reduction hypothesis.

Citrus could reduce the risk of a stroke

Good news for orange lovers: citrus fruit intake has been associated with reduced stroke risk.
The key may lie with a citrus phytonutrient called hesperidin, which appears to increase blood flow throughout the body, including the brain.
Using a machine known as a doppler fluximeter, scientists can measure blood flow through the skin using a laser beam. If we hook people up to this machine and give them a solution containing the amount of hesperidin found in two cups of orange juice, blood pressure decreases and overall blood flow increases.

When subjects drank straight orange juice instead of the hesperidin solution, their blood flow was even better. In other words, the stroke-reducing effects of oranges extend beyond just the hesperidin.

When it comes to food, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. The positive effects of citrus fruits on blood flow don’t require a machine to measure them. In one study, scientists recruited women who suffered from sensitivity to cold weather due to poor blood flow — women with chronically cold hands, feet and toes — and placed them in a highly air-conditioned room.

Source  - Daily Mail

Vitamin pills that won't protect you

After following more than 60,000 people for more than a dozen years, University of Oxford researchers found those who consume a plant-based diet were less likely to develop all forms of cancer combined.
The greatest protection appeared to be against blood cancers. The incidence of leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma among those eating vegetarian diets is nearly half that of meat-eaters.

Yale University researchers followed more than 500 women with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for about eight years. Those who started out eating three or more servings of vegetables daily had a 42 per cent improved survival rate over those who ate less. Green, leafy vegetables - including salad and cooked greens - and citrus fruits seemed to offer the most protection. But you shouldn't wait for a cancer diagnosis before you at least start adding some of these to your diet.

The Iowa Women's Health Study, which has followed more than 35,000 women for decades, found eating more broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of getting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the first place.

Source  - Daily Mail

Turmeric - Nature's wonder drug!

Ounce for ounce, herbs and spices have more antioxidants than any other food group. This means they can help prevent the initial triggering of mutations in your DNA that could lead to cancer or other diseases.
So taking a moment to spice up your life can have far-reaching consequences. And the truly amazing properties of turmeric make it something we should sprinkle on our food every single day.

What if someone could invent a magic pill that protected us from some of the worst diseases on the planet? Imagine the joy of the pharmaceutical companies - and what they'd charge us to buy it.

Well, I have news that Big Pharma doesn't particularly want to hear. The ingredients for that pill are probably already right there on your kitchen shelves: in a packet or bottle labelled turmeric.
Since the turn of the century, more than 50 clinical trials have tested curcumin - the pigment in turmeric that gives it that bright yellow colour - against a variety of diseases.
These show that the spice may play a significant role in preventing or treating lung disease, brain disease and a variety of cancers - including multiple myeloma, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Source  - Daily Mail

Foods that you should eat every day

Every day, you should aim to have the recommended number of servings from each section of what I call my Daily Dozen:

1 Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spring greens, radishes, turnip tops, watercress
One serving a day: A serving is half a cup chopped or quarter of a cup of broccoli or brussels sprouts.

2 Greens including spring greens, kale, young salad greens, sorrel, spinach, swiss chard
Two servings a day: A serving is one cup raw or half a cup cooked.

3 Other vegetables: Asparagus, beetroot, peppers, carrots, corn, courgettes, garlic, mushrooms, okra, onions, pumpkin, sugar snap peas, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Source  - Daily Mail

Tea reduces likelihood of having a stroke or cardiac arrest

Just one cup of tea a day could lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, research suggests.

A study of 6,200 people found those who drank tea every day had a 35 per cent lower chance of a cardiac arrest, stroke, heart attack or cardiovascular death than those who never drank tea. They also had fewer calcium deposits in the coronary arteries around the heart – a major cause of heart problems, said the team from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, US. 

‘We found that being a moderate tea drinker was associated with a decreased progression of coronary artery calcium and decreased incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events,’ they told the American Heart Association in Arizona yesterday. They added: ‘Future research is needed to understand the potentially protective nature of moderate tea intake.’ 

They did not examine why tea has such a protective role, but previous research has suggested that flavonoids – a type of antioxidant found in tea – may be responsible.  The chemicals are known to prevent cell damage and help people lose weight. 

A 2014 study by Taiwanese researchers found that drinking a cup of tea per day for one year or more is likely to decrease arterial stiffness. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Ward off heart attacks with rhubarb crumble

What is the number one risk factor for death — and how many of us are affected? Answer: high blood pressure, which affects 25 per cent of the UK population.
Also known as hypertension, it contributes to deaths from a large number of causes, including aneurysms, heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.
As you age, your blood pressure tends to get higher. This has led even doctors to assume that a high reading is an inevitable consequence of getting older — even though we’ve known for a century that this is untrue.

In the 1920s, researchers measured the blood pressure of 1,000 native Kenyans who ate a low-sodium diet centred around plant foods: whole grains, beans, fruits, dark leafy greens and other vegetables.
Bear in mind that normal blood pressure is 120/80. Anything above 140/90 is considered high.

Until the age of 40, the blood pressure of the rural Africans was similar to that of Europeans — about 125/80. However, by age 60, the average Westerner had high blood pressure, while that of the average Kenyan had actually improved.
High blood pressure, then, appears to be a lifestyle choice. You can continue eating the artery-bursting Western diet: or you can take the pressure off by simply changing your diet.

Source  - Daily Mail

Hip replacements for under-60s soaring

The number of hip replacement operations on people aged under 60 has risen 76% in the last decade, NHS figures for England reveal.
In 2004-05 there were 10,145 hip replacements for people aged 59 and below, with 17,883 in 2014-15. The Royal College of Surgeons says this is partly because doctors are now more confident that replacement joints will be more durable than in the past. Patients are also said to be less willing to wait.
Demand for new hips across all ages has risen - there were 89,919 of the operations in 2004-05 and 122,154 in 2014-15.
Stephen Cannon, vice-president of the RCS, says as hip replacement techniques and prosthetics have improved, so have the numbers of younger patients undergoing this type of surgery.
"It's no longer seen as a last resort. As surgeons, we now have more confidence about the wear rate of these prosthetics which allows us to be less restrictive on an age basis."