Could oily fish pills improve your teen's behaviour?

Teenagers are notorious for making poor food choices - favouring pizzas, fizzy drinks and crisps over proper balanced meals.

So it might sound as if the makers of Wellteen, a supplement made for teenagers 'tailored' for their developing brains, are on to something. Research seems to back this up - a recent study by the University of Oxford showed teenagers given the supplement for three months were better behaved than those given a placebo, according to teachers' ratings of behaviour. The researchers say it is the first study to show clearly that oral supplements can improve behaviour in healthy youngsters.

One key ingredient is omega 3 - the fatty acids vital for building connections between brain cells, which influences our behaviour. Our bodies can't make them, so we need to get them from our diet. Oily fish is the richest source of omega 3s. There is some evidence that a lack of omega 3 may be linked to an increased risk of behavioural problems.

A study in the International Review of Psychiatry in 2006 suggested deficiencies in omega 3 may lower levels of brain chemicals at critical periods of neuro-development, and lead to problems such as aggression. And a study in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics in 2013 reviewed this evidence and concluded that giving a multi-nutrient supplement could help treat anti-social behaviour and other psychiatric symptoms.

Source  - Daily Mail

Peppermint tea and rosemary are found to 'significantly' improve long term memory in adults

The key to improving the memory could be found in two common herbs – peppermint and rosemary.

Peppermint tea was found to significantly improve long term memory and working memory in healthy adults. Meanwhile sniffing the aroma of rosemary was found to help older adults to remember to do things, a study found. But if you want to relax, the same research suggested different remedy from Mother Nature’s garden.

Drinking camomile tea was shown to slow down memory and attention speed – just the thing at bedtime - and the whiff of lavender was also found to have calming effects.

Dr Mark Moss and colleagues from Northumbria University will present their research to the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham today (WEDS).

Source  - Daily Mail

Yoga could help asthma sufferers

Practising yoga could help asthma suffers breathe more easily, a new study has found.

The Cochrane Review – an international healthcare non-profit organisation – suggests yoga can improve the quality of life for people who suffer with asthma. The review, published on Tuesday in the Cochrane Library, used randomised trials, which found evidence yoga can improve the quality of life and symptoms of sufferers to some extent. It says yoga, as a holistic therapy, has the potential to relieve both the physical and psychological suffering and could reduce the medication a person takes to cope with asthma.

Lead author Dr Zuyao Yang, from the University of Hong Kong, said the findings suggested practising yoga could lead to small improvements for those with the condition.

Source  - Independent

Mindfulness therapy works as well as anti-depressant drugs

Therapy based on the controversial concept of ‘mindfulness’works as well as some anti-depressant drugs, according to a major new study.
Inspired in part by Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness involves training the brain to deal with negative emotions using techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. Some critics have claimed mindfulness techniques can bring on panic attacks and lead to paranoia, delusions or depression.
But the new study – the largest-ever analysis of research on the subject - found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people just as much as commonly prescribed anti-depressant drugs and that there was no evidence of any harmful effects.

Could watercress be an unlikely tool in fight against smoking?

Watercress could be an unlikely weapon in the fight against smoking, experts have revealed.
Taking the plant extract several times a day significantly inhibits the activation of a tobacco-derived carcinogen in smokers, a new study suggests. The findings also show how the extract detoxifies environmental carcinogens and toxicants found in cigarette smoke.

Futhermore, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh say the effect is stronger in people who lack certain genes involved in processing carcinogens.

Dr Jian-Min Yuan, at the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health, said: 'Cigarette smokers are at far greater risk than the general public for developing lung cancer, and helping smokers quit should be our top cancer prevention priority in these people. But, nicotine is very addictive, and quitting can take time and multiple relapses.

Source  - Daily Mail

Is meditation key to a youthful mind?

Meditation doesn’t just free the mind, it could also keep it young.

Regular meditation knocks seven and a half years off the middle-aged brain, a study found. The researchers said that the combination of intense concentration and relaxation may trigger the growth of new brain cells. And while they didn’t look at whether the meditators were also smarter, brain shrinkage is linked to Alzheimer’s and other memory-robbing diseases.

The scientists scanned the brains of 50 American men and women who regularly meditated and 50 non-meditators. The scans were fed into a computer programme that analysed the images and provided an age for each brain based on its physical condition. The results were striking.

In general, the non-meditators’ brain age and actual age were the same, so a 55 year old’s brain looked like it was 55. However, the meditators’ brains were younger than their years, with the average 50-year-old having a brain that belonged in a 42 or 43 year-old’s body.

Source  - Daily Mail

Loneliness can lead to heart disease and strokes, research suggests

Being lonely and socially isolated can increase a person's risk of heart disease or stroke, new research suggests.

The effect loneliness has on the heart is similar to that seen in people who suffer anxiety or have stressful jobs, experts found. Researchers from the University of York, the University of Liverpool and Newcastle University reviewed evidence on the impact loneliness has on heart disease and stroke risk.

They examined 23 relevant studies, involving more than 181,000 adults, where 4,628 coronary heart disease and 3,002 stroke "events" were recorded. After analysing the data they found that loneliness and isolation were associated with a 29% increase in risk for coronary heart disease and a 32% increase in risk of stroke.
"We found an association between poor social relationships and incident cardiovascular disease comparable in size to other recognised psycho-social risk factors, such as anxiety and job strain," the authors wrote in the journal Heart.

Source - Independent

Could probiotics ward off cancer?

A growing body of scientific evidence points to the role intestinal bacteria plays in triggering and preventing obesity, and other chronic diseases. Now, a new study suggests that it could also help reduce the risk for certain types of cancer.

The findings show that certain bacteria in the gut has anti-inflammatory properties that help slow or stop the development of the disease. Ultimately, it could mean doctors are able to reduce a person's risk of cancer by analyzing the levels and types of bacteria in their gut.

From there, they could then prescribe probiotics to replace or bolster the amount of bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties, said the study's senior author, Professor Robert Schiestl from the University of California, Los Angeles.
'It's not invasive and rather easy to do,' he said. 

Over millions of years, gut bacteria have evolved into both good and bad types.
The good ones have anti-inflammatory properties and the bad ones promote inflammation. The human body typically contains about 10 trillion bacterial cells, compared with only one trillion human cells.

Source  - Daily Mail

Testing blood pressure in both arms could save lives

Doctors should take blood pressure readings in both arms of patients, experts say, after they found a difference was linked to a severe heart risk.
Those with just five points’ variation were twice as likely to have died from heart disease in the next eight years, a study revealed. Time-pressed doctors and nurses rarely check both arms, the researchers said, despite guidelines recommending it.

Previous studies have already highlighted the significance of a discrepancy in blood pressure for patients already diagnosed with heart disease. This is because it can indicate a blockage in a major artery on one side of the body.
But until now, no studies had been carried out on those yet to receive a diagnosis.

The new research, led by the University of Exeter, suggests that regularly recording blood pressure in both arms could be a cheap and simple way to raise a warning flag years before people displayed other symptoms.

Diet research conducted 40 years ago could have changed the way we eat

It was one of the largest, most rigorous experiments ever conducted on an important diet question: How do fatty foods affect our health? Yet it took more than 40 years  — that is, until today —  for a clear picture of the results to reach the public.
The fuller results appeared Tuesday in BMJ, a medical journal, featuring some never-before-published data. Collectively, the fuller results undermine the conventional wisdom regarding dietary fat that has persisted for decades and is still enshrined in influential publications such as the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  But the long-belated saga of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment may also make a broader point about how science gets done: it suggests just how difficult it can be for new evidence  to see the light of day when it contradicts widely held theories.

An apple a day really CAN keep the doctor away

Avoiding a fatal heart attack or stroke could be as simple as ensuring you get your five-a-day, experts today revealed.
Those people who eat fresh fruit most days are at lower risk of cardiac episodes than those who rarely eat fresh fruit. Scientists at the University of Oxford concluded 100g - just over half a cup - of fruit each day lowered a person's risk of early death from heart attack or stroke by a third. The findings come from a seven-year study focusing on half a million people living in China, where fresh fruit consumption is much lower than in the UK or US. 

Study author, Dr Huaidong Du, said: 'The association between fruit consumption and cardiovascular risk seems to be stronger in China, where many still eat little fruit, than in high-income countries where daily consumption of fruit is more common.' 
Source  - Daily Mail

Long term vegetarian diet changes human DNA

Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found.
Populations who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be far more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation. Scientists in the US believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. But it has the knock-on effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is linked to inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils - such as sunflower oil - the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.

A handful of walnuts a day keeps heart disease at bay

A handful of walnuts a day could keep heart disease and other age-related illnesses at bay.
Research has shown that regularly snacking on the nuts cuts artery-clogging cholesterol.
Walnuts may also cut hunger pangs and reduce the odds of metabolic syndrome - a cluster of conditions including obesity and high blood pressure that together greatly increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. What is more, they do all this without causing weight gain, a San Diego health conference heard.

The researchers said that while other nuts also have benefits, walnuts contain particularly high levels of health-boosting omega-3 fats. Doctors from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University in Barcelona tracked cholesterol levels in more than 700 elderly men and women.

Half added around 2oz of walnuts – roughly a handful - to their daily diet while the others ate as normal. After a year, levels of LDL cholesterol, the harmful form blamed for clogging arteries had fallen in the walnut-eaters. However, despite walnuts often being thought of as a fatty food, the volunteers, who had an average age of 69, didn’t put on weight.

Source  - Daily Mail

Why blueberries really ARE the best food for your health

They are the little blue fruits which put the 'super' in superfoods. 
Blueberries are jam-packed with health-boosting compounds which have been linked to seemingly endless health benefits. From the holy grail of slowing the ageing process to fighting devastating ailments like heart disease and Alzheimer's, blueberries have been hailed in numerous studies. A recent study placed them top of the list when it comes to antioxidant activity - compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Center put them top of the crops for mopping up harmful by-products of metabolism in the blood, known as free radicals. They have been poked, prodded and ripped apart in a series of tests which have also detected other chemicals in the berries which reduce harmful cholesterol levels and even prevent bladder infections.

Source  - Daily Mail

Gluten may be making more people ill than we thought

When Novak Djokovic won at Wimbledon last year, he ate a small piece of grass as part of his celebration and joked it was OK as it was 'gluten-free'.
Djokovic says giving up gluten has left him lighter, stronger, healthier and sharper.

And by no means is he alone in his view that it is something to be avoided.
Currently, gluten-free food is outselling all other diet options. YouGov reports that 60 per cent of people purchase or consume gluten-free products. A survey my research team published in 2014 suggested as much as 13 per cent of the population believe it disagrees with them.
Yet most doctors (I used to be one of them) believe that gluten - a protein found in wheat and so in flour, bread and pasta - will only cause you problems if you have coeliac disease.

This is a condition where the immune system reacts to gluten, damaging the gut and preventing vital nutrients such as calcium being absorbed.

Source  - Daily Mail

Acupuncture for lower back pain no more effective than 'sham treatment'

Health officials no longer recommend using acupuncture to manage lower back pain, having described the technique as "no better than a sham treatment." 
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove that acupuncture is effective, following a review into guidance on dealing with lower back pain.  The new recommendations state that massage and manipulation by physiotherapists should only be used alongside physical activity, and stress that sufferers should exercise.
Experts added that anti-inflammatories which do not contain steroids, such ibuprofen or aspirin, should be used to manage lower back pain. Weak opioids, including codeine, are now only recommended for use by those with acute pain. 
The draft recommendations, which update guidance from 2009, have been published for consultation. 

Singing in a choir can help alleviate symptoms of cancer

Singing in a choir can boost the immune system and tackle stress, and could therefore be an important tool for cancer patients according to a new study.
Researchers at the Welsh research charity Tenovus Cancer Care worked with the Royal College of Music and Imperial College to find that performing in a choir for just one hour can have a positive effect on a person's health. 

He explained: "Singing in a choir can have a range of social, emotional and psychological benefits, and now we can see it has biological effects too. It's really exciting and could enhance the way we support people with cancer in the future.“ Dr Ian Lewis, director of research at the charity, said the study is the first time that singing has been proven to affect the immune system.