Archive for the In the News Category

Light in our bedrooms resulting in poor sleep

It has been long established that light in the bedrooms disturbs sleep. Along with lack of sleep and excessive caffeine intake, brightly lit bedrooms may contribute to poor health.
Sleepless night
Recent study explores how our bedrooms have become so light intense and how this may link to obesity. I am not convinced about the light in the bedroom and obesity connection as obesity is a complex problem with multiple underlying and often personal reasons. Therefore, lit-up bedroom might just be associated with obesity due to poor sleep which might have entirely different causes. However, light does interfere with melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep and requires darkness, so those that have difficulty falling asleep, or going back to sleep after waking up, will benefit from a dark room and, if required, a very low level light pointed away from the eyes to move around in darkness.

It has also been established that the light shining from various electronic devices disturbs melatonin but it is again likely even more disturbing to have the electromagnetic fields, generated by mobiles and wifi, interfering with restful sleep and as with most things, we are all individuals and some of us are more sensitive to this type of interference than others.

To improve sleep, ensure you follow basic sleep hygiene rules and never go to bed hungry. If you feel even little hungry at bedtime, have a small protein based snack, such as natural yoghurt with berries or ½ banana. Further considerations include:
- avoid electronic stimulus for one hour prior to sleep, – including TV, computer, iPad
- remove all electronics, including phones from the bedroom, – and in most cases there is no real need for them to stay on at night either.
- ensure bedroom is completely dark and not too hot
- relax prior to bedtime, – Epson salt bath (max 20 min) and meditation are good options to try

See also my previous post on Sleep – are you getting enough? for what lack of sleep might mean to you.

Are multivitamins bad for you?

Hand Holding Drug CocktailHere we go again, the media distorting issues, this time broadcasting how multivitamins are a waste of money or even bad for you. There are multiple issues with headlines that hit the news yesterday. I have listed the key points below:

1 – there are multiple synthetic, poor quality supplements in the market that have no health benefits, but equally there are those that have gone through rigorous testing with choice of natural ingredients for improved bioavailability, remembering that the bioavailability also depends on the gut health and other circumstances of the individual.

2 – Looking at the studies in more detail, they expect the multivitamins to prevent cognitive decline, cancer, cardiovascular events, and death. Well, wouldn’t that be the magic pill. There are no such single pharmaceutical that would prevent such serious diseases and it is unreasonable to expect a multivitamin that is designed to help to balance selected vitamin and mineral levels to have such powers over a vast variety of other simultaneous health, dietary and lifestyle influences.

3 – All the studies supporting these headlines were funded by pharmaceutical companies that have long campaigned against the nutritional supplement industry. Enough said.

What can you do?
- Eat a varied, healthy diet with good, clean, organic/free range ingredients. Food always comes first, as does the active lifestyle!
- Don’t waste your money on cheap, synthetic supplements! Talk to your nutritionist to find out if supplements are right for you and if so, they will advice on the right choices.

Smoothies getting out of hand

As with anything, moderation is the key. Excessive use of fruit juices and smoothies add extra sugar in the form of fructose into ones diet and thus increase the risk of many related illnesses. The Guardian interviewed Professor Popkin at the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina and their article does a pretty good job at explaining the big picture.
Smoothies and fruit juices new health risk

To avoid excessive fruit sugars, keep smoothies and fruit juices to a minimum, increase vegetable intake and enjoy whole fruits. And what ever the representatives from Coca-Cola and Pepsi say in the article, the sweetness in ‘diet’ and ‘sugar-free’ drinks still comes from somewhere to make them palatable. The most common source is artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to depression, mood swings and even weight gain due to their tendency to slow down digestive process and increase appetite.

More on benefits of sleep

Success winner woman Remember my post on benefits of sleep in April! A new study adds further weight by showing how a good night’s sleep increases the cardiovascular benefits of a healthy lifestyle saying that “a good night’s sleep can increase the benefit of exercise, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and non-smoking in their protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD)”. Short sleep duration has been associated with a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension and with higher levels of blood pressure, total cholesterol, haemoglobin A, and triglycerides, effects which are “consistent with the hypothesis that short sleep duration is directly associated with CVD risk”.

Read more about the new study here!

Resistance to antibiotics

Little side step from nutrition but well worth a read… Sir Alexander Fleming mentioned already in his Noble Prize speech in 1945 that it is possible that human ignorance and overdosing with penicillin can lead to penicillin resistance. We are now there! Check BBC’s Antibiotics Apocalypse for more information

It is as important as ever, maybe even more so, for us as individuals to take action through our diet and lifestyle choices to maintain and boost our health and immune system.

Alarming insight to modern ‘healthcare’

U.S. manages disease, not health – below feature by CNN gives us insight to how a modern super power has lost sight of the basics when caring for its ever increasing population. While our UK system is not as reliant on people having to have private insurance to have access to quality healthcare, our mainstream medical care is similarly relying on drugs to suppress symptoms rather than using nutrition, exercise, and stress management to promote long-term health and therefore help the nation to live longer disease free. No doubt this type of preventative approach would significantly help the management of the healthcare costs both on the national and individual level.

Article: U.S. manages disease, not health by CNN

Heart Health and Mediterranean Diet

New gold standard study shows the benefits of Mediterranean diet i.e. diet high in vegetables, beans and other legumes, fruits, and fish, and a good helping of olive oil. This diet restricts the intake of biscuits and other bakery treats, spreads like butter, and processed and red meats, but, it allows moderate amounts of wine in true Mediterranean style, red being the better option out of the two.

The study shows how the patients who ate a “Mediterranean” diet rich in nuts or extra virgin olive oil as well as vegetables and wine had 30% fewer heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from cardiovascular disease than those that ate a diet that simply lowered their intake of dietary fat. This is very encouraging study giving us hope that with right dietary changes we may be able to reduce the ever increasing population relying on statins.

Read a more detailed summary of the study on Forbes pages.

Waste Not

Estimated 30% of vegetables are not harvested in the UK due to their physical appearance. 30-50% of food produced around the world goes to waste every year, – mostly in Europe and the USA.

This is a huge waste of resources at all levels and highlights the poor marketing practices and consumer behaviour of our times. Think through the deals on offer, if you don’t have time to eat it or freeze it, don’t buy it and a kinky cucumber is as tasty as its straight cousin, and much more fun with the kids. See one of the many articles here!

Alcohol adds empty calories to your diet

Have you gained some extra pounds over the holidays? It is worth noting that it is not just the seasonal food excesses that cause this increase, calories from alcohol are a major contributor to increased weight. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20874204

wine glasses

For example, a large glass of wine contains over 170 calories, which is the same as eating two chocolate digestive biscuits. Calories from alcohol are what is called ‘empty’ calories since they have no or very limited nutritional value. With this lack of nutrition, weight gain and additional health impacts, it is wise to limit the alcohol intake to minimum and know the units of various drinks and your own limits.