26 Ways To A Healthier You In 2012

January 4, 2012

If you have been indulging a bit too much over the festive season, you may be thinking about making some healthy New Years’ resolutions. Traditionally, it is the time to start a diet but few diets are truly healthy and some can leave you seriously lacking in essential nutrients.

Instead of setting resolutions that are soon broken, consider making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle which you can adopt throughout 2012 and beyond.

1. Aim to eat a minimum of 5, but preferably 8 to 10 fruits and vegetables a day.

2. Choose “negative calorie” vegetables which use up more calories to digest than the number of calories they contain. Examples are broccoli, carrots, celery, lettuce, asparagus, cauliflower, chilli peppers, cucumbers, garlic, onions, spinach, turnip.

3. Fruit is best eaten in the morning – for example, a fruit smoothie for breakfast, or as a snack between meals. Negative calorie fruits include apples, tangerines, papayas, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, grapefruit, lemons, mangos, oranges.

4. Include some raw vegetables in your diet each day, such as a side salad or crudités but avoid high sugar and fat dressings or dips.

5. NEVER cook vegetables in a microwave as it destroys most of the nutrients and can be harmful to health. Steaming is the best cooking method.

6. Unless you have an allergy to them, nuts and seeds make an ideal snack instead of crisps or chocolate. They are best eaten raw and a handful is not as fattening as you may think.

7. Choose lean cuts of meat but only eat a small portion. It’s not necessary to eat meat every day.

8. Eat at least one portion of oily fish a week such as salmon, tuna or mackerel.

9. Use a smaller plate. Psychologically, you will feel more satisfied eating from a full, small plate than a half empty, large plate.

10. Go easy on the dairy products. They can be quite fattening and are not essential for health. Green, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds are a far superior source of calcium.

11. Natural, pro-biotic yogurt can help aid digestion by providing millions of good bacteria to the gut but avoid yogurts with fruit, sugar or artificial sweeteners.

12. Keep processed foods to a minimum, especially starchy carbohydrates, as they are high in calories and soon leave you craving for more.

13. Avoid “white” foods such as white bread, pasta, rice and sugar. Instead, use the wholemeal or brown versions.

14. Avoid all artificial sweeteners as they are harmful to health and actually stimulate your appetite! Xylitol, a natural sweetener, is a safer alternative with few calories.

15. Drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day, ideally water.

16. If you feel hungry between meals, try a glass of water, first. Thirst lets us know we are dehydrated but sometimes we mistake it for hunger.

17. Keep caffeinated drinks to a minimum as they can be dehydrating.

18. Alcohol is high in calories, so limit the amount you drink.

19. Avoid fizzy drinks full of empty calories. Even the diet versions are bad and will make you want to eat more!

20. To make up the shortfall in nutrients in our food today, take a broad-spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Liquid versions are usually best for absorption.

21. Take a probiotic supplement with billions of “good” bacteria (acidophilus and bifidus) to aid digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut.

22. Take fish oil, either in capsules or as a liquid for omega 3 fatty acids.

23. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, your ability to lose weight will be harder. A supplement with Vitamin D3 can help raise your levels. Most people in the UK are deficient during the winter months.

24. Avoid eating after 7pm. Any carbohydrates not used as energy will be stored as fat.

25. Get active. No need to sign up for the gym. A brisk walk, running up and down stairs, parking further away from your destination, doing housework . . . can all help burn extra calories and keep you fit and healthy.

26. Finally, some people struggle with weight control due to an underlying medical condition. The most common are Hypothyroidism (underactive Thyroid Gland), Insulin Resistance (Pre-Diabetes/Type 2 Diabetes), or a Food Intolerance. If you suspect you may have a problem, consult a health practitioner for a health check.

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How Light Can Affect Your Sleep

September 19, 2011
If you have difficulty sleeping at night, it may have something to do with the quality and amount of light around you prior to bed time.

The human body is highly sensitive to light and in the past, our daily activities were guided by the cycles of day and night, and the seasons. These cycles helped us decide on the best times for waking and sleeping, hunting, fishing, planting and harvesting.

Nowadays, we have electric lighting which allows us to continue our activities long after sunset. However, the downside of artificial lighting and the increased use of electronic devices with bright screens, such as televisions, computers and smart phones, means that we are subjected to light for much longer.  These light sources often affect our ability to fall asleep.  And if we don’t get enough sleep, our mental function, mood, productivity and long-term health can all suffer.

If you find it difficult to fall asleep, you may find the following tips on the use of light before bedtime will help:

1.   No bright lights after sunset – avoid the use of overhead lights and instead, use lamps at table height to simulate the firelight our ancestors would have been exposed to after dark.  Overhead lights simulate sunlight and prevent your body preparing for rest.

2.   Use low-watt bulbs – for the last one to two hours before bedtime, use bulbs with a lower light output below 100-watt.

3.   No blue light – blue light simulates daylight so instead, choose bulbs that give off a more yellow light. This can also be helped with lamp shades in gold or red tones to help simulate natural evening light.

4.   Reduce use of electronic devices before bedtime – research shows that using televisions, computers or mobile phones before bed can inhibit sleep. Their use should be limited in the hour or two before bedtime. If you need to use the computer at night, you can download a free software programme which changes the brightness of your computer screen to simulate the natural light cycle in your time zone – available from http://stereopsis.com/flux.

5.   Block out window light – any light that comes into your room from street lamps or flood lights can interfere with the production of a hormone called melatonin, your sleep hormone.  If this is a problem, purchase a black-out blind or curtains.

For information on a healthy diet and lifestyle which includes more tips on sleeping, download a free E-Book at http://pulsescreening.co.uk/EBook

Vitamin C helps children with asthma

September 8, 2011

It has been known since the 1940s that Vitamin C can help the asthmatic child.  This has now been confirmed by researchers from Tanta University in Egypt.

The researchers have found that giving just 0.2 grams of Vitamin C every day to a child, diagnosed with asthma, increases their lung capacity by 37 per cent.  The effect was greater in younger children aged between seven and eight years.  The improvement in lung capacity in children aged up to 10 years was found to be 21 per cent.

They also found that Vitamin C works better in children whose asthma is mild.  Older children, whose asthma was severe, had the smallest effect.

Although these findings show that Vitamin C will not significantly help all children, it is definitely worth giving 0.2 grams of Vitamin C to younger children with mild asthma,  especially as the results are every bit as promising as those that can be expected from a drug.

(Source: Clinical and Translational Allergy, 2011; 1: 9).

The Morning Habit That DOUBLES Your Risk of Lung Cancer

September 5, 2011

If you are a smoker, you should already know that your chance of being diagnosed with cancer is much higher than a non-smoker.

However, new research from two studies published in the medical journal “Cancer”, has found that your risk of getting lung cancer is almost doubled if you smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up.

In one study, researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine looked at 7,611 smokers – 4,776 with lung cancer and 2,835 without cancer.  They found that those that lit up within 30 minutes of waking were 79% more likely to have developed cancer than those who waited at least an hour. This finding remained even after the scientists adjusted for other smoking habits, such as the number of cigarettes smoked in a day.

The researchers are unsure why this is the case, but they theorise that smokers who light up as soon as they get up may be inhaling more smoke into their lungs than later in the day.

A second study came up with similar findings when they looked at a group of 1,850 smokers. Again, it shows the smokers who usually lit up within 30 minutes of waking were 59% more likely to have developed a head or neck tumour than those who waited for at least a half hour.

Research is still needed to determine why early morning smokers are significantly more likely to get cancer than those who start later in the day.

Meanwhile, if you are not ready to give up smoking completely, you can at least reduce your odds of cancer by waiting to smoke that first cigarette of the day for an hour or so after waking up.

How governments mislead women about breast cancer screening

September 1, 2011

Health officials are seriously misleading women about the benefits of regular breast cancer screening, researchers say.

Women over the age of 50 are encouraged to have regular mammogram screening – but it’s advice based on evidence that is 25 years out of date, and has since been proven to be wrong.

Health agencies, such as the UK’s National Health Service, are downplaying the very real risks of mammogram screening and exaggerating the benefits, say researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Centre.

Even the very latest leaflets about the mammogram service in the UK continue to perpetuate the myths about the benefits of regular screenings, although health officials had promised to modify their advice to women in the light of new research published over the past five years.

“If screening was a drug, it would have been withdrawn.  You don’t market a drug that harms so many people for such uncertain benefit,” said researcher Peter Gotzsche, from the Nordic Cochrane Centre.

Mammograms detect all breast abnormalities, many of which are benign and yet which are still treated – unnecessarily – with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  The Cochrane researchers estimate that for every case of aggressive breast cancer that mammograms discover, they also find 10 benign cases that could be left well alone.

(Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 2011; 104: 361-9).

A less well known, yet more reliable and non-invasive breast screening method is Thermography.  Details about Thermography can be found here.

 

Nuts control blood sugar in Type 2 Diabetics as well as drugs

August 2, 2011

A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto, has discovered that nuts are a great low-GI (glycemic index) food that every diabetic should be eating because they don’t raise the blood glucose and insulin levels.

Eating two ounces (57 grammes) of nuts every day in place of carbohydrates helped control the glycemic load in people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.  It didn’t matter what type of nut was eaten or whether it was unsalted, raw or dry-roasted as they all had a positive effect.

The researchers tested three different diets on a group of diabetics who were given muffins, muffins and nuts, or just nuts to eat.

Those who ate a nuts-only diet saw their glycemic load fall to a level close to that which health regulators regard as ‘clinically meaningful’, an effect that is usually achieved only by taking drugs.  And, unless you have a nut allergy, they are free from the horrid side effects of diabetic drugs, too.

An even better result that was discovered with the group who ate the nut-only diet was that they lost weight.  Who said nuts were fattening?

 

(Source: Diabetes Care, 2011; doi: 10.2337/dc11-0338).

Could you be risking heart failure by taking Statins?

July 19, 2011

Statins are drugs which doctors prescribe to lower cholesterol.  In the UK, GPs are given financial incentives to prescribe cholesterol lowering drugs to their patients which may be why they are one of the most prescribed drugs, today.  One doctor has even suggested that statins should be added to the water supply!

However, there are a number of nasty side effects which should be considered before a statin drug is prescribed.  One of the known side effects is myopathy, also known as muscle weakness or rhabdomyolysis.  It is a breakdown of muscle fibres that results in these fibres being released into the bloodstream which causes pain.

According to a study published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, statins have been linked to decreased heart muscle function (myocardial function), which is a major concern, because the majority of people who use statins are doing so because they have been told by their doctors that lowering their cholesterol will prevent heart attacks and strokes.

In the study, US researchers at the Department of Medicine, Michigan State University, evaluated the effects of statin therapy on heart muscle function in 28 patients. They found that there was significantly better heart muscle function in the control group, compared to the statin group.

Much as the researchers did not address the causes of decreased heart muscle function, it’s a well-known fact that statins lower your levels of an important heart nutrient, Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production. This is the same pathway by which CoQ10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other beneficial fat-soluble antioxidants.

As statins deplete your body more and more of CoQ10, you’ll start suffering from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness which may eventually lead to heart failure,  since the heart is a muscle. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine is slow to admit that CoQ10 depletion is a major concern (and health risk) and that statin drugs play a major part in it.

However, some countries are starting to take these finding seriously.  In Canada, there are clear risk warnings of CoQ10 depletion on the labelling of statin drugs. The warning labels even note that this nutrient deficiency: “could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure.”   We can only hope that the UK will do the same.

If you are currently taking statins, has your doctor informed you about the risk of CoQ10 depletion?  Probably not and he probably did not tell you that you need to supplement with Co-enzyme Q10 either, in order to prevent irreversible damage to your muscles and heart.

If you want to find out more about statins and the truth about cholesterol, visit the blog of UK doctor, Dr. John Briffa, who has written extensively about statins and the damage they can do to your health. In his latest post, Dr. Briffa discusses a new study that adds to the mounting evidence already questioning the benefits of using statins as a way of ‘saving lives’.   See The Cholesterol Truth.  You may wish to encourage your GP to read it, too.

Blood pressure falls naturally as we age

June 23, 2011
Many over-65s are prescribed a drug to lower their blood pressure  but researchers have discovered that it naturally falls as we get older.  This suggests that drugs could combine with the ageing process to produce low blood pressure that can result in fainting and dizzy spells.
Doctors have assumed that blood pressure rises as we get older, and therefore prescribe antihypertensive drugs as a just-in-case measure.  But researchers from University College London have discovered that blood pressure rises during four phases of our life.  While it rises for a while when we reach our late 50s or so, it then falls naturally.
It also rises when we are adolescents, again when we are young adults, followed by an acceleration in our 40s and finally in our late 50s, before declining naturally.
Source: PLoS Med, 2011; 8: e1000440

Yet another study showing brain cancer risk from talking for 15 minutes a day on a mobile phone

June 16, 2011

Talking on a mobile phone for just 15 minutes a day, or higher increases the risk of brain cancer, which is usually fatal in nature.

A recent study, which was conducted in 13 countries, says using a mobile phone for just 15 minutes a day can substantially up the risk of brain cancer among its users. The longer people use it, the higher the risk.

A news agency, quoting Elisabeth Cardis, leader of the Interphone Study, said an increased risk of brain tumours, known as gliomas, was seen in the 20 per cent of users with the highest exposure to radio-frequency emissions.

Notably, Gliomas are fatal, usually within three to five years of diagnosis, even with treatment. Also, users may develop cancer close to the area where they held their phones to the head.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation too, said that mobile phones may be carcinogenic in nature.  Many other organisations have also come out recently with studies that have cited adverse effects of radiation of mobile phones on mental and physical health of not just humans but also animals.

Risk of Birth Defects From Common Garden Pesticide

June 16, 2011

The world’s most popular pesticide, used in gardens, parks and schools, causes birth defects.   A group of scientists has claimed this week that European regulators have known about this for more than 10 years, yet have done nothing about it.

The risk of birth defects from Roundup pesticide, manufactured by Monsanto, was first picked up by the company’s own researchers in the 1980s, say the scientists in a new report ‘Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?

The EU Commission’s own expert panel told regulators in 1999 that glyphosate in Roundup caused birth defects, something that German government investigators had acknowledged a year earlier.

In 2002, the EU Commission declared Roundup was a safe product – and, under lax regulations, it may not review the product again until 2030.

Because of this rubber-stamping, Roundup is used by gardeners in the home, in parks, in schools and in public areas as well as on farms.