Easter Health Tips

chocolate John Loo

Image credit: John Loo

Before you rush out to buy Easter eggs, hunt for hidden stashes at home… as new survey reveals the ‘chocking’ truth about our addition to sweet treats

Almost half of UK adults have lied to their partner about how much chocolate they’re eating, with one third actually indulging in secret on the way home from work.

The average chocolate eater in the UK tucks into almost three chocolate bars a week – that’s over 150 chocolate bars a year. Experts believe that kicking the habit could see chocolate lovers shed up to 11 pounds (5kg) in a year.

A survey of 3,000 adults by the British Heart Foundation found that chocoholic Brits are going to extraordinary lengths to hide just how much they love their sweet treats:

  • One in four (25%) think they would find chocolate more difficult to ditch than alcohol or  caffeine.
  • One-third (33%) said they  eat chocolate in secret on their way home from work while 13% eat it  behind the fridge door or wait until their partner leaves the room.
  • Almost half (43%) said  they have hidden chocolate wrappers to disguise how much they’ve eaten and  have such a sweet tooth they keep a secret stash of chocolate for      emergencies.
  • Some of the most common  chocolate hideaways are in desk drawers at work (24%) and bedside cabinets  (15%). One in ten (10%) hide chocolate in the glove compartment of their car.

“A bit of chocolate is fine in moderation but it should be a treat,” highlights Tracy Parker, heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation. “It’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to so that we can hide just how much we love our favourite sweet treat.”

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


sun forest  Yinan Chen

Image credit: Yinan Chen

Common medicines can make skin more sensitive to the sun

Some medicines make skin more sensitive to the sun – and can even cause unusual changes in skin colour during sun exposure – so check the small print before sitting out in the sunshine this spring.

“Many medicines can make skin sun-sensitive, even after only brief exposure to the sun,” explains Dr Andrew Boyden from the National Prescribing Service in Australia. “This is called photosensitivity and means that if you expose your skin to the sun while using one of these medicines, you could have an adverse skin reaction.

“A phototoxic reaction often looks like a severe sunburn with skin redness, swelling and blistering on the sun-exposed areas and will usually develop 5 to 20 hours after exposure. The other reaction that people are at risk of is called a photoallergic reaction and that can cause an itchy, dry, bumpy or blistering rash which can also spread beyond sun-exposed areas. This kind of rash develops at around 24 to 48 hours after sun exposure.”

Medicines that can cause these skin reactions include some antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, some antihistamines, some anti-nausea medicines, some chemotherapy medicines, some medicines for diabetes, diuretics, medicines to regulate heart rhythm, some antipsychotic medicines, some antidepressants, acne and psoriasis medicines (oral and topical) and St John’s wort.

Exposure to sunlight whilst taking amiodarone (a medicine to treat heart rhythm disturbances) can even cause blue-grey discolouration of the skin over time.

“This photosensitivity risk doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors and avoid holiday activities,” says Dr Boyden. “But if the medicine’s label, its enclosed consumer medicine information leaflet, your doctor or pharmacist says that you should avoid sunlight when taking a particular medicine, be particularly mindful of limiting your exposure. You can help protect yourself by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and a hat, and avoiding going out in peak UV times of the day as much as possible.”

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


red cabbage  Quinn Dombrowski

Image credit: Quinn Dombrowski

Superfood red cabbage – sales soar as diners realise health benefits

Sales of red cabbage look set to boom this Easter as shoppers get wise to its health benefits. In the past year, 545 tonnes of red cabbage have been bought in Britain, an increase of nearly 50% on the previous 12 months.

Andrew Burgess, agricultural director of Produce World explains that cabbage offers high nutritional value and versatility, with 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron than its green counterpart.

“Cabbages have been part of a staple diet of many UK households for years due to its nutritional value and versatility as a vegetable,” he says. “Luckily the UK has the ideal growing conditions to grow the best cabbages in the world.”

Braised red cabbage is a delicious accompaniment to Sunday lunch and is extremely easy to make.


180ml water

1 red cabbage, finely chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3 tablespoons brown sugar

250ml white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground allspice


Place water in a large saucepan and add all of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve!

Source: Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul, jumpstart


The Home of the Future, From the Past!

The movies marked 2015 as the year we should all be whizzing around on ‘hover-boards’ and hydrating food in an instant. Of course, movies want to glamorise the future as much as possible, but that got us thinking what technology we were actually expecting once 2015 arrived.

We asked 1,000 people what they thought they would see in the ‘2015 home of the future’ back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The results weren’t always too far off, but show the modern home has a few improvements to make if we’re to meet our past expectations. See our findings below as well as what we thought the home of 2015 was going to look like!

Our top 10 fixtures of the ‘2015 home of the future’ were:

  1. Video phones (33%)
  2. Home computers (29%)
  3. Voice command appliances (25%)
  4. Robot servants (21%)
  5. Food in pill form (19%)
  6. Full wall TV screens (19%)
  7. Self-driving cars (18%)
  8. 3D TVs (17%)
  9. Voice command utilities (14%)
  10. Jetpacks (12%)

HOME illustration

February Health Tips


Image credit: blinking idiot

 One for your Valentine: older couples are more likely to get healthy together

We are better together after all as a new study shows that people are more successful in taking up healthy habits if their partner makes positive changes too.

Experts looked at 3,722 couples aged over 50 years who were married or living together. They examined how likely people were to quit smoking, start being active, or lose weight in relation to what their partner did, and published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.

People were more successful in swapping bad habits for good ones if their partner made a change as well. For example, among women who smoked, 50% managed to quit if their partner gave up smoking at the same time, compared with 17% of women whose partners were already non-smokers and 8% of those whose partners were regular smokers.

Men were equally affected by their partners and were more likely to quit smoking, get active, or lose weight if their partner made the same changes.

“Making lifestyle changes can make a big difference to our health and cancer risk,” comments Dr Julie Sharp from Cancer Research UK. “And this study shows that when couples make those changes together they are more likely to succeed.

“Getting some support can help people take up good habits. For example if you want to lose weight and have a friend or colleague who’s trying to do the same thing you could encourage each other by joining up for a run or a swim at lunchtime or after work. And local support such as stop smoking services are very effective at helping people to quit.

“Keeping healthy by not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and being active can all lower the risk of cancer, and the more people can help and encourage each other the better.”

Source: Jump Start magazine, jumpstart



Image credit: Rosana Prada


Don’t go totally nuts over this… but nutty eaters do have better diets

People who eat tree nuts (that’s almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) tend to have better diets overall than non-nut eaters, says a large study published in the journal Nutrients.

Experts looked at data from 14,386 adults and found that just 6% regularly ate tree nuts (about 44g a day). And these people were more likely than non-nut eaters to consume recommended levels of vitamins A, E and C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and fibre.

“Consumption of tree nuts should be encouraged, as part of a healthy diet, by health professionals to improve diet quality and nutrient adequacy,” suggests Prof Carol O’Neil, who led the work.

Source: Jump Start magazine



Image credit: JD Hancock

Immune systems of extraverts cope better with infections

Aspects of our personality may affect our health and wellbeing and new research from the UK and US now goes some way to explaining why.

The study did not support the theory that tendencies toward negative emotions such as depression or anxiety can lead to poor health. But it did suggest that being an extravert can actually boost the immune system.

A total of 121 adults did a personality test to measure extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Blood samples were collected and their typical smoking, drinking and exercise behaviours were recorded. Experts used technology to look at the five personality traits and two groups of genes, one involving inflammation, and another involving responses to viruses.

“Our results indicated that individuals who we would expect to be exposed to more infections as a result of their socially orientated nature (ie extraverts) appear to have immune systems that we would expect can deal effectively with infection,” explains Prof Kavita Vedhara who led the study.

“Individuals who may be less exposed to infections because of their cautious/conscientious dispositions have immune systems that may respond less well. We can’t, however, say which came first. Is this our biology determining our psychology or our psychology determining our biology?”

Source: Jump Start magazine,



Image credit: Jasmine Kaloudis


Yoga could reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

You don’t need to break into a sweat to lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, as new research suggests that yoga may be just as effective as more energetic forms of exercise when it comes to cardiovascular health.

A study of 2,768 people found that risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved more in those doing yoga than in those doing no exercise. And yoga was even found to provide the same benefits in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease as many traditional physical activities.

“Any physical activity that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease developing should be encouraged, and the benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established,” says Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. “This study’s findings are promising, showing some improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“The benefits could be due to working the muscles and breathing, which can bring more oxygen into the body, leading to lower blood pressure.”

Source: Jump Start magazine



Image credit: Jason Bachman

Popeye was right! Potassium salts (found in spinach) improve bone health as well as muscles

The potassium salts (bicarbonate and citrate) play an important part in improving bone health, says research published in Osteoporosis International, and the good news is that they are plentiful in fruit and vegetables.

The study is the first to show that potassium salts slow down bone resorption, which is when bone is broken down, so therefore increase their strength. And high intake of potassium salts was found to lower the excretion of calcium and acid.

“This means that excess acid is neutralised and bone mineral is preserved,” explains Dr Helen Lambert, lead author. “Excess acid in the body, produced as a result of a typical Western diet high in animal and cereal protein, causes bones to weaken and fracture. Our study shows that these salts could prevent osteoporosis, as our results showed a decrease in bone resorption.”

Bone resorption and bone formation is a natural process that allows bones to grow, heal and adapt. But in osteoporosis, more bone is broken down than is built up, leading to fragility and fractures.

This study shows that eating more fruits and vegetables could be a way to improve the strength of our bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Vegetables high in potassium include spinach, potatoes (with skin), sweet potatoes (with skin), sprouts and asparagus. And fruits to go for are banana, papaya, mango, kiwi and orange.

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine

New Year Health Tips

New Year’s resolution to quit meat? Vast majority (84%) of vegetarians go back to eating meat 


BLT  jeffreyw

Image credit: jeffreyw

Whether you give up meat for ethics, health or to save money, a new study shows that most people who turn vegetarian eventually go back to eating meat, and much sooner than you’d think.

The meaty survey of 11,000 adults by the Humane Research Council is thought to be the first comprehensive study of current and former vegetarians and vegans. Key findings were:

– 84% vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat;

– Over half start eating meat again within a year;

– Almost a third reported they relapsed within three months;

– Over a third of ex-vegetarians and vegans indicated they would be interested in going back to a no-meat diet at some point in the future.

It isn’t just the lure of the bacon sandwich, however, as the researchers found that chicken offers the most temptation.

“Chicken is the most common type of meat consumed by former vegetarians/vegans,” the study group reported. “Reducing and eliminating chicken consumption will have the greatest impact on the number of farmed animals’ lives saved.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Image credit: Benson Kua

Want to lose weight? Eat your pudding first!

Eating sugar-rich food at start of a meal may help keep appetites in check, experts from Imperial College London suggest.

The study focused on glucose, a sugar found in puddings, cakes and chocolate, which is also the brain’s main source of energy.

A brain protein called glucokinase seems to keep track of how much glucose is eaten and if intake is too low, the brain tells the body to find more sugary and starchy food. It may be that people with a sweet tooth naturally make more glucokinase than others, which is why some of us can’t resist sweet treats.

The discovery could lead to new diet drugs and simple tips for losing weight naturally. For example, Dr James Gardiner who is involved in the work suggests that dieters tuck into glucose-rich foods at the start of their meal. The brain will then send messages to the body that enough glucose has been eaten, allowing other natural systems that count calories to kick in and stop us from overeating.

Remember that starchy foods such as bread, pasta and rice are rich in glucose, so eating like an Italian, beginning with a small plate of risotto or pasta, could be the secret to losing weight. Or just tuck into pudding first…

Source: Memory in Mind magazine.


Image credit Luca Nebuloni

Mediterranean diet could be recipe for long life

Eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with health benefits including reduced cardiovascular disease. And now it seems that the diet keep people genetically younger too, says research in the British Medical Journal.

Telomeres sit on the end of chromosomes – like plastic tips on shoelaces – to stop chromosomes from fraying and scrambling their genetic codes. Telomeres become shorter as we age but lifestyle factors such as obesity have been linked with shorter telomeres.

The new study of 4,676 healthy middle-aged women found that those who stuck closely to a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres, which could mean a lower risk of developing age-related diseases.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit and veg, oily fish and wholegrain cereals, with relatively low levels of meat and low-fat dairy.

“This large study adds to the body of evidence that longer telomeres are found in those who eat a Mediterranean diet,” says Dr Mike Knapton from the British Heart Foundation. “Longer telomeres may partially explain the link between diet and risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Previous findings from the same study had shown that those with unhealthy lifestyles had shorter telomeres. These results reinforce our advice that eating a balanced and healthy diet can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Image credit: Vic

A good dose of kindness improves healthcare

When healthcare workers approach people with compassion, patients often heal faster, have less pain and anxiety, and even bounce back faster from common colds, says a review of the literature presented at the Compassion and Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

“When healthcare is delivered with kindness and compassion, it has a significantly greater effect than when it is given in a dispassionate fashion that assumes that the human connection has no benefit,” explains Dr James Doty, director of the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Although medicine holds the power to cure, Dr Doty believes that how it is delivered can make a huge difference… to healthcare providers as well as patients.

Looking at the research, Dr Doty found that compassionate treatment helped to reduce pain and anxiety and was tied to lower blood pressure, shorter hospital stays and even reduced the severity and length of the common cold.

It is thought that improved cooperation could be part of the reason for the findings, as when patients viewed a healthcare provider as compassionate they may be more likely to follow a doctor’s recommendations. And a caring environments helps healthcare workers to feel more engaged too.

Source: Memory in Mind magazine

Our New Years Resolution Survey for 2015

Here in the Chums office we’ve all been making our New Years Resolutions for 2015, and we started to wonder whether there would be any difference between the older and younger generations in the sort of resolutions they make. As well as this, we figured that one group would be more likely to stick to their resolutions for longer than the other – but which one? We conducted a survey of 1,000 people from different age ranges and the findings are below.

Chums New Years resolutions study 2015

Home Based Exercise For The Elderly

Want to stay fit while the nights draw in?

Winter often hampers your ability to exercise. The fear of slipping on the wet pavement full of leaves or getting wet through in the rain can be enough to deter the biggest exercise-enthusiast from keeping in shape in the winter months.

To help you keep active, we spoke to Jenny Cromack, Personal Training Director at Motive8 in Leeds to give you some exercises to keep you in shape and moving over the coming months.

If you are worried about whether you are able to do the exercises due to your mobility and balance then don’t worry! Chair based options have been provided as an alternative.

Please remember if you are new to exercise or are recovering from injury or illness you should always consult with your GP before commencing an exercise programme.

STRENGTH EXERCISES (10-15 reps each)

Elderly Strength Exercise

  1. Sit To Stand Squats – Stand in front of a chair, feet shoulder width apart. Push your hips behind and sit down into the chair. As soon as you ‘sit down’ aim to stand up again. Do not spend too long in a seated position!

Advanced – Hold a dumbbell or bottle filled with water in front of the body as you squat down.

This exercise is good for strengthening the legs

  1. Squats/Supported Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands on your hips. Push your hips behind and squat as low as you can (ideally thighs parallel to the floor), ensuring your back remains flat. Return to the start and repeat.

Chair Based Supported Squats – If you need to you can hold on to the back of a chair as you perform this exercise and only squat as low as you feel comfortable.

This exercise is good for strengthening the legs

  1. Lying Side Leg Raise – Lie on the side on the floor, your head should be supported on your arm. Support the body by placing your top arm in front of the body and bend the bottom leg. Keep the top leg as straight as possible as you lift the leg as high as possible – lift in a controlled manner. Lower slowly and repeat.

Chair Based Leg Raises – If you have trouble getting up and down from the floor perform this exercise standing. Stand with feet together and a chair in front of you for support. Raise one leg out to the side, keeping the leg as straight as possible. Return back to the start and perform repeatedly on one side.

This exercise is good for strengthening the hips and adding mobility to the hip region

  1. Press Ups – Kneel on the floor on all fours (place a cushion under your knees if needed). Place your hands shoulder width apart, knees should be under your hips. Bend your elbows out to the side as you lower your chest towards the floor. Push through your arms to fully extend the arms and repeat.

Wall Press Ups – If you struggle getting up and down, you can perform your press ups against a wall. Stand facing the wall, hands on the wall shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows out to the side and lower yourself towards the wall. Push back against the wall as you extend the arms. The further you are away from the wall the harder this exercise becomes.

This exercise is good for improving upper body strength.

  1. Shoulder Circles – Sit in a chair or stand tall. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and rotate backwards to make a circle (work in the biggest range of movement possible). Repeat this eight times backwards and eight times forwards.

This exercise is good for shoulder mobility.

  1. Ankle Circles – Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Lift one knee to hip level and hold in place. Rotate the ankle in a clockwise direction eight times, then in an anti-clockwise direction eight times. Make as large a circle as possible.

This exercise is good for ankle mobility.



Elderly Exercise

If you are lucky enough to have an exercise bike or treadmill at home then aim to spend at least 30 minutes every other day exercising at a moderate intensity – you should be a little out of breath as you workout and definitely feeling a bit warmer!

If you don’t have any equipment, or fancy a change then try performing the following exercises in a circuit.

Beginners – Rest 30 seconds between exercises, repeat the circuit twice.

Intermediate – Rest 30 seconds between exercises, repeat the circuit three times.

Advanced – Minimum rest between exercises, repeat the circuit three times.

  1. Step Ups for 30 seconds (Step up and down on your bottom step).

Or Seated Marching – sit tall in a chair and ‘march’ on the spot lifting your knees high.

  1. Sit to Stand Squats (10-15 reps)
  1. Press Ups or Wall Press Ups (10-15 reps)
  1. Heel Digs for 30 seconds

You can perform this exercise either seated or standing.

Seated – Sit in a chair, feet flat against the floor. Push one leg out to fully extend the leg so the heel ‘digs’ into the floor. Bring back and repeat on the opposite side. Keep alternating.

Standing – Perform as above but in a standing position.

5. Leg Raises – either standing up or lying down (10-15 reps each side)

6. Shoulder Circles (8-10 reps each side)

Hopefully that should keep you active, no matter the weather!

Jenny CromackJenny Cromack is the Personal Training Director at Motive8 North. She has been a health and fitness industry professional for over fourteen years, after graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University with a first class degree in Physical Education in 2001.

December’s Health Tips


Image Credit: Sara Marlowe

Spice up your life this Christmas – herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavour

A well-stocked spice rack could improve more than just the quality of your cooking, says new research from the US, which highlights the impact of various spices on cardiovascular health.

Rich in antioxidants, spices and herbs can alter levels of triglycerides in the body. These usually rise after eating a high-fat meal, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. But if a special high-antioxidant spice blend is incorporated into the meal, triglyceride levels may be reduced by as much as 30%.

Experts recruited six overweight men aged 30 to 65 years, took blood samples and split them into two groups. Half ate a meal of a dessert biscuit, coconut chicken and cheese bread. The others had the same meal with an added spice blend of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, garlic powder, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, and turmeric.

Blood samples were taken after the meal and every 30 minutes until eight samples were collected.

Cholesterol levels and glucose levels were not affected by the spice blend. But insulin and triglyceride levels were, and antioxidant activity in the blood increased by 13%.

The team looked at other research papers that focused on the effects that spice blends, cinnamon and garlic have on cardiovascular disease risk.

Cinnamon was shown to help people with diabetes by reducing cholesterol and other blood fats, but it did not seem to have an effect on people without diabetes.

The garlic studies showed there was an 8% decrease in total cholesterol with garlic consumption, and it was associated with a 38% decrease in risk of heart problems in 50-year-olds. The researchers comment:

“We live in a world where people consume too many calories every day. Adding high-antioxidant spices might be a way to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.”

Source: Jump Start magazine


Mentally taxing jobs may protect memory in later life


Image Credit: Vanessa Pike-Russell

‘It’s a busy time for Santa Claus, who would certainly score highly on memory and thinking tests.’

People with complex jobs may end up having better memory in old age. A study of 1,066 Scottish 70-year-olds found that those who had had jobs that involved dealing with data or mentoring staff scored better on memory and thinking tests than those who had done less mentally intense jobs.

Could it be that those with complex jobs have higher thinking abilities in the first place? The researchers took into account the scores they had achieved in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947, when they were 11 years old.

“Factoring in people’s IQ at age 11 explained about 50% of the variance in thinking abilities in later life, but it did not account for all of the difference,” explains Dr Alan Gow who is involved in the study. “That is, while it is true that people who have higher cognitive abilities are more likely to get more complex jobs, there still seems to be a small advantage gained from these complex jobs for later thinking skills.

“Our findings have helped to identify the kinds of job demands that preserve memory and thinking later on.”

Source: Memory in Mind magazine


Run… to slow down the ageing process as well as shift those Christmas pounds!

Running Shoes

Image Credit: Robert S Donovan

Running several times a week when you’re older can allow you to walk as efficiently as those in their twenties, says exciting research published in PLOS ONE.

“The bottom line is that running keeps you younger, at least in terms of energy efficiency,” enthuses Prof Rodger Kram, who is involved in the work.

A total of 30 healthy people aged on average 69 years (15 males and 15 females) who either regularly ran or walked for exercise took part. They had all been walking or running at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per workout for at least six months.

The volunteers were asked to walk on a treadmill at three speeds (1.6mph, 2.8mph and 3.9mph while their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were recorded. Data from younger and older sedentary adults was also recorded.

Older people who walked for exercise were found to spend the same amount of energy walking as older, sedentary adults, and use up to 22% more energy walking than younger people. But those who ran for exercise were found to walk as efficiently as those who were much younger.

The authors believe that mitochondria are involved as these tiny structures make energy that powers our muscle fibres. People who exercise regularly tend to have more mitochondria in their cells. Owen Beck, also involved in the study comments:

“The take-home message of the study is that consistently running for exercise seems to slow down the aging process and allows older individuals to move more easily, improving their independence and quality of life.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine


Time to leave town? City living changes the stress response

Urban upbringing alters the activity of one of the body’s major stress response systems researchers report in Psychosomatic Medicine. City living is known to have a significant impact on mental health for some people, but it isn’t clear why.

A big part of the body’s stress system is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) – it controls levels of cortisol and other important stress hormones.

So experts did three experiments involving 248 people in which they measured the changes in cortisol in response to different stress tasks.

Blood pressure was not affected by urban upbringing. And current city living was not associated with any changes in the stress response. But urban upbringing was associated with raised cortisol responses to acute stress.

“Our findings suggest that urban upbringing changes the (re)activity of the HPA axis,” the researchers say. “Given that changes in HPA axis regulation have been associated with several psychiatric disorders, this may represent a mechanism that contributes to the increased risk for psychopathology in urban populations.”

Source: Memory in Mind magazine



November’s Health Tips

Shoulders back! Slouching makes us sad…

It goes without saying that poor posture puts us at risk of back and neck pain – but new findings suggest that the issues a slouch can lead to may go a whole lot deeper. Standing and sitting badly can make us feel more stressed and this in turn affects energy levels and sleep, experts report in Health Psychology.

The research team came to this conclusion by splitting 74 people into groups. Half were asked to slump and the others were seated in an upright posture. Their backs were strapped with physiotherapy tape to hold this posture throughout the study and completed a reading task.

The volunteers who were sitting in an upright position had a higher pulse rate and reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood and lower fear, compared to slumped participants.

“Adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture,” the research team concludes.

The British Chiropractic Association has the following advice:

  • When relaxing in front of the TV at home, the tendency is to ‘slouch’. An ideal sitting position is to let the seat take your weight and, if possible, keep as much of your body in contact with the chair so that your whole body is supported.
  • Don’t sit for more than 30-40 minutes at a time, stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little.
  • Drink Up! Try drinking water instead of tea or coffee; it will be healthier and keep your body hydrated.
  • Look for small opportunities to exercise during the day; use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, get off your bus/train/tube a stop earlier and walk or take a walk during your lunchbreak.

Source: Memory in Mind



A juicy health tip

Did you know… that drinking grapefruit juice when eating fatty food could lower the amount of weight put on by up to one-fifth? The new study suggests that the fruit juice could keep blood sugar levels under control without drugs. So far the research has been done on mice so wait for the human trials before buying in bulk!


Image credit: Dan Zen


Viagra protects the heart beyond the bedroom

Long term intake of Viagra can protect the heart at different stages of heart disease and has very few side effects so could fairly soon be prescribed as a treatment.

The main ingredient in Viagra is an inhibitor called PDE5i, which works by blocking an enzyme that stops the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue.

A team from Italy reviewed trials involving a total of 1,622 people to see if PDE5i can protect the heart, and if it is safe. Results showed that it improved heart performance in people with different heart conditions, with no negative effect on blood pressure.

Andrea Isidori, who led the work, comments:

“Large clinical trials are now urgently needed to build on these encouraging findings.”

Source: Jump Start


Red wine and grape compound could help treat osteoporosis

A chemical found in red wine and grapes may offer previously unknown bone health benefits for men at risk of osteoporosis says research from Denmark.

Resveratrol has previously been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, protecting against bone loss in mice and rats. So experts decided to look at the bones of 66 middle-aged men to see what impact taking resveratrol would have.

All of the men had metabolic syndrome, which is linked to inflammation that can cause bone loss. For a 16 week period some men were given daily doses of 100mg resveratrol, others took 150mg of resveratrol every day and a third group took a placebo (pretend treatment).

The men receiving the higher dose of resveratrol had a 2.6% increase in bone mineral density towards the base of the spine compared to the placebo group.

And the highest group also experienced a 16% increase in levels of a marker called bone alkaline phosphatase, which means that this is the first study to show resveratrol’s potential in taking on osteoporosis in humans.

The results are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.


Image credit: Per Salomonsson

Take out teeth to sleep: sleeping in dentures doubles the risk of pneumonia

Poor oral health and hygiene have been under the spotlight as risk factors for pneumonia in older people. And now the latest study highlights the importance of removing dentures before you turn in for the night.

A total of 524 people (228 men, 296 women) aged an average of 87.8 years old were examined for oral health status, oral hygiene and had a medical assessment.

Among the 453 denture wearers, 40.8% wore their dentures during sleep. Over the three-year follow-up period, there were 20 deaths from pneumonia and 28 acute hospitalisations.

People who wore their dentures at night were more than twice as likely to get pneumonia. And they were more likely to have tongue and denture plaque, gum inflammation, positive culture for Candida albicans, and higher levels of circulating interleukin-6 (a marker of inflammation).

Healthcare professionals and family members should therefore advise older people with dentures to take them out at night.

Source: Jump Start

water glass

Image credit Cyndi Calhoun

Following in grandmother’s footsteps? Half of grandparents teach their grandchildren domestic skills

Grandparents are ensuring that key life skills aren’t lost on the younger generation; over half of parents say their children’s grandparents play a key part in teaching their children some form of domestic task. If seems that retirement is hardly a time for relaxation, as the figures released from Mintel reveal that 30% of parents claim their children’s grandparents play a key part in teaching their children to cook and bake. And nearly a quarter of parents say grandparents play a fundamental role in teaching their children gardening.

But it’s more than just domestic skills on the agenda and one in ten grandparents even brave the delights of potty training. A further 28% of parents say their children’s grandparents help them learn to read and write. And 12% parents with children aged 0–9 years say their children’s grandparents help with bathing and getting them to brush their teeth.

Children are also turning to their grandparents for a shoulder to cry on, with one in five parents agreeing that grandparents offer emotional support to their children, rising to 29% of single parents.

Jack Duckett, lifestyles, household and personal care analyst, at Mintel explains:

“There has been much media discussion about children growing up in a technology-focussed world, which means that whilst they possess a range of modern life skills, they are often behind in terms of basic household skills, such as cooking, cleaning, mending and simple home improvements. However grandparents today are stepping in and supporting their grandchildren’s development in a variety of different ways, ranging from teaching them to cook and write to brushing their teeth and potty training. Grandparents enjoy being part of their grandchildren’s lives wherever possible and, with many consumers in this age group being retired, they have the time to help.”

Money matters

Grandparents are giving away money as well as time. One-third of parents with children aged 5–18 years say their youngest child receives pocket money from their grandparents. Some 23% of parents report that grandparents put money into their child’s savings account and 10% of parents receive financial support for their child’s education.

“Increasing financial pressures are resulting in a growing number of parents balancing work with raising children, which in turn is leading to a greater number of grandparents stepping in to help with day-to-day childcare duties, as well as financial assistance,” Jack explains. “This strong reliance on grandparents, reflects the growing financial pressures on parents to go back to work after having children, as well as the high price of childcare.”

Source: Jump Start



Chums Family Favourites Blogger Competition

Chums Family Favourites

***This Competition Is Now Closed, Thank You To All Who Entered!***

We all have family favourites. Whether it’s Grandma’s roast, that has the whole family visiting on a Sunday, or that unusual flavour combination your Dad taught you, that you’ve now passed down to your own kids!

Here at Chums we want to keep up the tradition of family meal times so we are giving bloggers the chance to win a kitchen set to help make those meal times even easier.


This 8 piece knife block is ideal for creating those tasty family recipes and with the Soup N Stew you will never tire of creating brand new family favourites as you can blend, steam, boil, pulse, reheat and slow cook all in one gadget!

We want you to share your family’s favourite recipes; meal or snack, traditional or guilty pleasure, we want to hear about them all and more importantly what makes them so special to you. Family and food have always gone hand in hand so share your best story with us to be in with a chance of winning.

How to Enter

  1. On your blog, create a post featuring your family’s favourite recipe.
  2. Be sure to tell us why it is special to you and your family.
  3. Make sure you include a link to this competition page.
  4. Email us your name and a link to your blog post entry to: james.story@chums.co.uk

Terms & Conditions

  • This prize draw is open to all residents of the UK and Eire aged 18 and over.
  • The prize draw will open 22nd October 2014 at 9:00am GMT. It will close on 21st November 2014 at 12 midnight GMT.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The prize consists of a Swan 8 Piece Knife Block and a Soup N Stew.
  • To be eligible for this Prize Draw, you must create a blog post on your website featuring a family recipe and link back to this competition page: www.chums.co.uk/blog/?p=775 You must email your entry to james.story@chums.co.uk (include a link to your blog post) by the 21st November 2014 (the ‘Closing Date’).
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying entries.
  • The winner will be contacted via email no later than 7 days after the prize draw closes.
  • If a winner fails to respond within 7 days of being informed of their win, their prize will be forfeited and a new winner selected.
  • By entering this prize draw, you confirm you have read and accepted the terms and conditions above.

Promoter: Chums, Unity Grove, Knowsley Business Park, Liverpool, L34 9AR.

Health Tips

Men who eat over 10 portions of tomatoes a week have an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, highlights a large UK study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

With 35,000 new cases every year in the UK, and around 10,000 deaths, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Rates are higher in developed countries, which some experts believe is linked to a Westernised diet and lifestyle.

So researchers looked at the diets and lifestyle of 1,806 men aged 50–69 years with prostate cancer and compared them with 12,005 cancer-free men. They developed a prostate cancer dietary index that consists of dietary components – selenium, calcium and foods rich in lycopene – that have been linked to prostate cancer.

Analysis of the data suggested that men who ate more of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer. Tomatoes and its products – such as tomato juice and baked beans – were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18% reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week. This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant that fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage.

“Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention,” says Vanessa Er, who led the research. “However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”

Source: Jump Start



Acute lower back pain? Don’t blame the weatherman… 

Sudden, acute episodes of low back pain are not linked to weather conditions after all, experts outline in Arthritis Care & Research, questioning the belief of many that they can feel damp autumn weather in their joints.

A team from Sydney, Australia, interviewed 993 people who had sudden, acute episodes of back pain. Statistics for temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind speed, wind gust, wind direction and precipitation were obtained for the whole study period.

The data showed that temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind direction and precipitation was not associated with onset of back pain.

Higher wind speed and wind gust increased the odds of pain onset, but “while this reached statistical significance, the magnitude of the increase was not clinically important,” the researchers state.

“Our findings refute previously held beliefs that certain common weather conditions increase risk of lower back pain. Further investigation of the influence of weather parameters on symptoms associated with specific diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are needed.”

Source: Arthritis Digest


Image credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro


Good news for tea drinkers

Drinking tea reduces the risk of dying from causes unrelated to the heart by 24% compared with those who don’t drink tea, suggests a large study of 131,401 people aged 18 years to 95 years.

The participants had a low risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease. After 3.5 years there had been 95 deaths from CV and 632 deaths from non-CV causes. Tea and coffee consumption was assessed by questionnaire: none, one to four, or more than four cups per day.

Analysis of the data showed that tea lowered the risk of non-CV death by a quarter for tea drinkers compared with no tea at all. Tea had a marked effect on blood pressure, with a significant reduction in the heavy tea drinkers, compared with non-drinkers. And habitual coffee drinkers tended to be more unhealthy and smokers.

Source: Jump Start


Image credit: Lesley