June Health Tips

peanuts  Daniella Segura

Image credit: Daniella Segura

Eating peanuts good for health of arteries claims new research

Peanuts – the most popular snack in the UK – do more than provide a tasty treat, as scientists have discovered they could help the body’s network of blood vessels too.

Peanuts are actually legumes (seeds that grow in pods) and are an excellent source of protein.

Experts split a group of 15 overweight men into two groups. Half had a shake that included 3oz of ground peanuts. The other half had the shake (without the peanuts) but it was the same in terms of energy and nutrients.

The men that had the peanut shake had better functioning blood vessels afterwards than did the other group.

“Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet,” says lead researcher Xiaoran Liu. “Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease. This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”

But remember that peanuts are very full of energy, so use them as a replacement for other calories, rather than an addition.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.

 

 

sun on flower  John Morgan

John Morgan

Hot stuff! Folic acid may help older people cope with heat waves

Taking folic acid can improve blood vessel dilation in older people, according to new research, so folic acid supplements could be an inexpensive way to help older people increase skin blood flow during heat waves and reduce possible cardiovascular events.

“We know that when older adults are exposed to heat, their bodies are not able to increase skin blood flow to the same extent that young subjects do, and as a consequence, older adults are at a greater risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, during environmental heat waves,” explains Anna Stanhewicz, who is involved in the work. “When young, healthy people are exposed to heat, their bodies increase blood flow to the skin and this increased flow, combined with sweating, helps to cool the body down.”

This is partly because older blood vessels cannot make enough nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced by the blood vessels using an enzyme that needs a cofactor called BH4. As people age, their levels of BH4 decrease.

The research team previously found that when they gave BH4 to older adults they were able to produce more nitric oxide. And the new study showed that folic acid increased nitric oxide production by increasing BH4.

“The bottom line is that folic acid supplementation increased nitric oxide production in older blood vessels,” Anna Stanhewicz says.

Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.

 

broccoli  cyclonebill

Image credit: cyclonebill

Man-made broccoli compound may become a future osteoarthritis treatment

A new drug based on a substance found in broccoli could offer hope to people with osteoarthritis, says research presented at a conference.

The therapy is based on a man-made version of sulforaphane, which is a compound found in vegetables such as cabbage, sprouts and broccoli.

Experts have found that the compound blocks enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and processes that cause inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. But people would have to consume immense amounts for it to have an effect.

But now a team has cleverly managed to incorporate sulforaphane into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01), in which a single dose provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5 kg of broccoli in a day.

Lab tests showed that SFX-01 improved bone architecture, balance and movement.

A spokeswoman from Arthritis Research UK comments:

“We know that sulforaphane helps to block inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, but so far it has been difficult to see how this finding could be applied to humans without them having to consume vast amounts of broccoli every day. This new research could take us a step closer to being able to take a daily supplement.”

Source, Arthritis Digest: www.arthritisdigest.co.uk.

 

 

cat  Gustaaf Prins copy

Image credit: Gustaaf Prins

Cats relax to the sound of music – and classical is top of their list

It is widely accepted that, in humans, music relaxes the body, mind and soul and an extensive body of research indicates that these benefits extend even to patients under general anaesthesia. And it appears that the same could go for cats.

“In the surgical theatres at the faculty where I teach and at the private veterinary medical centre where I spend my time operating, environmental music is always present, and is an important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners,” explains lead researcher, Miguel Carreira. “Different music genres affect individuals in different ways. During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation.”

The research team studied 12 female pet cats undergoing surgery and recorded their respiratory rate and pupil diameter at various points to gauge their depth of anaesthesia. The cats, which had been fitted with headphones, were exposed to two minutes of silence (as a control), followed randomly by two minutes each of classical music, gentle pop music and heavy metal.

The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values. By contrast, the heavy metal music produced the highest values, indicating a more stressful situation.

The clinicians conclude that the use of certain music genres in the surgical theatre may allow a decrease in the amount of anaesthetic needed, in turn reducing the risk of undesirable side effects and thus promoting patient safety.

Next the team is going to look at if dogs are affected in the same way.

 

 

walking dog FaceMePLS

Image credit: FaceMePLS

Celebrating pets and the elderly

National Pet Month was celebrated earlier this summer and the theme was Pets and the elderly: enjoying later years together. The following points were highlighted:

  • Pet owners make fewer visits to their GP. Research in Germany found that those with pets paid 15% fewer visits to their doctor, with dog owning pensioners visiting their GP 21% less than non-dog owners.
  • Pets help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress. Even a simple act such as stroking a pet or watching fish swim in an aquarium lowers anxiety and blood pressure, reducing heart rates even in stressful situations.
  • Pets help make us more active. Dog walking, for example, can help reduce obesity, which is a £5 billion burden on the NHS each year.
  • Pets do wonders for our social lives. In social settings, for instance, owning a dog can lead to more social interaction plus pets can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Pets have a wonderful role to play as we grow older. Pets in care homes can have a transformative effect on residents, combatting loneliness. Aquariums have been found to improve behaviour in dementia units and when placed in dining rooms have even managed to improve appetites!

<<walking dog>> Image credit: FaceMePLS

 

 

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

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

 

February Health Tips

swans

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

 

Pistachio

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

 

Clown

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,

 

Yoga

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

 

Spinach

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

December’s Health Tips

Spice

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

Santa

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

Jumping-Man-Vector

 

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!

grapefruit

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.

grapes

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

Granny

 

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

Tomato

 

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

Umbrella

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

Tea

Image credit: Lesley

 

Weight Loss Benefits

If you lose just 5% of your body weight you will sleep better and be far less grumpy according to recent research. Losing all those pounds could help you sleep for an average of 20 minutes longer each night. Such weight loss helps to reduce snoring and sleep apnoea and therefore helps you to sleep better.

Probably more important than that is the fact that being overweight increases you chances of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – all of which could make you more susceptible to having a stroke.

HEART AND BLOOD PRESSURE PROBLEMS?

If you snack on 50 grams of almonds a day you could reduce your risk of heart disease by increasing the antioxidants in your blood which in turn lowers your blood pressure.

Also eat avocado with spinach – that helps to reduce blood pressure too! Avocados are a great source of unsaturated fats and the green leafy spinach is full of nitrates. Both elements work together to make compounds called nitro fatty acids which are thought to keep you and your blood pressure healthy.

Plus you could help yourself by reducing your intake of wine to just one a day – drinking any more than that could increase your risk of heart disease too!

All is not lost though – believe it or not research in the USA has discovered that eating good quality dark chocolate might be good for your heart! The scientists found that good bacteria in your gut feast on the chocolate (after you have had your feast) and ferments it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for your heart.

DO eat lots of strawberries – they are in plentiful demand this summer. They could significantly reduce your risk of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY

DON’T burn that pork chop! Chargrilled meat could make you more likely to develop dementia because it contains compounds that could affect your memory.

Also if you can be more active and exercise three times a week you could reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s – even if it’s in your genes. US researchers found that brisk walking, swimming, cycling and jogging if you are able were the most beneficial. It is thought that the exercise helps to stop your brain from shrinking as you get older.

Laughter could improve your memory as it increases endorphins and sends dopamine to your brain which provides a sense of pleasure making the immune system work better and changes brainwave activity and improving your quality of life.

Sources: Yours, Memory in Mind, Stoke Association