July News Round-Up

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Sleep and health: inflammation and ‘intestinal jet-lag’

The Mail (6th July) explains why ‘Too little and too much sleep is as damaging to your health’.

Dr Irwin concluded: ‘Together with diet and physical activity, sleep health represents a third component in the promotion of health-span.’

The importance of sleep is further flagged up in Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News (July 11th) in a detailed article discussing the growing body of evidence linking disruption of the body’s circadian clocks to changes in the gut lining and liver metabolism that contribute to inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s) liver diseases and other gastro-intestinal ailments.

Children who suck their thumbs and bite their nails suffer fewer allergies

The Telegraph (11th July) reports on a study that found that the protection afforded by thumb sucking and nail biting was life-long and present even where the child’s parents suffered from allergies. Prof Bob Hancox, the lead author of the study said the findings “suggest that being exposed to microbes as a child reduces your risk of developing allergies”. This is in line with observations that children brought up on farms or those with access to vegetable gardens have fewer allergies. Increased diversity of gut microbes is thought to be responsible.

Artificial sweeteners make you crave sugar

A great article in The Mail (12th July) explains why diet drinks may actually be contributing to overeating.

‘When sweetness versus energy is out of balance for a period of time, the brain re-calibrates and increases total calories consumed… The pathway we discovered is part of a conserved starvation response that actually makes nutritious food taste better when you are starving.’

We, like many others, have an instinctive distrust of the whole ‘artificial sweetener’ industry so it is great to find further science to back up our stance. Fans of the ‘just eat real food’ tendency will be right with us here I am sure.

Why fat isn’t the enemy but sugar and refined carbohydrates are

The Evening Standard (25th July) has a nice piece about cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, who recommends a diet with more olive oil, full fat dairy, nuts and vegetables. However, in the comments section there is an interesting counterargument by another cardiologist Dr Khan that challenges Malhotra’s advice.

On careful reading though, I found less conflict than there first seemed. Both cardiologists agree that refined carbs and processed foods must go, but that fish, vegetables and olive oil are good. ‘Eat real foods’ is the undisputed starting point, again.

The areas of conflict seem to hinge on (1) the use of butter, and (2) meat v plant proteins (beans). Taking butter first: I think that butter is no problem once the rest of the diet is based around real food. However, if you are still eating lots of refined carbs, adding butter won’t magically make you healthier. With regards meat v beans, surely there is room for variety? My feeling is that the greater the diversity of real foods, the better. Which brings me to this piece:

The Mail (21st July) covers research that found a reduced risk of diabetes among people that ate a wider variety of foods. In particular: ‘people eating the widest variety of fruits and vegetables and dairy products also greatly reduced their risk of diabetes compared with people who had a less varied diet’

Another aspect of health appearing in both the Mail and Evening Standard articles is that both advise against jogging as a ‘healthy’ activity, recommending brisk walking instead.

Brisk walking, better than vigorous jogging

In the Evening Standard article Dr Malhotra says that orthopaedic surgeons are seeing people in their forties needing hip and knee replacements, and that no one should run on the pavement or treadmills. Meanwhile the Mail article reports on a new study by Duke Health, which has found that walking briskly on a regular basis improves pre-diabetes more effectively than intense treadmill exercise.

Recipes: Grain and sugar free biscuits, cakes, crackers and treats

So after you have taken that brisk walk, how can you start to replace your refined carbs with real whole foods?

‘Saying no to processed flour and grains doesn’t have to mean an end to the delicious homeliness of baking.’ says author Karen Thomson, in her article in The Mail (5th July) which has a great set of recipes along with advice on kicking the sugar habit.

I am looking forward to trying some of her great sounding recipes:


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