Loneliness increases risk of heart attack and stroke

Lonely people are a third more likely to suffer an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to new research.

British scientists from the universities of York, Liverpool and Newcastle examined data from over 181,000 people across 23 studies. Of all those individuals, 4,628 suffered from heart disease and 3,000 had a stroke, with experts finding a link between poor social relationships and incident cardiovascular disease.

They also noted the effect of loneliness is similar to that of work-stress or anxiety. People were 32 per cent more likely to have a stroke, and 29 per cent more prone to heart problems.

Scientists have long noted a correlation between being lonely and mental health and wellbeing, but this particular study is the largest to have shown the dramatic impact being alone has.

“Tackling loneliness and isolation may be a valuable addition to coronary heart disease and stroke prevention strategies,” authors noted of their findings, published in the journal Heart.

“Health practitioners have an important role to play in acknowledging the importance of social relations to their patients.”

Researcher Nicole Valtorta, of York University, stressed social isolation and loneliness shouldn’t be taken for granted like obesity and physical inactivity is, and hopes these findings will trigger more work to help the issue.

Dr Kellie Payne, from the Campaign to End Loneliness, further discussed the bigger picture of the problem.

“The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality exceeds the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity and cigarette smoking and this research helps to highlight yet further the need for loneliness to be treated as a serious public health issue,” she said.

“Loneliness is becoming a silent epidemic in our society. It’s the responsibility of our community as a whole to tackle it.”

Dairy dilemma

Dairy used to be a hero food product, and certainly as children we’re encouraged to get as much calcium as we can so our little bones can grow big and strong. However as adults dairy is increasingly off the menu, with a recent study by Mintel finding that one in five Britons claim to have bought or eaten dairy-free alternatives in the past six months.

Add to that the fact Public Health England now recommends cutting the amount of dairy from 15 per cent to just 8 per cent of daily food consumption and it’s easy to see why we’re opting for an almond milk latte over our normal white coffee.

However dairy isn’t all bad and countries including France, Australia, the U.S. and Ireland are actually encouraging its residents to consume more of the food product to try and combat calcium deficiency.

We take a closer look at why dairy should be back in our diets.

Cheese

Eating a hunk of cheese is obviously not great for our calorie intake, but sometimes only a humble cheese sandwich will satisfy a craving. While consuming blocks of the stuff isn’t recommended, it has been found cheese may protect against diabetes.

“People who eat a lot of dairy, show no difference in their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or mortality compared with people who eat small amounts. If anything, there is a small risk reduction – so it is actually beneficial,” Professor Arne Astrup, head of the department of nutrition, exercise and sport at the University of Copenhagen and a global leader in nutrition and obesity research, told MailOnline.

He adds that cheese has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, despite its high salt and saturated fat content.

Butter

Earlier this month (Apr16), British Medical Journal published a study that found those who ditch butter in favor of vegetable spreads saw their cholesterol levels drop, but it didn’t see a lower level of heart disease or death during the study period. Instead, it was found that those whose cholesterol dropped the most had a higher risk of death.

Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, explains that because of recent papers the health body is once again reviewing the saturated fats advice it gives.

“We base our advice on the recommendations arising from the Scientific Advice Committee on Nutrition,” he added. “When they last looked at fats, they recommended that saturated fat was having this effect of causing an increase in blood cholesterol, which is linked to an increase in cardiovascular or heart disease.

“Until they conclude that piece of work we are retaining our current advice.”

Milk

Various studies have linked milk consumption with cancer, leading many people to avoid the white stuff for plant-based alternatives. However Professor Ian Givens, who studies nutrition and human health at the University of Reading, says people shouldn’t discount the drink so quickly.

“Current evidence suggests milk might increase the risk of prostate cancer somewhat, but that it is strongly protective against colorectal cancer,” he noted.

How to lose weight without cutting out food

Losing weight doesn’t have to be time-consuming and difficult, as Dr Brian Wansink has revealed to British newspaper The Daily Mail. Here are some of his top tips on how to shed the pounds without

the effort, which he’s devised after analyzing tens of thousands of eaters’ behavior, content of their fridges and cupboards amongst other factors. Pair with regular exercise and you will soon notice the changes!

Shop slim

It all begins during your food shop as Dr Wansink notes that whatever you purchase here is what’s taken home and eaten. His first pearl of wisdom – don’t shop on am empty stomach as you’re bound to reach for whatever your appetite desires. Cravings can strike when full too, so he recommends chewing on gum about the supermarket.

“Our studies show the minty freshness can effectively short-circuit cravings, making it harder to imagine the sensory details of crunchy chips or creamy ice cream,” he revealed. “Astonishingly, one piece of gum is enough to cut your junk food purchases by seven per cent.” Impressive!

He also suggests mapping a route, beginning with fruit and vegetables in your trolley/basket alone as they will appear more tempting without anything next to them, and dividing your carrier into sections for what you need.

Contrasting colors

Dr Wansink invited 60 volunteers for a free pasta lunch, during which they had a red or white plate with either tomato or cream sauce. After serving themselves, participants’ plates were weighed. It was found that people piled up 18 per cent more food when the carbohydrates matched the color of the plate they were eaten off of than it the carbs clashed.

Another way to cut down is using smaller plates and bowls to restrict your overall food intake.

Hide leftovers

If you’ve cooked up enough for five helpings, but there’s only two of you, make sure you store away the leftovers as Dr Wansink notes you could end up eating 19 per cent less food if it isn’t in reach. When extra food is left in easy access, people are more likely to continue helping themselves, even if they’re not hungry.

The doctor suggests serving salads and vegetables in big portions first, keeping them in sight, but hide the rest of the food after serving.

Don’t avoid buffets

This may go against the last point, but you don’t have to turn down the offer of a buffet dinner if you’re trying to lose weight. After researchers studied eating habits at a Chinese restaurant, they found overweight people were twice as lively to pick up large plates and fill them with everything, before sitting back at their table close to the food.

However, more slender people tend to “scout” the buffet and pick their favorite foods to put on a smaller plate, further away from the counters. They also appeared to chew three times more than bigger people, with each mouthful taking 15 before swallowing. Of course, this is just an example of one restaurant, but it may be worth keeping in mind next time you go to an ‘all you can eat’!

Living in a green area may help you live longer

Having access to a nice garden or living near a park may help you live longer, new research claims.

Researchers from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital monitored over 100,000 women between 2000 and 2008 in the U.S. and explored the link between higher amounts of vegetation and mortality rates.

Using satellite imagery, they tracked the extent of seasonal vegetation where the women lived. The study also took into account socioeconomic status, age, race, body mass index, physical activity, smoking, education and other health and behavioral factors. During the duration of the study, 8,604 of the women died.

According to the results, researchers found that women living in areas with the most vegetation had a 34 per cent lower rate of death from respiratory diseases and a 13 per cent lower mortality rate from cancer, compared to people who had the least amount of vegetation around their homes. Overall they had a 12 per cent lower mortality rate.

However, levels of greenness did not affect mortality related to coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke or infections.

Lead researcher Peter James added that greenery is also thought to have a significant positive effect on mental health. Findings estimated that 30 per cent of the benefit from living near vegetation came from lower levels of depression.

“We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,” he said. “We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.”

The academics also suggested their findings should encourage city planners to incorporate space for plants to grow when designing new urban areas.

“We know that planting vegetation can help the environment by reducing wastewater loads, sequestering carbon, and mitigating the effects of climate change. Our new findings suggest a potential co-benefit – improving health – that presents planners, landscape architects, and policy makers with an actionable tool to grow healthier places,” shared James.

The study was first published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Diet for a year to keep weight off

According to new research, dieting for 12 months is the key to keeping weight off for good.

Danish scientists claim that ditching bad eating habits for a year could trigger long-term chemical changes in your body, which will make it more difficult to gain pounds once the dieting stops.

Experts put 20 obese people on an exacting diet for 12 months, after which they noted participants were producing more of the hormone that suppresses appetite after eating. This left them feeling fuller for longer, and they were able to keep the weight they lost – around an eighth of their overall mass – off.

“It’s very difficult to fight the hunger,” Signe Sorensen Torekov, from the University of Copenhagen, said, according to The Times newspaper.

“It’s like a drug you’re fighting against. This would have been an excellent mechanism 50 years ago, but the problem now is that we have so much food available that we can eat all the time.

“We were able to show that you shouldn’t give up. If you’re able to keep your weight down for a year, then it shifts and it becomes easier.”

Another study conducted around the same time found that overweight people react differently to real food and inedible images of goods displayed on a computer screen than those at a normal weight. In this experiment, overweight and lean volunteers made similar choices when provided with food options in image form. However, when they were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet of real food, overweight people were more likely to go for calorie heavy, unhealthy items.

“There’s a clear difference between hypothetical food choices that overweight people make and the food they actually eat,” Lead researcher Dr Nenad Medic, from Cambridge University, concluded.

“Even though they know that some foods are less healthy than others and say they wouldn’t necessarily choose them, when they are faced with the foods, it’s a different matter.”

 

Women discuss sex life with friends more than partners

More than a third of women are happy to discuss how many sexual partners they’ve had with a friend over their partner, new research shows.

According to a new study by women’s intimate health brand Balance Activ, as part of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Awareness Month, women are more likely to disclose the number to a pal than their other half, while 38 per cent will discuss how often they have sex with friends, and a quarter divulge on their more adventurous antics – three in 10 detailing where it happened.

It seems women don’t tell their partners as much though, as 33 per cent of ladies would tell their friend if they had previously slept with their boss, while only 5 per cent would share that fact with their other half.

However, it seems very few women are willing to reveal intimate health matters in general, as less than one in five women tell their friends, and men are just as quiet, with only 6 per cent of doing so.

It’s thought embarrassment and fear of rejection are the reasons that stop women from being honest, as one in 10 admitted to being worried about friends judging them if they open up.

Bacterial Vaginosis is a common condition in which the balance of bacteria within a vagina becomes ‘disrupted’. Despite it not being unusual, it remains a poorly understood problem and GP Dr Dawn Harper, of TV show Embarrassing Bodies, is helping raise awareness and encouraging women to talk.

“We know women love to talk. But we were interested to see what they were willing to open up about and why intimate health is such a tricky topic for them,” Dr Harper, a brand ambassador for Balance Activ, said.

“This hesitation to discuss intimate health means it’s no surprise that almost half of women haven’t heard of some very common conditions such as Bacterial Vaginosis. BV affects one in three women and can be caused by everyday things such as excessive washing, periods or even semen but it often goes untreated due to misdiagnosis.

“This can sometimes lead to serious implications including increasing the risk of an STI or pre-term birth and miscarriage – so being open about intimate health and getting the correct diagnosis is vital. We hope our campaign will show women there is no need to be embarrassed about intimate health and to start talking about it with their friends, partners and medical professionals.”

Get your locks summer ready with dry hair treatments

The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer and summer is fast approaching. It’s been a harsh winter though and the likelihood is that your hair has suffered because of that. Follow our tips to get your hair back in peak condition.

Let’s start at the very beginning

It might be time to invest in some more expensive shampoo and conditioner to take your hair from damaged to downright fabulous. Luxury organic skincare brand VOYA includes hand harvested seaweed enzymes in their products to masterfully restore brittle, dry and damaged hair. Give their Silky by Nature shampoo and Forget Me Knot conditioner a go and watch your hair condition improve. KMS California also has a fantastic range for damaged hair, with their MOISTREPAIR Leave-in conditioner a firm favorite. As well as detangling your hair quickly and easily, its combination of aloe and vanilla helps to restore moisture balance in the hair. It also has IOPS, the inside out perfecting system, meaning that it penetrates deep into the hair, making it vibrant and healthier looking in just one use.

Go nuts for coconut oil

Always a good option for injecting some moisture into parched tresses, hair oil has come a long way in recent years, with coconut the top choice. From eating, to skincare, to teeth whitening, the benefits of this product are endless. And slathering it on your hair is a good way to make your barnet look healthy and luscious once again.

“Coconut oil is a love of mine that I discovered whilst in Thailand some years ago, but now it’s everywhere. It will revitalize your hair with natural goodness leaving it feeling nourished, shiny and it also smells good,” Matthew Curtis, runway and celebrity hair stylist told Cover Media.

While there are countless products with coconut oil a major ingredient, there’s no reason you can’t use the oil in its purest form. Try Vita Coco’s Coconut Oil, and Matthew advises: “It’s perfect for rubbing through your mid-lengths and ends on a rainy day at home and letting your hair soak up all the goodness.”

Magic masks

Masks are a really good option for anyone who wants an intensive injection of moisture. Choose a day when you have some time to play with, so you can leave it on your locks as long as possible to ensure you’re giving it a real chance of infiltrating right down to the root. The Kerasilk Intensive Repair mask is perfect for those suffering with extremely dry damaged hair. Mark Leeson, Goldwell Global Creative Ambassador, told Cover media: “Kerasilk Reconstruct mask is gentle on the hair, but leaves it in amazing condition. Goldwell have pumped it full of Keratin and Hyaloveil which will nourish dry and damaged hair back to a healthy state.”

Another, slightly pricey, option is Christophe Robin’s Regenerating Mask. This might be one to wait until payday to purchase, but its unique feature is that it contains seed oil extracted from the rare Prickly Pear, which helps restructure and strengthen hair from the inside out.

Whey protein for breakfast aids weight loss

Breakfast has always been seen as the most important meal of the day, and while this could be true, it can depend on what you choose to consume first thing in the morning.

A new survey has found that having a protein-rich breakfast can be an aid to weight loss, as well as manage Type 2 diabetes.

But protein can take many forms and researchers at Tel Aviv University believe whey protein, found in foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk is best at keeping people fuller for longer.

This is opposed to other kinds of protein found in eggs and tuna.

“A high-calorie protein breakfast, medium-sized lunch and small dinner is a proven successful strategy for weight loss in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, professor of medicine at Tel Aviv University.

A whey protein breakfast also prevented dangerous spikes in blood sugar, which is key for people with Type 2 diabetes, and was found to keep those levels lower for a longer period of time.

To reach the results, Dr Jakubowicz randomly assigned 48 overweight and obese people with Type 2 diabetes to one of three diets containing the same number of calories.

All the participants had an average age of 59, and for 23 months, they ate a large breakfast, medium-sized lunch and small dinner.

However, one group ate breakfast containing mostly whey protein such as whey protein shakes, while the second ate other proteins including eggs, soy and tuna.

The third group’s breakfast was high in carbohydrates or starch, and after 12 weeks, the group on whey protein had lost the most weight at 16.7 pounds (7.5 kilograms), compared to group two’s 13.4 pounds (6 kilograms) and group three’s 6.8 pounds (3 kilograms).

The first group also felt the most full throughout the day compared to those eating the other kinds of protein and carbohydrates, and according to Dr Jakubowicz, it’s because whey protein “significantly” suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Holidays really are good for you

Going on holiday is good for the soul, we all know that, but there are lots of other positive benefits that come courtesy of a trip away.

Travel site Expedia surveyed a group of 31 million Brits to determine why going on holiday really is nature’s best medicine, and came up with some interesting results.

It’s not surprising that 81 per cent said they felt better after a trip, nor are the figures that stated 46 per cent of people said they felt more relaxed, 42 per cent said they felt happier and 35 per cent said they felt less stressed.

However holidays yield some unexpected beauty benefits too, with 10 per cent claiming their saw an improvement in the condition of their skin and six per cent losing weight while being away. 14 per cent felt healthier after holidaying too, while 10 per cent were more confident.

Holiday side effects also extended to the bedroom, with 20 per cent sleeping better upon returning home, and six per cent reporting a higher sex drive.

“One of the best things about holidays is that by coming out of your routine you don’t have to worry about ‘must dos’ and can have new experiences on your terms,” Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, who assisted with the study, commented.

“You’re free to do as much or a little as you like, which in turn makes you feel more relaxed. This can help reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which when significantly elevated in the body can have a negative impact on organs such as the skin.”

The holiday effect can last anywhere between three weeks to three months.

Dr. Papadopoulos adds that with the reduction of stress, positive benefits like motivation and productivity shine through.

“Exposure to a healthy amount of sunshine is also believed to increase the brain’s release of the hormone serotonin, which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused,” she pointed out.

Turmeric: The wonder spice?

Turmeric, the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is well known for its health properties. But the humble spice may be even more powerful than first thought, with a new study claiming that it may be able to help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).

A group of experts from Colorado and China have discovered that a compound responsible for the yellow-orange color of turmeric called curcumin, a polyphenol, can kill the bacteria that causes TB.

Scientists found that by stimulating human immune cells called macrophages, curcumin was able to successfully remove mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, from experimentally infected cells in culture.

Tubercluosis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide by an infectious agent, and is spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

TB mainly affects the lungs but it can also affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones and nervous system. According to the World Health Organization, one-third of the world’s population is infected with TB and in 2014 alone, 9.6 million became sick with the disease – and 1.5 million died from TB.

In Asia, turmeric, which comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, is used as anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic.

The new findings could lead to potential new TB treatments that would be less prone to the development of drug resistance.

Lead study author Dr Xiyuan Bai, of the University of Colorado, Denver admitted that the protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation.

However, Dr Bai feels confident that if “if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis”.

The research was first published in the journal Respirology.