Drinking more coffee may counteract liver damage caused by alcohol

A cup of coffee each morning may pack more than just an energy boost, new research suggests.

A U.K. university has analysed previously published studies into coffee consumption and how it impacts liver disease.

Researchers at Southampton University looked at the results of more than 430,000 study participants and found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day was linked to a 44 per cent lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis.

Compared to no coffee consumption, researchers estimated one cup a day was tied to a 22 per cent lower risk of cirrhosis.

Furthermore, having three cups of coffee meant the risk dropped by 57 per cent and four cups saw it decline by 65 per cent.

In all but one study, the risk of cirrhosis continued to decline as daily cups of coffee climbed.

Cirrhosis kills more than one million people every year worldwide. It is most commonly caused by alcohol intake, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity and diabetes.

Dr Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University said that while the study is encouraging, it’s important to remember there is no cure as such for cirrhosis.

However, he added that if coffee can help, then there’s no harm in drinking it.

“It is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous and well-tolerated beverage,” he explained.

So, what is it about coffee that impacts liver disease? The researchers admitted that they’re not actually sure.

“Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver,” said Dr Kennedy.

Beauty problems solved: Hydration

Skin looking dull? It could be lacking hydration. Worried fine lines are becoming more pronounced? You need hydration. Have dry patches, a tight feeling or find your make-up disappears during the day? All signs you need more hydration. One of the problems with skin which is lacking in water is that people presume it’s dry, so start piling on rich creams. This actually does nothing to solve the problem because dehydrated skin already has enough oil in it – it’s water that it’s desperate for.

One of the key things you can do if your skin has lost its plumpness is to address your diet. Drinking enough water is key to keeping your skin looking clear and full because your body’s organs need H20 to function properly. If there isn’t enough swilling around your body it’ll pull it from your skin, as that’s deemed an area which needs it but not vitally, causing the tight feeling we’ve all suffered from at some point.

So what can be done? First up, pick the right products. Dehydrated skin is best treated using a serum for the condition, as these creams are lighter than moisturizers and are able to penetrate skin better. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum and Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum are both reasonably-priced options which do the job well, even on sensitive skins. Then you should try a treatment to supercharge the moisture in your skin, so a hydrating mask – SuperFacialist and Clarins have good ones – is a good idea. Verso’s Deep Hydration Mask promises moisture for 120 hours, and contains a vitamin A complex which should help with collagen production and fine lines.

Along the treatment lines but slightly different is Sarah Chapman’s Skinesis Intense Hydrating Booster, which is designed to help with wrinkles and skin crepiness which are telltale signs of dehydration. It’s also good for stressed, dry and unbalanced skin – basically anyone who’s been suffering with the chilly weather in winter.

Finally, it’s good to prep skin properly before you apply make-up. If your skin is really dehydrated you’ll notice your foundation goes patchy during the day as your skin sucks all the water out of it. To combat this use a lightweight and hydrating primer underneath your base, such as the new Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer.

Volume waves

It’s one of the hottest looks right now, but achieving the perfect volumised waves can be a somewhat lengthy process without the right tools and products, especially if you have fine hair that just wants to lie flat.

But with revolutionary products hitting shelves on a daily basis, there are now new and quick ways you can achieve the look showcased by stars including Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lawrence.

Here we run down the best ways to get the look at home.

Prep, prep and more prep

This look is all about making sure the hair is pliable to hold the waves in the best way possible. Due to this, it’s best to try it on hair that has not been freshly washed – the morning after a shampoo is the perfect time to give it a go. If you suffer from greasy hair that needs to be washed daily, then spray on a bit of dry shampoo. Batiste’s Heavenly Volume dry shampoo is excellent for this. Make sure you brush it out afterwards to ensure you don’t leave any telltale white signs in the hair.

Protect and perfect

One of the most important things to do before using any kind of heated hair tool is to make sure you protect your hair from sudden burst of heat. Our top picks are Moroccanoil Heat Styling Protection Spray, or the more purse friendly TRESemme Heat Defence Styling Spray. KMS California ADD VOLUME Volumizing Spray gives you two for the price of one, adding volume and also protection hair from heat damage. Whichever you choose, make sure you coat each section of hair before hitting it with the tool.

Tantalizing tools

Here’s where it gets really interesting, as there is an endless supply of new volumizing tools. If you’ve opted to wash your hair in the morning then don’t despair – you can still achieve the perfect waves. Instead of drying your locks with a traditional hairdryer, try the Revlon Perfectionist 2-in-One Dryer. This combines the power of a traditional dryer with the effect of a paddle brush, meaning you can brush the hair upwards as it dries to add some more volume. It also stops hair from being frizzy.

Once the hair is dry and ready for styling, break out the EGO Professional EGO Twist – the next generation of curling wand. With four ‘bobbles’ on the wand, it enables the heat to be distributed evenly, meaning the waves will stay in place for longer. Or if you want more of an actual wave rather than a curl, try the Diva Professional Styling 4x Vari-Waver, which has adjustable wave depths.

All about the finish

When you’ve worked hard on achieving the perfect look, you need to make sure it stays in place. The celebrity favorite hairspray remains L’Oréal Paris’ Elnett Satin range which has variations such as Extra Strength or Volume Excess, is perfect for your wavy look. KMS California’s HAIRPLAY playable texture spray is another good option, as it’s the perfect multi-tasker. It’s lightweight and not sticky so it feel natural on your hair rather than making your locks stiff and lifeless.

Money = exercise motivator

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the U.S. have been examining whether financial incentives may help increase the levels of physical activity among overweight and obese adults.

In a new study, 281 participants were each given the goal of reaching 7,000 steps per day for a 26-week study period. The average daily step count among American adults is 5000.

During the first 13 weeks, the participants were assigned to four groups. One had no financial incentive, while the “gain” group received $1.40 (£0.97) for every day the goal was achieved – or $42 (£29) per month.

There was also a “lottery” category – where people were entered into a daily draw with a prize that averaged $1.40 each day.

Lastly, there was a loss incentive group, where the participants started with $42 each month, and the researchers subtracted $1.40 for each day the aim wasn’t achieved.

For the final 13 weeks of the study, participants received feedback on their performance but were not offered any financial incentives.

Participants’ progress was tracked through a mobile app on their smartphones.

Results from the first half of the study showed that offering a daily reward or lottery was no more effective than offering no reward at all.

Participants in those groups only achieved the goal approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the time.

However, those who risked losing the reward they had already been given achieved the goal nearly 45 per cent of the time. This equated to an almost 50 per cent increase over the control group.

Senior study author Dr Kevin Volpp believes the findings demonstrate that the potential of losing a reward is a very powerful motivator.

“(The study) adds important knowledge to our understanding of how to use financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs,” he said.

The authors noted that 96 per cent of participants were still actively enrolled in the study even three months after stopping incentives, which may have important implications for the role that smartphones could play in deploying these programmes on a broader scale.

“Our findings reveal how wearable devices and apps can play a role in motivating people to increase physical activity, but what really makes the difference is how you design the incentive strategy around those apps,” said Dr David Asch.

The authors added that future studies might compare the effectiveness of incentives when combined with other motivators such as team-based designs that rely on peer support and accountability.

Results were first published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Want to avoid temptation? Place treats near less-dominant hand

Desperate for a way to stop yourself from chomping on biscuits while sat at your office desk? A simple solution could be to move them away from your dominant hand, as scientists have found things appear more attractive when in easy reach.

So those who are right-handed will be more tempted by goodies on their right hand side, but when the same goods are placed on the left side the desire for them drops.

On top of this experts believe that how we perceive people is also affected by where they are stood or sat.

Researcher Dr Daniel Casasanto, of Chicago University, points out things close to the side of the body of the hand you use could be favored because there’s less effort.

“If you ask people to judge which of these two job applicants do you think you would hire, righties would on average choose the person on the right, lefties on average, the person on the left,” he explained.

“This become applicable to behaviors like voting where we are all being asked to judge candidates whose names are written on the right and left of the ballot paper. We found in a large simulated election that compared to lefties, righties will choose the candidate they see on the right of the ballot paper about 15 per cent more than lefties. So these kinds of invisible influences could have real impact.”

In addition to these findings, revealed during the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference, it was discovered that the brain is wired differently in left-handed and right-handed people. Emotional hubs are on different sides, which could play a big part in treating conditions like depression with electric shock therapies that stimulate one side of the brain.

“This discovery has urgent public health implications such treatments for depression and other mental health disorder that affect millions of people were designed for right-handers, and may be detrimental to everyone else,” the expert said.

Dr. Casasanto also found that if a right-handed person wore a heavy glove to make them feel clumsy, they thought more like a left-handed person.

Scientists identify harmful molecules in processed foods

Processed junk food contains dangerous bacterial molecules that can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, a new study has revealed.

A team of researchers at the University of Leicester discovered that junk foods, as well as seemingly healthy processed options such as ready prepared vegetables and pasta sauces, contain molecules known as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).

It is believed that these grow as the food is being manufactured and refrigerated before being transported to suppliers.

As an example, a fillet steak would be low in PAMPs, while minced steak mince has high levels. Similarly a whole onion is low in PAMPs, but a pack of pre-prepared chopped onions is high.

For their study, lead researcher Dr Clett Erridge and his team looked at a group of volunteers who stuck to a diet of foods low in PAMPs for an entire week.

Three major factors were noted – their white blood count was reduced, their bad cholesterol levels were reduced and they lost an average of 1.3lbs in weight.

White blood cells work to protect the body from diseases. If a high white blood count is noted, it can indicate health problems such as an infection, allergy, inflammation, allergy or another issue. When sticking to the low PAMP diet, the volunteers’ white blood counts were reduced by 11 per cent.

One of the most significant findings was that the volunteers’ levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were reduced by 18 per cent. If the group continued on the low PAMP diet, the reductions in cholesterol levels would mean their risk of suffering from coronary artery diseases in the future would drop by over 40 per cent.

Volunteers also lost weight during the week-long diet and an average of 1.5cm from their waistlines – meaning that once again their risk of type 2 diabetes dropped by more than 15 per cent.

When the scientists gave the volunteers a high PAMP diet to follow, they found these benefits were completely reversed – showing the danger of the molecules.

Dr Erridge and his team are now hoping that food manufacturers will test the levels of PAMPs throughout their manufacturing process, thereby finding out at which point the molecules enter the food, like which machines or materials could be introducing them.

Removing the PAMPs from foods could help make them healthier without adversely affecting the taste or texture, as well as the cost or ingredients of preparing the food.

The study was published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Pregnant women should eat vitamin D-rich foods to reduce child’s allergy risk

Expectant mothers who eat food rich in vitamin D could reduce the chance of their children contracting asthma or other allergies by up to 20 per cent.

The compound, known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to humans being able to absorb it if they’re exposed to the sun, can be found in foods such a fish, eggs, mushrooms, dairy products and cereal.

A study was conducted by a team of scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who looked at 1,248 mothers and their offspring in America. The participants were followed from the very first trimester of their pregnancy through to when their children reach the age of seven. While previous studies have looked at single points in time, this is the first to examine the effects of ingesting vitamin D at multiple times in life.

Those who ate food rich in vitamin D, drinking or eating the equivalent of an eight ounce serving of milk daily, were found to be less likely to have children that developed allergies when they reached school age.

Interestingly, those who increased their intake of vitamin D by taking a supplement did not have the same benefits as those who ate vitamin D rich foods.

“Expectant mothers have questions about what they should eat during pregnancy, and our study shows that it’s important to consider the source of nutrients in a mother’s diet,” lead study author Dr Supinda Bunyavanich said.

“This study may influence nutritional counselling and recommendations to expectant mothers to include vitamin D-rich foods in their diets.”

Scientists compiled the study results by using food frequency questionnaires and testing the levels of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the mother and children as they reached school age.

The study was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Fight off dry skin for winter weddings

Summer and early autumn are usually considered the main wedding seasons, which means there are many more guides for warm, outdoor ceremonies than the colder months. Winter weddings are growing in popularity though, and the weather plays just as an important role as the heat does in the summer. Specifically, there are more challenges that occur in the winter beauty-wise for brides especially when it comes to dry skin, so here are a few tips on how to stay cool for a winter wedding.

If you’re a bride or bridesmaid prepping for the big day, it’s a good idea to start early and not just the day before. Start using a night-time moisturizer for your face – creamier solutions often work best – but the bottom line is to choose a product that won’t make you break out and will keep your skin feeling fresh.

That goes for all your cosmetics – avoid anything that will make your skin any drier than it already is. If you’re not incorporating moisturizing products in your oils in baths and/or showers, now is the time to do it. Soaking your entire body in hydrating products will not only help your skin, but can also help soothe your stress before the big day.

Daily application of lotion will help as well. If you know that certain parts of your body will be prominently showcased with your dress and in pictures, exfoliate and give more attention to those parts. Of course, dry lips are something you definitely don’t want before you exchange vows and kiss your soon-to-be spouse. Ideally, pick a lipstick that is also a moisturizing one, so your lips aren’t cracking through the color. Keep some chapstick or moisturizing lipstick/lip gloss handy – or have one of your bridesmaids hold it for you. That’s what they’re there for!

And remember that one thing that always helps with fighting off dry skin is hydrating with plenty of water, that way you’ll be refreshed but also keep that radiant look in the cold winter.

‘Over 50s sex life could delay dementia’

An active sex life for the over 50s could help fight off dementia, scientists have claimed.

Research conducted by Coventry University in the UK has found that regular lovemaking among the over 50s leads to sharper cognitive function, due to the release of hormones. The study was published in the journal Age and Ageing and the results suggest that the release of hormones including oxytocin and dopamine during sex can promote learning and memory.

“The findings have implications for the promotion of sexual counselling in healthcare settings, where maintaining a healthy sex life in older age could be instrumental in improving cognitive function and wellbeing,” the study states.

More than 6,800 individuals between the age of 50 and 89 in England were asked questions about their love life and then completed a series of mental tests. The challenges included recalling lists and recognizing patterns, both of which are shown to demonstrate healthy brain activity.

Participants listened to a list of 10 words and were asked to repeat them back straight away, then again after five minutes. People were also asked to solve sequences with a missing number. Sexually active men scored on average 23 per cent higher in the word tests and 3 per cent more in the number challenges, while women who had regular sex recorded improvements of 14 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

“Any part of the body needs to be exercised to keep in good shape and because sex triggers so many changes in the brain it will inevitably help keep it agile and capable,” psychosexual counselor Pauline Brown is quoted as saying by MailOnline. “There can be physical barriers caused by ageing, but these results show just how important it is for couples to keep this part of their relationship strong and healthy.

“Sex is a key part of what it means to be human, whether as a young adult or someone of advancing years. And it makes people feel good so it encourages them to be more positive about life and more likely to eat well and pursue other healthy activities like Pilates or line-dancing.”

Around 850,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with dementia. Previous studies have found that taking vitamins B6 and E, drinking green tea and dancing have all been shown to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

Less exercise leads to small brain

It’s a well-known fact that being a couch potato is no good for your health, but new research has discovered lack of exercise may even shrink your brain.

Scientists at Boston University School of Medicine analysed medical data from around 1,600 people over 20 years. Each participant undertook a fitness test on a treadmill in the late ’70s and early ’80s, during which time they were aged between 31 and 49. The volunteers ran on the machine until they reached a certain heart rate, with those who were more fit taking longer to reach it than those who did little exercise.

Fast forward two decades later to between 1998 and 2001, when the participants underwent neurological tests and MRI brain scans. It was found that those who had lower fitness levels were more likely to have smaller brains after 20 years. On average, total brain volume shrank by around 0.2 per cent annually, with those less fit in their 30s and 40s’ brains shrinking faster. This is said to be because keeping fit reduces blood pressure, thus resulting in less strain on the brain.

The brain getting smaller can lead to early cognitive decline, dementia and premature death, and experts believe a sedentary lifestyle accelerates a person’s ageing process. Brains naturally shrink with age, but this detection suggests exercise levels control the rate at which it happens.

“We found a direct correlation in our study between poor fitness and brain volume decades later, which indicates accelerated brain ageing,” study author Dr Nicole Spartano said of the findings, published in the Neurology journal. “While not yet studied on a large scale, these results suggest that fitness in middle age may be particularly important for the many millions of people around the world who already have evidence of heart disease.”