Drink more H20 this World Water Day

Tuesday 22 March 2016 is World Water Day, a day that focuses on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

It’s been an annual event since 1993, and each year it focuses on a different issue related to water and the world’s population. Going to your kitchen and pouring yourself a glass of water isn’t a given for everyone, and even when it is, many people shun the benefits of H20 in favor of sugary drinks to refresh them.

The high sugar content in fizzy liquids, fresh juices and milkshakes has aided the obesity epidemic currently gripping the world, which is having a destructive effect on people’s health. However with plans for a sugar tax on fizzy drinks in England, as well as one already in place in countries like Finland, France and Mexico, the tide appears to be changing on the war against sugar. This is evident when you look at recent statistics for bottled water sales in the UK, which have drastically risen in the past year. Trade magazine The Grocer found that high street sales of bottled water rose 8.5 per cent to £982.7 million, with more than half of this drunk at home. A spokesperson noted that consumer health fears fueled this trend, and the new sugar tax will further boost it.

Getting more water in your diet will benefit everything from your skin’s appearance to how well your brain functions. Getting plenty of the clear stuff will make you feel more alert and less lethargic too. The NHS recommends adults should be drinking at least six to eight glasses of fluid a day, with lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee, as well as plain water, all counting.

Getting more water into your diet shouldn’t be a chore, as if you’re struggling to down more you’ll soon rebel against doing it. Make simple changes and reap the benefits.

Easy ways to drink more water:

Start your day with hot water with lemon slices. Both refreshing and will kick start your digestion.

Keep a large bottle or jug of water on your desk, and keep refilling your glass whenever it’s empty.

Eat more fruit and veg. Both are full of water and will up your daily levels.

Sip water before every meal. This can also curb calorie intake as it will make you feel fuller.

Use an app to track your cups. There really is an app for everything these days, so why not get on board with water levels?

Add flavor. Adding fruits, cucumber slices or sprigs of mint will jazz up your H20, giving you a hit of flavor with your hydration.

Can a vegetarian diet save the planet?

Enthusiasts of vegetarian and vegan diets are quick to cite growing evidence that a reduction in the consumption of meat products is linked to the improvement of human health.

Now, new research has shown that the widespread adoption of meat-free diets could potentially save millions of lives, trillions of dollars and have a positive impact on the environment.

Researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. assessed four different scenarios in which they analysed humans consuming varying levels of meat to evaluate the links between diet, health and the environment.

According to the findings, the lowest level of meat consumption or a widespread adoption of the vegan diet could help avoid more than eight million deaths by 2050. A vegetarian diet would save 7.3 million lives.

“There is a general consensus that dietary change across the globe can have multiple health, environmental, and economic benefits,” the researchers said.

With regard to environmental impacts, the researchers noted that dietary shifts could also be significant. Livestock alone account for more than 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and by 2050 the food sector could account for half of that figure if cuts in other sectors are implemented. A vegan or vegetarian diet could potentially cut those emissions by 70 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively.

The report findings also indicate that swapping diets could save $1 trillion annually by preventing health care costs and lost productivity, with that number rising to as much as $30 trillion annually when also considering the economic value of lost life.

The study also illustrates how the benefits of changing dietary patterns vary in different regions.

Some areas – particularly East Asia, Latin America and Western high-income countries – all benefited

from reduced red meat consumption. But in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa people will benefit the most from increased fruit and vegetable intake.

Researchers note such a plant-based diet would require a 25 per cent increase in the number of fruits and vegetables eaten globally and a 56 per cent reduction in red meat whereas, overall, the human species would need to consume 15 per cent fewer calories.

The research was first published in journal PNAS

Is canned tuna too high in mercury for pregnant women?

Advice given to women on the amount of fish they should consume while pregnant may be flawed, researchers contend.

Experts agree that fish is a good source of protein and healthy fats, but these health benefits must be balanced with significant downsides. Fish species like tuna and carp, can contain high levels of mercury, which are absorbed from polluted waters.

Previous studies have shown that mercury, a heavy metal, can be toxic to neurons in the brain, and in 2014 U.S. federal agencies issued draft guidelines advising pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant, to avoid high-mercury fish altogether.

However, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) argue that even if women follow the guidelines on which types of fish to eat, they may be exposing themselves and unborn babies to unsafe levels of mercury and not gaining the necessary benefits from the healthy omega-3 fats in the fish.

The EWG claims the list of high-mercury fish is incomplete or inaccurate. Specifically, canned light tuna is listed as a lower-mercury fish even though some previous studies have found it high in mercury.

“It’s misleading to name canned light tuna as one of the low-mercury species that women are encouraged to eat,” says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at EWG.

EWG asked 254 women of child-bearing age who ate more than the U.S. government’s recommended amount of fish to record their seafood consumption and submit hair samples for mercury testing.

Among women following this preliminary advice of two to three servings of different types of fish a week, 30 per cent of the women were exposed to levels of mercury deemed unhealthy by the EPA.

Much of their exposure was tied to fish species like tuna steaks and sushi that are not included in the government’s warning.

The FDA guidelines, which aren’t final and still in draft form, only mention swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark as species for pregnant women to avoid, and suggest limiting albacore tuna to six ounces per week.

To avoid mercury exposure, the guidelines provide a list of low mercury seafood, which include salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, and trout.

Cannabis use in US doubles

If you’re planning a trip to the States soon, be wary of what to expect. It’s been found that between 2002 and 2013 the amount of Americans using cannabis has doubled, while nearly six million US citizens were treated for marijuana addiction in 2015. That counted 2.5 per cent of US adults, while 6.3 per cent have suffered from the problem at one point in their own lives.

Marijuana use disorder diagnosis needs to meet two of 11 symptoms that look at withdrawal, cravings and negative effects on personal and professional responsibilities. The disorder is rated on severity, from mild to severe, with disability levels and frequency of cannabis use increasing with the seriousness of the health issue.

Scientists who conducted the research discovered it’s almost twice more common among men than women, and that young people with low incomes are most likely to be diagnosed.

While many may suffer over the course of their lifetime, it was noted that a mere 14 per cent of individuals actually receive treatment.

“An increasing number of American adults do not perceive marijuana use as harmful,” lead study author Dr Deborah Hasin, of Columbia University, revealed.

“While some can use marijuana without harms, other users do experience negative consequences, which can include mental and physical problems, and impaired functioning.”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders provided the criteria for the research, combining old categories of marijuana abuse and dependence into a single problem. Data from the 2012-2013 sector of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions was analysed, with over 36,000 adults interviews.

It was also noted that marijuana use is linked to various other problems, like behavioral problems, which often go untreated. The study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Sugar tax: What is it and how will it work?

A new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry is set to be introduced by the U.K. government in an effort to combat obesity. In his Budget on Wednesday (16Mar16), Chancellor George Osborne announced that a tax will be levied on drinks companies in two years’ time, giving them time to change the ingredients and recipes of their products. In response to the announcement, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver praised the tax, writing on Instagram that it is “profound move that will ripple around the world”. But what exactly is the sugar tax and what does it mean for consumers?

Which products will be taxed?

Manufacturers will be taxed according to the quantity of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import. There will be two categories of taxation – one for sugar content above five grams per 100ml and a higher band for drinks with more than eight grams per 100ml. This means a standard can of Coca-Cola costing around 70 pence ($1) will have an 8 pence tax placed on it when the scheme is introduced in 2018. Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will not be included but other drinks such as Red Bull, Strawberry Ribena, Lucozade Energy and some tonic waters will be impacted, with the lower tax band catching drinks like Dr Pepper, Fanta and Sprite. The estimated £520 million ($750 million) in taxes raised will be put towards boosting sports in schools.

Will the tax actually work?

Britain will be joining a growing list of countries with levies on junk foods. Norway taxes chocolate and sweets, Finland and France tax sweetened drinks and Mexico introduced a 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks in 2014. A paper published in January (16), found that sales of fizzy drinks in Mexico, a nation with some of the worst obesity stats, had fallen by 12 per cent in the first year.

The effects of sugar

Eating a diet high in sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can consequent in health conditions such as heart disease. A report published by the NHS last year also noted that drinking lots of sugary drinks had been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

What are some alternatives?

So for those who don’t get excited about plain old water, what is there left to drink? Stay hydrated by sprucing up your water with a couple of slices of lemon, orange, cucumber and some mint for instant flavor. Or swap out fizzy drink for a cup of green tea, which is calorie-free and proven to be naturally high in antioxidants. Add a couple of drops of honey if you need a little extra sweetening. Other great alternatives to soft drinks are low-sodium vegetable juices, unsweetened coconut water which is rich in electrolytes and the fermented tea drink Kombucha, which also contains sugar but considerably less than soft drinks.

Get fruity and veg out

Everyone knows fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a daily diet, and yet even the healthiest among us often find it a chore to gobble up the goodness we need.

But there is a cheat sheet that can help you get the greens you need without really knowing it.

It can start with the best smoothie known to man for breakfast and continue with some clever ways around meal presentation – using fruit and veg as bowls and eating tools!

That smoothie, by the way, is simple and cheap – and really good for you. Simply grab a handful of kale, a chopped up banana, a peeled pear or apple and a little soy or almond milk and blend to a texture that works for you, adding less or more milk. Then pour into a see-through travel cup, so everyone can see you’re a person who cares about health – and enjoy! It tastes much better than it looks.

But don’t stop there!

Take fruit and vegetables like peppers, avocados – the world’s healthiest food, tomatoes and prepare meals using them as bowls, filled with yummy ingredients using the flesh you scoop out. No waste and what a wonderful way to lunch.

Then for dinner, pick up fresh fruit and vegetables on the way home and challenge yourself with weird and wacky recipes using the goodness in your basket.

If you’re a working mom, get the kids to help out, so they know what good food looks like and feels like. Children do like to eat what they cook, so get them involved.

And if you must cheat with a weekly pizza, dress it up with roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower or add a delicious salad that’s a little different from the norm using at least two fruits and two vegetables. A good salad book is a must for any self-respecting health guru. Recommended reading: The Vegetarian Guide to Diet & Salad by Dr Norman Walker, Lisa Brown’s Salad of The Week: 52 Amazing Salad Recipes For Healthy Eating & Weight Loss, and Don Orwell’s Healthy Salads.

It’s also a great idea to have a vegan week once a month, when you cut dairy and meat from your diet completely. It might seem like quite the challenge at first, but you’ll quickly enjoy the detective work as you shop for what you can eat, discovering interesting food facts as you go. Plus, you’ll quickly enjoy the energy boost and the way you feel and look.

Put a night out into your workout

If you like the idea of a workout that feels like a night out on the town then you’ll love the latest craze to sweep the gym scene.

Clubbercise is a fitness class which combines aerobics with club/street dance moves. It’s set to a soundtrack of club anthems ranging from 90s classics like N-Trance to contemporary chart toppers by artists such as Rudimental, David Guetta and Calvin Harris.

Co-founder Claire Burlison Green told Cover Media the concept of Clubbercise was thought up by herself and two friends after they found themselves yearning for their carefree clubbing days, before work and family commitments took over.

“We missed dancing the night away to great music and the fact that you could burn calories on the dancefloor – no gym required,” she said.

Claire explained that Clubbercise varies from other dance-based classes such as Zumba because it takes place in a darkened room which emulates a typical club dancefloor, including flashing lights and pumping music.

“This means people feel a lot less self-conscious and are able to give their all,” she said, adding, “Routines are easy to follow and great fun.”

The rave-atmosphere is enhanced as participants are armed with flashing glow sticks which give a great arm workout.

“Our flashing LED glow sticks are the icing on the cake – they’re so much fun to use, you literally forget you’re exercising,” said Claire.

Participants can expect to burn around 500 calories per class. It is suitable for people of all levels of fitness and is great if you are looking to add more cardio to your workout schedule.

Clubbercise is available in independent venues and Virgin Active health clubs in the U.K., Ireland, Asia and Australia.

Those keen to get their groove on should make sure they wear trainers with good cushioning, such as cross trainers, as well as comfortable fitness clothing – neon is optional!

Get an early start on fitness

Exercise at any time is always good for you, but you’ll get better results if you tumble out of bed and get going.

Researchers in North Carolina have discovered that those who work-out early not only burn calories ahead of the daily intake of food, but spike their metabolism for up to 14 hours. Plus, a 45-minute pre-breakfast run will help you burn an extra 190 calories – because there are no sugars or treats to get in the way of a good session at the gym or on the trails.

And talking of trails, go canine and get yourself a dog. Offer to take a neighbor’s pooch out or borrow a relative’s pet. Man’s best friend loves the early mornings when the smells are fresh and nature’s waking up to a new day, and a good walk or a run will set you up for the day. The bigger the dog, the more you’ll get out of a power walk or a run – especially if you let Rover take the lead.

You should also consider what you put into your body after a work-out. Don’t pile back the calories you’ve just lost, but make sure you have a healthy breakfast that sets you up for the rest of the day.

Nutritionists suggest women in particular should aim for a 700-calorie first meal of the day. This helps them kill off the hunger hormone ghrelin, which if coupled with a good lunch, should keep the snack attacks at bay, and leave you with plenty of energy left for an evening out or a good walk after work.

And don’t believe all the negatives about a good cup of Joe. Coffee will not only keep you energized, but a shot of caffeine will also help your body burn a few extra calories while you work – often for up to three hours at a time, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Keep your lunch early as well and look for menu items that include dill or basil as these contain kaempferol, which is another metabolism-boosting secret soldier, which attacks the thyroid hormones. An early lunch will then lead to an early dinner allowing the body to power through until bedtime without a calorie wasted.

Breast cancer can be more aggressive in obese women

Breast cancer is more common and aggressive in obese people, researchers claim.

While prior studies have drawn the link, experts haven’t been able to pinpoint why overweight women are more prone to the disease.

Now, an international team of researchers believe their findings can shed more light on the association.

Researchers from the University of Miami in the U.S. and Granada’s University Hospital Center found that fat around a tumor (peritumoral fat) allows the expansion and invasion of cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are responsible of the onset and growth of the tumor.

They also claimed that obesity-related fat causes local inflammation and prevents adipocytes, the cells forming that fat, from maturing.

Cancer stem cells are found in tumors in small quantities, and they are responsible for the metastasis or spreading in parts of the body far from the original tumor.

Conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are not capable of eliminating these cells.

As a result, it is common that, after the first response to treatment, many cancer patients suffer a relapse, the researchers said.

Accordingly, they warn that the consequences of the obesity epidemic on cancer morbidity and mortality are very serious.

In fact, it is estimated that, nowadays, up to 20 per cent of cancer-related deaths may be attributable to obesity.

The researchers added that obese women have a greater risk of suffering breast cancer after going through the menopause.

And, the disease progresses much faster in those women – regardless of their age.

However, the researchers admit that the mechanisms by which obesity contributes to the development and progression of cancer are not absolutely yet clear.

The findings were first published in the journal Cancer Research.

Eggtastic beauty

Egg on your face? Don’t worry – the humble egg white has a lot more to it than you may realize, containing around 69 different proteins to benefit your skin. Eggs are currently taking the Korean market by storm as they are also high in collagen and vitamin A, which will help soothe out lines and help heal scars or burns. Add to that egg whites’ ability to ease/get rid of large pores, rashes and rosacea – they’re a real secret skincare savior.

The great news is that you can put egg whites straight onto your face, simply whisk them up until light and foamy, apply to clean skin and leave for around 15 minutes. Your face will eventually feel tight, which means it’s time to rinse it off with a warm cloth.

There are ways to mix things up though, all the while keeping things natural. Mashed avocado is a good option for those with dry skin thanks to its nourishing nature, and those with an oily complexion can benefit from a squeeze of lemon juice. Those with sensitive skin should keep things simple, so natural yogurt can be added to the mix for a richer finish.

However, there are plenty of choices for people who don’t feel up to making skincare products themselves. Skinfood have done it for you with their Egg White Pore Foam Cleanser, or you could tackle spots with TonyMoly’s egg-shaped blackhead gel.

The benefits don’t have to stop at your face; Egg Mousse Body Oil starts as a foam but quickly transforms into an oil – just remember to shake before use. This product includes avocado too, which as we mentioned above will do wonders for dry skin.