Fear causing people with Parkinson’s to miss out on support

Many sufferers of Parkinson’s disease are struggling with their diagnosis alone due to fear of what people might think.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra, and exactly what causes this loss remains unclear. According to the National Health Service (NHS), there around 127,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the U.K, with the three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease being tremors, slow movement or stiff and inflexible muscles. A person with Parkinson’s disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms, including depression, memory problems and insomnia.

In a new study, Parkinson’s U.K. interviewed over 1,800 people with the disease and noted an alarming level of fear around sharing a diagnosis. The research, which was released to mark the start of Parkinson’s Awareness Week (18-22Apr16), found nearly two fifths of people with Parkinson’s have felt forced to hide their symptoms or lie about having the condition.

Those who did feel the need to hide their symptoms reported not wanting people to feel awkward or embarrassed around them, felt they would be judged, or were concerned that their symptoms were not socially acceptable. Those who delayed telling family or friends said it was because they often did not know how to bring it up, did not want to accept their diagnosis or weren’t able to find the words.

This means people can be cut off from the vital support available at a time when many report struggling to come to terms with their condition.

Positively, 45 per cent of those surveyed and who shared their diagnosis with their immediate family reported feeling able to accept they had Parkinson’s. Meanwhile one in four reported feeling relieved and 15 per cent said they felt glad they didn’t have to hide their symptoms any more.

David Burn, Clinical Director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network said it is alarming to discover so many people felt that they could not share their diagnosis with those around them because they were worried about the consequences, or couldn’t word it correctly.

“But it’s also promising to see that those who did have the confidence to share felt it made a positive difference,” he said, further urging medical professionals to be proactive in encouraging people to access support.

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’!

Pensioners dance their way to improved health

Greek dancing has been found to have major health benefits for the older generation, a new study has found.

The over 70s were around when dance crazes like The Twist and The Jive exploded onto the scene, but most won’t have kept up with routines as they’ve grown older.

However, researchers at Aristotle University in Greece have studied pensioners who suffered from chronic heart disease and found those who took up traditional Greek dancing, can jump higher and walk faster than those who shun the moves.

Exercise physiologist Zacharias Vordos and his team looked at a test group of 40 Greek participants, with an average age of 73, who had all suffered from heart issues and hadn’t exercised in the past year. They were split into two groups; the first took part in a three month rehabilitation programme based on traditional Greek dancing while the second continued with no exercise. The Greek dancing sessions lasted for 40 to 65 minutes once a week.

At the start of the study the patients were tested on their ability to jump, leg muscle strength and walking ability. No differences were found between the two sub groups, but after three months the dancers were 10 per cent stronger than those who took no exercise, jumped 10 per cent higher, and were 6 per cent faster. Results showed the sedentary group demonstrated no change.

“The physical benefits of Greek dancing should give patients more independence in daily life by helping them to walk and climb stairs,” Zacharias said.

“It should also improve their coordination and reduce their risk of falling and being injured. It is possible that Greek dancing also gives cardiac benefit as demonstrated by Zumba fitness programmes with Latin music.”

The traditional dance was chosen because Greek dancing is an important part of weddings and other celebrations, and is popular among older people.

The study has been published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.

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.

Superfoods: The raw power of strawberries

Aside from longer days and warmer temperatures, strawberries are one of the first signs of spring. The season starts to peak in mid April and runs until late June. And while there’s no denying that the bright red berry is a popular fruit, not everyone realizes what a healthy punch they pack. We break down all you need to know about this humble and delicious superfood.

Strawberries, also known as Fragaria, are one of the popular berry fruits in the world and are grown primarily in the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Italy, and Canada. There are over six hundred varieties of strawberry, all of which have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems. Strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside, and they are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family. Wild strawberries have been popular since ancient Roman times and were used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as alleviating inflammation, fever and kidney stones.

Health benefits

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium. Studies have shown that their fiber and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fiber is thought to have a satiating effect. According to HealthLine, strawberries have a glymaemic index rating of 41, meaning they can satisfy your sweet tooth without negatively affecting your blood sugar levels. Further, the vibrant red color of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease. They also contain malic acid which helps brighten and whiten tooth enamel. Another reason to eat these berries as a treat!

Portion sizes

A cup of sliced strawberries contains only 53 calories and around 3.3 grams of fiber. However, Britain’s NHS recommends one portion should consist of around seven strawberries.

How to select and store

Choose berries that are firm, plump, and unblemished. Look for those that have a shiny, deep red color and bright green caps attached. Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further so avoid those that are dull, or have green or yellow patches. Wash and handle them with care and bring to room temperature before serving.

Safety

It may come as a surprise to learn that strawberries are a common allergen. The NHS advises that if you have allergies to birch pollen, you are more likely to develop a secondary food allergy to strawberries. Most common symptoms are experienced in the mouth and throat – tingling, itching, watery eyes and runny nose. If you are concerned about food allergies consult your doctor before consuming.

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.”

 

Superfoods: The raw power of strawberries

Aside from longer days and warmer temperatures, strawberries are one of the first signs of spring. The season starts to peak in mid April and runs until late June. And while there’s no denying that the bright red berry is a popular fruit, not everyone realizes what a healthy punch they pack. We break down all you need to know about this humble and delicious superfood.

Strawberries, also known as Fragaria, are one of the popular berry fruits in the world and are grown primarily in the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Italy, and Canada. There are over six hundred varieties of strawberry, all of which have the same characteristic heart-shaped, red flesh and seeded coat together with small, regal, leafy green caps and stems. Strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside, and they are actually a member of the rose (rosaceae) family. Wild strawberries have been popular since ancient Roman times and were used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes such as alleviating inflammation, fever and kidney stones.

Health benefits

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium. Studies have shown that their fiber and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fiber is thought to have a satiating effect. According to HealthLine, strawberries have a glymaemic index rating of 41, meaning they can satisfy your sweet tooth without negatively affecting your blood sugar levels. Further, the vibrant red color of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease. They also contain malic acid which helps brighten and whiten tooth enamel. Another reason to eat these berries as a treat!

Portion sizes

A cup of sliced strawberries contains only 53 calories and around 3.3 grams of fiber. However, Britain’s NHS recommends one portion should consist of around seven strawberries.

How to select and store

Choose berries that are firm, plump, and unblemished. Look for those that have a shiny, deep red color and bright green caps attached. Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further so avoid those that are dull, or have green or yellow patches. Wash and handle them with care and bring to room temperature before serving.

Safety

It may come as a surprise to learn that strawberries are a common allergen. The NHS advises that if you have allergies to birch pollen, you are more likely to develop a secondary food allergy to strawberries. Most common symptoms are experienced in the mouth and throat – tingling, itching, watery eyes and runny nose. If you are concerned about food allergies consult your doctor before consuming.

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.”

Turn to Turmeric for beauty

If you’re a fan of Indian food, you may be familiar with Turmeric, also known as Haldi, one of the country’s most widely used spices. A part of the ginger family, Turmeric adds flavor and a deep yellow-orange color to many dishes, mostly in curries and mustard. But for centuries it has also served as a main ingredient in medicine and beauty, mainly for skin and hair. Because of its anti-inflammatory power and numerous antioxidants, there are many uses for Turmeric in your beauty routine that can greatly improve your complexion.

Turmeric is greatly effective in keeping acne away, thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It fights pimples and breakouts and reduces the oil secretion in your glands, thus preventing super oily skin. A simple scrub will do the trick, by adding a few drops of water and lemon juice to the Turmeric powder. Apply the paste to the affected areas and leave on for about 15 minutes then gently wash away with lukewarm water.

Turmeric is also an exfoliating agent, which means it can provide great relief to ageing skin. In fact, Indian brides and grooms have been incorporating a Haldi ceremony on the big day, since it makes your skin glow. By mixing the Turmeric with equal amounts of besan (gram/chickpea flour) and raw milk or water, you’ll be left with a paste to put generously and evenly on the skin. Allow it to dry, and rinse with lukewarm water. If you’re using the paste on your face, scrub gently in a circular motion to exfoliate properly.

You can also use that same paste to help lighten stretch marks and even out the skin tone. If you want to change the mixture up a bit, use rose water or yogurt instead of the raw milk or water to give the paste a different feel.

If you still have that paste left over, it can surprisingly be used to inhibit hair growth, thanks to a property called curcumin found in Turmeric. Curcumin can stop the activity of a growth agent which causes death of hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Reducing hair growth won’t happen overnight, and it usually takes about a month of consistent use to notice results.

Speaking of hair, Turmeric has been proven to also get rid of dandruff and other scalp issues. Apply a mixture of the Turmeric and olive oil into your scalp prior to taking a shower. Leave in for 15 minutes then wash off with a natural shampoo. After a while, the Turmeric helps to provide nutrition to the hair follicles and increases circulation on your scalp.

So the big question – will all these scrubs and exfoliators leave a stain on your skin? Turmeric usually stains fabric and clothing, but on skin, the simple answer is no. However, there is a possibility that you will see a slight yellow-tint to your skin. After a few washes, it will go away, but if you need the yellow to disappear sooner, wipe the area with a few drops of a mild facial toner on a cotton ball and you’ll be back to brand new.