Yogurt ‘cuts blood pressure risk

If you’re bored of cereal and have had it with porridge, it might be time to mix up your breakfast routine by adding in some yogurt. That’s because it’s been found that women who fit the dairy treat into their diets at least five times a week and much less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, with the risk dropping by a fifth.

The study was vast, using data from 240,000 nurses, who were mainly women aged between 25 and 55. This was added to information gathered from 51,000 other people in the health professions, this time who were men aged mainly 40 to 75.

The research was funded by the National Dairy Council in America, with the findings that women who ate yogurt five times or more a week had their high blood pressure risk cut by a fifth. The effect was more noticeable in women because guys don’t tend to eat as much yogurt.

On top of this, those whose diets were also full of fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts were even less likely to suffer the ailment. This group saw their threat slashed by 31 per cent, when compared to people who feasted on yogurt just once monthly.

“No one food is a magic bullet, but adding yogurt to an otherwise healthy diet seems to help reduce the long-term risk of high blood pressure in women,” Justin Buendia of Boston University School of Medicine, America, explained.

“I believe this is the largest study of its kind to date to evaluate the specific effects of yogurt on blood pressure.”

The findings were presented at an American Heart Association conference, but at the moment there are no details about why yogurt has such an impact on blood pressure.

High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and often goes untreated as people don’t realize they are sufferers. However, it is a major health concern as it can cause heart failure, kidney disease, heart attack, dementia and stroke. In the UK it affects more than one in four adults, with five million thought to be secret sufferers.

Vessels need to have some pressure in them to keep the blood pumping around your body, but if there is too much there is an increased strain on arteries and the heart.

This isn’t the first time yogurt has been lauded for its health benefits. In the past the food has been linked to lowering cholesterol, helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels and guarding against brittle bone disease osteoporosis. That said, it’s important you choose your dairy dessert carefully as some versions are crammed with fat, sugar and sweeteners.

Knee pain? Try Botox

Suffering from knee pain? Botox may be the cure, as a new study has discovered the usually cosmetic treatment helped ease a painful joint condition which affects more than one in eight active individuals.

Scientists at Imperial College London and Fortius Clinic looked at 45 people suffering with what’s known as lateral patellofemoral overload syndrome (LPOS), with sufferers experiencing severe pain at the side and front of their knee joint. It is often round in runners and cyclists.

Dysport – a protein known as a botulinum toxin, which is what Botox is – was injected into the muscle at the front and outside of the hip of the participants in the trial, then they were given personalized physiotherapy treatment.

In total 69 per cent didn’t need any more procedures on the joint and after five years were free of pain entirely. This is a stark contrast to previous studies which showed that 80 per cent of people suffering from the condition still had ongoing symptoms after other treatments, while 74 per cent reported being less active.

Usual treatments include steroid injections, physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. If these fail, surgery is often considered as an option, and even then patients aren’t always guaranteed the issue will go away completely.

“As a physiotherapist it can be incredibly frustrating to run out of treatment options for patients with this painful condition,” study co-author Doctor Jo Stephen, of Imperial College London and Fortius, said. “Many athletes who took part in this study had exhausted all other treatment options and this was their last resort.

“We are really excited that our approach is showing positive results for patients, which could have implications for active people around the world.”

Findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Patients traveled from all over the country to take part in this study, which is an indication of their eagerness to find a solution to their discomfort,” co-author David Urquhart, of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, added.

Music can boost love life

If your love life has fizzled out lately, then it’s time to put on your favorite music and get in the mood this Valentine’s Day. It seems the old wives’ tale really is true; certain songs do make you want to have sex and it’s all because they boost the connection you feel with your partner. A study conducted by neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin for smart speaker manufacturer Sonos has concluded that music helps us feel physically and emotionally closer to that special person – leading to a more active love life.

During the research, entitled Music Makes It Home, 30,000 music fans all over the world were quizzed on how tunes impact their lives. Of those taking part in the survey, couples were 67 per cent more likely to have sex when music was playing, and an impressive 86 per cent of participants said their mood was enhanced by the right tunes.

The homes of 30 families were then observed to see how behavior changed when certain music was playing. During week one, participants were not allowed to listen to any music out loud, while in week two they could listen to songs as loud as they liked whenever they wanted.

The study showed that people were generally far happier when they could share the music they like with others, with 15 per cent more laughter recorded, as well as a 16 per cent boost in mood and 25 per cent of individuals feeling more inspired. Playing music in the home also led to people spending more time together – an average of three hours and 13 minutes more per week. Parents included in the experiment found that they were 37 per cent more likely to spend alone time together in the bedroom when music was on. In addition, 33 per cent of couples were more likely to spend time making dinner together, and 12 per cent got closer in proximity.

“The truth is people may be sharing a home but they’re not sharing much else,” Dr. Levitin explained in a video released by Sonos. “Schedules, stresses, personal devices make people feel disconnected from one another.”

The words ‘I love you’ were also more likely to be uttered in households where music was played out loud for everyone to enjoy. So blare your favorite love songs this weekend and enjoy some quality time with that special person in your life!

If your love life has fizzled out lately, then it’s time to put on your favorite music and get in the mood this Valentine’s Day. It seems the old wives’ tale really is true; certain songs do make you want to have sex and it’s all because they boost the connection you feel with your partner. A study conducted by neuroscientist Dr. Daniel J. Levitin for smart speaker manufacturer Sonos has concluded that music helps us feel physically and emotionally closer to that special person – leading to a more active love life.

During the research, entitled Music Makes It Home, 30,000 music fans all over the world were quizzed on how tunes impact their lives. Of those taking part in the survey, couples were 67 per cent more likely to have sex when music was playing, and an impressive 86 per cent of participants said their mood was enhanced by the right tunes.

The homes of 30 families were then observed to see how behavior changed when certain music was playing. During week one, participants were not allowed to listen to any music out loud, while in week two they could listen to songs as loud as they liked whenever they wanted.

The study showed that people were generally far happier when they could share the music they like with others, with 15 per cent more laughter recorded, as well as a 16 per cent boost in mood and 25 per cent of individuals feeling more inspired. Playing music in the home also led to people spending more time together – an average of three hours and 13 minutes more per week. Parents included in the experiment found that they were 37 per cent more likely to spend alone time together in the bedroom when music was on. In addition, 33 per cent of couples were more likely to spend time making dinner together, and 12 per cent got closer in proximity.

“The truth is people may be sharing a home but they’re not sharing much else,” Dr. Levitin explained in a video released by Sonos. “Schedules, stresses, personal devices make people feel disconnected from one another.”

The words ‘I love you’ were also more likely to be uttered in households where music was played out loud for everyone to enjoy. So blare your favorite love songs this weekend and enjoy some quality time with that special person in your life!

Nine in 10 toddlers aren’t active enough

New figures have revealed more than nine out of 10 toddlers are not doing enough exercise to stay healthy.

Just nine per cent of children aged between two and four are getting the advisable three hours of physical activity per day. The benefits of being active include improving bone health and supporting brain development, while also helping social and mental skills to develop.

Now experts are asking the Government to come up with new ways of supporting more exercise for children.

The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC), based at Loughborough University, are asking politicians to include stipulations for more exercise in policies – encouraging young children at nursery and in their communities to be given more opportunities to stay active.

“This manifesto outlines how we can create an environment for our children that encourages them and stimulates them to be active,” Elaine McNish, director of the BHFNC, said. “This manifesto is a call to policy makers to ensure that early years settings are supported to create active environments.

“We know that active children are more likely to become active adults so it’s vitally important to get it right at the beginning to give children opportunities to play from a young age and develop a lifelong love of being active.”

With obesity proving an increasingly difficult problem to solve among adults, it is believed that encouraging activity from a very young age may help prevent weight problems as the children get older.

“We know that physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle for everyone and the under-fives are no different,” Lisa Young, project manager for prevention and behaviour change at the British Heart Foundation, added.

“Developing a love of being active from a young age is important as we know active children become active adults, and active adults are healthier adults.”

Feel-good foods for winter

Getting up during the week to dark, frosty mornings isn’t the best way to ease yourself into the day. If your mood still doesn’t pick up as it gets lighter and the hours pass, you may want to incorporate these foods into your diet.

We begin with humble oatmeal, which is guaranteed to lift your spirits with its warm and creamy texture. Carbohydrates are known to boost the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, but you need to do it the right way, so choose porridge over a pastry or toast first thing. It will boost your energy levels too and if you fancy jazzing it up a bit add banana for potassium which helps control your blood pressure, or maple syrup which has previously linked to cleansing the body – only in small doses though!

Or, why not push the boat out and add a sprinkling of dark chocolate. This may sound too naughty for an average Tuesday morning, but chocolate really does make you feel better thanks to, again, boosting serotonin levels. A previous study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that people who drank a chocolate drink once a day, equalling 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate, were calmer than those who didn’t. Calm = relaxed, which hopefully leads to happiness!

And what better to go with chocolate than nuts – Brazil nuts in particular in this case. They’re packed full of selenium, a mineral that can lead to depression, anxiety and irritability if the body lacks it. Snack on them throughout the day, or add them to your porridge, salad or yogurt – they’re so diverse there’s no excuse to avoid them (unless you’re allergenic of course).

If the last case applies to you, try out chickpeas. You can get them dried, have them in a curry or scoop up some hummus – any of these choices will see you reap the benefits of its vitamin B and magnesium content. These two components keep the nervous system at bay and ward off stress, leaving you feeling easy and breezy even during hectic times.

Sweet skincare: Beauty treats without the calories

Topping the list of most people’s New Year’s resolutions is to ditch the sugary snacks and swap them for healthy fruit and veg. But even if you’ve bid adieu to sweet treats in 2016, we have good news: you can use them in your skincare without putting on a single pound! Here we round up some of beauty’s most delicious ingredients that won’t affect your diet.

Chocolate

Why it’s good for you:

Dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals. This even means it’s OK to eat it every now and again, but for those of you wanting to stay completely off the sweet stuff (we salute you!) it makes a great ingredient in beauty products.

How to use it:

You can make an at-home toning facemask by warming 50g of good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa) and adding to a blended mixture of banana and strawberries. Apply to your face and neck and relax for 20 minutes before washing off. We won’t judge you if you try and lick your face…

There are also tonnes of chocolate-scented products for beauty queens with a sweet tooth. We particularly love Christopher Courtney London’s rich Anti-Oxidant Chocolate Face Cream.

Honey

Why it’s good for you:

“For centuries honey has been one of nature’s best-kept beauty secrets,” CEW Award winning company Bee Good’s beekeeper, Simon Cavill, revealed to Cover Media. “Honey has so many benefits for the skin – in its purest form it’s suitable for all skin types and assists with perfecting, cleansing, and protecting the skin.”

How to use it:

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, honey can be applied to skin issues like acne in its purest form as a natural spot fighter. You can also mix it with coconut oil to make a gentle cleanser – simply rub in, avoiding the eyes, and wash off.

If you’re after honey-based products, look out for healing creams. For example, Calendulis Plus Cream uses Manuka honey to moisturize and help fight eczema and psoriasis.

Sugar

Why it’s good for you:

Sugar is a great base for homemade scrubs as it’s far gentler on skin than ready-made versions with abrasive beads. It’s also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture into the skin, leaving it hydrated. It also contains glycolic acid, which promotes cell turnover, leaving you radiant.

How to use it:

As mentioned above, you can make your very own scrubs with sugar. Simply mix sugar and coconut oil in equal parts and apply to any rough areas, including the lips. Gently rub and wash off to reveal smoother skin.

5 warning signs you’ve picked the wrong diet

When it comes to dieting, the choices appear to be endless; from Atkins to 5:2, paleo to Weight Watchers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of picking one at random.

But selecting any old meal plan could prove disastrous, setting off strange reactions in your body and making it more tempting than ever to quit and reach for that bar of chocolate.

Shaun T, host of American ABC show, ‘My Diet Is Better Than Yours’, has summed up the top five warning signs your diet isn’t right for you on Shape.com.

  1. You’re not enjoying it

Eating is supposed to be fun, and while eating kale might not be as exciting as crisps, you shouldn’t be dreading mealtimes. It’s important to find a diet that is sustainable in the long term, which means including at least some foods you look forward to eating.

  1. You’re bloated

This is a sure-fire sign the food your eating doesn’t agree with you. If you’re experiencing gut-related issues like pain and bloating, start cutting out certain foods to help eliminate the ones that set you off. If the symptoms don’t subside, see a doctor.

  1. You’re tired

Food is fuel! It should keep you energised and help you get through the day, including regular exercise. It’s normal to experience some tiredness after cutting our sugar and/or caffeine, but if the sluggishness persists, you haven’t found the right diet.

  1. You’re moody/hangry

If you’re constantly hungry and/or experiencing mood swings, it could be that the food or portions aren’t quite right for you. Diets should positively impact your life, not mean you snap at everyone around you!

  1. You aren’t losing weight

If you’ve stuck to the diet properly and been working out regularly for 10 days, you should start to see results. If you haven’t lost any weight in this timeframe, you need to reassess.

The most important thing is not to feel rushed when picking a diet. You might feel the pressure is on, but it’s much more effective to find a meal plan you can stick to long term than a crash diet that will end in failure. If you need help, seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Breakthrough for back pain sufferers

Whether it’s just a twinge or so severe you can’t move, back pain is one of the biggest health issues going. Most of us have suffered with it at one point in our lives and it’s a big cause of sick leave, which is why a new study is being hailed as one of the most important in years.

It’s been found that regular exercise is the best way to help with back pain, whether that’s stretching, working on stamina or completing easy exercises to strength the muscles. In fact, people who followed an exercise regime were 35 per cent less likely to complain of the pain when tested over a year.

When people were also taught how to do things like lift heavy objects safely, the number rose to 45 per cent. That result is so staggering that experts have suggested if there was a drug which produced the same outcome, it would be pushed around the world.

Lower back pain effects four out of five people at some point, with most cases caused by wrenching the area while lifting something without bending the knees properly. Although the discomfort usually clears within a matter of weeks, some find it returns within a year.

A team at the University of Sydney investigated by checking out the findings of 23 surveys involving over 30,000 people. It was discovered that people who’d exercised managed to cut the likelihood of the pain hitting again within 12 months.

“The current evidence suggests that exercise alone or in combination with education is effective for preventing low back pain,” the authors of the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, stated.

“Other interventions, including education alone, back belts, and shoe insoles, do not appear to prevent low back pain.”

It was found that maintaining a level of exercise was also important, so you can’t just do some stretches when you feel a twinge and leave it at that. A concerted effort to exercise the back is needed – if you’re in doubt about what you should be doing, consult an expert at your gym.