Here you will find the latest information from around the world on a whole range of health issues relevant to you and your family.
Keep checking back as this blog will be updated regularly.
Every October, the media and product companies jump on the bandwagon in promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the world suddenly turns pink. Although it is good to raise awareness of this all-too-common disease in women (and some men, too), I, and many other practitioners, believe the emphasis should be on breast “health” awareness rather than breast “cancer” awareness.
Cancer rarely develops in healthy breasts, so surely helping women understand what they can do to keep their breasts healthy is the best possible way to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer? Sadly, this information is hard to find in the media and many of the “pink ribbon” promotion products and services offered by manufacturers and retailers during this month actually increase breast cancer risk!
For example, many cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, similar to oestrogen, which is known to feed cancer cells. Another example is breast-enhancing lingerie which squashes the breasts, allowing toxins to build up in the lymph ducts, potentially leading to congestion and inflammation, known to be at the root of cancer development. And there are many more examples.
Retailers often use the pink ribbon symbol to market their products in October with the incentive of promising to donate a percentage of the price to a cancer charity. Although I have nothing against helping charities in this way, many of the charities which receive these donations do little in promoting prevention. That is why I only support charities like Cancer Active and Breast Cancer UK because they do raise awareness of the potential causes of breast cancer and ways to reduce that risk.
If you want to know more about what increases breast cancer risk, safe ways to check for it, and diet and lifestyle measures to help reduce your risk, you may find my ebook helpful, called How to Keep Your Breasts Healthy. It contains a wealth of information on breast health in an easy-to-read and concise way. It is available for only £3 and £1 of that is donated to Breast Cancer UK (of course!).
The book can be purchased here.
Sue Bedford, RGN
Chia seeds are gaining recognition in the UK as a superfood.
Here are 13 reasons to eat chia:
1. Chia is gluten free
2. It is high in dietary fibre, making it great for digestion and healing digestion issues.
3. It contains 20% Omega 3 ALA, making it a super food for the brain and heart. Chia has eight times more Omega 3 than salmon.
4. It contains 20% protein
5. The protein is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids
6. It is high in antioxidants (It has a four times higher ORAC value than blueberries)
7. Chia contains five times more calcium than milk
8. Chia contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges
9. It contains three times more iron than spinach
10. It contains twice the potassium content of a banana
11. It is food for healthy skin, hair and nails
12. It has a positive impact balancing blood glucose levels (making it ideal for diabetics)
13. Chia makes a great egg replacement. Just combine with water to form a gel, and add it to recipes that call for egg.
How to eat it:
+ Sprinkle it raw onto almost any food
+ Add it to breakfast cereals, salads and soups
+ Add it to bread and muffin recipes
+ Mix with water or coconut water to form a thick gel
+ Add to a smoothie (see recipe below)
Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie
What you need:
1 banana or berries (thawed frozen berries are good)
1 cup of coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk (from supermarket) topped up with water to make 250mls
1 tablespoon each of cashew nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds/flaxseeds and chia seeds ground in a coffee grinder and added to the liquid.
1 teaspoon of raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon maca powder (for balancing hormones)
Sprinkling of cinnamon powder (helps blood sugar)
1 teaspoon of flax oil
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
These quantities are approximate.
Put all of the ingredients in a liquidiser and blitz until combined. Leave for a few minutes before drinking to allow the chia seeds or flax seeds to make the liquid thicken.
If you don’t have a coffee grinder, you can soak the nuts and seeds overnight and then strain. They should blend into the smoothie when liquidised.
Top-selling liquid laundry detergents contain cancer-causing chemicals that can leak into the home from a washing machine’s air vents, researchers have discovered this week.
The detergents contain an average of 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, two of which are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.
The compounds make their way into the home from the washing machine’s air vents, and also into the public water supply, say researchers from the University of Washington.
The research team made the discovery after testing for fumes from leading laundry detergents. They estimate that washing machines emit around 6 per cent of the cancer-causing compound acetaldehyde that cars’ exhausts expel into the atmosphere.
“These products can affect not only personal health but also public and environmental health. Emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored, unlike the emissions from smokestacks and tail pipers (car exhausts),” said lead researcher Anne Steinemann.
For safe alternatives, visit Healthy Choices online store
(Source: Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 2011; doi: 10.1007/s11869-011-0156-1).
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils have a direct effect on biological ageing, US research suggests
Fish oil may be the true elixir of youth, according to new evidence of its effect on biological ageing. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil preserve the genetic “fuse” that determines the lifespan of cells, say scientists.
The discovery, made in heart disease patients, may explain many of the claimed health benefits of omega-3.
Taking fish oil supplements is said to protect against heart disease, improve survival rates after a heart attack, reduce mental decline in old age and help to prevent age-related changes in the eye that can lead to blindness. Research has also shown that rodents live one-third longer when given a diet enriched with fish-derived omega-3.
Although omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and lower levels of some blood fats, the mechanisms behind these effects are poorly understood. The new research suggests that omega-3 has a direct effect on biological ageing by slowing down the rate at which protective caps on the ends of chromosomes shorten.
The caps, called telomeres, are made from copied strands of DNA and have a similar function to bookends or the plastic ends of shoelaces. They prevent the ends of chromosomes – the “packages” of DNA in the cell nucleus – becoming damaged and keep the DNA organised and contained.
Each time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter until a critical point is reached. DNA then becomes damaged and the cell stops dividing, and may die. In this way, the telomere acts like a biological fuse.
The rate at which the fuse “burns” can vary both between individual people and individual cells. This is believed to have an impact on age-related diseases.
US scientists conducting the research looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on telomere shortening in 608 hospital out-patients with heart disease. At the start of the study, measurements were taken of the length of chromosomal telomeres in the patients’ white blood cells.
The tests were carried out again after five years, and showed a clear correlation with omega-3 intake. Patients consuming the least omega-3 had the fastest rate of telomere shortening, while those in the top 25% of consumption levels had the slowest rate.
The scientists, led by Dr Ramin Farzaneh-Far of the University of California at San Francisco, wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association: “The present findings identify deceleration of telomere attrition as a potentially novel pathway for the anti-ageing effects of marine omega-3 fatty acids.
“In summary, among patients with stable coronary artery disease, there was an inverse relationship between baseline blood levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids and the rate of telomere shortening over five years … These findings raise the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular ageing in patients with coronary heart disease.”
To find a quality fish oil supplement, go to www.healthychoices.co.uk/order.html
by Alice E. Marson
Perhaps you have had a sudden headache or became nauseous for no apparent reason while cleaning and wondered why; perchance your body is trying to tell you something is wrong with the indoor air you are breathing. Indoor air is much more polluted than outside air. Doctors have finally realized that common chemicals in cleaning products can adversely affect you and the air you breathe. Household cleaning products are among the most deadly substances encountered daily.
Synthesized chemicals appeared after World War II. These are found in carpet, oven, drain and floor cleaners, and in laundry detergents. These items are mostly petrochemical–petroleum-based–and are quite toxic to your body when breathing and swallowing. These cleaning products can cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver, brain and kidneys. In addition, they can cause dizziness and irritation to the skin and eyes. The EPA found that some homes have chemical levels that are 70 times higher than the outside air. Most automatic dishwasher and laundry detergents contain bleach, and when these are mixed with water they form vapours that pollute the air in the house.
A study conducted for more than 15 years concluded that women who worked at home had a 54 per cent higher death rate from cancer than women who worked away from home. Toxic household cleaning products have been accused of causing an increase in cancer, ADD, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, asthma, lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and other ailments. Moreover, there has been an allergy and asthma explosion.
Practically no human studies have been done on most of the chemicals in cleaning products. It has been assumed by the industry that they are “safe until proven toxic.” The thought has prevailed, until recently, that if a product is available on the store shelf, it is safe; however, many people have found, through painful experiences, that this fact is not true. Most toxic products are not required to list ingredients. However, most natural products DO list ingredients because they are harmless.
Changing your cleaning products to natural ones, such as vinegar, baking soda, borax, and citrus oils is not difficult to do. Actually, non-toxic-living products are ideal for people who wish to reduce their exposure to unhealthy and hazardous ingredients. There are many, many natural cleaning products on the market today that are cheaper, and as good as or even better than, the toxic ones. After all, our mothers and grandmothers have used the natural products for centuries.
Any changes to the use of natural cleaning products will be better, safer, and healthier for you and for the environment. A quote made by Margaret Mead some 40 years ago is still apropos today: “Not war, but a plethora of man-made things is threatening to strangle, suffocate, and bury us in debris of by-products of our technical, inventive, and irresponsible age.”
Alice E. Marson is a natural health published author and researcher. She is a retired teacher and writes for Mature Living and ActiveAmericans.com mainly on health topics.
As a breast cancer survivor she is a strong believer in natural and alternative medicine and avoiding prescription drugs. Alice has given public and TV presentations on toxic products in the home.
To find a range of toxin-free, household cleaning products, go to www.healthychoices.co.uk/order.html
Even with a more sensible diet, you may not be getting all of the minerals you might expect. According to an article published recently in the journal HortScience, the average vegetable in today’s supermarket is anywhere from 5 to 40 percent lower in minerals-including iron, copper, and calcium-than vegetables harvested just 50 years ago.
Today’s vegetables might be larger, but they contain more carbohydrate matter, which dilutes their mineral concentrations. Selective breeding to increase crop yield doesn’t help, leading to declines of amino acids in corn, protein in wheat, and as many as six minerals, as found in two studies referenced in the HortScience article.
Another problem with today’s agriculture is the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which enable crops to be harvested faster than ever before. Quick harvests don’t give plants enough time to synthesize nutrients and absorb them from the soil.
Which is why many people choose to supplement their diet with Maximol Solutions. Maximol Solutions provides a wide spectrum of essential and trace minerals and an array of high ORAC fruit concentrates. It is a micro-ionized liquid which allows the quickest and best absorption into the body.
More information about the depletion of nutrients in our food and why we ALL need to supplement our diets can be found at www.healthychoices.co.uk/nutrition.html.
Whether sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners, fizzy drinks are playing havoc with our health. The sugars and chemicals in both regular and sugar-free drinks combine to create a cocktail of health risks that can cause a range of health problems.
A UK study found that when a child’s fat cells mature, if fructose is present, more of the cells mature into fat cells in abdominal fat. Researchers at Princeton University in the US found that rats who were fed high-fructose corn syrup gained 47 percent more weight than rats who were fed an equal number of calories, but without corn syrup. Diet drinkers aren’t safe from weight gain, either. A study at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, found that people who drink soft drinks don’t lose weight; they gain. The risk of obesity was even higher among those who drank only diet fizzy drinks.
When sodium benzoate, used for mould prevention in many fizzy drinks, is mixed with vitamin C, it creates a carcinogenic substance called benzene. Researchers at India’s Tata Memorial Hospital found a “very significant correlation” between soft drinks and an increased risk of oesophageal cancer, and other studies have linked soft drinks to the risk of deadly pancreatic cancer.
3. Bone fractures
Phosphoric acid, which give drinks their “bite”, leaches calcium from the bones. It has a pH of 2.8, making it highly acidic. Diet sodas are just as much to blame as those sweetened with sugar. A study performed at Walter Reed Medical Center found that diet sodas leached both calcium and phosphorous from the bones of healthy women, putting them at risk for osteoporosis.
4. Yellow teeth
Phosphoric acid, in addition to leaching calcium from bones, causes tooth enamel to erode, leaving yellow teeth. Normally, saliva is slightly alkaline, but the phosphoric acid lowers the pH of saliva and causes tooth enamel to corrode. The result: yellow and rotting teeth.
A study published in “Circulation”, the journal of the American Heart Association, found that people who drank one or more soft drinks each day were 25 percent more likely to develop high blood triglycerides (a type of fat), and 32 percent more likely to have low levels of “good” cholesterol.
6. DNA damage
Sodium benzoate has the ability to switch off vital parts of a person’s DNA, according to research from a UK study. The result could eventually cause cirrhosis of the liver and other degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
Research at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that women who drank one sugary drink each day doubled their risk of developing adult-onset diabetes when compared with women who drank less than one a month. Information from the Framingham Heart Study found that drinking one or more fizzy drinks a day, whether regular or diet, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors which increase the odds of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Studies have shown that people who drink sodas suffer more from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) than those people who don’t drink them. Sodas boost acid levels and often require medication. Sodas also cause other gastrointestinal problems as chronic high-acid levels can inflame the lining of the stomach and duodenum.
9. Brain damage
More than 92 side effects are associated with aspartame, a sugar substitute used in diet sodas. They include brain tumours, emotional disorders, and epileptic seizures. Howevert the brains of those who drink sugared soft drinks aren’t safe either. A study at Georgia State University found that a diet high in fructose impaired the memory of rats.
10. High blood pressure
Researchers at the University of Colorado found that a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup increased the risk of developing high blood pressure by 87 percent. And a recent study of volunteers who consumed 74 grams of fructose daily, the equivalent amount found in four soft drinks, showed that a third of them had borderline high blood pressure, and 8 percent had hypertension, even though none had experienced blood pressure problems.
11. Kidney Stones
Numerous studies have shown that drinking fizzy drinks enhances the formation of kidney stones. One study published in the journal “Epidemiology” found that drinking two or more soda drinks each day, whether regular or diet, doubled the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
12. Fertility issues
Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men who drank more than a quart (almost a litre) of soda daily had a sperm count 30 percent lower than those who didn’t drink soda at all, putting them at risk of becoming infertile. And research funded by the European Union found that one soft drink a day containing artificial sweeteners increased an expectant mother’s risk of miscarriage by 38 percent. Four or more cans a day increased the risk by as much as 78 percent.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and Harvard Medical School in Boston found that men who consumed the highest levels of fructose, found in large amounts in sugar-sweetened colas, more than doubled their chances of getting gout.
If you drink any type of fizzy drink on a regular basis, you need to consider cutting down or eliminating them altogether. Is the risk from the damage they cause really worth it?
Source: Adapted from an article by Sylvia Booth Hubbard
The Environmental Protection Agency in the US has found synthetic hormone-disrupting chemicals in shampoo preservatives and many of them can be found in products that claim to be ‘natural’ and ‘organic.’
The most disturbing of these is antimicrobial preservatives, called parabens, which have proven to disrupt your endocrine system.
So what is an endocrine disruptor and why should it concern you?
It all boils down to this: they mimic, disrupt or block the actions of your hormones and interfere with your body’s hormonal pathways.
And when you consider the fact the endocrine system regulates every function of your body and provides instructions to your body that tell your cells what to do, this can have disastrous consequences.
For instance, one messenger hormone, oestrogen, is secreted by ovaries and plays a big part in regulation of fertility, pregnancy, menstruation and fat cell activity.
And too much oestrogen can cause big problems including weight gain, fluid retention, and depression.
So what can you do to avoid these parabens?
Check your product labels for these terms:
* Parahydroxybenzoic acid
* Benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
* Methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
* Ethyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
* Propyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
* Butyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid
For paraben and toxin-free shampoos and conditioners, choose those available at www.healthychoices.co.uk
by Guest Author, Christian Finn
Do you ever find yourself sitting on the sofa with a bar of chocolate when you’re feeling stressed, bored, or just lonely? Or find that you get cravings for certain foods – such as cookies, bread or pastries – even when you’re not hungry? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, I’m about to explain why it happens… and what you can do about it.
Food and mood
Many people turn to food for reasons other than physical hunger. They put this down to a lack of discipline, get very “down” on themselves… and then eat even more so they feel better again. This is a little like getting a flat tyre, jumping out of the vehicle, and shooting out the remaining three tyres!
What they don’t realize is that in many cases, these cravings could be due to a drop in the levels of serotonin in the brain. In fact, some studies show a direct link between obesity (due to overeating) and decreased brain serotonin levels.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter known as a monoamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send messages from one nerve cell to another. In short, a neurotransmitter helps different parts of your brain “talk” to each other. Without adequate levels of serotonin, you’d probably suffer from depression, sleep disorders, and various addictions.
It might also interest you to know that nicotine increases serotonin levels. Nicotine withdrawal has the opposite effect. This is one reason why people who quit smoking find that they rapidly gain weight. They’re trying to get their serotonin “fix” from food instead of cigarettes.
The food you eat has the potential to raise or lower your serotonin levels. That’s why the ingredients of a meal have such a powerful impact on the way you feel after you eat it. To understand why, you need to know a little more about an amino acid called tryptophan (pronounced trip-toe-fan), which your body uses to make serotonin.
If you were to eat just tryptophan by itself, then it would enter the blood, flow into the brain, and raise serotonin levels. So if you want to raise your serotonin levels, all you need to do is eat protein-rich foods that are high in tryptophan, right? Not so fast.
Tryptophan requires the use of a transport molecule to cross the blood-brain barrier. Several other amino acids (tyrosine, phenylalanine, valine, leucine and isoleucine) “compete” for this transport molecule. Because whole foods contain other amino acids besides tryptophan, the presence of these competing amino acids can inhibit the transport of tryptophan into your brain. That’s why eating a food high in tryptophan, such as cottage cheese or turkey, is NOT the best way to raise serotonin levels.
Although it might sound counterintuitive at first, it’s actually meals that are high in carbohydrate rather than protein that have the biggest impact on serotonin. Why?
When you eat a food high in carbohydrate, your body releases insulin. Insulin helps to clear the competing amino acids from your blood. However, insulin has no effect on tryptophan. Consequently, once insulin has cleared the competing amino acids from your blood, tryptophan is free to enter your brain.
The link between serotonin and sleep is one reason why some people feel tired after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. It also helps to explain why foods high in carbohydrate are often described as “comfort” food.
Dr. Albert Stunkard, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks that people with an almost uncontrollable urge to raid the fridge late at night are doing it to help themselves sleep by boosting serotonin levels.
If you’ve ever wondered why diets leave you feeling cranky, low serotonin levels could be the explanation. If you’re a woman, the news gets even worse, as the drop in tryptophan appears to be greater in women than it is in men. Researchers from the University of Oxford, for example, found that just three weeks on a low calorie diet significantly reduced both tryptophan levels and the ratio of tryptophan to competing amino acids in a group of 15 men and women. But despite a similar drop in weight, the decline in tryptophan was greater in the women than it was in the men. This could go a long way towards explaining why dieting seems to cause bigger mood swings in women than it does in men.
One solution to the problem of low serotonin levels is to include some kind of high-carbohydrate “free meal” in your diet once or twice a week. The typical way most people go about dieting is to adopt an “all-or-nothing” approach. Maybe this is something you can relate to.
Let’s say that you’ve been following a diet without any kind of lapse for the last few weeks and your progress has started to slow down. There are days when you feel tired, anxious or just a little irritable. To make matters worse, you’re getting cravings for some of the foods you’ve cut out of your diet. Maybe it’s something sweet like chocolate, or savoury like bread. You hold out for days until finally you give in. It might start with one cookie. But it doesn’t stop at one, and you end up eating the whole packet. And that’s it. The diet’s over. You feel like you’ve failed again.
As often happens with the all-or-nothing approach, the end result is usually nothing. A free meal can help you stick to your diet in the long-term because you know you’re never more than a few days away from indulging in a few of your favourite foods.
I much prefer free meals to cheat days, mainly because there’s an upper limit to the amount you can eat in a single sitting.
While some people will impose some kind of limit on what they eat during a cheat day, others will consume anything and everything in sight. Because of this, a single cheat day once each week has the potential to undo much of the good work you’ve done during the previous six days. And if you plan your free meals to coincide with some kind of social occasion, it’s possible to follow a diet and have a life at the same time.
About The Author
Christian Finn holds a master’s degree in exercise science, is a certified personal trainer and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Fit Pro, Zest and other popular fitness magazines.
Recent research is indicating that dementia, heart disease and diabetes can be prevented by good oral care. Although pretty well everyone brushes their teeth two times or more a day, researchers are saying that even more attention on oral care would be advisable.
From the Eastman Dental Institute, professor of restorative dentistry, Ian Needleman said, “People think of the mouth as some kind of compartment that’s independent from the rest of the body,” adding “But that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.”
Last month the results of a study conducted at the University of Kentucky that had been going on for 3 years were released. The scientists had the volunteers aged between 75 and 90 to do a simple memory test, involving remembering 10 words that they were told 5 minutes earlier. The people were from similar educational levels and over three years the variation in the results tallied with the extent of tooth loss. Those with less teeth scored lower marks in the first test and their results also declined over the three year study too.
The British Dental Health Foundation, head, Dr Nigel Carter described the University of Kentucky results as “breakthrough scientific research”, and that they “add to a growing list of evidence of the wide-ranging systemic links relating to poor oral health.”
The question that is often asked is how unhealthy teeth or gums affect the health of the rest of the body? Needleman said the answer is “bacteria.” He elaborated, saying, “The problem is dental plaque, the soft, white, sticky deposits that can build up around your teeth.”
Offering an example of how dental condition influences health, Needleman said, “The mouth can increase inflammation throughout the body. It can trigger the release of a large number of chemicals known as mediators, which are the same causes of the inflammation implicated in heart disease.”
Source: Healthy Pages 19/5/10
The best toothpaste and mouthwash combination I have found to combat tooth decay and gum disease are UltraShine Radiance Toothpaste and Eliminator Mouthwash by Neways International. My sensitivity to cold disappeared within six weeks and my dentist and hygienist were amazed at the difference in my dental health on my first visit after I started using the products. I no longer require the three monthly scrape and polish appointment with the hygienist and my dentist is always disappointed when she tells me that she can’t find anything that needs treating at my six monthly check-ups! I have probably saved a fortune on dental treatments in the last 10 years since I discovered these amazing dental products.