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Category Archives: Latest Research

Categories In the news, Latest Research

Alertness from daily coffee is shown to be an illusion

New research published last week in Neuropsychopharmacology shows that frequent coffee or tea drinkers who reach for their morning brew in order to stimulate themselves are merely reversing the fatigue caused by acute caffeine withdrawal. In tests on 379 individuals at the University of Bristol, Peter Rogers found that ‘…we don’t gain an advantage from consuming caffeine – although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal.’

Approximately half the participants were non/low caffeine consumers and the other half were medium/high caffeine consumers. All abstained from caffeine for 16 hours. They were then asked to rate their levels of anxiety, alertness and headache before and after being given either a caffeine pill or a placebo. They were also asked to carry out a series of computer tasks to test their levels of memory attentiveness and vigilance.

The medium/high caffeine consumers who received the placebo reported a decrease in alertness and an increase in headache. These symptoms were not reported by the group that received caffeine. However, their post-caffeine levels of alertness were no higher than the non/low consumers who received a placebo, suggesting that caffeine only returns coffee drinkers back to ‘normal’.

Caffeine causes increased anxiety and raised blood pressure, making it a poor choice for many individuals. It also causes an imbalance in blood sugar that can cause irritability and fatigue. For a hot drink that has a similar taste to coffee, why not try Barley cup or dandelion coffee available from health food shops – both are naturally caffeine free. Alternatively, herbal teas may replace a morning cup of tea. Green tea contains antioxidants that can improve health and peppermint tea can soothe digestive discomfort.

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

Body fat linked to Alzheimer’s

A study published last week in Annals of Neurology  has suggested that people with fat stomachs could be at greater risk of developing dementia. The research, carried out by the University School of Medicine in Boston, demonstrated that levels of visceral fat that surround the organs are associated with smaller total brain volume. Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said that dementia is strongly associated with low brain volume.

Excess abdominal weight is already known to be associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; these are all major risk factors for dementia.

To reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes and dementia it may be beneficial to keep levels of visceral fat low by adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. To talk to Emma about how to make changes to your diet Click Here.

Categories Children, Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

Kebab Houses and Burger Bars serve unhealthy snacks to school children

New research has found that many takeaway meals sold near London schools contain much higher levels of salt and saturated fat compared to outlets such as McDonalds and Burger King. Many children are leaving school to buy these burgers, kebabs, pies and chips for their lunch.

The London Environmental Health Food Teams undertook the study on behalf of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). They looked at the foods chosen by school children from takeaway shops in 16 London Boroughs, finding that the levels of salt, total fat, saturated fat, trans fats and calories were much higher than those in school lunches.

The results have prompted the Schools Food Trust, who advise the Government on improving the nutrition of school children, to call for a ban on children leaving school during the lunch hour.

Some local initiatives are extremely encouraging; Morrison’s in Kendal, Cumbria, and McDonald’s in Folkestone have agreed not to sell to school pupils at lunch time. However, the majority of school children are exposed to snacks such as the Doner Kebab – one of which was found to contain 48.7g saturated fat, more than double the official Government daily recommendation of 20g.

Suggestions have been made for nutritional labelling of restaurant food to allow children to choose healthy options. As research in Greenwich earlier in the year proved, academic performance, as demonstrated by SATS results,  may increase with better nutrition.

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

Processed meats increase the risk of heart disease

A review by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that people who eat one serving (50g) daily of processed meat such as bacon, ham, sausages or salami have a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Unprocessed red meats, such as beef, lamb or pork, do not increase the risk.  

The review was published in the journal Circulation and examined 20 studies published worldwide, involving over a million people. It is already known that processed meats are linked to an increased chance of developing bowel cancer, but this new research shows that as little as two rashers a day also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

B vitamins may prevent heart disease and stroke

Research published this month in the journal Stroke has found that people who eat a diet high in B vitamins are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. A study in Japan analysed dietary questionnaires completed by more than 23,000 men and women. During an average 14 years of follow-up, 986 of the respondents died from stroke, 424 died from heart disease and 2,087 died from cardiovascular related disease.

The study found that  women who ate more foods with the B vitamins folate and B6 were less likely to die from stroke or heart disease and men who ate more of these vitamins were less likely to die of heart failure.

The researchers suggest that folate and vitamin B6 may help to protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood. This amino acid is produced in the body as a by-product of other chemical reactions; high levels can cause damage to the body. With adequate B vitamins, homocysteine can be converted into useful antioxidants, but without the B vitamins, homocysteine levels will rise. In addition to cardiovascular disease and stroke, high homocysteine levels are associated with cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Homocysteine levels can be checked at home. To order a test to find out what your levels are Click Here.

The researcher Dr Hiroyasu Iso suggests that people should increase their intake of vitamin B6 and folate.  To achieve this, enjoy more spinach, watercress, wheatgerm, bananas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, brown rice, avocado, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, nuts and seeds.

Why not try this recipe from Antony Worral Thompson?

Cauliflower, spinach and chickpea balti


For the balti sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2cm/¾in piece ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 onions, chopped
250ml/8¾fl oz water
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 cardamoms, broken slightly open
1½ tsp salt
For the vegetables
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2cm/¾in piece ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tomatoes, chopped
200g/7¼oz cauliflower florets
250g/8¾oz tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp salt
250g/8¾oz baby spinach leaves
2-3 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp garam masala

To serve
brown rice

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the ginger and garlic and stir.
2. Add the onions and stir-fry for five minutes until they are translucent.
3. Add the water and bring to the boil.
4. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaves and cardamom pods, and liquidise the rest in a blender.
6. Heat the oil in a large wok then add the onions and fry gently until they begin to turn brown.
7. Add the ginger and garlic, stir well, and cook for one minute.
8. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas, salt and enough balti sauce to coat all the vegetables (4-6 ladles of sauce).
9. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is just tender.
10. Add the green chillies and spinach and stir-fry for three more minutes until the spinach has wilted down.
11. Stir in the coriander.
12. Just before serving, sprinkle the garam masala on top.
13. Serve with brown rice, naan bread or chapatis.

Categories In the news, Latest Research, Weight management

Seaweed may reduce Obesity

Seaweed could be useful in the fight against obesity as it has been shown to reduce fat uptake by over 75%. In research published last week, scientists at Newcastle University discovered that alginate, found in sea kelp, stops the body from absorbing fat better then most anti-obesity treatments currently available over the counter.

Dr Brownlee and colleagues used an artificial gut in the lab; the next step will be to recruit volunteers to attempt to replicate the results and to see whether the seaweed can be tolerated in foods such as bread. Alginates are currently used in very low quantities in foods as thickeners and stabilisers and proved popular when added to standard white bread as part of a blind taste test during the research.

The research is part of a three year project being funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The research needs to be viewed cautiously; whilst saturated fats can cause obesity, reducing life expectancy and causing health problems, it is important to eat essential fatty acids such as omega 3 fats found in fish oils and omega 6 fats found in cold pressed vegetable oils, nut and seed oils. These fats are vital for the maintenance of cell membranes, hormones, heart and circulation and for reducing inflammation. If supplements are taken that prevent the body from  absorbing these essential fats, then deficiency diseases may occur.

It is preferable to limit one’s intake of saturated fats found in fatty meat and dairy products but to ensure adequate intakes of essential fats by eating oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel a couple of times a week and having a few raw nuts, some seeds or a portion of cold pressed vegetable, nut or seed oil every day.

Categories In the news, Latest Research

Jamie’s school dinners shown to have improved academic results

The Guardian reports that Jamie Oliver’s healthy school dinners have significantly improved pupils’ test results and cut the number of days that they are off sick. Researchers looked at the performance of 11 year old pupils in English and science at schools in Greenwich, presenting their findings this week at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society.

Jamie Oliver replaced turkey twizzlers and chicken dinosaurs with creamy coconut fish and Mexican bean wraps in the South London schools, during a televised ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign five years ago. The researchers estimated that the proportion of students who got level 5 in science at key stage 2 increased by 6% and the percentage who got level 4 in their English Sats was up 4.5%. The number of authorised absences, which are generally due to illness, fell by 15% following the campaign.

Jamie Oliver is delighted with the results, reporting that ‘Even while doing the programme we could see the benefits to children’s health and teachers. We could see that asthmatic kids weren’t having to use the school inhalers so often, for example. We could see that it made them calmer and therefore able to learn.’

Why not help your child to maximise their full potential by ensuring their diet is as healthy as possible? Call Emma on 01273 775480 to make an appointment, or try Jamie’s recipe for Mexican bean wraps:

Cool Mexican bean wraps

serves 4
• vegetable oil or olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
• a pinch of chilli powder
• 1 teaspoon tomato puree
• 480g tinned red kidney beans, drained and washed
• 150g tinned tomatoes
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• ½ green pepper, sliced
• ½ red pepper, sliced
• 5 large flour tortillas
• 150g cheese, grated

In a little oil, gently fry the onion for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and chilli powder. Add the tomato puree, the drained kidney beans and the tins of tomatoes with their juice. Cook for 10 minutes until the juice has reduced then add salt to taste. This is your filling.

In a separate saucepan, fry the peppers in a little oil and set aside. Divide the filling mixture in half then blitz one half, using a hand blender, to form the bean paste.
Add the peppers to the other half of the filling.

Spread the tortillas with the warm bean paste. Then add a serving spoon of the filling and sprinkle with cheese (remember to omit the cheese for vegans). Roll up the tortillas and place on the greased baking tins. Cover with a lid and heat through in a preheated oven on 200°C/400°F/gas 6 for about 20 minutes.

Serve with a mixed leaf salad or a cucumber and mint salad. This recipe is from School Dinners.

Categories Cancer, In the news, Latest Research

Walnuts could prevent prostate cancer

American researchers yesterday announced the findings of a study which saw the growth of prostate tumours in mice reduced by 30-40% when the animals were fed walnuts every day. Researcher Paul Davis hopes that the nuts can have the same effects on tumours in men.

The animals were fed the human equivalent of 2.4oz per day – about 14 whole walnuts, rather than a supplement like extract. A control group of mice were fed soya bean oil.

 Scientists believe that the secret lies in walnuts’ ability to reduce levels of endothelin, a substance that increases inflammation of the blood vessels.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second highest killer after lung cancer. 35, 000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year and 10, 000 of those will die from the disease. The causes of prostate cancer are not known, although a fatty diet that is low in fruit and vegetables is implicated.

Walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and other plant chemicals. They are known to decrease the risk of heart disease and they have been shown to help prevent breast cancer. Adding walnuts to a whole food diet that is low in saturated fat, sugar and processed foods, but high in fruit and vegetables is the best way to prevent prostate cancer.

To talk to someone at Smart Nutrition about prostate health and reducing your chances of contracting cancer by eating a healthy diet, call 01273 775 480 or click here to book a consultation.

Categories In the news, Latest Research

Vitamin D prevents flu

A study published this month in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has demonstrated that Vitamin D3 is more effective than antiviral drugs in preventing children from contracting influenza A, which caused last year’s swine flu epidemic.

The randomised, double blind study, carried out in Japan by Dr Urashima and colleagues, gave children 1200IU/day vitamin D3 supplements or a placebo for 3 months. Influenza A occurred in 18 out of 167 (10.8%) children in the vitamin D3 group compared with 31 of 167 (18.6%) children in the placebo group. In children who also had asthma, attacks following flu ocurred in only 2 children in the vitamin D3 group compared to 12 children receiving placebo.

Antiviral drugs reduce the risk of flu infection by 8% in children who have been exposed to flu. These drugs are expensive and potentially toxic. This research shows, however, that vitamin D3 reduces the risk of infection by 50%, and it is believed to carry other benefits, such as strong bones and a reduction in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression.

Vitamin D3 is made from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to sunshine. In Britain, the sun is only strong enough for this to occur from March to September. During the winter, vitamin D3 is stored in the liver, but levels are depleted as the winter progresses. It is suspected that low blood levels explain why flu epidemics generally peak between December and March.

Vitamin D boosts immunity by activating the innate immune system, whereas vaccines enhance acquired immunity. The researchers suggest that both interventions may assist each other. Dr John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary School of Medicine, London supports this view, suggesting that vitamin D may be given at the same time as the vaccine in the future.

Vitamin D3 is also gained in the diet from oily fish and eggs. Many foods such as cereals and butter substitutes are fortified with vitamin D3. Some individuals , especially vegetarians, may benefit from supplements, particularly during the winter months. However, as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, high levels can be toxic. To find out more about vitamin D or to order a test to establish your vitamin D status, click here. Alternatively, to speak to someone at Smart Nutrition about vitamin D call 01273 775480 or click here  to book a consultation online.

Categories In the news, Latest Research

The two worst places to keep vitamins

A study published this month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the humidity and high temperatures commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms makes these unsuitable places to keep vitamin supplements. The potency of vitamins, particularly vitamin C and other water soluble vitamins, is rapidly degraded whenever the lid is opened and closed. Within a very short space of time, supplements kept in humid places could be devoid of the water soluble vitamin B complex and vitamin C.

Researcher Lisa Mauer points out that the first sign of nutrient degradation is usually brown spots appearing, particularly on children’s vitamins. She recommends that these should be discarded. Probiotics and fish oil supplements are particularly vulnerable to heat degredation and should always be kept in the fridge. Other supplements should be kept somewhere cool and dry and away from light. All supplements need to have their lids tightly on at all times other than the few seconds that it takes to get them out as needed.

Its not just supplements that lose their nutrients rapidly – the fruit and veg that we eat are packed with vitamins and minerals when they are first picked, but deteriorate nutritionally within hours. Buy and eat fesh fruit and veg wherever possible; shopping daily and buying from a local organic farm or farmers market ensures that produce has been picked more recently than if it has travelled miles to get to you. Essential fatty acids found in cold pressed seed oils such as sunflower and rapeseed oils are also vulnerable to degredation, turning rancid if they are left in a warm place. Store these oils in the fridge and avoid cooking with them and you’ll benefit from their health giving properties without exposing yourself to toxic chemicals.