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Category Archives: Latest Research

Categories Cancer, In the news, Latest Research

Drinking 2 cans of fizzy pop a week can increase your chances of having pancreatic cancer by 100%

The results of a study carried out on 60,000 Singapore based men and women for over a decade have been published in ‘Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention’ this month. Dr Mark Pereira and his colleagues from the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis were looking at the effects of drinking sugary fizzy drinks on health. They found that people who drink two or more cans each week are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

Dr Pereira suggetst that the sugar in the fizzy drinks causes insulin levels to rise and this fuels the growth of pancreatic cancers. No significant association was found between drinking fruit juice and developing pancreatic cancer.

The authors believe that the results should be applicable to the West, as we have affluence and an excellent health care system in common with Singapore.

Fizzy drinks are full of empty calories and have very little nutritional value. Switching to fruit juice adds vitamins and minerals to the diet. As it is quite high in sugar, it is beneficial to dilute juice with water for a refreshing drink that does not raise blood sugar too sharply.

To talk about other ways to improve your diet and your health, why not book a consultation with Smart Nutrition?

Categories In the news, Latest Research, Mental health

Omega 3 fats may prevent onset of schizophrenia

A study published in this month’s Archives of General Psychiatry has found that fish oil may at least delay, but probably prevent, the onset of schizophrenia. Dr Paul Amminger and his colleagues from the University of Australia carried out a randomised, double blind, controlled study with 81 patients between the ages of 13-25 years. They found a 22.6% difference in risk to progression to psychosis in vulnerable people taking a twelve week course of fish oil, compared with a placebo.

Fish oil contains high levels of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Dr Amminger was surprised to see that the effects of omega 3 were sustained for up to a year and to see a marked but similar reduction in depressive symptoms. Adverse effects of the study, including concentration difficulties, tension and unrest were higher in the placebo group.

Unlike anti-psychotics, fish oil can prevent cell deterioration in the brain and reduce levels of triglycerides that are so damaging to blood vessels. This is very significant because anti-psychotic drugs can rapidly double triglyceride levels.

The research supports a growing body of evidence that fish oil may be a useful tool to fight schizophrenic symptoms; previous research has shown that people with schizophrenia who were treated with omega 3 needed lower doses of anti-psychotic medication. Epidemiological studies show that countries who eat a lot of oily fish, such as Japan, Iceland and Norway have lower levels of shizophrenia.

One of the researchers, Dr Jacka suggested that ‘Omega-3 fatty acids in general are absolutely essential to virtually every aspect of human health.’

To boost your levels of omega 3 fatty acids, it is advisable to eat three portions of oily fish each week. Smaller fish such as whitebait, sardines and mackerel tend to be lower in toxic mercury. Wild or organic salmon or trout are preferable to farmed varieties. The Food Standards Agency recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women should eat no more than two medium sized cans of tuna each week or one fresh tuna steak. Shark, swordfish and Marlin contain high levels of mercury and shouldn’t be eaten by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children under 16.

To find out more about testing you fatty acid status Click Here.

To read more about mental health and how nutrition can help Click Here.

Why not try these delicious recipes to boost your intake of omega 3?

Herrings with mustard and dill

For the sauce, peel and deseed 1 small cucumber, then grate and squeeze out the excess water. Mix with a handful of chopped dill, 200g natural yogurt, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt, pepper and a pinch of paprika.

Fillet 4 cleaned whole herrings and brush with 2tbsp mustard over the boned sides. Mix 4-5 tbsp porridge oats with 1 tsp thyme leaves and use to coat the herring fillets. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil gently in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish for 1 minute on each side. Serve immediately with the sauce.

Smoked trout, orange and wild rocket salad


3 oranges

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

sea salt and black pepper

200g wild rocket leaves

2 hot smoked trout fillets

1. To segment the oranges, cut off the top and bottom of one and stand  upright on a board. Cut along the curve of the fruit to remove the skin and white pith, exposing the flesh. Now hold over a sieve set on top of a bowl and cut out the segments, letting each one drop into the sieve as you go along. Finally, squeeze the membrane over the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Repeat with the remaining oranges, then tip the segments into another bowl.

2. For the dressing, add the olive oil and a little seasoning to the orange juice and whisk to combine.

3. Add the rocket to the orange sgments, then flak the smoked trout into the bowl. Add the dressing and toss gently with your hands. Pile onto plates and serve with rye bread.

                                                               Recipes taken from ‘Healthy Appetite’ by Gordon Ramsay

Japanese style tuna salad


350g fresh tuna steak

large bunch rocket

1/2 large cucumber, sliced in long strips

4 spring onions, finely sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

For the marinade:

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tbsp sake/sherry

1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste

For the dressing:

1 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Mix the tamari, sake and wasabi in a bowl to make the marinade, Cut up the tuna steak into bite-sized chunks and mix with the marinade. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Pile the rocket, cucumber strips, spring onion and tomatoes on two plates. Heat a griddle pan, or non-stick frying pan and toss the tuna pieces for a fe seconds on each side to sear them. Lay then on top of the salad and drizzle with the dressing. Top with the toasted sesame seeds.

                                                                                            Taken from ‘The Kitchen Shrink’ by Natalie Savona


Categories Cancer, In the news, Latest Research

Marvellous Mangoes

New research suggests that mango may be effective in preventing or halting breast or colon cancers. The American National Mango Board commissioned a variety of studies which tested the effects of mango polyphenol extracts in the laboratory on colon, breast, lung, leukaemia and prostate cancers. Mango showed some impact on lung, leukaemia and prostate cancers, but was particularly effective on breast and colon cancers. Importantly, the mango polyphenols did not harm normal cells.

The study found that the cell cycle was interrupted, providing crucial information on how the cancer cells may be stopped. The researchers suggest that mango polyphenols may prevent cells from mutating or becoming damaged.

The researchers hope to undertake a small clinical trial with individuals who have intestinal inflammation with an increased risk of cancer.

Mangoes are enjoyed in many parts of the world, but little has been known about their health attributes. They are low in antioxidants when compared with blueberries, acai or pomegranates, but it appears that they may have previously undetected anti-cancer properties. They are fantastic eaten raw: a mango hedgehog can be enjoyed by children as a healthy dessert, or the spikes can be removed and put into a fruit salad.  Mango can be added to smoothies and lassi or why not try this delicious low sugar cake made with dried mango?

Banana and Mango Cake

75g (2½oz) chopped dried mango

175g (6oz) wholemeal self-raising flour

50g (2oz) desiccated coconut

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

125g unsalted butter, melted

3 bananas, mashed

2 eggs, free range

50g (2oz) caster sugar or xylitol

10-12 no added sugar banana chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and base line a 20cm/8inch cake tin.

2. Place the mango in a small bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes and then drain thoroughly.

3. Place the flour, coconut, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the mango pieces.

4. Place the melted butter, bananas, eggs and sugar in a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Add to the flour and mix thoroughly.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and decorate with the banana chips.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then on a wire rack.

To make a mango hedgehog, slice down each side of a mango from top to bottom, close to the stone, so you have two ‘almost halves’ with a middle slice clinging to the stone (you may find that the children fight over who gets this bit!). Cut across the flesh of each mango half in parallel lines, carefully so as not to cut through the skin. Now cut across these lines in the same way, so you have criss-crossed flesh with the skin intact. Turn the skin in on itself so you have a mound of spikes to decorate with raisins for eyes and a nose.

Mango Blueberry Smoothie, adapted from a recipe by MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN , published: January 27, 2010 in The New York Times

This drink is similar to lassi, made tangy with buttermilk (or yogurt), mango and spoonful of lime juice. If you want to make a nondairy version, use almond milk or rice milk.

1 heaped cup ripe mango, fresh or frozen

1 cup buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt, or for a nondairy version almond or rice milk

2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (to taste)

6 raw almonds (untoasted)

2 or 3 ice cubes if desired

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend at high speed until smooth.

Categories In the news, Latest Research, Weight management

Obesity drug suspended

The European Medicines Agency suspended the licence of the drug Reductil this week, suspecting that it may cause heart attacks and strokes. 17 deaths have been linked to the drug in Britain since 2001 and 1,105 suspected adverse reactions have been reported. Reductil contains Sibutramine which tricks the brain into feeling full, allowing people to eat up to 20% less.  Two years ago, another anti-obesity drug, Acomplia, was suspended on suspicion of causing suicidal thoughts.

Reductil is reported to achieve only modest weight loss, which may not be sustained after stopping the drug. The news demonstrates that there is no quick fix to weight loss; pills are often ineffective or carry health risks and embarrassing side effects.

The key to losing weight lies in burning more calories than you take in. Exercise helps to raise your metabolic rate and to burn excess calories; aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise  5 times a week. To reduce calorific intake, limit the amount of saturated fat, sugar and processed foods such as white bread or biscuits. These foods are all laden with calories and they can cause cravings for more of the same.

Essential fats found in oily fish, nuts and cold pressed vegetable oils are important for health and metabolism, so include these in your diet. To reduce cravings, balance blood sugar by eating three small meals and  snacks every day. Include protein, fruit and a small amount of wholegrain carbohydrates for energy, but allow the bulk of each meal or snack to be vegetables.

If you are struggling to lose weight, why not make an appointment with Emma? To find out more about consultations for weight loss Click Here.

Alternatively, to find out more about losing weight Click Here.

Categories In the news, Latest Research

Rickets returns

A review published in the BMJ this week suggests that rickets is becoming disturbingly common amongst British children. Rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency, which is triggered by insufficient sunlight and poor diet. It has been suggested that long periods of time spent indoors are contributing to the problem.

The researchers from Newcastle University suggest that milk and other food products should be fortified with vitamin D. The Food Standards Agency has resisited mandatory supplementation, suggesting instead that pregnant or breastfeeding women and people over 60 should take 10mcg vitamin D each day. They argue that everyone else should be able to meet their requirements from exposure to sunlight and diet. Vitamin D is stored in the body, so excess intake can cause toxicity.

Half of all adults in Britain are thought to suffer vitamin D deficiency in the winter and spring; the situation is worst in the north of England and in Scotland. Asian populations are at greater risk because they cover large areas of their skin; the housebound elderly are also at risk.

To reduce the risks of vitamin D deficiency, the skin should be exposed regularly to sunlight in spring and autumn, but more cautiously in summer. As summer approaches, unprotected exposure should be limited to short spells earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon as direct sunlight exposure is not recommended between the hours of 11am and 3pm to avoid burning. In the uk, winter sunlight does not contain the correct ultraviolet wavelengths for vitamin D production, but production and storage during the summer months should last through the winter.

Vitamin D rich foods can also be enjoyed; oily fish should be consumed three times a week. Liver, egg yolks, meat and milk are also sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be involved in a number of chronic diseases including mental health problems, cancer and autoimmune disease. To find out more about how to test your vitamin D status Click Here.

Categories Elderly, In the news, Latest Research

Meals-on-wheels lack vital nutrients

Research carried out by Trinity College Dublin has found that meals-on-wheels dinners are lacking in vital nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamn D and calcium. As a result, the report stated that over a third of reciepients were malnourished or at risk of nutrient deficiency.

The average meal contributed only 25% of the daily requirement of vitamin C and folate (vitamin B9), 21% of clacium and 12% of vitamin D. Each meal chould contain 33% of each. The researchers point out that recipients of the service can’t shop because of limited mobility and may not be able to cook. They suggest that the validity of the service must be questionned if meals don’t have adequate nutrition.

Unlike in America, minimum nutritional requirements for meals-on-wheels are not set, leaving service providers to set their own nutritional standards. As a result, the researchers found wide disparity in the quality of service between different agencies. Many services are run on a voluntary basis and may be overstretched.

The Health Service Executive subsidises every meal, but at different levels throughout the country. Ciara O’Dwyer, one of the Trinity Researchers, suggests that funding should be more uniform to avoid variation around the country, and that more government support should be offered to train providers to meet the nutritional requrements of older people.

The elderly, in particular, need a nutrient dense diet. The requirement for energy decreases with age, so people may meet energy needs without fulfilling nutrient requirements. Bone building nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium and manganese are vital to reduce the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, which increases with age as bone density decreases. Fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds will provide these important nutrients. 

Immune function also decreases with age, and our cells are more vulnerable to damage from free radicals. The elderly should increase their intake of vitamins A, C and E and minerals zinc and selenium. Digestion and absorption may also be less efficient, meaning that older people need to be particularly vigilant about taking in extra nutrients. Minerals such as iron may be particularly difficult to absorb, leading to an increased risk of anaemia; this is exacerbated when older people drink a lot of tea.

 A plant based diet, rich in a variety of multi coloured fruit and vegetables (particularly dark green leafies) and supplemented with lean red meat, poultry, oily fish and dairy products will allow people to meet their nutritional requirements in older age and maintain energy, brain function and bone health.

For more information on bone health, Click Here.

For more information on an osteoporosis risk test Click Here.

Categories In the news, Latest Research

Packed junk food?

Are packed lunches healthy? They certainly can be, but research from Leeds University has suggested that only 1% children’s lunchboxes currently meet the nutritional standards that school dinners have to meet. The research, commissioned by the Government, has found that parents are choosing foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar to put in children’s lunchboxes, placing them at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. These anti-nutrients are now limited in school dinners, thanks largely to Jamie Oliver’s campaigns.

Although Ofsted has recommended a policy on packed lunches, there is no legislative imperative for them to comply with the nutritional standards that are applied to school dinners. Many parents report that their children will not eat the healthy choices that they offer in lunchboxes and, as a result, only one in five packed lunches contained any salad or vegetables and half included a piece of fruit.

Packed lunches can be a highly nutritious alternative to school dinners. Much can be done to improve their nutrient status with some ingenious preparation of fruit and vegetables and by adding popular protein foods for brain development and growth. Protein can be included from homemade chicken nuggets, mini burgers or grilled tofu saved from last night’s dinner. Although nuts are discouraged from schools, cheese strings (natural cheese, like mozzarella that has been cured into an elastic strip) or individual cheese portions can boost the protein content of a lunchbox. Encourage children to eat fruit and salad with cheese strings to provide potassium to balance their salt intake.

Sandwiches can be stuffed with tuna, egg or cheese with tomatoes, cucumber or lettuce can boost the vitamin and mineral content – start with tiny amounts to allow children to get used to the look, taste and texture and increase slowly.

Some children will enjoy cherry tomatoes, olives, lettuce, slices of pepper, cucumber and carrots in their lunchboxes, alongside apples, pears, bananas and oranges. Inflatable fruit bags can prevent bruising of fruit on the way to school and allow for easy identification in the snack tray.

Reluctant children may need more encouragement to eat their fruit and veg; have fun with preparation and presentation. Natalie Savona suggests turning mangoes into hedgehogs, oranges into dragons and skewering red and white grapes onto sticks. For dessert, if fruit does not satisfy alone, strawberries can be half dipped in melted chocolate the night before and allowed to set overnight.

Nutritious food can improve children’s health and happinness. It can also enhance attention, learning, behaviour and physical ability. By providing children who take a packed lunch to school with high quality protein, fruit and vegetables and omitting foods high in saturated fat and sugar, these benefits may be seen in the classroom. If healthy lunchboxes become the norm, children will be happy to eat the same nutritious food as their peers.

To find out more about Cardiovascular / Heart Health click here.  To find out more about health tests for Cardiovascular disease /Heart Health click here

To find out more about Diabetes click here. To find out more about health tests for Diabetes click here

Chicken Nuggets

Many children will eat chunks or strips of chicken breast or boneless chicken thigh that have been baked in a moderately hot oven (200°C/400°F/Gas 6) for 15 mins or until the meat is cooked through. Those children that are partial to a golden crisp coating may enjoy Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce’s gluten free battered nuggets:


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips (about 4 strips each)

200g (7oz) instant pre-cooked polenta flour

210ml (7floz) water

4 eggs, beaten

2 tsp onion salt or sea salt

4 tbspn sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix together all the batter ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Drop the chicken pieces (one at a time) into the batter and turn over to coat evenly. Place on the baking tray and cook for 15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through (cut a piece in half and check that the flesh and juices are not pink).

Lamb Burgers


500g (1lb 2oz) lamb mince

1 very small red onion, finely chopped

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sea salt

black pepper

2 tbspn finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

a little coconut oil, for frying

Mix together all the ingredients until well combined. Roll into 6-8 balls (or more  for mini burgers) and flatten

Grill or fry in a little coconut oil for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway, until both sides are coloured and the burgers are cooked through.                                                                   

 These recipes are taken from ‘Smart Food for Smart Kids’ by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce.

To make a mango hedgehog, slice down each side of a mango from top to bottom, close to the stone, so you have two ‘almost halves’ with a middle slice clinging to the stone (you may find that the children fight over who gets this bit!). Cut across the flesh of each mango half in parallel lines, carefully so as not to cut through the skin. Now cut across these lines in the same way, so you have criss-crossed flesh with the skin intact. Turn the skin in on itself so you have a mound of spikes to decorate with raisins for eyes and a nose.

 To make an orange dragon, lay an orange on a board with the stalk and base facing to the sides. Using a sharp knife, cut the orange asross the segments into generous rounds. Then, take a slice and at a point between two segments, carefully cut through the skin and as far as the centre of the slice. Carefully prise open the slice, seperating the little triangular segments: you end up with a flat line of orange skin with a series of little triangles poking out from it – the dragon fins. Repeat with the other slices. This is much easier to do than to describe in words – so give it a go and you’ll find your children will be keener to eat the oranges than if they’d had to peel them in the usual way.

These ideas are taken from ‘Wonderfoods for kids’ by Natalie Savona



Categories Cancer, In the news, Latest Research

Pomegranate may slow breast cancer

Recent research has shown that an ingredient in pomegranates may help to slow the growth of breast cancer. In a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, ellagitannins in the fruit were found to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase in laboratory tests. Aromatase helps the body to produce oestrogen, which stimulates the growth of cancer cells. Drugs known as aromatase inhibitors are used to treat breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

High levels of ellagitannin compounds were used in the study and it is not known if these levels could be achieved in animals or humans. However, Professor Stoner, of the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State University suggested that people should ‘consider consuming more pomegranates to protect against cancer development in the breast and perhaps in other tissues and organs.’

Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C , vitamin B5, potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. Research has also shown that pomegranate juice can reduce systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients and reduce heart disease risk factors. The seeds of the fruit also provide fibe and unsaturated fat.

Categories Latest Research

Hope for Alzheimer’s sufferers

Vitamin D3 and curcumin may prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), suggests research carried out earlier this year, by preventing the debilitating build up of amyloid plaques that characterises this disease.

Patients with AD cannot clear amyloid-β due to defects within the innate immune system. Amyloidosis results, and plaques are deposited on the brain. Scientists from UCLA  incubated macrophages of AD patients and healthy controls with amyloid-β, vitamin D3 and curcuminoids, finding that vitamin D3 strongly improved clearance of amyloid-β.  The macrophages of some patients were further stimulated by synthetic curcuminoids.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D3 and curcumin offer promising possibilities for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease; further research is expected to clarify dosage guidelines for these nutrients.

Vitamin D3 is actually a pro-hormone rather than a true vitamin. It is produced in the body in response to sunlight, and good dietary sources include eggs, liver and fish oils. In addition, milk, yogurt, oil spreads and breakfast cereals may be fortified with vitamin D3. Curcumin is found in turmeric and is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Categories In the news, Latest Research, Nutrition

Garlic reduces risk of catching a cold

A Cochrane review, carried out earlier this year, has demonstrated that garlic is effective in preventing and treating the symptoms of a common cold such as runny nose, sneezing, headache and sore throat.

Only one study fitted the reviewers’ criteria for inclusion. In this study, 146 patients were randomly assigned to take garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks. The results were dramatic; only 24 of the people taking garlic supplements reported coming down with a cold, compared with 65 of those taking the placebo. In addition, the number of days that people were sick was reduced from 5 in the placebo group to 2 in the treatment group.

Garlic contains hundreds of compounds that support health via detoxification, lowering cholesterol and protecting against cancer. This research demonstrates, for the first time, that garlic can also protect us from the common cold.