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BBC Focus Collection - Vol.1 -The Scientific Guide To A Healthier You - 2018

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FOCUS
M AGA Z I N E
Collection
VOL.01
THE SCIENTIFIC GUIDE TO A
H E A LTH I E R YO U
How to fight fat
with science
Is Dry January
worth it?
The truth about
superfoods
How to beat
the burnout
Why sleep can
make you smarter
The science behind
food addiction
Herbal remedies
put to the test
Exercise secrets to
make you fitter
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ONLY
FROM TH E M AKERS O F
�99
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FOCU S
M AGA ZI N E
E AC H
INCLU
D
P&P* ING
Discover the science
behind everyday stuf ?
answers to brainbaling scientific
questions and
conundrums about
how life works.
Find out about the best
VR gadgets from headsets
to cameras, discover
which free apps are worth
downloading, and meet
Palmer Luckey ? founder
of Oculus Rit.
Learn about the
extraordinary abilities
of the human brain,
the latest research into
mental health, and how
we can make ourselves
smarter in the future.
Take a trip through the
cosmos to find out
about the latest
discoveries, epic
manned missions and
the next giant leaps
for humankind.
Discover how dinosaurs
conquered the world,
what if they had survived
the asteroid hit, why
the chicken is a dinosaur,
and how to build
Jurassic Park.
Learn about virtual reality
showrooms, discover how
to print a car, and find out
about electric and fuel
cell vehicles. Plus, check
out the buyer?s guide to
hybrid vehicles.
From acupuncture to yoga,
argan oil to zinc, scientists
reveal which techniques
and treatments will
help you live a happier,
healthier life ? and which
you ought to avoid.
Take a tour of Earth from
the air and experience
the planet as you?ve
never seen it before ?
from wild landscapes to
urban metropolises to
ancient sites.
Order online: www.buysubscriptions.com/focuscollection
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EDITORIAL
Editor Daniel Bennet
Managing editor Alice Lipscombe-Southwell
Production editor Jheni Osman
Commissioning editor Jason Goodyer
Staf writer James Lloyd
Additional copy Anna Lombardi
ART & PICTURES
Art editor Joe Eden
Designer Steve Boswell
Designer Jenny Price
Picture editor James Cutmore
PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
Press oficer Carolyn Wray
carolyn.wray@immediate.co.uk
PRODUCTION
Production director Sarah Powell
Senior production co-ordinator
Derrick Andrews
Reprographics Tony Hunt, Chris Sutch
PUBLISHING
Commercial director Jemima Dixon
Content director Dave Musgrove
Publishing director Andy Healy
Managing director Andy Marshall
BBC WORLDWIDE, UK PUBLISHING
Director of editorial governance Nicholas Bret
Director of consumer products and publishing
Andrew Moultrie
Head of UK publishing Chris Kerwin
Publisher Mandy Thwaites
Publishing coordinator Eva Abramik
Contact UK.Publishing@bbc.com
bbcworldwide.com/uk--anz/ukpublishing.aspx
CIRCULATION / ADVERTISING
Circulation manager Rob Brock
� Immediate Media Co Bristol Ltd 2018. All rights reserved. No part
of The Scientific Guide to a Healthier You may be reproduced in
any form or by any means either wholly or in part, without prior
writen permission of the publisher. Not to be resold, lent, hired
out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade at more than the
recommended retail price or in mutilated condition. Printed in the
UK by William Gibbons Ltd. The publisher, editor and authors accept
no responsibility in respect of any products, goods or services which
may be advertised or referred to in this issue or for any errors,
omissions, mis-statements or mistakes in any such advertisements
or references.
Welcome
Is the leftover Christmas cake more appealing
than one of your five a day? Has the Fitbit
been replaced by the remote control? If
you?re already struggling with your New
Year?s Resolutions, you?re not alone.
Everyone?s lives are busy, making it all too
easy to fill up on unhealthy snacks or skip a
workout. We all know we should eat healthily, exercise and get
some good shut-eye. But how much cardio do you need to fight
the flab? What diet is right for you? How many hours of sleep do
you need a night?
It can be hard to track down useful advice when websites,
magazines and books all seem to offer confusing and conflicting
info. So, in this special issue, we?ve cut through the jargon to
reveal the science behind what really works ? and what doesn?t.
Discover the best diet to adopt, according to science (page 14),
the superfoods worth stocking up on (page 20), why a bit of dark
chocolate is no bad thing (page 28) and the benefits of staying
off the booze in January (page 30). Find out whether you can be
addicted to food (page 44), the truth about going gluten-free
(page 60), which herbal remedies are really worth the cash
(page 64) and the surprising benefits of exercise ? no need for
the little blue pills (page 50).
Plus, tips to beat tiredness (page 74), ways to get a good night?s
sleep (page 78), insomnia treatments (page 80) and how sleep
can make you smarter (page 86).
After reading this special issue, you?ll be armed with the very
best health advice and primed for the year ahead. Enjoy!
Daniel Bennett, Editor
While every atempt has been made to ensure that the content of
The Scientific Guide to a Healthier You was as accurate as possible
at time of press, we acknowledge that some information contained
herein may have since become out of date. Also, the content of
certain sections is occasionally subject to interpretation; in these
cases, we have favoured the most respected source.
COVER ILLUSTRATION: ANDY POTTS
Like what you?ve read?
Then take out a subscription
to BBC Focus magazine, the
UK?s best-selling science and
tech monthly. See the special
offer on page 98 for details...
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 3
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CONTENTS
Eye opener
Incredible images
06
Diet & exercise
How to fight fat with science
The science of superfoods
10 reasons why chocolate is good for you
Is Dry January worth it?
Is anything good for you any more?
Are cookies as addictive as cocaine?
Exercise: a cure for all ills
14 ways to boost your microbiome
The allergy fallacy
Health hack or quack
14
20
28
30
36
44
50
58
60
64
Sleep
How to beat the burnout
Treating insomnia
15 things you didn?t know about sleep
How sleep can make you smarter
74
80
84
86
Q&A
What causes middle-age spread?
How do inuits get their ?five a day??
Is there any truth to the ?five second rule??
92
96
96
44
Does food
addiction
really exist?
14
The science behind
beating obesity
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80
How scientists are
treating insomnia
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74
58
14 ways to boost
your gut bacteria
How science can help
you kick fatigue
28
10 reasons
why chocolate
is good for you
84
50
The surprising
secrets of
exercise
15 things you won?t
know about sleep
60
The truth about
gluten-free food
20
Do superfoods deserve
their ?super? status?
30
Dr Michael Mosley
ditches the booze
for science
64
Herbal remedies
put to the test
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 5
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Pain killer
Is it an alien landscape? Modern art? Rare
mineral? Actually, none of the above. This
colour-enhanced image is a close-up of
aspirin crystals, which have been magnified
hundreds of times.
Aspirin has been used for over a century
to treat pain, reduce fever and prevent heart
disease. More recently, it has even been
known to reverse tooth decay and decrease
the risk of certain types of cancer.
The main ingredient of modern aspirin ?
acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) ? was first
synthesised in 1853. But the medical use of
its active component (salicylic acid) goes
way back. Found in plants (especially willow
trees) where it triggers processes, such as
flowering and defence mechanisms against
disease, salicylic acid was extracted and
used as a natural painkiller by ancient
Sumerians, Egyptians, native Americans
and even by some Neanderthals.
PHOTO: WELLCOME IMAGES
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EYE OPENER
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And breathe...
A zen crowd gathers under the Eifel Tower
in Paris to mark International Yoga Day on
21 June 2015. Yoga originated in India around
5,000 years ago. At first, it was practised by
religious ascetics. Today, chances are you
pass at least one yoga studio on your way to
work, and where once you laughed at the
bizarre-sounding term ?downward dog?, it?s
now part of your everyday urban dictionary.
The millions who practise yoga claim its
huge range of benefits: increased strength
and flexibility, pain relief, heightened
energy levels, stress relief. So what does the
science say? Yoga seems to help alleviate
depression caused by insomnia, as it
regulates melatonin levels in the blood,
aiding sleep paterns. And research has
found ?yogis? have more grey mater in the
brain?s insular cortex, which correlates with
increased pain tolerance, while MRI scans
have shown diferences in a number of brain
regions, which could explain why the grey
mater of yogis declines more slowly.
PHOTO: REUTERS
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EYE OPENER
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Diabetic foot
Diabetes afects over 8 per cent of the
global population ? and this image shows
just how serious the disease can be.
Shot using an infrared thermal camera,
the image shows how the patient?s right
foot is much cooler than the let one, due
to poor blood circulation.
Diabetes occurs either because the
pancreas doesn?t produce enough of the
hormone insulin or the body can?t use the
insulin it produces. As the hormone
regulates sugar levels in the blood, high
blood sugar damages blood vessels,
causing a lack of sensation known as
?peripheral neuropathy?. Loss of sensation
exacerbates infections and ulcers, which
can ultimately lead to hospitalisation or,
in extreme cases, amputation.
Research suggests that up to 15 per
cent of diabetics develop a foot ulcer at
some point. To help fight these ulcers,
scientists have developed insoles
containing silver nano-particles with
antibacterial properties.
PHOTO: RICARDO VARDASCA /RPS
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EYE OPENER
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1
teaspoon (5 grams) is
the daily recommended
salt intake for adults
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20 minutes
INTO CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE THE BODY
STARTS TO BURN MUSCLE INSTEAD OF FAT
D
Junk food adverts
aimed at kids have
been banned in
the UK since 2016
The first
weight loss drugs
became available in the
1920s
It takes
the brain
20
minutes to
sense fullness
after eating
SEX BURNS 150-250
CALORIES PER HALF
HOUR SESSION.
WATCHING TV ONLY
BURNS 32 CALORIES
espite all your best
intentions, do you get
your five fruit and veg a day?
How about regular workouts?
We all know what we should be
doing, but a healthy diet and
exercise regime are hard to stick
to. Science has proven the wealth
of health benefits you get from
eating the right foods and regularly
breaking into an exercise-induced
sweat. Research shows that good
nutrition supports the immune
system, improves brain performance
and reduces the risk of disease,
anxiety and depression. Regular
exercise helps keep your weight in
check, strengthens muscles and
decreases stress. But did you know
that dark chocolate can actually be
good for you? Or that modest
amounts of red wine have a
positive efect on your gut
bacteria? Read on to find out
more surprising diet and
exercise facts backed
up by science...
apple a day
helps lower
levels of bad
cholesterol
and prevent
stroke
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1
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Diet &
Exercise
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L o ok ou
t fo
obesit y r a special
season
BB C On
on
e later t
his yea
Check R
r.
adi
for mor o Times
e detail
s.
THE SCIENCE
OF FIGHTING
Has Christmas taken its toll on your waistline? We navigate through
VJGOKPG?GNFQHOKUKPHQTOCVKQPVQ?PFQWVYJCVVJG
experts really say about losing weight
WORDS: SIMON CROMPTON
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DIET
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WHAT IS THE BEST DIET,
ACCORDING TO SCIENCE?
When it comes down to it, the science
of dieting is simple: eat less. You can
do it with a low-fat diet (like the raw
food diet), or a low-carb diet (like the
Atkins or paleo diet). But the problem
with diets is not so much losing
weight, but finding a way to do it that
is efective, safe, fits in with your
lifestyle, and is sustainable so that
your weight doesn?t rocket up again.
Diet academics (as opposed to
product pushers) avoid prescriptive
advice because diferent diets fit
diferent people?s lifestyles and
personalities. But recent research
indicates that one particular group of
diets is most efective for the greatest
number of people. These are the
supervised diet programmes, like the
Cambridge Weight Plan, LighterLife
and Optifast diets, consisting entirely
of prepared snack bars, shakes and
other food products. You might
assume these fast-acting diets would
be condemned by scientists as drastic,
unhealthy and gimmicky. Yet research
is finding that these very low-calorie
Verdict: Try a supervised diet to
safely shed excess weight.
GETTY
T
he statistics tell their own story.
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Being overweight makes us less healthy:
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Health shows a clear relationship between
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it also matters because being overweight
makes many people unhappy.
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believing that most overweight people
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science shows that it?s not simply a matter
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diets, also known as total food
replacement diets, are efective and
safe if applied correctly. A major
analysis of trials last year, headed by
Birmingham University?s Centre for
Obesity Research, showed that these
diets brought an average weight loss
of 10kg ater 12 months. This compares
with research showing that
behavioural programmes (focused on
changing eating habits and exercising),
such as Slimming World and Weight
Watchers, bring a weight loss of 4kg
ater one year.
Jebb says that, although research
indicates that all dieters gain weight
aterwards (no mater which regime
you embark on), the more weight you
lose the longer you stay beneath the
?obese and unhealthy? bar. And
although food replacement diets may
look extreme, they do contain a
balance of nutrients that some
do-it-yourself diets might not.
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 15
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DIET
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?If you want to try
and sustain your
weight loss, the
worst thing you
can do is try and
starve yourself for
three weeks?
DO CRASH DIETS WORK?
It depends what you mean by ?crash diet?. There is evidence that
supervised food replacement diets work very well for many people.
But what about the more DIY crash diets that claim to make your
weight plummet? Diets like the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit
diet, and juicing and cleansing diets?
The evidence behind these is currently slim. However, there is
less scientific opposition to losing weight quickly than there used to
be. Australian research has indicated not only that more people
achieve their weight loss goals if they lose weight fast, but also that
losing weight quickly doesn?t mean you?ll regain it quickly as well.
Rapid weight loss can motivate people to stick with some
programmes, the researchers suggest.
But maintaining a healthy nutritional balance while on these
diets can be a problem: advice from the NHS is still that ?crash diets
make you feel very unwell and unable to function properly? crash
diets can lead to long-term poor health?.
And both our biology and lifestyles may condemn many extreme
crash diets to failure. Dr Giles Yeo, principal research associate at
Cambridge University?s Institute of Metabolic Science, specialises in
the molecular mechanisms underlying the control of food intake.
16 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
?If you want to try and sustain your weight loss, the worst thing
you can do is try and starve yourself for three weeks,? he says. ?I
think people have to find some balance to lose weight long-term.?
In particular, we have to address how crash diets generally make
us feel hungry. Yeo?s research examines how the brain responds to
hormones and nutrients that are released from the gut into the
blood. These reflect the body?s nutritional status, and the brain
turns them into what we experience as ?fullness? or ?hunger?.
?One of the universal truths of weight loss is that if you want to
eat less then you have to have a strategy to make you feel more full,
otherwise you are simply fighting hunger for the rest of your life,?
Yeo says. ?What we now know is that the longer something takes to
be digested, the fuller it makes you feel ? because as food goes
down the gut, diferent hormones keep being released, most of
which give us a feeling of fullness. That?s why high-protein diets can
work, because protein is more complex than fat or carbs, and goes
further down the gut before it?s broken into its constituents.?
Verdict: Crash diets are not nutritionally balanced and will make
you feel awful.
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CAN YOU BE FAT AND FIT?
DO INTERMITTENT
FASTING DIETS WORK?
GETTY X5
Intermitent fasting diets, such as the 5:2 diet,
revolve around eating what you want some days a
week, and then very litle the other days. But are
they more efective than other weight loss diets?
The latest research suggests not.
A study published in an American Medical
Association journal in 2017 found that, ater a year,
weight loss was not significantly diferent than for
daily calorie-restricted diet groups. Supporters of
fasting diets claim they provide health benefits
beyond weight loss. Indeed, animal studies have
indicated that fasting prolongs life and reduces the
risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and
Alzheimer?s disease. But human studies are scarce
and contradictory. A University of Southern
California study of 71 adults published recently
found that intermitent fasting reduced blood
pressure and risk factors for cardiovascular disease,
cancer and diabetes, and reduced body fat too. But
another new study, from the University of Illinois,
suggests it improves cardiovascular risk no more
than any other diet.
For decades, scientific debate has
raged about the role of exercise in
diet loss. Today, there is greater
scientific consensus that food intake
is more important than exercise for
losing weight. But the debate goes on
about whether being fit mitigates the
health risks of being overweight.
Central to the controversy is
research from the Cooper Institute
for Preventive Medicine in Dallas,
which shows that over-60s who
exercise have lower mortality
regardless of how much body weight
they carry. American health
psychologist Dr Traci Mann, from the
University of Minnesota, is the most
prominent figure in asserting that
overweight people can live healthy
lives as long as they exercise.
Mann says there is no evidence
that overweight people have shorter
lifespans, there is just evidence that
people who are sedentary, poor and
medically neglected (who are also
oten obese) live shorter lives.
Verdict: Intermitent fasting is no more efective
than other calorie-restricted diets.
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?Obesity only really leads to shorter
lifespans at the very highest weights.?
There is no point in dieting, she
claims. ?To reduce your risk for
cardiovascular disease and diabetes,
you don?t actually have to get thin,
you just have to exercise.?
But the ?fat but fit? camp has few
supporters in the UK, and the theory
has received a new setback from a
recent study of 3.5 million GP records
by the University of Birmingham. This
found that ?healthy? obese people,
who had normal blood pressure and
cholesterol levels, were still at higher
risk of serious disease than healthy
people of normal weight. The obese
people had 49 per cent increased risk
of coronary heart disease, 7 per cent
increased risk of stroke, and 96 per
cent increased risk of heart failure.
Verdict: Obese people with healthy
blood pressure and cholesterol still
have an increased risk of heart
problems and strokes.
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FAT ARE WE?
More than half a billion people in the world are obese.
Increasingly sedentary lives and a shit in diet are to
blame. The South Pacific island of Samoa has the
highest proportion of obese people ? a whopping 74.6
per cent are considered obese. In fact, South Pacific
nations reign in the top 10 ? only Kuwait is not in the
region. Elsewhere around the world, there is a direct link
with income ? the prevalence of obesity is four times
higher in high-income countries than low-income ones.
African and Asian countries generally have very low
obesity levels. Less than 2 per cent of the populations in
Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Eritrea,
Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
are considered obese.
FAC T
Two times more
women (9.9%) are
extremely obese
than men
(5.5%) in the US
To be de fined
as
obese, you ne
ed to have
a body mass in
de x (BMI)
of over 30kg /m 2
. BMI is
calculated by
dividing your
weight by the
square
of your height
.
FAC T
5% of children
globally are
considered
obese
KEY
Percentage
of population
> 30%
20-29.9%
10-19.9%
< 10%
NO DATA
FAC T
2.8 million
people worldwide
die each year as
a result of being
overweight or
obese
FAC T
Obesity is
prevalent in the
Middle East due
to an increasingly
sedentary lifestyle
and junk food
ARE ANTIBIOTICS MAKING US FAT?
The past five years have seen interest in the idea
that our gut bacteria play a crucial role in regulating
weight, and killing them of with antibiotics is
causing obesity.
The most recent evidence is fascinating but
inconclusive. Studies in prestigious medical journals
have produced contrasting results. One found that
three courses of antibiotics before the age of two
was associated with increased risk of early
childhood obesity, while the other found that
exposure to antibiotics in the first six months of life
was not associated with early childhood weight gain.
Yet recent research is indicating a link between gut
fauna and our body mass index. People with higher
18 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
levels of Christensenellaceae bacteria ? one in 10 of
us ? appear less likely to put on weight than those
with lower amounts. Scientists from King?s College
London have found that levels of this bacteria are
partly genetically determined.
According to Yeo, who investigated the possibility
of microbial transplants to cure obesity, this new
field is important and requires research. ?But I have
yet to see convincing evidence that there are lean
bacteria and obese bacteria,? he says.
Verdict: More research needs to be done, but
our gut bacteria may afect how readily we put
on weight.
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TIPS TO HELP
I N S TA N T D I G E S T
YOU FIGHT FAT
1
DO FAT-BURNING
TABLETS WORK?
Dozens of ?metabolism-boosting? supplements ?
including ingredients such as cafeine, capsaicin,
L-carnitine and green tea extract ? claim to
stimulate energy processing in the body, increasing
the rate at which we burn calories. But there?s litle
evidence that these products work, and most of
their claims are not subject to scientific scrutiny
because they are classed as food supplements
rather than medicines.
Some studies have indicated that people burn
more calories when they take cafeine but,
according to the Mayo Clinic, this doesn?t appear
to have any significant efect on weight loss.
There is litle data on most other ?fat-busting? pill
ingredients, although there is some evidence from
small studies that capsaicin, which is found
naturally in chillies, can promote loss of abdominal
fat and make people feel fuller.
There is a constant stream of news stories about
food types that can apparently provide a shortcut
to weight loss by boosting metabolism, reducing fat
levels or promoting healthy gut bacteria. Cayenne
pepper, apples, cider vinegar and cinnamon have all
been in the news recently. The problem is that most
of these stories are based on small or isolated
studies, oten in rodents not humans. There may be
something in them, but it?s still very early days.
GETTY X5
Verdict: There is no easy fix for burning fat. Sorry!
Simon Crompton is a freelance writer and editor
who specialises in science, health and social issues
Eat slowly
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that eating quickly
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to release hormones
signalling to the
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keep on eating.
2 Avoid ?empty?
calories
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that make you
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in your gut longer
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Recent research
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eat alone at least
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The link seems to be
less clear in women.
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that loneliness can
increase the
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making unhealthy
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4 Consider your
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portions contribute
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smaller tableware.
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stimulates appetite.
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5
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 19
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THE SCI
GETTY IMAGES
SUPER
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ENCE OF
FOODS
Kale and chia, goji berries and
blueberries, salmon and spinach.
Are these superfoods really the
magic bullets they claim to be?
WORDS: JAMIE MILLAR
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B
illed as the superheroes of
the culinary world, today,
superfoods a re as widespread as comic-book films
? every day it feels like a new
one is hitting our plates.
?There is neither a regulatory nor scientific
definition of a ?superfood?,? says Dr Jeffrey
Blumberg, from the Friedman School of Nutrition
Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston.
?It is a marketing term which marketers do not
wish to define either.? However, through an
equally unscientific survey of the books and
blogs that liberally sprinkle the term ? more
on those later ? some
common characteristics
of these so-called superfoods can be discerned.
Superfoods typically
have high levels of
certain nutrients ? such
as the goji berry, which
boasts more vita min
C than oranges, more
beta ca rotene t ha n
carrots, and more iron
than spinach. They are
often exotic in origin ?
the goji berry hails from
the Himalayas. ?This
seems to suggest that
they have some special
health-promoting properties,? says Blumberg.
?Although the countries from which they come
are not characterised by especially healthful
or long-lived people.?
The appetite for superfoods is growing ?
according to the International Food Information
Council, nea rly nine in 10 America ns
a re interested in foods t hat have healt h
benefits beyond basic nutrition (what the
IFIC calls ?functional foods?). But they?re also
swallowing some unsubstantiated claims.
Legends of doctors discovering remote
mountain t ribes of age-def ying, gojimunching centenarians should self-evidently
be taken with a large pinch of pink Himalayan
sea salt ? another superfood with little scientific
backing to elevate it above the table variety. But
there?s scarcely a grain of proof for the efficacy
of the goji berry or any
other superfruit.
A Chinese study of 79
patients with advanced
cancers found that their
conditions regressed
when treated with goji
polysaccharides, alongside immunotherapy.
But information about
the design of the study
a nd t he compounds
used is, like evidence
for the majority of goji?s
Everest-sized claims,
lacking. Another study,
on goji juice?s effects on
brain activity, was only
performed on 34 people, and inconclusive at that.
Most of the various studies related to goji and
immunity, heart disease, and life expectancy
have been either small, or used concentrated
extracts which would be unrealistic ? not to
mention costly ? to eat the equivalent of in
real life.
RIGHT: Popular among
celebrities from Madonna
to Miranda Kerr, goji
berries have high levels of
certain nutrients
BELOW: Vegetables are
known to contain all sorts
of beneficial vitamins and
minerals. For example,
kale has been found to
lower the risk of cancer
and heart disease
BE READY TO FORK OUT
Superfoods a re of ten rediscovered a nd
repackaged staples of ancient civilisations,
which also lends them credibility and a quasimyt hical air, even t hough t hose a ncient
civilisations are long-dead. Like the goji berry,
which allegedly helped Chinese herbalist Li
Ching Yuen live to the ripe old (unverified)
age of 256. Coincidentally, he also sold goji
berries. Which leads us to perhaps their defining
characteristic ? they?re expensive.
22 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
FREE RADICALS
Like many superfoods, such as blueberries
a nd a鏰�, goji ber ries a re touted as being
high in dietary antioxidants. ?They act to
quench reactive oxygen, nitrogen and halide
species, often called ?free radicals?,? explains
Blumberg, who is also the senior scientist
at Tuf ts? Antioxida nt Resea rch Lab. Free
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?The goji berry
boasts more
vitamin C than
oranges, more
beta carotene
than carrots,
and more iron
than spinach?
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radicals a re commonly cited as causing
ca ncer ? t he ma rketing goes t hat more
antioxidants means less cancer. The science
is not so straightforward. ?Many free radicals
play important, positive roles in cell biology
and human physiology,? says Blumberg. ?But
in excessive amounts (generally referred to as
?oxidative st ress?) t hey ca n da mage cell
constituents like lipids, proteins and DNA,
a nd cont ribute bot h to t he aging process
a nd t he development of ma ny ch ronic
diseases, including cancer. But, this simple
concept is actually extraordinarily complex,
and incompletely understood.?
For one thing, more is not always better.
?While consuming more antioxidant-rich fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds can
certainly be good, everything can be harmful at
a high enough intake,? says Blumberg. One study
on people at risk of developing lung cancer had
to be stopped because those given antioxidants
were dying more quickly. But while a diet that
is high in antioxidant-rich produce probably
won?t do you much harm ? unless you consume
them in wine form ? they won?t necessarily do
you that much good either. ?While antioxidants
are what marketers focus on, the science does
not indicate that they?re the most important part
of a food?s nutritional repertoire,? says Kamal
Patel, a nutrition researcher and director of
examine.com, an independent study analysis
website. ?The federal government used to use
the ORAC antioxidant scale, but no longer does
due to lack of support for its impact on health.?
Nor will t he presence of high levels of
antioxidants in a food, super or otherwise,
necessarily result in a proportional antioxidant
effect. For example, anthocyanins, found in the
blueberry ? often referred to as the grandaddy
of the superfood movement ? have been shown
to inhibit growth of cancerous human colon
cells in vitro. But there?s no evidence that
the flavonoids, the class of antioxidants that
anthocyanins belong to, are even absorbed in
the human body ? indeed, studies show that
less than 5 per cent survives consumption and
is promptly excreted. ?When you consume
an antioxidant, the main antioxidant effect
of ten comes f rom your body?s reaction to
eating a foreign substance, rather than from
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chia seeds or kale, are highly nutritious ?
more t hat calling t hem ?super? gives us
unrealistic expectations of what they will do.
?I prefer the concept of ?high nutrient density?
foods, which is a central theme in the new
2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans,?
says Nieman. ?The term ?superfood? is not used
by most scientists in the field, because the
implication is that one can expect quick and
high-end health benefits.? By all means, sprinkle
some chia seeds on your oatmeal. You?ll get a
nutritional boost, you just won?t instantly
the substance itself,? says Patel. ?Plus, our
body?s own antioxidant systems ? involving
compounds like glutat hione ? a re more
powerful than what we can get from food.?
TRICKY TO STUDY
The proof of the superfood pudding is in the
eating ? by humans, not mice or rats. But
unfortunately, most scientific research is not
conducted this way. ?Nutrition studies often
don?t apply to real life on a 1:1 basis,? says
Patel. ?If you want to test, say, the effect of
grape juice on cognition, you?d give it enough
time, plus you?d check to make sure they
actually drink it. In real life, that almost never
happens.? Lifestyle factors are difficult if not
impossible to separate. And there are other
problems, says Patel ? pilot studies and animal
trials will often use larger dosages, while ?acute?
studies will look at just the food without any
other things consumed. Meanwhile, eating
different foods together, which is what most
of us do, can dramatically alter their effects
for better or worse: ?Co-consumption makes
things more complicated.?
Another issue affecting superfood research
is t hat it is of ten paid for by interested
parties. ?We?re funded by food and supplement
companies in many of the studies we conduct,?
admits Professor David Nieman, director of the
Human Performance Labs at Appalachian State
University in North Carolina. ?But the system
demands contractual agreement that gives the
primary investigator ?academic freedom?, or the
right to publish the data, positive or negative.
Many of the companies I work with are
so convinced that their product has
special effects that they sign these
agreements.? What buyers should
beware of are studies conducted
in-house by companies, which are
?close to worthless?, says Nieman.
But while industry-funded doesn?t
mean false, the anointed superfood
might not be much better t ha n
a cheaper, less exotic equivalent
that doesn?t have the same commercial
imperative (see ?Everyday heroes?, page 26).
The problem is not so much t hat
superfoods are a con ? many of them, like
24 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
?The problem is not that
superfoods are a con ? many
are highly nutritious ? but
calling them ?super? gives us
unrealistic expectations?
become immortal. ?What matters is the habitual
eating pattern over years,? says Nieman.
The blueberry is oten
referred to as the
?grandaddy? of the
superfood movement
A BALANCED DIET
By seeing superfoods as a magic bullet, we risk
shooting ourselves in the foot.
?Some people think if they eat one ?superfruit?,
they don?t need to eat the recommended 2-4
servings of fruit a day,? says Blumberg.
But no one superfood is a panacea ? nor
will it make up for other deficiencies. ?Adding
superfoods to a good diet is fine,? says Dr David
Katz, director of Yale University?s Prevention
Research Center. ?Counting on them to
compensate for a bad diet is not.?
Undue emphasis on superfoods
ca n be unhealt hy. ?The term
helps companies sell product, and
it ?helps? consumers oversimplif y
their diets,? says Patel. All the experts
cited here st ressed t he importance of
consuming a wide va riety of natural,
?whole? foods, which in turn reduces their
individual significance. ?No single food or
beverage is important enough to stand out
from the overall lifestyle,? says Nieman.
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GETTY IMAGES
INFLATED
HEALTH
BENEFITS
The chia seed is a good
example of how claims
about superfoods can
grow out of all proportion
A variety of mint, over recent years chia has broken out of those novelty
pet-shaped plants to become an Aztec warrior miracle food. It?s a complete
protein with all the amino acids required to build muscle, plus more
omega-3 than salmon, more fibre than flaxseed, and wealthier than
Montezuma himself in antioxidants and minerals. Indeed, cheerleaders of
chia allege you could eat it and nothing else.
?It?s a good example of how companies and distributors promote the
mystique and magical health benefits that go way beyond the science,?
says Professor David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Labs at
Appalachian State University in North Carolina. ?We conducted several
randomised human trials showing that chia seeds provide good nutrition
and can be included in a healthy eating patern that over time ? along with
physical activity and weight management ? is consistent with good health.
But there?s nothing quick or miraculous about them.?
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I N STA NT D I G E ST
EVERYDAY HEROES
They?re not new or exotic, and they don?t always grab the headlines. But if these
widely available ?superfoods? aren?t already in your kitchen, they should be
26 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
GARLIC
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Beter known for warding of
vampires and first dates, there is
evidence the bulb can lower
blood pressure and cholesterol,
plus even prevent colds and
certain cancers.
A Mediterranean mainstay, the
healthy fats in this cure-oil cut
cardiovascular disease and
inflammation. But don?t fry
with it, as high heat damages
its nutrients.
BROCCOLI
APPLE
Containing high levels of vitamin
C and folate (natural folic acid),
this fibrous cruciferous
vegetable can stem cholesterol
and triglycerides, which cause
cardiovascular disease.
Crunching this doctor-deterring
fruit, which is high in antioxidants
and fibre, has been associated
with reduced risk of
cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
asthma and some cancers.
ONION
WALNUT
A member of the alium family,
it contains a potent antiinflammatory antioxidant called
quercetin, which reduces blood
pressure and lowers the risk
of cancer.
This has the highest antioxidant
activity of any nut and is the
only one with a significant
amount of omega-3. And a review
suggests it could stave of
cardiovascular disease.
TOMATO
BEETROOT
Technically a fruit, it is low in
starch and sugar, but high in
fibre, vitamin C, beta-carotene
and a potent antioxidant called
lycopene. Cooking in olive oil
increases its absorption.
Rich in iron and folate, beetroot
can make you hard to beat ? its
nitrates lower blood pressure and
your personal best time, while
some studies show improved
exercise performance.
SPINACH
SALMON
Popeye?s preferred superfood
packs high levels of bonestrengthening calcium and
vitamin K, as well as vitamin A.
And it contains almost as much
iron as beef.
Think pink. Oily fish reduces
cardiovascular disease risk,
lowering blood pressure, and
lubricating arterial fat build-up.
Salmon is high in omega-3, vitamin
D, some B vitamins and selenium.
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GETTY IMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO
Fields of the crop quinoa
lie in front of a majestic
mountain range in Chile
Another unintended consequence of the
fashionable superfood label can be felt in
their countries of origin as they attain trendy
status in the developed world. Quinoa, aka
the ?miracle grain of the Andes?, tripled in
price between 2006 and 2011, becoming too
expensive for many in its native Peru and
Bolivia. Diversity of crops also takes a hit as
farmers jump on the lucrative bandwagon.
And, ironically, people in those countries wind
up eating more imported junk food, because
it?s cheaper. The good news is that quinoa is
now being grown in the US and Europe.
Mea nwhile, t he Et hiopia n government
recently lifted a ban on the export of teff
(a gluten-f ree super-grain), which was
imposed in 2006 amid fears of a grain
shortage. They?re increasing yield by
40 per cent first to ensure adequate
Find out how diet afects
supply, but there are still concerns.
the brain in How To Have
A Better Brain: Diet
Superfoods ca n be costly for us
bbc.co.uk/programmes/
too ? they drive us to spend more, feed
b065xhtm
the untrue notion that healthy eating has to
be expensive, and lead us to overlook other
beneficial foods.
?A鏰� and other exotic-sounding foods haven?t
been shown to be healthier than other foods,
and there are few if any long-term studies on
their effects on disease,? says Patel.
If such things as superfoods exist, then
they?re hiding behind their secret identities
as t he mild-mannered Cla rk Kents of t he
supermarket produce section. ?Garlic has a
tonne of evidence,? says Patel. ?And potatoes
are cheap, nutritious and filling, yet they don?t
get much attention.?
So, rather than spend a fortune and heroworship particular superfoods, think of your diet
as like the Avengers ? a diverse assortment of
colourf ul cha racters
with different powers
Jamie Millar is a
that work well together. freelance writer and
And the largest part of it
contributing editor
to Men?s Health
should be green.
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1
LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
How guilty should you feel about devouring
some chocolate? Not much, apparently.
*GTGCTGUEKGPVK?ETGCUQPUYJ[
chocolate isn?t all bad...
Substances called flavanols in cocoa work
like blood pressure-lowering drugs called
ACE inhibitors. Flavanols stimulate the
body to produce nitrous oxide in the blood,
which helps open up blood vessels.
Researchers found regularly eating cocoa
lowered blood pressure. But 1 per cent of
people had stomach aches from
over-indulging!
2
3
4
PREVENTS LIVER DAMAGE
BOOSTS ?GOOD CHOLESTEROL?
KEEPS YOUR HEART HEALTHY
The beneficial efects of chocolate on blood
pressure come from the high flavanol
content, and the nitrous oxide which
dilates blood vessels. High blood pressure
in the veins of the liver is thought to be
linked with liver damage and chronic
liver disease. Early research has shown
that dark chocolate improves blood
flow in the liver.
Cocoa contains polyphenols. Eating
chocolate with high polyphenol levels
(found in dark chocolate) could improve
?good? cholesterol levels, according to
nutritionist Gaynor Bussell. ?Cocoa consists
mainly of stearic acid and oleic acid. Stearic
acid is a saturated fat, but doesn?t raise
blood cholesterol levels. Oleic acid doesn?t
raise it [either] and may even reduce it.?
All the efects of chocolate on the
circulatory system (lowering blood
pressure, opening up the blood vessels and
reducing inflammation) can help keep our
hearts healthy and ward of heart disease
and strokes. A review of studies of more
than 114,000 people found that those who
ate the most chocolate were 37 per cent
less likely to have coronary heart disease.
28 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
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ILLUSTRATION: MAGIC TORCH
5
6
7
MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
BOOSTS BRAIN POWER
KEEPS YOU SLIM
A study in the Journal Of
Psychopharmacology found people who
had a 42g dark chocolate drink a day felt
more content than people who did not.
Dietitian Junee Sangani explains: ?The
improvement in mood that people can get
from eating chocolate comes from the
release of serotonin and endorphins ? the
feel-good chemicals ? in the brain.?
In a study reported in the Journal of
Nutrition, researchers examined the
relationship between brain performance
and chocolate consumption of 2,031
Norwegian people aged between 70 and
74. They took a batery of brain-power
tests and those who had chocolate had
significantly beter cognitive performance
than those who did not.
People who eat chocolate regularly tend to
be thinner, according to a study of more
than 1,000 people. The researchers, who
published their results in the Archives of
Internal Medicine, found people who ate
chocolate a few times a week were, on
average, slimmer than those who only ate
it occasionally ? even ater the other foods
in their diet were taken into account.
8
9
10
MAKES YOU A GENIUS (maybe)
RENOVATES BLOOD VESSELS
PROTECTS YOUR SKIN
Researchers found a link between the
amount of chocolate eaten per person and
the number of Nobel prize winners in a
country?s population. Switzerland had the
highest levels of chocolate consumption
and the most Nobel laureates. Everyone in
the UK would have to munch through about
2kg of chocolate per year to increase the
number of Nobel laureates.
A study published by the Federation of
American Societies for Experimental
Biology found that men who had eaten 70g
of dark chocolate a day had healthier blood
vessels as a result. The dark chocolate
appeared to help make arteries more
flexible and reduce the stickiness of white
blood cells, two factors that would help
reduce the risk of them geting clogged up.
Researchers have found that some
compounds in cocoa can actually help
protect your skin from the Sun. A study
found that people who ate 20g of dark
chocolate per day over 12 weeks could
spend double the amount of time in front
of a UV lamp before their skin reddened
compared with those who had eaten
normal chocolate.
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Trust Me,
I?m A Doctor
returns to your screens
in January 2018. Check
Radio Times for
more details.
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After an alcohol-infused festive season,
many people are staying off the booze
throughout January. But can you really
UGGCP[JGCNVJDGPG?VUCHVGTLWUVC
month of sobriety?
WORDS: DR MICHAEL MOSLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY: NICK BALLON WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO THE HEREFORD ARMS KENSINGTON LONDON
IS DRY
JANUARY
WORTH
IT?
D
oing a ?Dry January? has become
increasingly popular over the last
few years and I?ve known quite a
few people who have done it. Dry January is an
idea being driven, among others, by a charity
called Alcohol Concern. Alcohol Concern?s
website states that the reasons for doing a Dry
January include: ?enabling you to take control
of your relationship with alcohol? and ?driving
a conversation about alcohol: why do we drink
it, what does it do, and how can we reduce the
harm it can cause??
It says that the potential benefits include
better sleep, improved skin, weight loss,
having ?an amazing sense of achievement at the
end?, and saving money (according to Alcohol
Concern the average person spends �,000 on
booze in their lifetime).
This all sounds ter rific. So when
BBC Focus asked me if I fancied getting ahead
of the game and giving ?Dry November? a go,
I thought, ?why not??. I enjoy a bit of selfexperimenting and one of the advantages of doing
it in November is that there are only 30 days in that
particular month, so it would require one less
day of total abstinence.
I am not and have never been a heavy drinker.
Even at medical school, where there was a
culture of heavy drinking among certain groups,
I hardly ever drank more than two or three
pints in a single session. Once alcohol hits
my brain I have about an hour of uninhibited
fun before I go into a slump. Drinking doesn?t
make me good company. Nonetheless I have
got into the habit of drinking most evenings,
mainly red wine, so I thought it would be an
interesting challenge.
I started by logging everything I drank for a
couple of weeks in the lead up to November,
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and it worked out at around 20 units a
week. While this isn?t a huge amount,
it is well over the current government
guidelines of 14 units a week for men
and women. The guidelines used to
be 21 units a week for men, 14 for
women, but they were changed in
December 2016, when the Department
of Health announced that, ?there is
no justification for drinking for
health reasons?.
I was surprised and somewhat
sceptical about the definitive nature
of this statement for reasons I will
come to in a moment, but it did
give me further reasons to attempt
an alcohol-free November. I went
off and got some bloods taken, to
measure fasting glucose, liver
enzymes a nd my cholesterol
levels, and I also weighed myself and measured
my blood pressure. I put the bottles of wine
out of sight and I was good to go.
Cross-section of
a healthy liver as
viewed under
a microscope
BREAKING THE HABIT
The first couple of weeks were challenging,
because I had got into the habit of having a
drink with my evening meal and I did miss
it. I thought the best way to get through the
month was to tell people what I was doing
so it would be too embarrassing to backtrack.
My friends were understanding, and it also
meant that when we met for a drink I was
no longer tempted to eat crisps at the bar. I
found that I was better company when I went
out in the evening because I was less likely to
have a postprandial slump. I did not, however,
notice much improvement in my sleep or any
impressive changes in my skin.
It seemed that there were good reasons to
?There would be 10 per cent
fewer deaths from breast
cancer worldwide if there
was no drinking?
32 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
stick to Dry November, but I wondered whether
there would really be any lasting benefits if I
kept it up. Is alcohol, at the relatively modest
levels that I?ve been drinking it for the last few
years, really that bad?
According to the Department of Health if you
are drinking 14 units of alcohol a week, let
alone the 20 units that I was averaging, then
you are increasing your chance of dying by
around 1 per cent. That figure sounds quite
scary, but Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton
Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk,
at Cambridge University, has crunched the
numbers and put some context on the 1 per
cent chance of dying claim.
?An hour of TV watching a day, or eating
a bacon sandwich a couple of times a week,
is more dangerous to your long-term health,?
he says. ?It all seems to come down to what
pleasure you get from moderate drinking.?
So not that scary after all. But what about
the claim that moderate drinking is worse for
you than total abstention and that ?there is no
justification for drinking for health reasons?.
This is certainly the view of Prof Tim Stockwell,
director of the Centre for Addiction Research
at the University of Victoria in Canada. He has
advised many governments, including our own,
on alcohol guidelines and thinks there are no
biochemical benefits to drinking. However, he
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does concede that moderate drinking can be
sociable, and may be beneficial for us purely
for those reasons.
?There are 60 different ways at least that
alcohol can make you unwell or kill you,? he
tells me over a glass of water. ?It?s not just
the obvious things like liver disease. A man
drinking three to four units a day increases his
risk of developing prostate cancer. Alcohol, at
whatever level, raises a woman?s risk of breast
cancer. There would be 10 per cent fewer
deaths from breast cancer worldwide if there
was no drinking.?
Stockwell thinks the studies that suggest
moderate drinking is protective are flawed. He
says the problem is that the group of people
who ?don?t drink? often includes
former alcoholics a nd people
who are in poor health, and that
skews t he appa rent benefits of
moderate drinking. He recommends
abstinent days, abstinent months and,
if you actually don?t miss the stuff,
abstinent years.
Dr Alexander Jones, a consultant
cardiologist and clinical scientist at
University College London, agrees
that alcohol raises your risk of a
wide range of cancers. He believes,
however, that there is evidence that
alcohol can be beneficial for the
heart, at least in relatively low doses.
?Heavy drinkers have a much higher
risk of developing heart disease
than non-drinkers,? he says. ?But
there are large prospective studies
which show that if you drink modest amounts
of alcohol, up to say two units a day, then you
are less likely to develop coronary heart disease
or stroke later on in life.?
So, who is right? The best way to assess the
impact of moderate drinking would be to take
a large group of non-drinkers and randomly
allocate them to either drinking alcohol or water,
then follow them for many years. Such a study
would be almost impossible to do. But a study
along more modest lines was published in 2015
in the Annals Of Internal Medicine. For this
study, researchers at Ben-Gurion University
in Israel took 224 type 2 diabetics who rarely
drank and randomly allocated them to either
a 150ml glass of red wine, white wine or
Cross-section of a liver
showing the condition
cirrhosis, where normal
liver tissue is replaced by
scar tissue, oten caused
by excessive alcohol
consumption
HOW MANY UNITS ARE THERE IN MY DRINK ?
9.8
units
13% wine
Recommended weekly
maximum = 14 units
2.3
units
13% wine
2.8
units
5% cider
1
unit
40% whiskey
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2.3
units
4% beer
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DIET
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ARE THERE POTENTIAL
BENEFITS OF ALCOHOL?
The Mayo Clinic in the US cautiously
endorses the claim that there are
potential health benefits to modest
alcohol consumption, including:
O
O
O
Reducing your risk of developing and dying
from heart disease
Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke
? when the arteries to the brain become
narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced
blood flow
Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes
There are many possible reasons for the benefits listed
above, but it turns out that wine ? and red wine in
particular ? has a positive efect on gut bacteria.
Evidence for this comes from a number of sources,
including a small study published in The American Journal
Of Clinical Nutrition in 2012. The researchers recruited 10
middle-aged men and, ater an alcohol-free week,
randomly allocated them to either drinking a large glass
of red wine (270ml), red wine with the alcohol removed,
or gin (100ml) each day with their evening meal. Ater 20
days they switched regimes. By the end, each volunteer
had followed each of the three diferent approaches.
Throughout this experiment blood and poo samples
were taken on a regular basis.
Compared to when they were alcohol-free, when
the volunteers were drinking red wine, and to a lesser
extent de-alcoholised wine, there were significant
drops in blood pressure, in C-reactive protein (CRP
? a measure of inflammation) and in their triglyceride
levels (the amount of fat circulating in the blood).
There was also a marked change in their
gut bacteria, with a
particular increase in
Bacteroidetes, the type
of bacteria associated
with slimness.
They also noticed a
significant increase in
Bifidobacteria, which
are associated with
lowering cholesterol.
Research suggests
red wine can be
beneficial to health ?
but in modest doses
34 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
mineral water with their evening meal, every
evening, for two years. For context, 150ml of
wine a night works out at roughly 14 units
of alcohol a week. The wine and water were
provided free of charge and the empty bottles
collected afterwards to make sure they really
were drinking regularly.
So what happened? Well, as a red wine
drinker who struggles with their blood sugar
levels I was delighted to read that when it
came to measurable health benefits the red
wine drinkers came out on top, with the white
wine drinkers a close second, followed by the
mineral water drinkers.
The researchers concluded that red wine
was found to be superior in improving overall metabolic profiles, mainly by improving
the lipid profile, by increasing good (HDL)
cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 (one of the
major constituents of HDL cholesterol), while
decreasing the ratio between total cholesterol
and HDL cholesterol.
Prof Iris Shai, principal investigator of the
trial, said that while the two types of wine
contained roughly the same amount of alcohol,
?the red wine had sevenfold higher levels of
total phenols and 4- to 13-fold higher levels
of specific resveratrol group compounds than
the white wine?.
The study found that drinking 14 units
of alcohol per week did not have a ny
negative effects on blood pressure, liver
function tests or lead to increased fat gain ? or
at least effects that were measurable. In fact,
surprisingly enough, sleep quality significantly
improved in both of the wine-drinking groups,
compared with the water-drinking group.
Interestingly, the people who got the biggest
benefit (and the only ones who saw improved
blood sugar control) were those whose livers
broke down alcohol particularly slowly, meaning
the alcohol hung around in their systems for
longer. This suggests that although red wine
contains beneficial compounds, alcohol also
plays a role.
This was a smallish study done for a relatively
short period of time and with a particular
group of people ? type two diabetics. For these
reasons, the researchers were rightly keen to
point out that it should be treated with caution.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: NICK BALLON, ALAMY WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO THE HEREFORD ARMS KENSINGTON LONDON
I N S TA N T D I G E S T
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?Eating a bacon sandwich a
couple of times a week is
more dangerous to your
long-term health?
It adds, however, to what I think is compelling
evidence that the occasional glass of wine is
unlikely to do harm and may well do good.
SLIMLINE MOSLEY
So what effects did an alcohol-free month
have on me? By the end of November I had lost
just over two kilograms, which was a pleasant
surprise. A bottle of red wine contains about
630 calories, so I calculated that a month of
not drinking had saved me consuming around
5,000 calories, which adds up to around 0.7kg
of fat. I suspect eating fewer crisps also helped.
It is hard to estimate how much money I
saved, because when I went out for a drink or
a meal I still paid for my share of the alcohol.
At home I may have saved around � on the
bottles of wine I didn?t buy.
As for my biochemistry, well along with the
weight loss there was a slight fall in my blood
pressure and a modest improvement in my
fasting glucose and cholesterol levels. My liver
enzymes were unchanged. All in all, it was
an interesting experiment. As a result of my
findings, I will attempt to reduce my drinking to
14 units a week, as that
is where the sweet spot
Dr Michael Mosley
seems to lie. So good
is a presenter on Trust
luck to anyone who is
Me, I?m A Doctor, and
thinking of giving Dry
is the author of The
January a go.
Clever Guts Diet
If you are concerned that you or a loved one has a
problem with alcohol, please contact your GP or ring
Drinkline (0300 123 1110) for confidential, free advice.
>
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 35
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DQWPV[VJG[TCKUG[QWTEJQNGUVGTQN5QOCP[ENCKOUUQNKVVNG
CITGGOGPV;GVFGURKVGVJGJGCFNKPGUVJGTGKUCHCKTN[EQPUKUVGPVDQF[
QHTGUGCTEJVJCVRQKPVUCVVJGJGCNVJDGPG?VUQTQVJGTYKUGQHOQUV
RQRWNCTHQQFU9GoTGJGTGVQUQTVVJGHCEVUHTQOVJGHCFU
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ILLUSTRATION: MAGIC TORCH
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Trust Me,
I?m A Doctor
returns to your screens
in January 2018. Check
Radio Times for
more details.
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COFFEE
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There have been numerous claims over the years that
drinking cofee will increase your risk of succumbing to a
whole range of terrible things. Yet when scientists
followed over 120,000 men and women for more than 20
years they found something altogether more surprising.
The study, The Relationship Of Coffee Consumption With
Mortality, concluded that ?regular cofee consumption
was not associated with an increased mortality rate in
either men or women?. In fact, they found moderate
cofee consumption appears to be mildly protective.
Based on this and other studies, the most efective ?dose?
seems to be two to five cups a day. More than that and any
benefits drop of. But we simply don?t know what it is in
cofee that helps.
The amount of cofee you can safely drink without side
efects, such as a temporary rise in blood pressure or
insomnia, may be down to your genes, and in particular
how much of the liver enzyme CYP1A2 you have. CYP1A2
helps determine the speed at which cafeine is cleared
from your body. This could explain why you can drink
cofee in the evening with no problems, while one cup in
the aternoon has your mate twitching.
VERDICT: Two to five cups of cofee a day are fine, but side
efects may be dictated by your genes.
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DIET
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EGGS
There?s
litle evidence
that diet sot
drinks actually help
people lose
weight
DIET DRINKS
Even if the label on the botle says sugar-free, research suggests
you shouldn?t be fooled into thinking it?s any beter for your
waistline than a standard version. Health commentators argue
there is litle evidence that ?diet drinks? containing artificial
sweeteners actually help people lose weight and therefore should
not be recommended as part of a healthy diet. In fact, many
existing systematic reviews promoting the health benefits of diet
drinks are sponsored by the sot drinks industry itself, and are
hence unreliable.
According to a review by Imperial College London, these diet
drinks stimulate sweet taste receptors, potentially encouraging us
to eat food as compensation. Psychologically, we might be more
inclined to treat ourselves to something unhealthy, as we?ve had a
?good? low-calorie drink.
VERDICT: As long as you?re not
frying them or smothering them
in fat, eggs are an excellent
breakfast choice.
GETTY X2, ALAMY
VERDICT: Stick to water rather than sot drinks and
your body (and wallet!) will thank you.
A few years ago we were being
told by nutritionists not to eat
more than a few eggs a week on
the grounds that eggs contain
cholesterol and cholesterol is
bad for you. At the time, it was
widely believed that elevated
cholesterol in our blood is
caused by cholesterol in our
food. In fact, most of the excess
cholesterol in our blood is
produced by the liver and is a
response to eating too much
saturated fat. A meta-analysis
of 17 studies published in the BMJ
in 2013 concluded that ?higher
consumption of eggs is not
associated with increased risk
of coronary heart disease or
stroke?. Whether scrambled,
boiled or poached, eggs are a
superb source of protein, are
rich in vitamins and minerals
and make a great start to
the day.
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 39
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DIET
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RED MEAT
If you believe the headlines, then eating red meat
will stop your heart, give you cancer, shorten
your life and destroy the planet. Red meat looks
darker thanks to higher levels of haemoglobin
and myoglobin, which are the iron- and oxygenbinding proteins you find in blood and muscle.
On the upside, red meat is an excellent source
of micronutrients. But on the downside, it?s
richer in saturated fat than, say, tofu. It has also
been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer.
But overall just how bad for you is red meat?
One recent paper, Meat Consumption And
Mortality tried to answer that question. It came
to the ? perhaps surprising ? conclusion that
eating moderate amounts of red meat had no
efect on mortality, in fact it seemed to be
protective. The lowest overall mortality rates in
this study were among those people eating up to
80g a day, not those who shunned it. This
particular paper was based on findings from the
European Prospective Investigation into Cancer
and Nutrition (EPIC). In this study, European
researchers followed more half a million people
in 10 countries for more than 12 years.
The researchers found that although there was
a small increase in overall risk for those who ate
over 160g day, there was also a higher death rate
among people who ate no meat at all. They
concluded that ?a low ? but not a zero ?
consumption of meat might be beneficial for
health. This is understandable as meat is an
important source of nutrients, such as protein,
iron, zinc, several B-vitamins, as well as vitamin
A and essential faty acids?. In other words,
vegans and vegetarians may not have been
geting suficient essential micronutrients.
Now before meat eaters go of rejoicing,
there?s a significant sting in the tail. The EPIC
study found that eating processed meat, like
sausages, bacon and ham, did have a negative
efect on health. Over 40g a day (fewer than two
slices of bacon) and deaths from heart disease
and cancer began to climb. The report concluded:
?In this population, reduction of processed meat
consumption to less than 20g/day would prevent
more than 3 per cent of all deaths.?
VERDICT: Small amounts of red meat are fine, but
keep the processed stuf as an occasional treat.
40 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
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DIET
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BUTTER
In recent years there has been an
ongoing debate about buter,
which has led to consumer
confusion in the supermarket
chilled section. Let?s set the
record straight.
Buter is a saturated fat.
For decades, we have been
advised to reduce
saturated fat in our diets,
centring on the argument
that it increases bad
cholesterol in the blood,
which can clog arteries,
causing heart atacks or strokes.
Public Health England advises
people to cut down on saturated fat,
based on a review of 15 clinical trials.
On the other hand, researchers at the
University of Cambridge presented a study in
2014, published in Annals Of Internal Medicine,
reviewing existing published data. The team
stated that there was no significant evidence
regarding a correlation between saturated
SHUTTERSTOCK, GETTY X2
PASTEURISED MILK
There are recognised health benefits of
the white stuf ? it?s full of nutrients and
helps build strong bones. But, recently,
proponents have been claiming that
drinking raw milk, rather than pasteurised,
ofers even more health benefits. But
what?s the diference? Raw milk comes
from grass-fed cows and is full of
nutrients, including beneficial bacteria like
Lactobacillus acidophilus. This ?good?
bacteria produces vitamin K2, improves
absorption of nutrients and normalises
gut function. Raw milk contains high levels
of vitamins, enzymes and calcium. But it
can also contain bacteria that cause food
poisoning and can be particularly harmful
to children, people who are unwell and
pregnant women.
Pasteurisation is a process where heat
is applied to milk to destroy harmful
fats and a higher risk for heart disease. Hence the ?buter is
back? headlines that were splashed all over the internet. But
those behind the study warned against over-simplification.
They had found that there are diferent types of saturated fats
with varying compositions that all do diferent things ? some
good, some bad. While some dairy products might turn out to
cut disease risk, that thought wasn?t extended to buter. The
team agreed with buter being linked to bad cholesterol. This is
backed up by a recent study by researchers from Harvard, who
found that a 5 per cent higher intake of saturated fats, like
buter, was associated with a 25 per cent increased risk of heart
disease. This supports current guidelines focusing on reducing
saturated fat intake and replacing buter with oils high in
unsaturated fat. Nevertheless, according to the study you won?t
see any benefits of cuting out saturated fat if you continue
filling up on refined carbs like white bread. It?s only by eating
complex carbs like vegetables and wholegrains that
you can slash your risk.
Some
dairy goods
might cut disease
risk, but that
thought does
not include
buter
VERDICT: Stick to olive and sunlower oil for
cooking, and use butter sparingly.
bacteria. Unfortunately, it kills the
beneficial ones too. Still, according to a
2015 analysis by Johns Hopkins University,
consumers are 100 times more likely to get
food-borne illnesses from raw milk than
pasteurised. For consumer safety,
European and North American legislation
mandates the pasteurisation of milk, and
that is what we buy from shops.
If you want to give raw milk a try, you?ll
have to go to specialist outlets, like farm
shops and markets. Unpasteurised
cheeses, like parmesan, are more widely
available because harmful bacteria occur
in such low numbers.
VERDICT: Milk is great for calcium and other
nutrients, but pasteurised is safer.
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FRUIT
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An apple a day keeps the
doctor away. Along with the
rest of the inhabitants of the
fruit bowl, apples have a
reputation of being able to
lower the risk of mortality.
But how true is this? Plenty of
studies out there show that people
who eat fruit tend to be healthier than
fruit-shunners, and have reduced risks
of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
This could be because fruit contains
vitamins and fibre, which are good for
health, as well as antioxidants that
repair cells.
Yet the debate around the daily
amount of fruit to consume continues.
A BMJ study suggests if you can stretch
to seven portions of fruit and
vegetables you?re doing yourself some
real favours. Risk of disease
development over the course of the
study reduced by 42 per cent for seven
or more portions of fruit and veg. The
government?s current advice sticks at
five daily portions. We still have
problems reaching that target, let
alone increasing it.
But don?t get your fruit fix by
swigging back juices or smoothies.
Many fruit juices contain large
amounts of sugar. And juices that are
100 per cent fruit still contain almost as
much sugar as a sweetened drink.
You?re beter of eating the actual
orange than drinking it.
And here?s another excuse to slip
that apple into your teenager?s school
bag. Recent studies reveal that a high
intake of carotene-rich fruit ? such as
apples, oranges, bananas and grapes ?
during adolescence is associated with a
lower risk of breast cancer. Just three
portions of fruit a day could reduce the
risk of breast cancer by an impressive
25 per cent.
VERDICT: Start the fruit habit
early, but eat it in its natural form
rather than squished into juices
and smoothies.
42 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
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DIET
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D I D YO U K N OW?
Facts that will change
your eating habits
OConsuming two
portions of
SUGARSWEETENED
DRINKS a week
increases the risk
of developing
diabetes.
OSPICY FOOD may
curb salt cravings, as
spice increases activity in brain
regions activated by salt,
probably making people more
sensitive to salt.
OEating FRIED POTATOES twice a
week increases the risk of death.
OAlways eating food in an
8-to-11-hour window in the
day prevents so-called
?METABOLIC JET LAG? caused
by eating late at night.
OAVOCADOS contain carbs,
vitamins, minerals, fats and the
key 22 amino acids needed to
build proteins.
GETTY X2, ALAMY
SALT
Most of us know too much salt is bad for
us. What?s less well-known is that too
litle is also harmful. We need salt for
muscle and nerve activity. If we eat too
litle, we develop cramps and
neurological symptoms, and can
even die.
But hold on, that doesn?t
mean you can start
munching bumper
packs of crisps. Most
of us consume too
much salt. Excess
salt intake is linked
to high blood
pressure, increasing
the risk of heart disease or stroke. The NHS
recommends that adults should consume 6g
of salt a day, but our intake is nearer 8g. Yet
working out how much we eat can be tricky
because salt is hidden in many foods. A
whopping 75 per cent of salt we eat
comes from foods like bread,
baked beans and biscuits,
while salt added during
cooking and at the table
makes up a small
amount of our intake.
A
whopping
75 per cent of salt
we eat comes from
foods like bread,
baked beans and
biscuits
VERDICT: Cutting salt
intake can help blood
pressure stay healthy.
WorldMags.net
Dr Michael Mosley is a presenter on
Trust Me, I?m A Doctor, and is the author
of The Clever Guts Diet
Dr Saleyha Ahsan works as an A&E doctor
in Bangor Hospital and as a humanitarian
doctor in conflict zones. She also presents
on Trust Me, I?m A Doctor
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 43
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Are
cookies
as addictive
as cocaine?
IT?S COMMON TO HEAR PEOPLE DESCRIBE THEMSELVES
AS ?CHOCOHOLICS?, OR SAY THEY?RE ?HOOKED?
ON A PARTICULAR FIZZY DRINK. BUT IS IT REALLY
POSSIBLE TO BE ADDICTED TO FOOD?
SHUTTERSTOCK
WORDS: LILIAN ANEKWE
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 45
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DIET
W
e?re becoming more
obese, as a society.
Is this because
some of us are
becoming addicted
to certain foods?
One study, at Connecticut College in 2013,
suggested that Oreos were ?as addictive as
cocaine?. Certainly, some people who are
overweight exhibit behaviours associated
with addiction, such as an inability to avoid
particular foods and a tendency to over-eat
at times of stress. But this is not true of all
overweight individuals. So does ?food addiction?
actually exist?
To answer that, we f irst need to understand what addiction
is. The Diagnostic And
Statistical Manual
Of Mental Disorders
cites developing a
tolerance, becoming
dependent and having
withdrawal symptoms.
The latest version, DSM5, added: ?craving or a
strong desire or urge to
use a substance?.
Addiction af fects
areas of the brain that
are linked to pleasure,
reward and decision-making. It also affects
neurotransmitters, the chemical signals used
for communication between brain cells and
brain regions. Over time, memory of previous
exposures to rewards (such as food, sex, alcohol
or drugs) leads to a biological response, such
as cravings.
The best tool that researchers have for
applying all this to food is the Yale Food Addiction
Scale (YFAS). This 25-point questionnaire was
developed in 2009 by Ashley Gearhardt, an
assistant professor of clinical psychology
at the University of Michigan. She believes
addictive processes do play a role in eatingrelated problems. ?My research asks, how can we
identify that group of people who are most
likely to be showing an addictive response to
food? The Yale Food Addiction Scale does not
use body weight to identify people who could
be addictive eaters; instead, it uses the same
criteria used for any addiction. This gives us
a starting point, so we can look at whether
there are behavioural, cognitive or biological
markers in this group.?
In one experiment, Gearhardt showed people
pictures of ?treats? such as chocolate milkshakes,
then gave them the real thing. She found that
people who have more ?addictive-like? eating
behaviour have more activity in brain regions
linked to reward and desire when exposed to
?addictive cues? ? the pictures of treats ? than
when they saw other images. They also have
less of an inhibitory response in the brain
once they have drunk the milkshake than
after consuming other non-addictive foods.
?This indicates that
this group of people is
very reactive to cues in
the environment that
suggest these foods are
available,? explains
Gearhardt. ?When they
start consuming, the
circuitry in the brain
that usually allows us
to apply the brakes and
stop eating may not be
working as well.?
This same pattern
is also seen in people
with ?conventional? addictions. According to
Gearhardt, this further strengthens the case for
food addiction. In another study, Gearhardt?s
VGCOTGETWKVGF|RGQRNGCPFCUMGFVJGOVQ
complete the YFAS and to indicate which foods
they were thinking of while reading particular
statements. The usual suspects were at the top
of the list: ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, sweets.
According to Gearhardt, these are foods our
brains have not really evolved to handle yet.
?The circuitry in the
brain that usually
allows us to apply
the brakes and stop
eating may not be
working as well?
46 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
SUGAR HIT
Our modern diets contain far more processed,
sugar-heavy food than in previous generations,
and it?s showing on our waistlines. NHS stats
show the proportion of obese adults rose
between 1993 and 2013, from 58 to 67 per cent
in men and from 49 to 57 per cent in women.
This is set to rise even further, predicts the
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ISTOCK X2, SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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RIGHT: People who completed
the Yale Food Addiction Scale
identified pizza as the
most ?addictive? food of all
BELOW RIGHT: Sugar boosts
dopamine production and
triggers the brain?s reward
pathways
BELOW: Modern diets contain
more sugar than those
enjoyed by previous
generations
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ARE COOKIES AS ADDICTIVE AS COCAINE
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World Health Organization, to a whopping
74 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women
in the UK by 2030.
However, food addiction studies have
generally been conducted on animals, or
snapshot studies in humans. And despite one
support group for overeaters having 6,000
members in six countries, including the UK,
there still haven?t been any comprehensive
scientific reviews to study the issue. This is a
problem that Dr Hisham Ziauddeen, a senior
researcher in food reward processing at the
University of Cambridge, feels undermines the
idea of food addiction as a medical condition.
?The evidence for thinking food might be
addictive, or that food addiction exists, is
actually fairly weak,? he says. ?I wouldn?t
say it definitely does not exist ? it?s quite
possible, given the breadth of symptoms that
people with eating disorders describe, that
a small group of people have problems with
disordered eating that look very much like an
addiction, and share the kinds of things that
people with alcohol and drug addictions feel
and experience.?
But he remains unconvinced that the Yale
Food Addiction Scale could identify these
people, or convince ?doubters? like him. ?People
who score very highly on the scale also score
very highly for some of the more conventional
eating disorders. So the scale is measuring
certain behaviours that we see with other
eating disorders ? but it?s not actually capturing
something distinct,? he argues.
Some researchers go further, and say food
addiction is a potentially dangerous public
health message. Ian Macdonald, a professor
of metabolic physiology at the University of
Nottingham, feels this could be because it
is difficult to reconcile an addiction with
something that is essential to human life.
Things like alcohol and drugs are, essentially,
choices ? eating is not.
?I don?t think the term ?food addiction? is
helpful, and I certainly don?t think using the
word ?addiction? in combination with specific
nutrients like fat and sugars, or foods like
chocolate, should be encouraged,? Macdonald
says. ?Everyone must eat to survive, so an
addiction has to be something much more
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48 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
His research, published in the journal
Appetite, looked at how giving information
about food addiction affects people?s behaviour
CPFRTGHGTGPEGU+PVJGUVWF[|XQNWPVGGTU
read different ?news stories? claiming scientists
had either proven or disproven the existence
of food addiction, before taking a taste test of
healthy and unhealthy foods.
?Among people who had just read that food
addiction was real there was an interesting
split,? Rogers explains. ?Some people ate a
lot, some people very little indeed. Which
?Everyone must eat to survive,
so an addiction has to be
something much more
extreme than normal eating?
Ashley Gearhardt?s Fast
Lab explores eating
behaviour in study
participants
fits the theory that some people, having read
the passage, thought ?I can?t help myself? and
succumbed, while others thought ?these foods
are addictive? and refrained. So it seems that
the more people read about food addiction,
the more they have a particular mindset when
they are confronted with certain kinds of
foods ? and that can be helpful or unhelpful.?
This may hint towards possible treatments
for problem overeating. Having a concept of
certain ?problem foods? that cause people to
overeat and that should be avoided, could be
used in a similar way to the complete abstinence
model used to manage conventional addictions.
Before deciding on possible treatments,
though, there needs to be a consensus as to
whether food addiction actually exists and,
if so, how it functions. As yet, the experts
are far from agreed on these points. Clearly,
certain people do crave certain foods, but
we don?t fully understand what drives these
cravings, or what
reward people get from
Lilian Anekwe is a
eating the foods they
freelance science
crave. So, it seems that
journalist, with a
there?s still plenty to
particular interest in
chew over.
health and medicine
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ASHLEY GEARHARDT/UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ISTOCK X2
extreme than normal eating. It is not helpful
to encourage the public to use these terms,
because they will understandably expect it
is similar to addictions to heroin, nicotine or
alcohol, which is not true.?
Even as a clinician, Macdonald says he
is reluctant to use the term ?food addiction?.
?I don?t think health professionals should
use the term unless they make it very clear
exactly what they are talking about. The term
?eating addiction? is now being recognised in
psychological circles as being helpf ul in
describing altered behaviour and cravings
for specific types of food, or food in general.
However, even this can be used inappropriately
and over-interpreted.?
It?s possible to see how the concept of
addiction might be counterproductive. Labelling
?food addiction? as a disease may create or
reinforce a perception that excessive eating
is something we are powerless to resist. If
someone told you chocolate was addictive, or
you were hard-wired to get hooked on junk
food, would this strengthen or weaken your
New Year?s resolutions to eat healthily?
Prof Peter Rogers, who studies nutrition,
behaviour and the brain?s control of appetite
at the University of Bristol, says labelling
food addiction as a condition could have
unpredictable ef fects. ?A label like ?food
addiction? is not trivial; it can have an effect
that directly inf luences our experience of
eating, of feeling hungry and wanting to eat.?
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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Discover more about
addiction in The
Chemistry of Addiction
bbc.co.uk/programmes/
b009wdhd
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Some people report
a relationship with
sugary drinks (top)
similar to that which
alcoholics have with
alcohol (botom)
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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EXERCISE
A cure for all ills
Our ability to run, ride, swim and play sports offers us
CYGCNVJQHJGCNVJDGPG?VUCPFECPEQODCVPWOGTQWU
RJ[UKECNCPFRU[EJQNQIKECNCKNOGPVU
WORDS: ROB KEMP
GETTY IMAGES
P
erhaps the best advertisement for the natural
?cures? exercise can provide comes in the
shape of the warnings we get if we abstain
from regularly breaking into a fitnessfocused sweat.
Depression, obesity, lethargy, heart disease,
insomnia, dangerously high levels of fat around
the internal organs, impotence, breathing
difficulties, poor concentration, low self-esteem,
and a weakened immunity to illness are just some
of the conditions from which science says a regular
workout can save us.
As an increasingly convenience-focused, sedentary
lifestyle becomes the norm for too many, the need
to get active has never been greater.
But Professor John Brewer, head of the School
of Sport, Health and Applied Science at St Mary?s
University in London, warns: ?Listen to your body.
Exercise is about adaptation, you put your body
through stresses that it has to adjust to. As a result,
rest and recovery are as vital to ensuring exercise is
effective in the long term. Always seek out expert
advice, or talk with your doctor.?
The key is to get the right balance ? push
your body to achieve the best results from the
natural benefits of exercise, but also give it time
to recover. So what does science say are the exact
health benefits of exercise? Read on to find out...
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????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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Rob Kemp is a freelance
journalist, focusing on health
& fitness, men?s lifestyle,
fatherhood, travel and sports
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Hit the highs
Running has been shown to release endorphins and aid with sleep
Beyond the positive influence exercise
has upon the body?s strength, fat
reduction, and overall function, exercise
can trigger a series of chemical reactions
that influence the body?s hormonal
response and boost the brain.
?One of the most widely acknowledged
benefits is the ?runner?s high?,? explains
Dr Peter Herbert, a physiologist at the
University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
Back in the 1990s, researchers began to
identify links between exercise and
feelings of euphoria that stem from the
release of natural opiates. ?The ?runner?s
high? as we now know it stems from the
creation in the body of endorphins,
designed to ease pain in the body.?
Although the ?sweet spot? for endorphin
release is commonly said to be a
comfortable-to-hard efort run, Herbert
points out that many forms of exercise
can trigger the high. Research from
Oxford University even found that simply
exercising in groups raised the release of
endorphins quicker for some than
exercising alone.
?These endorphins are opoid
neuropeptides ? chemicals which numb
pain, like opoids such as morphine or
codeine,? adds Herbert. As a result,
exercise and the release of endorphin
substances may contribute to pain relief
and relaxation.
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EXERCISE
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Keep your heart healthy
Walk a minimum of 150 minutes a week to lower your risk of heart disease
As the body adapts to the demands
exercise puts upon it, other health
remedies become apparent.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure
issues, can be combated through exercise.
?Aerobic activity, even at moderate
levels through regular walking, has been
shown to trigger vascular adaptations,
developing the capillaries, easing
constrictions in peripheral circulation,
and reducing the pressure,? says Brewer.
It?s just one example of how exercise
can be a significant contributor to cuting
cardiovascular disease, which is one of
Defend against depression
the leading causes of death in the US and
the UK.
Geting at least 150 minutes a week of
moderate-intensity aerobic activity can
lower your risk of heart disease, reports
the American Heart Association ? while
also improving your cholesterol levels.
A polarised light
micrograph (PLM) of the
neurotransmiter serotonin
GETTY X2, SCIENCE PICTURE LIBRARY
Exercise stimulates the production of
mood-liting serotonin
Studies reveal that exercise
can reduce stress and have
longer-term efects on one?s
mood. Over time, the
hormonal response that
exercise triggers is an efective
treatment for depression.
Research published in the
Journal of Psychiatry and
Neuroscience shows raised
levels of tryptophan in
athletes, especially in
endurance runners ? that is
an indicator of raised levels
of a mood-elevating
neurotransmiter known
as serotonin.
Psychology specialists at
the University of Essex have
also recorded significant
improvements in mood and
self-esteem, along with fewer
incidents of depression among
those who exercise outdoors.
?For many people exercise
and the positive impact it has
upon the way you look can
also be a remedy for
melancholy,? says Brewer.
?Studies confirm it can
contribute to curing low
self-esteem, especially
among those who work out
with a team.?
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EXERCISE
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Beat britle bones
Regular bone and muscle strengthening
exercise slows bone density loss
?The ageing process can
take its toll on your bones,
joints and muscles,?
explains Herbert. Medical
conditions such as arthritis
of the joints and a natural
depletion of bone density
put us at greater risk of
serious injury if we have
accidents such as falls.
But simply taking part in
routine bone and musclestrengthening aerobic
exercise can slow the loss of
bone density as we age. For
age-related health issues,
such as a hip fracture,
making sure you?re doing
moderately intense walking
for 120 to 300 minutes a
week will cut your risk.
Exercise has been shown
to help in the prevention
of arthritis and other
conditions afecting the
joints, such as gout and
osteoarthritis. Research
also shows low-impact
aerobic activity can help
those sufering with joint
conditions to beter manage
their pain.
Keep it up
Sexual function, and problems such
as impotence, may be given a
helping hand by regular workouts
ALAMY, GETTY X2
Research from the US and Nigeria shows
that for men with erectile dysfunction,
aerobic exercise can provide a natural
alternative to the litle blue pills.
?Certainly major components in the
causes of impotence can be physical
? with a sedentary lifestyle oten cited as a
risk factor in it occurring,? explains Brewer.
Psychological issues, such as low
self-esteem and high levels of stress, are
also given as reasons for impotence ?
something exercise can also help.
54 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
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Exercise may
reduce the risk
of colon cancer
by as much as
25 per cent
Combat disease
Exercise can help in the fight against cancer and diabetes
Running, walking, cycling or playing an
active role in team sports can provide a
natural medicine to ward of type 2
diabetes and metabolic syndrome ? a
condition with symptoms that may
include too much fat around the waist,
high blood pressure, low HDL (good)
cholesterol, high triglycerides or high
blood sugar.
A series of studies has shown that
exercising at a moderate intensity for
120 to 150 minutes a week reduces
these risk factors.
Research also reveals how exercise is
becoming key to reducing the risk of
some cancers. Regular physical activity
was found to reduce the risk of breast
cancer in women by 12 per cent, while
the impact it can have on reducing
colon cancer in men and women may
be as high as 25 per cent.
Although studies continue, there is
some suggestion that a person?s risk of
endometrial cancer and lung cancer
may be lower if they get regular
physical activity when compared to
people who are not active.
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Fend off fat
Exercise burns calories, which inevitably aids in weight loss,
but running also stems the production of the ?hunger hormone?
One of the most apparent remedies
exercise can bring is around weight loss
and weight management. A whole host
of research, including studies from the
Journal of Applied Physiology, highlight
how a combination of aerobic exercise
and resistance training (using weights,
machines or bodyweight to train
muscles) can have a positive impact
on fat levels and waist circumference
among overweight subjects. Resistance
training has been shown to contribute
to the development of muscle mass,
changes in body composition and
fat reduction.
Just moderate intensity aerobic
activity, such as walking, can make
serious in-roads into weight loss, too.
In one of the most recently published
studies, from the London School of
Economics, researchers found that
brisk walking ? when done regularly
enough ? was as good as gym training
for those looking to lose or maintain
their weight. Interestingly, a study of
50,000 patients between 1999 and
2012 found that those who walked
regularly had lower body mass indexes
(BMIs) than patients who took part in
high-intensity exercise.
Although the results aren?t and
shouldn?t be immediate, regular
exercise in conjunction with a balanced
diet has been shown to be the safest,
more efective means of shedding fat
and keeping it of.
?The body fuels exercise with energy
drawn from within ? from blood sugars
and body fat,? explains Brewer. ?In
order to lose weight and reduce body
fat levels you need to create a calorie
deficit ? burning more calories than
you consume. To burn of 2lbs of fat
costs around 8,000-9,000 calories.?
Running a marathon will only hit
around a third of that figure. By
creating a daily deficit of 500 calories,
through heart-rate raising exercise and
controlling your calorie intake, you can
make serious in-roads into your body
fat percentages.
Researchers from the University of
Western Australia have also found that
running contributed to weight control
by regulating appetite. Runners
performing interval sessions in a trial
reported fewer cravings for snacks as a
result of the exercise regime curtailing
the production of ghrelin, nicknamed
the ?hunger hormone?.
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EXERCISE
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Stay sharp
Exercise keeps us mentally fit too
Aerobic exercise, or a
combination of aerobic and
muscle-strengthening activities,
three to five times a week for 30
to 60 minutes can help maintain
learning and keep judgement
skills sharp.
Meanwhile, natural brain
reactions to exercise have been
shown to protect us from
forgetfulness, and improve
problem solving.
Recent research even suggests
that exercise throughout one?s
lifetime can play a major role in
batling the onset of age-related
ailments, such as dementia.
Several studies, including one
from Japan published in the
International Journal of Sports
Medicine, and another presented
at the 2015 Alzheimer?s
Association International
Conference, found that both
regular aerobic exercise and
some forms of resistance
training improved
hippocampus-related
memory, and slowed down
cognitive decline.
A study from the University of
Montreal noted that those of us
who use the weight room to
build muscle may be giving the
brain a lit, too. The study
suggests that the raised levels
of growth factor 1 (IGF-1)
caused by resistance training
helps in neurone (brain cell)
growth and longevity.
Natural exercise supplements
GETTY X4, ISTOCKPHOTO
Dr Emma Derbyshire, an expert in nutritional physiology at Manchester Metropolitan
University, reveals natural exercise supplements to make your workout more efective
CAFFEINE
CHERRY JUICE
RED MEAT
PROTEIN
A natural stimulant found in
tea, cofee, cocoa and colas,
cafeine has long been known
to enhance performance.
Lower doses of cafeine (about
200mg or <3mg per kg body
mass) are thought to help
improve alertness, mood and
concentration during and ater
exercise, with few if any
adverse side efects.
Cherries are a great source of
antioxidants, including
vitamins A and C, as well as
anthocyanins ? red, blue, and
purple pigments which have
potent antioxidant properties.
Drinking cherry juice, which
contains these components,
may help to reduce
inflammation and ease muscle
soreness ater exercise.
(Iron)
(Essential amino acids)
Lean red meat is an important
source of essential nutrients,
including iron, zinc and
energy-yielding B-vitamins.
Female endurance runners
in particular are vulnerable
to iron deficiencies, and so
should try to include lean
red meat regularly within
their diets.
Protein is needed during
exercise to ofset muscle
wasting, which can occur when
protein intakes are inadequate.
High-quality protein, such as
that found in fish or red meat,
can help to maintain muscle
size and strength, particularly
when combined with
resistance training.
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14 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR
MICROBIOME
The microbes in your gut can help you to get thinner, be happier
and live longer. Here?s how you can give them a helping hand?
WORDS: TIM SPECTOR
Increase your fibre intake Aim for
more than 40g per day, which is
about double the current averages. Fibre
intake has been shown to reduce heart
disease and some cancers, as well as
reduce weight gain.
1
Eat many types of fruit and veg Eat
2
seasonal veg and as diverse a range
as possible. The variety may be as key
as the quantities, as the chemicals and
types of fibre will vary, and each support
different microbial species.
Pick high-fibre vegetables Good
3
examples are artichokes, leeks,
onions and garlic, which all contain
high levels of inulin (a prebiotic fibre).
Some vegetables like lettuce have little
fibre or nutrient value.
Steer clear of sweeteners Aspartame,
4
sucralose and saccharine disrupt
the metabolism of microbes and reduce
gut diversity ? in animal studies this
has led to obesity and diabetes. Ditch
the processed foods too, as these also
upset microbes? metabolism.
Avoid antibiotics Antibiotics destroy
good and bad microbes, and it can
take weeks to recover, so don?t take them
unless you need them. Early research
suggests their use may be associated with
obesity. Even common medications like
paracetamol and antacids can interfere
with microbes.
ISTOCK
5
58 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
Avoid food and vitamin supplements
Only a very small proportion of
supplements are beneficial. Instead,
focus on eating a diverse range of real
food to get all your nutrients.
6
Spend time close to a lean person
Studies in mice have shown that
leanness may be contagious. Microbes
from a lean animal can reverse obesity in
a fat one, but strangely, obesity microbes
are harder to transmit than lean ones.
7
Spend more time in the countryside
People living in rural areas have
better microbes than city-dwellers.
While you?re at it, dust off your trowel
? gardening and other outdoor activities
are good for your microbiome.
8
Stroke animals Studies have shown
that people living with dogs have
more microbial diversity.
9
Eat fermented foods with live microbes
Good choices are unsweetened
yoghurt; kefir, which is a sour milk drink
with five times as many microbes as
yoghurt; raw milk cheeses; sauerkraut;
kimchi, a Korean dish made from garlic,
cabbage and chilli; and soybean-based
products such as soy sauce and natto.
12
Consume high levels of polyphenols
Polyphenols are antioxidants that
act as fuel for microbes. Examples are
nuts, seeds, berries, olive oil, brassicas,
coffee and tea ? especially green tea.
13
Avoid snacking Cut out the snacks and
increase intervals between meals to
give your microbes a rest. Occasionally
skip meals or have an extended fast ?
this seems to reduce weight gain.
14
Tim Spector is professor of genetic
epidemiology at King?s College London
and author of The Diet Myth
Drink a bit of alcohol Small amounts
of alcohol have been shown to
increase your gut diversity, but large
amounts are harmful to your microbes
and your health.
10
Don?t be hygiene obsessed Overuse
of antibacterial sprays and
fastidious washing may not
be good for your gut.
11
10
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6
2
3
1
4
7
8
13
5
12
11
14
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Discover how one tribe
boost their microbiome in
Hunting with the Hadza
bbc.co.uk/programmes/
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THE
ALLERGY
FALLACY
(QTUQOGFKXKPIKPVQCDQYNQHEGTGCNGCEJOQTPKPIECPNGCFVQ?CVWNGPEG
XQOKVKPICPFGXGPCPGCTN[FGCVJ$WVKUVJGTGCP[VJKPIHQTVJGTGUVQHWU
VQICKPHTQOUJWPPKPIINWVGPCPFNCEVQUGKPVJGPCOGQHJGCNVJ!
WORDS: DR MICHAEL MOSLEY
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DIET
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U
nless you have been
living in a cave, existing on
a paleo diet, you must surely
have heard or read about
the alleged twin dangers of
gluten and lactose. Thanks to celebrities such
as Gwyneth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus, who
have been pushing the miraculous benefits of
gluten-free, dairy-free diets, supermarket shelves
are now heaving with ?free-from? products. But
is the free-from movement also free from facts?
Time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Let?s start with gluten, as the gluten-free
ba ndwagon in t he US is now wor t h a n
estimated $4.2bn (�n) a year.
Gluten is found in
grains, such as wheat,
barley and rye. If you?ve
ever made bread then
you k now t hat when
you mix wheat f lour
with water it produces
a sticky mess. It?s the
gluten in t he wheat
f lour t hat produces
the stickiness as well
as adding elasticity to
the dough, which helps
it rise during baking.
We?ve been eating
wheat for t housa nds
of years, but it?s only recently that people have
got really worried about gluten. So is gluten
intolerance real, or is it just a passing fad?
Coeliac disease is relatively common and
easily missed. According to some studies, up
to 80 per cent of people with coeliac disease
don?t know that they have it. The only real
way to find out is to have a blood test (where
doctors look for antibodies) or to have a biopsy
of your small intestine.
Although many cases of coeliac disease
are missed, there are also lots of people who
think they have it and almost certainly don?t.
According to recent studies, around 13 per cent
of the UK population are currently gluten-free,
which is an impressive 13 times more than the
number of people with coeliac disease.
GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN
So a re t hese people
deluded or a re t hey
onto something? Well,
it could be that some
have a genuine wheat
allergy. This is really
ra re, probably less
than 0.1 per cent of the
population, but it does
exist. Again, the only
way to find out is with
a blood test.
Then t here is a
bigger group of people
who may, or may not,
have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
Symptoms include cramping, bloating and
diarrhoea. This is also very hard to diagnose,
because there are no reliable tests. You arrive
at the diagnosis by excluding everything else.
It?s difficult to say just how common NCGS
really is. In a recent Italian study, published in
the journal Digestion, researchers examined 392
patients complaining of gluten-related problems.
They found that 26 out of the 392 (6.6 per
cent) had undiagnosed coeliac disease and two
(0.5 per cent) had a wheat allergy. The rest were
put on a gluten-free diet and followed for two
years. Those who were free of symptoms after
six months were considered to have NCGS. In
all, 27 people (just 7 per cent of the group)
DREAMSTIME
?In other words,
86 per cent of
the patients who
thought they had
a gluten-related
problem really
didn?t?
CEREAL KILLER
Coeliac disease is the most severe form of
gluten intolerance. It affects around 1 per
cent of the population and is an autoimmune
condition. What happens is that your immune
system becomes sensitised to gliaden, a protein
in gluten. When you eat gluten your immune
system will not only attack these molecules,
but also the lining of your gut. This results
in inf lammation, with common symptoms
including bloating, diarrhoea, constipation
and weight loss.
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DIET
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JCF0%)5+PQVJGTYQTFURGTEGPVQHVJKU
ITQWRQHRCVKGPVUYJQVJQWIJVVJG[JCFUQOG
HQTOQHINWVGPTGNCVGFRTQDNGOTGCNN[FKFPoV
1TCVNGCUVEWVVKPIQWVINWVGPHTQOVJGKTFKGV
made no difference.
6JG VGC O EQPENWFGF p5GNHRGTEGKXGF
INWVGPTGNCVGFU[ORVQOUCTGTCTGN[KPFKECVKXG
QHVJGRTGUGPEGQH0%)5q
+H[QWJCXGNQVUQHIWVU[ORVQOUCPFVJKPM
[QWOKIJVDGKPVQNGTCPVVQINWVGPVJGP[QW
UJQWNFIGV[QWTUGNHRTQRGTN[VGUVGFVQGZENWFG
coeliac disease and wheat allergy. If the tests
EQOGDCEMPGICVKXGCPF[QWUVKNNJCXGCPCIIKPI
HGGNKPI[QWOKIJVJCXG0%)5QTUQOGQVJGTCU
[GVWPPCOGFINWVGPKPVQNGTCPEGU[PFTQOGVJGP
[QWOKIJVYCPVVQIKXGCINWVGPHTGGFKGVCIQ
Gluten
is made up of hundreds of
diferent proteins, the
most important being
gliadin and glutenin. It is
the gliadin protein that
causes the majority of
problems, leading to
intolerances. Gluten is
found in wheat, barley
and rye, though it is also
present in soy sauce.
Wheat has been an
important part of our
diet since it was first
cultivated millennia ago.
I N S TA N T D I G E S T
WHAT?S COELIAC
DISE A SE ?
It is still unclear why some
people develop coeliac
disease, but it appears to be
associated with certain
genetic mutations. The
unpleasant symptoms
illustrated here will clear up
once a suferer adopts a
gluten-free diet.
SKIN
Britle nails
Acne
Eczema
MOUTH
Ulcers
Enamel erosion
JOINTS AND
MUSCLES
Pain
Swelling
STOMACH
Pain
Nausea
INTESTINES
Diarrhoea
Bloating
Constipation
IN FEMALES
Infertility
Miscarriage
Early menopause
The wall of the small intestine is
covered with litle, finger-like
projections called villi. These give the
intestine a large surface area, allowing
the eficient absorption of nutrients.
The image on the let shows how the
villi become flatened and inflamed in
suferers of coeliac disease, while the
image on the right illustrates the villi
in a healthy individual.
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rye, barley or spelt. So bread, pasta, cereals,
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fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals.
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MILKING IT
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growth in worldwide demand for almonds.
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WorldMags.net
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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THIS IMAGE: According to Michael
Mosley, you could miss out on
nutrients by avoiding gluten
RIGHT: Gluten-free foods are all the
rage, but some could be packed
with salt and sugar
ADVERTISING ARCHIVES, ALAMY, BBC ILLUSTRATION: ACUTE GRAPHICS
?We are encouraged to either
avoid milk altogether or try
other variants, such as
almond milk and soya milk?
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VJG[CTGCFWNVUDGECWUGVJGKTDQFKGURTQFWEGC
FKIGUVKXGGP\[OGECNNGFNCEVCUGYJKEJDTGCMU
down lactose.
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[QWNQUGVJKUGP\[OGCU[QWITQYQNFGTVJGP
NCEVQUGYKNNJCPICTQWPFKP[QWTFKIGUVKXG
system, where it will be fermented by bacteria,
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CTGIGPWKPGN[NCEVQUGKPVQNGTCPVVJGPCPJQWT
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VQGZRGTKGPEGHNCVWNGPEG
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KPVQNGTCPVKUVJTQWIJCPGZENWUKQPFKGVCNQPI
VJGNKPGUQHVJGINWVGPGZENWUKQPFKGVFGUETKDGF
GCTNKGT6JGTGCTGCNUQQVJGTOQTGGZQVKECPF
GZRGPUKXGYC[UVQHKPFQWV6JGUGKPENWFGC
hydrogen breath test and a stool acidity test.
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NCEVQUGVJGP[QWTIWVDCEVGTKCYKNNHGGFQPKV
Lactose
is found in milk and is
derived from two sugars:
galactose and glucose. In
regions where milk forms
a significant part of the
adult diet, lactose
intolerance is fairly rare.
Most people of European
descent can drink milk
without any issues.
Lactose is oten added to
foods and medications.
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EAT UP
+H [QW CTG PGKVJGT NCEVQUG KPVQNGTCPV PQT C
vegan, then there is a considerable downside
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are good for bones.
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CU
+QPEGYCUVJCVNQYHCVFCKT[KUUQOGJQY
nJGCNVJKGToUJQWNFCNUQDGCTKPOKPFVJCVNQY
HCVXGTUKQPUCTGOKUUKPIQWVQPCYKFGTCPIG
QHJGCNVJ[HCVV[CEKFUCPFHCVUQNWDNGXKVCOKPU
+PFKXKFWCNUYJQCTGNQQMKPIVQHQNNQYC
healthy diet will find that their wallets are
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allergy, then a varied
Dr Michael Moseley is a
FKGVYKVJNQVUQHHTWKV presenter on Trust Me,
a nd veg is still t he
I?m A Doctor, and is the
best way to maintain
author of The Clever
Guts Diet
QRVKOWOJGCNVJ
WorldMags.net
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 63
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
WorldMags.net
HEALTH
HACK or
QUACK
This A-Z of popular herbal remedies
UQTVUHCEVHTQO?EVKQPTGXGCNKPIYJKEJ
YQTMCPFYJKEJCTGRWTGJ[RG
WORDS: LUIS VILLAZON
WHAT THE SCORES MEAN
We looked at the available scientific
research to determine how much evidence
there is for any claimed health benefits of
each herbal remedy.
GETTY
PLACEBO
MOSTLY HYPE
CONFLICTING EVIDENCE
SEEMS PROMISING
CURE
Luis Villazon is a science and
tech writer, and author of
How Cows Reach the Ground
WorldMags.net
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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Echinacea purpurea,
commonly known as
the purple coneflower
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????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
DIET
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C
The yellow fruit of
the argan tree,
Argania spinosa, which
contains the argan nut
IS FOR
CHLORELLA
Chlorella pyrenoidosa is a single-celled
freshwater alga that has been explored
as a potential food source, because
it is high in protein and calories. As
a medical supplement though, the
benefits are much less convincing.
Several studies have looked in vain for
antioxidant, blood pressure lowering,
or weight loss effects. There is some
very limited evidence that it might
boost the immune system, and reduce
the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but a
lot more research would be needed to
confirm these effects.
RATING
D
A
IS FOR
ARGAN OIL
The argan nut grows in Morocco on
those thorny trees that goats climb. It?s
added to many cosmetics and toasted
argan oil is also used in cooking. The
oil contains antioxidant vitamin E,
and linoleic acid, which has antiinf lammatory properties. A recent
study found t hat it improves t he
elasticity of t he skin of postmenopausal women ? making it look
w rink le-f ree. This seems to work
whether it?s applied as a cream or
taken internally. It can also lower your
blood cholesterol.
RATING
66 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
B
IS FOR
BEE POLLEN
Bee pollen is just ordinary f lower
pollen t hat happens to have been
collected by bees. It?s a mixture of
sugar, protein and fat, which makes it
a fairly high-energy food source, but
that?s about it. The claims that it is
an effective treatment for cancer,
or that it can boost athletic
or sexual performance, is
not backed up by any hard
scientific data.
RATING
It?s a myth that
pollen collected by
bees can treat cancer
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IS FOR
DONG QUAI
Also k nown as ?female ginseng?,
dong quai is a relative of the angelica
plant. It is sometimes prescribed by
practitioners of Traditional Chinese
Medicine for symptoms of menopause
or painful menstruation. Some research
has shown that it relaxes the muscles
of the uterus and opens capillaries,
but studies t hat looked for actual
therapeutic benefits in human patients
have generally found it is no better
than a placebo. And it may even be
dangerous in some circumstances,
since it?s been shown to interfere with
blood clotting.
RATING
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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E
IS FOR
ECHINACEA
Also known as purple conef lower,
Echinacea purpurea contains so-called
polysaccharide compounds that are
thought to increase the activity of
the immune system. Several studies
have attempted to test the herb as a
treatment for the common cold, and the
results are decidedly mixed. A large
study in 2007, for example, found that
it reduced both the duration of cold
infections, and your chances of
catching a cold. Meanwhile, two other
studies funded by the US National
Center for Complementa r y a nd
Integrative Health found no benefit.
RATING
F
IS FOR
FOLIC ACID
GETTY
Folate or vita min B9 ca n?t be
synt hesised wit hin t he body so
we have to obtain it from our diet.
Since 1998, the FDA has required
t hat folic acid is added to bread,
cereal, rice, pasta and flour. Folate is
particularly important during the early
development of the foetus, so women of
childbearing age are recommended
to take an extra 0.4 mg/day to reduce
the risk of neural tube defects and
premature birth. Surprisingly, a 2013
study in mice found that the foetus
can also be affected by the low folate
levels in the father?s diet. Folic acid
can affect which genes in the sperm
are activated, so a B9 supplement
or a healthy diet rich in dark leafy
vegetables is important for prospective
fathers too.
The herb Echinacea is
extracted from the
purple coneflower,
Echinacea purpurea
G
IS FOR GREEN-LIPPED
MUSSEL EXTRACT
H
IS FOR
HYALURONIC ACID
New Zealand green-lipped mussels
contain certain fats that are known
to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Because of this, green-lipped mussel
extract has been studied as a possible
treatment for arthritis. The evidence
isn?t very strong, however. Several
comprehensive reviews of multiple
studies have concluded that it is no
better than a placebo. This might be
because the active ingredient degrades
once it is extracted into pill form.
Around 15g of hyaluronic acid
exists in your body right now.
It?s a large molecule that acts as a
lubricant and a filler in the skin, eyes
and joints. Hyaluronic acid is used
by plastic surgeons to plump out lips
and it?s a common ingredient in skin
creams. There?s no evidence that taking
hyaluronic acid orally has any antiaging effect on the skin, but some
studies have shown that it reduces
the symptoms of arthritis in the knee.
RATING
RATING
Folic acid is
important for the
development of a
healthy foetus
RATING
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????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
DIET
WorldMags.net
I
IS FOR
IRON
Iron deficiency is the most common
nutritional deficiency in the world,
but in the UK it is rare because flour,
cereals a nd some ot her foods a re
fortified with iron. A 2012 study found
that adult women may be mildly iron
deficient even if they are not medically
anaemic, and taking iron supplements
reduced how tired they felt. However,
the effect was very small, and too much
iron is certainly harmful. Accidental
overdoses of iron supplements are a
leading cause of child poisoning deaths
in the US, so keep your tablets locked
safely away.
RATING
St. John?s Wort is
a good natural
antidepressant
The nectar from the
Manuka tree in New
Zealand can be
made into honey
K
IS FOR
KRILL OIL
Red krill oil comes from the shrimplike crustaceans that whales eat. It
contains eicosapentaenoic acid and
docosa hexaenoic acid, commonly
known as omega-3 fatty acids ? well
known for reducing the risk of heart
disease. It?s claimed that krill oil is
more effective than fish oil, but the
evidence is much less conclusive. It may
be that the slightly different chemical
composition of the omega-3 in krill oil
makes it more easily absorbed. But,
even if true, it would only mean you
need a smaller dose to achieve the
same effect.
M
IS FOR
MANUKA HONEY
Honey is a broad spectrum antibiotic,
but we still don?t fully understand
how it kills bacteria. Manuka honey
is made from the nectar of the New
Zealand Manuka tree and has the
strongest antibacterial effect. But lab
studies have so far failed to translate
this into significant benefits in human
patients. Manuka honey dressings
might shorten healing times slightly
for moderate burns, but the evidence
for other wounds is quite weak.
RATING
RATING
J
L
IS FOR
ST. JOHN?S WORT
IS FOR
L-CARNITINE
Large-scale reviews of studies involving
St. John?s Wort have concluded that it
is more effective at treating depression
than standard antidepressants. The
results of individual trials vary wildly,
though, in part because the amount of
the active ingredient in St. John?s Wort
tablets can differ from the amount
claimed on the bottle by a factor of
two or more.
Carnitine is an amino acid used by
virtually all your cells in the release
of energy. It?s produced in the body, so
normally there?s no need to take it as
a supplement. There is some evidence
that taking L-carnitine (which is the
biologically active form) can improve
sperm function, and it may also help
repair muscle da mage following
exercise. Research doesn?t support
other claims that it boosts athletic
performance or increases muscle mass.
RATING
RATING
68 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
WorldMags.net
L-carnitine is thought
to help repair muscle
damage post exercise
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
DIET
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N
IS FOR
NETTLE
Some evidence exists that stinging
nettle root is effective against male
urination problems caused by a n
enlarged prostate, such as difficulty
urinating or incontinence. We don?t
know how this works yet, because
other studies have shown that nettle
definitely doesn?t actually reduce the
size of the prostate. Nettle also has
an antihistamine effect, and some
studies have found that it helps against
osteoarthritis and hay fever.
Netle root has
been found to help
combat hay fever
and osteoarthritis
RATING
P
Diets naturally high in garlic are known
to be associated with low incidence
of colon cancer, and there is some
evidence t hat ta k ing ga rlic in a n
odourless capsule form provides the
sa me protection. Ga rlic capsules
also seem to lower blood pressure
slightly, but we still don?t know if
this results in fewer deaths from heart
disease. And an extensive study at
Stanford, published in 2007, found that
garlic, in any form, does not reduce
blood cholesterol.
Extracted from the seeds of the evening
primrose plant, it contains gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which is also
found in borage oil and blackcurrant
oil. Evening primrose has been heavily
promoted in the past as a treatment
for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
a nd eczema. But t he US National
Institute of Healt h a nd t he FDA
both agree that there isn?t enough
evidence to support either claim. Some
studies did find a benefit, but these
have subsequently been criticised as
poorly designed. Most of the research
in support of evening primrose was
sponsored by Efamol Ltd (a company
VJCVOCTMGVGFVJGUWRRNGOGPV|CPFVJG
BMJ has since called evening primrose
oil ?the remedy for which there is
no disease?.
RATING
RATING
O
GETTY, ALAMY
IS FOR
PRIMROSE OIL
IS FOR
ODOURLESS GARLIC
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CoEnzyme Q-10 can
help treat high
blood pressure
Q
IS FOR
Q-10
Produced naturally in t he body,
coenzyme Q-10 is used by t he
mitochondria in your cells to produce
energy. Studies show that it can be an
effective treatment for chronic heart
failure or high blood pressure. But the
evidence for its usefulness against a
wide range of other diseases, such as
cancer and fibromyalgia, is currently
fairly inconclusive.
RATING
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 69
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
DIET
WorldMags.net
R
IS FOR
RASPBERRY KETONE
This chemical is used as a flavouring
in the food industry, but it is also
sold online as a weight-loss medicine.
Studies in rodents have shown that at
very high doses, raspberry ketone alters
the metabolism to increase the rate at
which fat is burned. But there is no
evidence that this works in humans.
RATING
The spiky fruit
of the plant
Tribulus terrestris
T
IS FOR
TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS
Vitamin K is found in plants and is
important for blood clotting and strong
bones. K2 is the bacterial form of
vitamin K, and has similar effects in
humans when taken as a supplement.
There is good evidence that it slows the
rate of bone density loss in the elderly,
although less effectively than hormone
therapy in menopausal women. A few
studies have also shown that high doses
may be helpful in treating liver cancer.
RATING
RATING
IS FOR
UVA URSI
Made from dried blue-green bacteria,
spirulina is a good source of protein
(although it doesn?t contain any vitamin
B12). There are some lab studies that
have shown possible immune system
boosting effects, but these haven?t been
replicated in humans. One small-scale
study found that spirulina was effective
at treating chronic arsenic poisoning.
The bearberry plant, Arctostaphylos
uva ursi , produces f ruit t hat
contain the hydroquinone compound
arbutin. This is an antibacterial that
passes into your urine, and one study
found it ca n be effective against
urinary tract infections, but there is
limited research into its effectiveness
in humans. Hydroquinones can also
cause liver damage in high doses, so
using it for more than five days, or
more than five times in one year is
not recommended.
RATING
RATING
S
IS FOR
SPIRULINA
70 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
IS FOR
VITAMIN K2
Tribulus terrestris (puncturevine) is a
weed that produces small spiky fruits.
Extracts of these f ruits have been
shown to increase testosterone levels
in rodents. This doesn?t seem to happen
in humans, though. Studies have failed
to show significant improvements in
blood testosterone levels or muscle
mass. A few small-scale studies have
shown a limited improvement in male
libido and erectile function.
U
Spirulina is known
for being a good
source of protein
V
WorldMags.net
Arctostaphylos uva
ursi, commonly
known as bearberry
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
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W
IS FOR
WHEATGRASS
Wheatgrass is simply the leaves of the
young wheat plant. It contains roughly
the same nutrient content as the same
weight of spinach or broccoli. As a
food, it?s fine, if a little unpleasant
tasting. As a medicine, the evidence
is very weak. Some small studies have
found that it reduces the symptoms of
ulcerative colitis and the side effects of
chemotherapy, but most of the claims
that it oxygenates the blood or rids
the body of toxins are not supported
by science.
RATING
American ginseng may lower
blood sugar and boost the
immune system
Chromium in Brewer?s
yeast is beneficial for
some diabetics
GETTY, ALAMY
X
IS FOR
XI YANG SHEN
Y
IS FOR
YEAST
Z
IS FOR
ZINC
Also known as American ginseng,
both this and Asian ginseng contain
chemicals called ginsenosides and
gintonin. Despite a long history of use
in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the
evidence for the health benefits of
ginseng is fairly weak. A few small
t rials have found t hat it lowers
blood suga r a nd also boosts t he
immune system. But claims that it
improves ?wellness?, reduces stress
or acts as a n aph rodisiac a re not
backed by well-designed studies.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Brewer?s
yeast) is a good source of selenium,
chromium and B-complex vitamins
(but not B12 ? that?s a myth). The most
important micronutrient is chromium.
Numerous studies have shown that
it helps type 2 diabetes sufferers by
increasing their tolerance to blood
glucose and reducing the amount of
insulin they need. There is also some
limited evidence that it lowers the
LDL ?bad? cholesterol and raises HDL
?good? cholesterol.
Over 300 enzymes in your body require
zinc to function. Dietary deficiency is
more common in vegetarians, because
phytates present in whole grains and
legumes inhibit zinc absorption. Zinc
supplements seem to help protect
against AMD (age-related macular
degeneration), and conflicting evidence
suggests it may reduce the symptoms
of the common cold. But zinc can be
very toxic at high doses and interferes
with antibiotic medication, so use
supplements with caution.
RATING
RATING
RATING
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FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 71
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
400-750 hours
WorldMags.net
of sleep are lost by parents in
the first year of their baby?s life
$10 billion
THE ESTIMATED VALUE THE SLEEP INDUSTRY
WILL BE WORTH BY 2020
Sleep deprivation
can kill a person
more quickly than
food deprivation
16-19癈
is the ideal temperature
for a good night?s sleep if
you?re wearing pyjamas
WOMEN NEED
AROUND 20 MINUTES
EXTRA SLEEP A NIGHT
COMPARED TO MEN
Artificial
lights have
changed
our natural
sleeping
paterns
N
o-one knows exactly
why we sleep.
Personal experience tells us
we need it. Ater all, who isn?t
grouchy ater a bad night?
But what can science tell us?
Scientists agree sleep is crucial for
our wellbeing. Research reveals all
sorts of benefits, such as sleep
enhances memory consolidation,
and teenagers need as much sleep
as small children. So far, scientists
have managed to identify many of
the biological processes associated
with the various stages of sleep. But
big questions remain ? such as why
do we dream? Most discoveries have
happened in the last 25 years, so
answers may be just around the
corner. In the meantime, read
on to find out about the latest
discoveries in the land of nod?
Avoid consuming
cafeine at least
4 hours
before going to bed
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Sleep
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HOW TO BEAT
THE BURNOUT
Hectic lives don?t have to go
hand-in-hand with feeling
drained. Discover what the latest
research reveals about how to
eliminate tiredness for good
WORDS: SIMON CROMPTON
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ILLUSTRATION: MAIT� FRANCHI
C
an you keep your eyes open
long enough to read t his
article? No offence taken if
you can?t. The Royal College
of Psychiatrists says that one
in five of us feels unusually tired at any one
time, and one in 10 feels permanently fatigued.
Tiredness and fatigue are behind 20 per cent of
UK doctor consultations, according to a recent
survey of GPs. No wonder doctors are often
jotting down a handy new acronym ? TATT
(Tired All The Time) ? in patient notes. Or that
UK sales of energy drinks shot up by 155 per
cent between 2006 and 2014. We are, it seems,
an exhausted nation.
Tiredness is no joke. Sleep deprivation brings
a heavy mental and physical toll. Around 20
per cent of accidents on major roads are sleeprelated. Plus, people who are sleep-deprived
lose the ability to be positive-minded, which
researchers from the University of Pennsylvania
say is likely to increase the likelihood of
depression. There?s also evidence that sleep
deprivation increases the risk of obesity, heart
disease, diabetes and stroke.
Even if you?re getting enough sleep, feeling
constantly fatigued can be bad for you. Research
from the University of Alabama has found that
working hard while fatigued increases blood
pressure. This is because tired people increase
their effort to make up for their diminished
capability when they want to accomplish a task.
For those with conditions such as chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and cancer, it
severely restricts quality of life. For millions
of others, unexplained tiredness regularly
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?Some of us may simply
have been born with a
physical and psychological
susceptibility to tiredness?
A mitochondrion, a cell?s
?power pack?, has a highly
folded inner membrane
that?s packed with
substances involved in the
creation of ATP, which the
body uses for energy
76 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
rumbles in the background.
Until now, little has been known about the
biological processes that result in what we call
tiredness or fatigue. Only in recent decades,
with growing concern about the prevalence
of conditions such as CFS/ME, has research
money been invested into the causes of long-term
fatigue. And it is becoming clear that, although
there is a wide spectrum of tiredness types,
they are all linked and their causes interact.
Prof Julia Newton, director of the Newcastle
Cent re for Fatigue Research at Newcastle
University, explains the causes of tiredness
via a classic bell-shaped curve graph. ?At the
thin end of the curve, there are people who just
need to get some sleep and get their lifestyle
in order. At the other thin end of the curve
there are clearly people who have diagnosed
or undiagnosed illness that is causing fatigue.
And then, there?s everything else in the wide
middle part of curve.?
The wide middle is the complex bit, covering
tiredness caused by combinations of many
environmental, lifestyle and health factors.
And recent research is beginning to reveal
how genetics, cell function, inflammation and
the brain?s response to light may all have an
underlying role in this tiredness ?mainstream?.
At a cellular level, scientists are increasingly
looking at the role of mitochondria ? the power
packs in every human cell ? in determining
how tired we feel. Mitochondria are miniature
organs (organelles) that convert oxygen, sugar,
fats and protein into a form of chemical energy,
called ATP, which the body uses to fuel the
brain and muscles. Diseases affecting the
mitochondria cause fatigue, so recent reviews
of research suggest that fatigue is closely
associated with mitochondria not working
properly because the body is not producing
particular enzymes, for example.
Studies into CFS/ME by fatigue expert Dr
Robert Naviaux have shown that the condition
is characterised by changes in mitochondria
function. Naviaux believes that these changes
may be triggered by stressors such as infection,
or physical and psychological trauma.
Naviaux cites new literature indicating that
stress can prompt metabolic changes, which
make organisms go into hibernation-like states
such as torpor and aestivation. ?Both of these
is an energy conservation state that permits
survival under conditions of environmental
stress at the expense of a decrease in the ability
to allocate energy for daily work or activity,? he
says. ?Mitochondria are central control points
for each of these processes.?
This intial research about the metabolic
origins of fatigue may link wit h ot her
studies suggesting that sometimes tiredness has
underlying but undiscovered physical origins.
For example, recent studies have indicated that
severe fatigue is associated with raised levels of
leptin, a hormone produced in fat tissue which
signals to the brain that the body has adequate
energy stores. This raises the prospect that too
much leptin ? possibly from too much body
fat ? means we naturally feel less energetic:
if we don?t need food we don?t need to go out
and do something about it. This links with
anecdotal evidence that intermittent fasting
and reducing body fat can improve people?s
energy levels.
It also links with research indicating that
people with CFS/ME can have high levels of
leptin and similar inflammation-producing
substances called cytokines. Cytokines, which
are also produced in fat, are released during
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ARE YOU
SLEEPDEPRIVED OR
FATIGUED?
Researchers use a
simple sleep latency test
to find out whether
people who are
constantly tired are
sleep-deprived or
fatigued for other
reasons. If you lie down
somewhere quiet during
the day and fall asleep
within a few minutes,
then you are either
lacking sleep or
potentially sufering
from a sleep disorder.
If you don?t drop of
within 15 minutes,
fatigue is the problem.
GETTY
immune responses. Studies have shown that
low-grade inflammation robs mice of their
energy to run on a wheel. This suggests that
underlying tissue inflammation ? whether it?s
in response to a virus, a long-term condition
or a problem with cytokine regulation ? can
be enough to make us feel weary. Scientists
in the Netherlands have now started a major
new trial to find out whether anakinra, an
anti-inflammatory drug that blocks a particular
cytokine, brings an improvement in people
with CFS/ME.
New ton is clea r t hat t hese related
underlying physical vulnerabilities may be a
factor in everyone?s continuing tiredness ? not
just CFS/ME sufferers. ?The day-to-day fatigue
that GPs see definitely relates to chronic illness.
The two are not separate,? she says.
NATURALLY SLEEPY
There?s new research to suggest some of us
may simply have been born with a physical
and psychological susceptibility to tiredness.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh
analysed the genetic make-up of 111,749 people
who indicated they felt tired in the two weeks
before samples were collected for the UK
Biobank. They found a genetic link between
those who reported tiredness and those prone
to diabetes, schizophrenia, high cholesterol or
obesity. ?This raises the possibility of a genetic
link between tiredness and vulnerability to
physiological stress,? said the team, led by
Prof Ian Deary. However, the researchers also
said that the majority of people?s differences
in self-reported tiredness can be put down
to environmental causes rather than genetic
factors. So how we live our lives, and what
happens to us, is of first importance.
And the significance of our relationship to
daylight is becoming increasingly clear. For
decades, we?ve been told that keeping regular
habits and sleeping hours is important. Now,
research has confirmed the importance of a part
of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus
(SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus
that responds to light signals fed from the eye.
When it?s light, the SCN messages other parts
of the brain to release hormones which make
us feel alert, and when it?s dark it signals
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The eye detects light,
sending signals to the
brain?s suprachiasmatic
nucleus, where the
body?s ?circadian clock?
is housed
NEVER
BE
TIRED
AGAIN
THE SEVEN CAUSES
OF FATIGUE AND HOW
YOU CAN BEAT THEM
for the release of hormones that make us feel
sleepy, like melatonin.
If our habits are regular, our brain adjusts to
release hormones at the right time. If they?re
not, we end up in constant conflict with our
natural circadian rhythm. The blue imitation
daylight emitted from computer screens and
smartphones can confuse our SCN further,
especially if we?re using our screens at night.
Our brain is tricked into thinking it?s day when
it?s not, and we end up feeling awake when we
should be sleepy.
SOCIAL JETLAG
Many of us like to treat
ourselves to a weekend lie-in.
But going to sleep and waking
up at diferent times during a
week can disrupt your
circadian rhythms ? the brain?s
natural timing of sleep and
wakefulness hormone release.
This ?social jetlag? is associated
with sleepiness, fatigue, bad
mood and health problems. A
recent study from the Sleep
and Health Research Program
at the University of Arizona
suggests that each hour of
weekday to weekend lag brings
an 11 per cent increase in the
likelihood of heart disease.
LACK OF EXERCISE
Long-term tiredness is
associated with too litle
activity. A University of Georgia
review of research found 90
per cent of studies agree that
people who regularly exercise
report less fatigue than groups
who don?t. Exercise increases
levels of energy-promoting
neurotransmiters, such as
dopamine, norepinephrine
and serotonin. It also resets
the SCN, the part of the brain
that regulates sleep and
wakefulness hormones. And
exercise reduces fat stores,
which seem to be associated
with long-term fatigue.
CABIN FEVER
Light, fresh air and stimulation
are all important for brain
health and SCN functioning, so
being cooped up indoors all the
time can worsen mood and
lower energy levels. We?re
particularly prone to this
during the winter. Short-term
cabin fever can eventually
become seasonal afective
disorder (SAD). Characterised
by depression and feelings of
tiredness, SAD is believed to be
caused by lack of sunlight
disrupting the brain?s
production of mood and
sleep-regulating brain
chemicals, such as serotonin.
TIP: Avoid weekend lie-ins and
late nights, and keep to the
same sleep-wake patern
during the week. Using an app
or a tracker to chart your sleep
paterns can help.
TIP: Find forms of exercise that
fit in with your lifestyle, rather
than automatically investing in
a gym membership. This way,
you?ll probably be more
inclined to stick to it.
TIP: Pop outdoors every couple
of hours, even if it?s just for a
few minutes. It will clear your
brain and may help with
lethargy. And eat lunch outside
rather than at your desk.
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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY, GETTY
There?s increasing public and scientific
interest in using so-called ?chronobiotic agents?
to adjust t he body clock to counter sleep
problems, tiredness and mood disorders. Studies
investigating whether taking melatonin tablets
reduces fatigue have been mixed, and doctors
warn against overuse of the supplement. But
some new types of antidepressants, such as
agomelatine, work by regulating circadian
rhythms and there?s evidence they improve
daytime functioning and reduce fatigue.
Some of us are tired for the simplest of
reasons, yet unaware of it, says Newton: ?It?s
amazing how many people don?t associate
their daytime fatigue with poor night-time
sleep. Sometimes it?s simply a matter of getting
enough sleep. People are amazed when I ask
them to do an activity diary, and then I ask:
?Well, when actually do you rest?? And they say:
?I?m resting here, when I?m on Facebook?. And I
have to tell them, sorry, but that?s not resting.
?We?re in a society on a treadmill. We?re all
push, push, push. And sometimes that just
isn?t sustainable, physically and mentally.?
Simon Crompton is a
freelance writer and
editor who specialises
in science, health and
social issues
Find out about circadian
rhythms on In Our Time
bbc.co.uk/programmes/
b06rzd44
DIET
Being overweight can cause
tiredness because your body is
having to work harder to
perform everyday activities. It
also increases your risk of
so-called ?obstructive sleep
apnoea? where the tissues in
the throat collapse, causing
airway blockage. This leads to
constant sleep interruption
and daytime tiredness.
What you eat is also
important. Low levels of iron
and B vitamins can cause
tiredness. And having a diet
high in fast-burning sugary
carbohydrates leaves you tired
when the sugar wears of.
CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
The trouble with drinking
cofee is that you need to keep
drinking it: one of the
commonest symptoms of
cafeine withdrawal is fatigue.
Research from the Johns
Hopkins Medical School found
that although cafeine drinkers
think their drink of choice
improves their performance
and mood, in fact it just
counteracts the adverse efects
of cafeine withdrawal by
bringing them back to normal
levels of functioning. Alcohol
causes tiredness too.
Short-term, it can result in
restless sleep and dehydration.
DRUGS
Fatigue can be caused be
prescribed and recreational
drugs. It has been reported as a
side efect of statins, allergy
medications, hormone therapy
and many cancer treatments.
The high experienced with
drugs such as cocaine, speed
and ecstasy is oten followed
by a comedown of tiredness
and depression. Scientists at
Imperial College London
showed that long-term
smoking of marijuana lowers
levels of dopamine ? a brain
chemical that plays a key
role in motivation, pleasure
and reward.
WORRY AND DEPRESSION
Lack of sleep and fatigue are
strongly linked with depression
and anxiety. Some researchers
believe that widespread
depression could be the reason
why so many of us feel
constantly tired. Studies
carried out by the Texas A&M
Institute for Neuroscience back
this up. Researchers measuring
brain oxygen levels of people
doing various tasks found they
fatigued more quickly when
completing complex mental
activities. The brain?s resources
were being divided. So stress
and mental frustration make
us tire more easily.
TIP: Dietitians recommend
a balanced diet, including
complex carbs, such as
brown rice, which is slowly
metabolised and leads to less
of an energy dip.
TIP: Test whether cafeine or
alcohol are the culprits for
making you tired. Don?t drink
them for at least a week, so you
get over withdrawal symptoms
before feeling beter.
TIP: If you?re on prescription
meds, look up possible side
efects on the leaflet. Visit your
doctor or pharmacist to discuss
any concerns. For info about
drugs, visit talktofrank.com
TIP: Try an NHS quiz at bit.ly/
mood_quiz to help establish
whether your state of mind is
behind your tiredness. If you
think you might sufer from
depression, visit your doctor.
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TREATING
INSOMNIA
Find it hard to drift off to sleep? It could be that your brain
is built differently to those who are happily snoring away
Y
ou lie in bed, tossing and turning,
eventually finding sleep in the
small hours, only to wake up
the next day feeling like you?ve
ha rdly slept at all. Sound familia r? It?s a
common problem: according to NHS statistics,
one third of people in the UK have suffered
from insomnia.
Bouts of insomnia, characterised by prolonged
problems with sleeping or staying asleep in the
absence of a mental or physiological disorder,
can last for months or even years.
The condition often worsens with age, and
usually affects the sufferer?s ability to function
properly in the daytime. Insomniacs frequently
complain of lapses in attention, and sleep
deprivation has been shown to affect memory.
Yet little is known about insomnia?s causes, and
it?s difficult to measure its effects objectively.
But recent research is beginning to reveal what
insomnia can do to your brain, and it seems that
the insomniac?s brain physiology is different
from those who sleep well.
Dr Ellemarije Altena of the University of
Cambridge and colleagues at the Netherlands
Institute for Neuroscience, recruited 25 elderly
80 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
insomniacs and 13 healthy control subjects,
and had both groups perform two vigilance
tasks. In one experiment, participants were
asked to press a button every time they saw an
asterisk appear on a screen. In a second, more
complex task the letters ?p? and ?d? were shown
at random, and people had to press only when
they saw the letter ?p?.
Using reaction times to assess performance,
the researchers found that the control subjects
out-performed the insomniacs on the ?p or d?
task. Although they made the same number of
errors, the controls responded a fraction of a
second faster than the insomniacs whenever
the letter ?p? appeared. Surprisingly, though,
the insomniacs performed better on the simpler,
?asterisk? task. The participants were asked to
repeat both tasks about six weeks later. However,
in the intervening time, to improve their sleep
quality, half of the insomniac group received
a combination of treatments, such as cognitive
behavioural therapy (CBT) to help them change
dysfunctional thoughts about sleep, exposure
to bright light for two 30-minute intervals every
day, and a number of simple lifestyle changes.
The combined therapy effectively returned
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the insomniacs? performance on the tasks to
normal levels. Those who received it became
significantly slower on the simple task and
faster on the complex task when tested later.
This outcome suggests that an insomniac?s
brain works differently to others, and that
some of the cognitive changes associated with
insomnia are at least partly reversible.
In another study, Altena and her colleagues
found t hat insomniacs
out-perform good sleepers
on a verbal f luency task.
Test subjects had to press a
button whenever a word
belonging to a specified
categor y was presented.
The performa nce of t he
insomniacs who received
sleep therapy for six weeks
was comparable to that of
the healthy control subjects
when they were tested again.
?Insomniacs suffer from
a physiological condition best described
as a light form of st ress, which ca n be
measured in higher brain activation when
trying to fall asleep,? Altena explains. ?This
hyper-arousal may underlie some of the highperformance levels we observed. It may serve as a
compensatory mechanism of t he brain to
function relatively well during the day, despite
the sleeping difficulties.?
Altena?s group has found that insomniacs?
brains are structurally different to those of
good sleepers. They used a brain-scanning
technique called ?voxel-based morphometry? to
measure and compare the volumes of various
brain structures in 24 chronic insomniacs and
13 healthy control subjects. The insomniacs
showed reduced volume of grey matter in three
different regions of the brain. Plus, the reduced
volume of the orbito-frontal
cortex was strongly related to
the severity of the insomnia
? the more severe a volunteer?s
complaints, the greater the
volume reduction.
The results fit well with the
functions of the orbito-frontal
cortex, which is known to be
involved in decision-making
and problem-solving, both
of which are significantly
impaired following sleep
deprivation. But it?s unclear
whether these structural changes cause the
insomnia or come after it.
?To draw conclusions about t he neural
mechanisms underlying insomnia we need to
investigate which of these effects contribute
to the condition and which are consequences
of it,? says Altena.
So, while the causes of insomnia are unclear,
the condition can be treated, and although
?Insomniacs
suffer from a
condition that?s
best described
as a light form
of stress?
SLEEP AND MEMORY
Don?t forget: beauty sleep is crucial
Quintilian, a famous first-century
Roman teacher of rhetoric, noted the
?curious fact that the interval of a
single night will greatly increase the
strength of memory?. And it?s now
well established that sleep enhances
memory consolidation.
Researchers from the University of
Haifa in Jordan have shown that a
daytime nap enhances memory
recall, and that even a short nap
lasting just six minutes is suficient to
aid the processing of memories. The
slow brainwave oscillations that
82 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
occur during short-wave sleep are
thought to mark the integration of
new information with pre-existing
knowledge. Also, changes in the
patern of how genes are switched on
or of during REM sleep may promote
the strengthening of neuronal
connectivity that is thought to
underlie memory formation.
One study found that sleep
deprivation promotes the generation
of false memories. So using it as a
technique when interrogating
suspects seems fairly pointless.
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Science is trying to get to the
botom of what makes for a
good night?s sleep
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BEAT INSOMNIA
Top tips to get a good night?s sleep
Establish a routine Adopting good
sleeping habits can help you overcome
insomnia and sleeping dificulties. Go to
bed and wake up at around the same time
every day, and don?t try to force yourself
to drop of if you aren?t feeling sleepy.
SHUTTERSTOCK, SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Relax before bed Take a hot bath an
hour or two before going to bed ? this will
relax you and promote both sleep onset
and prolong the duration of deep sleep,
because of the efects on body
temperature. Also avoid exposure to
bright light in the evening, as this can
unsetle circadian rhythms.
CBT is effective, access to t he t reat ment
could be improved if it was computerised
and made available on home computers. This
approach to CBT treatments has been shown to
effectively treat common mental disorders such
as depression, but getting patients to start and
then stick to it can be difficult.
The ENACT project looked at improving
how patients interact with such treatments by
seeing how people use social media websites.
?The way people engage wit h Facebook
very closely mirrors the way in which we
want them to engage with computerised CBT
treatment,? says Dr Shaun Lawson, a computer
scientist who was a principle investigator on
the ENACT project.
Lawson adds that people are more willing
to disclose personal information on socialnetwork ing sites t ha n in real life, a nd
t hat online games use rewa rds and ot her
incentives to ensure that players return to play
regula rly: ?Embedding t reat ments into
websites like Facebook might reduce the barrier of
maintaining adherence to computerised CBT.?
DEEPER PROBLEMS
Insomnia often coincides with depression, but
the link is poorly understood, and recent work
Eat and drink right Cafeine is a
stimulant that will disrupt your sleep, so
avoid drinking tea and cofee for at least
four hours before going to bed. Eating
spicy food in the evening can disturb sleep
too, although some people find that a
small snack before bedtime helps them
to drit of.
Keep sleep separate Your sleeping
environment is also important ? wear
earplugs and use heavy curtains. And
your bed is for sleeping, so don?t use it
for other activities such as watching TV
or reading.
has led some researchers to argue that insomnia
can actually cause mental illness.
In one study, Matt Walker of the University
of California, Berkeley, scanned the brains
of mentally healthy participants while they
viewed a series of emotion-laden and neutral
photos. Compared to those who were not sleep
deprived, people who had stayed awake for 36
hours beforehand showed greater brain activity
in the amygdala, a small brain structure that
processes emotion. The sleep-deprived group
also exhibited reduced connectivity between
neurones in the amygdala and the medial
prefrontal cortex (MPFC), which curtails the
emotional response from the amygdala to
produce an appropriate reasoned reaction.
Walker a nd his colleagues concluded
that sleep may ?reset? the MPFC-amygdala
circuit to prepare for the following day?s
emotional challenges. They suggest the findings
could mean that there?s a causal link ? sleep
disruption could cause mood disorder.
But this conclusion is highly speculative,
a nd ma ny a ren?t convinced. ?There?s no
evidence whatsoever that insomnia causes
mental illness,? says Prof Jim Horne, director
of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough
University. ?It may be true that insomnia and
some mental illnesses have common factors.
Sleep is affected in people who are depressed.
So sleeping tablets may help, but they won?t get
to the underlying cause and cure the problem.?
Insomnia, it seems, remains somewhat of
a mystery.
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Moheb Costandi is a
neuroscientist and
science writer
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THINGS YOU
DIDN?T KNOW
ABOUT SLEEP
Ever wondered what your body?s doing while you?re of in the land of nod?
You?ll be surprised by some of the science behind snoozing...
1
Artificial lights have changed our
natural sleeping paterns
Without them, we would sleep in two
blocks each night. Psychologist Thomas
Wehr found people revert to sleeping this
way if isolated from artificial lights for
more than a few weeks.
4
Dreams tend to follow
well-defined paterns
In his lifetime, psychology professor Calvin
Hall collected more than 50,000 dream
reports. Using Hall?s database, researchers
identified that we tend to dream about the
things that make us anxious.
84 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
2
Children around the world have
vastly diferent sleep paterns
In Vietnam 95 per cent of babies sleep in
their parents? bed, compared to 15 per cent
in Australia. In New Zealand, the average
bedtime for an infant is 7.30pm and in
Hong Kong it?s 10.30pm.
5
The ideal temperature for a good
night?s sleep is 16-19癈
Researchers in Lille, France, worked out the
ideal temperature was 16-19篊 for someone
sleeping in pyjamas and covered by sheets.
If they sleep naked, the ideal temperature
jumps to 30-32篊.
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3
Therapy may be a beter treatment
for insomnia than sleeping pills
Psychologist Charles Morin found that
people who used cognitive behavioural
therapy to deal with sleepless nights
reported much beter overall sleep quality
than those treated with sleeping pills alone.
6
The longest known period anyone
has stayed awake is 11 days
In 1964, Randy Gardner stayed awake
without any kind of stimulants for 264
hours, experiencing phantom sounds and
visions the longer he went without sleep.
No long-term ill efects were reported.
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7
Sleeping rhythms can afect
sports performance
Circadian rhythms (the natural cycles that
govern when we?re awake and asleep)
have an ?outsized efect? on sports pros ?
athletes at their peak circadian rhythms
have an unseen advantage over opponents.
ALAMY, THINKSTOCK, GETTY X5,
PRESS ASSOCIATION IMAGES, NATUREPL.COM, SUPERSTOCK
10
Female sleep is the key
to a happy marriage
A woman?s ability to fall and stay asleep
has a greater impact on marital satisfaction
than her daily interactions with her
husband. The same efect was not found
for men in relationships.
13
Sleep deprivation is
an antidepressant
Sleep deprivation leads to a sort of
semi-euphoric state and has been used to
treat depression since the early 1970s. But
low mood oten returns as soon as the
patients are allowed to get some sleep.
8
Some animals only send
half their brain to sleep
Ducks are able to sleep with one eye shut
and one half of their brains asleep. Whales
and dolphins keep half their brain awake,
leting them surface for air and be on the
lookout for danger while still sleeping.
11
Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
sleep boosts creativity
During REM sleep the concentration of
acetylcholine is twice that when awake,
encouraging neural connections and, hence,
creativity. The Beatles classic Yesterday is
said to have been penned ater a good kip.
14
Our sleep requirements
vary widely
In research carried out at the University of
Pennsylvania, eight hours did the trick for
most people. But an estimated 5 per cent of
the population, including Maggie Thatcher,
can get away with five hours or fewer.
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9
Sleep may help us
to learn new skills
Ater volunteers played the video game
Tetris before going to sleep, they tended to
dream about the game that night. Those
who dreamed about it showed the most
improvement when playing it the next day.
12
Dreams pervade all
stages of our sleep
The idea that dreams only occur in REM
sleep isn?t true. We have dreams in all stages
of sleep and even when we?re awake, as
daydreams. But dreams are more common
in REM, and more vivid and bizarre.
15
There is an excuse
for late nights
Early to bed, early to rise doesn?t suit
everyone. Some people are genetically
predisposed to stay up later at night and get
up later in the morning. This is the optimum
patern for roughly 40 per cent of us.
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 85
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By careful manipulation of your sleep you can
turn it into the ultimate cognitive enhancer
WORDS: DR PENELOPE LEWIS
P
eople do all kinds of things
to get ahead in today?s
competitive world. The
struggle for jobs and
promotions is cut-throat,
and the use of performanceenhancing drugs such as Modafinil and Ritalin
is on the rise. But ironically, nature?s best
cognitive enhancer is often entirely overlooked.
What makes you feel great when you have
it and a complete basket case when you miss
out? That?s right ? sleep. Something we should
all spend roughly one-third of our time doing,
but which we actually tend to squeeze at both
ends, with underperformance the result.
But sleep is not only
critical for staying
alert and attentive.
We?re now beginning
to understand the extent
to which it influences
our ability to learn new
things ? everything
from riding a bike to
learning Spanish. And
this is showing us how
we can use sleep to
enhance our memories.
The idea that sleep and
memory are linked is nothing new. Back in 1924,
two American psychologists, John Jenkins
and Karl Dallenbach at Cornell University,
enlisted a pair of students to learn nonsense
syllables. The researchers then tested their
memories one, two, four and eight hours later.
What they found was that students could
remember more of the syllables when they
had been to sleep between the learning session
and the test than when they had been awake.
In other words, sleep had somehow improved
their memories.
But it was only when we started to
understand the different phases of sleep (each
characterised by a different depth of sleep and
different patterns of electrical activity in our
brain) that we started to fully grasp exactly
how sleep affects memory. What became clear
is that the different phases consolidate different
types of memory.
MORE NONSENSE
In 2013, researchers at the University of
California carried out some research with
echoes of that performed by Jenkins and
Dallenbach almost 100 years earlier in that the
participants were asked to learn nonsense. A
bunch of young adults
(whose average age was
about 21) and a group
of older adults (whose
average age was about
75) were instructed
to learn word pairs
consisting of real words,
such as ?birds?, and
made-up words, such
as ?jubu?. They found
that both the younger
and older participants
were able to recall the
pairings better the more ?slow-wave sleep?
(SWS) ? characterised by a slow pulsing of
brain activity ? they had at night.
Another piece of research that was perhaps a
little more traumatic for its participants proved
that sleep also helps us remember events that
fire our emotions. A group of students at the
University of Bamberg in Germany were given
emotionally charged texts to read, such as one
that detailed the killing procedures of a child
murderer. When the students were only able
to sleep over the second half of the night,
PHOTOGRAPHY: STEVE SAYERS/THE SECRET STUDIO
Need to memorise
Spanish? Try an
intense study session
in the late afternoon,
followed by a
SWS-filled nap
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SLEEP
so they had more ?rapid eye movement? (REM)
sleep, they were much better at recalling details
of the text than when they had non-REM sleep
(in the early part of the night) or no sleep at all.
Sleep can also work wonders with our
ability to learn motor skills ? anything from
riding a bike to typing faster. Neuroscientist
Dr Matthew Walker, then at Harvard Medical
School, trained people to tap a complex series
of keys on a computer keyboard and tested
them 12 hours later. Those who did not sleep
between the two sessions improved their
performance by 2 per cent, whereas those who
did were 20 per cent quicker without a loss of
accuracy. This type of memory forming seems
to occur during a lighter phase of sleep called
stage two NREM.
But how does sleep achieve all this?
One answer relates to memory replay.
We know f rom recordings of brain
activity that the patterns our neurones fire
in when we?re learning during the day are
frequently replayed when we?re asleep. It?s as
if the brain carries out a rehearsal.
In slow wave sleep, there?s a synchronised
firing of millions of neurones in the outer
part of the brain ? the neocortex. These
slow pulses of electrical activity determine
when other neurones can fire, ensuring that
memory replay occurs at the same time across
all of the relevant brain structures. So if you?re
recalling a meeting with a friend, it might
ensure the visual and auditory cortices replay
her face and voice at the same time so they
match up. This co-ordinated replay is thought
to strengthen memories just as it would if you
mentally rehearse something while you?re
awake. As neuroscientists say, ?neurones that
fire together wire together?. Concurrent neural
activity strengthens the connections between
the neurones involved, shoring up the physical
basis of the memory.
TOP: A volunteer tries to learn
a word alongside a nonsense
word to study the efects of
slow-wave sleep on memory
ABOVE: The microcircuitry of
the neocortex, which stores
memory fragments, can be
seen as a forest of neurones
Sleep can work wonders with our
ability to learn motor skills ? from
riding a bike to typing faster
88 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
But it isn?t just the replaying of memories
that underpins sleep?s memory magic. Sleep?s
various stages are associated with dramatic
changes in the levels of neurotransmitters ?
chemical messengers that carry or modulate
signals between neurones and other cells in
our bodies.
Acetylcholine, which plays an important role
in keeping the brain awake, drops to half its
normal concentration during SWS. This may
help to strengthen individual memories, since
low concentrations are thought to promote the
transfer of information from a fragile shortterm storage network that relies heavily on
the hippocampus deep within our brains to
a more robust long-term storage system that
instead depends upon neocortical areas.
Of course, there?s a big catch to all
of this. On the face of it, we don?t have
much choice about the proportions of the
dif ferent sleep phases our brain obtains
in a typical night. Nor do we choose which
memories are replayed and strengthened. So
how can we use sleep as a cognitive enhancer?
The answer is that we actually have a lot more
control over these things than you might think.
Sleep is locked to the circadian cycle, the
natural 24-hour rhythm of our bodies, and
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UC BERKELEY, EPFL, BJORN RASCH/AAAS SCIENCE
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SLEEP
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you?re likely to get more REM in the morning
and more SWS in the afternoon or evening.
This means strategically planned naps can
help to ensure you get the kind of sleep you
want. Need to memorise a load of Spanish
vocabulary? Try an intense study session in
the late afternoon, followed by a SWS-filled
nap. Want to remember a highly emotional
wedding? A nap in the morning should help
out with a super dose of REM.
As well as controlling the phases of sleep,
we can also cause specific memories to be
replayed when we?ve nodded off. When sleep
researcher Bj鰎n Rasch was at the University
of L黚eck in Germany, he asked volunteers to
play a game. An array of matched card pairs
were spread out ?face down? on a computer
screen. They were then tasked with flipping
up one card and trying to remember the other
card that matched it. The volunteers played
this game several times until they had a good
memory of where every card was. While doing
this, the smell of roses was wafting in their
noses. After playing the game, everyone had
a normal night of sleep before a re-test the
next day. Some people were exposed to the
rose smell again before sleeping, some during
SWS, and some during REM.
ABOVE: A participant sleeps
wearing a mask that delivers
smells in an experiment into
how we can stimulate
memories while sleeping
Interestingly, the people who smelled roses
again during SWS improved more than any of
the other participants. The same trick works
with sounds.
Exciting new developments have shown that
we might be able to take even more direct
control over our sleep phases in f uture.
Professor Lisa Marshall at the University of
L黚eck found that if an electrical current is
injected into the head at the same frequency
that this firing normally happens in SWS ? just
a little slower than once a second ? it produces
the rhythmic activity in the brain that even
continues after the current has been switched off.
Although technically fake, this ?stimulated? SWS
dramatically improves memory consolidation.
But not everyone will feel comfortable about
having their brain artificially stimulated in
this way. The good news is that researchers at
both L黚eck and Wisconsin have found that
simply playing tones at the right frequency
while asleep has a similar effect.
People who take Modaf inil or Ritalin
should be drooling at natural ways to boost
the brain. But they aren?t the only ones
who would benefit. As we age, the amount
of SWS we obtain in a night declines.
By 75 or so, many of us will get none at all.
Importantly, it?s been found that the greater
the decline in SWS, the greater the cognitive
decline and some scientists believe the absence
of this critical sleep stage may be a factor in
the further degeneration of the brain.
If this is the case, then the artif icial
stimulation could be a panacea for older
people, helping to restore their SWS and stave
off further cortical ageing. Who knows, we
could all be getting a dose of sound therapy
while we sleep to keep our minds sharp in
old age.
Dr Penelope Lewis is a
lecturer in neuroscience
at the University of
Manchester
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Find out how sleep afects
your brain in How to Have
a Better Brain: Sleep
bbc.co.uk/programmes/
b065xcgc
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All those health questions that you?ve always wondered about
DWVPGXGTIQVTQWPFVQ?PFKPIQWVVJGCPUYGTUVQ
HOW FAR DO COUGHS
AND SNEEZES TRAVEL?
Given the number of infections that can travel through the air, it?s
horrible when someone coughs over us. But according to research
by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it?s not
just the person next to us we should worry about ? coughing spreads
droplets as far as six metres, and sneezing as much as eight metres.
These droplets stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes.
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Can eating a lot of sugar
really lead to diabetes?
Too many calories of any kind will lead to obesity,
which increases your chance of developing
diabetes. But a 2013 study found that adding 150
calories of sugar per day to your diet increases
your diabetes risk by 1 per cent, even after
accounting for obesity, physical activity and total
calorie intake. So sugar calories are especially bad.
ALAMY X2, GETTY X2
Why does cold weather
make joints sore?
7kg
The amount of weight a
person can lose in a year just
by cuting out fizzy drinks
20%
Does chicken
soup really
help a cold?
There is some evidence for
this. Several studies have
found that something in
chicken soup interferes
with the ability of white
blood cells to flock to the
scene of an infection. Since
these white blood cells
are responsible for the
inflammation of your throat
and sinuses, chicken soup
may help to relieve the
symptoms, even if it doesn?t
actually cure the infection.
I N N UM B E R S
The reduction in risk of
heart failure when you up
daily exercise from
30 to 60 minutes
D I D YO U K N OW ?
Tooth decay is not caused by
sugar but rather by the
bacteria that feed of sugar,
which make acids that over
time create a cavity
There is a psychological link ? people
who claim the weather affects their
joints do feel more pain. If
weather sensitivity was only a
physical phenomenon, then
people would be affected
whether they believed that
the variability was related
to the weather or not. But
a 2007 study also found
that every 10癈 drop
resulted in worse arthritis
pain. This may be because
cold weather causes
changes in the fluid that
lubricates each joint.
Do you use less energy
running on a machine
compared to outside?
Running outdoors requires a little extra energy
because you?re moving through the air and this creates
drag. But the difference is insignificant unless you?re
running quite fast. If you can do a mile (1.6km) in
seven minutes or less, which is a speed of 8.5mph
(13.7km/h), then the difference is about 1 per cent.
Studies have shown that running a mile uses about 100
calories, so you?ll save just a single calorie if you run
that mile on a treadmill. Or you can just set the
treadmill at a 1 per cent incline to compensate.
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vs
H E A D TO H E A D
What is worse for
your mood ?
interrupted sleep or
shortened sleep?
CHOCOLATE
Interrupted sleep. At least, that?s
what one recent study shows.
We?ve long known that sleep
deprivation makes people badtempered and miserable, and that
insomnia is linked to depression,
but exactly why is less certain.
When volunteers slept in a lab and
reported their mood every day,
some were made to go to bed later
than usual while others had their
sleep interrupted several times.
Both groups had the same total
amount of sleep but the
interrupted sleepers reported
worse changes in mood.
The researchers concluded that a
lack of slow-wave sleep, which is
the deepest type of sleep, was to
blame. But don?t jump to
conclusions. These interruptions
may be like being woken by a
crying baby or a snoring partner.
They break into your sleep cycle
unpredictably at random times,
therefore disrupting the normal
sleep pattern.
CRISPS
240kcal
ENERGY PER BAR/PACKET
169kcal
530kcal
ENERGY PER 100G
520kcal
56g
SUGAR PER 100G
2.6g
18.5g
SATURATED FAT PER 100G
2.5g
0.23g
SALT PER 100G
1.22g
Both snacks have roughly the same number of calories by weight, but the calories in
milk chocolate come from sugar and saturated fat, whereas crisps are mainly starch
and monounsaturated fat. Apart from the salt, crisps are a bit healthier.
What causes
middle-age spread?
ALAMY, GETTY X3
Babies are vulnerable to the cold, so
evolution has compensated by giving
them brown adipose tissue (BAT). About
5 per cent of the bodyweight of a newborn
baby is BAT, but from your teens onward it
gradually changes into ordinary fat tissue.
In our twenties and thirties, we generally
compensate with a more active lifestyle. But by
the time we reach our forties, that has begun to
taper off. We don?t have the same capacity or
D I D YO U K N OW ?
enthusiasm for exercise as we once did. The less
muscle tissue we have, the fewer calories we need
Gamblers are more likely
to feel optimistic and take
to support it, and yet somehow, no one tells our
a risk when sleep deprived
stomachs. One day we cross an invisible threshold
due to impaired decision
where ?calories in? are greater than ?calories out?
making
and the weight begins to pile on.
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Love our Q&A
pages? Follow our
Twitter feed
@sciencefocusQA
IS HOT WATER BETTER THAN COLD
WATER FOR HANDWASHING?
Most of the value of handwashing is the
physical rubbing and rinsing action that
dislodges bacteria from the skin?s surface. A
study at Rutgers University in the US found
that hot water was no better than cold at
removing E. coli. In fact, water that is
uncomfortably hot actually increases
the bacterial load, because it
damages the natural
protective barrier of
your skin.
Faty acids are
broken down into
smaller molecules
and fed to the
?power plants? of
our cells, the
mitochondria
What happens to lost body
fat when we lose weight?
We?d also argue that
being hooked up to lab
equipment is not
conducive to a good
night?s rest
Our fat is stored as triglycerides. When we need it for
energy, enzymes in the blood break it down into fatty acid
chains and glycerol. The fatty acids are absorbed by cells
and broken down into even smaller molecules and ?fed? to
our mitochondria (the ?power plants? of our cells). The
ultimate waste products of this complex sequence are just
CO2 and water, which we breathe out. So when you
exercise, you are turning fat into puffing and panting.
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HOW MUCH SUGAR
How long before extra
calories show on the scales?
+H[QWUVGRQPVJGUECNGUCUUQQPCU[QWJCXGC
jam doughnut, you?ll weigh an extra 70g, as
VJKUKUVJGOCUUQHVJGFQWIJPWVKVUGNH$WVI
of this is water, which you?ll lose over the next
HGYJQWTUKP[QWTDTGCVJCPFWTKPG;QWoNNNQUG
another 2g when you poop out the dietary
HKDTG6JGQVJGTIKUFKIGUVGFCPFKH[QWT
body doesn?t immediately need it to grow or for
GPGTI[KVKUUVQTGFCUHCV#UVWF[HQWPF
that the fat in your food ends up on your
YCKUVNKPGKPNGUUVJCPHQWTJQWTU
Could you survive on vitamin
pills (and water) alone?
Definitely not. Your body needs them in
small quantities, but they don?t comprise
the bulk of the food you need to survive.
For that you need the correct mix of carbs,
fats and proteins. To get enough calories to
survive you would need to eat a couple of
thousand tablets per day. But the huge
dose of vitamin A would cause liver
failure. If you stuck to the recommended
dose of one or two tablets per day, you
would simply starve to death in about
six weeks.
94 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
A lot! Sugar is an essential source
of our daily energy intake, but
eating too much of it can have dire
consequences, causing illnesses
such as diabetes and obesity. In
the last half century, global sugar
consumption has tripled, and is
expected to grow, particularly in
developing countries. The World
Health Organization recommends
limiting your daily sugar intake to
25 grams (5 teaspoons). Only 19
countries around the world eat
less than this per person per day,
and 65 countries consume more
than 100g.
SUGAR CONTENT PER 100G OF VARIOUS FOODS
Chocolate-coated biscuits 45.8g
Stir-in sweet and sour sauce 20.2g
Frosted cornflakes 37g
Fruit yoghurt 16.6g
Tomato ketchup 27.5g
Coca-Cola 10.9g
HOW ACCURATE ARE
FITNESS TRACKERS?
Fitness trackers work by using
accelerometers worn on your wrist,
waistband or shoe to count your
strides and convert that to an
approximate measure of the
distance travelled and the
ECNQTKGUDWTPGF#UVWF[
compared them to more
sophisticated lab equipment
and found that most fitness
trackers have error margins of
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1XGTCYGGMVJCVCFFUWRVQ
CDQWVQPGFC[oUYQTVJQHGZGTEKUG
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Just wearing it doesn?t
make you fit, no mater
how many you own
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DO WE
EAT?
FAC T
In the UK, children aged four to 10
consume more than double the
recommended daily amount of sugar
FAC T
Chocolate sales in
China have more
than doubled over
the past decade
FAC T
Germany is the top
sugar consuming
country in Europe,
with an average
consumption of 102.9g
per person per day
AVERAGE CONSUMPTION
OF SUGAR & SWEETENERS
> 100
24.5
people drink tea in
the UK every day
GETTY X4, PRESS ASSOCIATION
hrs
48 million
51-75
26-50
25 or less NO DATA
Why do some people get
more stressed than others?
I N N UM B E R S
Length of a person?s biological
cycle with no access to
sunlight, proving sleeping is
pre-programmed into cells
76-100
+VoUDGECWUGVJGDTCKPUCPFJQTOQPGUQHFKHHGTGPVRGQRNG
TGCEVFKHHGTGPVN[5VTGUUECWUGUVJGCFTGPCNINCPFUVQ
release hormones, including adrenaline and
EQTVKUQN2GQRNGXCT[KPJQYVJGKT#&4#$
receptors react to adrenaline and in the
response of their amygdala ? the
brain area involved in emotional
OGOQT[2GQRNGYJQIGVOQTG
stressed secrete more
cortisol, staying aroused
for longer after the
stressful situation
JCUGPFGF
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(2011 / WHO)
Grams per person per day
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D I D YO U K N OW ?
6JGVTCFKVKQPCN+PWKVFKGVFQGUKPENWFG
some berries, seaweed and plants, but a
carnivorous diet can supply all the essential
nutrients, provided you eat the whole animal,
CPFGCVKVTCY9JCNGUMKPCPFUGCNDTCKPDQVJ
EQPVCKPXKVCOKP%$WVCP+PWKVFKGVKUPoVCP[
JGCNVJKGTVJCPCOQFGTP9GUVGTPFKGV+PWKVU
have similar levels of coronary heart disease
and a higher incidence of osteoporosis and
stroke, since they get a higher proportion of
their calories from animal fat and have
NKOKVGFCEEGUUVQFKGVCT[ECNEKWO
Do tea and coffee
dehydrate you?
Health experts often warn of the
need to keep hydrated, but some
insist tea and coffee don?t
KPETGCUGJ[FTCVKQPNGXGNU
That?s supposedly because
they contain caffeine,
which makes us urinate
OQTG$WVYJKNGECHHGKPG
can have a diuretic effect,
CUVWF[D[CVGCO
from various UK
unis showed the
amounts in tea and
coffee had a
negligible
KORCEV
Is there any scientific truth
in the ?5 second rule??
Not much. Numerous studies
have shown that some bacteria
are transferred to food as soon
as it touches the floor. Bacteria
don?t sense food dropped
nearby and then home in on it
? they get glued on by moisture
and grease when the food falls
on top of them.
A 2014 undergraduate study
at Aston University found that
the amount of bacteria was
higher on food left on the
floor for 30 seconds,
compared with food that
was picked up quickly.
But this research
wasn?t published in a
peer-reviewed journal,
so it isn?t clear how
significant these results
are. Another
unpublished study at
Manchester Metropolitan
University found that very
sweet foods like
jam are
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actually less likely to get
contaminated, because
bacteria can?t grow in high
concentrations of sugar.
But while the exact proportion
of floor bacteria that gets
transferred to dropped food is
interesting, it doesn?t have
very much bearing on how safe
the food is to eat. We swim
through a soup of bacteria
everywhere we go. Bacteria
are on every surface and we
constantly pick them up with
every touch. The hand that
picks up your sandwich is
probably just as contaminated
as the kitchen counter or the
floor. We are evolved to cope
with these everyday germs
with powerful stomach acid
and an immune system to kill
them off. Undercooking your
chicken will give you food
poisoning. Eating a chicken
nugget off the kitchen floor
probably won?t.
GETTY X4, ALAMY
HOW DO INUITS GET
THEIR ?FIVE A DAY??
The simplest monosaccharide
sugar (glycolaldehyde) has
been found in stars and in the
interstellar gas near the centre
of the Milky Way
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CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
H OW T H E Y WO R K
As we are primarily active during daylight hours, our bodies have evolved a schedule for diferent metabolic processes to make sure
we use energy eficiently. Muscle performance and reaction times are optimised during the day, while tissue repair and memory
formation are handled during downtime. The circadian rhythms are the 24-hour cycles of each body part. They are controlled by the
fluctuating levels of diferent signal molecules in our cells, known collectively as biological clocks. All the clocks are synchronised by a
master clock in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is a group of around 20,000 brain cells in the hypothalamus.
1am: Teenagers start
melatonin production
4am: Morning people
reach their lowest body
temperature
3am: The deepest
part of your sleep
7am: Cortisol levels spike,
to prepare for the stresses
of the day
6am: Night owls take
another two hours to
minimum temperature
8am: 6 per cent lower
muscle performance
than in the evening
D I D YO U K N OW ?
10 per cent of people are
afected by delayed sleep
phase disorder, making them
?night owls?, which could be
caused by a mutation to
the gene CRY1.
2pm: Peak afternoon
sleepiness ? a good
time for a nap
I N N UM B E R S
39%
of household food waste
is made up of fruit and
vegetables
5x1010
7pm: Highest alertness
and fastest
reaction times
6pm: Lowest levels of
thyroid stimulating
hormone
10pm: Digestion slows
and bowel movements
are suppressed
9pm: Adults begin
producing melatonin,
making them sleepy
Are offices making us more sick?
+VoUJCTFVQDGUWTG5GXGTCNUVWFKGUJCXGHQWPFVJCVYQTMGTU
in open-plan offices take more sick days than those who
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VJKUKUOQUVN[UJQTVCDUGPEGUQHLWUVQPGQTVYQFC[U+HEQNF
viruses were spreading more in offices, you would expect
the spread of flu as well, which would knock you out for at
NGCUVCYGGM5QOC[DGQRGPRNCPQHHKEGUCTGLWUVOQTG
stressful to work in,
and employees are
more inclined to
nRWNNCUKEMKGo
The number of bacteria on
1cm3 of kitchen sponge.
Faeces is the only other
comparable substance
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SP
OF ECI
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WorldMags.net
Busy lives make it all too easy to fill up
on unhealthy snacks or skip a sensible
bedtime. But health advice can be conflicting
and confusing. In this special edition,
experts reveal the science behind how to
eat, exercise and sleep well.
FROM THE MAKERS OF BBC FOCUS MAGAZINE
WorldMags.net
hat
garlic, in any form, does not reduce
blood cholesterol.
Extracted from the seeds of the evening
primrose plant, it contains gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which is also
found in borage oil and blackcurrant
oil. Evening primrose has been heavily
promoted in the past as a treatment
for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
a nd eczema. But t he US National
Institute of Healt h a nd t he FDA
both agree that there isn?t enough
evidence to support either claim. Some
studies did find a benefit, but these
have subsequently been criticised as
poorly designed. Most of the research
in support of evening primrose was
sponsored by Efamol Ltd (a company
VJCVOCTMGVGFVJGUWRRNGOGPV|CPFVJG
BMJ has since called evening primrose
oil ?the remedy for which there is
no disease?.
RATING
RATING
O
GETTY, ALAMY
IS FOR
PRIMROSE OIL
IS FOR
ODOURLESS GARLIC
WorldMags.net
CoEnzyme Q-10 can
help treat high
blood pressure
Q
IS FOR
Q-10
Produced naturally in t he body,
coenzyme Q-10 is used by t he
mitochondria in your cells to produce
energy. Studies show that it can be an
effective treatment for chronic heart
failure or high blood pressure. But the
evidence for its usefulness against a
wide range of other diseases, such as
cancer and fibromyalgia, is currently
fairly inconclusive.
RATING
FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION 69
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
DIET
WorldMags.net
R
IS FOR
RASPBERRY KETONE
This chemical is used as a flavouring
in the food industry, but it is also
sold online as a weight-loss medicine.
Studies in rodents have shown that at
very high doses, raspberry ketone alters
the metabolism to increase the rate at
which fat is burned. But there is no
evidence that this works in humans.
RATING
The spiky fruit
of the plant
Tribulus terrestris
T
IS FOR
TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS
Vitamin K is found in plants and is
important for blood clotting and strong
bones. K2 is the bacterial form of
vitamin K, and has similar effects in
humans when taken as a supplement.
There is good evidence that it slows the
rate of bone density loss in the elderly,
although less effectively than hormone
therapy in menopausal women. A few
studies have also shown that high doses
may be helpful in treating liver cancer.
RATING
RATING
IS FOR
UVA URSI
Made from dried blue-green bacteria,
spirulina is a good source of protein
(although it doesn?t contain any vitamin
B12). There are some lab studies that
have shown possible immune system
boosting effects, but these haven?t been
replicated in humans. One small-scale
study found that spirulina was effective
at treating chronic arsenic poisoning.
The bearberry plant, Arctostaphylos
uva ursi , produces f ruit t hat
contain the hydroquinone compound
arbutin. This is an antibacterial that
passes into your urine, and one study
found it ca n be effective against
urinary tract infections, but there is
limited research into its effectiveness
in humans. Hydroquinones can also
cause liver damage in high doses, so
using it for more than five days, or
more than five times in one year is
not recommended.
RATING
RATING
S
IS FOR
SPIRULINA
70 FOCUS MAGAZINE COLLECTION
IS FOR
VITAMIN K2
Tribulus terrestris (puncturevine) is a
weed that produces small spiky fruits.
Extracts of these f ruits have been
shown to increase testosterone levels
in rodents. This doesn?t seem to happen
in humans, though. Studies have failed
to show significant improvements in
blood testosterone levels or muscle
mass. A few small-scale studies have
shown a limited improvement in male
libido and erectile function.
U
Spirulina is known
for being a good
source of protein
V
WorldMags.net
Arctostaphylos uva
ursi, commonly
known as bearberry
????? ??????????? ?????? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS
WorldMags.net
W
IS FOR
WHEATGRASS
Wheatgrass is simply the leaves of the
young wheat plant. It contains roughly
the same nutrient content as the same
weight of spinach or broccoli. As a
food, it?s fine, if a little unpleasant
tasting. As a medicine, the evidence
is very weak. Some small studies have
found that it reduces the symptoms of
ulcerative colitis and the side effects of
chemotherapy, but most of the claims
that it oxygenates the blood or rids
the body of toxins are not supported
by science.
RATING
American ginseng may lower
blood sugar and boost the
immune system
Chromium in Brewer?s
yeast is beneficial for
some diabetics
GETTY, ALAMY
X
IS FOR
XI YANG SHEN
Y
IS FOR
YEAST
Z
IS FOR
ZINC
Also known as American ginseng,
both this and Asian ginseng contain
chemicals called ginsenosides and
gintonin. Despite a long history of use
in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the
evidence for the health benefits of
ginseng is fairly weak. A few small
t rials have found t hat it lowers
blood suga r a nd also boosts t he
immune system. But cla
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