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So why has this dramatic change in the frequency of these allergic conditions occurred?
To answer this we need to consider what predisposes humans to develop allergies in the first place. One essential pre-condition is to be born with an inherited tendency for allergy. This is coded in our genes and inherited from our parents. This allergic tendency is called atopy and someone with the predisposition is known as an atopic person. However, it is certainly not guaranteed that an atopic person will always go on to become an allergic person. So has the increase in allergy been due to a change in our inherited predisposition or from a change in our environment? The answer is fairly obvious if we consider that genes do not change easily or quickly. The abrupt rise in allergy in the last fifty years would have required an equally abrupt change in our genes. This is quite impossible, and so the only valid explanation is that the increase in allergy is caused by environmental (including life style) changes. So it is not that more people have become allergy-prone, more allergy-prone people have become allergic because factors in the environment have added together to cause it. Until the end of the 19th century, agriculture and other outdoor occupations were the norm, houses offered very basic comfort and levels of hygiene were very poor. Allergy was rare and mostly affected people from the privileged classes. With the advent of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, life changed dramatically and irreversibly. People abandoned agriculture in favour of industry which was expanding and offering more employment. The population became more affluent and levels of personal comfort and hygiene improved. Housing characteristics also changed. Houses became better sealed with insulated windows and constant heating to maintain a temperature above 18-20 degrees Celsius. People mainly worked indoors and mechanisation reduced the level of physical activity. Hobbies also changed, as people abandoned physical pursuits in favour of sedentary activities. There was also a major shift in the composition of our diet. Huge increases in the consumption of sugar, salt and commercially modified fats occurred as people replaced home prepared natural foods with commercially produced convenience foods. Major changes in transportation also occurred as cars trains and planes replaced the less efficient, but also less pollutant, animal transportation. All these changes started at the end of the 19th century, but became more prominent in the second half of the 20th century, coinciding precisely with the period when the rise in prevalence of the allergic diseases occurred. Scientists are now convinced that amongst these life style changes there are allergy-inducing influences whilst, at the same time, many protective influences have been lost.
Currently, there’s only one treatment that ‘cures’ allergies – desensitisation immunotherapy. This involves administering minute amounts of the allergen – either orally or via injection – and increasing the dose until tolerance is achieved. This method has been highly successful in treating grass pollen and insect venom allergies. It has been less successful with house dust mite and pet allergies. It is also relatively unsuccessful with food allergies and in some cases has triggered severe allergic reactions. Immunotherapy by injection of the allergen under the skin (known as SIT – systemic immunotherapy) should be done under hospital supervision. It usually takes 12 weekly injections to achieve tolerance. After this, monthly maintenance injections are required for a further three to five years. Immunotherapy taken orally, either as tablets or droplets under the tongue, is called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) and can safely be administered at home. These methods shouldn’t be confused with EPD (enzyme potentiated desensitisation), which is an ineffective procedure. For most allergies, the mainstay of treatment and management is specific allergen avoidance and, failing this, long-term, low-dose inhaled or topically applied steroids (cortisone) together with non-sedating antihistamine medication. Antihistamines have advanced and are now more specific to the histamine receptors in our tissues and less prone to unwanted side-effects, such as sedation and drying of mucous membranes. Inhaled and topical (applied to skin) steroids have also become more targeted and are now less likely to cause systemic effects, such as growth problems in children and osteoporosis or cataracts in adults.
Theophylline tablets have all but been withdrawn from use in treating asthma owing to unpredictable effects and lack of benefit. But a new generation of drugs called phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors is an exciting development, as these may both open the airways and reduce lung inflammation. Drugs that act on specific chemicals involved in allergic inflammation are being developed (they are now widely available). These include leukotriene receptor antagonists, such as montelukast and zafirlukast, which block the effects of leukotrienes, the chemicals that promote allergic inflammation.
One of the most exciting developments in medical science this century is the so-called biological agents, or monoclonal antibodies. Patients with allergies have increased blood levels of the antibody IgE, which triggers mast cells to release histamine and other inflammatory mediators. If the effect of IgE is blocked, the allergic reaction is stopped in its tracks. Humanised monoclonal antibody proteins cling to free immunoglobulin IgE in the bloodstream and render it inactive, preventing allergies from developing. They also stick to the activation areas on mast cells preventing IgE from attaching, as well as reducing the overall manufacture of IgE in the body. The monoclonal antibody omalizumab is available as a treatment for asthma and rhinitis. Similar monoclonal antibodies can be used to prevent food allergic reactions by blocking the effect of IgE. These wonder proteins have a general ‘calming’ effect on many forms of inflammation, including arthritis, colitis and skin diseases. As with any new drug, they’re expensive. They also have to be given by injection – being proteins, they’d be digested and rendered inactive if taken orally.
A drawback of immunotherapy is that it carries a significant risk of triggering an allergic reaction. So if the allergy-provoking part of the allergen could be removed, while retaining the part our immune system recognises, the ‘neutralised’ allergen could be successfully desensitised without the risk of an unwanted reaction when it’s administered. Modified vaccines are in the final stages of development and could soon be mass produced for immunotherapy to many environmental allergens and foods. Researchers are also developing specific plasmid and short DNA protein vaccines, which appear even more effective if given while bound to ‘friendly’ probiotic or inactivated bacteria. Over the next ten years, doctors hope many conditions, such as allergic asthma, rhinitis and food allergies, will be cured by such vaccines.
Eating processed meats, such as bacon, ham and sausages, can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, research suggests. Processed meats are already linked to a higher chance of developing bowel cancer but a round-up of research has now shown a link with other conditions. Now remember that all these reports should be taken with a pinch of salt (ha ha) andthat moderation are the key as I keep preaching. You would think that a health guru like myself would never ever have sausages, but I have been known to have the odd cooked breakfast here and there, but just not all the time. The 80%/20% rule is a great one to follow. Be good by eating natural meats/fish, fruit (sparingly) nuts and seeds (sparingly), pulses, beans and vegetables 80% of the time, exercise efficiently, and then you can enjoy not so perfect food for the other 20% of the time.As a bit of a saltaholic it might also be a good idea to get a lowsalt brand like lo-salt into the kitchen. These give you the taste of salt with potassium (good) but cut down on the damaging areterial clogging sodium. Anyway, here’s the report!
A review by the Harvard Public School of Health examined 20 worldwide published studies involving more than a million people. It found a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes for each daily serving, on average, of 50g of processed meat. A 50g serving is roughly equivalent to two rashers of bacon or one hot dog. Unprocessed red meats, such as beef, pork or lamb, do not raise the risk. Researchers believe the levels of salt and preservatives in processed meat could explain the disparity. The study defined processed meat as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with chemical preservatives added to it. Such meats include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli or luncheon meats.
Writing online in the journal Circulation, the authors said:
“Consumption of processed meats, but not red meats, is associated with higher incidence of coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus (type 2). These results highlight the need for better understanding of potential mechanisms of effects and for particular focus on processed meats for dietary and policy recommendations.”
The authors said that studies had until now shown an inconsistent link between meat, heart disease and diabetes. They found the effects held true even when lifestyle factors were taken into account. Lead author. Renata Micha, a research fellow in the department of epidemiology, said: “When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives. This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats.”
Salt is known to increase blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease. Studies on animals have shown that nitrate preservatives can cause a buildup of hard deposits in the arteries and reduce the body’s ability to handle sugars, which can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating,” said Micha. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid. Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk.”
Two rashers of bacon a day throughout life has been linked to a 20% increase in the risk of developing bowel cancer. Men in the UK eat an average of nearly 50g of processed meat a day compared with just 24g for women, research has shown. The average person has a risk of bowel cancer of five in 100, but this rises to six in 100 if they eat an extra 50g of processed meat per day, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). Their scientists estimate that about 10% of the 37,000 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK each year could be prevented if everyone ate less than 70g of processed meat a week – roughly three rashers of bacon. Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said red meat could form part of a healthy, balanced diet if properly prepared.
“Go for lean cuts and aim to cook from scratch using healthier cooking methods like grilling or baking,” she said.
“If you need to add flavour, then try using fresh and dried herbs, spices and chilli instead of salt.”
Roller Coasters can cause temporary deafness warns the daily telegraph. When a roller coaster car increases or decreases altitude suddenly by going down those long frightening slopes and then back up, there is a sudden difference in air pressure outside the ear and within it. This can create a condition known as barotrauma. Symptoms include short term hearing loss, dizziness, pain, or the feeling that the ear has popped. The advice is to not turn your head to one side during a ride, as this can focus extra pressure on one ear. Flying and deep sea diving are other things that can induce barotrauma.
There are some drugs that help with the symptoms of asthma, and these usually fall into two categories: reliever drugs and preventer drugs. In addition to the prescription approach some believe that a more homeopathic approach works, with treatments from accupuncture to aromatherapy having their fans. These alternative and complementary therapies include herbal and traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy and dietary supplementation with vitamins, minerals or fish oils. Physical therapies include acupuncture, Alexander technique, manual therapy including massage and spinal manipulation, and physical exercise training. There has been a lot of media coverage of breathing exercises including yoga and the Buteyko method. Although many scores of clinical trials have been carried out there is insufficient evidence to recommend any of these therapies. Asthma experts recommend that people with asthma should not be treated solely with any alternative therapy.
However keep in mind that recent studies show that the placebo effect is so strong that even if these natural therapies don’t work (and they may) if you think they work then they will! Just being fit and healthy, at a healthy weight will help.
Of the medical treatments here are some of the relievers; these are drugs that relax the muscles in the airways, making the airways (bronchi and bronchioles) open wider (dilate). For this reason, these drugs are also called bronchodilators. They are taken immediately when you have asthma symptoms to help make it easier to breathe again. Everyone with asthma should have a reliever inhaler. Beta2 agonists are one type of bronchodilator drug, and the most commonly used. They act on beta2 receptors in the lung tissue. When beta receptors are stimulated they make the muscle relax, the airways widen, bringing relief of symptoms. Corticosteroids(sometimes shortened to steroids) are the most commonly used preventers. Drugs include beclametasone (brand names include AeroBec, Asmabec, Beclazone, Cecodisk, Clenil Modulite and Qvar) and budesonide (brand names include Novolizer, Pulmicort). Steroids work by reducing the inflammation in your airways. Once the inflammation has gone, your airways are much less hyper-sensitive and less likely to become narrow and cause asthma symptoms. Steriods can cause a range of side effects, especially over long-term use. Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance the control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep the side effects to a minimum. Unlike bronchodilators, steroids take some time to reduce inflammation so you need to use your preventer inhaler for seven to 14 days before you gain the full benefit. Once your preventer has reduced the inflammation in your airways, you won’t usually need to use your reliever inhalers. Leukotriene receptor antagonists (sometimes shorted to LTRAs), including montelukast (brand name Singulair) and zafirlukast (brand name Accolate), are another type of preventer tablet. They are often used in children. They work by blocking one of the chemicals released when you come into contact with an asthma trigger, so can be particularly effective if asthma is triggered by exercise or allergies. They are generally taken once or twice a day, even when you are feeling well.
As with all nutritional things there is a sea of contradictions. One report in a women’s magazine may say that celebrity a can’t go near them. The next week the same magazine may well have a piece in it where celebrity B eats only bananas.
So what’s the scoop? Here is the nutritional label for a banana.
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrates 27g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g|
|Vitamin A||2%||Vitamin C||17%|
|* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.|
They spit. And sometimes blow snot out of their noses in front of millions. I’m not talking about water bison on the nature channel, but of course a world cup footballer. Some of them are charming, eligible and good looking I’m sure, but they are all jolly fit and toned, so what can we learn from how they eat? Meticulous menu planning has been one of the biggest changes to footballers’ lives since England won the World Cup in 1966 when a diet of chip butties, ketchup, tea and a packet of Rothmans was still seen as acceptable preparation. Modern footballers like all professional athletes have carefully planned nutrition that usually incorporates the following:
Eating foods like these also benefits ordinary people like us, making us fuller for less calories, giving us even blood sugar levels and so controlling cravings.Although take it easy on the pasta unless you are going to be exercising hard in about 2 hours time. The official shopping list of England’s world cup squad shows a distinct New Age influence too with seaweed sheets, pine nuts, sushi rice, organic chocolate and jasmine tea all making the cut — as have brown sauce and custard. The official list of food requested by the Football Association to fuel Fabio Capello’s finest inSouth Africa reflects modern fiery tastes with Tabasco sauce, Wasabi paste, chili dipping sauce and English mustard all in the line-up. Nutritionists said the choice of hot sauces reflected current thinking that footballers need exciting food to stop them getting bored with their carefully controlled diets. Tesco nutritionist Laura Street said: “Sports nutrition has changed since England won the World Cup in 1966 when no attention was particularly paid to footballers’ diets and meal plans. “It is always important to enjoy food but if the players become bored with what’s on the menu they’re likely to eat less and that will affect their performance.”
Capello is known to be obsessive about the importance of diet and has asked former Hollywood chef Tim De’Ath to draw up menus. He has devised the “perfect snack” for the players to eat — oatcakes with cottage cheese or salmon.
So we can see here that although the basic all natural approach (or wholefood diet as it is more widely known) may sound a bit boring there are plenty of ways of spicing it up; you don’t just have to eat brown rice, steamed veg and lean grilled fish and chicken. Although if you did eat this in small portions for a few weeks I can guarantee that you will lose size and probably weight!
Good luck with the world cup, just think of all the free shopping hours you have away from a grumpy man trying to