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Although exercise has been proven to increase the immune system’s ability to fight infection, sleep is a key factor too, a new report says. People who sleep for less than 6 hours a night are four times as likely to catch a cold than those who manage 7 hours a night. Sleep was found to be more important in fighting off cold and viruses than smoking, stress, education or income, which are all know to impact general health.
“It didn’t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn’t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day” said Dr Aric Prather, lead author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the University of California.
“Not getting [enough} sleep fundamentally affects your health”.
According to the sleep council more than 1/3 of people in the UK get less than 6 hours a night.
For the study, Dr Prather and the team monitored 164 volunteers for 2 months looking at their sleep patterns and other lifestyle factors. They were than administered a cold virus and monitored daily over a week. Those who slept for less than 6 hours a night were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold than those who managed 7 hours or more.
These findings were in addition to a recent study by the University of Surrey that showed those who sleep less than 6 hours a night have changes to 700 different genes.
Both studies concluded that sleep was a fundamental pillar of good health.
Exercise has been proven to help sleep too, so if you are struggling to get enough done on your own you might want to consider enlisting the help of a well qualified personal trainer from Diets Don’t Work.
If you would like your children to eat their greens you really need to start early, says a study released last week by University College London. It shows how to make babies like vegetables – if they are fed them in the first 15 days of weaning. For the study, researchers asked mums to introduce their babies to a variety of vegetables (five a day) over the course of 15 days during weaning. Then, after a two week Hiatus with no vegetables, they were then fed an unfamiliar vegetable, artichoke puree. The artichoke puree was also fed to an opposing control group who’s babies had been weaned on baby rice.
When the scientists measured how much of the puree the babies had eaten, and asked the mums how keen their little ones were on the puree, on a scale of 1-9, they found that the veggie babies had eaten twice as much as those who had previously been on the baby rice. The mums of the vegetable group also said that their babies had “quite liked it”, with an average score of 6.7/9. Those in the other control group only scored their babies 4.3. So as soon as weaning starts, start the veg – this is how to make babies like vegetables
Many people will also agree that what you are given at a young age influences what foods you like when you grow up. So start them early, be patient, and you will reap the rewards!
Good news chocolate lovers. A new study by scientists at the University of Aberdeen shows that eating up to two chocolate bars a day could lower the risk of both heart disease and strokes. Cardiovascular disease was found to be 11% lower in chocolate eaters and the risk of associated death was reduced by a whopping 25%.
The study, whose results have just been published in the medical journal Heart, followed 25,000 people in Norfolk over a period of 12 years. During the study period, 14% of those studied suffered an episode of fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke. Those eating chocolate however were the least likely to suffer from either of the two diseases. Higher chocolate intake was also found to correlate to lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and lower body mass index.
The researchers did comment that the results were”somewhat surprising”, especially as the good results were not just associated with those eating dark chocolate, but were a,so found in candidates who ate milk chocolate too, despite its high sugar content.
In years past the sight of a man in the gym or running while wearing tights would have raised eyebrows. Yet today compression clothing is very popular, in all sports and across the sexes. These tight fitting tights, socks, shorts or shirts squeeze the muscles and claim to improve performance.The Skins website, for example, says of the tights pictured (£100):
“Dynamic gradient compression is scientifically proven to accelerate blood flow to deliver more oxygen to your active muscles and remove painful lactic acid-giving you a secret edge over the competition, whatever your sport.”
But does compression clothing work? A recent study and several reviews of research raise questions as to how compression clothing works (if at all), and if it does, does it work in the way that the manufacturer claims…or is it just all in your head?
The theory seems fairly logical. The clothing (supposedly) compresses the muscles, increasing blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the muscles, improving performance in sport. There are also claims that the clothing helps proprioception (the brain’s awareness of your body movements). Better proprioception should make movement and balance better, in turn reducing the number of muscles needed for any given movement. This leads to less fatigue and improved performance.
Finally, the physical act of squeezing the muscles is claimed to improve recovery through better processing of waste lactic acid.
However the actual evidence for these claims is largely anecdotal.
In the most recent test, published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Dr Stickford from Indiana University tested 16 competitive distance runners on a treadmill, running increasing speed intervals. Gait, O2 intake and other variables were measured. The test was performed with running tights on, and then repeated without them. Dr Stickford found no difference in running efficiency or bio-mechanics with or without the tights. Another 2013 study showed that the tights/compresion clothing do not aid circulation. Although circulation was increased after exercise, this was a result of the actual exercise, not the compression clothing.
However, a review of some 30 studies into compression gear determined that it “may assist athletic performance and recovery in given situations”. These instances were found to be in explosive sports like sprinting and basketball. The review also found that athletes doing strength training reported feeling less sore after workouts with compression gear on than without.
However, both studies concluded that the effects of compression clothing probably owed something the mind. Co-authour of one of the the reviews, Billy Sperlich, professor of exercise science at the University of Wurzburg in Germany said
“We can’t blind people in exercise studies about whether they are wearing compression garments or not”.
So the expectation of improved results are likely to actually improve results. Mr Sperlich said that “since beliefs are strong performance enhancers, I would recommend compression clothing to persons who believe in the performance-enhancing effect,”.
So the good news is that if you think that they work, then they most likely will…a bit. The other good news is that no study has has found compression clothing to hinder performance. Dr Stickford said that if you do decide to have a go squeezing into something tight for the sake of improvement, “there’s not much to lose apart from $40 or so”.
Another study released this month shows the powers of exercise for the elderly. Just 1/2 an hour of physical activity on six days a week is likely to add 5 years to the life of elderly men, according to a new study.
The research, published in the British Journal of Sports medicine, found that elderly men who did three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity spread over the week have a 40% lower risk of fatality than those who did not exercise. The study also found that increasing physical activity was nearly s beneficial as stopping smoking.
The team, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences based their study on thousands of men who were born between 1923 and 1932 who were then given health checks in the 1970s when they were all in their forties. The health checks cover height, weight, blood pressure, lifestyle habits like smoking and the amount of exercise that they did. In 2000 those still alive were invited back for another round of health checks, and of these, nearly 6,000 were monitored for the next 12 years – until they reached their late seventies and eighties.
Light vs heavier exercise
Those who did little exercise over the course of the week saw little change in mortality rates – they did less than 1 hour of light physical activity. However, even just an hour of vigorous exercise done over the week showed a reduction in the risk of dying from 23% to 37%.
The more time the subjects did strenuous exercise (getting properly out of breath) the lower the risk of death seemed to be, from 36% to 49% for those doing 6 hours a week. Even the study was “observational”in its basis – only those healthier subjects that were still alive in the first place were studied – the researchers say that the differences in mortality rates for those who were active vs those who did little activity was very striking.
This also correlates with the latest research into exercise, showing that short but vigorous activity (or high intensity interval training) has far greater benefits over longer, endurance based exercise.
So if you have a father, mother, friend or relative who is in their 60s or over, encourage them to get moving and to start some interval training. It’s never too late! The ultimate solution might be some 50+ fitness with a DDW personal trainer.
Cycling is a great way not just to get fit but also is one of the greenest modes of transport. Although you may not be able to cycle all the way to work you may be able to do part of the journey on bicycle if you get a folding bike. These can fit easily into the boot of your car and can be assembled in seconds. Folding bikes also have the huge advantage of being allowed on most public transport in the UK, including trains and most busses. They are also much easier to take away with you on holidays and some of them are good on all terrain, not just city streets.
Cycling to work (or at least part of the way) is also a super time effective way of getting exercise that you may not have time to fit in. It can keep you healthy and prevent heart disease and cancer.
So here are the best folding bikes 2015; they are not cheap but they hold their value well and of course you could think about a good second-hand model too.
Brompton M1E – ideal for commuting, the M1E weighs in at just 10kg and has the well known easy folding mechanism. A lack of gears is why it’s so light, but it still cycles easily and is very quick on level surfaces. (£770 www.evanscycles.com)
Montague Paratrooper – Most folding bikes have small wheels and are best suited to city terrain, but the Paratrooper is a proper folding mountain bike complete with 24 gears. It also has disk brakes on the front rear wheel for braking in the wet. (£720 www.halfords.com)
Pacific Cycles IF move – Pretty light at just 11kg and winner os several design awards, the IF move can be folded in just 2 seconds. You can also get it to go super small by unscrewing the handlebars. It’s a bit pricey though. (£2200 www.fudgesccylesonline.com)
Dahon Visc P18 – a cross between a conventional folding bike and a mountain bike, the P18 can cover both city streets and also rougher terrain. It’s made by well respected US brand Dahon and also looks cool. (£720 halfords.com)
Dublin Explorer – a great bike for those who are looking to spend less (bikes tend to get stolen eventually away!) the Explorer has 6 gears for negotiating hills, folds in just 60 seconds and weighs in at a respectable 13kg (£109 www.bicycles4u.com)
If you look the part you will feel the part. If, in your head, having the latest kit makes you faster, then it may well make you faster. Check out the best running accessories.
1 – Silva Trail Speed Head Torch. It’s really light (only 222g) and has not one but two high powered LEDs that can be seen from up to 85m away. The “intelligent light technology” produces a bright but wide beam, so you will be able to see the full width of where you are, not just a focussed tunnel. £130 www.torch direct.co.uk
2 – Glofaster Running jacket. This running jacket has red LEDs running along the seams that are highly visible to other road users and pedestrians. It also has an app that when paired with a smartphone will make the lights on the arms flash if you are going too slowly! You might even look a bit like bono. £165, www.glofaster.com
3 – Osprey rev solo Bottle pack. Unlike some other bumbags the Rev sits well in place and stops any jiggling around. It comes with its own bottle and also a transparent pouch for a smartphone, so that you can see the phone as you run. £25, www.ospreyeurope.com
4 – Grid Foam Roller X. As we age our muscles become tighter, and running can exacerbate this. This reasonably hard foam roller will lengthen the muscles and ease out any knots. It’s a little painful, but really works. Remember that the more pressure you use, the slower you need to roll. £45, www.sportsshoes.com
5 – Monster isport headphones – the “wing” on each earphone grips it in place so that there is no movement while running. Rather than being fully isolated, these sit on the ear, not in it, and so allow you to hear any approaching traffic. They also sound great. £50, www.monsterproducts.com
It’s all good and well having your PT help you to eat healthily, sort out your kitchen and weekly shop so that you are all prepared to eat well, but when you go out it can be easy to undo a weeks’ good work in just one meal.
However you can make healthy choices when eating out; it will still be tasty and you will still have fun, but with less calories.
Here are five points with some concrete examples of how to make healthy choices eating out.
1 – Be prepared to tailor-make dishes. Remember that you are the customer, so be prepared to be just a little awkward and ask for things to be changed – cooked differently, things added or taken away and so on. So if a dish comes with roasted potatoes, ask if they can do some sweet potatoes or brown seasoned rice instead. If something is fried, ask if it can be grilled. Always have dressings on the side – and just add enough to taste. Quite often a salad can be made very calorific by adding lots of dressing.
2 – Always order a salad based starter, even before considering the main course. This way you will already be feeling less indulgent when you chose the main and will be less likely to have desert. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University discovered that volunteers who ate a salad before the main course ate fewer calories overall than those who didn’t have a first-course salad. Olives and nuts are good too, but don’t have too many as they are quite calorie dense.
3 – Check the menu before you leave home. Nearly all restaurants now have a menu on their website. By looking through it you will be ready to make good choices rather than arrive hungry and mentally switched off. It’s in these moments of relaxation that bad things can happen.
4 – Avoid breads. It’s ever so easy to go for some garlic bread, pate and toast or some sort of bread selection with olive oil. The latter is a oil songs soaking up a hugh amounts of calories from the oil and delivering them in a starch wrapped meal that will spike blood sugars and cause more eating later on. The same goes for the pate and the bread selection. Have salad and protein if possible.
5 – Swap foods.
Exchanging one food for another is a crafty way of eating out healthily.
Therefore some great restaurant-specfic guides on the cooking light website, one of our favourites.
In our spring newsletter we held the DDW spring quiz. Thank you for all your answers! Although some of you have used google to good effect for text book answers, all the quiz answers (and questions) are UK based. As such the answers need to be UK relevant. This may have led to different answers to questions like “how many calories are there in a vodka and soda?” The answer should be for a single UK measurement. Everyone got this one wrong but the winner was closest.
The winner is..Gurinder Whall, the DDW swot and keen teacher’s pet. Congratulations to her and we will be sure to make that free session hurt. A lot.
1 – In the nutritional world, what does GI stand for? Glycaemic Index
2 – What is insulin? A hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and triggers fat storage.
3 – How many calories are there in a pint of beer and a vodka and soda, respectively? 170 cal (John Smith’s Bitter) / 55 cal
4 – What is the world record for the plank? 4h 26m
5 – Name all three hamstrings. Semitendinosus / Semimembranosus / Biceps femoris
6 – What is the most calorific beverage available at Starbucks? How many calories are in it? Single hot chocolate with whipped cream (venti, whole milk) – 690 cal (From the Uk Starbucks website!)
7 – What is the most important factor in getting a flat tummy/six-pack? Nutrition
8 – What is the HPT axis? Hypothalamus / Piturity ? Thyroid – is part of the endocrine system responsible for the regulation of metabolism.
9 – How many calories are there in 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of carbohydrate respectively? 9cal / 4cal
10 – What is the full pedigree name of the Diets Don’t Work mascot Wilson? Clue – it is on our website…somewhere. Villinelle Mystify Me
Elderly people who eat spinach and other leafy greens stay smarter than those who do not, shows a new study. Just one to two helpings a day can give you the brain power of someone eleven years younger. Scientists believe that the natural colourings lutein, beta carotene combined with vitamin K and vitamin B9 are behind the brain-protective properties of spinach.
The researchers, from Rush University in Chicago, studied 950 people with an average age of 81. By looking at their nutrition and then performing rigorous mental tests every year for ten years, they discovered that the brains of those eating even small quantities of leafy greens on a daily basis aged more slowly. The effect was marked, showing a brain age 11 years younger than counterparts who did not eat leafy greens as much.
Dr Martha Morris who led the research said: ‘Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older.
‘Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain.
‘With baby boomers approaching old age, there is huge public demand for lifestyle behaviours that can ward off loss of memory and other cognitive abilities with age.
‘Our study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning.’
Along with spinach, vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene are also found in kale, tomatoes, carrots and peppers. So even if you are not as fond of spinach as Popeye, there are other options!