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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!
It’s often the case, especially for those that work odd or late hours, that you get the hunger attack late on before you go to bed. Although this is not the best time to be eating – eating while activity levels are low means that you are much more likely to store this energy as fat – there are some steps that you can take and things you can eat that will help avoid weight gain. So here are some healthy late night snacks.
Of course the first thing to do is to try and not get hungry in the evening in the first place. When we eat our blood sugar levels rise. This energy is then either used for activity, or if you are relaxing, insulin is released, instructing the cells to store this energy; some of it in the muscles and liver, but some of it as fat. It’s better, therefore, to try and match food intake to energy levels. So try to eat earlier in the day when activity levels are higher.
Planning also helps. If you can make healthy food to have during the day (or when you are most active) this will avoid any skipping of meals and then the late night hunger attack.
The second pointer is to give yourself at least an hour before eating and going to bed. Again, this makes it less likely that you will store energy taken on as fat.
Try not too have too much sugar or refined and processed carbohydrate either. This is very easily processed by the gut into blood sugar.
The final rule is to try and keep below 300 calories. Anything more and you will be in an energy surplus-fat-storing-state.
1 – Berry yoghurt shake. A natural yoghurt (Greek has the lowest sugar content) blended with berries contains a low GI fruit, oodles of vitamins, protein and fat to fill you up less calories than crackers.
2 – Frozen blueberries with cream. Use whipping cream to keep the calories low. Low in sugar, high in nutrients, with a bit of fat and protein to boot.
3 – Humous with crudités. made from chickpeas, homous contains a bit of protein, lots of complex carbohydrate and very little sugar. Dip with vegetables or fruit like cucumber and carrot batons.
4 – Scrambled eggs. Not just for breakfast, but quick and filling anytime. Add chillies, green and red sweet peppers and even some cheese for extra interest.
5 – Low GI fruit. Avocado and coconut (ok, it’s a nut) are healthy and filling and won’t spike blood sugar. But berries and even a green apple will work too.
Welcome to our spring challenge; for once not burpees or skipping but a simple quiz. Just email us the answers to email@example.com and keep your fingers crossed. The winner will be announced on easter weekend and the answers will be posted on the site here and also on our Facebook page. Please note that we can only give you the session if you live in an area covered by our trainers; If not feel free to enter, we will send you a kit-kat if you win instead.
1 – In the nutritional world, what does GI stand for?
2 – What is insulin?
3 – How many calories are there in a pint of beer and a vodka and soda, respectively?
4 – What is the world record for the plank?
5 – Name all three hamstrings.
6 – What is the most calorific beverage available at Starbucks? How many calories are in it?
7 – What is the most important factor in getting a flat tummy/six-pack?
8 – What is the HPT axis?
9 – How many calories are there in 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of carbohydrate respectively?
10 – What is the full pedigree name of the Diets Don’t Work mascot Wilson? Clue – it is on our website…somewhere.
Not only are eggs a great source of protein, helping you to maintain lean muscle mass and tempering high blood sugar levels that may be caused by a carbohydrate-only breakfast, but they may also make you a nicer person. Having an egg for breakfast may also damage your wallet..but in a good way. This is the interesting conclusion of a new study which has found that people are far more likely to give money to charity after a triple egg omelette.
As well as containing plenty of clean protein (and not as many calories as you would think) eggs are full of amino acids and every vitamin that we need, with the exception of vitamin C. Researchers in the Netherlands now think that a particular amino acid – tryptophan, or TRP – also plays a key role in the production of serotonin, the “mood” hormone that makes people feel happy and generous.
In the research, 16 subjects were given powdered TRP in a dose equivalent to three eggs. The other 16 people in the study were given a placebo powder. All of them were given €10 as their fee for taking part and were then asked if they would be willing to donate some or all of the money to charity. Donation boxes for well-known charities including the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and Unicef were provided for donations. At the end of the study those who had eaten the TRP gave exactly twice as much as those on the placebo.
Eggs are a great alternative to the usual processed starchy foods that are traditional at breakfast time in the western world. They are filling due to the high protein content, and you can also use them as a good way of getting some of your 5 a day greens and vegetables. An omelette with two whole eggs, some green peppers, onions and chillies (if you like that sort of thing) would have under 200 calories in it, but lots of protein, vitamins and minerals. The high protein content will also ensure that you stay fuller for longer too!
By Adam Atkinson
The belief that a glass or two of wine in the evening will help you sleep has been shown to be a fallacy by a new study. Research in Australia has shown that although alcohol will make you feel drowsy and will help you to drop off faster, alcohol causes poor sleep. For thefts, 24 healthy males and females were invited to spend a few days at the Sleep Research laboratory at the University of Melbourne. Each night they were then given either a vodka and orange or or the placebo – a glass of orange juice with a straw that had been dipped in Vodka. They then went to bed at their haul times with their heads covered in tiny electrodes to monitor their brainwaves.
This revealed that on the evenings that they had drunk alcohol the sleepers experienced more slow-wave delta patterns (usually associated with deep sleep) but also alpha wave brain patterns, they type usually present when people are awake. having both alpha and delta wave patterns shows interrupted, disturbed sleep. In previous research these alpha wave patterns were only seen when subjects were given mild electric shocks in sleep.
So lay off the booze, at least for a few nights, and you might end up feeling a lot more rested. A useful tool to measure how much you are actually drinking is the drink aware app – try it, just for now week!
Numerous studies last year showed that using electronic tablets before bed time was bad for your quality of sleep. Now even more research shows that even using them as a reader can impair a good night’s rest, and shows that your iPad may be making you fat.
The study, by Harvard Medical School, gave one test group an iPad to read at night; the other test group got an actual paper book. Those who had read from the iPad tool, on average, 10 minutes longer to nod off, spent less time in deep REM sleep and also produced less melatonin. They were also found to be much less alert in the morning after waking.
The results supported evidence from other recent studies that the short wavelength “blue” light emitted by these devices suppresses the production of melatonin. It also does so more than any other source of light.
Not only will this lack of sleep make you tired, but the stress experienced by the body also leads to the production of cortisol. This stress related hormone is interpreted by the body as a signal to store more fat – to ensure survival in troubles times. So reading your iPad could be making it more difficult to lose weight, and could actually be making you fat!
By Adam Atkinson
As we enter the new year here is our 2014 health and fitness review – both the good and the bad. From the uselessness of vitamin supplements to the benefits of standing up, we learned a lot in 2014.
Although generally frowned on by your GP, the fasting diet, where calories are drastically lowered for a couple of days a week, were found to have a remarkable effect on the immune system, we were told in June. In tests on both humans and mice, fasting for two days a week triggers a “regenerative switch”, making the body produce more white blood cells. These blood cells fight illnesses, so fasting could be used by the elderly or those with damaged immune systems (from chemotherapy, for example) to generate a new one. Source – The University of Southern California
Standing is a great idea if you want to have a pert bottom said a study in April by the University of Tel Aviv. When fat cells are subjected to “chronic, sustained pressure” they expand by 50%, becoming both bigger and heavier. This is what happens when we sit for prolonged periods, so try to stand and walk, even in the office, at least every 20 minutes.
Although not technically good for us, these previously “vilified” fats do not have the negative impact on health as previously thought. For nearly half a century the consensus has been that saturated fats raise the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. The NHS still advocates reducing intake to around 25g a day. But researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a “mega-study” covering 600,000 people in 18 countries, and found that there is no “clearly supportive evidence” to support the NHS advice. The study showed that although trans fats increased a person’s likelihood of getting heart disease, saturated fats made little difference.
Many parents worry that endless hours in front of computer games is addling their childrens’ brains. But a study released by Oxford University in August showed that this worry may be misplaced. Involving 5000 children aged from 10 to 15, the research showed that those who spent up to an hour a day playing were happier, more sociable and better behaved than those who did not play computer games. Even playing for up to 3 hours a day was found to have no harmful effects (apart from the obvious effect on fitness). The study concluded that the games provided cognitive and social stimulation to a much greater extent that their TV based counterparts.
These were found to be a waste of time and money by a team at the University of Johns Hopkins in the USA. In January they declared “case closed” on a long running debate as to the effectiveness of vitamin supplements. Reviewing more than 25 studies involving 500, 000 people the University concluded that over the counter supplements had no benefits for “well nourished adults” and should not be taken for health benefits or disease prevention.
Known to be bad for us in excess for a long time, the year saw further dammning evidence for drinking. A decade-long study of 7,00 people found that boozing in middle age appeared to accelerate cognitive decline. Those that drank the equivalent of 2 ½ pints a day were found to have the verbal fluency, memory and mathematical ability of a 70 year old – when they were just 60. Moderate drinkers (1 pint a day) were unaffected.
These were given the thumbs down when research in September found that sweeteners in diet drinks can fool the metabolism, causing blood sugar levels to rise and making people overweight. There was also found to a mental factor too; those an diet drinks felt that they had more leeway in other areas of their diet and so ate more sweet treats.
Fruit juices, fizzy drinks and cordials.
The sugar in fruit juices and smoothies was labelled bad in February, when a study suggested that those who get their sugars from drinks with added sugar (as opposed to natural sources) were 1/5th more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. British children consume 40% more added sugar that the recommended maximum, and the biggest source of thus was found to be fizzy drinks, fruit juices and cordials.
By Adam Atkinson
Shocking Christmas fact: he average UK adult puts on 5lbs over Christmas and eats 7000 calories on actual Christmas day itself. That’s nearly 6 days’ worth of energy, in one sitting. Here are Diets Don’t Work’s 6 tips on how to stay slim over Christmas
Although losing weight over the festive season might not be the most realistic of goals, how about a more achievable weight maintenance program? With just a little bit of exercise (you don’t even have to get breathless…much) and some smart food choices – both in terms of timing and content – you can have your cake and eat it.
If doing all of the above may seem like a bit of an effort; it’s so easy to just switch off a Christmas. But it will be much more of an effort to try and lose 5 lbs later on down the line. Especially in depressing January.
So take these simple steps and have a happy, but weight static Christmas!
Eating a Mediterranean diet can not only prevent heart disease and lead to a longer life, but it can keep the very essence of you – your DNA- young, says a new study from the US.
The researchers from Boston followed 5000 nurses over the course of a decade and found that the mix of fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry and good fats found in olive oils protected their DNA from the usual ageing found in those eating a more western diet. Typically this includes more red meats, saturated fats and more starchy vegetables.
The vitamin and nutrient rich meteterranean foods were found to be a protective buffer against the unravelling of our DNA. The study looked at TELOMERES, tiny structures that protect the ends of our chromosomes, which store our DNA. These “caps” prevent the loss and degradation of our DNA a during cell division. Throughout the natural ageing process our cells divide and our telomeres get shorter, with structural integrity weakening. This can actually cause the cells to die. Experts believe now that telomere length is a strong indicator of cellular ageing. Coversely, short, damaged telomeres are now being linked to a range of age-related diseases, from heart disease to cancer.
In the study, those nurses who ate a Mediterranean diet had longer and healthier telomeres. The study also showed that no single food stood out as the main producer of healthier DNA, and so emphasises the need for variety and a healthy all around diet.
The British Heart Foundaion said that the results reinforced their advice that eating a balanced and healthy diet can reduce chances of heart disease. Heart disease remains the largest age-related cause of death in the UK.
By Robert Adam Atkinson
Most of us may have tried some sort of fitness tracker in the past, with the most popular choice being Garmin. These little clever devices use GPS satellites to track where, how fast, how high and how long you have been running, swimming, cycling and even kitesurfing for. Despite being the most popular brand, there are lots of other choices; here is our fitness trackers review, and the best four.
Tom Tom multi sport cardio
The Tom Tom multi sport cardio monitors your heart rate without the need for a chest strap. Not only is this easier and less faffy but also avoids the dreaded chest strap stink. Instead it monitors heart rate by measuring blood flow through the wrist. It’s also waterproof to 50m and can provide information not just on distance run but also calories burned. £250 www.tomtom.com
Samsung gear fit
This nifty watch has a superb extra wide screen and combines fitness monitoring with smart functionality. It can connect to galaxy phone, allowing you to read emails and texts. £169; www.samsung.com
This bad boy comes in a choice of nine different colours, and is also the most sleek and unobtrusive of the trackers on the market. It uses an app, so once you have set your goals the circular pattern of lights show you how far you have come – and soon it will be over! £80; www.johnlewis.com
This slim and lightweight tracker use light reflective technology to detect your heart rate, breathing patterns and blood oxygenation levels. It then combines them into a “vita” score of your overall fitness. It just plugs into your phone, you touch the sensor with your thumb, and off you go! £74 for IOS; www.zensorium.com/tinkie