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Hitting the fridge and going to town is one of the well known effects of taking cannabis. But up until now scientists have been unable to explain the relationship; how does the active ingredient of cannabis (tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) cause such a surge in appetite?
But a new study by researchers at the University of Bordeaux has found that THC binds to cannabinol receptors in the brain dramatically increasing the sense of taste and smell which in turn stimulates the appetite. Although the tests were done on mice, if the findings are the same for humans, says The New Scientist, then doctors might one day be able to treat common conditions like obesity and anorexia with a simple nasal spray that either suppress or increases appetite through manipulation of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Concern grew over the past 2 weeks for the state of Britain’s health and the obesity crisis with the publication of a report showing that in some English towns nearly 75% of the population is overweight. The fattest county was named as Cumbria with 68% of residents being overweight or obese. Next on the list was Linconshire closely followed by North Yorkshire and Staffordshire. All of these three showed a whopping 67% of inhabitants as being overweight.
Most of the fattest districts are North of the Wash; in the Cumbrian area of Copeland, 75% of people are classed as overweight; in Doncaster, South Yorkshire 74%; East Lindsey in Linconshire showed a 74% rate of obesity.
Some southern counties also showed similar rates of obesity with both Essex and Somerset having high rates.
However London was found to have a much lower ratio of fat people; Kensington and Chelsea has 45% with a smiler percentage throughout the city. In the UK as a whole the percentage of the population classed as being overweight currently stands at 63%, reports BBC online.
Those smokers who quit, even in later life, may be able to repair their cardiovascular health in as little as 8 years, a new study has shown. Studies in the past have shown that it takes longer; it was previously thought that 15 years was needed to reduce the ex-smoker’s chances of death from cardiovascular disease to become the same as a non-smokers.
But a new study that tested candidates who were 65 years or older and who had smoked fewer than 32 “pack years” found that for half of them the damage only took 8 years be healed. (A pack year is a formula to work out how much someone has smoked over time. It’s the multiple of the number of cigarettes smoked a day by the number of years smoked. So 10 cigarettes a day over ten years would be 100 pack years).
Despite the healing process the ex-smokers still had a greater risk of cancer and emphysema than those who had never smoked. And those who had smoked more than 32 pack years had higher risks of death from any health condition.
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in the world, but id you smoke, “stop early” says professor Ali Ahmed of the University of Alabama who led the study.
In a separate study, researchers in South Korea found that the effects of passive smoking are also worse than expected. Even the outdoor air quality 30 feet away from a smoker is worse and contains significantly raised levels of fine particle pollutants the research showed.
Want to stop smoking? Never mind the patches – would you really give crack to a crack addict trying to stop? Hypnotherapy, counselling, group therapy and in particular NLP have the highest success rates. Try here for the most successful way to quit.
In most surveys coronary heart disease or CHD is named as Britain’s biggest killer. It develops when blood flow becomes restricted to the heart through the build up of fatty deposits on the walls of the coronary arteries. These are the main arteries that carry blood to the heart.
The heart is a fist sized muscle that pumps blood around the body; but as it is a muscle it needs its own blood supply too. Heart disease occurs when these specialist arteries that feed the heart become clogged and in the worse case scenario, blocked.
The first stage of CHD happens when the inner linings of these coronary arteries gradually become furred with a thick, sludgy porridge of substances known as plaque, Plaque is made from cholesterol. This process of clogging up is known as arteriosclerosis.
These plaques begin to narrow the space through which blood can pass. They also have the knock-on effect of blocking the supply of nutrients to the arteries which makes them lose their elasticity. They also cause high blood pressure; this extra strain on the heart as it tries to pump the same volume of blood through a restricted passage can also lead to heart disease.
To make matters worse, arteriosclerosis happens in all of our arteries, further increasing blood pressure and increasing the strain on the heart.
The first sign of a struggling heart is angina. These severe chest pains are a sign of a heart trying to keep beating on a restricted supply of oxygen.
Although some factors contributing to CHD are genetic, most are lifestyle related. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure and most of all smoking are the main culprits.
When one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries) become completely blocked then you are in trouble. This full blockage is often caused by a section of plaque cracking or splitting open. The already narrowed artery now forms a blood clot (just like any wound) which then totally blocks it.
As it is no longer receiving any oxygen, the part of the heart that was supplied by that particular artery begins to die. Emergency medical treatment is now needed to unblock the artery and restore the blood flow top that bit of the heart. This can be done either through blood thinning drugs that will help to dissolve the arterial blockage (known as a clot or thrombus) or via a small operation that will physically remove the clot. This is done by threading small instruments up the arteries (usually through the inner thigh).
The seriousness of a heart attack depends greatly on the amount of muscle that dies before the condition is treated. If only a small area is affected then there is a higher chance of recovery and less risk of death.
Although a heart attack will always cause some permanent damage, most of the heart will be able to recover provided that the blood supply is not interrupted for too long.
The symptoms to look out for are: a shortness of breath, a tightness in the chest. This is said to feel like a heavy weight or a squeezing.
There can also be pain travelling outwards from the chest, to the arms, neck and jaw.
You may feel sick or be physically sick.
A panic attack or sharp feeling of anxiety.
Coughing or wheezing.
If any of these symptoms are present, then call emergency!
By Robert Atkinson
A team of scientists in Norway have devised a new simple formula to calculate your “fitness age”. Although our birthday marks another year that we have been alive, the process of ageing varies greatly from one individual to another and can be hugely influenced not just by genetics but also by the amount of exercise, healthy food and sleep you have (to name just a few). Now scientists have come up with a simple formula to see how your body is defying the ageing process.
The lead author of the study, professor Ulrik Wilsoff, director of the KG Jebsen Centre of Exercise in Medicine, says that the low-tech calculation is the single best predictor of current health. After evaluating the fitness, weight and health measurements of 5000 subjects between the ages of 20-90, the professor and his team came up with a formula to estimate someone’s VO2 max. This is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be taken in, transported and utilised by the body and delivered to the cells. Although it declines with age the drop can be slowed with regular exercise. A good VO2 max is linked to a host of health benefits, from prevention of cardio-vascular disease to diabetes.
How fit you are is increasingly thought to be a better measurement of health than BMI or weight alone. Adults aged 60+ with a good level of aerobic fitness have been found to live longer that those with a low VO2 max regardless of weight and levels of fat. A low level of fitness means longer stays in hospital for older people following illness or surgery as well as a greater propensity for other health related diseases.
Although not completely accurate, the test provides a useful guide to cardio-respiratory fitness. The results will be a wake up call for many. A 45 year old man who exercises moderately, has a 36 inch waist and a resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute will have a fitness age of 55. The good news is that no matter how old you are, starting exercise or increasing the frequency and intensity of activity can still turn back the clock. You can still have a fitness age of someone much younger!
Try the test by filling out your details here!.
There are four basic health checks that everyone can do to make sure that all is well with their general health and to have a healthy heart. The good news is that they don’t involve jumping up and down or any for of exercise!
The for areas to keep a watch on are your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and resting heart rate.
1 – lower your heart rate. The ideal range should be 60-60, but if you can do some regular exercise that takes you above 60% of maximum heart rate then it might get even lower. Like a car sitting at the traffic lights, your resting heart rate is the speed at which your engine has to work to keep you alive at rest, and is a true measure of your cardio-vascular health. If your arteries are clogged or your lungs inefficient at taking in oxygen, then the more beats per minute it will have to beat at rest. Over time this will all add up; if your engine is constantly having to work hard then sooner or later it will wear out.
For every 15 beats per minute that you add onto resting heart rate your chances of getting heart disease increase by 24% (American Heart Journal).
What now? Check your heart rate in the morning before getting out of bed at least 4 times a year. Keep it low by getting three lots of reasonably vigorous cardio-vascular exercise every week.
2 – Watch your blood sugar levels. Blood sugars can show if you are at risk of batting diabetes. Ask your GP for a test and do a follow up every year. Eating foods with a lower GI (glycaemic index) will ensure that you are not constantly suffering high blood sugar levels. This will cause your cells to become immune to the insulin that is being constantly released and eventually will cause insulin deficiency.
3 – Blood pressure. You should have this checked every quarter. If it is high then you need to look at your nutrition and start to get some exercise. Even small changes and short bursts of exercise will help to get you back on track. Ideally it should be 120/80
4 – Balance your cholesterol. The bas sort of cholesterol is LDL (low density lipoproteins). Ideally it should be less than 100mg/dL. Every 43mg/dL that your cholesterol goes up adds 50% to your risk of heart disease. Good cholesterol will act as a brake on the bad. So eat plenty of healthy oils, nuts and seeds.
After the initial inflammatory phase of injury (see previouys post), you move into the second phase of soft tissue repair, called the proliferation phase or sub acute phase.
In this phase, the main activity is the generation of repair material; scar tissue (type 3 collagen) begins in earnest after around three days, reaching its peak at 2-3 weeks post injury. This is called fibroplasia. You also begin to form new blood vessels in the process of angiogenesis.
The sub acute phase of soft tissue repair is where movement becomes critical. Early controlled mobilisation (with minimal pain) is essential to decrease healing time, increase vascular growth, make the tissue stronger and regenerate scar tissue more quickly. In the inflammatory phase, collagen fibres are laid down in a random matrix. Through movement in this later stage, these fibres can be broken up and realigned in line with tensile stress placed upon the tissue in everyday use. IE lined up properly with all the other fibres and working properly. Too much rest and the opposite will happen, leaving you with weakened tissue that will lack mobility and strength.
But be sensible – new tissue is fragile, so exercise intensity should remain within the capabilities of this new tissue.
When you sustain a soft tissue injury (one where there are no broken bones) lots of things happen to keep you safe and to help make you better. These reactions to injury are usually put into three categories that represent a chronological progression of healing. They are the three stages of soft tissue repair.
When you injure yourself, the first and most immediate phase of sort tissue repair is the inflammatory or acute stage. This lasts for approximately 24 hours to 5 days, depending on the severity of the injury and the individual.
The inflammatory phase commences at injury. Blood clots form to dam any breaks in the body, stopping fluids from leaving and infection from entering. A fibrous cobweb that forms during clotting becomes a structure on which collagen and other fibres lay down in a random fashion – this is the start of rebuilding the damage. However, these fibres can become unhelpful adhesions if allowed to grow unchecked – imagine lumpy bits in the muscle that do not work properly. This is why some movement reasonably early on is recommended.
Vasodilation occurs (small arteries and veins become wider to allow quicker transport of fluids to and from the injury), and capillaries become more permeable.
These reactions cause the symptoms of the inflammatory phase of injury: heat, swelling, pain, redness.
The main risk of treatment during this first phase is further damage to weakened structures, so be conservative. The aim is to get this phase over with a soon as possible, reducing swelling from extra blood clotting and to avoid a buildup of unhelpful fibrous adhesions blocking the area. It is also desirable to aid lymphatic drainage.
First aiders are taught the acronym PRICE. This means Protect the area from further injury, Rest to avoid any further damage to weakened tissue, use Ice to reduce heat and vasodilation (the cause of much of the swelling). Compression and Elevation of the injury will also help reduce swelling and heat. Elevation means holding the injured area above the level of the heart. Ice should be used for 5-20 minutes with a 20 minute recovery phase.
The interpretation of REST is important. Initially, (or through the whole of the inflammatory phase if injury is severe) rest means just that. However, to avoid the buildup of fibrous scar tissue that may prevent proper function of the area later on, some movement within a pain free range is recommended.
For holiday makers and in particular businessmen subjected to lots of flights, jet lag can be debilitating and downright horrid. Here are some tips on overcoming jet lag..
The general rule is that it takes one day per hour of time change to recover when going east, a little less when going west. Some drugs help to combat the effects of jet lag in relation to sleep problems. Melatonin and modafinil both help to support hormones that regulate our sleep/wake cycle. They are both legal in the U.K. but you should consult your doctor before taking them.
If you can, start to adjust to the new time zone before you leave. Three days is usually a good start. So for a flight east, three days before you go you should force yourself to go to bed an hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier, increasing this each night. Reverse the process for trips to the west.
When you arrive at your destination use light exposure to regulate sleep patterns. Get as much sunlight as you can (you can use lamps if you are in a dark country or travelling in winter) in the morning or at least before noon. In the late afternoon try to close curtains and stay out of bright sunlight. It sounds silly, but dark sunglasses can help too.
Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine. These dehydrate you and exaggerate the effects of jet lag. Instead drink as much water as you can
Move about on the flight as much as possible and do exercises – most airlines have a little book of exercises that you can do in your seat. These will help keep the metabolic rate going to reduce tiredness and stiffness upon arrival.
Get some exercise. High intensity aerobic intervals help to stimulate the endocrine system and regulate sleep/wake patterns. Exercise is also a great way to keep alert for any important meetings.
This winter the number of colds, flu and viruses have been at record levels. Most people in an average year catch two to three colds. For children this number is even higher. But wouldn’t you love to get just one cold every two years? Exercise is a big way to prevent colds and flu. Healthy eating, including good amounts of fruit and vegetables will help keep the immune system healthy, but exercise can also play a key role. Findings show that exercise not only prevents serious life threatening diseases (like heart disease and cancer) but also helps your immune system fight colds and flu. It could give you the immune system of someone half your age!
With regular exercise, both the amount of infection fighting cells and their aggressiveness can be greatly increased, from 50% to a whopping 300%. These “natural killer” cells are the first defence agains colds, and so the more you have, and the more effective they are, the less likely you will be to get a cold. Even moderate exercise (like biking, walking or moderate gym exercise every other day) will reduce the amount of colds that you catch.
In an American Journal of Medicine study, women who walked for half an hour a day for one year caught half the number of colds as those who did no exercise at all. The researchers linked exercise with the production of infection fighting white blood cells. In other studies on subjects aged 65, researchers found that the number of T cells (cells that are helpers to white blood cells in fighting infection) was as high as someone in their 30s. The benefits of fitness in general are deemed to increase with age; see our section on 50+ fitness.
A personal trainer in Windsor and Maidenhead from Diets Don’t Work can get you started on a fitness program that will not only progress you gradually from your starting point, but that will also help you stay fit and cold free for as long as possible.