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Hectic lifestyles and a lack of sleep have been linked this week to increased eating, a range of diseases, DNA changes and heart disease. Those sleeping less than 6 hours a night have been found to be 12% more likely to die prematurely according to a combination of new studies.
Research from the University of Warwick has found that failing to get enough sleep can have deadly consequences, not just increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke, but encouraging obesity too.
Modern middle age has created a “perfect storm” for sleep deprivation, said the scientists. A combination of having children later in life, late night use of smart phones and tablets, hectic work pressures, increased alcohol consumption at home and late night eating all contribute to either lack of sleep or lack of good quality sleep.
Sleep deprivation upsets our hormonal balance, producing more cortisol, our “stress” hormone and also upsets the balance of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate appetite and help us to know when we have eaten enough. A University of Surrey study meanwhile has found that lack of sleep can change 700 genes, explaining the wide ranging health consequences of sleep deprivation.
In an effort to help, the UK government has come up with great tips for better sleep:
Other great tips for better sleep are:
Remember that “catching up on sleep” does not work; once it’s missed, it’s missed.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, with a Costa or starbucks opening on every street corner it would seem. People spend time and effort trying to stay in shape bbd keeping slim by watching what they eat; often though we neglect the calories hidden in liquids that we drink so often.
That cappuccino on the way to work may well be sabotaging your weight loss. Just a single drink from Starbucks could be as much as 50% of the calorie allowance for a female trying to lose weight. Recent reports from the World cancer Research Fund says “these types of drinks as an occasional treat won’t do you much harm. But if you are having them regularly then they will increase the chances of you becoming overweight, which in turn increases your risk of developing cancer as well as other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease”.
Here are some of the worst culprits from just one chain, Starbucks, and just for interest, some fast food equivalents. It can help to reduce intake (or for you to make better choices) if you make a strong mental link with an unhealthy food that correlates with the energy in your latte.
1. Venti signature hot chocolate with whipped cream and whole milk – 690 calories (Supersize bigmac and fries)
2. Venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream and skimmed milk – 624 calories (big mac with normal fries)
3. Venti iced hazelnut mocha with whipped cream and semi skimmed milk – 599 calories (supoersixe quarter pounder with cheese and fries)
4. Grande signature hot chocolate with whole milk – 556 calories (big mac)
5. Venti peppermint mocha with whipped cream, drizzle and whole milk – 555 calories (same as a Big Mac)
6. Venti strawberries and cream frappucino with whipped cream – 459 calories (double cheeseburger and fries)
There are of course lots of options for making healthier choices, with just as much caffeine in.
This strong after-meal beverage is traditionally served as a single shot of strong black coffee with no milk. It contains around 80 to 100mg of caffeine, no protein, and around five calories.
Dietitian Catherine Collins of London’s St George’s Hospital says: ‘An espresso has no nutritional value, but for those who want to lose weight it is low in calories. The high dose of caffeine should give you a good kick to last you throughout the afternoon.’
Our health rating: 3/5
Cappuccino is an espresso topped with a generous amount of steamed milk made from full or skimmed milk. It contains about six grammes of protein from milk, a small amount of sodium and 150 calories when made with whole milk and 95 calories when made with skimmed milk.
Although a cappuccino is not best for those looking to lose weight as it is quite calorific, the large amount of milk provides a good source of protein and calcium which is important for bone health and will also help to maintain lean muscle mass.
Our health rating: 4/5
A latte is made from an espresso and much more steamed milk than a cappuccino. Each contains around ten grammes of protein from milk, five grammes of fat – the equivalent to a single butter pack – and around 225 calories when made with whole milk and 135 when made with skimmed milk. Again the protein and calcium content will help offset any sugars.
Coffee and tea
No calories, provided that you don’t have any sugar. If you must have some sweetness then feel free to cheat and have a sweetener. Plant based ones are the least unhealthy, like Stevia based sweeteners.
Our health rating – 4/5
By Adam Atkinson
Out this week is the news that yet another study has shown that waist measurement, as opposed to weight, is the most important guide to health and longevity.
Researchers have come up with a simple formula to deduce how long a person will live for, and how many years you will lose if you are overweight. Measure your waist (without breathing in). If this measurement is half your height or less than you should live to the average life expectancy of 81 in the UK. However, every inch that you are over will represent time that you will have cut off your life. So if a 30 year old man who is 5’10’’ has a waist measurement of 35 inches then he will be likely to live to the age of 81. But, if his waist is 42 inches than his life expectancy drops by 1.7 years. As people get closer to obesity, so the equation becomes more harsh. If the same man has a waist of 56 inches then he loses 20 years, dying at the age of 61.
The research by the Cass Business School in London was based on the medical records of 300,000 adults over 20 years. A high waist circumference is also considered to be a useful indicator of high cholesterol, probability of suffering from diabetes and a higher likelihood of heart disease.
Ongoing assessments with a DDW personal trainer includes body fat %, waist to height measurements and of course structured exercise coupled with healthy eating. This will ensure that you go well past the average 81!!
The thousands of UK patients that go through painful knee surgery may only be getting negligible benefits, a new study has discovered. As people get older the meniscus – the cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber – thins out, making it more likely to tear. Researchers in Canada studies 811 procedures and the results were published in the Canadian medical Association Journal; they found that there was little evidence to show that surgery achieved better outcomes than not operating, or even performing a placebo operation. Other treatments like weight loss, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise and physiotherapy should be used first, with surgery as a last resort only.
Top physics and personal trainers second this advice through experience. Following surgery the limb will never return to 100% effectiveness. Often, exercise (in particular muscle strengthening and prorioception work) can get the joint into as goo shape as a painful operation. Plus there is no lengthy recovery period where fitness, confidence and strength can decline further.
So before you go under the knife, call us! Remember, surgeons need to do surgery to stay in work and pay the bills!
By Adam Atkinson
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.