In the news – Health and nutrition research

In this week’s article we provide our usual monthly roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles to be in the news, five items comprising:

  • Illnesses associated with lifestyle cost the NHS £11bn
  • Probiotics may ease severity of multiple sclerosis: Study
  • Could Turmeric really boost your health?
  • Mediterranean diet ‘could prevent 19,000 deaths a year in UK’
  • Feeding babies peanuts and eggs can reduce risk of developing allergies in later life, study shows


Illnesses associated with lifestyle cost the NHS £11bn

“Health problems related to poor diet, drinking and smoking are costing the NHS in England more than £11bn each year, officials say.

Public Health England (PHE) says that unless they are tackled more effectively the NHS will become unaffordable.

It warns conditions such as type 2 diabetes and smoking-related bronchitis are a new and untreatable epidemic.

But the town of Fleetwood, Lancashire, plans to tackle these problems head on.

Around four out of 10 middle-aged people already have a long-term condition for which there is currently no cure.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff of PHE says these conditions pose a real threat to the future sustainability of the health service.

“When you look back to Victorian times, we worried about things like diphtheria and polio, and we’ve actually managed to conquer those now.

“The new threats are things like diabetes and chronic bronchitis. They could overwhelm us.”

“They are illnesses for which there is no cure, and they cost the NHS more than £11bn each year. That’s a phenomenal amount of money and more than that, it is taking years off people’s lives.”

Read the full article here.

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Probiotics may ease severity of multiple sclerosis: Study

“Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), whose diets were supplemented with probiotics, demonstrated a reduction in the severity of their conditions as well as improvements to mental health.

Additional findings of the study also noted a reduction in inflammatory factors, markers of insulin resistance, and cholesterol and oxidation levels.

Sufferers have demonstrated a different set of gut flora compared to those of healthy people, but it is unclear whether this is a cause or a consequence of the condition.

Food allergens have also been implicated and MS patients have been advised to avoid dairy, wheat (gluten), soy, chocolate, corn, preservatives and food additives.

Nutrients like omega-3s and vitamin D have also demonstrated benefits in helping to reduce inflammation and improve immunity.

Study details

Study details published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition placed 60 MS patients in a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Subjects were placed into one group receiving a probiotic capsule containing the bacterial species, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.

The placebo group received a capsule containing starch. Both groups received this experimental treatment for 12 weeks.

In addition, MS severity in the subjects was assessed using the expanded disability status scale (EDSS) – a method of quantifying and monitoring changes in MS over time. This was done at the start and the end of the trial.

Compared with the placebo, probiotic intake was found to improve EDSS ratings as well as depression anxiety and stress values.

In addition, changes in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation were also observed along with plasma nitric oxide metabolites and malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker for oxidative stress.”

Read the full article here.

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Could Turmeric really boost your health?

“Bold health claims have been made for the power of turmeric. Is there anything in them, asks Michael Mosley.

“Turmeric is a spice which in its raw form looks a bit like ginger root, but when it’s ground down you get a distinctive yellowy orange powder that’s very popular in South Asian cuisine. Until recently the place you would most likely encounter turmeric would be in chicken tikka masala, one of Britain’s most popular dishes.

These days, thanks to claims that it can improve everything from allergies to depression, it’s become incredibly trendy, not just cooked and sprinkled on food but added to drinks like tea. Turmeric latte anyone?

Now I’m usually very cynical about such claims, but in the case of turmeric I thought there could be something to it. There are at least 200 different compounds in turmeric, but there’s one that scientists are particularly interested in. It gives this spice its colour. It’s called curcumin.

Thousands of scientific papers have been published looking at turmeric and curcumin in the laboratory – some with promising results. But they’ve mainly been done in mice, using unrealistically high doses. There have been few experiments done in the real world, on humans.”

Read the full article here.

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Mediterranean diet ‘could prevent 19,000 deaths a year in UK’

“Thousands of deaths from heart disease and stroke could be prevented if everybody ate a Mediterranean diet, a major study of the UK’s eating habits has shown.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil and fruits and vegetables, are well-known, but the study is the first to look at it in the real world of the UK. Gathering data about eating habits among nearly 24,000 people in Norfolk over an average of 12 to 17 years, the researchers found that 12.5% of heart attack and stroke deaths that occurred could have been prevented. In the context of the UK as a whole, that would be 19,000 deaths averted out of the 155,000 that occur as a result of heart disease every year.

Dr Nita Forouhi, lead author from the Medical Research Council epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge, said:

“We estimate that 3.9% of all new cardiovascular disease cases or 12.5% of cardiovascular deaths in our UK-based study population could potentially be avoided if this population increased their adherence to the Mediterranean diet.”

Read the full article here.

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The Mediterranean diet: a naturally occurring model of multi-supplementation – Part 1

The Mediterranean diet: a naturally occurring model of multi-supplementation – Part 2


Feeding babies peanuts and eggs can reduce risk of developing allergies in later life, study shows

“Feeding young children foods such as peanuts and eggs can significantly reduce the risk of them developing dangerous allergies to the foods later in life, new research shows.

Researchers found that the introduction of egg to children aged four to six months and the introduction of peanuts to children aged four to 11 months was linked to lower rates of peanut and egg allergy.

Egg and peanut sensitivities are the most common allergies in infants and toddlers.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), used the combined results of trials into the introduction of allergenic food during the first year of life, and concluded there was “moderate certainty” early introduction of egg and peanut was associated with lower incidences of allergies to them.

The team used the term “moderate certainty” because the study is based on various pieces of research which differ from one another in their quality and execution. It is also difficult to set a control group in feeding studies.

The authors concluded further work needs to be done to discover the optimal timing for the introduction of egg and peanuts.”

Read the full article here.

Related Cytoplan blogs

Hay Fever, Allergies and the Allergic Reaction

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If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.

amanda@cytoplan.co.uk, 01684 310099

Amanda Williams and the Cytoplan Editorial Team: Joseph Forsyth, Emma Williams, Simon Holdcroft, Clare Daley and Helen Drake


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