Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Typical Christmas Day meal condemned

Under conventional but wrong assumptions -- e.g., about salt

 Feasting on Christmas Day could see the average person eating the equivalent of half a pack of lard in saturated fat and as much salt as would be found in 50 packets of crisps, the British Heart Foundation has warned.

 In a survey, the charity asked 2,000 people who celebrate Christmas what they eat and drink over the festive period.

 They found that for many people, the Christmas indulgence starts before the turkey is even in the oven.

 More than one in 10 choose a full English breakfast for Christmas morning, with 14% opting for a bacon sandwich.

 The typical fried breakfast contains around 1,200 calories, and a bacon sandwich with brown sauce can contain over half an adult's recommended daily salt allowance.

 Almost three quarters of those surveyed said they eat a traditional turkey dinner on December 25. With all the trimmings, the typical Christmas meal adds up to 660 calories.

 Over half of people asked said they would follow this with Christmas pudding, with 23% planning to have cream.

 Between meals, 40% said they snacked on nuts and 30% on crisps, both of which are often laden with added salt.

 A third of people will eat at least one mince pie, and over half enjoy chocolates throughout the day.

 Combined with overindulgence at mealtimes, sweet snacks bring the average person's Christmas day sugar intake to the equivalent of 32 teaspoons.

 Christmas is a chance to enjoy a glass of wine or two, but one in 10 people said they drink more than 13 units of alcohol, the equivalent of 13 shots of whisky in one day.

 After breakfast, lunch and dinner on December 25, the British Heart Foundation estimates that the average Briton could have consumed up to 64g of saturated fat, more than double the recommended daily allowance for men, and three times that for women.

 Too much saturated fat can raise a person's risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

 Nearly a quarter of people surveyed admitted that they do absolutely no exercise over the entire Christmas period.

 Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: "I'm sure many of us will overindulge on Christmas Day and if that's where it stopped it probably wouldn't make that much difference.

 "But once you've added together the Christmas parties, family gatherings and New Year festivities it's likely that you're eating and drinking much more than recommended.

 "We're not saying you shouldn't have any fun during the Christmas season, but neither your heart nor your waistline will thank you for eating and drinking to excess by the time January arrives."

 The charity recently launched its free 'New Year, New You' packs, containing a range of leaflets with advice on quitting smoking, healthy eating and exercise.

 It hopes to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles in order to lower their risk of developing heart disease.


Cannabis makes pain more bearable instead of reducing it, say scientists

i.e. Cannabis makes you "out of it", which is not a big surprise

Cannabis can make patients feel less bothered about pain, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have found the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis doesn't reduce the intensity of pain, rather it makes it more bearable.

Brain scans revealed the ingredient known as THC, reduced activity in areas linked to the emotional aspects of suffering.

While some patients have found cannabis to relieve chronic pain such as sciatica it has little effect on others, say scientists

While this had a strong relieving effect on some patients, it seemed to make little difference to the pain experienced by others.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Lee, said: 'Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine. Some people respond really well, others not at all, or even poorly.

'Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.'

Long-term pain, often without clear cause, is a complex healthcare problem. Different approaches are often needed to help patient manage pain, and can include medications, physiotherapy and other forms of physical therapy, and psychological support.

For a few patients, cannabis or cannabis-based medications remain effective when other drugs have failed to control pain, while others report very little effect of the drug on their pain but experience side-effects.

'We carried out this study to try and get at what is happening when someone experiences pain relief using cannabis,' says Dr Lee.

The researchers recruited 12 healthy men for the study. They were given either a 15mg tablet of THC or a placebo. They then had a cream rubbed into their skin to induce pain. Some were given a dummy cream while the rest receiving a chilli cream that caused a burning sensation.

The study was performed three more times, switching one aspect of the test for each volunteer. The patient also had four MRI tests to cover each combination.

'The participants were asked to report the intensity and unpleasantness of the pain: how much it burned and how much it bothered them,' says Dr Lee.

'We found that with THC, on average people didn't report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less.'

Of most interest to the researchers was the strength of the connection in individuals between their right amydala and a part of the cortex called the primary sensorimotor area.

The strength of this connection in individual participants correlated well with THC's different effects on the pain that that volunteer experienced.

This suggests that there might be a way of predicting who would see benefits from taking cannabis for pain relief.

'We may in future be able to predict who will respond to cannabis, but we would need to do studies in patients with chronic pain over longer time periods,' says Dr Lee.

Cannabis is a Class B drug, which means it is illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell. While THC can make users feel relaxed it can also cause hallucinations and make people feel paranoid.

The latest study has been published in the journal Pain. It was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.


1 comment:

John A said...

Christmas Day meal - one or two days a year is still too much? If this was typical eating, I might feel something other than "why don't you people take a week off?"

Cannabis makes pain more bearable instead of reducing it - as do other pain killers, from aspirin to morphine and beyond. Only destroying [or at least incapacitating] nerves does otherwise.