Thursday, March 31, 2011

The British town that's banned salt: Shakers taken off chip-shop counters and put out of sight

It began with the food police reducing the number of holes in salt shakers. Now they have gone a step further and removed the shakers altogether to hide them from view.

Fish-and-chip shops, cafes, restaurants, takeaways and curry houses will take salt containers off their counters and table tops under the latest push by a council to cut its residents’ salt consumption. Customers will have to ask staff specifically to hand over the shakers if they want to add salt to their meals.

Stockport council is one of the first councils in Greater Manchester to adopt the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ health initiative. It follows a series of initiatives to reduce the salt added to food by diners.

In 2008 town halls reduced the number of holes in salt shakers from the traditional 17 to five after research suggested this could cut the amount people sprinkle on their food by more than half. Councils ordered thousands of five-hole shakers – at taxpayers’ expense – and gave them away to chip shops and takeaways in their areas.

The scheme has been welcomed by health professionals and celebrity chefs including Paul Heathcote.

But Les Jones, Conservative group leader at Liberal-Democrat-controlled Stockport council, said the move was creating a ‘nanny town’. He said: ‘British people don’t like being ordered around. If you actually want people to use more salt, then tell them not to. It’s a foolish thing to do.’ It could proved to be counterproductive because people did not want to be treated like children, he added.

Diner Paul Edwards, 36, said: ‘It is preposterous. We should all be responsible for our own health – anything less means they’re treating us like idiots. They will be confiscating chocolate bars next.’


Yellow dye used to test Alzheimer's could hold key to living longer -- if you are a worm

A yellow dye used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease could hold the key to a long and healthy life. Microscopic worms treated with the susbtance, which is used in labs around the world, lived up to 70 per cent longer than expected.

The dye, which is called Thioflavin T, also slowed the symptoms of dementia in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer’s, the journal Nature reports.

It is thought that it stops a brain protein called beta-amyloid from forming toxic clumps and helps levels of other key proteins stay in balance, something known as ‘protein homeostasis’.

The dye is used to detect Alzheimer’s from samples of brain tissue under the microscope. If it sticks to the beta-amyloid protein, that is a sign that the person had Alzheimer’s.

Professor Gordon Lithgow, of The Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, California, said: ‘We have been looking for compounds that slow ageing for more than ten years and Thioflavin T is the best we have seen so far.’

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, also showed promise as an anti-ageing drug.

Researcher Silvestre Alavez described the finding as ‘an exciting new avenue’ in the search for compounds that slow disease.


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