Sunday, July 03, 2011

Children 'face liver disease epidemic' because of poor diet and lack of exercise (?)

A top liver expert has warned that hundreds of thousands of children may have a potentially fatal condition associated with alcoholics due to their poor diets and lack of physical activity.

Professor Martin Lombard, the Department of Health’s first liver tsar, says rising levels of obesity mean as many as half-a-million children under the age of 15 could have an early form of fatty liver disease, which can lead to cancer, strokes and heart problems.

However, Prof Lombard has been criticised for basing his figures on the average number of obese adults who develop fatty liver disease, rather than clinical evidence.

Conservative MP Dan Poulter, a former doctor, said: ‘I’m wary about making assumptions without hard clinical evidence. We risk scaring parents unnecessarily.’

Hospital liver units have reported seeing increasing numbers of young people with fatty liver disease – which Prof Lombard calls a ‘silent killer’ because it is symptomless until it becomes very serious.


Beetroot juice again

It does appear that nitrates in beetroot juice induce temporary vasodilation but lots of things do that -- including alcohol. I know which one I would rather drink. And would not athletes using it be banned for using a "performance-enhancing drug"?

Beetroot juice could help athletes beat the best. The brightly-coloured juice gives cyclists such a boost that they can shave vital seconds off their time, Exeter University research shows.

The benefits of beetroot juice don’t end there, with previous studies from the university crediting it with increasing stamina. Lowering blood pressure, warding off dementia, and even giving pensioners the extra energy they need to make a trip to the shops, could all also be in its power.

While the list of benefits may seem remarkable, scientists say the can be explained by the abundance of nitrite in the veg. Once inside the body the chemical gets to work widening the blood vessels, speeding oxygen flow to the muscles – including the brain – and allowing them make the most of the oxygen breathed in.

In the latest study, the Exeter team asked nine men who cycle competitively to compete in time trials over 2.5 miles and 10 miles. Before setting off, they drank just under a pint of beetroot juice. They repeated the two routes on a different day, but this time fuelled by beetroot juice missing its nitrite.

When the cyclists drank the nitrite-rich, ordinary beetroot juice they were 11 seconds quicker over the shorter distance and 45 seconds quicker over the longer route. While this may not sound like much, the top two riders in last year’s Tour de France were separated by just 39 seconds.

Tests on the Exeter cyclists showed that the nitrite allowed their muscles and hearts to work more efficiently, the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reports.

Researcher Professor Andrew Jones said: ‘This is the first time we’ve studied the effects of beetroot juice, and the high nitrite levels found in it, on simulated competition. ‘These findings show an improvement in performance that, at competition level, could make a real difference – particularly in an event like the Tour de France where winning margins can be tight.’

And it is not just professional athletes who could benefit, with better use of oxygen making it easier for the old and frail to complete everyday tasks, including summoning up the energy needed to walk to the shops.

The study used shop-bought beetroot juice but home-made versions should also be beneficial.

However, there could be an unexpected consequence. A quirk of genetics means that eating beetroot leaves some people producing purple urine, or 'beeturia' as it is known to scientists.


No comments: