Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thousands of Welsh, Scottish and Irish lives could be saved if residents followed the English diet, claims research

This assumes that the Celtic fringe is the same as England genetically -- a claim that would be heartily denounced in the Celtic nations concerned. It also assumes that the climate is the same, which it is not. Large numbers of English people live in the climatically mild South whereas the climates in the Celtic fringe are generally more severe. The dietary differences mentioned are NOT associated with increased overall mortality. Salt and fat are good for you or at least harmless. See the sidebar here

Many thousands of fatal illnesses could be avoided in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - if they would only adopt the diet of their English neighbours.

As many as 80 per cent of preventable deaths from the biggest killer diseases would be eliminated if the rest of the UK followed England's nutritional habits, according to new research.

But experts say that this does not give the English 'bragging rights', as even they are not eating a very balanced diet. They have proposed a 'fat tax' to improve the diet of the UK as a whole and reduce regional inequality in health.

The research showed that people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland consistently eat more calories, more fat and more salt than those living in England, and fewer fruit and vegetables.

Eight out of 10 unnecessary deaths from cancer, heart disease and stroke in Wales and Northern Ireland - and four in 10 of those in Scotland - could be prevented if people ate the 'average' diet in England.

Analysis of diets between 2007 and 2009 found that, on average, people in Scotland and Northern Ireland also ate 7.5g of salt daily compared to 7g in England, while those in Wales ate 7.4g.

Salt increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales also ate more fat and saturated fat and less fruit.

People in Scotland ate about 951g of vegetables a week, while those in Northern Ireland ate 902g, compared to the higher 1,190g in England.

Experts from the University of Oxford and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford also looked at 10 cancers associated with diet, including those of the gullet, bowel, and stomach.

They noted that death rates for heart disease, stroke and cancer are higher in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland than they are in England.

Calculations showed that between 2007 and 2009, just under 22,000 more people died in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland from stroke, heart disease and diet-related cancers than would be expected if death rates were as low as in England.

Over the period, 3,005 deaths in Wales, 6,353 in Scotland and 1,890 in Northern Ireland could have been 'delayed or averted' if the English diet was adopted, the study found.

The authors concluded: 'Diet has a substantial impact on geographical variations in mortality from coronary heart disease, stroke and various cancers within the UK.'

They said identifying 'fiscal initiatives aimed at increasing the cost of foods high in saturated fat (so called "fat taxes") may be best placed to reduce geographical inequalities in health if they are paired with subsidies for fruit and vegetables.'

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'This research isn't about bragging rights to the English or tit-for-tat arguments about how healthy our traditional dishes might be.

'Saying the rest of the UK should follow England's lead to cut heart deaths isn't a foolproof solution - a quarter of English adults are obese and only 30 per cent eat their five-a-day.' [Five a day is a goal made up in an American advertising agency. It has no double-blind support]


Cherry juice can help get a good night's sleep

This is a small study over a short period of time: A pilot study only. A full study would need to address habituation and side-effects. The stuff could for instance contain a lot of anti-oxidants, which have been shown to shorten lifespans. See the sidebar here

Drinking cherry juice can help you sleep an extra 25 minutes a night, a study has found.

The research also found that people who have regularly consume cherry juice have improved quality of sleep.

Researchers from the School of Life Sciences at Northumbria University have found that Montmorency cherry juice significantly increases the levels of melatonin in the body, the hormone which regulates sleep.

Their findings could benefit those who have difficulty sleeping due to insomnia, shift work or jet lag.

In the study, led by Dr Glyn Howatson, 20 healthy volunteers drank a 30ml serving of either tart cherry juice or a placebo juice twice a day for seven days.

Urine samples were collected from all participants before and during the investigation to determine levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that heavily influences the human sleep-wake cycle.

During the study the participants wore an actigraphy watch sensor which monitored their sleep and wake cycles and kept a daily diary on their sleeping patterns.

The researchers found that when participants drank cherry juice for a week there was a significant increase in their urinary melatonin (15-16%) than the control condition and placebo drink samples.

The actigraphy measurements of participants who consumed the cherry juice saw an increase of around 15 minutes to the time spent in bed, 25 minutes in their total sleep time and a 5-6% increase in their รข€˜sleep efficiency', a global measure of sleep quality.

Cherry juice drinkers reported less daytime napping time compared to their normal sleeping habits before the study and the napping times of the placebo group.

According to Dr Howatson, this is the first study to show direct evidence that supplementing your diet with a tart Montmorency cherry juice concentrate leads to an increase in circulating melatonin and provides improvements in sleep amongst healthy adults.

Dr Howatson, an exercise physiologist, said: "We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise. Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process, which is often forgotten.

These results show that tart cherry juice can be used to facilitate sleep in healthy adults and, excitingly, has the potential to be applied as a natural intervention, not only to athletes, but to other populations with insomnia and general disturbed sleep from shift work or jet lag."

The study's co-authors are fellow Northumbria University academics Dr Jason Ellis, director of the Centre for Sleep Research, School of Life Sciences PhD students Jamie Tallent and Phillip Bell; Benita Middleton of the Centre for Chronobiology at University of Surrey; and Malachy McHugh of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.

Dr Ellis said: "Although melatonin is available over the counter in other countries, it is not freely available in the UK. What makes these findings exciting is that the melatonin contained in tart cherry juice is sufficient to elicit a healthy sleep response.

"What's more, these results provide us with more evidence surrounding the relationship between how we sleep and what we consume."

The findings will be published this week in the online edition of the European Journal of Nutrition,


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