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A cup of leafy greens a day lowers heart disease risk

Eating one cup of leafy green vegetables a day can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, new research has found. The researchers, from New Edith Cowan University in Australia, examined data from over 50,000 people that had been recorded over a 23-year period. They found that people who ate the most nitrate-rich vegetables, such as leafy greens and beetroot, had about a 2.5 mmHg lower systolic blood pressure and between 12 to 26 per cent lower risk of heart disease.

Lead researcher Dr Catherine Bondonno, said: “The greatest reduction in risk was for peripheral artery disease (26 per cent), a type of heart disease characterised by the narrowing of blood vessels of the legs. However we also found people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.”

Dr Bondonno said hacks such as including a cup of spinach in a banana or berry smoothie might be an easy way to top up our daily leafy greens. She added: “Blending leafy greens is fine, but don’t juice them. Juicing vegetables removes the pulp and fibre."

The results were published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. The study was a collaboration between Edith Cowan University, the Danish Cancer Society and The University of Western Australia.

Scientists to study links between gut microbiome and breast cancer

Scientists are launching a new study to see whether the microbes in our digestive system could be the unlikely heroes in the fight against breast cancer.

The research team from the Quadram Institute, University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, will focus on the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in each of our digestive systems, known collectively as the microbiome. A number of studies have indicated that these microbes can boost cancer therapies and may also act as a biomarker to screen cancer patients. Most of the work so far has taken place in cancers of the gut and skin, with much less work focusing on breast cancer.

Now, the new BEAM Study (Breast hEalth And Microbiota) will be one of the few trials to date exploring the gut microbiome and breast cancer.

The research team are recruiting participants who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer to donate their tissue for research, as well as faecal samples to uncover what microbes are present in their gut and which ones might be missing. For more information visit quadram.ac.uk/BEAMStudy or contact the NRP Biorepository at 01603 289221 or biorepository@nnuh.nhs.uk

Benefits of a vegetarian diet highlighted

Vegetarians seem to have healthier “biomarkers” than meat-eaters, according to a new study. Biomarkers can have bad and good health effects, promoting or preventing cancer, cardiovascular and age-related diseases, and other chronic conditions. They have been widely used to assess the effect of diets on health.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow analysed data from 177,723 healthy participants (aged 37 to 73) who were either vegetarian or meat-eaters. The researchers examined the association with 19 blood and urine biomarkers related to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, liver, bone and joint health, and kidney function. Compared to the meat-eaters, the vegetarians had significantly lower levels of 13 biomarkers including total cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – the so-called ‘bad cholesterol – as well as liver function markers indicating inflammation or damage to cells.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales from the University of Glasgow, who led the research, said: “As well as not eating red and processed meat which have been linked to heart diseases and some cancers, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume more vegetables, fruits, and nuts which contain more nutrients, fibre, and other potentially beneficial compounds. These nutritional differences may help explain why vegetarians appear to have lower levels of disease biomarkers that can lead to cell damage and chronic disease.”

Eating sardines helps to prevent type 2 diabetes

Regular consumption of sardines helps to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, new research has revealed. Nutrients found in high quantities in sardines – such as taurine, omega-3, calcium and vitamin D – help to protect against the disease.

Researchers from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain recruited 152 participants aged 65 and older who had been diagnosed with prediabetes. The participants followed a nutritional programme aimed at reducing their risk of developing diabetes, but one group added 200g of sardines to their diet every week. Of the group that did not include sardines in their diet, 27 per cent were at a high risk of suffering from diabetes. After one year, 22 per cent found themselves in the same category. Of the group that included sardines in their diet, 37 per cent were at a high risk of suffering from diabetes at the start of the study. After one year, only 8 per cent remained at a very high risk. Sardine consumption was also found to improve other health parameters, such as cholesterol regulation and the reduction of triglycerides and blood pressure. The results of the study were published in Clinical Nutrition.

Boost your health in nature

The physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature are well documented. And this month The Wildlife Trusts are encouraging us to spend every day in June enjoying the benefits of the great outdoors as part of an annual campaign. By taking part in the 30 Days Wild challenge, participants are encouraged to do ‘random acts of wildness’ each day, such as listening to birdsong, taking wildlife photographs and stargazing.

This year, the challenge kicks off with a nationwide outdoor event on 1 June: A Big Wild Breakfast. People can download a free breakfast placemat, designed as a wildlife spotting guide, and record the nature they see outdoors over their breakfast. Surveys show that taking part in 30 Days Wild not only significantly increases people’s wellbeing and heightened sense of nature – but that these positive increases are sustained beyond the life of the challenge – months after it is over. Sign up at wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild

CNM pioneers online natural health diploma courses

Responding to the current worldwide health challenges, the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) is now offering online its internationally recognised diploma and short courses to overwhelming positive response from the public.

CNM graduates and students know:

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