1 in 3 now take supplements due to Covid pandemic

Concerns about immunity as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to one in three UK adults now taking supplements. These findings were revealed in a new report from the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA).

The report, Health of the Nation 2021: Lockdown Focus, was based on a survey of 10,000 UK adults. The findings also showed that 63 per cent of respondents said they had taken vitamin D for the first time since the pandemic began, with 39 per cent saying the same for vitamin C.

Almost 20 million people in the UK are now taking supplements on a daily basis, the report states. Of those questioned, nearly 40 per cent said that information about nutrition and immunity had influenced their choice of food supplements.

Graham Keen, Executive Director of the HFMA, said: “We’re very happy to be reporting that record numbers of people are now taking food supplements. I think we all knew that this is happening, but it’s great to have it confirmed so definitively by this survey. It also gave us a timely opportunity to see how the pandemic, and the series of lockdowns that resulted, has influenced consumers to take proactive steps to help themselves to be healthier.”

Diet may help to reduce cognitive decline

The foods we eat could have a direct impact on our cognitive faculties in later years, according to new research from Iowa State University.

The researchers analysed data from 1,787 ageing adults who completed a series of cognitive ability tests as well as questionnaires about their food and alcohol consumption. A number of significant findings came about as a result of the study. Firstly, cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life. Secondly, the daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function. Furthermore, weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess. Lastly, excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Low vitamin C linked to bleeding gums

Bleeding gums could indicate that you need to up your vitamin C levels, new research from the University of Washington has shown.

“When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not ‘I should brush more’. You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason,” said the study’s lead author Philippe Hujoel, a practising dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.

Hujoel’s study, published in Nutrition Reviews, analysed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 US residents.

The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal hemorrhaging, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. Furthermore, the researchers found that increasing the daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.

As a result, Hujoel recommends that people try to keep an eye on their vitamin C intake by eating foods such as kale, peppers or kiwi fruit, or considering a supplement of about 100 to 200mg a day.

Brits are perplexed about protein, survey shows

According to a new study of 2,000 British adults, more than two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents are confused about protein intake and the quantities we should be consuming daily. Commissioned by healthy Asian food brand itsu, the survey revealed that eight in 10 (82 per cent) of men and women don’t meet their daily recommended protein intake. When questioned, 78 per cent of respondents had no knowledge as to how many grams of protein were in popular foods such as chicken or cheese. One in 10 of those polled had no idea that plants provided a protein boost, with 59 per cent not believing they have the same protein power as meat or fish.

Nutritionist Rob Hobson commented: “Proteins are known as the building blocks of life, as they break down into amino acids that help the body grow and repair. Our hair, skin and muscle are all made from the protein we eat. You might think meat is the best way to get it, but there’s growing evidence that swapping a diet rich in animal protein (such as meat, fish and dairy) for one high in soybean, pulses, nuts and grains could help you live longer.”

Study highlights shift towards sustainable eating

Brits are embracing diets that are healthy for the planet as well as healthy for themselves, according to new research.

Of the 2,000 UK adults questioned in the survey, a quarter (24 per cent) are actively choosing more sustainable food options to tackle global warming; 22 per cent are following a more eco-conscious diet to address animal welfare; and 25 per cent are eating more sustainably to tackle eco issues due to agricultural expansion.

The new research also shows that Brits would welcome more help when it comes to choosing more sustainable food options:

27 per cent call for more guidance from retailers and 37 per cent urge the Government to collaborate with retailers to promote a dietary shift from meat to plant-heavy diets. The study was carried out by Spoon Guru, a global AI food technology start-up.

Abdominal fat in menopause linked to heart disease risk

Women who gain abdominal fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease, even if their weight stays steady, new research shows.

The research was carried out at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published in the journal Menopause.

The researchers analysed data on 362 women with an average age of 51 and measured the fat surrounding their abdominal organs using a CT scan. They also measured the thickness of the internal carotid artery lining in their neck as this is an early indicator of heart disease.

The team found that for every 20 per cent increase in abdominal fat, the thickness of the carotid artery lining grew by 2 per cent, independent of overall weight, BMI and other traditional risk factors for heart disease.

They also found that abdominal fat started a steep acceleration, on average, within two years before the participants’ last period and continued a more gradual growth after the menopausal transition.

Senior author, Samar El Khoudary, said: “Historically, there’s been a disproportionate emphasis on BMI and cardiovascular disease. Through this long-running study, we’ve found a clear link between growth in abdominal fat and risk of cardiovascular disease that can be tracked with a measuring tape but could be missed by calculating BMI. If you can identify women at risk, you can help them modify their lifestyle and diet early to hopefully lower that risk.”

Regular meat consumption linked to common diseases

Regular meat consumption is associated with a range of diseases including heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes, according to a study conducted by a team at the University of Oxford.

The study, which was published in BMC Medicine, used data from almost 475,000 UK adults, who were monitored for 25 major causes of non-cancerous hospital admissions. The participants completed a questionnaire about their dietary habits and were followed up for an average period of eight years. Those who consumed unprocessed red meat and processed meat regularly (three or more times per week) were more likely than low meat-eaters to smoke, drink alcohol, be overweight or obese, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables, fibre and fish. However, after taking these factors into account, the results indicated that:

  • Higher consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat combined was associated with higher risks of ischaemic heart disease, pneumonia, diverticular disease, colon polyps and diabetes.
  • Higher consumption of poultry meat was associated with higher risks of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gastritis and duodenitis, diverticular disease, gallbladder disease and diabetes.
  • Higher intakes of unprocessed red meat and poultry meat were associated with a lower risk of iron deficiency anaemia.

The research team suggest that unprocessed red meat and processed meat may increase the risk of ischaemic heart disease because they are major dietary sources of saturated fatty acids. These can increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, an established risk factor for ischaemic heart disease.

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends that people limit red meat consumption to no more than three portions per week and processed meat should be eaten rarely, if at all.

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:

  • that a healthy and robust body can resist infections better and return to health faster
  • that a strong immune system is important
  • how to boost the immune system naturally

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