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Dry January and beyond

In recent years, increasing numbers of people have pledged to give up alcohol for the month of January as part of the Dry January initiative. However, new research shows that over half of Millennials (54 per cent) are pledging to give up alcohol for more than just one month in 2020. According to new YouGov statistics commissioned by One Year No Beer (OYNB), Baby Boomers also seem committed to going alcohol-free with a quarter (25 per cent) saying they’ll quit for at least a month in the next year.

The statistics have been compiled in a report called One year, no beer? How going alcohol-free long-term can overhaul your life, which examines the broad social and health benefits of cutting out alcohol.

Millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) are most likely to say they don’t like missing out on exercise as a result of being hungover (17 per cent) while two fifths (20 per cent) say they are actually choosing to cut out booze as a way of improving their mental health.

Professor Kevin Moore from the Royal Free Hospital, London, co-authored one of the largest ever studies into the effects of a four-week break from alcohol in 2015.

He said: “Our research has found that stopping drinking hugely improves the sleep quality of patients who were previously moderate drinkers. We recently studied the effects of short-term abstinence and we found that at the end of a month of not drinking, 80 per cent of the patients said they felt so much better that they didn’t want to return to drinking alcohol as heavily as before.”

Another good reason to put the kettle on

A new study has shed light on the impact that drinking tea can have on our gut bacteria. The findings, which were commissioned by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) and published in Nutrients Journal, combine the results from 21 studies which examined the impact of different teas on gut health. The results showed clear differences in the types of bacteria thriving in the gut after regular tea drinking, with the balance changed towards healthier strains and away from those linked with infection and even obesity.

Natural health chemist, co-author and adviser from TAP, Dr Tim Bond explains: “We are now much more aware that our gut bacteria have a massive impact on health including influencing whether we develop obesity, diabetes or bowel diseases. Everyone knows that fibre or probiotics can help change gut bacteria towards more favourable strains so it was a pleasant surprise to discover through this research that a simple cup of tea can also be effective. The studies we evaluated seemed to be most successful when participants drank 4-5 cups of tea daily, with significant increases seen for bifidobacteria – a type of bacteria that is thought to help improve our immune defences by crowding out potentially harmful pathogens.”

Campaign launched to encourage kids to eat more veg

A new project has been launched to encourage children to eat more vegetables.

The See & Eat project was launched in response to evidence that children who are exposed to pictures of vegetables are more likely to eat them. As part of the campaign, 24 new eBooks have been made available to download for free along with other resources including meal planners, shopping lists and family-friendly recipes, developed to support parents and carers in encouraging their children to eat more vegetables. The books each tell the farm-to-fork journey of a different vegetable and can be personalised with pictures, videos and text. The initiative is being led by Professor Carmel Houston-Price at the University of Reading and supported by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

Dr Natalie Masento, a collaborator on the project at the University of Reading, comments: “It is well established that children often need 10 to 15 exposures to new foods before they accept them into their diets. But, having to prepare different vegetables on more than 10 occasions, without them being eaten, can be very frustrating – and costly – for many parents. Research has shown, however, that children’s acceptance of new foods can be boosted purely by a food’s visual familiarity, for instance by looking at pictures.”

For more information, visit www.foodunfolded.com

Here’s to a new year!

According to research from the University of Minnesota, six weeks after people make their New Year’s resolutions, 80 per cent of them have either broken them or couldn’t remember what they were. If this sounds familiar, you might be one of the many people hoping that 2020 will be the year – or indeed decade – to finally make your resolutions stick.

“The beginning of a brand new decade is the perfect time to make all those changes you’ve been thinking about,” says Julie Provino, a mindfulness and NLP coach, and author of How to Get What You Want in 7 Weeks (www.julieprovino.com). “Self-improvement isn’t about going in all guns blazing for 31 days, it’s a lifestyle change. You know what steps you need to take, so the difficult part is already done.”

According to Julie, what’s needed is “honesty and commitment” in order to achieve your personal goals.

“Be excited about your plans to become a better person,” she says. “Your enthusiasm will spur you on to achieve 100 per cent. Take time out to visualise yourself achieving your goals, create a mood board, and tell all your family and friends. They’ll provide you with an extra layer of support to help you succeed. Imagine how amazing you’ll feel when you’ve achieved your goals, and keep the positive vibes going every single day. Finally, take time to constantly remind yourself that you deserve to achieve the best.”

Gum disease doubles stroke risk, new study reveals

People with gum disease are around twice as likely to have a stroke, a new study has found. The researchers, from Brazil and Canada, discovered that when the gums bleed and become inflamed, this leads to changes in how blood and oxygen flows to the brain.

The study, which also examined more than 2,000 previous studies into the area, supports previous studies that have linked a heightened stroke risk with gum disease. The findings were published in Vascular Health and Risk Management.

Gum disease currently affects around 45 per cent of the adult population, according to the British Society of Periodontology. The first sign of gum disease is when the gums start to bleed.

In response to the findings, the Oral Health Foundation is encouraging everyone to ensure they pay close attention to their oral health. The organisation recommends brushing teeth twice a day and cleaning in between teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss. If you have bleeding gums, the first thing to do is visit your dental team for a thorough check-up of your teeth and gums. For more information about gum disease, visit www.dentalhealth.org.

Did you know?

More than 250,000 people from 159 countries took part in Veganuary 2019 by signing up and taking the pledge to go vegan for the month of January.

This is an increase of 49 per cent compared to the 2018 campaign. It is thought that 10 times more people take part in Veganuary than sign up on the website.

For more about the campaign and some delicious vegan recipes, click here .

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