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Could vitamin A help to recover smell after Covid-19?

Researchers are launching a new project to see whether vitamin A could help people regain their sense of smell after viral infections, including Covid-19.

Smell loss expert, Prof Carl Philpott from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School and James Paget University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The huge rise in smell loss caused by Covid-19 has created an unprecedented worldwide demand for treatment. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, smell loss was thought to affect an estimated five per cent of people, with viruses accounting for one in 10 of those. And around one in 10 people who experience smell loss as a result of Covid-19 report that their sense of smell has not returned to normal four weeks after falling ill. It’s a big problem, and our previous research has shown the impact of smell loss – including depression, anxiety and isolation, as well as risk of danger from hazards such as gas and spoiled food, and changes in weight due to reduced appetite.

Previous research from Germany has shown the potential benefit of vitamin A, and the UEA team will explore how this treatment works to help repair tissues in the nose damaged by viruses. The research team will work with patients who have lost their sense of smell due to a viral infection. They will either receive a 12-week course of nasal vitamin A drops or inactive equivalent drops, and have their brains scanned before and after the treatment. The scans will be compared to those of a control group who have not been treated with vitamin A drops.

Sugar reduction measures proposed

US researchers have proposed that cutting 20 per cent of sugar from packaged foods and 40 per cent from beverages could prevent 2.48 million cardiovascular disease events such as strokes, heart attacks and cardiac arrests. The measure could also prevent 490,000 cardiovascular deaths, and 750,000 diabetes cases in the US over the lifetime of the adult population. These were the findings of a study led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in the journal Circulation.

Strength training can help to burn body fat, study shows

Australian researchers have shown that, contrary to popular belief, strength training can help to burn body fat.

The new study from the University of New South Wales shows that it is possible to lose around 1.4 per cent of our entire body fat through strength training alone, which is similar to how much could be lost through cardio training.

The research team analysed the findings from 58 research papers that used highly accurate forms of body fat measurement (like body scans, which can differentiate fat mass from lean mass) to measure the outcomes from strength training programmes. The studies included 3,000 participants, none of whom had any previous weight training experience.

The participants worked out for between 45 and 60 minutes for an average of 2.7 times per week. The programmes lasted for about five months.

The team found that, on average, the participants lost 1.4 per cent of their total body fat after their training programmes, which equated to roughly half a kilo in fat mass for most participants.

Although the findings are good news for fans of the gym, the study’s senior author, Dr Mandy Hagstrom, exercise physiologist and senior lecturer at UNSW Medicine & Health, says the best approach for people who are aiming to lose fat is to eat a nutritious diet and follow an exercise routine that includes both aerobic/cardio and strength training. The findings were published in Sports Medicine.

Children who eat more fruit and veg have better mental health

Children who eat a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables have better mental wellbeing, new research from the University of East Anglia has shown.

The research team studied data from almost 9,000 children in 50 schools across Norfolk (7,570 secondary and 1,253 primary school children). The children self-reported their dietary choices and took part in age-appropriate tests of mental wellbeing that covered cheerfulness, relaxation, and having good interpersonal relationships.

Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch said: “In terms of nutrition, we found that only around a quarter of secondary-school children and 28 per cent of primary-school children reported eating the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables. And just under one in 10 children were not eating any fruits or vegetables. More than one in five secondary school children and one in 10 primary children didn’t eat breakfast. And more than one in 10 secondary school children didn’t eat lunch.”

Dr Richard Hayhoe, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We found that eating well was associated with better mental wellbeing in children. And that among secondary school children in particular there was a really strong link between eating a nutritious diet, packed with fruit and vegetables, and having better mental wellbeing.”

The research team say that public health strategies and school policies should be developed to ensure that good quality nutrition is available to all children before and during school to optimise mental wellbeing and empower children to fulfil their full potential. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

Survey highlights the nation’s sleep woes

One in six women are surviving on up to just five hours of sleep a night, increasing to 20 per cent in women over the age of 55, a new survey has revealed.

The YouGov study was commissioned by Danish home retailer and sleep expert JYSK as part of a collaboration with the Sleep Charity. The results also revealed that one in three adults say their sleep has been impacted by the pandemic with increased anxiety (22 per cent) or intense, unpleasant dreams (18 per cent). Furthermore, half of full-time workers in the UK (52 per cent) are getting a bad night’s sleep from work stress, compared to 39 per cent of part-time workers.

The Sleep Charity’s Deputy CEO, Lisa Artis says: “Sleep, regardless of age, is essential for a healthy lifestyle and should not be taken lightly. Just one night of interrupted sleep negatively affects mood, attention span and cognitive ability. We spend a lot of time focusing on exercising and eating well but we miss sleep out of the equation. A greater understanding of sleep will ensure a healthier society, supporting better mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and will ultimately save costs in the health sector, education and the workplace.”

Ketone supplements may boost brain function in those with obesity

Ketone supplements may help to protect and improve brain health in people with obesity, new research has shown.

Individuals with obesity are known to be at a higher risk of developing cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus conducted a randomised placebo-controlled crossover study in which adults with obesity consumed either a ketone supplement or a placebo supplement three times per day, 15 minutes before each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The researchers assessed the participants’ cognitive function, measured their brain blood flow and took blood samples to measure their levels of hormones which help neurons grow and improve cognitive functions. The results showed that the individuals who took the ketone supplements three times a day for 14 days experienced enhanced blood flow to the brain and improved aspects of cognitive function, like working memory and processing speed. The findings were published in The Journal of Physiology.

New Covid symptom highlighted

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, a dry cough, and losing your sense of taste and smell. Other signs that are frequently seen include headaches, muscle and joint pain, nasal congestion, and fatigue. However, scientists are now looking into a new symptom, known as “Covid nails”.

Prof Vassilios Vassiliou, from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said: “A less common symptom is rashes of various forms. These have been slower to be reported, partly due to the wide variety that have appeared in Covid-19 patients, making it more challenging to establish a consistent correlation. Following a Covid-19 infection, for a small number of patients the fingernails appear discoloured or misshapen a number of weeks later – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed ‘Covid nails’.”

Prof Vassiliou continued: “Knowing how Covid-19 affects the skin and nails is important. A recent study found that for 17 per cent of Covid-19 patients with multiple symptoms, skin rashes were the first symptom to appear, while for 21 per cent of patients, rashes were their only symptom. Being able to identify the effects of Covid-19 on the skin may allow cases to be spotted earlier – or even picked up altogether in people who are otherwise asymptomatic. This could help limit transmission.”

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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