All posts by DrG

Cutting breakfast calories helps cut daily calorie intake

A recent study has suggested that reducing the number of calories you eat for breakfast could help you to lose weight. This is contrary to the thought that starting the day with a large, hearty breakfast can aid in weight loss. In fact it is a myth that eating a larger breakfast will lead to consuming less calories in the remainder of the day.

It has been reported that reducing the number of calories you eat at breakfast will help to improve your overall daily energy balance. The study, published in the Nutrition Journal (www.nutritionj.com) was trying to determine whether there is truth in the belief that eating a large breakfast will lead to a lower calorie intake through the rest of the day.

The study was conducted by a group from the University of Munich and followed nearly 400 normal and obese people over a 2 week period. Each participant kept a diary of the type and quantities of each food they consumed. Some subjects ate large breakfasts, others smaller quantities and others skipped breakfast.

When the results were analysed it was found that the total energy intake throughout the day  is directly proportional to the number of breakfast calories you consume. It was also determined that the size of the other meals you consumer after breakfast has little correlation to the amount you eat at breakfast. The only exception being a reduction in the mid-morning snack for one group that was studied. Lead researcher, Dr Volker Schusdziarra, said: “The results of the study showed that people ate the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for breakfast.”

While an overall reduction in calories will generally help a person to lose weight, further studies are required to demonstrate that smaller breakfast will lead to weight loss. However, according to the British Dietetic Association, eating breakfast is important to help maintain a balanced diet.

You should not skip breakfast as those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Furthermore, missing breakfast can lead to the temptation to snack on other less healthy alternatives through the day.

Getting up at work is ‘good for the heart’

With the increasing number of computer and telephone related jobs you may find yourself stuck behind your office desk for many hours at a time. However, new research suggests that if you can interject these prolonged seating periods with standing up and stretching your legs then your heart will thank you. Taking lots of short minute length breaks throughout the day was not only shown to help your heart but can also help keep your waist size under control.

Barack Obama sitting at the Resolute desk

The study looked at 4,757 adults aged 20 years old and over by Dr Healy and his colleagues who were conducting the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survery between 2003 and 2006. Each participant carried out their normal daily routine while wearing a small walking and running sensor to monitor movements during the day. The study also took measurements of blood fats, waist circumference, cholesterol levels and and blood pressure.

The study which was presented in the European Heart Journal further confirms the idea that sitting down for long periods of time is bad for your health. The study noted that those who sit for longer periods of time tended to have larger waistlines and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol. Lead researcher Dr Healy said, “Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk.”

“It is likely that regular breaks in prolonged sitting time could be readily incorporated into the working environment without any detrimental impact on productivity, although this still needs to be determined by further research. Stand up, move more, more often’ could be used as a slogan to get this message across.”

Amy Thompson, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation gave the following advice; “If you’re in the office, walk to someone’s desk instead of sending an e-mail and avoid the lift by taking the stairs. Regular physical activity is essential to protect cardiovascular health.”

Top Tips to Maintain a Healthy Heart at Work

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift when going to and from your office
  • Walk across the office to see a colleague instead of phoning or emailing
  • Stand up when taking telephone calls
  • Move bins and printers to an area where you need to walk to them

Thanks to the BBC Health for these health tips.

Keep working to boost your memory!

Researchers have suggested that staying in work until you are older can help stave off memory loss. The research found that people who stay in work in their 60s have a better memory than those who retire early. The study compared people from the UK who retire at 65, people in France and Germany who retire in their 50s and people in America where many people continue to work their entire lives.

Memory boost

A daily walk can boost your memory

People from America scored the highest in the tests. A decreased memory faculty can lead to a lowered ability to think and reason and the old adage; “Use it or lose it” seems to be very apt. The test involved each subject being given 10 words and then asked to recite them immediately and then recite them again 10 minutes later. The best score achievable would was 20 (10 each time).

The best results were by people in the US who averaged 11 words closely followed by the UK and Denmark who achieved a score of 10. Italians scored 7, the French scored 8 and the Spanish scored 6 on average. Dr Robert Willis from the University of Michigan one of the authors of the study said: “There is evidence that social skills and personality skills – getting up in the morning, dealing with poeple, knowing the value of being prompt and trustworthy – are important. They go hand in hand with the work environment.”

Other research has found that walking just a mile a day could help stave off dementia. This separate research found that people who walk about 6 miles per week and mentally sharper in later life. Regular exercise has been shown to help alleviate the shrinking of that grey matter.

Hangovers this Christmas!

It is that festive time of year when alcohol seems to be flowing all the more abundantly! However, this often leads to more hangovers. A hangover often gives your head a spinning feeling, thumping headache and accompanied with the feeling of being sick.

Why does alcohol cause a hangover?

The worst effects of a hangover are often due to dehydration. Alcohol is actually a diuretic, which means that water is lost from the body faster. The feeling of sickness and vomiting are due to alcohol irritating the lining of the stomach. Therefore, a combination of an energetic night out, lack of sleep and the extra stress on your organs due to the alcohol will lead to a less than welcomed hangover.

Alcohol Beverages

Alcohol - But how do I deal with a hangover this Christmas?

Tips for avoiding a Hangover this Christmas

The best prevention is to drink in moderation and not to excess. This is not only better for your body in the long term but is also a guaranteed way to limit the chances of a hangover. However, if you do plan to drink a little more then the Healthy Hideout’s following tips will help to minimise the risk of a hangover.

  • Before drinking: Have a drink of milk and eat a good sized, fatty meal.
  • While drinking: Alternate your drinks between alcoholic beverages and water or another non-fizzy drink. Drink more slowly and limit the amount of glasses you have – know your limits. Alternating your drinks is a great way to drink considerably less in the course of the evening.
  • Before you go to bed: Eat some carbohydrates (toast is a great option); drink at least a pint of water or a sports drink designed to rehydrate the body.  You can also take some vitamin C and go out into the fresh air to clear your head a little.

Enjoy this Christmas but take a few moments to think about the effects on your body. Too much alcohol can irritate the stomach lining and put undue pressure on your liver and kidneys. Eating fatty food and drinking milk can help to protect your stomach lining while slowing the absorption of alcohol. Always make sure you eat plenty before going out and drinking.

What if I get  a hangover?

Be prepared: Make sure you have some antacid tablets on hand – these will help settle your stomach. A ginger tea has also been found to help some people. You may also want to take Ibuprofen or paracetamol to help relieve your headache.

Eating a full English breakfast can also pay dividends. The eggs help reduce the negative effects of the alcohol while toast and vitamin C also help to fight the effects of a hangover. If all else fails then time is sure to heal your woes. The effects are likely to ware off within 24 hours.

Tell us about how you deal with a hangover?

10 things you never knew about aspirin

The Daily Express reported last week that a small daily dose of aspirin can reduce the risk of many common forms of cancer. What do you actually know about this pain-reliever? Here are the Healthy Hideouts top 10 things you may not have known about aspirin.

1. What is it? – Aspirin is the common name used for acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and commonly used for minor aches and pains and as an anti-inflammatory medicine.

2. Origins? – Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid was first extracted from plants such as dried myrtle leaves, willow bark and spiraea. It was first used as to treat back pain, headaches and other pains and its origins go back to Ancient Egypt around 1,500BC.

3. Name – Pure acetylsalicylic acid was synthesised by Felix Hoffman in 1897.  The name aspirin was created by Hoffman’s employer Bayer AG who created the name from the botanical name for meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria.

4. Tablets – Powered aspirin was released in 1899 and soluble aspirin tablets were released in 1900. The soluble tablets drastically cut production costs.

Aspirin Tablets

Coated 325mg Aspirin Tablets. Source: Sage Ross @ Wikipedia

5. How it works – Aspirin works by thinning the blood which subsequently reduces the sensitivity of nerve endings. This results in a lower sensation to aches and pains.

6. Intake – About 40,000 tonnes of aspirin is taken by people around the world each year. That is a lot of pain relief!

7. Trademark – The name “Aspirin” as registered as a trademark by the Bayer AG company in Germany in 1899.

8. War – With the war reparations in 1919, following Germany’s surrender after World War 1 the name Aspirin lost its status as a registered trademark in many countries. The word “aspirin” is now a generic word in many countries including Jamaica, United Kingdom, France, USA, India and Australia. However, the word Aspirin is still a registered trademark in Germany, Mexico, Canada and over 80 other countries!

9. Headaches – Aspirin helps relieve the pain from migraines in 50-60% of people. Aspirin also relieves the pain from episodic tension headaches in 60-75% of cases.

10. Heart Attacks & Strokes – The FDA ruled in 1998 that aspirin could be labelled as being helpful in preventing strokes and heart attacks when taken daily in small dosages.

Thanks to the Daily Express for a few of these insights. What other things do you know about aspirin that you would add to the list?

Beetroot juice – Giving your health a surprising boost!

While beetroot juice may not be your first choice of drink perhaps you should add it to your diet. According to research by the the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University in London, beetroot juice may just save your life! They even found that patients who drank a glass of beetroot juice were found to have significantly lower blood pressure after just 24 hours.

The researchers compared a group who drank 250ml of beetroot juice each day and a group who ate nitrate tablets. The researchers found that both groups equally had a reduction in their blood pressure. They concluded that this was due to the nitrates that are found naturally in beetroot, which is known to have beneficial effects to lower blood pressure.

In Britain there are 16 million people who are affected by high blood pressure or hypertension. This is 1 in 5 and leads to a heightened risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

Beetroots - Lowering your blood pressure

When you drink the beetroot juice a gas called nitric oxide is released in the blood. This nitric oxide in the blood widens the blood vessels and arteries, which leads to a lowering in the blood pressure. Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of Vascular Biology said that the research showed that it was the nitrates in the beetroot that had the beneficial effects with nitrate tablets being equally beneficial. Furthermore, only a small 250ml amount of beetroot juice was needed for the benefits. It was also noted that patients who started with a higher blood pressure showed a bigger reduction.

Previous research 2 years earlier showed that beetroot juice lowered blood pressure but it is only now that they know it is the nitrates that are producing the positive effects. It seems that beetroot juice can also boost your stamina. A different study from the university of Exeter found that drinking a glass of beetroot juice for a week increased the stamina of the young men by 16%. Just be aware though – drinking too much beetroot juice can have the alarming effect of purple urine!