This Weeks Health News – 11/04/14

This week we have looked at how easy it would be to completely eliminate processed foods, a quick look at the science behind popular supplements, and questions about how...
Bread and Milk

This week we have looked at how easy it would be to completely eliminate processed foods, a quick look at the science behind popular supplements, and questions about how effective TamiFlu is.


Milk, bread and beansCan you live without processed food?

So how easy is it to live without processed food for a week? Helen Briggs finds out… Read more here.

This is an interesting article, where a journalist tries to go a week without eating processed food. I’ve always said that from a health point of view you can’t go wrong with simply avoiding processed foods, and it is something I always try and do with what I eat. This story highlights how difficult it actually is, and how restrictive the diet will be for the average person. Your diet is suddenly reduced mainly to fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, a couple of animal products and meat. It cuts out breakfast cereals, sandwiches, ready meals and packaged foods. It even cuts out things like instant coffee. From a dietary point of view, it will be a massive re-vamp for anyone, but, it is clearly healthy.

Its not as simple as buying a bag of nuts though, as Helen Briggs found out, many nuts have added salt to them, which counts as processed – it takes a lot of looking at the back of packets when you do this!

Apart from the fact that there isn’t a great deal of variation in your diet, it also is extremely time consuming. Soaking lentils, grinding up your own coffee and cooking all takes up quite a bit time. Alright, so grabbing a bit of fruit isn’t time consuming at all, but you are going to want more than some fruit during the day! People don’t want to spend more time cooking and preparing food, many people claim they don’t have time (but they still find time for almost 25hours a week to watch TV).

It looks like properly cutting out processed food is very difficult, because processing food has become a very integral part of our life – it makes foods delicious and easy to prepare. Perhaps it is time for unprocessed foods to become more accessible, how great would it be to have an ‘unprocessed’ isle in your local supermarket instead of a ‘snacks & chocolate’?


Various pills and tabletsThe science behind dietary supplements

From multivitamins to fish oil, daily pills and powders have become routine for millions around the world. But do we really need to take them?… Read more here.

The guardian has tried to write an impartial guide on taking supplements, with focus on the most popular ones – multi-vitamins, fish oils, vitamin D, glucosamine and protein powders. I would say that they have missed out on one important point with all of these supplements though – is your diet up to scratch? Supplements are utterly pointless unless your diet is good, supplements (as their name suggests) can only supplement your diet, not substitute or rectify. Supplement. Too many people think they can eat rubbish and just pop a multi-vitamin and everything will be ok – and this is far from the truth.

Multi-vitamins – I would say there are more or less spot on here when they say that taking one pill that can’t possibly fit every person’s daily requirements. It is crazy that some people believe this.

Fish oil – Ahhhh – “Given its safety, price, and potential benefits, the odds are that this is a product worth taking.” Are you kidding me?? I swear a part of me dies every-time I read things like ‘supplement ‘X’ is so cheap, why not take it?’ This is a problem I have tried to highlight in an old blog post, and an article specifically about the processing of cod liver oil. The supplement industry is so poorly regulated that I could quite easily put sunflower oil in gel caps, put it in a fancy bottle and sell it as cod liver oil. Cheap doesn’t always mean its good.

Vitamin D – I don’t think the Guardian is too far off the mark here. With a proper fish oil supplement and diet you will be getting a good amount of vitamin D though.

  1. Glucosamine – Again, not a bad little summary. I actually wrote a fairly thorough article on how effective glucosamine is for joint care, as well as other common supplements such as chondroitin.

Protein powders – Again, these are a supplement, and can only supplement a good diet. Time and time again I see people drinking protein powders like fun thinking they will turn into the next Arnie. That isn’t to say they don’t have their place in some peoples diets. They are a relatively cost effective way to get some protein in your diet. If you are one of these protein powered guzzelers, you might find this article on diet for muscle gain of use.


Tamiflu packetTamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report

The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms…Read more here, and read the research summary here.

To give you a bit of background – the Cochrane Collaboration is considered to be the gold standard in clinical research reviews. They are non-profit, and examine as much clinical evidence as possible on drugs to determine if they are as effective as the manufacturer claims. This is because manufacturers such as GSK and Roche (the maker of Tamiflu) are renowned for hiding, or misrepresenting data to make their drugs look very effective.

The effectiveness of Tamiflu has long been in discussion, partly because Roche have been so secretive about many of the trials they conducted on it. I haven’t had a look at the research myself, but if the Cochrane Collaboration says something is amiss, I am tempted to agree with them. They have no reason to slander or promote a product, whereas Roche has a lot of interest in promoting Tamiflu (the UK has bought £473million on Tamiflu). The Cochrane Collaboration has made mistakes in the past though, and their report has had some criticism, so there isn’t a conclusion for this story just yet.

One thing I would like to think comes out from this though, is that the government will want more information on a product before spending £473million on it!


Images courtesy of ramtopsadamjackson and stephenccwu.

I hope you enjoy the site, and like what we have worked hard to create, any feedback is very much welcome, after all this site is for you! Graduate of Nutrition & Food Science (Bsc) at Reading Uni.

The Health Cloud was created in December 2011 by Craig and Morg who have been friends since high school. Our focus is to educate our readers with unbiased health articles and on the side we run our own online health shop. This website is for you, so drop us a comment or send us a tweet, we always take the time to reply!