This Weeks Health News – 24/01/14

The health news this week covers night shift work and health, foods that may reduce diabetes risk, a gastric weight loss balloon in a pill and another vitamin D...

The health news this week covers night shift work and health, foods that may reduce diabetes risk, a gastric weight loss balloon in a pill and another vitamin D study.


Night workNight work ‘throws body into chaos’

Doing the night shift throws the body “into chaos” and could cause long-term damage, warn researchers… Read more here.

The body has a natural internal clock, which is called the circadian rhythm, or more commonly, the body clock. This is controlled by a number of factors such as when we eat and our exposure to day light. This article is covering how working night shifts (where you are awake during the night and asleep during day light hours in the week) can disrupt this cycle, and cause an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. If you have ever experienced yet lag, then you have experienced a disrupted circadian rhythm. The feelings of tiredness and fatigue are the most commonly notice symptoms of a disrupted circadian rhythm, but it can play havoc with your whole body. The article explains how the disruption is caused quite nicely in this analogy – ‘It’s like living in a house. There’s a clock in every room in the house and in all of those rooms those clocks are different, which of course leads to chaos in the household.’ Your body doesn’t know when it should be active, preparing for a day, getting tired or even hungry. This disruption of these systems can lead to a number of problems, one in particular being over eating sugary foods.


Chocolates and wineChocolate, wine and berries may reduce diabetes risk

Food rich in flavonoids—a compound found in chocolate, wine and berries—may help protect against type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugar regulation, according to a new study… Read more here.

This really frustrated me. It really is a case of news articles trying to attract the public’s attentions with bold and seemingly exciting headlines, so I’m going to break this down.

Berries – These are high in flavinoids and it is understandable that these will reduce the risk of diabetes. I have no problem with these claim, nor with recommending people to eat more berries.

WineRed wine is high in flavinoids, but also alcohol, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. I have seen a number of news articles over the years claiming wine can reduce the risk of a number of diseases such as cancer because it contains flavinoids, but the actual evidence is very tenuous. The study which ‘showed’ wine reduces the risk of breast cancer actually only showed a change in enzymic behaviour in an human cell in a lab when wine was dropped on it – hardly conclusive evidence, and unlikely to be translated into real life. In reality, wine is not healthy, and should not be viewed as such. It may be more healthy than some others alcoholic drinks, but that doesn’t make it healthy. That would be like saying chips are healthier than smoking, so chips are healthy.

Chocolate – The logic here again is flawed. Coco beans, which are high in flavinoids, make chocolate, therefore, chocolate is healthy. Chocolate as we know it, is high in simple sugar, and is very different from a cocobean. It is therefore much more likely to cause type 2 diabetes than prevent it!

Sure, polyphenols such as flavinoids and anthocyanins may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but this doesn’t mean all foods they are found in will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Gastric balloon pill!New gastric weight loss balloon comes in pill form

A new weight loss balloon has been developed that can be swallowed in a capsule, avoiding the need for invasive surgery… Read more here.

You can now swallow a pill, which inflates to the same size as an apple in your stomach, which will make you feel full with less food. This demonstrates great progression in science, however, it is possible that many will see this as a shortcut to weight loss. Although it is much safer than invasive surgery, it does have its own problems, and doesn’t address the issue of diet and lifestyle problems which resulted in weight problems in the first place. What would stop the weight issues not coming back once the balloon is removed?

Eggs and soldiers!Vitamin D not needed for healthy people, study finds

There is little reason to prescribe vitamin D supplements to healthy adults to reduce the risk of diseases or fractures, say researchers writing in the Lancet… Read more here, and read the study here.

Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin, which plays a role in a number of biological systems. Lack of vitamin D has for many years been attributed to a number of diseases, from cardiovascular disease to hip fractures. This paper, published in The Lancet, has looked at a number of studies investigating vitamin D supplementation with and without calcium, on a number of diseases. The findings show that vitamin D with or without calcium, doesn’t have a significant (more than 15%) benefit to any other the diseases. To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me. Nutrients do not work in isolation, and so assuming that increasing one or two nutrients will make a difference is unreasonable for most illnesses. What is to say that these people are not getting enough omega-3, or vitamin K, or potassium? There are so many risk factors for cardiovascular disease that they can be difficult to control. This study has told me that increasing vitamin D alone will not benefit the body.


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Images courtesy of Kuba Bożanowskikev-shinePolygon Medical Animation and HealthGauge.


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.

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