In this weeks health news: scared of raw eggs, what about reheated rice?, caffeine can change the way the heart beats, exercise is good for dementia and vitamin D.
Why are we more scared of raw egg than reheated rice? (2nd Dec)
Twenty-five years ago minister Edwina Currie sparked a scare over salmonella in eggs and had to resign amid outrage from farmers and plummeting sales. The panic has shaped the way we think about food safety… Read more here.
It is true, most people associate food poisoning with animal based products, yet vegetables and grains are just as high risk, if not more! You do not cook a salad, and washing isn’t a very reliable way of cleaning all your food from bacteria. As long as you cook meat properly, there is very little to worry about. Some of the worst food poisoning cases have been from salad leaves and rice. Rice often harbours a very dangerous and heat resistant bacteria called Bacillus cereus. Once rice has been cooked the spores of this bacteria can germinate and the population can start to grow, which can cause very serious illness. The danger of animal based food products seems to get over exaggerated by the media, and so the publics perception of risky food is skewed.
This news article is highlighting the importance of ensuring all food, not just meat and eggs, are prepared and stored properly to avoid food poisoning.
Energy drinks packed with caffeine can change the way the heart beats, researchers warn… Read more here.
Some energy drinks contain three times more caffeine that coffee, and often also contain other stimulants too. This article has shown how they cause the heart to pump harder shortly after drinking them, which can cause additional strain on the cardiovascular system. For most healthy young adults (whom these drinks are largely intended for) this will not have any serious long term effect on their health, as long as drinking them is not a regular thing. Wanting a bit of an energy boost every now and then is some people feel the need for, and although it isn’t good for you, your body should be able to deal with its effects.
The concern is for young children (who are drinking more and more energy drinks), or those who have undiagnosed heart conditions, as this amount of stimulants can have a serious negative impact on both groups. It can affect the mental function of children, and the cardiac function of people undiagnosed with heart conditions. It is important to be aware who these drinks are designed for, and the frequency at which they can be consumed – children should not be drinking them, and they should not be considered a regular drink for adults.
People with dementia who exercise improve their thinking abilities and everyday life, a body of medical research concludes… Read more here.
Research from the Cochrane group has shown that exercising may help prevent dementia, as well as help the elderly carry out their daily activities. This supports the idea of ‘a health body gives a healthy mind’, and that health is not just about what you eat, but also how you move. Although the extent of the benefits is a bit vague, and more research is still needed, I think understanding ways of preventing dementia is very important, as the number of people suffering from the disease is rising rapidly.
In elderly people, restoration of vitamin D deficits due to ageing and lifestyle changes induced by ill health could explain why low-dose supplementation leads to slight gains in survival… Read full report.
Low levels of vitamin D have for a long time been associated with increasing the risk of a number of very serious diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular disease. This research, which was published in The Lancet, suggests that low levels of vitamin D might possibly be a result of ill health, not a cause. Increasing the vitamin D profile of patients only seemed to slightly reduce risk of death from all causes in a number of studies (although it did have a significantly beneficial effect on colorectal cancer). This research also did not look at skeletal diseases, presumably because vitamin D levels are so integral to bone health, that low levels of vitamin D are known to increase the risk of bone related diseases.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that vitamin D isn’t a valuable nutrient in maintaining good health, but it does indicate that there is more to health than just vitamin D – something what we already know. This research isn’t telling you to ignore vitamin D if you are trying to avoid cancer, but is is showing that vitamin D perhaps shouldn’t have the focus which it has had in avoiding these diseases. No nutrient works in isolation, and health is more than just what you eat (as the exercise and dementia article demonstrates). It is a combination of diet and lifestyle which will help prevent these diseases, not just one nutrient.