This Weeks Health News – 04/04/14

This week has seen a call to change the 5-a-day campaign recommendations, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, how sleep deprived the UK is and more considerations for the regulation...

This week has seen a call to change the 5-a-day campaign recommendations, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, how sleep deprived the UK is and more considerations for the regulation of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.


Fruit and veg stallSeven-a-day fruit and veg ‘saves lives’

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day is healthier than the minimum five currently recommended and would prolong lives, experts say… Read more here.

Research published in the BMJ this week has reviewed how much fruit and veg we should be eating. This is after years and years of being told that 5 fruit/ veg a day is the optimal amount to be consuming to be healthy. The research concluded that actually 7 fruit/ veg is the optimal amount.

This really isn’t anything new. Originally, when the 5-a-day campaign was released it was concluded that 7 or 8 portions of fruit or veg were optimal, but the government decided that this amount was far too high for most people to consume, and so lowered the daily target to 5, because more people will be able to reach it.

The governments response to this research is exactly the same this time – 7 is just too much for the majority of the population to try and reach, and that there are much more important factors such as quitting smoking which will have a greater impact on health, particularly cardiovascular disease.

I am in 2 minds about this. On one hand, I agree that suggesting 7 or 8 portions will be difficult to reach for the majority of the population, and so many probably wouldn’t even try. But there are people who are actually trying to be healthy and always aim for 5 portions a day, thinking it is the healthiest amount to be eating, when it isn’t. People need to be aware that the majority of recommendations are often minimum quantities, and not optimal quantities, and this is true for the RDAs as well as other health campaigns.


Woman runningHow running ‘may preserve thinking skills’

People who ran for longer on the treadmill performed better at tests of memory and thinking skills 25 years on, even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol… Read more here.

The connection between cardiovascular health and brain health isn’t a new one. We have long known that a healthy body means a healthy mind, and this research serves to solidify this association. There is also growing evidence that cardiovascular exercise can help prevent neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzhimer’s disease and dementia.

Government guidelines suggest that you should be exercising 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 75 minuets of vigorous exercise a week. As I have already mentioned, these guidelines are the minimum amount you should be aiming for, and in reality you should aim much higher. This really shouldn’t be too hard for most of the population, especially when you consider that the average person will watch at least 24 hours of TV a week, you can sacrifice a couple of those hours for exercise. But even if you can’t, you can do exercise in your living room! No excuses!


BedSix in 10 Britons ‘sleep deprived’

Computers, tablets and smartphones are contributing to an epidemic of sleep deprivation, new research has suggested… Read more here.

This report claims that 6 in 10 of the people in the UK get 7 or less hours of sleep a night, and 78% of people being exposed to sleep disruptive ‘blue light’ from computers or smartphones.

People may not be aware of how sleep deprivation can be to your body, and it does much more than just cause you to feel tired and groggy the next morning. Disruption of sleep plays havoc with the immune system and endocrine system and is associated with contributing to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

If you are a user of phones or computers at night, it might be worth thinking about putting it down when you go to bed.


Plain cigarette packetGovernment to move ahead with standardised cigarette packets

The government is moving forward with plans to ban branding on cigarette packs, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison told MPs… Read more here.

I remember this being proposed back in late 2011, and although I supported the idea, I was sceptical that it would ever actually happen! Well… its not quite coming into affect yet, but there is more progress. Australia was the first country to introduce plain cigarette packaging, and the UK has been sitting back to see if it has had any impact in Australia, and it seems to have had a slight benefit. Figures suggest that since plain packaging was introduced in Australia, there has been a 2% reduction is children starting smoking, which is about 4,000 every year.

Ok, so these figures are not ground breaking, but every little helps right?

Obviously, there is still strong opposition from the tobacco companies, saying that it will increase trade of fake cigarettes, and that is doesn’t have a significant impact on stopping children smoking. The way I see it though, is that if the tobacco companies are worried about it, it is because it will reduce their sales, which I don’t think is a bad thing.


e-cigaretteE-cigarettes face curb in public places in Wales

Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places… Read more here.

The e-cigarette boom has gotten out of control as I see it. Originally intended as a tool to help you quit smoking, it has quickly become a modern and more sociably acceptable way of smoking, which is counter productive, especially as they are not as healthy as some companies suggest. E-cigarettes are easy to get hold of, and by being able to smoke them in public places they are considered to be much more sociably acceptable, meaning they are a very accessible option for children to smoke them. It was just the other day that I saw a kid smoking an e-cigarette.

If people are using e-cigarettes to help them quit, then great, but if they are being used as an alternative to smoking real cigarettes or easily accessible to children then I think more regulation is required.


Images courtesy of abelg_nkhariednerdcoregirl and Lindsay Fox.

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!