In an analysis of over 205,000 children aged 6-7 years old, from 31 countries, the use of paracetamol in the first year of life was associated with increased risk of asthma, allergic inflammation of the eye and eczema.

This means that paracetamol use in infants under 1 year old could have a detrimental effect on their undeveloped immune systems, leading to sensitivities to allergens in childhood.

Paracetamol is commonly recommended for children with many conditions, from fever to the common cold. This research highlights the need to rethink about medicating children at such an early age and consider safer options for managing health in infants, such as dietary support and natural medicines.

Beasley et al 2008, Lancet 372, pp. 1039.

‘Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis’

A recent study has found that diet soft drink intake is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Over 6,500 people aged 45 to 84 years took part in the study, which was conducted over several years.

Diet soft drink consumption was associated with a 36% greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater risk in developing type 2 diabetes. High fasting glucose (blood sugar levels) were also found to be increased by the diet soft drink consumption.

Artificially sweetened beverages such as diet soft drink have often wrongly been considered benign due to contributing no energy or nutrients to the diet. Little is known about the long term effects of artificial sweetener intake, although studies have shown sweeteners such as aspartame to have cancer causing properties in animal studies.

Diabetics and those trying to make “the healthier choice” are often drawn to diet soft drinks for their lack of sugar. This study proves that this is not a safer option, and that soft drink should be avoided to reduce the risk of diabetes and the metabolic syndrome developing.

Nettleton et al 2009, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Risk, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 688-694.

A recent study has found that drinking water is independently associated with weight loss. In the study, dieting overweight women were studied for 12 months to determine their water, food and other beverage intake and compare to their weight loss.

The average amount of water required is 1.5L a day, which can be increased to 2L when exercising. As well as assisting with weight loss water is needed for every cell in your body to function effectively as well as removal of toxins from the body, so increase your water intake today!

Source: Obesity 2008

Chocolate is good for you! In a recent review, it was discovered that cocoa (or cacao in the raw form) was protective against cardiovascular disease.

Cacao is very high in polyphenyls, especially catechins. Green tea also contains this phytonutrient, which has reputed antioxidant activity. Unlike the catechins in green tea, those in cocoa are much more bio-available, which means that they are more easily used by the body.

Raw cacao is much higher in antioxidants, as opposed to cocoa, the roasted version you find in regular chocolate and drinking chocolate, which has lost some of it’s antioxidant effect.

Raw cacao powder and raw chocolate is available at organic markets or health food shops. Don’t despair if you can’t get a hold of any, regular chocolate still contains some of these antioxidants, but go for the dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. Yum!

Inflammopharmacology, 2010.

High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young children in a highly sunny humid country: a global health problem

A recent study has found that young children who live in a sunny climate are still at risk of vitamin D deficiency. In the study, 650 children under the age of 16 were evaluated fro vitamin D levels, sun exposure and dietary intake. Vitamin D deficiency was resent inn over 65% of children, mainly due to inadequate sun exposure and poor dietary intake. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, immune system function, thyroid health and it modulates insulin secretion. A vitamin D deficiency is associated with poor bone growth and structure, increased fracture risk, muscle wasting, autoimmune disease and hypothyroidism.

This study highlights the importance of sunlight to our health, as the main source of vitamin D production in the body is from the UV rays of the sun. The increasing use of UV sunscreens and the discouragement of sun exposure may therefore be as beneficial as once thought, as without sunlight we cannot achieve a balanced state of health.

Moderation is the key to sun exposure. You should aim to get at least 10 minutes of unprotected sunlight a day, in the middle of the day according to studies.

Other sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, deep sea fish, egg yolk and seaweeds.

Bener et al, Minerva Pediatrica, vol. 61, no.1, pp. 15-22

Lycopene, an antioxidant found in high amounts in cooked tomato and tomato products such as tomato paste and canned tomatoes has been found have a protective role in cardiovascular disease. A review of both animal and human trials has found evidence that lycopene helps prevent cardiovascular disease, probably due to its ability to reduce oxidative damage.

Lycopene is more well known for its role in the prevention of an enlarged protate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), but it is now clear that it has other protective roles in the body also.

NOTE: Lycopene is the most bioavailable when consumed cooked in oil.

Riccioni et al 2008, Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, vol. 12(3), pp183-90.

Why not add a slice of lemon to your green tea? A recent study has found that certain substances can dramatically alter the absorption of catechins from green tea. Catechins are the phytochemicals responsible for the beneficial effects of green tea, including antioxidant, antiageing, cardiovascular protection and blood sugar regulation.

The regular absorption rate for catechins in just 20%, however when vitamin C or lemon juice was added to the green tea before consuption it increased absorption of catechins by up tp 90%. For best results, try for 3 cups of green tea with at least the juice of half a lemon a day.

NOTE: green tea should not be consumed at the same time as meals containing iron as tannins inhibit the absorption of iron.

Green et al 2007; Mol Nutr Food Res, 51(9), pp1152-62.

A recent study has found an association between trans-fat intake, waist circumference and glycosylated haemoglobin. Waist circumference is a measure of obesity and glycosylated heamoglobin is a diabetes marker.

This study shows that even a small amount of trans fat intake can increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Trans fats are found in margarine, vegetable shortening, processed cakes, biscuits and deep fried food.

Yamada et al 2009 ‘Association of trans fatty acid intake with metabolic risk factors among free-living young Japanese women’, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 359-

A recent study has found the enzyme bromelain to have potent anticancer properties, proving to be highly antiinflammatory, antithrombotic and antineoplastic.

Bromelain is found in pineapple, in especially high concentrations in the stem.

Bromelain has potent immune stimulating function and may help to reduce the growth of cancers.

Pineapple is also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, but don’t forget to eat the stem!

Chobotova et al 2009, Cancer Letters.

A recent study has found that consuming berries, walnuts and grape juice can help to reduce brain aging, reducing the decline in cognitive function that often happens during the ageing process.

Including these foods in your diet is therefore of benefit for the aging population who is having difficulty with memory and recall, or for those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

Joseph et al 2009, Journal of Nutrition, vol. 139, no. 9.

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