Mediteranean diet reduces kids asthma risk by 78%

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Diets, Food & Nutrition

With 1 in 11 children currently receiving treatment for asthma it is now a very common condition – but that doesn’t make it any the less worrying. We have dealt with asthma before, but some news in this week might help make life easier for some of those children, and their parents. For those who are unsure about asthma in young children, the symptoms to look out for are:

* A cough at night
* A cold that doesn’t go away
* A whistling sound when breathing out

That last symptom is particularly relevant in the UK as we apparently have the highest prevalence of severe wheeze in children aged 13-14 years than anywhere else in the world.

Now the medical journal Allergy is suggesting a way parents can be more in control of the condition through some simple dietary changes. I have talked about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart health in adults, but now it seems it could also relieve asthma symptoms in children. In Crete, where the Mediterranean diet is the norm, an estimated 80% of the children there eat fresh fruit at least twice a day and almost that same number also have fresh vegetables twice daily as well. (Sadly the research doesn’t tell us how they get them to eat so much without a fistfight) So why is it important? Well very few children in Crete have asthma or hay fever and the researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal concluded that their best asthma-fighting foods were oranges, apples, tomatoes and grapes.

Adults on the same type of diet, who had asthma, were found to have fewer attacks and flare-ups. However, if they also included nuts in their diet at least three times a week then that produced less wheezing. A likely explanation for this is that nuts contain a lot of magnesium which helps boost your lung power.

AVOID THIS: There was however one substance that the researchers found that would double the risk of children getting asthma and allergic rhinitis – margarine. This finding confirms what an Australian study found over 7 years ago when they first warned that the polyunsaturated fats found in many margarines can double a child’s chances of having asthma.

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More vitamin C = More weight loss

Poor old vitamin C, it must be a totally schizophrenic soul because one week it’s the villain as it reportedly can make chemotherapy less effective – though not everyone agrees with that – and this week it’s the hero if you are trying to lose weight. A new study from Arizona State University has found that if you have low vitamin C levels it means your body burns fat more slowly and that holds up weight loss. You can take a supplement, or stock up on Vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, strawberries,kiwis and tomatoes.

Prostate Cancer and Diet

October 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Mens Health

There has been recent research reporting that advanced cases of prostate cancer have been helped by lycopene (a phyto-chemical and a member of the carotenoid family) which is found in high amounts in tomatoes and watermelon. But it is not just those two fruits that can have an impact, as the latest findings into the disease have revealed that eating a low-fat and plant-based diet could reduce the risk of prostate cancer or slow the onset of the disease. It is obviously important that anyone at risk pays real attention to their diet and eats as naturally as possible. Not wishing to state the obvious, but the benefits of such a diet which is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals and low in fat and saturated fat will not only help the health of prostate cancer patients but anyone who has a conventional western diet.

Sadly, the highest incidences of the disease do occur in the West, particularly in the USA and Sweden, while the eastern countries like China and India have the lowest. We might be complacent in the UK as our figures for prostate cancer show we have half the number of cases reported in the USA, but that may be because they have much higher rates of testing for the disease.

Killer diet for rheumatoid arthritis?

Diet is important with rheumatoid arthritis?
Diet is important with rheumatoid arthritis

First on the hit list are tomatoes, maybe not killers exactly but if you suffer from arthritis they are certainly to be avoided. They are among a group of foods that trigger inflammation and general discomfort because they contain solanine, an alkaloid that is known for its toxicity. Other foods that are high in solanine are potatoes, aubergines and peppers, all of which you might know better as the nightshade plant family. The solanine is found in their leaves and roots and its purpose is to provide natural protection against insects for the plant. When we eat those foods the solanine is neutralized in the intestine, but because of their ability to trigger joint pain, some researchers believe that arthritis patients may not be able to adequately process the solanine and so it is still toxic in their system.

If you suffer from arthritis then you know that dietary solutions can be very helpful for some people, so that taking all the nightshade family out of the equation can be beneficial. Unfortunately this does not make any difference at all to other people with arthritis and that it is another factor entirely that causes the most problems. An excellent book by Patrick Holford called Say No to Arthritis  made this point many years ago, and pointed out that certain foods can increase the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and these include milk, pork, red meat, cod, eggs and cereal. This is now confirmed by research done in Norway and Sweden, which has shown that certain people may be predisposed to develop rheumatoid arthritis when their diet includes plenty of high-protein foods. If you do suffer from this painful condition then an investigation into what foods affect you might well be very beneficial, and the book I just mentioned is a good place to start with that.