Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Health News - December 2018

  1. An Apocalypse of Lethal Super-Bugs Is Just Around the Corner
  2. Peanut Allergy - At Last Hope For Treatment
  3. Junk Food Is Bad For Brain And Body
  4. Want To Feel Better And Live Longer? Get A Bike!

An Apocalypse of Lethal Super-Bugs Is Just Around the Corner

Says Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for the UK

Eating meat from animals reared under organic or high-welfare standards could help tackle the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, England's chief medical officer has claimed. Dame Sally Davies warned that we face an 'apocalypse' if antibiotics failed to work anymore. Worldwide, 700,000 people a year now die of drug-resistant infections, but this could hit millions if antibiotics stop working.

I have told you often over the past years about the abuse of these drugs in farming, and their over prescription in medicine. Now the chickens are finally coming home to roost and it is time to take notice of the Country's top doc. She urged shoppers to pressure food firms into cutting antibiotic use by buying produce that was not exposed to drugs. We should be choosing poultry or meat with the Red Tractor label, which certifies the quality of farm produce in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scottish and Scandinavian fish that has been vaccinated and not reared with antibiotics.

Best of all of course; follow me in buying organic meat, poultry and dairy products when you can. Yes, they are expensive, but as you can read elsewhere in this edition, most of us get much more protein than we need, so use better but less!

Dame Sally said: 'I am eating less meat, and... I do try to make sure it is at least Red Tractor. I want animals reared with good welfare. That means very low antibiotic use.' Speaking at the World Innovation Summit on Health in Doha, Qatar, she said: 'Consumers have a terrific amount of influence on behaviours on farms.'

Antibiotics in the UK and Europe are routinely used to treat infections in livestock, dairy and fish farming. But overuse of antibiotics is a threat to human health because germs exposed to the drugs can become untreatable 'superbugs'.

Just have a wander round your local cemetery and see how many youngsters died in childhood before the end of the 40's and after the mid 50's. If you want to go back to the era of thousands of parents outliving their children, ignore these warnings.

Peanut Allergy – At Last Hope For Treatment

Children are around a third less likely to suffer from allergies if their mothers eat nuts during pregnancy, according to new research from Denmark. Eating peanuts or tree nuts more than once a week resulted in fewer children with allergies.

The links between eating nuts when pregnant and childhood nut allergy has been controversial and until a 2009, expectant mums were told to avoid nuts. After studying 60,000 mothers and their children, from early pregnancy to seven, kids whose mums ate nuts had fewer allergy problems and were 25% less at risk of asthma at 18 months and third less at seven years.

"These results do not support avoidance of nuts during pregnancy," say the researchers.

This was already good news, but now there is more hope on the horizon.

It is not a cure, but help for children with severe peanut allergies that can protect them from life threatening reactions. Specialists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge are now trying a treatment that has been around for years but was always dismissed as useless by most doctors.

Why some children develop these allergies is something of a mystery, but new research suggests our first exposure to peanuts is important. The latest thinking is that we are more likely to develop a peanut allergy if our earliest exposure is through the skin rather than through the mouth. This exposure stops our immune system from learning that peanuts are safe to eat.

The treatment at Addenbrooke’s helps solve the problem by gradually exposing patients to minute doses of peanut so that their immune systems can learn to tolerate all the constituents of the nuts. Developed by Drs Andrew Clark and Pamela Ewan, they begin by giving patients a tiny amount of peanut protein - the equivalent of just one hundredth of peanut - which is well below the level that could provoke a reaction. Every few weeks the dose is gradually increased until the patient can tolerate the equivalent of one or two whole peanuts.

A large trial with over 100 children resulted in 80-90% being able to eat the equivalent of five to six peanuts on a regular basis – this is enough to protect them against products that are labelled 'may contain traces of peanuts'

Junk Food Is Bad For Brain And Body

A paper in The British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that as well as being a cause of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses, a diet of junk and processed food could lead to depression in middle age.

Good food should play a greater role in preventing depressive disorders as there are links between nutrients like fatty acids and B vitamins and depression. There are many studies showing the cause and effect of diet on good health and physical conditions, but little research into the links between food and depression.

This research looked at diets of 3486 participants in the Whitehall II Study. With an average age of 55 years the participants, who worked in civil service departments in London, completed a diet diary at the start of the trial and, five years later, a self-assessment on depression.

Those eating most whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and fish, were less likely to have depression later on. But the civil servants who consumed lots of processed meat, chocolate, sweetened desserts, fried foods, refined cereals and high fat dairy, showed more symptoms of depression.

Why? Possibly the high folate content in cruciferous (cabbage family), leafy vegetables and dried beans could play a role, as a lack of folate could affect brain chemistry.

Also, eating more fish could reduce depression thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil. Antioxidants in fruit could be another piece of the jigsaw, but I think it more likely to be the overall combination of a good balanced diet.

If you are feeling a bit low head for the local Farmers’ Market not the pharmacy and try eating yourself happy!

Want To Feel Better And Live Longer? Get A Bike!

There have been many studies that show the benefits of all types of exercise, but new research from Denmark is stunning good news.

We know about the link between active commuting, walking, and cycling with reduced mortality. No studies have separately examined commuter and recreational cycling and how changes in cycling are related to mortality.

Researchers studied people between 50 and 65 years old, living in Denmark at the start of the study between 1993 and 1997. Commuter/recreational cycling and changes in cycling were studied in 28,204 and 15,272 participants, respectively. Participants were asked to provide information on cycling habits and other risk factors for mortality at the start and 5 years later and were followed for risk of death until July 2013. The results were analysed in 2018.

To the surprise of all, cycling between 1 and 60 minutes per week was linked to a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Taking up or continuing cycling late in mid-life creates a lower risk of all-cause mortality. However, I don’t think that five minutes a week will give you many extra years, so do not be lazy. The researchers suggest that National and local Governments prioritize resources to promote cycling.

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