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Nutrition

The Common Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

The Common Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

“Leaky gut syndrome” is the name given to a common health phenomenon that has yet to be declared an official illness or condition. Even though it isn’t considered to be a health condition in its own right, some health experts argue that sufferers of certain long-term conditions, including multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome, are likely to experience its symptoms. 

Do you want to learn more about leaky gut syndrome and what exactly its symptoms and possible cures are? If so, read on to find out more!

 

Getting Fit – It’s Never Too Late to Start

Getting Fit – It’s Never Too Late to Start

If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that regular exercise is good for our health, and that a sedentary lifestyle can have a negative effect on our physical wellbeing. National guidelines suggest that the average adult should partake in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes vigorous exercise per week[1]in order to maintain a healthy body. Until recently, it’s been believed that this level of exercise needs to be relatively consistent throughout your life in order to reap the benefits and reduce the risk of death. A new study, however, suggests that actually, it’s never too late to start. 

Why Starting Later is Still Beneficial

The study, carried out at the National Cancer Institute and published in JAMA Network Open, examined people’s exercise patterns and subsequent death records, recording the correlation between an active lifestyle and age and cause of death[2]. Researchers looked at data from 315,059 Americans between the ages of 50 and 71 who had completed questionnaires rating their activity level in the 1990s. The study then tracked who had died and why, up until the end of 2011, taking into account other factors such as age, sex, whether they smoked, their diet, and so on[3]. Of those examined, over 71,000 had died – 22,000 of heart disease, and 16,000 of cancer[4]. Of those examined, 56% claimed they had remained consistently active throughout their lives, 30% stated their exercise levels had declined, and 13% said they started getting fit in later life[5].

Of course, those who consistently exercised had a lower risk of death when compared to those who didn’t exercise at all (around 42% less chance of dying from heart disease, and 14% less chance of dying from cancer[6]). What the researchers found really interesting, however, is that those who started getting fit in later life had a similar result (43% less likely to die from heart disease, and 16% less chance of dying from cancer). That means that even if you’ve not been active in your early life, it’s not too late to start – you can reap the benefits! Dr. Pedro Saint-Maurice, lead author of the study, explained, “if you maintain an active lifestyle or participate in some sort of exercise […] you can reduce your risk of dying. If you are not active and you get to your 40-50s and you decide to become active, you can still enjoy these benefits”[7].

Beyond Traditional Meat Production: Is Lab-Grown Meat the Way Forward?

Beyond Traditional Meat Production: Is Lab-Grown Meat the Way Forward?

Discussions of healthy, sustainable eating are becoming more and more frequent in current times. The consumption of meat is a big part of that, and it’s not all that surprising when you release just how much animal product, we consume each and every year. The average American consumes a huge 7,000 animals in their lifetime[1], and the equivalent of 800 hamburgers per year[2]. There are campaigns and programs in place to try to reduce this, of course. Meat-free Mondaysare increasingly popular, and the number of people identifying as vegan in the US has risen by a massive 600% in the last three years[3]. But what if there was another way? Companies such as Memphis Meats and Just say that there is another way. A better, cleaner way, but a way that still allows us to enjoy meat products. How? By growing meat in the laboratory. 

 Sustainable Meat

A spokesman from Memphis Meats explained that “Americans spend roughly $90 billion per year – just on chicken. But while poultry products are delicious and satisfying, the process by which they are made is not. It involves environmental degradation, animal welfare concerns, and public health risks”[4]. Lab grown meat aims to overcome those fewer appealing characters of meat eating. The meat itself is grown from animal cells rather than the actual animal. The cells can even be taken from feathers, so the animal is not harmed in any way, and the meat is not grown into a whole animal, but merely pieces of meat[5]. This process makes use of technology that, while not new, is only now beginning to be used for the production of meat, and it aims to take away the negatives of traditional meat farming. Californian based company Just aims for its products to be cheaper, healthier, and more popular than traditional meat[6], but there are some things standing in their way at the moment. 

 


Is the Multi-Billion Dollar Wellness Industry Worth the Money?

Is the Multi-Billion Dollar Wellness Industry Worth the Money?

We all know how important health and wellness are, and there is an increasing focus on becoming healthier, more balanced, and ultimately, happier. It’s big business too, with the global wellness industry now valued at a huge $3.72 trillion and accounts for approximately five per cent of the global economic output[1]. It seems that there are new trends and fads coming out every day, from spin classes and yoga to organic food, special drinks, guided meditation classes, and more. There is even a drive to feed our pets clean, healthy, natural food[2].  With the wellness industry now being “one of the world’s fastest, most resilient markets,”[3]outranking the pharmaceutical industry several times over, it’s easy to wonder, is it worth it? And if it is, is it something that is exclusively for high-earners and not for those on a budget?

 

Wellness trends

Wellness can be defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,”[4]and it’s definitely something that is at the forefront of many people’s thoughts. Searches for ‘self-care’ on Google have increased by 25% in the last year[5], and people are paying for more and more wellness products and services. There are even wellness festivals popping up around the world. The Womad festival, for example, dedicates two acres of land to spa and wellness areas, including meditation led by Buddhist monks and shamanic healing. Likewise, Soul Circus in the UK focuses on wellness, with tickets costs around $260. Founder Ella Wroath explains that she “wanted to create a balanced event that left you feeling rejuvenated and inspired, rather than hungover and unhealthy”[6]

Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. is the author of "the deepest well - Healing the long-term effects of childhood adversity."

Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. is the author of "the deepest well - Healing the long-term effects of childhood adversity."

Dr. Harris interview on NPR, discusses what negative experiences can do to a growing child’s health. Children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences, such as, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration, parental separation or divorce or domestic violence can negatively affect health outcomes.

The Addiction of Pleasure and All its Damning Consequences

The Addiction of Pleasure and All its Damning Consequences

Hedonists have long argued that the path to happiness is the pursuit of pleasure – the more pleasurable activities you participate in, the happier you are likely to be. It seems somewhat self-evident too – pleasure makes you happy, albeit for a limited time, so if you bunch together a number of happy-inducing pleasure activities, you will ultimately be happy. However, evidence suggests the opposite. In a world where pleasure activities such as alcohol, drugs, sugar, sex, pornography, wealth like general populace has never seen before, even social media and smart phones are abound, we seem to be unhappier than ever. In a world of increased privilege, we are increasingly discontent, and that in itself has negative consequences we could never have foreseen. As we become addicted to the pursuit of pleasure, are we actually ruining our chances of genuine happiness? And could we potentially be sending ourselves to an early grave?

 The Increase of Pleasure Activities

The strive for pleasure is evident within our culture, and it's becoming easier and easier to grasp at as our lives become less fraught with worries such as war and famine. The average American now consumes 94 grams of sugar per day – almost double the government's recommended limit of 50 grams per day. This has increased from 87 grams per day in 1970[1]. Not only is the availability of this 'feel good food' increasing, the desire for it is sky-rocketing too, suggesting an addictive tendency of this pleasure-seeking habit. It's not just sugar either. Drug use has increased by almost six per cent since 2007[2] and the use of smart phones has shot up from approximately 62 million people in 2010 to 224 million people in 2017[3]. Pornography, narcotics, social media use, and alcohol intake are all on the rise too. What's more, the average annual household income has increased from $49,354 in 2007 (ranging from $36,338 in Mississippi to $62,369 in New Hampshire) to $57,856 in 2015 (ranging from $40,037 to $75,675)[4], meaning that we can now pursue pleasure quicker and easier than ever before.

Cheat Meals: Sin or Savior?

Cheat Meals: Sin or Savior?

Dieting can be really tough, especially when there is so much conflicting information out there – eat this, not that; do that, not this. The topic of cheat meals – or even cheat days – is no exception, and the debate it engenders can get a little heated. After all, both food and health are passionate subjects. What’s it all about, though? Is it really possible to have one meal a week, where you eat whatever you want, and still maintain – or even lose – weight? Cheat meal advocates say yes, and they say they’ve got the science to back them up. 

A Psychological Boost

One of the biggest benefits of cheating, advocates claim, is actually a psychological one rather than a physical one. Everyone knows how tough it can be to stick to a strict regime, and the idea is that a cheat meal will allow you to relax your regime once a week, helping you to stick to it the rest of the time. It provides that added incentive to be ‘good’, because you know that you’re earning a splurge on the weekend[1]. That’s a dangerous road though, and only works for some. It can, potentially, lead to that famous slippery slope. Joe Vennare, creator of The Hybrid Athlete, warns that “some people can’t make the switch from healthy to unhealthy. Once they get a taste of sweets, they binge and can’t go back. It throws off their entire diet plan, serving as a setback instead of a small break from the rules”[2].

 

What Exactly is so Super About Superfoods?

What Exactly is so Super About Superfoods?

We all know the importance of healthy eating, and we all know the dangers that come with a bad diet and an unhealthy lifestyle, but it can certainly get confusing with all that conflicting information out there. The concept of ‘superfoods’ is no different. The term has been subject to both praise and condemnation since it became popularized in the 1990 book Superfood by Michael Van Straten and Barbara Griggs[1], although it still remains quite firmly in the lexicon of many health-food advocates. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the number of food or drink products containing the word ‘superfood’, ‘superfruit’, or ‘supergrain’ has doubled[2], and they claim to be stuffed full of nutrients and antioxidants that will not only make you look and feel better, but will ultimately help you to live longer. That’s quite an appealing consequence, but are superfoods really as super as they claim to be?

Superfoods

Alison Rumsey at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in New York City explains that superfoods are those foods which have a high content of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, and they are important, she claims, because “a lot of things can cause inflammation in our bodies, and cells get oxidized, which can cause many different disease states. Antioxidants help to get rid of these free radicals that happen when you have oxidation”[3]. Superfoods can lower your risk of chronic disease, improve the ageing process, improve depression, increase intelligence, and improve physical ability,[4] according to advocates.

Although, as the American Heart Association point out, there is no set criteria for determining what exactly is and is not a superfood[5], there are certainly some foods that fit the description of being especially nutritious and as a result, seem to uphold the idea that superfood advocates seek to promote. Take almonds as an example. There is solid, scientific evidence to show that almonds are one of the richest sources of vitamin E, and research demonstrates that they can help control cholesterol and blood sugar whilst reducing inflammation. Avocados, similarly, are fantastically rich in nutrients, providing around 40% daily recommended intake of fiber for a woman, 25% vitamin C, 16% vitamin E, 39% vitamin K, and 30% folic acid – all of which makes avocados great for cholesterol control, for diabetes, and even to act as a natural sunscreen. Kale is another oft-stated superfood that has the research to back it up. At only 33 calories for 100g, kale has 200% of your daily vitamin A intake, 134% vitamin C, and a massive 700% vitamin K, making it great for bone health and to help prevent blood clotting[6]. With evidence like that, it’s hard not to take superfood claims at face value.

 

Does Being Vegetarian Actually Save Any Animals?

Does Being Vegetarian Actually Save Any Animals?

There are lots of reasons that people become vegetarians or vegans – health, sustainability, up-bringing, but by far the most common explanation given is a moral one, that the unnecessary suffering and killing of billions of animals per year is unethical.  It’s not a surprisingly conclusion, given the massive amount of animals slaughtered for food alone in the US.  In 2013, 8.1 billion animals died to feed Americans, and meat eaters will consume an average of 2,088 animals in their life-time[1].  Surely then, it stands to reason that abstaining from eating meat will save the lives and prevent the suffering of animals.  Whether this is true or not, however, is under some debate – and if it is true, just how many animals does vegetarianism actually save?

Calculating Saved Lives

There have been numerous studies and calculations discussing just how many animals are saved each year by a vegetarian diet – and the numbers vary wildly, from as little as 50 to as large as hundreds.  Noam Mohr, of the animal charity PETA, suggests that the average meat-eater in the US consumes 26.5 animals per year and that is made up of  of a cow,  of a pig,  of a turkey, and 25  chickens (which includes 1  allowance for eggs)[2].  On the other end of the scale, some argue that the average meat-eater consumes 406 animals per year, made up of 30 land animals, 225 fish, and 151 shellfish[3].  It is then assumed that a vegetarian, by abstaining from meat, saves the same amount of animals that a meat-eater kills. 

The Good News About Edible Insects

The Good News About Edible Insects

If your life depended on it, would you eat a bug?

If you're like most Westerners, this might be the only circumstance under which you could imagine  voluntarily eating a bug -- stranded in dire straits, desperate for any source of nutrition you can get your hands on, doing any disgusting thing you have to in the name of survival. But elsewhere in the world,  entomophagy -- the practice of eating insects -- is a part of everyday life. It's not just food-insecure communities either: the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that roughly 2.5 billion people worldwide -- over a quarter of the population -- consume insects as a regular part of their diet. In regions of Asia, Africa, and South America, these critters range from standard street fare to sought-after delicacies. According to Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, author of the book Creepy Crawly Cuisine: The Gourmet Guide to Edible Insects, in Mexico City, “[a] pound of ants costs ten times more than a pound of meat, and the white agave worm fourteen times more. Grasshoppers, the red agave worm, and water boatman eggs all cost twice the price of beef.”

Here in the West we’ve been conditioned to regard insects – particularly in the context of food – as, well, icky. But it turns out there are several excellent reasons why we should all at least try to get over our collective hangup. Among those with an eye toward sustainability, there's a growing consensus that the cultivation of edible insects offers a vital solution to the daunting problems of feeding a growing population. With chronic malnutrition affecting some 805 million people worldwide and current livestock practices already straining the earth’s resources, bugs could very well be the key to ensuring both food security and environmental sustainability for the planet’s future.

So ask yourself: if the world depended on it, would you eat a bug?

 Bugs: The Better Livestock

 In 2006 the FAO published a report titled Livestock's Long Shadow in which it explored the sobering environmental consequences of modern-day agriculture. The findings cover a host of environmental problems, ranging from air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to  rainforest destruction and soil degradation. According to the report, livestock activities account for 18% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – more than the transportation sector. When it comes to individual greenhouse gases, livestock rearing accounts for a full 35 - 40% of global methane emissions and up to 65% of nitrous oxide emissions – both of which gases carry significantly higher global warming potential than the oft-demonized CO2.  The livestock sector currently occupies around 30% of the planet's ice-free land, and the expansion of livestock grazing is considered to be the number one driving factor behind the destruction of our rainforests.

Reducing livestock's environmental impact, then, is of critical importance to addressing the effects of global climate change. But with a global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, scaling back on food production simply isn't an option. In fact, the FAO predicts that agricultural production will have to as much as double to keep up with demand, effectively exceeding the planet's supply of arable land. With pollution, population growth, and nutritional needs all poised for collision, the word “unsustainable” doesn't even begin to cover the challenges ahead.

 

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