Welome to my first ever round up! Each week I scour the news, journals and social media for the latest evidence, updates and opinions so you don’t have to (although just in case you do, I have provided links to each topic). The round up is separated into different areas to make it easier for you to look at the areas you are particularly interested in. Whenever possible I will make simple and practical recommendations based on this information, for patients and health care professionals alike. Ready? Let’s get started!
- Walk briskly, don’t worry about 10,000 steps. Public Health England and the Royal College of GPs are encouraging adults to focus on walking briskly rather than just counting steps to improve their health. 10 minutes of brisk walking a day reduces risk of premature death and will get you almost halfway to your recommended 150 mins a week of moderate intensity activity. Why not join the 600,000 people who have downloaded the ‘Active 10’ app (ios or android) and take the first steps towards better health?
- If you are up to more than some brisk walking, you may be interested in the Parkrun to celebrate the NHS’s 70 birthday. Over 85, 000 people are expected to have taken part in a special park run this saturday, 9th June. Park run is a fun, safe and inclusive activity. There are more than 360 across the UK. You can easily register for a park run or even start your own park run event
- For those of us whose muscles may be aching a little after a parkrun, this Cochrane review of the use of antioxidants (by supplement or food) for preventing or reducing muscle soreness after exercise may be of interest (podcast and transcript available). Of course people in health food shops will be keen to extol the benefits of such measures.. Unfortunately there is no evidence of any benefit from doing this. It may even be that the processes that cause aches and pains after exercise are important in building up your muscles. So the good news is that you can save your money and get those new running shoes you’ve had your eye on. Take home message? Exercise regularly, warm up gently, do it in moderation.
- The health select committee has made recommendations to reduce childhood obesity including a ban on the use of characters such as Tony the Tiger to promote unhealthy food. Other measures include removing unhealthy snacks from supermarket checkouts, local authorities having the power to limit fast food outlets opening in their area, and social media firms reducing children’s exposure to junk food advertising. It’s a Grrrrrrrrreat start!
- Smoothies and fruit juices could be banned from schoolcanteens in Scotland. These are just some of the measures proposed by the government, according to the BBC. The intention is to halve childhood obesity by 2030. An admirably ambitious target. Smoothies and fruit juices are often a massive health con, laden with even more sugar than other “less healthy” soft drinks…and usually made by the same companies. My advice? Eat the fruit, not the juice.
- If you would like to know more about how the food industry operates, I can heartily recommend episode one of the Doctor’s Farmacy, an excellent podcast with Dr Mark Hyman (author of Food: WTF Should I Eat?) and the Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Moss (author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us). Alarming and fascinating stuff including how food is engineered to be hyper-palatable and create addiction. The take-home message for me is that Big Food poses a much greater threat to our society’s health than Big Tobacco or Big Pharma and governments are going to have to gear up for this fight.
- Finally, it’s not just what you eat but when you eat that matters. Check out this great podcast of Dr Rangan Chatterjee interviewing Professor Satchin Panda (Part 1 of their conversation) on the subject of “Why When You Eat Matters”. It’s all about circadian rhythms, the consequences of them being disrupted, and how we can try to restore the natural balance by encouraging patients to eat all of their food for the day within a 10 to 12 hour window. Trial data suggests it can help you to lose weight and feel better. If you want, you can join in helping Professor Panda collect evidence of the effect of time restricted eating by downloading his myCircadianClock app. I am targetting my pre-diabetic and diabetic patients who are not overweight and whose diets are already not too bad.
That’s it for this week from me. I hope you have enjoyed the first ever weekly round up. Your feedback is much appreciated. Tune in next week!
Dr Richard Pile