Wholegrains and diabetes
Rates of diabetes are set to double over the next decade, and one factor that might be contributing to this is the over-consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates (eg white bread, white rice, pasta). These foods tend to cause surges in the hormone insulin, which is thought to be an important factor in the development of a condition known as insulin resistance (which may lead to diabetes in time). Unrefined carbohydrates such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice provoke less of an insulin response in the body, and in theory should reduce the risk of diabetes. A study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effect of eating a diet rich in unrefined carbohydrates. It was found to lower insulin levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
Caffeine is well known to have stimulant activity in the body, and can seem to boost energy of both body and mind. Too much caffeine, however, has the potential to give rise to anxiety and sleeplessness. In some individuals, caffeine consumption seems to have the ability to provoke full-blown panic attacks too. One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that the severity of individuals' anxiety was linked to the amount of caffeine they consumed. Plus, individuals prone to panic seemed to be sensitive to the amount of caffeine found in just one cup of coffee. Best not to drink it at all if you're nervy.
It seems we're often being advised to drink plenty of water, but rarely are we told why. A study published last month in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at the effect of risk of dying from a heart attack in individuals consuming five or more glasses of water each day, compared to those drinking two or less glasses. In women, higher water consumption reduced risk of dying from a heart attack by 40 per cent, and the risk in men was cut by more than half. Such a fan of water am I that I have devoted a whole chapter of my latest book Ultimate Health - 12 Keys to Abundant Health and Happiness (Michael Joseph) to it. This details the myriad benefits of water, and explores which forms of water are the best for our health.
Top ten tips for treating high blood pressure naturally
1. Cut down on salt
The sodium contained within salt has the capacity to increase blood pressure, and studies show cutting back can help bring blood pressure down. Avoid processed foods and don't add salt to food.
2. Use low sodium salts
Low sodium salts are a better option. One, Solo Sea Salt, contains 60 per cent less sodium than regular salt (available in most supermarkets).
3. Eat potassium-rich foods
While sodium tends to put blood pressure up, potassium tends to bring it down. Good sources include all fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, oranges, melons, kiwi fruits and tomatoes.
4. Eat oats
Recent research has found that eating oat-based breakfast cereals - muesli or porridge - can help reduce blood pressure.
5. Eat more garlic
Studies suggest that garlic has natural blood pressure-reducing properties. One or two cloves of fresh garlic or about 800 mg of garlic in supplement form each day is the recommended dose.
6. Avoid binge drinking
A recent study found that binge drinking can boost blood pressure. The healthiest way to consume alcohol appears to be in smallish amounts and quite regularly.
7. Eat unrefined starches
There is evidence that eating sugar and refined starches may put blood pressure up. Eat unrefined starches like wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholewheat pasta .
8. Take exercise
Aim for about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (eg cycling, brisk walking, jogging) on most days.
9. Take coenzyme Q10
Studies show 50 mg, twice a day, of this substance found within the body's cells, can help control high blood pressure.
10. Take a deep breath
Stress can put blood pressure up, but deep breathing has been found to help it drop back down again more quickly.