Largentina

I’ve been a bit quieter on her recently, and although this can be partly attributed to the chaotic struggle for spare time that we call ‘life’ in London, more recently it is due to me taking a break from my day job as a dietitian for a few months and moving to Argentina. Latin America is my favourite part of the world, so when two friends asked me to join them on their trip, it was an easy decision (well, for me at least…maybe not for my employer!) We kept our plans for the trip deliberately vague, but the absurd […]

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6 Problems Facing Diet Research

Last week, I discussed the ongoing saturated fat debate, and hinted that diet research is often flawed… which can be why dietary science or evidence appears inconclusive. Here are six reasons to help explain why that can be the case: 1.  Long follow-up times The effects of dietary approaches are not going to be seen overnight. Instead, impacts on health might take years, or more likely, decades (which is why it is the habits of a lifetime that matter, not those of a month after Christmas). This means that studies have to be hugely ambitious from the outset, taking into […]

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Heart Month… and the saturated fat debate

You may or may not be aware that we’re in the middle of Heart Month. I’m not sure if it’s got anything to do with Valentine’s and the preponderance of heart shaped tat filling shop windows, but February is the chosen month for raising awareness of this most vital of organs. A quick google search suggests USA and Canada do it in February too. Who knows – maybe we copied them. You don’t need me to tell you how important the heart is. Equally, I can’t imagine you need me to tell you that heart disease is, alongside cancer, the biggest […]

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Minerals & mental health

Following on from last week’s blog, where I discussed the major links between vitamins and brain function, let’s now conclude this topic by looking at the potential role of minerals, trace elements and other dietary components in mental health. Like vitamins, strong associations between mineral deficiencies and mental illness have been seen, although it should be said that in some cases, the mechanisms remain unclear. Chromium is one such example, with deficiencies particularly prevalent in patients with depression. Iodine is absolutely crucial for mental health and development. It is involved in energy metabolism in brain cells, and in development a severe […]

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Vitamins & mental health

Last week I introduced the weighty topic of mental health, and started to consider the important part that nutrition has to play. This week I’m going to look a little closer at vitamins specifically, and their role in mental health (apologies in advance for the unavoidably scientific tone). Let’s first consider some of the water soluble vitamins: Deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) can result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a condition that is similar to dementia, and associated with memory loss, confusion, personality changes, and above all, brain damage. Those with very heavy alcohol use are at particular risk. Vitamins B2 (riboflavin), […]

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Blue Monday

Once upon a time, ‘Blue Monday’ was just a legendary 80s dance track (the highest selling 12 inch single of all time, no less). These days, however, it has come to mean the point in January that apparently marks the most depressing day of the year. Originally coined by Sky Travel as part of a PR campaign, the ‘formula’ for Blue Monday factors in debt, weather, time since Christmas, motivation levels (or lack of) and failing new year’s resolutions, with the perfect storm deemed to be the Monday of the last full week in January. However, clearly it is just […]

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Ketogenic diet

keto diet for runners

A few weeks back, I advised a healthy dose of scepticism when faced with the fad diets of the new year. In fact, many of my blogs from last year carried a barely-hidden negativity towards ‘dieting’, so you could be forgiven for wondering whether dietitians have anything to do with ‘diets’ at all. So, just to clarify a few points… The ‘anti-dieting’ thing is really just my response to the standard media message that ‘diets’ are a short-term, quick-fix towards health goals, as implied by the phrase ‘going on a diet’. Of course the true meaning of the word ‘diet’, […]

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Dry January

Many of you may be enjoying / enduring your very own ‘Dry January’ right now, so I just thought I would pen a few thoughts on this, as it seems to be attract more media attention every year – both positive and negative. What? Dry January seems to have originated as a concept by Alcohol Concern, but has a couple of other guises too, perhaps most notably ‘Dryathlon’, by Cancer Research. As far as I am aware, the challenge involves first abstaining from alcohol for the whole of the month of January, and then trying not to bore your friends and colleagues […]

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New year…new fad diets

I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas break. As I write this, I am still very much in that hazy, blissful state of purgatory between Christmas and New Year where days of the week have become utterly meaningless. However, I know that thoughts will soon turn to January, and with that, the inevitable deluge of resolutions. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this – a new year can be a new start, and it also presents us with the perfect opportunity to assess how things have gone over the past 12 months. So, racked with post-festive gluttony […]

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Merry Christmas!

Another week, another public health event. This time it is the turn of the increasingly popular ‘Christmas’, where the general message seems to revolve around consuming all food groups, in vast quantities, at all times. I jest. I have noted, celebrated and explained many of the most important health events and milestones of the year, so I don’t mean to be flippant. But at this time of year, I think it’s important to accept that, for a very brief period, it is ok for nutrition to take a back seat, and to let family, friends, charity and celebrations drive proceedings. […]

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