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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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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The shortest day of the year (and vitamin D)

Just before we get to Christmas, in sneaks the shortest day of the year. This Sunday, there are a mere eight hours of daylight! Most of us know that the main source of vitamin D is sun exposure. In truth, it could be sunny 24 hours a day at this time of year in the UK and we still wouldn’t be able to synthesise much – if any – vitamin D, endogenously (within our bodies), because the UV light is of the wrong wavelength in winter. Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common, particularly in these winter months when our summer […]

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Should we ban fruit juice from our five a day?

My older brother sent me this article recently – it’s a revisiting of the old fruit juice / sugar debate. As I say, this is hardly a new area of disagreement, but is interesting nonetheless, and fits in nicely with some of my recent posts on sugar and the five a day message. I couldn’t help but notice one of the comments underneath the article, stating: ‘This disjointed approach to healthy eating is counterproductive. We are hit by isolated messages that say eat this, don’t eat that – and then every organisation wants to get their opportunity to gain some media attention […]

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World Diabetes Day

This Friday is World Diabetes Day, a timely reminder of this most devastating of diseases. As the world’s waistlines grow, the burden of diabetes does too. We’ve all heard the stats, but if you’re anything like me, these numbers are quoted so often that they start to go in one ear and out of the other (the same goes for obesity stats actually). Take a look at the diabetes UK website or the NHS choices diabetes section for some of the latest figures (and a great deal besides that), but for now, let’s just concentrate on the basics. Halloween may have been and gone, but […]

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The limitations of ‘five a day’

‘Five a day’ has to be among the most widely recognised public health messages of the last decade or so, particularly within the field of nutrition. So, one could assume that the campaign, first launched in the UK in 2002 (in response to World Health Organization recommendations to consume ‘‘a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers)’’) has been a huge success. For the most part, I agree, purely on the basis that most people are aware – just in case they weren’t before – that they should be eating more fruit […]

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Sugar, fat and the irresponsible media…

In recent months, there has been a spate of pieces about the great sugar versus fat debate: which is the bigger killer? I find these articles frustrating, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the reported ‘U-turns’ in evidence dilute public confidence in science, nutrition, and anyone who works in the sector. It gives the impression that we are constantly changing our minds, contradicting ourselves from one month to the next. This is simply not the case, but as ever, the media feel the need to present any new evidence in this manner. Secondly, I don’t understand why the debate must […]

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