8 new health breakthroughs

Patsy Westcott / 21 December 2016

From reducing your risk of stroke and staving off Alzheimer’s to improving your joint health, new research is finding fresh ways to improve your wellbeing.



1. To improve heart and joint heath consider statins

Normally thought of as cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins may also help reduce the risk of dying by as much as a third for people with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, two types of arthritis associated with increased cardiovascular mortality risk. So says research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Conference in November. The reason? Statins have anti-inflammatory effects that benefit both the arteries and joints.

Inflammation: what you need to know

2. To keep kidneys healthy stay hydrated

We all know the importance of keeping our heart and lungs healthy but few of us think about kidney health, according to the NHS Think Kidneys Campaign.

One of the most important things you can do to help your kidneys is to drink enough – water, tea and coffee all count but steer clear of sugary soft drinks.

How to tell if you’re reaching your fluid intake quota? Check your urine – it should be pale and straw-coloured. Visit thinkkidneys.nhs.uk to find out more.

Strategies for staying hydrated

3. To boost muscles pick up a pomegranate

Loss of muscle mass and strength comes with the passing years. But now Swiss scientists have discovered that gut bacteria transform a molecule in pomegranates, dramatically slowing muscle ageing in rats. The researchers are hoping to develop a drug for humans. Meanwhile, putting pomegranates on the menu could be a good move.

The health benefits of exotic fruits

Recipe: Hot smoked trout, pomegranate and avocado salad

4. For brain health try probiotics

A daily probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria taken for 12 weeks led to an improvement in cognition in a group of Alzheimer's sufferers, according to an Iranian study. Probiotic bacteria are found in live yoghurts, kefir (a milky drink) and supplements.

Probiotics: what you need to know

5. To lower stroke risk go to work on an egg

An egg a day can reduce the risk of dying of a stroke by around 12%. So says a review of studies involving 300,000 people. Intriguingly, the study did not show any link with a reduced risk of heart disease.

10 healthy reasons to eat more eggs

6. For stronger bones go Japanese

Natto, a Japanese food made from fermented soya beans, is one of the richest sources of vitamin K2, which is vital for strong, healthy bones.

The nutrient helps to draw calcium from the blood into the bones, aiding prevention of the loss of density associated with osteoporosis.

You can find natto in sushi bars or oriental supermarkets. Other good sources of vitamin K2 include meat, egg yolks and cheese.

Tofu: how to make use of this superfood in your diet

7. To stave off diabetes take a stroll after your meal

A ten-minute walk after breakfast, lunch and dinner is more effective at reducing blood glucose for Type 2 diabetics than a single daily 30-minute walk, according to a New Zealand study, published last autumn.

The greatest benefit – a fall of 22% – was seen after evening meals, which tend to be higher in carbs and are most likely to be followed by a sit down.

The health benefits of walking

8. To lose weight calm down

Stanford University researchers in California have found that a newly discovered stress hormone called Adamts1 triggers incipient fat cells to mature, in much the way they do under a high-fat diet.

The hormone is thought to signal that hard times may be approaching, triggering our bodies to store as much energy as they can. So taking steps to destress, alongside following a low-fat diet, could help to shift that oh-too-solid flesh.

What stress does to your health

For more on the latest health research that could improve your health in 2017, see the January issue of Saga Magazine.

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