Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

Snacking: the modern habit that could be putting your health and waistline at risk

Snacking: the modern habit that could be putting your health and waistline at risk shutterstock/frantic00 Cakes, biscuits and energy bars are, for many people, just staples of everyday life – the snacks that keep them going through the day. But most people don’t realise just how easy it is to over-consume calories while snacking. Women are advised by the government to consume 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500. And…

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Flu jab: for asthmatics, avoiding the flu vaccine could be a fatal mistake

Flu jab: for asthmatics, avoiding the flu vaccine could be a fatal mistake shutterstock/1000 Words It’s that time of year again, flu season is just around the corner and with it comes the dreaded fear of catching the virus. The flu can come on very quickly and symptoms include aching muscles, chills and sweats, a persistent headache as well as a dry, cough – along with fatigue and weakness. The…

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Can surgical masks protect you from getting the flu?

Can surgical masks protect you from getting the flu? Tupungato/Shutterstock Australia has just suffered a severe flu season, with 299,211 laboratory-confirmed cases, at last count, and 662 deaths. This might be a sign of what’s to come for the UK and US as the virus spreads to the northern hemisphere. Flu season in the UK runs from December to March, but can start as early as October, so finding ways…

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Three reasons you have neck pain – and why ‘bad posture’ probably isn’t one of them

Three reasons you have neck pain – and why ‘bad posture’ probably isn’t one of them shutterstock/WAYHOME studio If you suffer from neck pain, you’re not alone. Spinal pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and its occurrence has increased dramatically over the past 25 years. While most episodes of neck pain are likely to get better within a few months, half to three-quarters of people who…

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Some countries have introduced mandatory nutritional labelling on menus – here’s why the UK should follow suit

Some countries have introduced mandatory nutritional labelling on menus – here’s why the UK should follow suit Olga_Moroz/Shutterstock Would you eat a burger if you knew it contained almost 6,000 calories? Some would gladly tuck in while others would recoil in horror. But if you have calories on the menu, at least you know what you’re biting into. And as our latest research shows, menu labelling, as it is called, may be a powerful way to change the nation’s eating habits. Research shows that the British public is increasingly eating out and ordering takeaways, rather than preparing food at home. Our earlier research estimates that a quarter of UK adults and a fifth of children eat at a restaurant or order a takeaway at least once a week. Food that…

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Most people don’t wash their hands properly – here’s how it should be done

Most people don’t wash their hands properly – here’s how it should be done Pexels It’s something most people do everyday, often without really thinking about it, but how you wash your hands can make a real difference to your health and the well-being of those around you. Washing your hands is the one most effective method to prevent cross-contamination which can cause the spread of illness and infections. And many research studies have shown how improvements in hand hygiene have resulted in reductions in illness. A look at research from around the world on the promotion of washing hands with soap, found that such interventions resulted in a 30% reduction in diarrhoea episodes and respiratory illnesses such as colds. Hand hygiene interventions at elementary schools in the US similarly…

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Most genetic studies use only white participants – this will lead to greater health inequality

Most genetic studies use only white participants – this will lead to greater health inequality Genetic studies need to be more diverse. Rawpixel/Shutterstock Few areas of science have seen such a dramatic development in the last decade as genomics. It is now possible to read the genomes of millions of people in so-called genome-wide association studies. These studies have identified thousands of small differences in our genome that are linked to diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and mental health. Most of these genetic studies use data from white people – over 78% of participants are of European descent. This doesn’t mean that they represent Europe. In fact, only three nationalities make up most of the participants: the US, UK, and Iceland. Even though the UK and the US have…

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Some people benefit from being naturally mentally tough, but it can be taught to those who aren’t

Some people benefit from being naturally mentally tough, but it can be taught to those who aren’t Diego Schtutman/Shutterstock The saying that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is simplistic, disingenuous, and potentially destructive. While it’s true that some who experience horrible events are stronger for surviving them, this is probably only true if they were strong to begin with. In the face of horrible events, others are more likely to be traumatised and suffer for years or decades after. Surviving repeated unpleasant experiences can lead people to develop a survivor mentality, a type of resilience which is a narrow means to an end, but does not help the development of a rounded, positive mental and emotional life. In a recent BBC interview, the writer and poet Lemn Sissa…

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Curious Kids: how can we see what we are imagining as well as what’s in front of us?

Curious Kids: how can we see what we are imagining as well as what’s in front of us? You might be daydreaming, but your brain is hard at work. February_Love/Shutterstock. How can we see what we are imagining but still see what’s in front of us? – Malala Yousafzai class, Globe Primary School, London, UK. This question gets right at the heart of a big issue for brain scientists. Say you’re daydreaming in class – you can have your eyes open and be aware of the colours and shapes in the classroom and the movement of your teacher and classmates, while at the same time “seeing” whatever you’re thinking of or imagining. These two kinds of seeing are quite different, but they both happen in the same part at the…

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Scurvy: is it really making a comeback in the UK?

Scurvy: is it really making a comeback in the UK? Bleeding gums are a sign of scurvy. LittlePerfectStock/Shutterstock Scurvy is on the rise in the UK and picky eating might be the cause, a recent report in Metro suggests. But is this something we should worry about? As with most things, it’s not as clear cut as it might seem. Scurvy occurs when you don’t have enough vitamin C in your diet. Symptoms include feeling more tired than usual, having swollen or bleeding gums and bruising easily. But it takes one to three months with very little vitamin C to reach this point. Vitamin C is in so many foods that it’s actually quite difficult to get scurvy. Of course, most people know that oranges, limes, lemons and kiwi fruits…

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