Drop That Junk Food: It Kills Bacteria That Makes You Thin

Junk food kills the good bacteria in the body that helps people remain thin, claims a new book.

Tim Spector, a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London, the author of a book called “The Diet Myth” suggests that human bodies have many types of microbes and when the balance of these microbes is disrupted it can result in obesity.

In the latest book, Professor Spector has attempted to make a link between health, food and microbes to address the growing problem of obesity in the entire world.

Professor Spector suggests that the good bacteria in the gut, which helps a person to remain thin, are killed when a person consumes junk food. The author also reveals the adverse effects such of weight gain due to the consumption of sweeteners found in diet fizzy drinks.

He stresses that a 5:2 diet can help keep a balance of microbes in the body, which in turn can assist people in remaining thin. A 5:2 diet involves consuming food for five days and restricted the amount of food consumed for two days in a week.

The book also suggests that genes are also responsible for keeping a person thin. Around 33 percent of people have genetics that prevents them from becoming fat. Some genes also determine an individual’s preference for broccoli, garlic or salads.

Professor Spector also tweeted recently that consuming a burger diet reduces the diversity of microbes in the gut.

Burger diet reduces microbe diversity by 40% in a few days. https://t.co/6kvE3xIfco

Professor Spector believes that the amount and quality of food we eat definitely has an impact on a person’s weight as well as health. However, different people respond differently to the same food.

Humans have evolved a close inter-dependence with microbes; however, this relation has changed over the last few decades.

“Compared to our recent ancestors who lived outside cities, with rich and varied diets and without antibiotics, we have only a fraction of the diversity of species of microbes living in our guts. Scientists are only now starting to understand the long-lasting impact this has on all of us,” per [pdf] the publishers of The Diet Myth.

A report by London’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) suggests that one of the reasons for the changing diet of people is the cost of food. Since 1980, the cost of vegetable and fruits that are deemed healthy has increased by about 30 percent in the U.K. However, the costs of meat and dairy products have dropped by 25 percent during the same period. Ice creams, which are full with calories, have seen the biggest drop in price in the last few decades.

A balanced diet with less junk food helps people maintain a healthy balance of good gut bacteria and remain thin.


Walk for Two Minutes Every Hour, Suggest Experts

Walking is the easiest way to remain fit and active. You may think it is underrated as a form of exercise, not more. Regular walking can reduce stress levels, prevent memory decline, boost heart health and add more years to your life.A new study led by an Indian-origin researcher and published in the Journal Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology shows that walking for just two minutes every hour can offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time.Scientists and health experts both agree that sitting for long hours can drastically harm your health. Studies have shown that it can trigger chronic ailments like heart disease and even cancer.

These findings indicate that a “trade-off” of sitting for light intensity activities for two minutes each hour is associated with a 33 percent lower risk of dying.”It was fascinating to see the results because the current national focus is on moderate or vigorous activity. To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing,” said lead author Srinivasan Beddhu, professor of medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.Researchers examined 3,243 participants to see whether longer durations of low intensity activities (e.g. standing), and light intensity activities (e.g. casual walking, light gardening, cleaning) extends the life span of people who are sedentary for more than half of their waking hours. Beddhu explained that while it is obvious that it takes energy to exercise, strolling and other light activities also use energy — and even short walks add up to a lot when repeated many times over the course of a week.

(Is Sitting Down Bad for My Health?)Assuming 16 awake hours each day, two minutes of strolling each hour expends 400 kilocalorie (kcal) each week. That number approaches the 600 kcal it takes to accomplish the recommended weekly goal of moderate exercise.”Based on these results, we would recommend adding two minutes of walking each hour in combination with normal activities, which should include 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week,” Beddhu noted.(Put Your Best Foot Forward: Why Walking is Good For You)Of course, this alone may not help you achieve your fitness goals. Combine it with moderate exercise strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones, and confers health benefits.With inputs from IANS

5 Spring Vegetables to Boost Meals and Health

CBC Health spoke with registered dietitian Michelle Mountain of Humber River Hospital in Toronto.

Spring vegetables are here! Seasonal produce is a great way to get your nutrients. Top picks for this year’s harvest:


Asparagus is an energizing and low-calorie spring vegetable that is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. Asparagus season is now upon us, running from April to June. To keep the nutrients and flavour high, don’t overcook your asparagus. Thin spears only need three minutes in the steamer or pop them in the oven at 204 C or 400 F for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also barbecue them and then season with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Packed with high nutrition at a low cost, this crop is spring’s unsung hero! Rhubarb contains calcium for bone health and potassium for proper organ function. Balance the tart flavour of rhubarb by cooking it with sweet fruits like strawberries in the form of a compote, custard or in baked goods like pies. Or, embrace its tartness and toss in slices of rhubarb stems with beets, olive oil and garlic and roast at 190 C or 375 F until tender. Season with salt and pepper.


This amazing leafy vegetable has vitamin A, vitamin C and lots of fibre. Steam four cups of spinach for a few minutes and you’ll meet one quarter of your daily fibre requirement. Add spinach to salads, eggs, chilis and soups. Or simply saute for a few minutes on high with a bit of olive oil to coat the pan and some chopped garlic.


This bright root vegetable is loaded with vitamin C, potassium and folate. Beets are low calorie — only 50 per cup — but they add lots of personality and nutritional punch to salads, especially when roasted and paired with goat cheese and spinach. A more convenient option are canned beets (the non-pickled variety) which are pre-cooked and low in sodium.


This flavourful veggie contains vitamin C and is a healthy but low calorie way to satisfy a craving for crunch. With only eight calories for 10 radishes, consider these refreshing vegetables as a healthier alternative to chips. Their peppery flavour pairs well when dipped in guacamole or Greek-yogurt based dips.

Staying Hydrated – Staying Healthy

When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is important whether you’re playing sports, traveling or just sitting in the sun.

And it’s critical for your heart health.

Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.

“If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard,” said John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and an American Heart Association volunteer.

Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

How much water do you need?

What does being well hydrated mean? The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration, Batson said.

A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. “If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Batson said.

Batson said the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, Batson recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. It’s a particular good guide for athletes training in the hot summer months.

“For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish,” Batson said, adding that it’s not unusual for a high school football player, wearing pads and running through drills, to lose 5 pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice.

Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.

Water is best.

For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. Sources of water also include foods, such fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes, may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.

“It’s healthier to drink water while you’re exercising, and then when you’re done, eat a healthy snack like orange slices, bananas or a small handful of unsalted nuts ,” Batson said.

He cautioned against fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. “They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated,” he said.

It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.

Batson says drinking water before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step.

“Drinking water before is much more important,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re playing catch-up and your heart is straining.”

Not just for athletes or exercise.

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids. 
People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions.

It’s also a good thing to keep tabs on your hydration if you’re traveling.

“You might sweat differently if you’re in a different climate,” Batson said.


5 Ways to Keep your Spine Healthy and Happy

Core exercises like the bridge can help you strengthen abs and back muscles.
Abdominal Exercises and Back Exercises – Getting Started
Whether it’s a herniated discspinal stenosis, or strained muscles, it can take some time to diagnose and treat the causes of back pain. And all the while, you’re trying to navigate health insurance, work and family life, and everyday stressors in addition to your back pain.
Here are 5 key things you can do to help achieve more comfort and pain relief.

1. Let your spine really rest while sleeping.

While you’re lying down, all the structures in your spine that have worked hard all day finally have an opportunity to relax and be rejuvenated. To make the most of this time, you need a mattress and pillows that allow your spine to rest in a supported and comfortable way.

Some tips to consider when sleeping include:
  • Use a firm or medium-firm mattress. Most people benefit from having a mattress that’s firm enough to support their spine, rather than an old or soft mattress that allows the spine to sag. As long as you’re choosing a mattress to ensure the best support and sleeping position for your condition, there are many available types that can be helpful.

    See Mattresses and Sleep Positions for Each Back Pain Diagnosis

  • Keep your spine naturally aligned. For back sleepers, try placing a pillow beneath the knees to reduce stress on the lower back. For side sleepers, try placing a pillow between the knees to keep the hips balanced.1 Some people may also benefit from a neck pillow that supports the cervical spine. Experiment with a few different types of pillows to see what you find most comfortable.

    See Best Pillows for Different Sleeping Positions

Getting good sleep is important2 and prepare for a new day of handling heavy spinal loads.
See Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene

2. Exercise your core to strengthen abs and back muscles.

Your core muscles—located in your lower back and abdomen—need to be strong and supple in order to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back.
Watch: Video: 5 Overlooked Tips to Protect Your Lower Back

Unfortunately, for most of us our core muscles are rarely used enough during everyday activities. These muscles need to be toned through specific, targeted exercises. Check with your doctor, physical therapist, or other health professional to learn which exercises may be appropriate for you. Many core exercises to help reduce back pain are also available on this website.
See Core Body Strength Exercises

3. Your shoes need to support your spine.

Whether you’re walking for exercise or just to get where you’re going, the shoes you wear play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. For example, make sure the area of the shoe that fits the back of your heel is snug, but not overly tight. A good fit prevents over pronation or supination—or too much rolling of the foot to the outside or inside.
See Guidelines for Buying Walking Shoes

Also, consider using shoe orthotics or inserts if you need further balance or support.

4. Enjoy the benefits of massage.

A good back massage has a number of therapeutic benefits, such as increasing blood flow, loosening tight muscles and connective tissues, and boosting feelings of relaxation. While a massage does not need to be vigorous to be soothing, some evidence suggests that a moderate-level massage offers more stress-relief benefits than a light-touch massage.3
Read more: Massage Therapy Considerations for Lower Back Pain

While it’s not the same as going to a massage therapist, having a massage chair in your home can be a practical and easy way to get some of the benefits of a shiatsu or Swedish massage.
See Massage Chairs for Pain Relief

massage therapy
Massage has many therapeutic benefits. See: Massage Therapy for Lower Back Pain

5. Practice good ergonomics while sitting—and limit total sitting time.

The discs in your lower spine are loaded more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a painful back condition.4 Moreover, when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more.

Choosing the right office chair and practicing good posture while seated plays important roles in supporting the natural curves of your back.
See Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair

It’s also important to do whatever you can to avoid sitting for long periods. Get up to stretch and walk around at least once an hour, try working at a standup desk intermittently during the day, or get up and pace around when talking on the phone. The spine is meant to move to stay healthy, and movement fuels the spine with healthy nutrients.
See Easy Exercise Program for Low Back Pain Relief

The topics covered here are simple ways to help support your spine and overall back health. Even when you are in serious pain and are undergoing extensive medical treatments, try to remember the simple things you can do for your back—even small changes can help with the healing process over time.
Watch: Video: 3 Simple Ways to Indulge Your Spine


Get lean and eat clean in 2015!

AFTER spending the festive period scoffing tins of Quality Street, it’s time to turn our attention to the gym. British Military Fitness trainer Mark Wood shares his top 15 tips on how we can shape up.
With the January blues just around the corner, most of us need a push in the right direction to kick start our New Year fitness regimes.

The festive season of overindulgence is over and the team at British Military Fitness (BMF), have put together their top tips to make 2015 your year to get lean and eat clean!

1. Master the basics

With the January blues just around the corner, most of us need a push in the right direction to kick start our New Year fitness regimes.

The festive season of overindulgence is over and the team at British Military Fitness (BMF), have put together their top tips to make 2015 your year to get lean and eat clean!

2. Train with intensity

Our lifestyles can be very demanding so when training, focus on the intensity. Lots of research suggests that High Intensity Training is one of the best ways to train and quickest ways to get results.

3. Use your own body weight

Body weight exercises can be very demanding and challenging but they have great benefits. They are free to do, you can do them anywhere and you can get a whole body workout in a very short time.

Start to build up your exercise regime with body weight exercises.

4. Eat breakfast

Breakfast should be one of your most important meals of the day. It is essential to get your metabolism started for the day so you continue to burn calories all day long.

Most people tend to either skip or rush breakfast. Yes, you may need to get up a little earlier but it will put you in a much better position to start your day and help you on the way to achieving those goals.

5. Ensure adequate hydration

Hydration is key for anyone looking to exercise. Make sure you are drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water a day.

Always turn up to sessions hydrated and make sure you rehydrate with at least 1.5 times the fluid that was lost during your training session.
Eat clean in 2015-02
Exercise using your own body weight and you'll get a workout that tones up all your wobbly bits

6. Don't neglect cardio

Cardio work should be factored into your sessions. It is one of the greatest ways to get into shape and is necessary to keep your heart healthy and your body functioning the way it should.

7. Get outside

Exercising in the great outdoors has many benefits. It is much better for you to breathe in fresh air compared to air conditioning, especially if you are stuck in a gym with loads of germs floating around.

8. Carbs are not the devil

Carbohydrates seem to get a bad name. Those who are looking to drop weight tend to avoid any form of carbohydrates.

Lowering the amount you consume will help with losing weight but you shouldn’t cut them out completely. They are important for energy production, recovery, muscle growth and fat loss.

Instead of removing them completely, just ensure that you are consuming carbohydrates that are not full of sugar.

9. Have variety

Variety is a key factor to the success of your training. Your body very quickly recognises and adapts to any exercise or training session that you complete.

Therefore, in order to progress you must continually make the body guess and challenge it in different ways. Variety in a diet is also key to enjoying what you are eating as well as getting all the essential minerals and vitamins.

10. Train with others

Having a training partner or training in a group has some great benefits. They will help you stay motivated, it becomes a great social environment and you can have some great fun.