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New study suggests noise can affect your choice between healthy meals and junk food

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The music you listen to at meal times can affect the type of food you eat. That’s the finding of a new study from Aarhus University in Denmark, which compared food choices when people listened to different types of music.

One group heard slow music, the other a fast, less harmonious composition played in a minor key, known to trigger emotions such as sadness or suspense.

Writing in the journal Appetite, the researchers report the slow-music group was more likely to pick healthier foods.

Perhaps because the group wasn’t distracted by, or experiencing, negative emotions from the music, they gave more consideration to better food choices.

The music you listen to at meal times can affect the type of food you eat. That’s the finding of a new study from Aarhus University in Denmark, which compared food choices when people listened to different types of music

This is not the first time noise has been shown to affect what we eat.

In 2013 researchers at the University of Birmingham analysed 24 studies into the effects of distraction by noise and visual stimuli such as television and found that not only do we eat more food at a meal when we’re distracted, we eat more at the next one, too.

It’s thought this is because when deciding what to eat at a meal, we subconsciously factor in consumption at the last one, too, balancing our intake.

But if we’re distracted, our recall of the last meal isn’t so strong and our internal balancing system doesn’t work as well.

In fact, some experts say any music — or other disturbing noise such as the TV or conversation — should be avoided at meal times, and suggest it is an effective tool for controlling food consumption. 

In New York, a movement to start the day with a silent breakfast at home gained momentum as a way to cope with the stress of the pandemic.

In fact, some experts say any music — or other disturbing noise such as the TV or conversation — should be avoided at meal times, and suggest it is an effective tool for controlling food consumption

Meanwhile, ‘mindful eating’ (part of which is focusing on eating slowly, without interruption) is listed in Germany’s national dietary guidelines as a way to approach all meals and snacks. But how does eating in silence help you?

‘Quite simply, it reduces distractions that can promote over-consumption and potentially increases enjoyment of the meal,’ says Professor Jason Halford, a specialist in psychology and obesity, at the University of Leeds. It also triggers a phenomenon dubbed ‘the crunch effect’ by researchers, who believe that hearing yourself eat noisy foods encourages you to slow down your eating.

The term was coined in 2016 by scientists at Colorado State University in the U.S., who found that people ate 31 per cent fewer pretzels when they could hear themselves eating.

‘We think the sound of crunching creates natural ‘pause points’, a moment during eating when the consumer becomes more aware of their behaviour and may consider the amount of food they have consumed,’ study co-author Professor Gina Slejko told Good Health. As a result, they may then slow down or stop eating.

Silent eating can also focus your attention on taste.

‘We’ve had people in our mindful eating workshops who have eaten the same type of sandwich for lunch for 20 years realise they don’t actually like it after eating it more mindfully, i.e. more slowly and thinking about how the food tastes, smells and feels,’ says psychologist Christine Wade-Ramsey, from the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of West England, Bristol.

‘Others realise it’s the first bites of a chocolate bar they enjoy most and so they don’t need the whole bar. Focusing attention on taste and enjoyment also helps you realise feeling full and feeling satisfied are not the same thing. This can change what you consume.’

And there’s another reason to adopt quiet consumption.

A study published last November in the Korean Journal of Medical Science found that talking loudly in indoor spaces was linked to greater transmission of Covid-19.

But total silence may not work for all. ‘It can be particularly difficult for people who use food to hide or distract them from their feelings,’ says Christine Wade-Ramsey.

She suggests that sitting in silence may force them to dwell on these feelings, and says ‘it can be harder than you think because we’re just not used to sitting quietly without distractions’.

So if you do find it hard to sit in silence, try playing quiet background music as you eat, but make sure it has a slow beat.

This is because your body tends to match the beat of the music and chewing slowly can give your body time to register satiety.

‘If you don’t want to spend your whole meal in silence, focus on just eating the first five bites of your meal without speaking but paying attention to everything about the food instead,’ suggests Christine Wade-Ramsey.

You could then progress to a silent meal a day or even a week. ‘It will feel strange at first, but it’s a skill you can relearn,’ she adds.

It might help you to regain appetite control, and if nothing else, you may enjoy your food more.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Vaccines available for all over-25s from today

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Only three Britons have contracted the Indian variant of Covid-19 after having both jabs, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.  

It comes as all over-25s in England will be able to get a Covid vaccine from today. 

Mr Hancock announced the change in Parliament as he said Britain’s rollout is moving at an ‘extraordinary pace’. 

Until now only over-30s had been able to book appointments, save for surge clinics in some areas where they had been temporarily opened to younger groups.

People in their 20s are the adults at lowest risk from Covid but the NHS has now given a first dose to 77 per cent of people already so only around one in four are left.

The chief of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, said England is now entering the ‘home straight’ of the vaccine programme and added ‘getting the jab is the most important thing you can do’.

Britain is now in a race against the Indian variant as medics try to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect them from the strain which Mr Hancock said is likely 40 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant was. 

In a boost for vaccine effectiveness, just three people who have had both vaccine doses were admitted to hospital with the Delta variant. 

‘The jabs are working, we have to keep coming forward to get them and that includes, vitally, that second jab, which we know gives better protection against the Delta variant,’ Mr Hancock said.  

Public Health England warned last week a single dose of vaccine does not appear to work as well against the now-dominant ‘Delta’ variant as it did against the Kent strain, meaning getting the booster jab is crucial.  

Scientists have said as many people as possible – including teenagers – need to get vaccinated to stop the new variant from spreading.

Meanwhile, Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford said the NHS there will have offered vaccines to all adults over 18 by Monday, putting it six weeks ahead of the end-of-July schedule. 

The Health Secretary announced the change in Parliament yesterday as scientists warned jabs must be given to as many people as possible to stop the new variant

Mr Hancock said in the House of Commons: ‘From this week we will start offering vaccinations to people under 30, bringing us ever closer to the goal of offering a vaccine to all adults in the UK by the end of next month.

‘From tomorrow morning we will open up vaccination to people aged 25 to 29. 

‘Over the remainder of this week the NHS will send texts to people in these age groups and of course GPs will be inviting people on their lists to come forward…

‘The latest estimates indicate the vaccination programme has averted over 39,000 hospitalisations and over 13,000 deaths. 

‘So the vaccination brings us hope and I’m sure the whole house will join me in thanking people for their perseverance and patience as they’ve waited for their turn.’

Sir Simon added: ‘Tomorrow is a watershed moment as the world-beating NHS vaccination programme enters the home straight of our race to offer everyone their first dose.

‘The NHS vaccination programme is a real team effort and it is a testament to NHS teams across the country, that we are able to open up to people in their twenties just six months on from delivering that world first jab to Maggie Keenan.

WALES COMMITS TO JABS FOR ALL OVER-18s BY MONDAY

Wales today committed to offering jabs to all over-18s by Monday. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the milestone will be hit six weeks ahead of the UK target for giving vaccines to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July.

Wales has given a first jab to 2.18million people, or 86 per cent of the adult population, which is currently the best record of any country in the world.

However, Wales is lagging behind England and Scotland when it comes to the proportion of the population who have received both doses. 

Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff: ‘We will make the offer of vaccination to all eligible adults six weeks ahead of schedule and we expect to reach 75 per cent take-up across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target.

‘This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the programme – to all those doing the complex work of planning behind the scenes and to the thousands of people vaccinating and helping to run the clinics across the country.’ 

He said the government would now ‘switch our efforts to accelerate second doses’, with a target of covering the whole population by September. 

‘Subject to supply, we’re confident that we can deliver second doses as fast and as successfully as we have first doses,’ he said.

The updated strategy expects to deliver around 28,000 second doses every day over the summer months.

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‘The tireless efforts of NHS staff to protect the people they care for and their communities has quite simply saved lives, and when you get the text, you’re next.’  

The vaccine rollout has given 40.3million people across the UK their first dose and 27.9million both jabs, meaning half of all adults are fully vaccinated. 

Mr Hancock said the vaccines have saved thousands of lives already and kept even more people out of hospital.

It is rare for people who have had both doses to end up in hospital or die, even after catching the Indian variant, he said.

Scientists’ and ministers’ biggest fear is that a new variant that the vaccines don’t work against will come along and cause a gigantic third wave – but the current Delta strain is still susceptible to jabs. 

The Health Secretary said the vaccine is ‘breaking the link between infections, hospitalisations and deaths, a link that was rock solid back in the autumn’.

Cases in Bolton, the first hotspot for the strain, have started to fall, he said as he attributed some of this success to surge vaccinations, offering proof that the variant could be controlled without lockdowns. 

He added: ‘Despite the rise in cases, hospitalisations have been broadly flat. 

‘The majority of people in hospital with Covid appear to be those who haven’t had the vaccine at all.

‘I want to update the House on some new information that we have on this. As of the third of June our data show that of the 12,383 cases of the Delta variant, 464 went on to present at emergency care and 126 people were admitted to hospital. 

‘Of these 126 people, 83 were unvaccinated, 28 had received one dose and just three had received both doses of the vaccine.’

He said: ‘The jabs are working, we have to keep coming forward to get them and that includes vitally that second jab which we know gives better protection against the Delta variant.’

Wales today committed to offering jabs to all over-18s by Monday. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the milestone will be hit six weeks ahead of the UK target for giving vaccines to everyone over the age of 18 by the end of July.

Wales has given a first jab to 2.18million people, or 86 per cent of the adult population, which is currently the best record of any country in the world. 

However, the country is lagging behind England and Scotland when it comes to the proportion of the population who have received both doses. 

Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff: ‘We will make the offer of vaccination to all eligible adults six weeks ahead of schedule and we expect to reach 75 per cent take-up across all priority groups and age groups a month ahead of target.

‘This is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the programme – to all those doing the complex work of planning behind the scenes and to the thousands of people vaccinating and helping to run the clinics across the country.’ 

He said the government would now ‘switch our efforts to accelerate second doses’, with a target of covering the whole population by September. 

‘Subject to supply, we’re confident that we can deliver second doses as fast and as successfully as we have first doses,’ he said.

The updated strategy expects to deliver around 28,000 second doses every day over the summer months. 

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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How can I avoid side-effects of blood pressure drugs? DR MARTIN SCURR answers your health questions

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I have high blood pressure but can’t get on with any of the blood pressure tablets I have been treated with over the past 30 years. The side effects have affected me terribly. Are there any other treatments I could try?

Margaret Delaney, Ealing, London.

At 73 you are not long past middle-age and you should have years of life ahead of you — but keeping your blood pressure under control is essential to ensure this.

The medications commonly prescribed for hypertension (high blood pressure) have changed considerably over the past three decades, and there is a range of good drugs available.

These include thiazide-type diuretics (e.g. hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone and indapamide), which work by helping to widen blood vessels and therefore lower blood pressure.

At 73 you are not long past middle-age and you should have years of life ahead of you — but keeping your blood pressure under control is essential to ensure this

Other options are ACE inhibitors (e.g. enalapril and lisinopril), which relax blood vessels; angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs (e.g. losartan and valsartan), which act on hormones involved in restricting blood flow; and calcium channel blockers (e.g. amlodipine, diltiazem and verapamil), which reduce the amount of calcium entering the artery walls, making it easier for the heart to pump blood.

All of these are equally effective in between 30 and 50 per cent of patients. It is not unusual for there to be some trial and error when it comes to identifying the best drug for each individual, as side effects are common.

With any of these medications, you start by taking a low dose and only increase the level very gradually, perhaps over four to eight weeks. 

Constant supervision — often from a practice nurse — is essential, though monitoring your blood pressure is something you can do yourself. This reduces the frequency of face-to-face appointments, but you must still attend clinic at regular intervals.

In terms of your particular case, it is uncommon — though not unheard of — for patients to react negatively to all four classes of the drugs I’ve mentioned.

Indeed, I have come across such a patient myself, and I referred her to a cardiologist who had a research interest in treating hypertension.

Constant supervision — often from a practice nurse — is essential, though monitoring your blood pressure is something you can do yourself. This reduces the frequency of face-to-face appointments, but you must still attend clinic at regular intervals

My patient’s blood pressure was eventually stabilised with moxonidine, a drug that binds to receptors in the brain, which in turn relaxes the blood vessel walls. Moxonidine is used when other medications have failed to help, and it has fewer side effects.

The best ‘natural’ approach involves weight loss if you are overweight, daily exercise (proven to play a role in lowering blood pressure), and eating less salt.

A regular meditative activity such as yoga or — my favourite — tai chi may also pay dividends. Unfortunately, there are no natural supplements proven to be effective in lowering blood pressure.

I had a carcinoma removed from my nose two years ago. Although the procedure was successful, it’s left me with a runny nose whenever I have hot meals and drinks. Do you have any suggestions for a remedy?

P. A. Williams, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

This is clearly a troubling symptom, but fortunately there is a solution. The type of skin cancer you had is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which appears as a small, shiny pink or pale lump. 

It’s caused by damage to the basal cells (found at the bottom of the outermost layer of skin) and is most often triggered by sun exposure. Typically BCCs are found on areas often exposed to sunshine, including the face, scalp, back of the hands or ears.

BCCs are often like an iceberg, i.e. a greater proportion of the cancer is found below the surface.

I suspect that this ‘iceberg effect’ was the case with you, and that, as a result, the surgeon had to remove more of the tissue underneath, because the cancer had been embedded deeply into the nose.

This affected the interior of your nasal cavity, triggering the streaming nose, or gustatory rhinorrhoea (‘gustatory’ refers to its link to eating, and ‘rhinorrhoea’ is the term for a runny nose).

Many people experience this streaming after eating spicy foods, because these affect nerves that stimulate the release of saliva and mucus.

But your response has become worse, possibly as a result of surgery.

The good news is that there is medication which may help.

Your GP should be able to prescribe a nasal spray called ipratropium (trade name Rinatec), which prevents the nerve impulses that trigger a runny nose.

By using a tiny amount of this spray in exactly the right place, once daily, you will be able to control the symptom.

The spray can be used for as long as is needed.

Write to Dr Scurr

Write to Dr Scurr at Good Health, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email drmartin@dailymail.co.uk — include your contact details.

Dr Scurr cannot enter into personal correspondence. Replies should be taken in a general context and always consult your own GP with any health worries.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Spider-shaped device could help millions of men get a good night’s sleep

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An implant shaped like a spider could help millions of men with an enlarged prostate get a good night’s sleep.

The device, which expands to up to two inches long, pushes swollen prostate tissue away from the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.

It could cut night-time trips to the loo for men with an enlarged prostate, which is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The condition affects an estimated 3.2 million men in the UK. It occurs when the prostate — a walnut-shaped gland that surrounds the urethra and makes some of the components of semen — gets bigger with age, possibly due to changes in hormone levels.

As the prostate grows, it can push against the urethra and the bladder, restricting the flow of urine.

The new device — a small cylinder attached to three thin metal ‘legs’ — is designed to ease urinary symptoms without causing side-effects

This can lead to frequent bathroom trips, especially at night, as well as problems in starting urination and difficulty in fully emptying the bladder.

Treatments range from lifestyle changes, such as not drinking too much at night, to taking prescribed medicines that relax the muscles at the base of the bladder, making it easier to urinate.

But drugs may have side-effects, including nasal congestion, swollen ankles and ejaculation problems, and up to two-thirds of men stop taking them after one year.

Excess prostate tissue can be removed through a procedure known as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), but it can lead to incontinence and impotence if the surrounding nerves are damaged during the surgery.

The new device — a small cylinder attached to three thin metal ‘legs’ — is designed to ease urinary symptoms without causing side-effects.

It is made from nitinol, a ‘memory metal’ that at room temperature can easily be compressed, but at body temperature expands back to its original shape. 

In a five-minute procedure under local anaesthetic, the collapsed implant is navigated down the urethra using a catheter — a thin tube — and a camera.

Once in place at the bladder neck, the ‘legs’ unfurl, pushing back the prostate tissue. This makes it easier for urine to pass into the urethra from the bladder, by widening the channel through which urine flows. The device is removed after five to seven days, but the prostate tissue remains pushed back.

A study on 185 men aged 55 to 70 found the procedure highly effective. Symptoms eased in eight in ten men, and urinary flow rate improved by more than 50 per cent, the journal Urology reports.

None of the study’s participants became impotent owing to the procedure. The researchers, from Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York in the U.S., and the University of Toronto in Canada, concluded that it provided a ‘safe and rapid’ treatment option for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Professor Raj Persad, a consultant urologist at Bristol Urology Associates, said: ‘Any means of reducing this problem are to be welcomed.

‘This device does the trick. It is only used for a short period — any foreign body left in the urinary tract may induce infection.

‘The holy grail would be finding a device like this that can remain in situ, achieving its effects indefinitely.’

Men with asthma may be up to twice as likely to develop an enlarged prostate, a study involving 47,000 males found.

The link was particularly strong among younger men and those not being treated for their asthma, as reported in the journal Medicine.

The researchers, from Hallym University College of Medicine in South Korea, speculated that the chronic, low levels of inflammation involved in both conditions explain the link.

Paws for thought

The health problems we may pass to our pets. This week: Tuberculosis (TB)

Although no longer common in the UK, TB still affects about 4,500 people here — and can be passed between dogs and humans.

‘Human TB in Britain is usually caused by the bacterium M. tuberculosis (Mtb) which is fairly happy in a canine host,’ says Conor O’Halloran of Vets4Pets in Edinburgh. 

It can also pass from animals to humans. Mtb is mostly spread through droplets from coughing. Symptoms in dogs include chronic cough and enlarged lymph nodes, then weight loss and lethargy. As it’s rare in pets it can be hard to diagnose.

‘Sadly, as animals with Mtb infections are a risk to humans and other animals, those with Mtb are usually euthanised,’ says Conor O’Halloran.

‘If anyone in a household is infected with TB it’s important they take advice to reduce risk of infection to their dog.’

Exercise cuts risk of lung condition

The risk of suffering from a common lung disease is reduced by exercise, a study in the journal Radiology suggests.

Bronchiectasis is an inflammatory condition that prompts the airways to widen, causing a build-up of mucus, and increasing the risk of infection.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School in the U.S. looked at exercise levels and CT scans from more than 2,000 healthy adults over a period of 30 years and found that those who were more fit at middle age (the study began when participants were aged between 18 and 30) had a lower risk of bronchiectasis.

The researchers suggested that cardio-respiratory fitness may reduce inflammation, and also might play a role in improving the clearance of troublesome mucus from the lungs.

Eye checks could help spot dementia early

Clues to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be found in blood vessels at the back of the eye, according to researchers at the University of Southern California in the U.S.

Using advanced imaging technology, they analysed the tiny blood vessels or capillaries in 13 patients at different stages of an inherited form of early-onset Alzheimer’s and 21 otherwise healthy people.

The dementia patients had notably different blood flow patterns from the healthy control group.

These abnormal patterns might indicate early inflammatory changes involved in Alzheimer’s, reported the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Clues to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be found in blood vessels at the back of the eye, according to researchers at the University of Southern California in the U.S 

Losing a tooth may be worse than you think

Tooth loss may be responsible for causing problems carrying out day-to-day tasks, such as shopping, gardening and taking medication, according to a study.

Researchers from Tokyo Dental and Medical University in Japan reviewed data from more than 5,600 adults aged between 50 and 60 and found that those who had fewer teeth were more likely to struggle with everyday activities.

The researchers, writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, said that this could be because people who have fewer teeth may also have diets that are generally less nutritious — which could contribute to poor health overall, including brain function.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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