Friday, 20 November 2009

Green Light For Boozers?

The BBC has reported that research conducted in Spain over the last 10 years suggests three startling conclusions:

- first ... drinking a little alcohol (1 x shot/day) reduces your risk of heart disease by about a third. We've heard that before, haven't we?

- second ... drinking 3-11 shots/day further reduces this risk to around 50%! Go on, seriously?

- and finally ... bad news girls, this only seems to apply to men. We must legislate against that!

The study involved more than 40 000 individuals aged between 29 and 69 and claims to have eliminated factors that previously skewed studies such as these by differentiating, for example, between teetotallers and those who no longer drank because ill health had forced them to quit.

Huh? Relevance? OK, sorry ... I missed taking statistics at school. Sounds like another case of baffling with (horsefeathers)!

It has been postulated (another big word used by scientists) that alcohol consumption actually increases HDL ("good") cholesterol in the blood, which effectively negates, or at least offsets to a degree, the harmful effects of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

It is also thought that the impact was not material on females because they are thought to metabolise alcohol differently from men. I told you they were different!

And of course spokespeople for various interest groups such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been quick to say that the results of this research should not be seen as encouragement to drink more.

Of course not. Thank you for pointing that out. Now we know.

Studies in the past that suggest small amounts of alcohol reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CAD) in men over 40 have been viewed by some optimists as vindication that drinking is a healthful practice.

The overall take-out of the report suggests that as long as drinkers exercise "moderation" by limiting themselves to the requisite daily allowance of units (and taking a break for 2 days a week) then everything will be okay.

Here's my view:

Drinking "in moderation" is seen as absolutely healthful because it is legal ... and it suggests that people are still in control. As long as this culture exists, people will continue to kid themselves that they are not alcoholics.

I don't care what anybody says: if you have to drink 5 days a week, then you have a problem. Of course, you'll say you do so out of choice and that you could take it or leave it.

Of course you can ... you're just bored. Anyway, why should you stop if the authorities say it's cool?

I don't suggest for a minute that people stop drinking completely. But moderation is surely "an occasional light indulgence" rather than a daily ritual with a informal two-day abstinence mandate (that feels like a whole week)?

We all know that alcohol is a cytoplasmic poison that erodes our liver, pancreas and brain. We all know that regular consumption makes us fat because it introduces calories without any nutritional value whatsoever.

We'd all like to drink for the stress-reducing benefits of social lubrication and a good laugh with friends and family. I completely applaud that logic.

But moderation is a pipe dream.

We are living in cloud cuckoo land if we honestly believe that one is only an alcoholic if you repeatedly lose control and get fall-down drunk on a regular and systematic basis.

So all I'm saying is "people ... please, get real about your addictions".

Just because we live in times where daily consumption is deemed both legal and healthful does not make it so.

The real reasons we enjoy drinking so much is that it allows us to let rip and forget our inhibitions. This makes us appear more fun amongst our peers, which in turn is gratifying to us. Sorry creatures that we are.

And when we feel that yearning when we don't drink, that's the siren call of addiction ... our body's physiological mechanism for attempting to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.

Even if you have the discipline to moderate your consumption to a nightly tipple, eventually you will wake up one day and your body will say "no mas". Eventually your body will get the message.

But let's cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe it'll be a good time to stop smoking too?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Balance The Sugar For Our Kids

This morning's report on BBC Breakfast about the added sugar in snacks targeted for childrens' lunch boxes really got my attention.

Interestingly enough, the discussion did not appear on the Breakfast website ... which begs one question.


What could be more relevant to the health of the nation than the garbage we are feeding our kids? (Ok, that's more than one Don!)

Two people were being interviewed ... one suggesting that it was an outrage that manufacturers persisted in coming up with products containing added sugar. The other interviewee represented the interests of retailers and food manufacturers and actually had the gall to say that the selected items were being taken out of context and that generally products of this nature had a more healthy balance of less sugar.

He also tried telling us that the two reasons food manufacturers did this was for "taste" and "technology". Uhh ... what technology please? Oh, the technology of addiction. Or can't we say that?

What surprised me was that this particular gentleman appeared to genuinely feel that products with less sugar could be referred to as "healthy" and that the industries he represented were actually operating in the best interests of parents and children alike.

Which tells me two things: either he has been totally brainwashed like the rest of the British public and thinks that Frosted Flakes and juice concentrates with added sugar and preservatives are part of a "balanced diet" because levels of these toxic substances have been reduced.

Or ... he knows exactly what he's doing and is not only tolerated, but highly remunerated for so eloquently distorting the truth.

Hmmm ... I wonder, do you think?

As long as food manufacturers are allowed to peddle artificial "foods" under the guise of a "healthy, balanced diet" the population will continue to get fatter and sicker. This of course will benefit those peddling drugs to control the behaviour of kids eating this rubbish ... as well as all those people standing in line to cash in on the growing problem of childhood obesity (including the tax man).

And well-intentioned mothers will continue to think that nothing is rotten in the State of Denmark.

The words "healthy, balanced diet" are rapidly becoming the most misused words in the modern lexicon.

People, please ... the lessor of two known evils does not constitute a healthy choice. Or are we now saying that a little added sugar never hurt anyone because the scientific evidence is inconclusive?

How convenient.

Stop whining Don and pass the chocolate-coated, frosted sugar bombs. Tasted great. Less calories. Why thank you Hobbes!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Aspirin No Longer In Vogue

Researchers for the Drugs nad Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) have now come out to say that aspirin can cause serious internal bleeding and does not prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease.

"Based on this new evidence" the Royal College of GP's support these findings and are against the use of aspirin as a prophylactic. On the BBC Dr Rosemary herself has also confirmed that it is no longer recommended to take 75mg/day to stave off heart attacks, stroke and thrombosis. It can irritate the stomach, causing bleeding ulcers which may ultimately lead to anaemia.

In fact, so too do other magic bullets like ginkgo biloba and high dose garlic.

Fancy that ... what a revelation. Even better, the polypill I have blogged about mercilessly in the past contains ... drum roll please ... aspirin. So it's no longer recommended either.

Ah, the sweet smell of toll free vindication.

But it still keeps getting better. Guess what is now in favour? You got it ... diet and exercise, 5-a-day. And our friends hosting BBC breakfast, on learning this, described this massive breakthrough in medical perspicacity as "sage advice".

Come on!

Does it take the Royal College of GP's and BBC's own intrepid "in-house" doctor to say all this before people get that magic bullets aren't a substitute for healthy living? Nor are they an insurance policy that buys you time so you can abuse yourself just that little bit longer.

That wasn't a rhetorical question! The short answer, sadly, is "no".

What is it with people that they just will not accept this? Stop trying to medicate yourself into good health. Nature didn't design medications (amazing though this may be for the pharmaceutical industry to believe).

Doctors aren't God either, nor will they ever be.

Your best insurance against heart disease includes a diet that predominates in fresh, whole, ripe, raw, organic fruit and vegetables. Guess who designed those?


Add to this simple diet sufficient daily exercise, a bouyant disposition, generous amounts of fresh air, sunshine, genuine relaxation and quality sleep and a mindset that moves on from unresolved conflicts.

Really folks. It's that simple.

And no, smoking, drinking and drugging are not good for you ... even if you have an auntie who smoked 20-a-day, drank like a dolphin and lived to the ripe old age of 86.

Believe me, her system was a mess. And her last few years were hell on earth. Don't think otherwise. Get real. Go simple. Stop looking for ways to cheat nature.

And stop trying to blame your genes!