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Is your kitchen sponge harbouring billions of bacteria?

Researchers from three medical research centres in Germany have recently published a study into kitchen sponges in Nature Scientific Reports.

Scientists assessed 14 different kitchen sponges using genome sequencing techniques and found billions of bacteria on the surface of the sponges. While this may sound alarming, we should bear in mind that our bodies and homes are covered in bacteria and most are harmless.

The scientists stressed the results are nothing to be alarmed about, however they found that cleaning sponges did not kill the bacteria and suggested weekly replacement instead.

Buying ‘help’ may make you happier

A study by researchers from Harvard Business School in the US, University of British Columbia in Canada, Maastricht University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in The Netherlands and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal PNAS has found that spending money to free up time may make people happier.

The research involved a survey of 6,000 participants from the US, Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands. The respondents who reported spending money on cleaning, cooking, shopping and household maintenance rather than material goods reported better life satisfaction.

Ways to beat dementia

A review published in The Lancet has identified nine risk factors linked to dementia which could be modified or diminished. These are: low levels of education, midlife hearing loss, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, depression and social isolation.

Even if added together the risk of all of these factors only accounts for 35% of the overall risk of getting dementia – the rest of the risk is due to ageing and family history. The scientists recommended switching to a Mediterranean diet, meeting recommended exercise levels, and using cognitive training to improve memory, attention and reasoning skills.

Other suggestions include encouraging people to become more socially active and continuing to support people who want to give up smoking.

Magnesium linked to depression improvement

Researchers from the University of Vermont have undertaken a study into how magnesium supplementation affects the symptoms of depression. In the clinical trial which had no placebo group, 126 adults with mild or moderate depression spent six weeks taking four 500mg tablets of magnesium chloride daily and six weeks without magnesium supplements. They also continued taking their usual depression treatment.

Researchers monitored their depression symptoms with phone calls every two weeks. Subjects were asked to rate their depression symptoms on a scale of 0-27 and on average in people taking magnesium, symptoms improved by an average of six points. The study which was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One found that taking magnesium helped people whatever their gender and age. Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, figs, bananas and dark chocolate.

Link between coffee and life expectancy

A recent study carried out by researchers from 20 academic and health institutions across Europe and published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine looked at data from people enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) to see if there were links between coffee consumption and overall deaths.

The study included more than 450,000 people and found men who drank the highest amounts of coffee had a 12% overall reduced risk of death and women had a 7% reduced risk overall. Current guidelines recommend no more than four cups of coffee per day.

Study shows effects of IBS in life

A new study into how IBS affects the lifestyles of young men and women in Britain has found:

  • 42.2 of students between 16-25 said exams cause a flare-up
  • 42.9% say work pressure causes a flare-up
  • 75.7% of women stated stress causes a symptom flare-up
  • 67% have cancelled social outings because of a flare-up
  • 40% have cancelled sports activities

The scientists recommended taking live cultures, micro-organisms found in the human body or in foods that contribute to our health and wellbeing, also known as probiotics. Probiotics are known to reduce bloating, abdominal pain and gas.

Did you know?

Research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that eating walnuts can help to balance the bacteria in the gut.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid and fibre, and they contain high levels of antioxidants too.

The study is published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

What's in season in September & October?

In season: aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, marrows, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, radish, scallions, spinach, swedes, turnips, mint, parsley, sage, thyme, cooking apples.

End of season: cucumbers, mange tout, tomatoes.

Coming into season: brussels sprouts, lollo rosso, parsnips, eating apples.

Read news stories from previous issues of Rude Health Magazine here

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