Body & Fitness

Health watch: Sleep, Chilli, diet and

This week we discuss spices, sleep and friendly work colleagues.


• Having friendly colleagues can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research. An Israeli study has found that people who work in a stressful job with unfriendly workmates are more likely to develop the condition. People with supportive colleagues are 22% less likely to develop diabetes.

• Sunlight could lower blood pressure and may even help prevent heart attacks and strokes, scientists claim. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that when skin is exposed to sunlight for just 20 minutes, blood vessels release an important chemical called nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes or blood clots.


This week: Boost your sleep to make vaccines work better.

Next time you head off to the doctor for a jab or a booster, make sure you’re feeling rested to get the full benefit.

A study published last year in the journal SLEEP found that adults who get less than six hours a night were 11 times less likely to be protected by the vaccine than those who’d had more than seven hours of shuteye.

It’s thought getting little sleep lowers the immune system, which plays a key role in vaccination. When we’re vaccinated, the body creates antibodies to that illness which help fight it off when it encounters it again. Too little sleep interferes with this immune system mechanism.


Michael Caine has revealed he’s taken turmeric for 30 years to keep his memory sharp. Here we look at the health benefits of other spices. This week: Chilli.

Chilli contains capsaicin, which promotes thermogenesis – the process whereby food energy is lost as heat (not stored as fat). In a 2011 study, consuming chilli led to reduced food intake and less desire for fatty and salty foods for four hours afterwards – though only in people who didn’t normally eat spicy food.

Taking capsules with a higher concentration of capsaicin than in chilli-spiced food may be better, with one study finding more abdominal fat loss in overweight people taking such capsules. Small lab and animal studies have suggested that chilli also has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and blood pressure-lowering properties. But those with IBS or indigestion may need to avoid it.


There are parts of your anatomy you’ve never heard of, named after people you didn’t know existed. This week: The glands of Montgomery.


These are small, raised bumps found in the areola – the dark circle around the nipple – in men and women. The glands produce secretions to keep the area moist, and in women are also thought to produce a substance which seems to stimulate the newborn baby to breastfeed.


The Irish obstetrician William Fetherstone Montgomery, who first identified them in 1837. In his day, William was well known for his opposition, on safety grounds, to the use of the anaesthetic chloroform during births – but Queen Victoria used it during the birth of her eighth child.


Like many oil glands on the surface of the skin, they can sometimes become blocked by skin debris and bacteria, causing pain and swelling.

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