Body & Fitness

Healthwatch: Food cravings, hand rehab, test your IQ

How good is your basic knowledge of health and nutrition?


• Eating walnuts could dramatically cut the risk of suffering a heart attack. US scientists were already aware that nuts could have an effect on heart health, but say a new study provides more evidence that they improve the way blood vessels function and help good cholesterol remove bad cholesterol from the body more effectively.

• It’s not a good idea to try and catch up on work while on a plane because flying can make it more difficult to think, according to an aviation expert. Professor David Gradwell says because air pressure is lower on planes, it’s harder for the brain to get oxygen, affecting its ability to work.


Cutting down on certain foods is good for your health. This week: red meat.

Eat red meat no more than three or four times a week, says Sian Porter of the British Dietetic Association.

There are nutritional benefits from eating red meat – it’s a valuable source of iron, needed for the production of the oxygen-carrying blood pigment haemoglobin, as well as zinc and B vitamins for healthy nerves. However, eating too much red meat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

“Have one meat-free day. You can easily get your protein requirements from other sources, such as dairy or chickpeas. A non-meat day encourages you to vary your diet,”

says Sian.

“Focus on eating smaller portions of good quality, unprocessed, lean red meat to help lower your saturated fat intake.”


How good is your knowledge of basic health and nutrition?

Q: How much is one portion of your five-a-day?

One portion of fruit or vegetables is around 80g, which could be half a large grapefruit; a slice of melon; two satsumas; three heaped tablespoons of cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn; or a cereal bowl of mixed salad. A portion of dried fruit is 30g (three dried apricots or 1tbsp of raisins). For juice, it’s a 150ml glass.

As a rough guide for children, one serving is the amount that fits into the palm of their hand.



Possible cause: Undiagnosed diabetes.

A constant thirst for sugary drinks could be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes, says Dr Mark Vanderpump, a consultant endocrinologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to mop up glucose from the blood, preventing it getting into the tissues where it’s needed for energy.

And because the body doesn’t feel it is getting enough sugar, this triggers a craving for something sweet.

As high blood sugar often causes thirst, this creates a desperate yearning for a sugary drink.

See your GP about blood and urine tests for diabetes.



THIS WEEK: Pain at the base of your thumb.

POSSIBLE CAUSES: Scaphoid fracture or sprain, or osteoarthritis.

The scaphoid is a tiny bone at the base of the thumb, which can fracture or sprain when we fall onto outstretched hands.

The severity of pain from these injuries can vary, increasing when you move the joint.

Scaphoid fractures are hard to detect as the bone is difficult to see on X-ray, says physiotherapist Caroline Southgate. “Often they’re picked up only after some healing, as

the bright-white new bone growth shows up on X-ray.”

Sprains need PRICE treatment: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

A fracture may require surgery to realign the bone.

Another possible cause for this pain is osteoarthritis – wear and tear of the joint.

“Osteoarthritis can be eased by resting the joint or replacing it with a plastic one – a well-established and safe procedure,” says Caroline.

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