Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good For You

A new paper suggests that it takes far less exercise than was previously thought to lower blood sugar after eating. Walking after a meal, conventional wisdom says, helps clear your mind and aids in digestion. Scientists have also found that going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar levels, which can help ward off complications such as Type 2 diabetes. But, as it turns out, even just a few minutes of walking can activate these benefits.

In a meta-analysis, recently published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers looked at the results of seven studies that compared the effects of sitting versus standing or walking on measures of heart health, including insulin and blood sugar levels. They found that light walking after a meal, in increments of as little as two to five minutes, had a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels.

“Each small thing you do will have benefits, even if it is a small step,” said Dr. Kershaw Patel, a preventive cardiologist at Houston Methodist Hospital who was not involved in the study.

In five of the studies that the paper evaluated, none of the participants had pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The remaining two studies looked at people with and without such illnesses. Participants were asked to either stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to, say, sitting at a desk or plopping down on the couch. When participants went for a short walk, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually.

For people with diabetes, avoiding sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels is a critical component in managing their illness. It’s also thought that sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes.

Standing also helped lower blood sugar levels, although not to the degree that light walking did. “Standing did have a small benefit,” Aidan Buffey, a graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland and an author of the paper, said. Compared to sitting or standing, “light-intensity walking was a superior intervention,” he said.

That’s because light walking requires more active engagement of muscles than standing and uses the fuel from food at a time when there is a lot of it circulating in the bloodstream. “Your muscles will soak up some of that excess glucose,” said Jessie Inchauspé, author of the book “Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar.”

“You still had the same meal, but the impact on your body will be lessened,” she added.

Although light walking at any time is good for your health, a short walk within 60 to 90 minutes of eating a meal can be especially useful in minimizing blood sugar spikes, as that is when blood sugar levels tend to peak.

Ms. Inchauspé also recommended getting up to do housework or finding other ways to move your body. This short amount of activity will also enhance other dietary changes that people may be making to help control their blood sugar levels.

“Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes, as these studies showed, in your health markers,” Dr. Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University who was not associated with the study, said.

Mr. Buffey, whose research focuses on physical activity interventions in workplace environments, noted that a mini-walk of two to three minutes is more practical during the workday. People “are not going to get up and run on a treadmill or run around the office,” he said, but they could get some coffee or even go for a stroll down the hallway.

For people working from home, he suggested a short walk around the block between Zoom meetings or after lunch. The more we normalize mini-walks during the workday, Mr. Buffey said, the more feasible they will be. “If you are in a rigid environment, that’s when the difficulties may come.” If you cannot take those few minutes to take a walk, Dr. Ashley said, “standing will get you some of the way there.”

The benefits of physical activity are never all or nothing, Dr. Patel said, but instead exist on a continuum. “It’s a gradual effect of more activity, better health,” he said. “Each incremental step, each incremental stand or brisk walk appears to have a benefit.”

Source: Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good for You – The New York Times

Critics By Sarah Garone

After a satisfying meal with family and friends, if a little voice inside tells you it’s time to head out for a stroll, you may want to listen. Not only is a walk after eating a pleasant way to enjoy social connection with others, it also offers surprising benefits for your health. From improved digestion to better blood sugar management, a lap around the block (or further) might just be the perfect finishing touch to a meal.

Read on for five reasons to take a walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

May Improve Digestion

The internal nudge you may feel toward getting up and out after a meal might be coming from your gut. Research shows that post-meal movement can actually help you better digest your food.

In a 2014 meta-analysis of 20 studies, walking was associated with faster gastric emptying (the rate at which the body moves food through the stomach).

Though some people may experience indigestion from working up a sweat after eating, overall, physical activity appears to have a protective effect on colon cancer risks, and possibly some other diseases in the GI tract.3 More research is still needed.

May Help Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

People with diabetes or other blood sugar issues could especially benefit from stepping out after mealtimes. A post-meal walk may help steady your blood glucose.

In a small 2013 study, older adults with pre-diabetes experienced better glycemic control from walking after meals than from merely taking a morning walk.

Another study yielded equivalent results, finding that people with type 2 diabetes had better blood sugar measures when they walked after meals, compared to a single daily walk. The most dramatic improvements occurred when walking after dinner.5 Sounds like good reason to take a quick stroll before settling into more sedentary activities for the evening!

May Help Regulate Blood Pressure

You’ve probably heard that exercise is a helpful means of lowering blood pressure. What you may not have heard is that timing brief walks throughout the day (such as after meals) could offer even more results for hypertension than one longer bout of exercise.

According to a 2016 study, the accumulated effects of 10-minute bouts of physical activity significantly brought down diastolic blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension.

Mealtimes can serve as a convenient trigger for working in these shorter bouts of light exercise.

May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

As you work to bring down your blood pressure with after-meal walks, you’ll do your body the additional favor of lowering your risk of heart disease. People who keep their blood pressure within healthy limits have less incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Since 47% of Americans have high blood pressure (and only one in four has it under control), we’d all do well to squeeze in a stroll after mealtimes.7

May Lessen Bloating

Whether you suffer with bloating as a result of occasional overeating, food sensitivities, or irritable bowel syndrome, a walk could be just the thing to tame a distended tummy.

As discussed above, research indicates that the more steps people with IBS get in a day, the less likely they may be to experience adverse symptoms, including bloating. And it’s not just people with IBS who could calm belly bloating with a walk around the block. A four-week study from 2021 found that when people with non-IBS-related bloating went for a 10-15 minute walk after meals, they reported relief.8

When bloating has you feeling uncomfortable after eating, consider a walk as quick, side effect-free treatment.

Related contents:

Walking aid recycling scheme brings benefits to Clacks Alloa Advertiser

16:20 Tue, 19 Jul
Walking club has so many benefits The Telegraph & Argus
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Wildfire Smoke Is Terrible For You But What Does It Do to Cows?

California’s wildfire season has kicked off in earnest, with the Oak Fire chewing extraordinarily quickly through the parched landscape around Yosemite National Park. The fire has burned nearly 17,000 acres so far, forcing thousands from their homes and blanketing the surrounding area in smoke.

For millions of years, the creatures of Earth have dealt with wildfire smoke, a noxious blend of particulate matter and toxic gasses. They’ve had to, really: Lightning ignites wildfires, and occasional small blazes actually result in a net benefit by resetting the ecosystem for new growth.

No longer. A variety of factors—including climate change, a history of fire suppression, and growing human populations—have conspired to turn what were once mild blazes into monsters like the Oak Fire. And that means more smoke, and longer exposure to gasses like carbon monoxide and dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and ozone. It also increases exposure to the soot carried in the cloud, which can contain solids like lead, cadmium, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Scientists know how this smoke affects human health, exacerbating asthma and other respiratory problems, but they know almost nothing about other species. As wildfires grow bigger and more intense, researchers are racing to figure out how birds, nonhuman primates, and livestock might be suffering—and the early results are troubling.

In 2020, Amy Skibiel, an animal scientist at the University of Idaho, monitored a group of 13 cows between the state’s July to October fire season. She and her team scrutinized carbon dioxide and mineral concentrations in the cows’ blood, their respiration rates and temperatures, and the quantity of milk they were producing. “The big question was: What effects does wildfire smoke exposure have on dairy cattle production, immune status, and metabolism?” says Skibiel. “Most humans can retreat from conditions of poor air quality, whereas livestock are housed in open-air barns, or they’re out on pasture or on dirt lots. They’re exposed 24/7 to the prevailing environmental conditions.”

Skibiel found that a particularly smoky day could cause a loss of 9 pounds of milk per cow. (A cow usually produces 70 to 80 pounds per day, so this is a significant dip.) “Another interesting thing that we found was that milk yield was reduced for seven days after their last day of exposure,” says Skibiel. “So even when the smoke dissipates, there’s still lingering effects. And we don’t really know how long that lasts.”

More frequent smoky days in the western US might already be eating into milk yields, and Skibiel’s team is working with dairy farmers to parse whether that is happening. The team will have to carefully isolate other complicating factors—high temperatures and humidity also lower milk production, for instance. But wildfire smoke could actually be conspiring with heat to lower yields: Fires are more likely to break out on hotter days, when vegetation is parched. Smoke plus heat may equal even less milk. Skibiel also found changes in immune cell populations in the cows’ blood, suggesting their bodies were responding to the respiratory pollution.

Other animals on the farm, too, may be vulnerable to wildfire smoke. Horses have massive lungs—the animals are born to run and suck in loads of air in the process. “We don’t know for sure, but horses could be one of the most sensitive species to smoke of all mammals,” says Kent E. Pinkerton, director of the Center for Health and the Environment at the University of California, Davis. “The volume of air that they’re taking in, that is basically laden with particles in the air that they’re breathing, could really be quite devastating to the horse.”

The infamous 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, bathed the UC Davis campus in smoke, giving Pinkerton and his colleagues a unique opportunity to determine the effects on another species: the rhesus macaque. At the campus’ California National Primate Research Center, the macaques live in outdoor enclosures. So just as Skibiel did with dairy cows, Pinkerton could monitor them as the haze rolled in.

He found an increase in miscarriage during the breeding season, which happened to overlap with the smoke event: 82 percent of the animals exposed to smoke gave birth, when in a normal year the average rate of live births is between 86 and 93 percent. “We actually had a small, but statistically significant, reduction in birth outcomes,” says Pinkerton. “We don’t know all the specifics of it, or what the precise cause would be, other than the fact that it was associated with wildfire smoke.”

In Indonesia, which is plagued with peat fires, primatologist and ecologist Wendy Erb of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has studied smoke’s effect on another primate, the orangutan. Peat fires have created a dire public health crisis in Indonesia, where developers drain peatlands and set them on fire to create farmland. This is a particularly nasty kind of conflagration, as it smolders through carbon-rich fuel for months on end, bathing cities and surrounding forests in smoke for far longer than, say, a California wildfire that rips through vegetation.

Erb monitors individual orangutans in the wild by collecting urine and stool samples (yes, that means standing under trees to catch the stuff) and following them around throughout the day to see how much they’re eating and how much energy they’re expending. From the urine samples, she can determine ketosis, or whether the animal is metabolizing fat as an energy source.

Following smoke events, she found, ketosis among orangutans increased significantly. “We actually saw that they were eating more calories, but despite eating more calories they’re also resting more, and they traveled shorter distances,” says Erb. “So they’re showing this energy-conservation strategy—they’re moving less, they’re slowing down, and they’re eating more calories—but they’re still going into ketosis.” 

One hypothesis, which the team hasn’t yet tested, is that the orangutan’s bodies are mounting an immune response to the deluge of smoke, and that they need more calories to fuel that defense. But this might use up calories the animals need for other life necessities, like growing, reproducing, and feeding their offspring. (Of all the primates, orangutan mothers spend the most time raising their children.) Saving energy by moving less also means fewer opportunities to socialize, which is a concern for a primate that’s already critically endangered because it’s losing its habitat to deforestation.

Erb has related concern: These unnatural fires happen year after year after year, so orangutans in the wild are exposed to chronic smoke inhalation. Erb has found that the vocalizations of orangutans exposed to smoke change, just like a human smoker’s voice changes over time. Might that affect how the animals communicate in the wild? If the animals’ voices grow hoarse, for example, they may not be able to communicate as far.

“For a long time, people weren’t thinking about how widespread and how massive the effects of the smoke itself could be, even for animals that are lucky enough to be in forest that doesn’t get burned,” says Erb. “You could still be hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest fire and experience really low air quality.”

Orangutans don’t have the means to flee the haze, but surely birds do? Nope, not anymore. When fires are small, birds can detect those blazes and fly a few miles away, no problem. But wildfires have gotten so big that animals can’t even escape the flames fast enough, much less the smoke—the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires moved so quickly that they consumed anything with wings.

Part of the problem is smoke inhalation: Bad air can confuse birds, potentially steering them into the flames instead of to safety. “Carbon monoxide poisoning, if it doesn’t result in fatality, can also cause confusion. It can cause disorientation,” says Olivia V. Sanderfoot, an ecologist at the University of California, Los Angeles who studies the effect of wildfire smoke on animals. “So there’s also this concern that maybe even if they have the capacity to escape a fire, maybe they don’t because they can’t quite figure out how to get away, because they are not feeling well.”

Consider the actual canary in the coal mine: The birds are so sensitive to carbon monoxide that miners would bring them underground as an early warning system. If the animal became ill, so soon would they. But wildfire smoke is more complex than subterranean air—it’s burning through plants, soils, and even towns, where it consumes plastics and other building materials. “Wildfire smoke is this whole sticky soup of nastiness,” says Sanderfoot. “It contains a lot of different toxins, and depending on what’s burning and at what concentrations and then what the weather looks like, the smoke is going to be very different.”

That makes it exceedingly difficult to determine what in the smoke is causing a particular effect in a particular species, be it a cow, horse, bird, or primate. And the problem will only get worse, as the world warms and blazes become more catastrophic, bathing more of the planet in smoke. “These fires that we’re seeing now are far more intense and far more fast-moving and result in more severe damage,” says Sanderfoot. “And that kind of event is not something that animals are necessarily going to be able to successfully detect, avoid, and escape.”

By:

Source: Wildfire Smoke Is Terrible for You. But What Does It Do to Cows? | WIRED

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Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant In The U.S.

In the U.S., people eat more protein than they need to. And though it might not be bad for human health, this excess does pose a problem for the country’s waterways. The nation’s wastewater is laden with the leftovers from protein digestion: nitrogen compounds that can feed toxic algal blooms and pollute the air and drinking water. This source of nitrogen pollution even rivals that from fertilizers washed off of fields growing food crops, new research suggests.

When we overconsume protein—whether it comes from lentils, supplements or steak—our body breaks the excess down into urea, a nitrogen-containing compound that exits the body via urine and ultimately ends up in sewage. Maya Almaraz, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues wanted to see how much of this nitrogen is being flushed into the U.S. sewage system because of a protein-heavy diet.

The researchers combined population data and previous work on how much excess protein the average American eats and found that the majority of nitrogen pollution present in wastewater—some 67 to 100 percent—is a by-product of what people consume. “We think a lot about sewage nitrogen. We know that’s an issue,” Almaraz says. “But I didn’t know how much of that is actually affected by the choices we’re making way upstream—when we go the grocery store, when we cook a meal and what we end up putting in our bodies.”

Once it enters the environment, the nitrogen in urea can trigger a spectrum of ecological impacts known as the “nitrogen cascade.” Under certain chemical conditions, and in the presence of particular microbes, urea can break down to form gases of oxidized nitrogen. These gases reach the atmosphere, where nitrous oxide (N2O) can contribute to warming via the greenhouse effect and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can cause acid rain.

Other times, algae and cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria also called blue-green algae, feed on urea directly. The nitrogen helps them grow much faster than they would normally, clogging vital water supplies with blooms that can produce toxins that are harmful to humans, other animals and plants. And when the algae eventually die, the problem is not over. Microorganisms that feast on dead algae use up oxygen in the water, leading to “dead zones,” where many aquatic species simply cannot survive, in rivers, lakes and oceans. Blooms from Puget Sound to Tampa, Fla., have caused large fish die-offs.

Although it is possible to treat algal blooms, many of the current methods—such as spraying clay particles or chemicals over the surface of a bloom to kill and sink the algae—are not always effective at eliminating all of the harmful growth. Some of these methods can even lead to additional pollution. So the best strategy for dealing with the effects of nitrogen pollution is prevention, says Patricia Glibert, an oceanographer at the University of Maryland, who was not involved with the new study.

One option for preventing nitrogen from getting into the environment is improving wastewater treatment plants. The technology exists to remove 90 percent of nitrogen from wastewater, but only 1 percent of all U.S. sewage is currently treated this way, partly because the technology is so expensive. Equipping plants in China to remove nitrogen from three quarters of the country’s urban sewage cost more than $20 billion. Almaraz and her team suggest, however, that curbing nitrogen pollution could be approached more quickly with a change in eating habits that could save billions of dollars in the long term.

Their new study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, broke down protein requirements by age (adults 50 to 70 years old need the most) for the current U.S. population and projected future populations out to 2055. By midcentury, the country’s population is expected to be larger overall and to have a greater percentage of older people. The researchers calculated the amount of nitrogen that would enter the environment if people ate today’s average American diet and if they instead reduced their protein intake to only what is nutritionally needed.

This shift in diet alone could reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching aquatic ecosystems by 12 percent today and by nearly 30 percent in the future, according to the study’s results. Such a change could also help reduce damaging nitrogen pollution while wastewater infrastructure catches up. “Many people think that we need to all switch to becoming vegetarians. Obviously, that’s not practical. That’s not something that is really ever going to happen,” Glibert says.

Rather than cutting out any foods entirely, she suggests consumers could switch to a “demitarian” diet—an approach that focuses on reducing the consumption of meat and dairy, which currently make up about two thirds of the protein eaten in the U.S. “Enjoy your steak, enjoy your burger but go modest on your meat consumption in your following meal,” she says.

“One cool area that opens up here is how human behavior can influence our environment,” Almaraz says. “I think it can be really empowering to people to understand that, ‘hey, my choices—once those add up with other people making similar choices—can actually have a positive impact.’”

Source: Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant in the U.S. – Scientific American

Critics by  

Protein buildup in the kidneys creates a much more acidic environment in the kidneys, causing you to have to pee all the time. Increased acid production can also cause problems in the bones and liver. Side effects start with mild dehydration but can lead to the development of kidney stones, which are intensely painful. One interesting note-researchers found that plant and dairy proteins had a much lower negative effect on renal function than nondairy animal protein (meat) did.

high-protein diet might have helped you tone up for summer or get closer to your goal weight, but could it also be contributing to your blue mood? Maybe. Especially if your protein-to-carb ratio is way off base. Carbs run the show in your brain, telling it what to do and how to do it. Carbohydrates are specifically responsible for releasing serotonin-your body’s “feel good” hormone. One study from the American Medical Association on the psychological effects of low-fat and low-carb diets found that people who adhered to a high-protein, high-fat and low-carb diet for a year experienced more anxiety, depression and other negative feelings than those on a low-fat, high-carb, moderate-protein diet.

High-protein diets are often low in fiber-especially when your main protein sources are from animal products-which can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Fiber helps move everything along through your intestines, and it can only be found in plant foods. Simply mixing up your protein intake with foods that deliver both fiber and protein, like whole grains, beans or tempeh, can make a huge impact. Also, try ramping up your fruit and vegetable intake to get way more health benefits than just getting regular again.

Think protecting your body from chronic diseases and weight gain, and keeping your gut healthy, just to name a few. High-protein diets are often praised for helping people drop a dress size or two in as short as a week-but the long-term effects aren’t as desirable. Following a high-protein diet often means eating very few carbs, which isn’t sustainable for most of us in the long run. This can lead to food cravings and less energy to get your morning workout in, and can make you regain the weight you worked so hard to lose.

Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist who has spent years studying the brain-weight link. She told EatingWell, “Don’t do anything to lose weight you’re not willing to do forever.” This is because your brain can certainly adjust its behaviors once you lose the weight, but it needs you to continue your efforts in order to maintain it. Opting for restrictive diets-like keto-may not be your best bet for long-term health after all.

Even if you’re someone who gets those coveted eight hours of sleep every night, eating too much protein can still leave your body tired for several reasons. First, we now know that overconsumption can put a strain on your kidneys, liver and bones-causing them to work overtime. Also, eating too few carbs can really affect our brains-preventing us from being sharp, focused and energized each day.

Since carbs are your brain’s main source of energy, you probably want to increase your intake of healthy ones, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, to get you back to your best. Not only can this help you get your energy back, but you’ll be getting more of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs to be healthy and happy overall.

If you or someone you know has tried the keto diet, you’ve likely head of the term “keto breath.” This happens when you’re focused more on consuming protein and fat instead of healthy carbs: your body has to adjust and produces ketones that smell awful, like acetone (yes, the ingredient in nail polish remover!).

Trying to find a more balanced approach when it comes to macronutrient consumption will help your body get up and running on carbs again and get your breath nice and fresh once more. Simply swapping out several sources of animal protein for plant versions-like whole grains and beans-each week will still keep your protein intake at the high end of your daily needs, while increasing your intake of healthy carbs.

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Sore Throats Suck. Do Throat Lozenges Help At All?

It’s hard to get through a winter without suffering sore throat, but luckily they normally get better within a few days. Sore throat is a common symptom of COVID and its newer variants. And of course, many sore throats are caused by viral colds or flu, so they can be treated at home. The most common treatment is probably throat lozenges – but do they really work any better than sucking on a hard lolly?

Why does my throat hurt so much?

A sore throat can fall anywhere between slight discomfort to a sensation of “swallowing razor blades”. Occasionally it hurts so much to swallow that people dribble saliva from their mouths, rather than swallowing it.Bacteria and viruses can invade the thin moist skin (mucosa) lining the throat. This kills many lining cells and triggers inflammation, which appears as redness, swelling and increased secretions.

Infections in the nose also cause thick mucus to travel down the back of the throat and cause further irritation. This is referred to as “post-nasal drip”. A blocked nose causes reliance on mouth breathing, which tends to dehydrate the already inflamed throat. Ouch.

What do lozenges do?

Lozenges are a solid medication intended to be dissolved or disintegrated slowly in the mouth. They consist of one or more active ingredients and are flavoured and sweetened to make them pleasant tasting. Hard lozenges are generally formed using sucrose or other sugars similar to the process for hard candy confections.

There are many active ingredients added to lozenges, including antiseptics; pain relievers; menthol and eucalyptus oil; cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan and soothing compounds. “Cough drops” and sore throat lozenges are almost identical but may contain different proportions of these ingredients.

Different brands of lozenges advertise a confusing choice of formulations. It is more common now to see brands with “triple action” ingredients that promise to be anaesthetic (to numb pain), antiseptic (to kill germs) and anti-inflammatory (to reduce redness).Unfortunately, clinical trials directly comparing the benefit of different medication types for most common conditions (head to head trials) are rarely undertaken.

This is likely due to the added complexity of such trials compared with placebo controlled trials, and medication research often being funded by the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the products. So, we have to rely on indirect comparisons instead. The traditional approach to treating sore throat is to assume lozenges or gargling with antiseptics will reduce sore throat by treating the infection causing it.

However, a limited number of trials of antiseptic lozenges (such as Strepsils and Betadine lozenges) produced only a small reduction in sore throat pain (a difference of one unit in a ten-point pain scale compared with placebo). So they do seem to provide a small degree of relief, and continue to be sold. More and more brands are including other medications beyond antiseptics in their range of throat lozenges

Checking the effects

There are some other explanations for the apparent effectiveness of any treatment for a self-limiting infection. How do we know if the symptom or infection would have lasted longer if we hadn’t used that treatment? To tell, we’d need a control group who didn’t receive the treatment, and a large sample size to overcome the role of chance causing the difference.

Relief might come from something other than the active ingredient. After all, sucking on a sweet, hard lozenge could soothe a dry throat by increasing saliva release. To test this effect, we’d need a true placebo medication – identical in every respect apart from the active ingredient.

Several well-designed and well-conducted controlled clinical trials show some active ingredients provide significantly better pain relief than placebo lozenges. These medications fall into two main groups: local anaesthetics (such as benzocaine) and anti-inflammatory agents (flurbiprofen).

A study comparing benzocaine lozenges, (now offered in many brands of lozenges) to placebo lozenges found quicker pain relief (20 minutes for benzocaine compared to more than 45 minutes for the placebo). More study participants felt relief using the medication, though very few reported complete pain relief.

A systematic research review found nine studies that supported the benefit of flurbiprofen lozenges (available in Australia in Strepfen Intensive lozenges) for a range of sore throat conditions. In one of the reviewed studies, flurbiprofen produced greater reductions in sore throat pain (47%) as well as difficulty swallowing (66%) and swollen throat (40%) over the first 24 hours compared with placebo.lite2-1

One of the common sore throat treatments sold in Australia is Difflam, which contains the anti-inflammatory medication benzydamine. One clinical trial found a greater than two point reduction in the ten point pain scale by day three in those using benzydamine versus placebo.

Are lozenges better than sore throat sprays?

A study using radioactive labelled medication demonstrated more prolonged and complete delivery of medication in the mouth for lozenges compared to spray and gargle. This seems to be the basis for the claim that sprays are less effective than lozenges.

However, drawing conclusions from such evidence is less accurate than a study that directly compares the effectiveness of the various modes of delivery on actual pain. One study compared flurbiprofen and found similar pain relief benefit between lozenges and spray.

So the choice of delivery method can be based on personal preference, including the taste of the product.

The takeaway

Sore throat lozenges and sprays provide some additional relief for the pain of sore throat, particularly those with anti-inflammatory or local anaesthetic ingredients. They are often combined with an antiseptic agent, which may or may not add any significant benefit.

Used as directed, these agents seem safe and have negligible adverse effects. They are also affordable and readily available. But this shouldn’t stop us using other treatments we know also soothe sore throats, such as a small spoonful of honey.

By: Senior Lecturer in General Practice, The University of Queensland

Source: Sore throats suck. Do throat lozenges help at all?

Critics by Karina Bray

Throat lozenges generally contain painkillers, antibacterial agents, antitussives, pectin, menthol and/or eucalyptus. We take a closer look at each ingredient to see how effective it is in reducing sore throat symptoms. Benzydamine hydrochloride and flurbiprofen are painkillers that belong to the group known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that help reduce swelling. 

A number of good-quality studies have shown that flurbiprofen lozenges and benzydamine hydrochloride given as a spray or gargle provide effective relief from sore throat symptoms, including difficulty in swallowing. Amylmetacresol, cetylpyridinium chloride, dichlorobenzyl alcohol and hexylresorcinol are antibacterial agents that help fight against disease-causing bacteria. 

But the majority of sore throats are caused by viral infections rather than bacterial, so for the most part antibacterial agents in lozenges aren’t going to help. Local anaesthetics numb the area they’re in contact with and provide temporary relief from soreness. Lignocaine hydrochloride and benzocaine are used widely in medical and dental practice for numbing the mouth and throat during minor surgical procedures, or when a tube must be inserted into the windpipe.

Benzocaine, lignocaine hydrochloride, benzydamine hydrochloride and hexylresorcinol also have local anaesthetic properties. Pholcodine and dextromethorphan hydrobromide are antitussives that are intended to help suppress dry, unproductive (non-phlegmy) coughs, which can contribute to making your throat sore. But a wide-scale review of trials testing antitussives (mainly dextromethorphan) found that they were no more effective than a placebo for treating coughs in most cases. And a much higher concentration of dextromethorphan was used in the trials than is found in throat lozenges.

Menthol is made synthetically or obtained from mint oils. It’s the component of peppermint oil that’s thought to be responsible for most of its therapeutic properties. It gives a cooling and soothing sensation when you inhale or eat it, thanks to its ability to chemically trigger cold-sensitive receptors in the skin. But the effect of nasal decongestion from menthol is subjective – studies show that although people feel decongested after inhaling menthol vapour, there’s no actual improvement in the nasal airway when airflow is measured.

Just like menthol, eucalyptus is thought to act as a nasal decongestant. However, there’s a lack of controlled, clinical studies to support its effectiveness. Pectin is commonly used as a thickening agent in foods like jam and jelly. In throat lozenges it’s used to coat the throat, and in doing so has a soothing effect in much the same way as a teaspoon of honey would.

Related contents:

Sore throat lozenges and sprays provide only a small reduction in throat pain News-Medical.Net

Over 50s to be offered Covid booster as new variants spread LBC News

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Science Says You Don’t Have To Exercise Every Day To Be Healthy

I exercise multiple times a day. As a yoga and group fitness instructor, it’s kind of comes with the territory — though I don’t actually get paid for all of it. I add in daily cross-training because I love it, and I know it’s good for me. But according to a new study, working out every day isn’t necessary. This new research suggests that weekend warriors reap similar health benefits as folks who work out every day. Let’s discuss.

The study, which was published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at health data for more than 350,000 people between 1997 and 2013. The scientists conducting the research had only one question: Do people who exercise frequently — several times a week — have more health benefits than so-called “weekend warriors”? The answer, surprisingly, was no — at least when it comes to lifespan.

In the 10-plus years when the data was collected, 22,000 of the participants died — as is bound to happen. But researchers found no significant difference in the mortality rates from cancer or cardiovascular disease between people who worked out regularly versus those who did it in spurts. The takeaway: As long as you get the W.H.O. recommended amount of exercise, when or how you do it doesn’t seem to affect your mortality rate.

“The findings of this large prospective cohort study suggest that individuals who engage in active patterns of physical activity, whether weekend warrior or regularly active, experience lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates than inactive individuals,” the authors wrote in the study. I can, to an extent, see the appeal in getting all of your requisite activity done in a couple sessions rather than having to think about it or make time for it every day.

But it’s important to note that the amount of exercise W.H.O. recommends is kind of a lot — 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise. That’s quite a bit to fit into a Saturday, no? This study, while fascinating, leaves me feeling a little sad. Are we really just exercising to not die? Where’s the joy in that?

Exercise is shown to have numerous social and mental health benefits. I know this new study may come as really good news to those who work a lot or just don’t love hitting the gym. Personally, I’d rather die younger than live chained to a desk chair. Look: It’s one thing if you’re using your time in other fulfilling ways — but if not, exercising regularly can be a crucial component of being a happy person.

By:Tracey Anne Duncan

Source: Science says you don’t have to exercise every day to be healthy

Critics:

Gary O’Donovan, a research associate in the Exercise as Medicine program at Loughborough University in England, and his colleagues analyzed data from national health surveys of more than 63,000 people, conducted in England and Scotland. People who said they exercised only one or two days a week lowered their risk of dying early from any cause by 30% to 34%, compared to people who were inactive. But what was more remarkable was that people who exercised most days of the week lowered their risk by 35%: not very different from those who exercised less.

The findings support the idea that some physical activity—even if it’s less than what the guidelines prescribe—helps avoid premature death. Researchers saw benefits for people who squeezed the entire recommended 150 minutes per week into one or two days, as well as for people who didn’t quite meet that threshold and exercised less.

Exercise was also effective at reducing the risk of heart-related death. The people who exercised regularly and those who exercised a couple days a week both cut their risk by about 40%. Again, the frequency of exercise didn’t seem to matter.

The same was true for risk of death from cancer. Those who exercised—whether it was every day or only a few days—lowered their risk of dying from cancer by 18% to 21%, compared to those who didn’t exercise. This risk reduction was true whether they met the recommended physical activity requirements or not.

“The main point our study makes is that frequency of exercise is not important,” says O’Donovan. “There really doesn’t seem to be any additional advantage to exercising regularly. If that helps people, then I’m happy.”

The results remained significant even after O’Donovan accounted for other variables that could explain the relationship, including a person’s starting BMI. In fact, the benefits were undeniable for people of all weights, including people who were overweight and obese.

That should be heartening to anyone who finds it hard to carve out time for physical activity every day. Not that you can slack off: O’Donovan stresses that his results focus specifically on moderate-to-vigorous exercise people did in their free time, and they do not apply to housework or physical activity on the job, since the surveys didn’t ask about those. The study does, however, include brisk walking, which he says is a good way to start an exercise regimen for people eager to take advantage of the findings.

By Alice Park

Related contents:

‘I did the easiest workouts possible for two weeks, and the results seriously surprised me’ Women’s Health UK

Exercise Health & Fitness

Physical fitness is important for our bodies, but our brains also needs proper diet and exercise Northern Kentucky Tribune

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