Health Features

Viva!Health unravels the most recent scientific research and makes it easy to understand. Here we update you on the latest findings...

The first time most people hear about vitamin K is when they’ve just had a baby. In the UK and many other countries, the government recommends all babies should be given vitamin K soon after birth to prevent internal bleeding. So why is vitamin K important, and which foods provide the best source? 
There’s a battle going on in your body. Unstable molecules called free radicals are hell-bent on wreaking havoc, causing damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants are the home guard, good guys that come to the rescue! But is it really that simple or have free radicals been given a bad rap and antioxidants over-hyped?
To supplement or not - it’s a contentious issue that pops-up every so often and usually triggers a heated debate amongst both new and veteran vegans. So, it’s time to settle the score. 
When you go vegan, you cut animal products and animal by-products out of your diet – and your wardrobe – buy cruelty-free cosmetics, toiletries and household products. You don’t visit places where animals are used for entertainment and you avoid other ethically questionable practices. But no two vegans are the same so when it comes to what we eat, our diets likely vary a great deal. Does it matter?
Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family and always grow in pods. Beans, lentils peas and chickpeas are a staple in diets all over the world – for example Indian dal, traditional Chinese and Japanese foods using mung, adzuki and soya (edamame) beans, Mexican bean chilli and burritos, Spanish fried beans, African rice and bean dishes, British mushy peas and a myriad of European lentil and pea recipes.  Apart from being very nutritious and super sustainable, pulses also have some splendid effects on our health. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses in order to increase public awareness of their nutritional benefits and to highlight how sustainable their production is.
At a time when good nutrition is seen as a priority, it's incredible that vegan hospital patients are being forced to either go hungry or make their own arrangements. 
How friendly is your gut flora – the billions of bacteria that inhabit your intestines? This is your intestinal microbiome and it helps you absorb and digest nutrients, synthesises vitamins, boosts your immune system, helps regulate metabolism and combats disease in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. Gut health has a huge influence on your overall health and when unfriendly bacteria move in, trouble soon follows.
No other plant seems to divide opinions like soya. Whilst some consider it a healthy and amazingly versatile crop, others warn against adverse effects and avoid it at all costs. So why are there so many myths surrounding soya and where do they come from?
Selenium was discovered over 200 years ago – it’an element vital for health so long as you don't overdo it. 
By Elena Holmes BSc, PGDip Nutritional Therapy, MSc Nutritional Therapy (pending)

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