Health Features

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

Lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy often get mixed up. Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of an enzyme that helps you to digest the sugar in milk. Cow’s milk allergy, on the other hand, is an adverse immune reaction to proteins found in milk. They are completely unrelated conditions except that they share a common cause – cow’s milk and dairy products.
It’s a myth that you need meat to get enough iron – a varied vegan diet contains plenty!                                                                                                                                        
If pregnant crickets are exposed to a predatory wolf spider, their babies will hatch, exhibiting increased antipredator behavior and, as a consequence, improved survival from wolf spider attack. The mother cricket appears to be able to forewarn her babies about the threat when they are still inside her, so they would be pre-adapted to their external environment. This even happens in plants. If you grow two genetically identical plants – one in the sun, one in the shade – the sun-grown plant will produce seeds that grow better in the sun, and the shaded plant will produce seeds that grow better in the shade – even though they’re genetically identical. What’s happening is called epigenetics, external factors changing gene expression.
Antioxidants protect our health but you don’t have to spend lots of money on expensive supplements or exotic fruit extracts as there’s a plentiful supply – and powerful ones at that – hiding in a fruit and veg shop near you.
Vitamin B3 was the third B vitamin to be discovered – hence the name! It is also known as niacin and there are two forms: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide and both are found in food.
A surprising number of people still think you need to combine different types of protein-rich plant foods to get a ‘complete’ protein. Allegations that vegans are therefore missing out are seriously outdated – but what does the science say? 
Scientists are convinced we have little more than 10 years to get climate change under control! The government have been advised to aim for zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But what can you do as an individual? What if there was one simple change you could make that would be more effective then never flying, buying an electric car and switching to a green energy supplier. Well, there is!  
Only about one in 10,000 people live to be 100 years old. What’s their secret?                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Folate occurs naturally in some plant foods but in its synthetic form, it’s known as vitamin B9 and folic acid. It mostly tends to be talked of in relation to pregnancy but despite this, it is a vitamin vital for everyone – and many people in the UK are at risk of deficiency.  
Coconut oil is everywhere these days, used in baking, smoothies and beauty treatments. Enthusiasts claim it can help you lose weight and fight all manner of illnesses. But is it really a panacea for good health or is it just the best of a bad bunch?

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