Health Features

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

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.  
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.
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.
Carbs – love them or hate them, we all need them. Despite a wealth of low-carb fad diets there’s no good reason for avoiding carbohydrates. The key is in choosing the right ones. 
Coconut oil is everywhere these days; used as a butter substitute, in baking, smoothies and in beauty treatments for moisturising skin and hair and improving oral health via oil pulling (a folk remedy where oil is swished around the mouth).