Health Features

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

You can all get all the nutrients you need from a varied, vegan diet – and often in a form our bodies can better use. Plus, you avoid all the harmful health effects of eating meat, fish and dairy. Here, we set the record straight with the top 10 food myths – busted!
Do you think that our little canine teeth show that we are natural meat-eaters? If so, you are not alone, but you are wrong. Consider how carnivores eat, you might not (literally) have the stomach for it; could you snatch up a rabbit and tear into the flesh with your bare teeth like a lion does? Their canines reach up to seven centimetres in length and can rip just about anything apart, yours can’t!     
It’s natural for us to eat meat – we’re designed for it, aren’t we? Or is this just used as an excuse to justify the killing of animals for food? The answer lies in our past – what did our ancient ancestors eat and what types of food are we best suited to?
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.
Only about one in 10,000 people live to be 100 years old. What’s their secret?                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Avian influenza became commonly known as bird flu in the late 1990’s when it spread through live-poultry markets in Hong Kong, infecting people and leading to six deaths. It was controlled only by slaughtering the entire poultry population. But how did this outbreak happen and where did the virus come from?  
In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that processed meat does cause cancer and red meat probably does. Most of us already know about the links between meat and bowel cancer but meat is linked to many other cancers too... 
The idea that we are suited to a hunter-gatherer diet, rich in meat and fish with no grains or pulses, is flawed on a number of levels. Viva! Health's Dr Justine Butler investigates... 
Public Health England has just published new dietary advice recommending people halve their dairy intake and eat less meat, replacing it with beans and pulses! This is NOT an April Fools’ joke – it’s for real! 

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