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Healthy Living

  • The Italian Diet – The Next Big Diet for Weight Loss?

    Over the last few days The Italian Diet Plan has gained a lot of media attention and pushed as one of the next big things in the weight loss world. This new take on the Mediterranean diet promises weight loss while enjoying many of your favourite foods, cooked in ways that deliver on big flavours.

    What Is The Italian Diet?

    The foods that are generally included are fresh fish, lean meat, pulses, olive oil and lots of fruit and vegetables, and a little red wine. Some of the individual foods and components within the Diet which are particularly beneficial to health (for example, extra virgin olive oil), but overall it is the combination of foods which is thought to be linked to improved health. Equally, like many other popular diets, unsurprisingly, the Italian diet severely limits the consumption of energy-dense convenience foods and desserts (so no cake, ice cream or fizzy drinks).

    Carbohydrates and Wine in a Diet?!

    When most of us think of Italian meals, we think of pasta, probably eaten with a glass of red wine. While some diets exclude these foods to reduce your carbohydrate intake, or cut out alcohol, this combination has been shown to have some benefits to health. For example, pasta and wine are major sources of polyphenols – compounds that have been linked to health and longevity (and even our gut health). Observational data shows that one or two glasses of red wine a day might even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease(1).

    One of the reasons why this diet has seen a surge at the turn of the New Year is no doubt in part to its backing from Celebrity Chef Gino D’Acampo ahead of the release of his new cook book. But is it worth all the hype?

    Italian diet wine

    What are the health Benefits Of The Italian Diet?

    The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as a healthy way of living. And there is some evidence that this may indeed be a better way of life than typical Western Diets. For example, one large review of the research has shown that strong adherence to the diet reduced the risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, overall cancer incidence, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes(2). However, if your goal is purely weight loss, this diet has been shown to only be as effective as numerous other diet approaches(3) – a finding that is seen time and time again when popular diets are pitted against each other. This tends to be because adherence to the diets reduces over time as people find it difficult to continually exclude certain foods that are restricted on particular diets.

    So, what’s the bottom line? The Italian (Mediterranean) Diet could lead to health improvements if it is adhered to in the long term. However, as a weight loss strategy, it is only going to be effective if it can help to produce an energy deficit. And it has not been shown to be any more successful for this as other diet plans.

    1. Teissedre, P. L., Stockley, C., Boban, M., Ruf, J. C., Alba, M. O., Gambert, P., & Flesh, M. (2018). The effects of wine consumption on cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors: a narrative review. OENO One52(1), 67-79.
    2. Dinu, M., Pagliai, G., Casini, A., & Sofi, F. (2017). Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. European journal of clinical nutrition.
    3. Mancini, J. G., Filion, K. B., Atallah, R., & Eisenberg, M. J. (2016). Systematic review of the Mediterranean diet for long-term weight loss. The American journal of medicine, 129(4), 407-415.
  • Probiotics And The Gut Microbiome As We Age

    Our intestinal system contains around 1.5kg of microbes (bacteria) and, in recent decades Continue reading

  • A week in the life of Susie Woffenden


    It’s the start of a new week and I always endeavour to start how I mean to go on… reset, calm and Continue reading

  • CoQ10 – The Energy Factory!


    A  lot of research has been taken into the health benefits of Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 as it is commonly known as. There are clinical trials investigating its value for a number of health problems.

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  • Trust me, I'm (nearly) a doctor - Looking into Omega-3 deficiency


    Here is a blog post from our PhD student, Jamie Pugh. Jamie is involved in the BBC TV series, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor and is looking into omega-3 deficiency. Please read below:

    As well as the research that I am currently carrying out, looking at whether probiotics can help with digestion during intense exercise, I have also been part of a number of studies over the last 12 months or so. Being fortunate enough to work at one of the top Sport and Exercise departments in the UK. I am privileged to be surrounded by world class research everyday and even luckier to sometimes be involved; be it as a helping hand collecting data, or sometimes even being a participant myself (even going to the extent of having muscle biopsies taken in the name of science).

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  • Brilliantly Boosting Coconut Bars!


    Give yourself a boost with these great tasting, quick and easy to make coconut bars. These coconut bars contain all natural ingredients, are gluten and dairy free and contain no added sugar.

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  • Nutrition 'Must be a Global Priority' Say Researchers


    Poor nutrition leads to the deaths of about 3.1 million under-fives annually, it says.

    An international team reviewed different causes of malnutrition in pregnancy and childhood.They say the first 1,000 days of life - from conception to two years - have lasting consequences for health.

    Malnutrition - which includes being overweight or obese as well as under-nourished - also has an economic impact.

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  • Watermelons Can Help Muscle Recovery


    Drinking a watermelons juice can relieve muscle soreness after exercise, new research suggests.

    • The amino acid L-citrulline in watermelons can cut an athlete’s recovery time and boost their performance
    • The chemical speeds up the process of lactic acid removal from the muscles which reduces soreness


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  • Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Dementia Risk


    Eating a Mediterranean diet is good for the mind, research has concluded.


    The research, by the University of Exeter's Medical School, is the first systematic review of previous studies into the diet's benefits to the brain.

    It comes after research last month showed the same diet could help counteract a genetic risk of strokes.

    The team, supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula, analysed 12 eligible pieces of research, 11 observational studies and one randomised control trial.


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  • Allergies and Modern Life (BBC Horizon)

    Series exploring topical scientific issues. Horizon follows two allergic families to investigate claims that the modern western lifestyle is responsible for the 'allergy epidemic'.

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