Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Live longer – drink more coffee!

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s1032160_2Coffee has its detractors I know but without my daily input of caffeine  I’d be lost. I know I’m only topping up my caffeine levels to what feels normal but that’s OK. And I have no truck with the coffee bar habitués who order skinny de-caffs – what’s the point? And even worse those who order skinny decaffs with a cream and cherry syrup topping or have a chocolate/caramel/sticky toffee bun on the side. Who are they kidding? Having skinny decaff doesn’t really give you a licence to indulge on other high calorie goodies.

But I digress. The latest research says that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day makes it less likely you will die an early death.

American researchers have found that coffee contains bioactive chemicals that may protect drinkers against diseases such as diabetes and dementia.

Three cups a day lowers your risk of premature…

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Cheese please

People might be choosing to go gluten free or give up dairy products. More fool them.

International experts have carried out a meta-analysis (that means they’ve looked at 29 separate studies and combined the results) and published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology

The good news is that dairy products, even full fat ones, don’t harm your health. This confirms a review published in 2014 in Current Nutrition Reports which found that full-fat dairy foods, including whole milk, yogurt and cheese, don’t appear to increase heart-disease risks and may even help reduce your risk for developing heart disease.

As someone who uses whole milk, butter and cheese, that comes a s no surprise to me. (I cringe when I hear people asking for skimmed milk in their latte coffee, especially older people who presumably think its healthy. Apart from anything that might be added to make up for removing the cream, you can’t make a decent latte with it. And don’t get me started on skinny decaffs – what’s the point!).

Anyway according to the Times Body & Soul section there are 6 good reasons cheese is good for you. You can check out the full story in the newspaper.

  1. Cheddar and Gruyère can help you lose belly fat. In experiments volunteers who increased their intake of cheese, yoghurt and milk from three daily servings to five – actually lost more weight than those on a reduced calorie diet. They also had less stomach fat and lower blood pressure. Protein can increase the feeling of being full and the cheeses with the most protein are the harder cheeses such as Gruyere, Parmesan and Emmental but semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar also do the job.
  2. Strong cheeses can help reduce dental decay & whiten teeth. Cheese is sugar free and stimulates the flow of saliva. The stronger the cheese the more saliva you produce and that protects your teeth by neutralising the acids left in your mouth after eating and reduces tooth decay. Cheese might also help reduce staining as saliva washes away wine and coffee. It also contains casein and calcium phosphate which strengthens teeth, especially cottage cheese.
  3. Cheese could help protect bones and prevent osteoporosis. You need calcium in your diet to build bones and keep them healthy. We begin to lose bone density in early middle age which is where hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and gouda, which are a good source of calcium, are helpful.  A 30g piece ofEnglish cheddar can provide 40% of the calcium, along with50% of vitamin B12 and 20% of the phosphorous that we need every day. If we don’t eat calcium our bodies take it out of our bones making them more likely to break easily.
  4. Cheese can help lower the risk of early menopause. A US study of over 100,000 women  found that foods rich in calcium can help lower the risk by 13%
  5. High fat cheese may reduce the risk of diabetes. A Swedish study found that eating high-fat cheese such as cheddar, brie, Roquefort or parmesan, and yoghurt, could lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25%. And a Canadian study found that eating dairy products such as cream and cheese may be associated with lower blood pressure and blood sugar, which are linked to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  6. Cheddar and cottage cheese could help you sleep. The amino acid tryptophan is found in cheddar, Gruyère and cottage cheese (the highest levels) and may help to induce sleep. Tryptophan is needed to produce melatonin which makes us drowsy. So cheese on crackers for your late night snack!


Don’t eat yourself to death

This is not just a to-do list, but also a do-not-do list.

Almost half of heart-related deaths are caused by bad eating habits.

Researchers in the US looked at over 700,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in 2012.

Diets high in salt or sugary drinks, a lack of fruit and vegetables, and high levels of processed meats were to blame for almost half of the deaths.

So don’t:

  • eat high amounts of salt (optimal – 2g a day)
  • drink high amounts of sugary drinks (optimal – none)
  • eat high amounts of unprocessed red meats (optimal – one 100g serving a week)
  • eat high amounts of processed meats (optimal – none)

The researchers found that 45% of the people who died from the conditions mentioned above were linked to suboptimal consumption of 10 types of nutrients and ate low amounts of fruit, seafood omega-3 fats, nuts & seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and polyunsaturated fats. 

So do eat those.

Almost 10% of deaths were linked to eating too much salt and almost as many linked to not eating nuts and seeds. This was followed by not eating fatty fish (omega-3 oil), then not eating vegetables and fruit. Sugary drink consumption came next followed by low consumption of grains.

So it’s not just about cutting out the rubbish food but also eating the healthy stuff.

Interestingly men’s diets are more linked to poor health than womens’.

The researchers  – from Cambridge University and two universities in America – hope that their findings will inform public health guidelines and influence strategies to change dietary habits and improve health.