Health Bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 9:10am

Points of departure

A more intense form of acupuncture has been found to help patients with Bell palsy, a condition whereby the face gets temporarily paralysed for weeks or months. In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Chinese researchers tested the efficacy of acupuncture with weak or strong ( de qi) stimulation on more than 300 patients in 11 tertiary hospitals in China.

Half the patients received de qi, a combination of sensations stimulated by manipulation of acupuncture needles - soreness, tingling, coolness, warmth and others, radiating at the insertion points. The other half received needles but no stimulation. Six months later, facial-nerve function, disability and quality of life were better in patients in the de qi group.


Best stressed

Tomatoes, just like humans, have a biological response to stress. In the case of the fruit, increased stress is linked with more nutritious produce: higher levels of sugars, vitamin C and pigment molecules like lycopene, an antioxidant compound. Tomatoes experience this stress when grown on organic farms, say researchers from the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil. In their study in the journal PLoS ONE, they compared the weights and biochemical properties of tomatoes from organic and conventional farms. It was also found that organic tomatoes were about 40 per cent smaller than conventional ones.

Pears and graces

An avocado a day keeps the doctor away? Perhaps. Analysing data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that adults who ate avocados in any amount during a 24-hour dietary recording period had better nutrient intake levels and more positive health indicators than those who did not. On average, the avocado consumers ate about half a medium-sized avocado daily. They had significantly higher intakes of important nutrients such as dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins E and K. They also had significantly lower Body Mass Index and smaller waist circumference, and 50 per cent lower odds for metabolic syndrome. They study was published in Nutrition Journal.


Right plate at the right time

When you eat is as important as what you eat, and a study published in the journal Current Biology provides new evidence as to why. Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee found that insulin, the hormone that regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body, has rising and falling action according to a 24-hour circadian rhythm. Tests on mice revealed that animals unable to keep the time, due to a genetic defect or constant exposure to light, lost the rhythm and got stuck in an insulin-resistant and obesity-prone mode. "Mediterranean diets, in which the main meal is eaten in the middle of the day, are probably healthier," lead author Carl Johnson says. "It's probably best to eat a light supper and avoid snacking after dinner."