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by Dr Vanessa Ingraham 

We all know that a diet rich in vegetables and fruit boosts our immune system and keeps us feeling our best, but will an apple a day really keep the doctor away this flu season? 

These days, apples are one of the least nutritious fruits we can consume. Not only are they prone to insect predation and doused with pesticides (1), modern apples have been selected for sweetness and most varieties do not contain much more than some dietary fibre and a little bit of vitamin C.  That's not to say apples are bad, but we can find other delicious fruit and vegetables that pack a far more powerful flu-preventative punch...

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BLACKCURRANT A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY
25 May
How we can reduce chronic inflammation
29 Mar

by Dr Vanessa Ingraham

Chronic inflammation is thought to be a significant factor for almost every disease associated with ageing.  Conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmunity, osteoporosis, diabetes and even skin wrinkling all have roots in chronic inflammation. In order to achieve vibrant health we need to understand how to allay chronic inflammation.

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Obesity key cause of chronic inflammation
22 Mar

by Dr Vanessa Ingraham 

Our modern lives are by definition highly inflammatory. The Annual Update of Key Results 2015/16,  New Zealand Health Survey, found that one in three Kiwis is overweight.  Visceral adipose, or what is affectionately known as belly fat, contains cells that act like little factories, churning out cell messengers that promote inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation unhinges our ability to control blood sugar, and the ability of our liver and muscles to burn fat. 

Obesity drives inflammation, and inflammation makes it harder to lose weight.  An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle changes can break this cycle and reduce our risk of chronic disease.

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How chronic inflammation affects your health
15 Mar

by Dr Vanessa Ingraham

What do heart attacks, Alzheimer's, diabetes and depression all have in common?  The underlying mechanism by which they occur and progress may the same — chronic inflammation driven by poor diet and lifestyle choices, stressful lives and big bellies. 

The word “inflammation” describes our body’s natural response to injury.  The last time you got the flu, were bitten by a mosquito or sprained an ankle, you experienced inflammation. Appropriate inflammation is a protective mechanism and results in swelling, an increased immune system response, increased circulation to the damaged area and a host of complex cellular processes that together facilitate healing.  

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10 Mar 2017

Every parent knows that children love lollies, cookies and sweet drinks. But don’t be too hard on them; it’s all a delicious ploy by evolutionary biology to ensure survival of the youngest members of our species. Research shows kids are hardwired to have a stronger sugar preference than adults, and newborns will show a strong preference for sugar-sweetened solutions.    

A child’s sensory world is very different from ours. They will salivate over treats far too salty or sweet for you and me, and are generally more sensitive to bitter flavours. One reason is simply that children need more sugar to support their rapid growth and development. A strong preference for sweet foods, which in nature were not always as ubiquitous as they are now, may have conferred a survival advantage.

Avoiding bitter foods makes sense too. In nature the bitter flavour often represents secondary plant compounds such as alkaloids and terpenes, which may be poisonous. By avoiding the flavour that may go with dangerous phytochemicals, again, children may have been using their taste buds to survive.

Sugar not only tastes extra good to little ones, it makes them feel extra good too. Doctors know this and so will use sugar-sweetened liquid as a natural pain reliever in infants too young for traditional analgesics.

There is good news though — at the age at which children stop growing, their preference for sugar shrinks as well. By age 15 or 16, most teenagers show about the same preference as adults for sweet foods and drinks. The age at which that preference changes can be predicted by measuring bone turnover — when bone stops growing, kids may stop raiding the lolly jar as well. One reason for this is that growing bones secrete hormones such as insulin and leptin that may stimulate the brain and and influence metabolism, taste and cravings.

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