Tag: Gout News

Herbal Teas to help with inflammation

Herbal Teas to Help with Inflammation

As the Food Doctor points out:

“A cup of mint tea could be as effective as an aspirin for pain relief, according to scientists. Research showed that the herb Hyptis crenata, known as Brazilian mint, reduced pain as much as a soluble form of the conventional painkiller. The study was tested on mice, which allowed researchers to rule out the placebo effect as an explanation for its success.”

Matcha green tea is a type of powdered green tea, produced using the whole leaves of the plant. It is of particular interest to us because of its unusually high ORAC value, a measure of a substance’s antioxidant potential.

Antioxidants help to combat the inflammation associated with free radical damage and oxidation in the body, a by-product of ageing and environmental stressors.

The tea is used widely in Japan, and is thought to be one of the reasons why the longevity statistics in the region are so impressive.

Fennel tea, Fennel extracts have been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits, including pain relief and reduced inflammation. Although the exact mechanism is not entirely understood, fennel contains antispasmodic and analgesic compounds that bring down cortisol levels and help the body to relax.

A 2012 study examined at the effects of fennel on menstrual cramps and the associated pain. At the end of the study, researchers deduced that fennel is an effective herbal drug for dealing with pain and inflammation

Cinnamon tea Aside from being a warming winter beverage, cinnamon tea may also play a role in bringing down inflammation levels.

2011 study showed that cinnamon extract was effective in reducing colon inflammation in mice. The researchers concluded that it may have similar anti-inflammatory effects in humans.

8-Herbal-Teas-to-Help-Beat-Inflammation

Liquorice root tea Liquorice root has long been used to combat inflammation and soothe the pain associated with it. It contains a range of natural anaesthetic and analgesic compounds.

Studies have confirmed that the root also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is sometimes used to ease arthritis and gastrointestinal issues.In tea, liquorice is often combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs such has fennel and peppermint for an added boost.

Eucalyptus is thought that the aboriginal people of Australia have used eucalyptus for thousands of years to treat inflammatory conditions such as joint pain and arthritis.

Studies have confirmed that these age-old traditions do in fact work, showing that eucalyptus does indeed possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Although eucalyptus typically comes in the form of an essential oil, the leaves can also be used to create a refreshing tea.

 

Ginger Like turmeric, research suggests that ginger may rival non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications when it comes to reducing pain and bringing down levels of chronic inflammation.

Whilst the exact mechanism is unknown, it is thought that the main active compound ginger may be the main contributor towards the anti-inflammatory effects.

Ginger makes for a refreshing tea, especially when combined with a dash of lemon and honey. This is an age-old remedy often used to soothe a sore throat.

8-Herbal-Teas-to-Help-Beat-Inflammation

How much sleep do we need? Repaying sleep debt?

Image result for How Much Sleep Do We Need?

Repaying your sleep debt

If sleep were a cc company, would you be in debt?

Medical evidence suggests that for optimum health and function, the average adult should get 7 o 9 hours of sleep daily. But more than 60% of women regularly fall short of that goal. Although each hour of lost slumber goes into the health debit column, we don't get any monthly reminders that we've fallen in arrears. In fact, the greater the sleep debt, the less capable we are of recognizing it: Once sleep deprivation — with its fuzzy-headedness, irritability, and fatigue — has us in its sway, we can hardly recall what it's like to be fully rested. And as the sleep debt mounts, the health consequences increase, putting us at growing risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.

In some cases, sleep debt results from insomnia or other underlying conditions that may require medical attention. But most sleep debt is due to burning the candle at both ends — consistently failing to get to bed on time and stay there until we've slept enough.  Flight attendants, night duty and shift workers are some examples that need to be disciplined to maintain optimum health.

Fortunately, sleep doesn't charge interest on the unpaid balance or even demand a one-for-one repayment. It may take a while, but even a chronic, longstanding sleep debt can be repaid...

How does sleep help your skin?
A Glowing Complexion. Your body boosts blood flow to the skin while you snooze, which means you wake to a healthy glow. Skimp  and your complexion can look drab, ashen, or lifeless. “Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin surrounding your face,” Breus says.Nov 19, 2015
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

HERBS FOR ARTHRITIS & JOINT PAIN

Herbs for Arthritis & Joint Pain

Clients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (as well as your garden variety joint pain) often come to me for help. Rheumatoid arthritis, caused by an overactive immune system, is especially scary, since the medical protocol can be quite intense (such as chemotherapy and other therapies which suppress the immune system). Because of this common medical treatment, I do not suggest any immune-enhancing herbs (such as Echinacea or Goldenseal). Instead, I’m going to recommend herbs to treat inflammation (the true root cause of all disease, in my humble opinion) as well as herbs which cleanse the blood and strengthen the body in general.

Alternative herbs help cleanse metabolic waste products and toxins from our body, and are a staple of herbal medicine. Alternatives work by supporting the natural cleansing functions of the kidneys, large intestines, increase blood flow and aid lymph drainage. Allowing these wastes and toxins to circulate throughout the body is a cause of inflammation and, when the body is attempting to stem inflammation, it’s not able to do much else in order to support our health. Here are a few herbs to help stem inflammation and aid the body in its detoxing efforts. (Note: these herbs are helpful for anyone with illness—not just arthritis or other inflammatory conditions).
Burdock Root (Arctium lappa or Arcticum minus):
One of the greatest things you can do for pain, joint or otherwise, is increase your intake of essential fatty acids. Burdock contains fatty oils which (along with its sterols and tannins) contribute to burdock’s reputation as an anti-inflammatory. You can eat burdock root in stir-fries (very popular in Asian cuisine, by the way), make a decoction (To do so: chop 2 tablespoons of fresh burdock root—if you do not have the fresh root available you may use 2 teaspoons of dried root as an alternative. Add the root to the boiling water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat. Strain and drink while still warm—3-4 cups a day is ideal), or take the herb in capsule form (follow dosage directions, but remember, these are for a 150lb adult—calculate the appropriate dose using your own weight).
2. Flax ( Linum usitatissimum):
Flaxseed is one of the best vegan sources of Omega-3 (ALA), which is so important to a strong immune system and for fighting inflammation (the vegan bit is important because animal fats often lead to inflammation in arthritis sufferers). Try to include two tablespoons of flaxseeds or flaxseed oil in your daily diet. Note: do not heat or cook seeds or oil. Also, if you suffer from a digestive condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), use the oil rather than the seeds—they could irritate your condition.
3. Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Turmeric is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory herb, and thus an effective pain reliever. It contains at least two chemicals (curcumin and curcuminoids) which decrease inflammation (and are very much like the oft-prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs). Incidentally, this anti-inflammatory effect is also why turmeric is often recommended for treatment of cancer, cataracts and Alzheimer’s.
While you can totally add this spice to your daily diet, you will need to take turmeric in supplement form in order to experience the full medicinal benefits. When cooking, try adding black pepper or dried ginger to help activate turmeric. The herb can also be applied topically to relieve pain.
Nettles (Urtica dioica):
Yup. If you’ve read my other articles, then you know that nettles is an herb with mad-skills incredible for pretty much anything. Nettles are insanely good for you, containing protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, along with vitamins A,C, D, and B complex, all in a form that is easy for the body to use.
Stinging nettle is a wicked herb for those with all types of arthritis and gout. Its anti-inflammatory amazing-ness combined with its minerals (boron, calcium, magnesium and silicon) ease pain while helping to build strong bones. While NSAIDs are often a necessary evil for most with arthritis, using nettle may help you to decrease the amount you need to take. (Herbalists’ disclaimer: ALWAYS discuss herbal supplementation and prescription decreases with your physician). Nettle leaf tea (a cup or more daily) relieves and prevents water retention and inflammation and nourishes the kidneys and adrenals.
A side note: many arthritis sufferers have found that striking the inflamed joint with a fresh cutting from a nettle plant helps relieve joint pain (the stinging part of the nettles draws blood to the joint, relieving pain and inflammation). I know this sounds like a nutty treatment, but the brave amongst you can give it a try.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra):
Licorice acts much like your body's own natural corticosteroids (which reduce inflammation). Licorice decreases free radicals at the site of inflammation and inhibits the enzyme production that's involved in the inflammatory process. Glycyrrhizin is the component in licorice which blocks and relieves inflammation. It also supports the body's release of cortisol (which suppresses the immune system, easing the pain and occurrence of arthritis), but it also inhibits some of the side effects of cortisol (such as adrenal fatigue and anxiety). Use in supplement form or as a tea.
Please note: Licorice is not a good remedy for those with blood pressure issues. People who regularly take large amounts of licorice (20 grams/day or more) may experience serious side effects such as headache, high blood pressure, and heart problems. If you already have high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or low potassium (hypokalemia), please avoid the herb altogether.
All in all, aside from herbal protocols, the best treatment for arthritis is a diet filled with fresh produce, essential fatty acids, and fiber (and reducing or eliminating foods that cause an inflammatory response such as fried foods, animal fats, dairy, and anything else which might cause an allergy sensitivity). Yoga (especially Yin Yoga) and gentle stretching go a long way toward arthritis prevention and pain relief by opening joints, and encouraging the distribution of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints.

The many medicinal benefits of Garlic

Garlic is not only good for adding extra flavour into meals, it has many medicinal benefits. Here are the top five benefits.

 

1.  Heart Disease

It is recognized as a preventative agent and treatment of many heart and metabolic diseases, including atherosclerosis, hyperglycemia, thrombosis, hypertension and diabetes. It had been shown to reverse early heart disease by reversing plaque buildup.

2.   Cancer

Several studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of cancers of the stomach, colon, oesophagus, pancreas, and breast.

3.  High Blood Pressure

It has been shown to help control high blood pressure. One study looked at the effect of aged garlic as a treatment for people already taking antihypertensive medication however still having uncontrolled hypertension. The study showed that taking four capsules of aged garlic extract for three months caused blood pressure to drop.

4.  Colds and Infections

It  is highly effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible for common infections, including the common cold. It actually might help prevent colds as well as other infections. Garlic’s antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties help relieve the common cold as well as other infections.

5.  Diabetes

Eating raw garlic can help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially stop or decrease the effects of some diabetes complications, as well as fight infections and cholesterol and encourage circulation.

TURMERIC CAN IMPROVE MEMORY AND ATTENTION IN OLD AGE, STUDY FINDS

Turmeric Can Improve Memory And Attention in Old Age, Study Finds

Turmeric also improved energy levels, calmness, and contentedness.

 JACINTA BOWLER
22 APR 2016

The bright yellow compound found in the spice turmeric - known as curcumin - has been shown to improve working memory and attention span in older adults, researchers have found.

Curcumin has already been shown to supress traumatic memories in mice, sooth bowels, and help heal wounds, and in a recent study, researchers in Australia found evidence it could also help us stay mentally sharp as we age.But how does a spice that we use in curries manage to do all of this?

"Curcumin has multiple physiological effects," said lead researcher of the 2015 paper, Andrew Scholey, from Swinburne University of Technology. "It’s known to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. It influences multiple processes that nudge brain function in a positive direction."

In their initial research, Scholey and his team recruited 60 volunteers aged between 60 and 85, and split them into two groups. One group was given capsules with a solid lipid curcumin formulation, and the other a placebo.The participants then completed a number of computerised mental tasks – such as word and picture recall, simple subtraction, and reaction time tasks - a few hours after taking the supplement, and then after taking it daily for four weeks.

Overall, the participants who’d taken the curcumin capsules performed better at the computerised measures of working memory and vigilance. They also reported feeling reduced fatigue as well as improved  calmness, contentedness, and stress during testing at the end of the four-week trial.

"To our knowledge this is the first study to examine the effects of curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population or to examine any acute behavioural effects in humans," the researchers reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology last year.

They also found that there were benefits outside of cognitive improvements."A significant acute-on-chronic treatment effect on alertness and contentedness was also observed. Curcumin was associated with significantly reduced total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and had no effect on haematological safety measures," they reported.

The researchers have now received a grant to further investigate the properties of curcumin, and will be looking at neuroimaging and genetic markers to better understand curcumin’s potential psychological and cognitive benefits.

Maybe one day, curcumin could be as successful as willow bark has been in creating aspirin, and opium poppies have been when it comes to make morphine. Natural herbs and phytochemicals can be great sources of healing… when scientifically proven to work.

Swinburne University of Technology is a sponsor of ScienceAlert. Find out more about their innovative research.

 

DO YOUR JOINTS HURT WHEN THERE IS A CHANGE IN WEATHER?

Do Your Joints Hurt When there is a change in the weather?

Barometric pressure is to blame: Any changes in pressure, or the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the earth, can trigger joint pain...

"Arthritis affects everything else within the joint itself, including the joint lining, which we call the synovium, as well as the ligaments that are within the joint," Dr. James Gladstone, co-director of sports medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told weather.com. "All of those tissues have nerve endings in them, so they're going to feel changes in the weather as tightness in the joint, or stiffness."As the seasons shift, weekend warriors who don't typically have joint pain should take extra precautions, as well, he added. "Anything cold causes muscles, ligaments and tendons to sort of tighten up, and that makes them stiffer,"

If you're going to be going outside in the cold weather, you want to make sure you warm up first and keep warm with the appropriate clothing.Stretching indoors, heat creams and heating pads can all help loosen up stiff joints.

The good news is weather-related pain is only temporary.  :)

Not just for the balmy climate. For many entering into their retirement years, it has been preferable to choose warm sheltered locations to settle, with far less turbulent weather patterns. Something which is now not always as previously guaranteed due to Global warming and more unusual seasons.

Purines and purine Levels in different Meats

Purines

Our body metabolises purines  -if there is inefficient enzyme action it can result in the build-up of uric acid. It then crystallises in joints, causing GOUT.

This Table from http://www.healthknot.com/natural_food_toxins.html below lists high-purine foods, in descending order. Those producing over 400mg/100g of uric acid are very high; foods between 100-400mg/100g are moderately high, and those below 100mg/100g are considered low in purines.

PURINES - FOOD CONTENT (uric acid mg/100g)

Theobromine

2300

Herring, Atlantic

210

Haddock

139

Brewer's yeast

1810

Horse meat

200

Duck

138

Calf's thymus

1260

Soybeans, dried

190

Venison, leg

138

Sprat, smoked

804

Herring roe

190

Pig's tongue

136

Sheep's spleen

773

Lamb (muscles)

182

Scallop

136

Baker's yeast

680

Halibut

178

Beef muscle

136

Ox liver

554

Chicken breast (w/skin)

175

Rabbit meat w/bone

132

Pig's heart

530

Veal muscle

172

Sole

131

Pig's spleen/liver

516

Salmon

170

Ham, cooked

131

Cep mushrooms, dried

488

Poppy seed, dry

170

White bean, dry

128

Sardines in oil

480

Pork muscles

166

Lentil, dry

127

Calf's liver

460

Goose

165

Pork belly, smoked

127

Ox liver

444

Sausage (liverwurst)

165

Beef chuck/fore rib

120

Pig's lungs (lights)

434

Coalfish

163

Lobster

118

Ox lungs (lights)

399

Carp

160

Chicken for roasting

115

Pilchard

345

Ox tong

160

Mussel

112

Calf's spleen

343

Pork, hind leg

160

Sausage (jugdwurst)

112

Pig's kidney

334

Chicken

159

Beef fillet/shoulder/sirloin

110

Trout

297

Pork fillet/shoulder

150

Chicken leg w/skin

110

Tuna in oil

290

Turkey, young

150

Pike-perch

110

Ox kidney

269

Veal knuckle/leg/neck w/bone

150

Cod

109

Tuna

257

Calf's lungs

147

Garbanzo beans, dry

109

Ox heart

256

Shrimp, brown

147

Raisins, dried (sultana)

107

Chicken liver

243

Mackerel

145

Linseed

105

Redfish

241

Pork chop w/bone

144

Rabbit/Hare

105

Sheep's heart

241

Caviar

144

Venison, back

105

Anchovy

239

Sunflower seed, dry

143

Sausage salami

104

Mungo bean, dry

222

Pike

140

Pork sausage

101

Herring, cured

219

Pork chuck

140

Pork belly

100

Calf's kidney

218

Veal chop/fillet/shoulder

140

Barley w/o husk, dry

96

There are also some plant foods - like soybean and some beans/legumes - that have high nominal levels of purines,  but they are generally lower than in meats.
 

Exercise is good for you

Exercise changes the way our bodies work at a molecular level

9 May, 2017

By Andrew Thomas
NYR Natural News

Exercise is good for you, this we know. It helps build muscle, burn fat and make us all into happier, healthier people. But long before you start looking the way you want, there are other hidden, more immediate, molecular and immunological changes taking place inside your cells. Changes which could be responsible for protecting us from heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes – and even stave off old age and cancer

You may think that “molecular” changes may not be that much of a big deal. Surely it is fat loss and muscle gain that are the best outcomes of exercise? Actually, molecular changes affect the way genes and proteins are controlled inside cells. Genes can become more or less active, while proteins can be rapidly modified to function differently and carry out tasks such as moving glucose into cells more efficiently or protect cells from harmful toxins.

Type 2 diabetes causes all kinds of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage, and may lead to limb amputation. The underlying cause is the development of a heightened inflammatory state in the body’s tissue and cells. This damages cells and can eventually lead to insulin resistance and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes.

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. However, we have found that even low-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, can increase the body’s insulin sensitivity. This means that people at risk of developing diabetes become less prone because they are able to metabolise glucose more efficiently.

In our study, we asked 20 sedentary people who were at risk of developing diabetes to walk briskly for 45 minutes, three times a week, for eight weeks. Although there was no change in their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol level, on average each participant lost a significant six centimetres from their waist circumference. And, more importantly, there was a reduction in their diabetic risk.

Immune system benefits

Interestingly, there were also exercise-induced changes in the participants’ monocytes – an important immune cell that circulates in the bloodstream. This led to a reduction in the body’s inflammatory state, one of the main risks for type 2 diabetes.

When our body is under attack from foreign invaders such as microbes, immune cells such as monocytes change into “microbe-eating” macrophages. Their main function is to fight infection in our tissues and lungs. There are two main types of macrophages, M1 and M2. M1 macrophages are associated with pro-inflammatory responses and are necessary for aggressively fighting off infections. However, in obese people who do not exercise, these cells become active even in the absence of infection. This can lead to an unwanted, heightened inflammatory condition which may “trigger” diabetes.

On the other hand, M2 macrophages play a role in “switching-off” inflammation and are instrumental in "damping down" the more aggressive M1s. So a healthy balance of M1 and M2 macrophages is crucial to maintaining an optimal immune response to fighting infections – and it may help prevent the heightened inflammatory condition which comes from a lack of exercise and obesity too.

Other studies have also shown that exercise has a beneficial impact on tissues’ immune cell function and can reduce unnecessary inflammation. Exercise training in obese individuals has been found to reduce the level of tissue inflammation specifically because there are fewer macrophage cells present in fat tissue.

In addition, researchers have found a significant link between exercise and the balance of M1 and M2 macrophages. It has been shown that acute exercise in obese rats resulted in a shift from the “aggressive” M1 macrophages to the more “passive” M2 and that this reduction in the inflammatory state correlated with an improvement in insulin resistance.

Time to move

There is no definitive answer as to how much and what intensity of exercise is necessary to protect us from diabetes. Though some researchers have shown that while higher-intensity exercise improves overall fitness, there is little difference between high and low-intensity exercise in improving insulin sensitivity.  However, a new study has found that all forms of aerobic exercise – in particular, high-intensity interval training such as cycling and running – can effectively stop ageing at the cellular level. The exercise caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes. Researchers also observed that these “molecular” changes occurring at the gene and protein levels happened very quickly after exercise and that the effects prevented damage to important proteins in the cells and improve the way in which insulin functions.

Although you might not see the changes you want immediately, even gentle exercise can make a big difference to the way the body’s cells behave. This means that exercise could have far-reaching health benefits for other inflammatory associated diseases and possibly protect us against ageing and cancer too.

FISH OIL (KRILL OIL) COMPONENT HELPS DAMAGED BRAIN, RETINA CELLS SURVIVE, SHOWS RESEARCH

Fish oil (Krill Oil) component helps damaged brain, retina cells survive, shows research

April 21, 2017 Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - fish oil.

NDP1, a signaling molecule made from DHA, can trigger the production of a protective protein against toxic free radicals and injury in the brain and retina, research shows for the first time.

A team of researchers led by Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has shown for the first time that NDP1, a signaling molecule made from DHA, can trigger the production of a protective protein against toxic free radicals and injury in the brain and retina. The research, conducted in an experimental model of ischemic stroke and human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, is available in Advance Publication Online in Nature Research's Cell Death and Differentiation.

Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) is a lipid messenger made from the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) made on demand when cell survival is compromised. NPD1 was discovered and named in 2004 by Dr. Bazan and colleagues. Oxidative stress, resulting from the constant production of damaging free radicals, lays the groundwork for cell death. Cell death is accelerated by catastrophic events, like ischemic stroke, as well as neurodegenerative and blinding-eye diseases. The research team found that when systematically administered one hour after two hours of experimental stroke, NPD1 increased the production and availability of ring finger protein 146, which has been named Iduna. Iduna facilitates DNA repair and protects against a form of programmed cell death in stroke known as parthanatos by suppressing the production of a destructive protein called PARP. Their findings also include that NDP1 enhanced the production of Iduna and protection in two types of human RPE cells (ARPE-19 and primary RPE) undergoing uncompensated oxidative stress. The researchers found that the effect of NDP1 on Iduna activity peaked at six hours after the onset of the oxidative stress, A dose-dependent curve showed an increase of Iduna activity starting as 25 nM NPD1 in both types of human RPE cells. These results suggest that NDP1 selectively induces Iduna activity when uncompensated oxidative stress triggers the formation of NPD1 that in turn activates Iduna.

"These findings are significant because they show how NPD1, a lipid mediator made 'on demand,' modulates the abundance of a critically important protein (Iduna) toward cell survival," notes Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. "This protein, relatively little studied, turns out to be key for cell functional re-programing and subsistence." DHA, found in fish oil, is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and is vital for proper brain function. It is also necessary for the development of the nervous system, including vision. A study from the Bazan laboratory published in 2011 found that DHA triggered the production of Neuroprotectin D1, a naturally occurring neuroprotective molecule in the brain derived from DHA. NDP1 bioactivity governs key gene interactions decisive in cell survival when threatened by disease or injury.

"The further unraveling of the molecular details of DHA-NPD1-Iduna expression signaling may contribute to possible therapeutic interventions for retinal degenerations and ischemic stroke." says Bazan.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "Fish oil component helps damaged brain, retina cells survive, shows research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2017.

Global survey shows we’re eating more packaged food

Global survey shows we’re eating more packaged food -  10 April, 2017.

Natural Health News — In spite of the evidence of its many benefits, fresh food compared to packaged food is playing a smaller and smaller part in our diets, according to a new global survey.

A new analysis of data from 54 countries shows that in the most developed countries in the world, the balance has shifted dramatically from fresh to packaged food.

The analysis, carried out by global research firm Euromonitor, revealed that the UK eats almost four times as much packaged food as it does fresh produce, a pattern repeated throughout most of western Europe and north America.

In some other highly populated, but less developed nations, such as China, India and Vietnam, consumers are still getting the majority of their calories from fresh food, but the trend suggests an eventual transition to more packaged food in these countries as well.

Convenience at a cost

According to the data, out of the nine major countries in the survey, Brazil’s population consumed the highest number of calories – 1,065 per person per day – as fresh food. The UK was second to bottom, with just 405 calories per day consumed as fresh food. Japan was ranked bottom with only 247 calories from fresh food per person per day.

Commenting on the report in the Guardian newspaper, Sara Petersson, nutrition analyst at Euromonitor International, said: “It is kind of the way we are today. The food we eat today is convenient. It is fast to consume and we don’t have to prepare it.” she said, adding, “Fresh food has played a smaller and smaller part in some families’ lives as the pace of life has speeded up over recent decades, working hours have increased and more women have entered the workplace.”

But convenience comes at a cost. Much packaged food is high in salt, sugar and fat and many nutrition experts believe the packaged food ‘revolution’ – built largely on ready meals and calorific cakes and biscuits – is held at least partly to blame for the rise in obesity in the US and Europe.

Calories from alcohol on the rise too

Euromonitor also reveals that in many countries – 28 of the 54 it looked at, including the UK – more calories are bought in the form of alcohol than soft drinks.

“With the current obesity crisis, a lot of bad press has surrounded soft drinks, especially sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Petersson in the Guardian. The government’s proposed sugary drinks tax is aimed at reducing child obesity. But the data on alcoholic drinks suggests that sugar-sweetened drinks are not the only problem when it comes to adults.

“Of course, the relationship between sugar consumption and obesity/diseases is still crucial,” she said. “However, given the even stronger evidence for the relationship between alcohol consumption and morbidity, this data cannot be disregarded.”

But it can be manipulated. For instance, Petersson notes that “Instead, this data could be used by soft drinks companies to argue against statements such as ‘soft drinks are primarily to blame for the obesity crisis’ or by policy makers/public health organizations to strengthen incentives against alcohol consumption.”

Learn More About Fructose and Gout