The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic — May 7
The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines and our daily lives for more than a year. Medical News Today has covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.
However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.
We begin this week’s Recovery Room by rooting out the bad apples in the fruit world. Which contain the highest levels of sugar and fat and deliver the least nutrients per portion? Details below.
Our News Team also looked at the link between coffee and heart health, bringing news that it may be the opposite of what many people assume. There’s also a report on how nerve stimulation can help people recover after a stroke, and another on how eating plenty of mushrooms may offer some protection from cancer. It’s all about antioxidants.
We finish with an investigation into which type of wine is the most beneficial, busting myths about negative calorie foods and detox diets along the way.
We highlight this research below, along with several other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.
1. Which fruits are better for you based on diet and health goals?
With over 408,000 page views to date, our guide to less than healthy fruits is our most popular article this week. Bananas, mangoes, and cherries make the list because, in addition to offering a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, they’re packed with sugar. Coconuts may also be unsuitable for many people due to their high content of saturated fat.
Click the link below to read more and to see which alternatives to try instead.
2. Heart symptoms may influence how much coffee people drink
Our coverage of a new study examining the links between a person’s heart health and their coffee consumption also found a large audience, with over 179,000 page views this week.
Researchers found that people with symptoms of cardiovascular health issues, such as angina and heart palpitations, tend to drink less coffee, avoid coffee altogether, or drink decaffeinated coffee. One implication of this is that a presumed link between moderate coffee consumption and better hearth health may not be valid.
Instead, the evidence suggests that people with healthy hearts are more likely to drink coffee, not that coffee contributes to heart health. Click below to find out why.
3. Nerve stimulation helps restore arm function after stroke
This week, we reported on a new nerve stimulation technique that represents a breakthrough in the treatment of strokes. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) combined with physical therapy produces significant and long-lasting improvement in symptoms of impairment and arm function following a stroke.
As the improvements show signs of lasting for years after treatment, the researchers now plan to follow up with a study into the long-term outcomes for this combined treatment. VNS is already used to treat epilepsy, and its application in treating depression is also being studied. However, this is the first time such nerve stimulation has been used to treat the effects of stroke.
4. ‘Detox diets’: Does science support the claims?
The latest article in our Honest Nutrition series assesses detox diets, which are ways of eating that are designed to expel toxins from the body. Is there any evidence that a diet can work in this way? It seems that there is not, and certain detox diets may be unsafe for some groups of people.
To learn more about the thinking behind detox dieting, the risks, and some healthier alternatives that are known to support the body’s own detoxification system, click below.
5. Cancer: Could consuming mushrooms reduce the risk?
This week, our News Team reported on a recent meta-analysis of studies dating back to 1966 that found a link between increased mushroom consumption and a lower risk of all types of cancer. Those consuming 18 grams or more of mushrooms daily had a 45% decreased relative risk of developing all types of cancer than those who consumed none.
However, this meta-analysis and review looked at observational studies, so it’s not possible to say that mushroom consumption caused this effect, only that the two are associated. Moreover, the size of the effect suggests that the protective effect of mushroom consumption should be explored further.
There is mounting evidence for a two-way link between the gut and the brain, the so called gut-brain axis, and that this may have a role to play in mood, anxiety, and depression. This week, we reported on a new study that found consuming a prebiotic causes changes in the gut microbiota that may reduce anxiety symptoms in female adolescents.
If further research supports the idea that prebiotics can improve the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria in the gut, it may give rise to supplements designed to improve mental health and well-being in young females.
7. The relationship between CBD, the placebo effect, and pain
We reported on further evidence for the power of the placebo effect this week. Cannabidiol (CBD) is commonly used by people to manage their pain, but its pain-relieving effect remains clinically unproven. New research suggests that a combination of CBD’s pharmacological properties and the expectation that it will relieve pain exerts an analgesic effect.
This was a small study, involving only 15 participants, and excluded older adults. It also produced some complex results. To see how the researchers interpreted them, and for more on the powerful role of the placebo effect, click below.
8. Study explores the link between muscle weakness and type 2 diabetes
Scientists have identified a gene that may explain the link between type 2 diabetes and muscle weakness. It appears that this gene is silenced, which in turn affects the ability of muscle cells to soak up excess glucose. This is an example of an epigenetic change, where an external influence — diabetes in this case — affects how genes are expressed within cells.
This discovery, reported in MNT this week, could inspire new treatments for type 2 diabetes and improve muscle strength in people with the condition.
Celery is often touted as a negative calorie food, as it’s sometimes claimed that a person uses more energy to eat it than they extract from it. However, a 2019 study in lizards revealed that they absorbed around 24% of the calories they consumed after eating celery.
Other foods with a high water content, such as cucumber, watermelon, and lettuce, should be considered hydrating foods rather than negative calorie foods. This article looks at the evidence and warns that people eating a low calorie diet risk missing out on important nutrients. A balanced diet should include some low calorie foods that are high in nutrients, including fish, eggs, and fruit and vegetables.
Finally this week, it’s time to take a look at wine. Our editors considered the health benefits and risks associated with drinking different types of wine.
Does red wine ward off type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Can white wine protect the brain and kidneys? Will your blood vessels benefit from an occasional glass of sparkling wine? Which is the healthiest type of wine overall, and what are the potential risks associated with drinking alcohol in any form? Click the link below to find out.