Top 5 Easy Health Wins of 2016

Lose 14lbs/6kg by drinking 2 extra glasses of water a day

Young woman drinking glass of waterThe simple act of drinking more water is associated with reduced intakes of sugar, sodium (salt) and saturated fat – and easier weight control.

A study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, showed that people who increased their consumption of plain water by between one and three cups daily lowered total energy intake by 68-205 calories each day and their sodium intake by 78-235 g each day.

At the average calorie reduction of 140 calories a day, that could translate to a weight loss of 14lb (6.4kg) a year – just by drinking a bit more water!! Because there are 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat.

Researchers at the University of Illinois used a representative sample of more than 18,300 adults in the US from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2012.

The participants consumed an average of about 4.2 cups of plain tap water per day which accounted for just over 30% of their total water consumption.

Drinks such as tea, herbal tea and coffee were included in the calculations of total water consumption.

The average starting calorie intake for each participant was 2,157 calories, which included 125 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and 432 calories from “discretionary foods” – desserts, pastries, ‘snack mixes’ and other non-essential foods. So their diet wasn’t ideal.

The results showed that the people who increased their water consumption by 1-3 cups a day also consumed 5-18g less sugar and 7-21g less cholesterol.

The effects were similar across race, ethnicity, education attainment, income level and body weight status – although they were larger among males than females, and among young or middle-aged adults than older adults.

So drinking 2 /3 cups more water a day could be the easiest ever diet plan, and also reduce your sodium intake – which has cardio (heart) benefits.

Since water intake also rids the body of waste through urination and bowel movements, keeps body temperature normal and lubricates and cushions joints – why not wander over to the tap right now?


Eat (a little!) chocolate every day to reduce diabetes and heart disease risk

Broken dark chocolate and chocolate flakes on a wooden tableIt seems that a little of what you fancy really does do you good!

Results published in British Journal of Nutrition from a joint study from Warwick University and the Luxembourg Institute of Health suggest that regular, moderate chocolate – especially dark chocolate – can confer health benefits.

The researchers analysed the chocolate consumption of 1,153 people aged 18-69 who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg study. They found that 82% of the participants consumed chocolate, with an average consumption of 24.8 grams daily – almost one ounce.

Compared with participants who did not eat chocolate every day, the chocolate eaters had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. Insulin resistance – where the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin – is a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The effect was constant irrespective of the participants’ age, sex, education, lifestyle, and dietary factors.

Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa content, which means it has the highest levels of anti-oxidants – specifically polyphenols (flavonoids), which are phytochemicals (plant based molecules) that can help prevent free radical damage to cells.

However, the report notes that it is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains higher amounts of natural cocoa and processed chocolate which is much higher in sugar and calories. They also caution: “Physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must also be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time”.

So it seems like an ounce of dark chocolate a day – or a spoonful of cocoa powder added to a smoothie mix – should be part of your health regime.

Of course there are many other polyphenols in, for example, green tea, dark berries, leafy green vegetables and curcumin that are also powerful anti-oxidants.


Vitamin C  reduces risk of cataracts

fruits-citrusBy the time we are 75, the University of Michigan estimates that an estimated 50% of us will have some vision loss due to cataracts – and over 80% will be developing the condition.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that impairs vision.

The good news is that scientists at Kings College London have found that enough vitamin C in your diet can cut your chances of getting cataracts by almost 40%.

The study – published in the journal Ophthalmology – looked at 1,000 pairs of identical female twins, so genetic differences were not a factor. They found that over 10 years, the twins with high amounts of vitamin C in their diet had a much lower risk of cataracts.

The fluid inside your eye is normally higher in vitamin C than other body parts. Scientists say the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help prevent oxidation/free radical damage of the eye lens that leads to cataracts.

The American Optometric Association confirms that “taking a supplement with at least 300 mg/day of vitamin C appears to help prevent cataract development”.  They also quote further research showing that women taking a daily supplement with a dosage of 364 mg experienced a 57 percent reduction in their risk of certain types of cataracts.

But cataracts are not the only, or even most serious, threat to sight. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study links Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) to nutrition. AMD is an eye condition that leads to the debilitating gradual loss of central vision.

The study (confirmed by others) showed that people at high risk for the disease who took 500 mg/day of vitamin C, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E and zinc, slowed the progression of advanced AMD by about 25 percent. Other studies have confirmed these results.


Zinc boosts cell health and fights infections

spinchResearchers from the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital have found that just 4 milligrams (mg) of extra zinc a day in your diet can have a profound, positive impact on cellular health that helps fight infections and diseases.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was led by senior scientist Janet King PhD. King and her team are the first to show that even a modest increase in dietary zinc reduces oxidative stress and damage to DNA.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see that just a small increase in dietary zinc can have such a significant impact on how metabolism is carried out throughout the body,” says King.

Zinc is vital for a healthy immune system. It helps reduce inflammation and oxidative (free radical) stress in the body, both of which are linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancers. It also helps reduce the risk for diabetes and is important in wound healing.

Although the study was initially commission to assess the potential impact of bio-fortified crops the conclusions are relevant on a wide basis.

The Euro;ean Recommended Daily Amount (now generally referred to as Reference Nutrient Intake) of zinc is 10mg a day. Zinc-rich foods include seafood, flax seeds and spinach, but as these are not generally consumed in great quantities, supplements are an easier route.

REF: Sarah J Zyba, Janet C King et al. A moderate increase in dietary zinc reduces DNA strand breaks in leukocytes and alters plasma proteins without changing plasma zinc concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016

Cook with rosemary and live to 100?

Bund Rosmarin isoliert auf weiem HintergrundBlue Zones are areas in the world where an exceptionally high proportion of people live in health to extreme old age. We’ve done articles on Blue Zones before because they do give us important lessons on lifestyles that produce healthy longevity.

Now we need to add another Blue Zone. It’s Acciaroli, a small town mostly given to be 2,000 people located on the southern tip of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

With a population of just 2,000, the town claims up to 300 residents who are over 100 years of age. That means an astonishing 15% of the population is over 100 – or almost 1 person in 7!  They can be seen strolling on the beach, swimming and active about town.

The equivalent percentage of 100-year-olds in the UK is 0.0002 %. Or 1 person in 5,000!

This exceptional Blue Zone was discovered by Dr Alan Maisel who is a cardiologist and professor at the University of California at San Diego. He has partnered with the Sapienza University of Rome to try to work out why Acciaroli’s residents live so long.

Of course the town by definition eats the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ – lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, moderate red wine, and olive oil. But his less expected conclusions so far include:

Rosemary and anchovies


“Everybody eats rosemary. They all grow it. They use it as a garnish. They use it in oils,” says Dr Maisel.

Research has shown that rosemary has exceptional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity – the ability to neutralise excess free radical damage to tissues and DNA.

Rosemary has been shown to correlate with improved cognitive performance by increasing blood flow, particularly to the brain. An ingredient – carnosic  –  is believed to help prevent the formation of beta amyloid  plaques in the brain – a key characteristic of Alzheimer’s .

Studies at Kyoto University confirm that rosemary may ‘significantly help prevent brain ageing’.

Research published in Oncology Reports found that “rosemary extract has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”

Yet another study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, revealed that carnosic can significantly promote eye health.

Rosemary – meaning ‘sea dew’ – is a herb often used to garnish pastas, marinate seafood and in sauces for lamb and chicken.


Anchovies appear as part of almost every meal in Acciaroli. Like sardines and mackerel, they are rich in Omega 3, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory strongly linked to cardio health.

These two dietary ‘secrets’ are novel to Acciaroli and have not been found in other Blue Zone diets.

The other elements that Dr Maisel identifies as key to healthy longevity are clean air, high vitamin D levels from sunshine, and regular activity associated with their jobs and lifestyle and low stress. Those are all common to the other Blue Zones.



The conclusion from these 2016 ‘good news’ stories, however, is not to fixate on just one or two nutritional elements – even supposedly ‘super nutrients’ like vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, rosemary or anchovies.

Staying healthy is a combination of staying active, eating well and – we believe – using a supplement like Nutrishield that combines the most protective nutrients as identified from the world’s healthiest diets.


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You can follow us on or for daily headline health tweets.

Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores.

See the website for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip

Powerful food combinations

Food Synergy is where two or more foods combine to give a health boost greater than if the foods were eaten separately. For example a perfect combination is Salmon + Turmeric + Black pepper.

salmon-curry-fTurmeric + Salmon + Black Pepper

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has many benefits that include being a powerful anti-inflammatory. DHA is an active ingredient in omega-3 fat rich oily fish.  A 2011 study in BMC Cancer reported that DHA helps cells to utilize curcumin and the combination helps to keep cancer cells from multiplying.

Rub salmon or herring with turmeric or curry powder (a spice blend containing turmeric). Adding black pepper improves the bio-availability of curcumin even further.

broccoli-mustard-fBroccoli + Mustard/Wasabi

Raw broccoli is a good sources of the powerful cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. But cooking destroys a lot of the enzyme myrosinase in broccoli that makes sulforaphane available to your body.

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, however, suggests that combining broccoli with mustard or wasabi – which contain extra myrosinase – will help you absorb more sulforaphane.

broccoli-tomato-stirfry-fTomatoes, Broccoli, Olive Oil

A  2004 study in Journal of Nutrition, reported that prostate tumours grew much less in rats that were fed tomatoes and broccoli than in rats who ate diets containing broccoli alone or tomatoes alone. Cooking or slow roasting tomatoes in olive oil liberates far more of the cancer protective lycopene than when tomatoes are eaten raw. Tomato sauce is a good source of lycopene too.

spinach-pear-feta-pasta-saladSpinach salad with Pear and Yellow Peppers

Iron helps carry oxygen to your muscles, body, brain and fights fatigue. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for your immune system and it helps your cells absorb more iron. There’s lots of iron in spinach, but it’s harder for your body to absorb iron from plants than from meats, so combining iron rich leafy green vegetables like spinach makes sense.

Spinach, tofu, quinoa and chickpeas are good sources of iron, whilst citrus fruits and red peppers are all high in vitamin C – as are strawberries and blackcurrants

You can triple up, because vitamins C and E have a synergistic effect – essentially refreshing each other.  Vitamin C and vitamin E, along with  isoflavones from soybeans, are antioxidants which help reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, reducing your risk of congestive heart disease.

Fortunately spinach is already a good vitamin E source, but add some sunflower seeds or almonds to the salad for extra vitamin E.

Why not go for a quadruple play? By adding just six sprigs of parsley to the salad you get a full day’s supply of vitamin K. Studies show that vitamin K helps prevent fractures and may guard against bone loss.

green teaGreen Tea with Lemon

Green tea is already rich in polyphenols called catechins – (pronounced KA’-teh-kins) – that are linked to lower cancer rates. A study from Purdue University found that adding lemon juice – or just vitamin C – produced a 400%  increase in the bio-availability of the catechins.  Since catechins are, on their own, rather poorly absorbed this is a power drink indeed.

banana-milkshake-fBanana Milkshake with Wheatgerm

Milk of course is a rich source of calcium (and some vitamin D) – important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. The Journal Ageing Clinical and Experimental Research reported in 2013 that calcium is better absorbed along with the prebiotic fibre called inulin – found in bananas (and onions).

Triple up the health boost by adding a spoonful of wheatgerm to the milk shake. Wheatgerm contains zinc, an essential mineral that helps repair cells and strengthens the immune system.

Red beans (Azuki, Adzuki or Aduki)Adzuki Beans plus Raspberries

Ripe red raspberries.

Aduki, azuki or adzuki beans are a high fibre, high protein, nutty flavoured red bean  They are used, mashed up, in many Japanese desserts.

Combining them with raspberries can enhance their antioxidant power by almost 50%, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. That was the biggest boost researchers saw among 55 combinations of different fruits, vegetables and legumes.

So combine mashed-up adzukis with raspberries for an unusual dessert.

You can also add adzuki, or other types of dried bean like pinto, to soup.  Researchers at Arizona State University found that people who eat half a cup of pinto beans a day lower both their total and LDL cholesterol by almost 10%. Beans are high in fibre, which decreases levels of LDL by reducing its absorption.

shrimp-stir-fryKale + Olive Oil/Avocado

Half a cup of kale added to a stir fry delivers at least 10 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids that help combat cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Results from the Eye Disease Case Control Study found that people who ate the most of these carotenoids —as much as 5.8 mg a day which is the level in Nutrishield —had a significantly lower risk of AMD than those who ate the least.

Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli are also high in lutein. Lutein, however, is better absorbed with fatty acids. So cooking kale in a stir-fry with olive or other mono-unsaturated oil is ideal.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that combining mono-unsaturated fatty acid rich avocado with lutein and beta carotene rich foods resulted in an astonishing boost in bio-availability. The avocado group absorbed 8 times more alpha-carotene, 13 times more beta-carotene (both of which help protect against cancer and heart disease), and over 4 times more lutein than those who did not eat the avocados.

Oats and mixed berriesOats + Mixed Berries

Porridge oats contain oat beta glucans which can help prevent the build-up of arterial plaque. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants are packed with vitamin C and other anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. A study at Tufts University published in the Journal of Nutrition found that when vitamin C was added to the oat phytochemicals it boosted their cholesterol-reducing and artery-protective effects.

A separate laboratory study also published in the Journal of Nutrition found that ellagic acid, found in raspberries, boosted the ability of quercitin from blackberries to kill cancer cells. Combining apples, which also contain quercitin, with raspberries should do the same.

Vitamin E is also good for the skin, so triple up the health and beauty benefits by adding half a cup of sunflower seeds to your porridge or muesli. That will provide at least 100% of your day’s requirements for alpha-tocopherol, the best absorbed form of the anti-oxidant vitamin E.

Power in combination

Identifying the most health-protective nutrients and then combining them into one health supplement is the concept behind NutriShield.

In fact NutriShield Premium combines 43 health protective natural ingredients and is one of the few supplements to be independently tested and able to show proof of effectiveness. See


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with family and friends (see buttons below).

CTA Register NewsletterAnd register now for a free e-newsletter on the latest in nutrition and health research.

You can follow us on or for daily headline health tweets.

Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive healthbutton-2 supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.

Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from most good bookstores.

See the website for excerpts and links to buy direct from the publisher.

See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook  incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet. Combined 3 courses strip