Why a stir fry diet could protect against osteoporosis

A stir fry diet, rich in soy, could protect women from bone weakening and osteoporosis in older women, a new study suggests.

A stir fry diet, rich in soy, could protect women from bone weakening and osteoporosis in older women, a new study suggests.

Women become more susceptible to the brittle bone disease after going through the menopause as levels of protective oestrogen fall.

Since soybean foods contain plant chemicals called isoflavones that mimic the hormone, it has been suggested they might combat some effects of the menopause.

“Supplementing food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis”
Dr Thozhukat Sathyapalan, University of Hull

To test the theory, 200 women in early menopause were either given a daily supplement containing soy protein with 66 milligrams of isoflavones, or one only containing soy protein for six months.

Women on the soy-plus-isoflavones supplement had significantly lower levels of a blood protein marker of bone loss, suggesting a reduced risk of osteoporosis. They also had less risk of heart disease than those taking soy protein alone.

Lead researcher Dr Thozhukat Sathyapalan, from the University of Hull, said: “We found that soy protein and isoflavones are a safe and effective option for improving bone health in women during early menopause.

“The actions of soy appear to mimic that of conventional osteoporosis drugs.

“The 66mg of isoflavone that we use in this study is equivalent to eating an oriental diet, which is rich in soy foods. In contrast, we only get around 2-16mg of isoflavone with the average Western diet.

“Supplementing our food with isoflavones could lead to a significant decrease in the number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis.”

Senior Woman Receiving Assistance Walking up StairsA diet rich in soy could prevent damage from falls and make bones stronger Photo: ALAMY

Bones grow and repair themselves rapidly during childhood and youth, but the process slows down with age and bone density begins to diminish from the age of 35. Women lose bone rapidly in the first few years after the menopause which can lead to osteoporosis and the risk of fractures.

Around three million people suffer from osteoporosis in the UK and more than 300,000 people receive hospital treatment for fractures every year because of the condition.

Exercise and eating foods which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, and getting enough sunlight, are essential for healthy bones, but this is the first study to show that soy can also help prevent fracturing.

Next the scientists plan to investigate the long-term effects of taking soy protein and isoflavone supplements and whether they have benefits beyond bone health.

The findings were presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual meeting in Edinburgh.

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025, new figures from the World Obesity Federation suggest.

Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025, new figures from the World Obesity Federation suggest.

Within just ten years, seven in ten men and 62 per cent of women will be carrying too much weight, placing a huge health burden on the NHS.

Weight gain is a risk factor for many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion by 2050.

Currently around 66 per cent of men are overweight or obese and 57 per cent of women. However 74 per cent of men will be overweight or obese by 2030 and 64 per cent of women according to new figures.

The figures are in sharp contrast to countries like Belgium, Germany and Finland where the number of overweight or obese people is expected to barely change in the next decade.

In 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) set a goal for 2025 of no increase in obesity or diabetes beyond 2010 levels. But no country is set to achieve that target.

The WOF said that the government must act to impose taxes on fatty and sugary foods and make healthy food cheaper. However Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary has ruled out any measures, claiming that the food industry is already voluntarily working to make products more nutritious.

Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy at the World Obesity Federation said ìCommon risk factors such as soft drink consumption and sedentary working environments, have increased, fast food advertising continues and greater numbers of people live in urban environments without access to green spaces.

ìGovernments should take a number of actions to help prevent obesity, including introducing tough regulations to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy food and introducing taxes and subsidies to make healthier food cheaper and unhealthy food more expensive.î

The figures show that within the next 10 years, nearly five million more men and women will become overweight or obese in Britain bringing the total to 36 million. The number of severely obese adults will also rise by 40 per cent from three million people to more than four million.

WOF Professor Walmir Coutinho, said ìThe obesity epidemic has reached virtually every country worldwide, and overweight and obesity levels are set to continue to rise. Governments know the present epidemic is unsustainable and doing nothing is not an option.

They have agreed to tackle obesity and to bring down obesity prevalence to 2010 levels by the year 2025.

ìIf governments hope to achieve the WHO target of keeping obesity at 2010 levels, then the time to act is now.î

Asked about the prospect of missing its target, the World Health Organisation said: “Indeed the rates of overweight and obesity are increasing globally.

ìWHO has not made predictions on what the prevalence of overweight and or obesity may be in 2020 (the next reporting period) or at the final reporting period of 2025 as we can’t assume the rate of increase will continue and we must take into account the changing of global population structures.

“We do not see at this time that the current global target of ‘no increase in obesity’ will be met in adults or adolescents unless urgent focused action to reduce overweight and obesity is taken by countries and other stakeholders.”

Applying foam roller is better than a stretch after exercise

Ask anyone who has run, cycled or been to a gym lately and one of the surest pieces of advice you will receive is to stretch your muscles before and after exercise.

 Ask anyone who has run, cycled or been to a gym lately and one of the surest pieces of advice you will receive is to stretch your muscles before and after exercise.

However, long, slow static stretching of cold muscles before a workout is now frowned upon by many trainers, who say dynamic stretching such as high kicks is better at warming up the muscles.

But what about after exercise? Many sports specialists recommend a series of static stretches after a run, which serves to lengthen tightened calf and thigh muscles. But an increasing number of experts suggest skipping static stretching and instead using a foam roller, a long cylinder of polyethylene foam that helps you perform self-myofascial release ó or self-massage. The myofascia are connective tissue that surround the muscles.

ìIíve become much more of a devotee of foam rolling,î says Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at New Yorkís Hospital for Special Surgery, and author of a book called Running Strong. ìThe myofascial release is literally like deep tissue massage, which makes the muscle more elastic and lengthens it.î

Dr Metzl has run 29 marathons and participated in 10 Ironman triathlons, so he knows how tight muscles can become after prolonged exercise and the importance of releasing that stiffness. He says research studies involving rolling and stretching tend to show that rolling comes out ahead in terms of flexibility gain and that muscles do not suffer any of the performance loss that stretching causes.

To use a roller, you simply lie across it and move your body back and forth. You know when you hit the right spot ó what osteopaths call a trigger point ó as you tend to feel a needle of pain. But as you roller, the pain tends to diminish.

Foam rollers come in different colours, with white the softest and black the hardest. I advise starting with the softer rollers because the harder ones can cause extreme pain in the connective tissues when you roll them. I am particularly sore when I roller my iliotibial band, the bit that runs from the pelvis down the side of the leg over the hip and connects just below the knee. The iliotibial band is the cause of a very common running injury, which can feel like someone is sticking a screwdriver in your knee.

Dr Metzl has started to recommend a different type of roller, which is usually coloured electric orange. They are hollow and have a hard PVC roller inside covered with a soft shell. ìThey get in very deep, but the softer outer surface is more palatable,î he says.

Dr Metzlís book contains some neat video links that show how to roller different parts of the body. I find it a bit awkward to roller my calves because of supporting my weight on my hands and it can be hard to move forwards and back. Because of this, some doctors recommend a stick roller that can be used on the lower legs while seated. But Dr Metzl says that if you cross one leg over the other, the increased force against a foam roller is better at relieving tightness than the stick roller.

He recommends rolling each area of the body for about a minute each day and following that up with two strength training sessions a week. ìThis is part of the recipe for getting the most juice from your kinetic chain [the sequence of movements involved in exercise], both from a functional and protective point of view,î he says.


Human life spans may be limited to 115 years

Human life spans may be limited to a maximum of about 115 years, claim US scientists.

Human life spans may be limited to a maximum of about 115 years, claim US scientists.Their conclusions, published in the journal Nature, were made by analysing decades of data on human longevity.

They said a rare few may live longer, but the odds were so poor you’d have to scour 10,000 planet Earths to find just one 125 year old.

But while some scientists have praised the study, others have labelled it a dismal travesty.

Life expectancy has been increasing relentlessly since the nineteenth century – due to vaccines, safer childbirth and tackling killers like cancer and heart disease.

The team in New York analysed data from the Human Mortality Database and the deaths of super-centenarians (those over 110) in France, Japan, UK and US.

The data showed increases in life expectancy were slowing in centenarians and that the maximum age of death had plateaued for at least two decades.

Jeanne Calment came close. The oldest ever person, whose age can be backed up by official documents, was 122 when she died in 1997.

The French icon of longevity was born before the Eiffel Tower was constructed and met the painter Vincent van Gogh. Nobody has since got near her venerable age.

The crop of centenarians in the study were affected by malnutrition and infectious diseases in their childhood back in the late 19th Century. Remember smallpox was declared eradicated only in 1980.

Experiments, which look after animals in ideal conditions, have suggested lifespans do have a limit.

The challenge with tackling ageing is that we have not evolved to live to extreme old ages.

Millions of years of natural selection has honed us to survive, grow and reproduce in our youth.

What happens to our bodies half a century or more later – at ages we have never reached in our evolutionary history – are a side-effect of the instructions in our DNA that are important in youth.

So any attempt to really increase lifespan will need an approach that goes beyond treating diseases and tackles ageing inside every cell of the body.