Alcohol, breastfeeding, alternative diets for cancer: Nutrilicious news digest

Alcohol, breastfeeding, alternative diets for cancer: Nutrilicious news digest

Each week we analyse some of the hot headlines in health and nutrition news. This week we look at wine glass size increase, NHS breastfeeding incentives and a man who claims a raw vegan diet cured his cancer.



This week the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun reported on the increasing size of wine glasses being served up.

New research from Cambridge University found that wine glasses are as much as seven times larger than they were 300 years ago.  Measurements were taken of 411 glasses from 1700 until modern day.

Looking at sources including eBay, museums and department stores, it was found that wine glass capacity has increased from an average of 66ml in the 1700s to 417ml in the 2000s, and the average wine glass size in 2016-2017 was 449ml.  

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
While these headlines may lead us to assume that an increase in wine glass size directly correlates to an increase in wine consumption, this has not been proven by the research. Nor can we assume that reducing wine glass size would lead to a decrease in alcohol consumption – although it has been found previously that large tableware increases food consumption, so the same may be true for glass sizes with drink.

Not only are glass sizes increasing as this research has shown, but the average strength of wine has also increased. This points towards a greater consumption of alcohol than in the past.

The adverse effects of drinking too much alcohol is well documented. It can increase the risk of least seven types of cancer, including bowel cancer and breast cancer, and is also linked with pancreatitis, liver disease, heart disease and diabetes.

Calories can sometimes be forgotten with alcohol but in fact it contains nearly as many calories per gram as fat does (7kcal per gram for alcohol and 9kcal per gram for fat). A 175ml glass of wine contains around 160 calories. For more information on alcohol and calories see Drinkaware’s handy Unit & Calorie Calculator.

With Christmas looming, it can be easy to overdo the alcohol consumption. The government recommends both men and women stick to no more than 14 units per week. To find out what constitutes a unit see Drinkaware. For wine, a 125ml glass of wine would be one unit, so it is a worry to think that a 449ml glass would contain over three units.

The take home message is to not exceed government guidelines for alcohol consumption and to be aware of glass size as this may well have a role in the amount of alcohol consumed.

For more info: British Medical Journal



The Guardian, the Evening Standard, the BBC, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail have reported on how shopping vouchers could potentially be used to help increases rates of breastfeeding in the UK.  

This is based on a trial of 10,000 women in deprived areas which found that giving shopping vouchers to mothers resulted in a significant rise in breastfeeding rates.

The vouchers were worth £120 and were provided if the babies received breastmilk (including expressed) at two days, 10 days and six weeks old. If babies were still being breastfed at six months, a further £80 of vouchers were given to the mothers.

A 6% increase in rates of breastfeeding was found which the researchers concluded was a modest but statistically significant increase.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
One limitation of this study is that we cannot be sure that the reported rates of breastfeeding are accurate. It relies on the honesty of the mother and potentially an economically struggling mother may report that she is breastfeeding when in reality she is not in order to obtain the vouchers. The data is therefore unreliable as no clinical test was used to confirm whether a mother was breastfeeding. We cannot say that by employing such a scheme on a larger scale in the UK would actually increase breastfeeding rates.

However, it is good that methods are being tested and investigated to help try and encourage breastfeeding, as it offers many benefits for both mother and baby. It is perfectly designed for the newborn baby, helps protect the baby from infections and diseases, provides health benefits for the mother, is free of cost and is ready whenever the baby needs it. It can also help with bonding.

In the UK breastfeeding rates are particularly low. The NHS advises exclusive breastfeeding for six months. The most recent UK Infant Feeding Survey highlighted that:

  • 81% women initiated breastfeeding (69% exclusively)
  • 69% breastfeeding at one week (46% exclusively)
  • 55% breastfeeding at six weeks (23% exclusively)
  • 35% breastfeeding at six months (1% exclusively)

So there is clearly huge room for improvement in this country.

Breastfeeding is not necessarily easy. The NHS acknowledges this and has provided advice on common breastfeeding problems. Identifying barriers to breastfeeding and providing plenty of support to mothers remains of key importance to help increase rates in the UK.



Also in the news this week is story about a man who claims to have cured his stage 4 cancer by following a vegan diet. This was picked up by the Metro (Man claims he ‘cured’ stage 4 cancer by switching to vegan diet), the Daily Mail (Father of two CURED cancer by going vegan), the Mirror (Brave cancer sufferer shares incredible story) and The Sun (Did vegan diet cure cancer?).

Rob Mooberry was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2012 and believes his tumour shrank by 80% by following a raw vegan diet.

From the information we are given, it is understood Rob had undergone surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy (following which his cancer reduced to stage 3a). He took a break before his next course of treatment as he felt he could not undergo it and changed his diet to a raw vegan diet in November 2012. His following scan in early 2013 showed that the cancer had reduced by 80%. Rob’s cancer has now been in remission for five years and he has not received any further medical treatment.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
The question on many people’s minds will be whether or not the raw vegan diet was responsible for ‘curing’ the cancer. We certainly cannot prove that the diet what was responsible for the reduction in tumour size. There is no scientific evidence to suggest this could be the case and Rob had previously undergone medical treatment. Also, this report is purely based on anecdotal evidence and does not necessarily mean the same could be applied to the next person with the same results.

Cancer Research UK provide advice on alternative diets and their role in cancer. They do not recommend using alternative therapies in place of medical treatment due to the lack of scientific evidence of their effectiveness. They also point out that unproven methods of alternative cancer treatment could make someone very ill. Supporting this further is Macmillan Cancer Support, who state on their website that ‘no alternative therapies have ever been proven to cure cancer or even to slow its growth’.

Following a raw vegan diet needs careful attention to ensure it is balanced. This diet was recently discussed by the British Dietetic Association as it has been considered one of the ‘top 5 worst celeb diets to avoid in 2018’.

To sum up, there is no evidence to suggest that a raw vegan diet can cure cancer and it is important to remember alternative therapies should not replace normal medical treatment. Alternative diets can cause various health problems and advice from specialists should always be sought before embarking on such dietary changes.

For more info: Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Top Nutrition Headlines 11 December – A Nutrilicious Digest

Top Nutrition Headlines 11 December – A Nutrilicious Digest

Each week we analyse some of the hot headlines in health and nutrition news. This week we look at type 2 diabetes reversal through weight loss, the rise in childhood obesity and raw flour health risks.



This week we have the BBC (‘I beat type 2 diabetes with 200-calorie drinks’), The Guardian (Radical diet can reverse type 2 diabetes new study shows), The Daily Mail (Three month diet reverse Type 2 diabetes), The Sun (Millions of diabetics could be cured by losing weight and eating healthier) and The Express (Type 2 diabetes symptoms diet reverse) reporting that it may be possible to reverse type 2 diabetes by following a ‘crash diet.’

The findings come from a study called DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial), where it was found that by following an intensive low-calorie diet for three to five months people could put their diabetes into remission. Nearly half of the study participants were in remission after one year. There was a close link found between amount of weight lost and remission of type 2 diabetes.

Here are the results for the percentages of people who were in remission after one year based on the amount of weight lost:

  • 86% of people who had lost over 15kg (2.4 stone) in remission
  • 57% of people who lost 10-15kg (1.6-2.4 stone) in remission
  • 34% of people who lost 5-10kg (0.8-16 stone) in remission

There was also a control group who did not follow the low calorie diet, but were given the best diabetes care available and only 4% went into remission.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
Firstly, it should be recognised what is meant by ‘putting diabetes into remission’. In this study being in ‘remission’ was defined as having a HbA1c level below 6.5% (48mmol/mol) after 12 months, with at least two months without diabetes medication. HbA1c is a measure of blood glucose levels over the past two to three months and can be used to diagnose diabetes. It should be noted that being in ‘remission’ does not necessarily mean the diabetes has gone completely and hence people still need regular check-ups.

This research backs up previous studies investigating the potential of reversing type 2 diabetes. This DiRECT study recruited many more participants (298 recruited vs 11 and 30 in the two previous studies), making it much more reliable, and testing was carried out over a much longer period.

Points to note

  • While this is a very promising piece of research and extremely exciting for people with type 2 diabetes, it should be noted that the study is not over yet. It is unclear at this stage how long the remission will last for; whether it will reduce the risk of long term diabetes related complications; and whether this type of treatment could be feasible within the NHS.
  • The people involved in the study had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for up to six years and so the findings may not apply to those have had the condition longer. Participants also were not included if they were taking insulin.
  • The diet involved was intensive. Participants followed a daily diet of around 800kcal diet (made up of four soups or shakes fortified with vitamins and minerals) for between 8 and 20 weeks, followed by a long-term programme of weight loss maintenance. Certainly not an easy fix!
  • The headlines alert us to the positive findings of the study but one person in fact developed severe abdominal pain, related to gallstones. This was thought to be possibly caused by the intervention. Further studies are required to ensure the diet is safe for widespread use.
  • The weight management programme was delivered with medical supervision and dietitians were involved to help support long term weight management. While it may seem possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission, this type of diet should certainly not be undertaken alone and anyone attempting to do this should ask for help from a GP and dietitian.

The Deputy Head of Care at Diabetes UK provided this useful statement: “If you’re thinking about trying a low-calorie diet, it’s really important you speak to your GP and get referred to a dietitian. This is to make sure you get tailored advice and support.

“It’s also important to bear in mind that if you’re treating your Type 2 diabetes with certain medications, such as insulin or sulphonylurea, a low-calorie diet can make hypos more likely. So you’ll need support to make changes to your medications and check your blood sugar levels more often.”

For more information, go to Diabetes UK and the Newcastle University study



We are being alerted by the BBC (‘Stark’ increase in overweight youngsters), The Times (A fifth of children are obese by 14) and the Daily Mail (Now one in three British teenagers is already overweight) of the increasing prevalence of obesity in children.

Data from the Millennium Cohort (a group of more than 10,000 children born between 2000-2001 who have been followed for years) revealed that 25% were overweight or obese at age 7, increasing to 35% by age 11. Little change was found between age 11 and 14 years.

There were notable differences found between different nations and there were links found between the mother’s education level, whether the child was breastfed and whether the parents owned their own home. Full results are discussed by the Institute of Education.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
The headlines alert us to the growing problem of obesity in children and action clearly needs to be taken. The following risks are associated with it:

  • Higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood
  • More likely to stay obese in adulthood and develop noncommicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease at a younger age
  • Muscoskeletal disorders in adulthood (e.g. osteoarthritis)
  • Certain cancers in adulthood (endometrial, breast and colon)

Source: World Health Organisation

It is unclear from this research why there is such an increase in rates of obesity between ages 7 and 11, which then levels off. Children may start to make more of their own choices past 11 years and this is thought to potentially have a role.

In view of these recent findings, we should be reminded of the action that is planned to help combat obesity in the UK. These are discussed in full on the UK Government’s website. Key examples from this plan include:

  • The Sugar Tax – The government plan to introduce a soft drinks levy to be enforced from April 2018. Producers and importers have been given two years to lower the sugar appropriately in their drinks to allow them to not face the levy. Our blog Draft Soft Drinks Levy – Objectives, Thresholds, Exemptions & Impact? discusses this further. This is a very encouraging and hopeful move considering that the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey highlighted that soft drinks are a major contributor to sugar in children’s diets.
  • Taking out 20% of sugar in products – firms have been called to cut sugar by 5% by the end of this year and by 20% by 2020. We discussed on last week’s blog the action that Kellogg’s have been taking on their top selling cereal products to cut the sugar.

There are also new rules due to be implemented on food advertising. Last month the BBC reported on how young children are being bombarded with adverts for high fat, high sugar foods, which is more than likely to be having a negative influence on food choices. The news rules are discussed in our blog New rules on food advertising to help tackle childhood obesity.

It is interesting to note that Amsterdam is the only European country that has successfully managed to reduce obesity rates in the last five years with a range of programmes, mainly through schools. Clearly, many measures will need to be employed to help combat childhood obesity in the UK. Let us hope that the actions due to be undertaken in UK will help improve the current rather desperate situation. Monitoring of the effectiveness of such actions will be of key importance in the future.

For more information, go to NHS and UCL



Also in the news this week is the warning over eating raw cookie dough. This was reported by The BBC, The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Sun and The Daily Mail.

The UK Foods Standards Agency have now provided guidance that we should not eat raw flour, including cookie dough. This is due to outbreaks in the US of food poisoning caused by E.Coli.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

E.Coli is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhoea, blood in faeces, stomach cramps, fever and vomiting. Before this guidance on raw flour, it was understood that E.Coli could be caught from infected foods such as raw leafy vegetables, undercooked meat or raw milk products.

We now must ensure we are aware of the potential risk associated with raw flour, including cookie dough and cake mixture for example. We may think we shouldn’t have a taster of these due to the raw egg. However, in October 2017, the Foods Standards Agency published advice that runny eggs are safe to eat for all, so long as they are stamped with the British Lion Code of Practice.

So now the reasoning behind avoiding having a taster of dough is down to the raw flour contained within it. It is also advised to wash hands thoroughly before and after using flour and to ensure worktops are wiped afterwards. Rest assured that cooking the flour will kill the bacteria that causes the infection.

It is important to be aware of this new advice from the Foods Standards Agency to reduce any complications caused E.Coli. Certain groups of people should take particular note of this new guidance, such as those with a weakened immune system and pregnant women, where food poisoning can cause harm to the unborn baby. When giving food safety advice to such groups, this latest advice on flour should be included.

For more information, go to NHS

Top Nutrition Headlines 11 December – A Nutrilicious Digest

Top Nutrition News Headlines 4 Dec – A Nutrilicious digest

Each week we analyse some of the hot headlines in health and nutrition news. This week cheese; obesity & diabetes/cancer risk; and sugar reduction in Kellogg’s cereals.


HEADLINE 1: A piece of cheese a day keeps the doctor away

Picked up in the news this week by the Daily Mail, The Express, The Sun, The Independent and The Guardian is the suggestion that eating cheese could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

This is based on a meta-analysis of studies which concluded that consuming 40g of cheese per day reduced the risk of heart attack by 14% and stroke by 10%.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

While cheese lovers are likely to have rejoiced, there are limitations to the research on which the headlines were based. The lack of randomised controlled trials included within the meta-analysis means that no causal relationship can be assumed between eating cheese and risk of heart disease. There are far too many factors which could interfere with the results.

Interestingly, there are previous large studies that have found no association between heart disease and eating cheese. Again, it can be hard to prove that it is the cheese eating that is causing the effects.  

The harm that eating too much cheese can cause to health is well documented. Although it is a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B12, it can also be high in saturated fats. Having too much saturated fat in the diet can increase levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is an established risk factor for heart disease. A 30g portion of cheddar cheese (a matchbox size) contains 6.5g saturated fat (over a quarter of the reference intake for saturated fat – 20g). It can also be quite easy to go above this recommended portion size. 

Some cheeses can be high in salt and there is a lot of evidence to show that too much salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Cheese can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation and can provide a valuable source of various nutrients. Sticking to the recommended 30g portion size and opting for lower fat varieties such as lighter/reduced fat cheddars, cottage cheese and ricotta, can help ensure we don’t exceed our recommended maximum amount of saturated fat.

Moreover, foods such as low-fat yogurts and lower fat milks can also provide us with calcium and protein (two of the key nutrients found in cheese) but provide less saturated fats (as well as fewer calories, which would be helpful for those trying to lose weight).

For more information, go to British Heart Foundation and the NHS


HEADLINE 2: Diabetes is a key factor in WORLDWIDE cancer surge

The Express, The Sun and The Daily Mail reported on a finding that diabetes and obesity have been linked to causing cancer.

Researchers found that people with a high BMI (defined as above 25kg/m) who also had diabetes were behind 5.6% of new cancer cases globally, affecting 792,600 people in 2012. The method used was through assessing the increase in new cases of 18 cancers based on the prevalence of diabetes and high BMI in 175 countries (using data about BMI and diabetes in 2002 and cancers recorded in 2012).

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

This is an interesting study as it is the first study to have looked at the combined effect of having diabetes and obesity on cancer risk. Whilst the headlines alert us to the finding that over 5% of cancers were attributable to diabetes and cancer, there were significant differences between various groups of people, regions and types of cancer which should be noted. These are discussed in the original study. For example, cancers attributable to diabetes and being overweight were nearly twice as common in women (496,700 cases) as they were in men (295,900 cases).

It should be noted that there were limitations of the study. It is questionable whether the 10-year gap used between recording diabetes and high BMI to cancer incidence is entirely appropriate to enable conclusions to be drawn, as recognised by the researchers.

What we understand already is that obesity is certainly a risk factor for cancer. Analysis conducted by the World Cancer Research Fund has found that being overweight (BMI 25kg- 29.9/m) or obese (BMI 30kg/m and above) increases the risk of 11 types of cancer.

The Diabetes UK website outlines the link between diabetes and cancer. Some of the complications associated with diabetes can increase the risk of cancer. However, well-managed diabetes can help reduce the risk of any complications. Diabetes UK have given their thoughts on this study and stated that, “Diabetes doesn’t directly cause cancer, but this study adds to the evidence that having diabetes can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.”

The main message to take home from these headlines is that the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes may lead to an increase in risk of certain cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, keeping physically active, not smoking, and not exceeding the government guidelines for alcohol consumption can all help lower the risk of diabetes and cancer.

For more information, go to Diabetes UK and WCRF


HEADLINE 3: Kellogg’s to cut sugar in kids’ cereals by up to 40%

Also in the news this week is the announcement that Kellogg’s will cut the sugar levels in children’s cereals by up to 40%. This was reported by the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, The Times and The Sun.

Kellogg’s have said they will reduce sugar levels by 20-40% by the middle of 2018 for Coco Pops, Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes. They are also going to stop making Ricicles from January 2018, due to the amount of sugar in the cereal, and are putting a stop to on-pack promotions aimed at children on Frosties.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

This is a very positive and encouraging move from Kellogg’s as the battle to reduce sugar consumption in the UK continues.

In March this year, officials at Public Health England called on food firms to cut sugar by 5% by the end of this year and by 20% by 2020. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition currently advise that free sugar intake in the UK should account for no more than 5% of our daily energy intake. Advice for the different age groups is as follows:

  • Children 4-6 years – no more than 19g free sugars per day (5 teaspoons)
  • Children 7-10 years – no more than 24g free sugars per day (6 teaspoons)
  • Children 11 years + and adults – no more than 30g free sugars per day (7 teaspoons)  

Although not the highest source of sugar in our diets, cereals do contribute to daily intake, with the most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey highlighting that cereals are responsible for 5% of the added sugar intakes of adults and 6-8% of that of 4-10-year olds and teens. In our blog post last year A Health Check on New Breakfast Opportunities we discussed the need for more breakfast options to offer lower sugar choices and so this certainly is a positive step forward. With gradually a lesser number of options available that are high in sugar, it may be less overwhelming for consumers to make healthier choices.

Here is how much sugar is currently in the Kellogg’s products and how much they are to be reduced by:

  • Coco Pops – 9g sugar per 30g serving. To be reduced to 5.1g per 30g serving (40% reduction, changing from about 2 teaspoons of sugar to just over 1 teaspoon).
  • Rice Krispies – 3g sugar per 30g serving. To be reduced to 2.4g per 30g serving (20% reduction, changing from ¾ teaspoon of sugar to a little under 2/3 teaspoon of sugar).
  • Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes – 6.3g sugar per 30g serving. To be reduced to 4.5g per 30g serving (30% reduction, changing from about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar to just over 1 teaspoon)

A step forward to reduce the sugar content of any foods available on the market can only surely be a positive one.

For more information, go to Kellogg’s – Sugar and Breakfast Cereal and SACN 2015 – Carbohydrates and Health Report 

Top nutrition headlines 27 Nov – A Nutrilicious digest

Each week we analyse some of the hot headlines in health and nutrition news. This week: Breast cancer in larger women; vitamin D and arthritis; and health benefits of coffee.


HEADLINE 1: Breast cancer tumours ‘larger’ in overweight women

The BBC, Daily Mail and The Telegraph picked up on a Swedish study which found that cancerous breast lumps are less likely to be detected in overweight or obese women before the tumour becomes large. The suggestion is that they should therefore be offered more regular screening.

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

It is unclear for definite why cancerous lumps are less likely to be detected in women with high BMI. It could be because the tumours are growing at a faster rate or it could be that because their breasts are larger, the tumours were harder to find.

Current guidelines for screening in the UK are that all women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for screening every three years. Cancer Research UK have spoken out regarding this study, stating that it does not provide enough evidence to support a change in the guidelines.

In terms of breast cancer prevention, the role of Body Mass Index (BMI) has been recognised by Cancer Research UK, whereby being overweight (BMI 25-29.9kg/m2) or obese (BMI 30kg/m2 and above) is a known risk factor. Although screening guidelines are to remain the same, this study further reiterates the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.
Calculate your BMI


HEADLINE 2: Vitamin D may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis, suggests study

The Guardian reported on a laboratory study that investigated the role of vitamin D in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), following previous research showing it might have anti-inflammatory effects.

It was found that in non-diseased tissue, the immune cells responded well to active vitamin D. In contrast, the tissue from inflamed joints in people with RA was much less effective in responsiveness to vitamin D.

The researchers suggested that vitamin D supplementation may therefore be able to help prevent the onset of RA. They also said that while it is vitamin D is unlikely to be a successful treatment for established RA patients, if there was a route to make the diseased cells respond to vitamin D, then potentially this could help with treatment options. Another suggestion is that vitamin D supplementation may help with the prevention of inflammatory conditions such as RA. .

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view

This was a small laboratory study that only involved 15 participants and much more research is needed to investigate why the RA cells were insensitive to vitamin D. Although useful in understanding vitamin D in RA, we cannot draw conclusions regarding the use of vitamin D supplements to either prevent or potentially help treat people with RA. The suggestions are pure speculation; there would be a lot more research needed to investigate both of these points

Regardless of the potential effects on inflammation, the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition advise that all adults and children over the age of one should be taking a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months (October to March). With our main source of vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, it can be hard to get adequate supplies in these months. Although we can obtain vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, eggs, red meat and liver, sources are limited so supplements are a better way of being sure.

For more information, go to
BDA Food Facts, Vitamin D
Arthritis UK, Diet and Arthritis


HEADLINE 3: Three cups of coffee a day ‘may have health benefits’

News outlets once again jumped on a ‘healthy coffee’ study, with the BBC, ABC News, Daily Mail and The Guardian picking up on a study which looked into previous research into coffee and health. The researchers looked into more than 200 studies, most of which were observational by design.

Those who drank three cups of coffee per day appeared to reduce their risk of heart disease and of death from heart disease. The most notable benefits were the effects on liver disease and liver cancer, with coffee drinking reducing the risk.

Behind the headlines: The Nutrilicious dietetic view

In last week’s Nutrition News Digest we also reported on a study that found benefits of coffee drinking and reducing the risk of liver cancer.

Although this week’s study backs up recent research, similarly to last week it cannot prove that it is actually the coffee drinking causing the effects seen. There are many factors, including the lifestyle of coffee drinkers, which may contribute to the effects. Moreover, most of the studies included within the analysis were of low quality – as recognised by the researchers.

The headlines focus on the positive aspects of coffee drinking. Although most of the effects were found to be positive in this research, some of the studies also showed a harmful health outcome (e.g. for fracture risk in women).

There is a useful summary of the current evidence into coffee and health in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Coffee gets a clean bill of health, which discusses the questions many people may be asking in response to these recent headlines, including:
1. whether coffee should be recommended to prevent disease; and
2. whether people should start drinking coffee for health reasons.

Both questions are answered as ‘no’. There is simply not enough sound evidence to make these conclusions.

Nevertheless, the advice remains the same in that a caffeine intake of up to 400mg per day (3-4 cups of coffee) is perfectly safe and that coffee is absolutely fine to include in moderation. Pregnant women should limit their intake to less than 200mg per day (2 cups of instant coffee).

For more information, go to:
NHS, pregnancy and caffeine
EFSA, Scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine

Top Nutrition Headlines 13th Nov – A Nutrilicious Digest

HEADLINE: ‘Emotional toll of diabetes ‘needs more recognition’

Same story also reported by

Nutrilicious Dietetic Comments – Take Home Messages

This news article highlighted that many people with diabetes are suffering from related emotional issues. A survey from Diabetes UK (involving 8,500 people with diabetes) found that three out of five said their condition made them feel down. Only three in ten felt they had control of their condition. Dietitians, alongside other healthcare professionals have an important role to play in educating people with diabetes. When people are diagnosed with diabetes, thoughts around food choices are often present and can persist. As shown in the news article, one survey participant stated ‘I am constantly thinking about food.” Dietitians Nutritionists and all involved in food and health communications have a role in helping those with Diabetes to feel like that they can take control of their food choices and it not become a big burden on their daily life. For both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, education programmes are offered which can help people manage their condition better. Whilst improvements are in need in terms of access to specialist healthcare professionals and other areas, we should be reminded of the Diabetes UK Checklist for the 15 healthcare essentials that people with diabetes should receive (see below).

Where to find useful information on the topic
Diabetes UK,
Diabetes UK, Emotional Wellbeing

HEADLINE: Tofu IS linked to prostate cancer, study reveals – but experts stress men shouldn’t cut it out of their diets just yet


Nutrilicious Dietetic Comments – Take Home Messages

The study behind this headline involved 27,004 men and they found an association between dietary intake of isoflavones and an elevated risk of advanced prostate cancer. A food frequency questionnaire was used to establish dietary intake of isoflavones from soya sources. It should be noted that this is an association found, not a cause and effect relationship and in terms of the totality of the evidence to date we cannot draw the conclusion that tofu causes prostate cancer. To the contrary the American Institute of Cancer Research in their latest review of soya and cancer mentions that in some cases, research indicates that soya isoflavones may in fact lower the risk of prostate cancer. Some studies suggest that lifelong soya consumption and exposure to isoflavones – especially before and during puberty – may protect against the development of prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer UK have spoken about this new research and stated that ‘much more research is needed to measure the actual intake of isoflavones in people with varied eating habits.’ It is very difficult to draw solid conclusions from trials trying to isolate the impact of a single food type when we eat such a varied diet. The take home message is that we do not need to be cutting tofu out from our diet based on this study; much more research is needed. Tofu is a nutritious food and can indeed form part of a healthy diet; it is low in saturated fat (1g per 100g) and offers a good source of protein (12g per 100g).

Where to find useful information on the topic

Prostate UK, Diet, physical activity and your risk of prostate cancer
BDA Food Facts, soya

HEADLINE: Drinking coffee may help prevent liver cancer, study suggests


Same story also reported by
Daily Mail, ‘Drinking three cups of coffee each day could save your life: Beverage slashes the risk of fatal liver diseases by 70%, reveals review’

The Sun, Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day reduces risk of liver cancer, experts say

The Express, ‘Drinking coffee can cut the risk of cancer’

Nutrilicious Dietetic Comments – Take Home Messages

This headline was based on the analysis of 26 studies (involving more than 2.25 million participants), which concluded that people who drink more coffee, including decaffeinated (to a lesser extent), were less likely to get liver cancer. Compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank one cup a day had a 20% lower risk of developing the most common form of liver cancer. Those who consumed two cups a day had a 35% reduced risk and for those who drank five cups, the risk was halved. However, the researchers judged the quality of the evidence they found using the GRADE criteria and deemed it be ‘very low’. One reason for this is the lack of randomised controlled trials (considered to be the gold standard within research). In this study, it is hard to be certain whether it was the coffee causing the outcome or other non-controlled for factors. E.g. do the coffee drinkers tend to have a healthier lifestyle in other ways which may confound the results? Nevertheless, this is an interesting study and moderate consumption of coffee is not a problem and can help towards our daily hydration needs. The EFSA advise that intakes up to 400mg of caffeine are safe for healthy adults in the general population. The exception lies with pregnant women who are advised to limit this to 200mg per day, the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee.

NHS, pregnancy and caffeine
EFSA, Scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine

Top Nutrition Headlines 6th Nov – A Nutrilicious Digest

Each week we analyse some of the hot headlines in health and nutrition news

HEADLINE 1: Could sugary diets fuel Alzheimer’s disease? Scientists discover link between high levels of glucose in the brain and memory loss symptoms

The story linking sugar to Alzheimer’s disease was reported in The Daily Mail, The SunThe Express and Hello Magazine

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
This news was headline-grabbing indeed, with all the stories suggesting that diets high in sugar could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The story is based on a study finding that there were significant abnormalities in glucose breakdown in patients with Alzheimer’s – resulting in high levels of brain glucose.

However, the actual reasons for these abnormalities remain unclear and cannot be drawn from this study. The study is still at an early stage and more research is needed to investigate whether genetic or perhaps environmental factors are the cause of such abnormalities. The headlines may lead people to think that high sugar diets cause Alzheimer’s. However, the study did not directly test this and no causal relationship can be assumed at all.

Nevertheless, as part of a healthy diet, sugar should be limited. SACN advise that less than 5% of daily energy should come from free sugars (which amounts to 30g per day for an average person over 11 years).

Where to find useful information on the topic

BDA Food Facts, Sugar
Alzheimer’s Society, Risk factors and Prevention

HEADLINE 2: Arthritis: Following THIS diet could help stave off the crippling condition
SWITCHING to a superfoods diet can help fight rheumatoid arthritis, research has found

The story in the Daily Express was also reported by:
NDTV: Scientists reveal the diet and superfoods that can beat arthritis
Daily Mail: Diet to beat arthritis
The Sun: Blueberries, ginger and olive oil offer pain relief to thousands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers
Times Now: Rheumatoid arthritis: Indian scientists list foods that may help ease the condition

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
This headline is based on a list of ‘superfoods’ that has been produced following a review of journals publishing on the subject. The list of foods includes blueberries, olive oil, green tea, pomegranates, dried plums, ginger and more. Those who carried out the research also recommend avoiding meat and including probiotics.

Many studies seem to hit the headlines regarding so called ‘superfoods’ (a term for which there is no official definition). However, no single food can outweigh the impact of the rest of one’s diet and hence a whole diet approach is recommended.

What we know is that no single food can cure arthritis. Rather than following a list of ‘superfoods’ as this headline suggests, having a healthy balanced diet, Mediterranean style, with a variety of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish and healthy fats would be advised.

The links given below discuss in more detail key aspects of a healthy diet for arthritis, the role of vegetarian diets and the potential role of supplements for the condition:

Arthritis UK, Diet and Arthritis
BDA Food Facts, Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis

HEADLINE 3: Cheers! Red wine cuts diabetes risk in women: Moderate drinking found to reduce chance of the disease by 27%

The story in The Daily Mail was also reported by:
The Express: Type 2 diabetes symptoms: Drinking RED WINE could help LOWER risk of condition
Health Spectator: Drinking tea and red wine reduces type 2 diabetes risk

Behind the headlines: the Nutrilicious dietetic view
This study looked into the eating habits of women aged between 40 and 65 years old. Through a food questionnaire it concluded that a diet rich in antioxidants (foods including red wine, dark chocolate, tea, fruits, nuts and vegetables) will reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 27%.

From this type of research, it cannot be proven that a diet rich in antioxidants, or as the headlines specifically say drinking red wine, reduces diabetes risk; it is an association found and more studies are needed. Food questionnaires, as used in this study, have questionable accuracy and the study can only be applied to middle aged women. Whilst many of the foods listed in this study such as fruit and vegetables play an important part in the diet, alcohol can have detrimental effects to our health and should be limited (no more than 14 units per week).

Looking at the bigger picture, it is interesting to note that the WCRF recommend for reducing cancer risk as much as possible, we should not be drinking alcohol at all. For type 2 diabetes prevention, the most important lifestyle factors are to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and be active.

For more information, go to:
NHS, Drinking and Alcohol 
WCRF Alcohol and Cancer Risk
Diabetes UK, Preventing Type 2 Diabetes



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