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News: April 2021

How to choose your 5-a-day

A range of colourful fruits and vegetables

Five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, ideally as two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables, may be the optimal amount and combination for a longer life according to recent US data representing nearly 2 million adults[i].

However, it seems not all fruits and vegetables offer the same benefits. For example, starchy vegetables, such as peas and corn, fruit juices and potatoes were not associated with reduced risk of death from all causes or specific chronic diseases. Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, lettuce and kale, and fruit and vegetables rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries and carrots, showed the most benefits.

Stress Awareness Month

Woman lying on floor surrounded by work representing stress

April is Stress Awareness Month and according to research carried out by the Stress Management Society 65% of us in the UK have felt more stressed since the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020[ii]. The three main causes for concern are feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a worrying loss of control so this year’s theme is ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’.

The most crucial thing we can do when stressed or anxious is to make sure we look after ourselves. Suggestions include making time to relax when we need to and learning to say no to requests that are too much for us. It’s also important to remember to eat and exercise however stressed we feel.

Regular sleep patterns can improve feelings of happiness

Woman hugging pillow whilst sleeping in bed

You may look forward to having a weekend lie in but a recent study published in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine, and conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, now shows it may not be so good for happiness levels[iii]. People who don’t stick to regular sleeping and waking times are more likely to become depressed than those who do, reveal the findings. It seems that when you sleep could be just as important to wellbeing as the amount of shuteye you clock up.

So why should disrupted sleep patterns lead to low mood or depression? It’s thought that the circadian rhythm (our body clock which regulates sleep and waking cycles) goes out of kilter, disrupting the production of chemical messengers that, in turn, alter brain function and the nervous system. The message is simple:  keeping to a consistent bedtime and sleep time are important for mental health and wellbeing.


[i] Circulation, 2021; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.048996

[ii] www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month

[iii] npj Digital Medicine, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41746-021-00400-z


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