Going to bed earlier can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
The time you turn off your light at bedtime could influence the health of your heart or so a recent study in the European Heart Journal [i] suggests. The researchers found that the incidence of cardiovascular disease was lowest in study participants who dropped off between 10 and 10.59 pm but highest in those who went to sleep at midnight or later.
“The body has a 24-hour internal clock AKA the circadian rhythm which helps regulate physical and mental functioning,” explains Dr David Plan from the University of Exeter, one of the study’s authors. “The results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health,” he adds.
Meanwhile, if you have trouble dropping off or staying asleep the soothing herb valerian or a cup of gentle camomile might help you enter the land of Nod.
Zinc reduces risk and severity of cold and flu
Some good news for zinc supplements. According to a recent review of 28 studies[ii] involving around 5,500 people carried out at Western Sydney University in Australia they may be able to reduce the duration of cold and flu-like symptoms and even stave them off completely. The study results showed that when taken as preventative measure zinc was linked with a 28% lower risk of developing mild symptoms and an 87% lower risk of moderately severe symptoms.
In addition, when taken after a cold had developed, it seemed to reduce the duration of the worst symptoms by around two days. The researchers concluded that the review offered some evidence that zinc was a viable natural alternative for managing respiratory tract infections at home. However, it also pointed out that some of the studies were small and that there was still uncertainty about the efficacy of different formulations and doses of zinc.
Herbs and spices found to reduce blood pressure
A diet rich in herbs and spices could help reduce blood pressure in people at risk of cardiovascular disease reports a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.[iii]
After following a diet rich in ingredients such as cinnamon, coriander, parsley, garlic, black pepper, thyme, and turmeric for four weeks participants reported improved blood pressure readings. Their food contained around 65g or one and a half teaspoons of herbs and spices a day but the researchers were unable to establish the effects of individual ones.
“Adding herbs and spices to your food is a great way to add flavour without adding extra sodium, sugar or saturated fat,” commented Professor Penny Kris- Etherton, one of the study’s lead investigators.