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Eat 5 to 9 portions of fruit & veg daily

There's a helpful editorial in last month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) - "Fruit and vegetables: think variety, go ahead, eat!" As with many journals, one doesn't have to pay anything to look at the full text of AJCN editorials. It's a good read. It comments on a paper in the journal by Myint et al showing a 42% reduction in stroke for those in the highest quartile - the top 25% - of plasma vitamin C compared with those in the lowest quartile (independently of other risk factors such as smoking, exercise, age, weight and so on).

Drink lots of water: an urban myth

The Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal usually has a series of light-hearted articles in it. Last month's copy was no exception. In one of the articles, entitled "Medical myths" (Vreeman & Carroll 2007), the authors wrote "We generated a list of common medical or medicine related beliefs espoused by physicians and the general public, based on statements we had heard endorsed on multiple occasions and thought were true or might be true. We selected seven for critical review". The first myth critiqued was "People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day". Searches on Medline and Google apparently yielded no hard evidence supporting this advice. There are many sources stating that it's good health practice, but they could find no worthwhile evidence to back it up.

Does healthy lifestyle really make much difference?

In an earlier post (January 3, 08), I looked at how common sense isn’t common, at least for healthy behaviours. Only about 3% of the population are ticking all the right boxes for non-smoking, alcohol use, exercise, weight and diet. This is interesting and maybe surprising, but does it really matter much?

Common sense isn’t common

Common sense isn’t common, at least with healthy behaviours. The vast majority of us know that we should eat sensibly, be a reasonable weight, exercise regularly, not abuse alcohol, and avoid smoking. Do you know what percentage of people actually follow all this obvious advice? A survey (Reeves and Rafferty 2005) of over 153,000 US adults in 2000 found that only 3% ticked all four boxes when asked if they didn’t smoke, were a healthy weight (body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters, 18.5 to 25.0), consumed 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily, and exercised in leisure time for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more times per week (this includes brisk walking).

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