The importance of vitamin D in supporting the immune system

Researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) have released a crucial report which shines a light on the role of vitamin D and unveils shocking levels of deficiency in older people in Ireland. The team, based at Trinity College in Dublin, concluded that Vitamin D supplementation was necessary for those over the age of 50 and those currently shielding. They also highlighted a range of studies showing vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of respiratory infections, boosting the immune system response to infections and reducing the need for antibiotic use. 

The study, titled Vitamin D deficiency in Ireland – implications for COVID-19, used data from wave 1 of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which started back in 2009. This was a prospective study of 8,172 adults aged 50 years and older in Ireland living in the community – not in care homes or hospitals. The participants were personally interviewed and their answers on their socio-demographic status, physical, mental and behavioural health recorded. 72% of the participants consented to a health assessment and of those, 91% submitted a blood sample for vitamin D level assessment (5,382 people). 

The data revealed that of those aged 55+ years in the Republic of Ireland, 1 in 5 are vitamin D deficient during the winter and 1 in 12 during the summer. This rises to nearly 30% of those aged 70+ and 47% of those aged 85+. These are the age groups considered to be ‘extremely medically vulnerable’ to adverse health outcomes of COVID-19 and have been advised to participate in ‘cocooning’ (known as ‘shielding’ in the UK) during the pandemic.

The researchers also considered the findings of a range of medical studies into the role of Vitamin D in immune function and immune response to infection. One such study in 2017 carried out by Vanherwegen AS, Gysemans C, Mathieu looked at regulation of immune function by vitamin D and its use in diseases of immunity.

Principal Investigator of TILDA Rose Anne Kenny comments:

“We have evidence to support a role for Vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels. In one study Vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements. Though we do not know specifically of the role of Vitamin D in COVID infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.”

The researchers concluded that adults aged over 50 should take Vitamin D supplements, and not just in winter, but all year round if they don’t get enough sun.


Altruvita’s high quality Vitamin D supplement is from cholecalciferol and provides around 500% of the adult daily requirement for health.

Why is Vitamin D so important for our health?

sunlight

At a time when it’s crucial to have a healthy immune system, both to help prevent infections and support our body in recovering when we do get ill, we wanted to share some facts and important information with you about vitamin D. 

How do our bodies get vitamin D?

In humans, around 90% of the vitamin D we need is synthesised in the skin when we are exposed to sunlight and the other 10% is obtained from certain foods. The former is why it is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’! The amount of vitamin D that we produce is influenced by the latitude we live at, the time of year it is, the time of day we tend to venture outside, whether we are wearing sunscreen and the natural pigmentation of our skin. 

For example, during the winter months in the UK (and anywhere else above the northerly latitude of 35 degrees) the UVB rays from the sun don’t penetrate all the way down to our skin, so we can’t make vitamin D. That’s why Public Health England recommends that all adults and children (over the age of 1) should take a vitamin D supplement throughout autumn and winter.

Why is vitamin D so important?

When our bodies get vitamin D (from either the skin’s exposure to sunlight or food) they turn it into a hormone called activated vitamin D or calciferol. This works to help to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. 

Did you know that even if you get plenty of calcium in your diet (from sources such as milk and leafy green vegetables), your body can’t absorb it unless you have enough vitamin D?  That means that a lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and a bone condition called osteomalacia in adults. 

Activated vitamin D also contributes to the normal function of the immune system and the process of cell division. If you are keen to support your immune system function at this time, it’s worth considering if you are likely to be getting enough vitamin D. 

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

  • People who are unable to go out much during the daytime in those all-important spring and summer months, such as office workers, the housebound, and night shift or factory workers. 
  • People who cover most of their skin with clothing when they go outside, even during the warmer weather.
  • People over 65, because their skin is not as good at making vitamin D. 
  • Now that self-isolation and social distancing measures are part of our day-to-day life, we all need to keep an eye on the amount of sunlight we get.   

Which foods can we get Vitamin D from?

As mentioned above, the best source of vitamin D is when our bodies are exposed to sunlight and make it for us, but we can get a small amount by eating certain foods as well. 

The most common food sources of vitamin D include: 

  • Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, pilchards, trout, herring and kippers.
  • Eggs – mainly from the yolk, so be careful if you’re keen on egg white omelette! 
  • Red meat, though this will vary depending on what kind of meat and the time of year it is produced. 
  • Milk – again, it can depend on the time of year
  • Fortified products such as cereals, some dairy products and soy milk.

Altruvita’s high-strength vitamin D supplement

Along with vitamin C and selenium, vitamin D helps to support a healthy immune system, along with the other important roles it plays in our body. Shop Altruvita’s high-quality cholecalciferol vitamin D supplement here

How to support your immune system

There has never been a more important time to be proactive with our nutrition, with the aim of supporting the very best immune system defence.

Our immune systems play a role not only in fighting off infections, but also in promoting tissue repair to recovery. To function properly, our immune system requires plenty of both macro and micronutrients.

To help support your health over the next few months, we’ve put together a few diet and lifestyle pointers to keep you going in this worrying time.

Avoid strenuous exercise

Moderate-intensity exercise can be protective against illness by boosting the immune system, whereas high-intensity sessions actually compromise the immune system. Our immune system takes a hit for up to 72 hours following high-intensity training, making this a key time for susceptibility. This is especially important to note if you exercise in a class with others, where you’re more likely to pick up bacteria and viruses.

Let yourself sleep, rest and recover

Rest and recovery are key to prevent getting ill and further unwanted illness. If you’re always on the go with minimal rest, your immune system can be compromised long term. Poor sleep can affect the immune system and make you more susceptible to infection or illness. Sometimes it’s hard to stop, particularly when the future feels so uncertain, but don’t ever underestimate the importance of rest and relaxation! Run a hot bath, read a book, get a massage or listen to relaxing music every now and again.

Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol

Excessive chronic intake of alcohol can decrease the number of a few white blood cells types, which means that your immune system will not be as able to fight off any bugs. Keeping within the alcohol guidelines will help, which in the UK is currently set at 14 units per week. That’s 6 pints of beer or 6 glasses of wine if that’s your preferred tipple. If you do prefer to round off the week with a few drinks you could pick drinks with healthy, vitamin-packed mixers such as orange, tomato or pineapple juice.

It’s not the time to diet

If you are unlucky enough to pick up an infection, you will need plenty of energy to fight it off. That means that it might not be the wisest time to start a calorie reduced diet – unless of course you have a pressing health issue that means you need to lose weight urgently. Low intakes of carbohydrates such as bread, rice and potatoes, which end up as glucose in the blood, can be a contributing factor to impaired immunity.

Keep well hydrated

Unfortunately, being dehydrated can also contribute to a compromised immune system. Still at this time of year when there’s still a bit of a nip on the air, it’s easy to forget to drink. One of the front-line defences in our immune systems are the immune proteins in our saliva. When we’re dehydrated, the levels of these proteins decreases, meaning our initial defence to bugs entering through the mouth is also decreased. Make sure you don’t wait to feel thirsty before you drink up, carry a water bottle with you (everywhere!) and keep sipping throughout the day.

Taste the Rainbow

Fruit and vegetables contain a wide range of different micronutrients with varying roles within the body. Many of these nutrients are involved in immune function such as iron, vitamins C and D, selenium and zinc. Anyone with even mild deficiencies in any of these micronutrients can have an altered immune response.

The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough micronutrients and other phytochemicals is to consume a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables. Taste the rainbow- choose different coloured and textured fruit and veg every single day!

Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin C, vitamin D and selenium all help to support a healthy immune system. Not everyone can eat enough to get these micronutrients (or get enough sun in a UK winter), so consider taking a food supplement if you are lacking some antioxidant or immune protection. Contrary to popular belief, huge doses of vitamin C are not required in winter. At doses of say 400-500mg a day, the excess vitamin C is simply excreted in urine, making it literally money down the toilet!

In summary: consume enough antioxidants to support your immune system, sleep well, drink plenty (but not too many drinks of the alcoholic kind), avoid strenuous activity and wash your hands before eating to stay well.

Eating well for a winter health boost! Altruvita’s favourite winter dinner recipes for older adults.

Winter is always a tough time of year for older people, especially those suffering from poor health. The lack of sunlight inhibits our body’s production of Vitamin D, an essential micronutrient for immune system function as well as bone and muscle health. The cold and damp weather can exacerbate join stiffness (though, interestingly, the reasons why this is the case are still being researched) and leave us susceptible to respiratory disease. 

The UK has an aging population, and the associated strain on healthcare and other support service could be problematic, so what can we do to mitigate the impact on society? A healthy and balanced diet plays an integral part in the prevention of age-related diseases, but research shows that older adults aren’t necessarily getting all the nutrients they need.

From data gathered in the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) 2008–2014, older adults in Britain are currently not meeting important dietary recommendations for their age group:

  • Over 65’s do not get the minimum five portions per day of fruit and vegetables (80 grams is one portion), most do not get the 18 grams a day of fibre either which may be related to this, but also can also be sourced from wholegrains.
  • Over 65’s should have 140 grams of oily fish per week but they are not getting this. 
  • Men aged 65 years and over are likely to exceed the 70 grams per day (on average) of red and processed meat.

Dietary intake in older adults is influenced by an array of factors including wealth, kitchen facilities, cooking skills, mood, strength to cut up food and the help or company that is available. 

Dental status is potentially an important factor. Older adults are susceptible to tooth loss and a large number are missing teeth or have dentures which can impair chewing ability. Consequently, reduced chewing ability may impact dietary eating habits, such as avoiding tough foods that are high in fibre including fruit, vegetables and nuts. That means they may miss out on key nutrients for optimal health in older age. 

Further analysis of the NDNS found that people with dentures have significantly lower levels of average daily intakes of omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, β-carotene, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, and had lower blood levels of vitamin B6, vitamin C and β-carotene concentrations. People with dentures were more likely to report difficulty eating apples, raw carrots, lettuce, nuts, well-cooked steak and crusty bread too.

Perhaps you are worried that your diet might be lacking some key nutrients? Here are some meal and snack ideas which could be really helpful:

Fruits

Fruit such as apple, pear, kiwi and melon should be ripe and finely cut. Stewed apple, rhubarb, plums and cherries can be served as desserts. All of these contain high amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Bananas and raspberries also contain magnesium.

Vegetables

Vegetables should be soft enough and easy to chew and are best left steaming for a bit longer than normal. Try mashing carrot, sweet potato, parsnip or swede into mashed potato. Stewing vegetables in with meat and gravy or tomato-based sauces will deliver an easy to eat, tasty and nutrient-rich meal. Easily to mash pieces of roasted butternut squash pack in potassium, fibre and beta carotene. Peas are well liked as they are soft, naturally sweet and contain folate, vitamin C, fibre and potassium.

Meat

Tender low-fat meats such as chicken or turkey from a whole bird are usually best tolerated and can be served with a cheese sauce or as a well-thought-out roast dinner. Chicken and turkey are also rich in vitamin B6, essential for protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism

Shepherds/cottage pie: Use quorn, beef or lamb mince with gravy, onion and carrots topped with mashed potato, delivering protein, fibre, beta carotene and potassium. Or even mince in a wholemeal shortcrust pastry topped pie, brushed with egg yolk and served with soft cauliflower cheese always goes down well, packing in potassium, fibre and vitamin C.

Fish

Seafood pies with creamy white wine sauces and peas can form a potato topped pie or mix with tagliatelle – they’re both rich in key nutrients B6, omega 3, folate and vitamin C and potassium. A tender salmon steak served with peas and dauphinoise potatoes is rich in B6, omega 3, vitamin C, fibre and folate. A salmon and broccoli quiche packs in magnesium, omega 3, B6. fibre, potassium, folate and beta carotene. 

Salads

Side salads could include guacamole which includes finely chopped red pepper. This packs in magnesium, fibre, potassium, folate and beta carotene. Roast pieces of butternut squash, peeled cucumber with coriander or mint and mixed into cous cous or rice salads add extra potassium, fibre and beta carotene.

Snacks

Make your own soft red pepper and tomato bread and serve with hummus, this provides vitamin C, potassium, fibre and beta carotene. Or buy a soft wholemeal roll and serve with homemade red pepper hummus for added vitamin B6, beta carotene, magnesium and folate.

Weighing Up Veganuary

2020’s Veganuary is set to be the biggest yet. This initiative aims to inspire people to go vegan for the first month of each year, spreading the word about veganism and educating people on plant-based ingredients and recipes. But is going vegan actually good for our health? Let’s take a closer look by weighing up Veganuary…

Done badly, a vegan diet is the same as any other poor diet. Technically someone who is following a vegan diet could live on crisps!

The good bits

People who decide to try a new diet at the beginning of the year are often trying to improve their health and or lose weight. Whilst it is important to know that one month of adhering to a strict vegan diet (or even a lifetime of veganism!) isn’t a cure for every known health issue, vegetarians and vegans are at lower risk of a range of health conditions. These include obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some cancers. 

Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, soya products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fibre and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels and improve serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease.

The not so good bits

Despite what some press might suggest around the carbon footprint of meat versus plant-based diets, a vegan diet is not the answer to our environmental and food sustainability issues. Some ingredients loved by vegetarians and vegans have a hefty carbon footprint of their own, but a sustainable and locally sourced diet (meat or plant based) can ease the pressure on the environment.

People may not find a vegan diet easy to follow if it’s not what they have been brought up on. It can be especially complicated if you have a dislike of vegetables and pulses! Thankfully the rise in popularity of vegan diets means there are plenty of recipes and ideas online to help participants decide what to cook.  

There are certain nutrients that a wholly plant-based diet will struggle to provide. That means if you follow a vegan diet it’s important to consider supplementation to prevent any deficiencies.  Remember that some deficiencies can take months, even years to present with symptoms so don’t wait until you have an issue to take action. Let’s take a look at them:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a good example of this.  You may have good bodily stores of B12 when you begin a vegan diet, and these stores can keep you going for several months before they drop and you start to notice symptoms like tiredness, brain fog, and poor memory. The most bioavailable form of B12 is unique to animal sources.  It plays an important role in brain and heart health, nerve cells, and red blood cell function. Top sources include shellfish, lamb, and beef. 

Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements. Spirulina and other edible cyanobacteria (commonly called blue-green algaes) contain a poorly bioavailable B12 which isn’t converted to B12 in humans.  We can’t absorb it, so consider using a B12 supplement if you plan to be wholly plant-based for more than a few months.

Omega-3 oils

Vegetarian and vegan diets tend to have plenty of omega-6 oils, but struggle to provide adequate with omega-3.  Nuts and seeds provide what is known as the ‘parent’ omega 3 fat, Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA).  This needs to go through several conversion steps before it becomes EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid). DHA and EPA are the omega-3 fats we use in the brain and heart. They are ready formed in fish oils. The conversion steps rely on co-factor nutrients like magnesium, B-vitamins, zinc, and vitamin C, and a lot of ALA gets lost during the process.  It is therefore important that vegans include walnuts, flaxseed oil, and/or pumpkinseed oil every day for their rich ALA content, and to enjoy plenty of food sources of the co-factor nutrients too;

– Magnesium: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, dark green leafy vegetables

– Zinc: nuts & seeds

– B-vitamins, excluding B12: sweet potatoes, brown rice, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, and dark green leafy veggies are especially useful.

– Vitamin C: peppers, broccoli, berries, kiwi, papaya, peas, watercress

Iron

Iron deficiency is a particular issue for pre-menopausal female vegans due to regular monthly iron loss from periods.  Haem iron in animal products is much better absorbed than non-haem iron from plant sources so if you are relying on non-haem iron, make sure you include sources of vitamin C too, as this helps the absorption of plant-sourced iron.

Vitamin D

If you’re doing Veganuary, you’re starting it in the middle of winter when light levels are poor. Many of us, whether vegan or not, are low in vitamin D simply because we don’t get enough regular sunshine here in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately for vegans, the optimum dietary sources of vitamin D3 (the most active usable form) are eggs, liver and butter, with plant sources like mushrooms providing a little D2 which has to be converted. It is advisable for everyone to take a vitamin D supplement during winter months (October to April) and vegans may need to continue it all year round.  

If you’re experimenting with Veganuary this year, this blog should have helped give you a steer on the nutrients that may be missing form your day to day diet. Nutrition is a complex subject but if you’re up to the challenge, enjoy a plant-based start to 2020! 

Add a green tea extract to your new year health kick for additional benefits!

If you’ve made a commitment to kick off the brand-new decade with focus on a healthy diet and more exercise, this blog will certainly be of interest! You’ve probably heard of green tea and know that it’s good for you, but do you know why? Altruvita’s expert nutritional team takes a look at how adding a green tea extract to your routine can deliver a range of additional benefits and what they are. 

What is green tea? 

Green tea is made from unoxidized tea leaves from the Camilla Sinesis bush (whereas black teas are made from totally oxidized tea leaves from various plants) and it has been enjoyed as a drink for centuries. Green tea is widely believed to have a variety of health benefits, so where do they come from? Polyphenol antioxidants called catechins comprise the majority of green tea’s antioxidant content. Among the catechins in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most researched and thought to provide the most health benefits. All of these things are found in more concentrated doses within green tea extracts, rather than diluting these key ingredients within green tea beverages.

How do green tea and green tea extracts support our health? 

Green tea helps to maintain women’s and men’s health* and it helps to reinforce the antioxidant defences of the body, including skin and eyes.* It also maintains healthy gut flora*, which means it feeds the bacteria in our gut, which in turn keeps our immune system functioning.  All of these things are important at this time of year when you’re trying to look and feel better at the same time as fighting off colds and flu.

Recent green tea supplement research

If you are one of the many thousands who are kick starting their year with a regular exercise routine, with a plan to lose weight, you may be interested in some research which was published in September of last year. 

Considering the relationship between cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, stroke) and obesity, the study investigated the effects of a green tea supplement and high-intensity interval training on blood cholesterol, triglycerides, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and other risk factors in overweight women.

Thirty overweight women (aged 20-30), were chosen and randomly divided into three equal groups (green tea alone, or exercise + green tea, or exercise + placebo). They worked-out for 10 weeks doing 40m shuttle runs at maximum effort. Women took 500 mg per day of green tea extract or placebo tablets. 

After 10 weeks, triglycerides, LDL (bad cholesterol), weight, and body fat percentage decreased in all groups. HDL (good cholesterol) and VO2max significantly increased in the exercise + green tea and exercise + placebo groups; whilst in the green tea group they did not, which would be expected without exercise.

It suggests that to get the full health benefits, a green tea extract combined with high intensity interval training exercise is probably the best way to go. Green tea and exercise both have their own unique way of improving different measurements and so collectively provide the best option.

Our carefully sourced green tea extract is low in caffeine and is composed of 98% green tea polyphenols.

* EFSA ARTICLE 13.1 BOTANICALS ON-HOLD LIST

Photo by Verena Böttcher on Unsplash

Xanthohumol now used in IBD research

Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and together they affect more than 300,000 people in the UK. IBDs can trigger a wide range of symptoms including pain, cramps, weight loss, extreme tiredness, diarrhoea and swelling of the stomach. 

Due to the high prevalence of nutrient deficiencies in patients with IBD, routine monitoring of nutrient status and supplementation are recommended. Not only are deficiencies a wider problem, but the resulting inflammation causes pain and intolerance to food during flare ups when the diseases are active.

Xanthohumol is an extract of the hop flower which protects body cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Xanthohumol protects body cells from oxidation-induced cell stress and reinforces cell protection*

A team in Portland, Oregon, who have been running multiple studies investigating the health benefits of xanthohumol hop extracts, have released their latest preliminary study, this time in IBD. The formula contained xanthohumol and curcumin, which is well studied for its anti-inflammatory effects* in IBD. The formula also contained a mixture of micronutrients (including methylated forms of folate and vitamin B12), macronutrients, and phytonutrients including, ginger compounds, and quercetin. Ten adults with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis were recruited from the Portland metropolitan area. Participants consumed a beverage twice daily for 12 weeks. 

The researchers wanted to see if the beverage affected blood nutrients and blood cells involved in immunity. Primary measures were the following parameters: folate, vitamin B12, red blood cell (RBC) count, haemoglobin, haematocrit, electrolytes, and albumin. Exploratory measures included a food frequency questionnaire, circulating blood cell counts, and inflammatory markers.

Nine participants completed the study and one withdrew. Adherence was 98%. Serum folate and red cell distribution width improved in adults with IBD after 12 weeks. Modulation of leukocyte subtypes was also observed, including a decrease in neutrophils and an increase in lymphocytes, with no change in total WBC count. 

The team have planned a bigger study to fully examine the effects of the beverage in IBD patients, exciting news for those who suffer from these conditions.

* EU EFSA ARTICLE 13.1 BOTANICALS ON HOLD LIST.

Photo by zhenzhong liu on Unsplash

Xanthohumol+ SKIN

The quest for clear, glowing and youthful skin has obsessed people for centuries. People invest in lotions and potions, swear by their favourite skincare routines and turn to medical intervention to try and achieve the perfect complexion.

Altruvita’s Xanthohumol+ Skin food supplement contains hop extract in a carefully formulated concentration which works synergistically to support problem-skin. The expert team behind Altruvita believe that healthy skin is best achieved by supplementing our diet with natural ingredients which are backed up by science.

A naturally derived component of hops, xanthohumol has been investigated as an anti-acne compound when it is tested directly on the skin. The tests showed strong antibacterial activity against P. acnesS. epidermidis, S. aureus, K. rhizophila and S. pyogenes, which are bacteria living in the skin and linked to the development of spots. Xanthohumol and humulones, also found in hops, demonstrated action against the enzymes which break down collagen, which supports the structure of the skin. 

Xanthohumol also showed the highest antioxidative potential from all of the plant extracts tested. Antioxidants could play a significant role in delaying the aging process of skin by scavenging free radicals and preventing the activity of collagenase and elastase enzymes.

Altruvita Xanthohumol+ Skin is designed to help protect the body from the ageing effects of a stressful lifestyle. Xanthohumol has a number of therapeutic health benefits and as an antioxidant it protects cells from stress-induced oxidation and premature ageing.*

* EU EFSA ARTICLE 13.1 BOTANICALS ON HOLD LIST.

Living in a polluted area is as bad for your health as smoking 150 cigarettes a year

Living or working in the UK’s most polluted cities and towns increases the risk of an early death by the equivalent of smoking three cigarettes a week, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned today.

The BHF has called for air pollution to be declared “a public health emergency” following the starling results of a research project funded by the charity. The study in question found that breathing in the particulate matter found in polluted air is a serious risk factor for diseases effecting the circulatory system.

Around 11,000 coronary heart disease and stroke deaths each year in the UK are caused by particulate matter air pollution. It can also worsen existing health problems such as respiratory illnesses, but in truth it effects every part of our body.

It’s the PM2.5 – the smallest of the particulate matter found in vehicle emissions – that are of most concern, as these cannot be filtered out of the air we breathe by our nostrils or the tube going down into the lungs.

The BHF analysis shows that the Chelsea, Newham, Westminster, Kensington and Islington areas of London are worst hit by air pollution – the equivalent to smoking more than 150 cigarettes a year on average. Those in Waltham Forest, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham, Lambeth and Southwark in London are also badly affected, as are people in Slough, Dartford, Gravesham, Thurrock, Portsmouth, Medway and Luton,

The results of studies such as these have led to an increase in demands that the next government should urgently introduce the much tougher World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution limits in place of EU limits. the current EU limits – which the UK comfortably meets – for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are 25 micrograms per metre cubed as an annual average. The WHO limits are much tougher – at 10 micrograms per metre cubed as an annual average. The potential health benefits of lowering these levels would allow everyone to live healthier lives for longer.

it’s not all doom and gloom – we’ve recently written about how dietary components can help play a role in combatting the effects of air pollution, which you can read about here. Altruvita’s medical and nutritionist team has also developed Air Pollution Formula, the very first food supplement of its kind and designed to provide natural support in a polluted world.

There are many ways you can try to limit your exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution, and to help you out we’ve gathered them together in our insightful Air Pollution Survival Guide. Download your FREE copy here.

Alternative treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) remains a common and difficult to manage gastrointestinal condition. There is growing interest in the use of traditional medicine to manage IBS, as prescribed drugs often fail after time and revolve around symptom management of cramps and diarrhoea rather than addressing the cause of the problem. In particular, curcumin, a biologically active phytochemical, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in several studies. 

Last year a group of researchers looked at all the studies available with IBS and curcumin. 3 studies were included in the final analysis this included treatment of 326 patients.

They found curcumin to have a beneficial effect on IBS symptoms. With its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and ability to modulate gut microbiota, curcumin is a potentially useful agent for IBS. It also appears safe and well-tolerated, with no adverse events reported in the available trials. 

There are more studies on the way looking at even more benefits that it may have in the gut and elsewhere in the body, so watch this space!

Altruvita’s Happy Tum supplement contains highly absorbable curcumin, green tea and vitamin D. Take a closer look at Happy Tum here.