Great ape bowel bacteria reveals how the human microbiome has changed

Scientists have discovered changes in the human microbiome when compared to those of our closest relatives, the Great Apes.

Scientists who examined the bacteria in chimpanzee and gorilla faeces discovered that they have seasonal changes in the type of intestinal flora brought about by the changes in their diet at different times of the year. Whereas humans are now able to source all kinds of food throughout the year which means that the intestinal flora stays the same.  According to scientists, who now place increasing emphasis  on the importance on the role  of gut bacteria in human health this could implications for our wellbeing.

The types and numbers of bacterial species that inhabit the human gut depend on what we eat.  And, as humans have changed their diet over time, the microbiome has followed suit, according to a recent study published in Nature Communications.

The Western diet, in particular, is wholly different to that of our ancestors just 100 years ago — let alone early humans who walked the earth millions of years ago.

The human digestive system, though it does have differences from our closest relatives — the other great apes — is relatively similar. And, when our species first split and went off on our own evolutionary path, our diets probably had a lot in common, too.This means that the bacteria types living in our gut were, at least initially, pretty similar to our hairier cousins. There are still similarities today, but, as our diet has shifted, so has our microbiome.What this huge change in our diet means for our microbiome and related health is a tricky question to answer.

Researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, NY, investigated ape bowel waste. Specifically, they examined fecal samples from great apes living in the Sangha region of the Republic of Congo, collected by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Their sampling was spread over three years, in order to give them an idea of how gut bacteria populations shifted seasonally.

The authors noted that, in chimpanzees and gorillas, the microbiome changed significantly with the seasons, along with their diet. In the hot, dry summer, for instance, fruits are their primary food source, whereas for the rest of the year, their diet is mostly fibrous leaves and bark.

Brent L. Williams, Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology, explains one of the primary changes they evidenced:  “Bacteria that help gorillas break down fibrous plants,” he says, “are replaced once a year by another group of bacteria that feed on the mucous layer in their gut during the months they are eating fruits.”

Interestingly, the changes mirrored those of the Hadza hunter-gatherer people from Tanzania, who similarly rely on seasonal food availability.

In contrast, as far as the average U.S. citizen’s microbiome is concerned, seasonal changes do not occur. We can access pretty much any food type we want at any point in the year.

The team noted other differences, too. According to first study author Allison L. Hicks, “While our human genomes share a great deal of similarity with those of our closest living relatives, our second genome (the microbiome) has some important distinctions, including reduced diversity and the absence of bacteria and archaea that appear to be important for fibre fermentation.” Do these differences matter to our health?

“The fact that our microbiomes are so different from our nearest living evolutionary relatives says something about how much we’ve changed our diets, consuming more protein and animal fat at the expense of fibre,” says Williams.

As mentioned earlier, during the fibre-poor summer months, the microbiome of the great ape is dominated by a strain that feeds on the gut’s mucous layer.”Many humans may be living in a constant state of fibre deficiency. Such a state may be promoting the growth of bacteria that degrade our protective mucous layer, which may have implications for intestinal inflammation, even colon cancer.”

As Hicks says, “Understanding how these lost microbes influence health and disease will be an important area for future studies.”

Gut health comes under the spotlight as its now implicated in many diseases

Improving your gut health is a simple way to make a real difference to your health and wellbeing, particular since it is now implicated in many diseases.

It’s also that time again when we pledge to become fitter, better versions of ourselves. In fact, the majority (61%) of British women make at least one New Year’s resolution, according to a new survey commissioned by constipation treatment Dulcolax. Health resolutions usually top the list: more than a third (37%) of women have pledged to eat more healthily and exercise more (35%), 14% have said they’ll aim to drink less alcohol, and more than one in ten (12%) have used the New Year to try a fad diet.

The vast majority fail to stick to their plans, however, with research also showing that 82% of women broke their resolutions last year*, with over half (62%) breaking them in 30 days or less*. A quarter (25%) say they got bored*, one in five (20%) say their resolution didn’t fit with their life*, while 17% say their lack of will power is to blame.

The research from Dulcolax also shines a light on the possible secrets to success with one in five (19%) women saying they would make more resolutions if they were easier to stick to and 13% would if their new habit had more of a noticeable impact on their lives.

Kate Arnold is a nutritionist and gut expert with years of experience helping clients make healthy changes. She says: “While it’s a good idea to re-examine your habits to make some healthy goals for the year ahead, completely overhauling your lifestyle in January is almost guaranteed to fail. I always recommend making realistic New Year’s resolutions, broken down into achievable and measurable steps so you can see your progress. We all slip up now and then. Instead of beating yourself up every time you reach for the biscuit tin or get the bus instead of walking home, remember that every day is an opportunity to take control of your health.”

Kate Arnold continues: “If kick-starting a healthy lifestyle feels like a mammoth task, focusing on optimising your gut health could be a simple way to improve your overall wellbeing. Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and soluble fibre like porridge, and drinking lots of water will keep your digestive system working well, while gentle exercise will keep your gut and bowel working as they should. Our gastrointestinal system, and particularly our gut flora, has a significant impact on the rest of our body – affecting everything from moods to weight. Anyone who’s had even a fairly minor problem with their digestion, like a bout of constipation, knows it can massively affect how you feel. Instead of setting yourself another unrealistic resolution that won’t last longer than the Christmas tree, try taking care of yourself by looking after your gut.”

For lifestyle changes and tips for a healthy bowel and avoiding common issues like constipation visit

If lifestyle changes aren’t working, and you find yourself experiencing constipation, you may need a little extra support in the form of a treatment, like Dulcolax. Dulcolax tablets, £2.24 for a pack of 20, provide predictable overnight relief from constipation and are available from pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide.

About the survey
The survey of 2,003 people, including 1,035 women, was conducted by Censuswide between 02.11.2016 and 04.11.2016.

*Stats taken from a survey of 2,003 people, including 1,028 women, conducted by Censuswide between 26.10.2016 and 28.10.2016.

About Kate Arnold
Kate Arnold is a nutritionist with more than 18 years’ experience specialising in gastrointestinal disorders. She works with a range of organisations and individuals from her clinic in Sussex.

Disclaimer: Kate Arnold does not endorse Dulcolax or any other medicine.

Further tips and advice:

If trying to overhaul your health seems like a mammoth task this New Year, focusing on your gut is a simple and effective way to improve your overall health and wellbeing. To make 2017 the year you take control of your gut health, nutritionist Kate Arnold has the following tips:

Eat lots of the good stuff – fruit and veg are superstars for a reason. As well as containing essential vitamins and nutrients for the whole body, they’re high in fibre which is crucial for a strong digestive system, keeping you regular and avoiding issues like constipation. In particular onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, dark green leafy vegetables and unripe bananas help promote the right environment for gut flora to grow
Avoid junk food – processed food tends to be higher in fat, salt and sugar: all of which can overload your system and put pressure on your gut. Cooking for yourself is also a great exercise in mindfulness and a stress reliever, plus you know exactly what you’re eating
Stay hydrated – don’t overlook liquids as they also impact the gut. Avoid too much dehydrating caffeine and alcohol, and drink plenty of water
Eat slowly and mindfully – really paying attention to your food and not shovelling it down means you can appreciate what you’re putting in to your body, so you’re more likely to pick things that are good for it, rather than choosing convenience or cravings.
Eat good fats – fatty oils like omega-3 are essential for your brain, and if you’re feeling good, you’re more likely to take good care of yourself. Pick oily fish, nuts and avocados, and avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils which have a negative impact on your body and mind in the long term
Check for intolerances or allergies – try eliminating a certain food for a while if you suspect you’re intolerant, and get tested if you’re worried
Eat smaller portions – sometimes it takes a while to realise we’re full so we can end up overeating, which can make our digestive systems sluggish and cause constipation. If you’re still hungry in half an hour, have some more!
Write a food diary to see if you’re really eating enough of the good stuff, and not too much of the bad. Looking at your food for the week can show up any gaps or excesses
Figure out triggers for bad habits – a food diary is also helpful here. Write down how you felt and what was going on at the time of eating to see if there are certain things that affect your eating, e.g. eating sugary, high-fat foods when you’re stressed
Talk to your doctor – if you have specific concerns always talk to your doctor

For more advice on having a healthy gut go to

Superbug epidemic fuelled by antibiotic misuse, warns World Health Organisation

Geneva: Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Viruses, which antibiotics do not affect, cause 9 out of 10 sore throats and 10 out of 10 cases of influenza. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily weakens their ability to work against infections when they are needed. This enables bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.


On European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2012 (1), WHO advises the public to use antibiotics only when and as prescribed by a doctor.Since their discovery over 70 years ago, antibiotics have kept most of us alive by overcoming bacterial infections that could otherwise have been fatal. The use of antibiotics – and vaccines – has lengthened our life-spans by 20 years on average,” says Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“If we want to retain this medical miracle, we must fully understand when antibiotics work and do not work, and act accordingly. This is a matter for everybody, from those who set policies and strategies, carry out research, and produce and distribute antibiotics to those who prescribe and use them.
Awareness of the effects of overusing and misusing antibiotics is higher globally but lower in countries where antibiotics are less regulated and can be obtained over the counter, without prescription: in two out of three countries in the eastern part of the WHO European Region.
A global WHO survey indicated that over half of all medicines – including antibiotics – are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, while half of all patients fail to take medicines correctly. This leads to increased antibiotic resistance and thereby decreases the number of effective antibiotics. In addition, it is alarming that no new antibiotic classes have been discovered in the last 25 years, despite the efforts of research.
The problem has not only enormous health consequences but also large economic effects for both individuals and societies, as resistant infections can be up to 100 times more costly to treat. Incurable or hard-to-treat infections are already found in the European Region. Every year, over 80 000 people develop tuberculosis that is resistant to antibiotics. Some developed European countries recently reported cases of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhoea, which is extremely difficult to treat.In this area, one of today’s main threats to the Region is the spread of bacteria that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics of the carbapenems family.
These antibiotics are the only available cure for serious diseases such as those from multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria. Virulent strains of E. coli can cause gastroenteritis, urinary-tract infections and more severe conditions, such as meningitis, haemolytic-uraemic syndrome, septicaemia and pneumonia. In the last two years, resistance to carbapenems has surfaced in several European Union (EU) countries, jeopardizing the ability to treat patients. The easy transmission of carbapenem-resistant bacteria between patients and the increasing introduction of these bacteria into Europe from countries where they are widespread worsen the situation.
Mapping antibiotic use and resistance is a key aspect of the European strategic action plan on antibiotic resistance, endorsed by all Member States in the Region in 2011. On 30 October 2012, the WHO Regional Office for Europe signed an agreement with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) of the Netherlands and the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) to survey, contain and prevent emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance in countries that are in the Region but outside the EU. This complements surveillance conducted in EU countries by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) through the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net). A harmonized and coordinated surveillance network in all countries in the European Region is key to protect health from a cross-border threat.ECDC has coordinated European Antibiotic Awareness Day since 2008. This year, WHO has joined forces with ECDC to extend the event to all 53 Member States in the European Region. For the first time, eastern European and central Asian countries are joining EU countries in activities that promote the prudent use of antibiotics. The WHO Regional Office for Europe and ECDC will host a joint Twitter session, with the support of the European Commission, on 20 November 2012 from 15:00 to 16:00 CET.
More information can be found by clicking on the following links:

ECDC resources include:

European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

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Shocking state of UK home cleanliness, new study from Zoflora experts

ZOFLORA, the home cleanliness experts, mark 90 years of keeping British homes armed against nasty bugs and bacteria. Their little bottles of household disinfectant have become one of the nation’s favourites since the company’s founding in 1922. Below you can see photos of how the range has changed over time.
Zoflora range shot small.jpg
But have the nation’s cleaning habits changed since then?  Well according to a recent study by Zoflora, we are still at risk, with our homes “a hotbed of potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses with all too many people failing to eliminate them through proper cleaning.”
Bacteria and viruses can trigger sometimes serious health problems unless they are eliminated from surfaces around the house. The World Health Organisation says that about 40% of food-related outbreaks occur in the home.
To paint a picture of the attitudes and habits of householders when it comes to cleanliness and tidiness, Zoflora commissioned a study of 2,000 adults from across the UK. Ninety percent of study respondents admitted their homes were not clean with just 5% noting their home was spotlessly clean and 6% highlighting that they were immaculately tidy. 
• Two thirds (66%) of us reckon our homes should be cleaner than they are. 
• One in five (19%) of us admit our homes are not clean at all. 
Dirty dish cloth shock
The same research also found that 20% of people clean with the same cloth for over a fortnight without disinfecting it or replacing it and wet cloths are one of the biggest breeding grounds for microbes in the home!

In the same Zoflora research study, just two in 10 (20%) correctly agreed with the statement that ‘a bad smell in the house meant that surfaces were unhygienic’. By far, the two most common causes of unpleasant household smells were old food in the bin (20%) and pets (20%). Other reasons included young children and toilet smells. 
However, when asked what they did when they had a bad smell in the home, less than one quarter of people (23%) said they would clean the location or cause of the bad smell. Other ways of dealing with the smell included opening windows (25%), burning a fragrant candle (19%) and spraying perfume or even deodorant around the home (7%). However, while scents can mask a smell they don’t address the cause of the problem, leaving potentially harmful bacteria lurking and multiplying.

Very few people are happy with an untidy and unclean house. 
• One third (33%) said it made them feel stressed
• 20% felt anxious
• 13% felt depressed. 
The aspects that worry people the most about having an untidy or messy home are that others may come round and see an unclean house (28%) or that the clutter makes them feel trapped (28%). Just 16% are most worried that it could be unhygienic. Just under one-third of people (32%) admit that having an unclean house can keep them awake at night. Of these people four in five (81%) have got up at some time between midnight and 4am.
Fewer than one in ten (8%) said they employed a cleaner, with the most common reason not to have one being given as not being able to afford one (46%). 
• Nearly a quarter (23%) said that pride stopped them from having a cleaner and they were quite capable of looking after their own home while 17% said they did not like the idea of a stranger in their home. 
• Of those with a cleaner, more than half (60%) said they cleaned around the house a bit before the cleaner arrived because they were embarrassed about the state of their home.
The importance of fragrance
The majority of people like rooms to smell good (71%), and nearly one in five (18%) said they would walk out of a room if it had a bad smell. A quarter of people (26%) said that smell affected their mood. When it comes to scent choices, the Zoflora research study found that:
♣ Linen fresh is the most popular choice of how people would like their homes to smell, followed by:
ÂĄ  Warm Cinnamon 
ÂĄ Citrus Fresh 
ÂĄ  Lavender 
ÂĄ Cherry Blossom 
Zoflora fragrance and home bacteria expert, Nicola Hobbs notes: “Our homes are fertile breeding grounds for bacteria to grow and multiply. Common microbes found in our houses include ‘superbug’ methicillin – resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria like Campylobacter, a common source of food poisoning. A study commissioned by Zoflora found that a shower head had 300,000 times more bacteria than a set of front door keys – bacteria thrive in warm, damp places. Research has shown that flushing a toilet sends a spray of water droplets into the air which may be contaminated with bacteria and viruses, and that these germs can float around in the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush before landing on surfaces. A study of 60 kitchens where raw chicken was prepared found that bacteria were frequently spread around – and that cleani
ng with detergent and hot water had little effect compared with the cleaning action of a disinfectant.
“There is no getting away from it: homes are havens for bacteria. That said, with the right cleaning routine and the best products, bacteria needn’t be left to thrive to the point where they become a health hazard. It’s important to clean the home regularly and frequently and use a disinfectant that is proven to work on bacteria and viruses. Bad smells can be an important sign of bacteria present on a surface or area in the house, so it’s crucial it’s dealt with properly. Simply masking the smell with an air freshener or other scents is no good – it’s crucial the cause of the problem is tackled thoroughly.
“The good news is that if you use Zoflora as a disinfectant as part of your cleaning routine, you can not only be confident that it will kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses but also that it will banish any unwanted odours and leave a long-lasting freshness. Having a really clean and fragrant house needn’t be onerous or expensive. It is simply a matter of choosing the right product, and longevity of Zoflora – now celebrating its 90th anniversary – shows that it has been, and still is, trusted by many to do just that job.”
Guest habits…
Around one-third of participants in the survey (36%) had found that visitors had started cleaning their home without being asked, most commonly a parent or parent-in-law. More than half (56%) of those affected in this way didn’t mind, but a further 20% thought it ‘a bit odd’ and 21% were upset or angry. Over half of those surveyed (58%) said they asked people to take off their shoes when they visited. Over a quarter (27%) say they always take their shoes off in other people’s homes and another quarter (24%) do so when they remember. Nearly one-third (31%) take them off if prompted but a stubborn 18% say they try not to or even refuse outright.
Zoflora – or www, or @LoveZoflora on twitter
The survey of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned by Zoflora and conducted by OnePoll on October 2012.
About Zoflora 
Zoflora’s range of disinfectant products have been protecting and disinfecting British homes for over 90 years. It is a unique concentrated disinfectant that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, eliminates odours and comes in a range of 12 long-lasting fragrances. Simply added to water, Zoflora can be used all over the home – including floors, tiles, work surfaces, sinks, toilets and bins. The concentrated formula can be diluted 1 part Zoflora to 40 parts water to make full strength disinfectant for large areas, such as floors and bathrooms, making them hygienically clean and welcoming. With its three in one action, Zoflora kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, eliminates household odours and leaves a long lasting-scent. Zoflora is available nationwide from supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets. Zoflora is available in 12 fragrances including Cherry Blossom, Citrus Fresh and Lavender and Linen Fresh. A variety of the Zoflora fragrances are available in each size.
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Gum disease a factor in ageing illnesses, new research reveals

Poor dental and oral care is putting millions of people in the UK at risk of health issues. New research has discovered all too many adults are unaware of just how important a healthy mouth is – leaving them vulnerable to gum problems, such as bleeding gums, tooth loss and even a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. 
The research was commissioned by the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP) to find out more about the nation’s oral health habits and the different attitudes between genders. The panel is a body of independent experts set up to help communicate the latest intelligence on a variety of important health areas. They have been brought together by Simplyhealth – one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers. ShARP takes a closer look at the UK’s oral care habits.
ShARP logo small.jpg
In the new study  by ShARP, a total of 2,000 people aged 25 to 65 across the UK were surveyed – 62% were female, 38% were male. The ShARP research found that:
• The average time people spent brushing their teeth was two minutes and 13 seconds 
• Half (50%) of respondents said they brushed for two minutes or less; one in 10 brushed for less than a minute
• Nearly three quarters of those questioned (73%) said they only changed their toothbrush every six months or more.
Habits: Women vs. Men: 
• Women were more likely than men (25% compared to 20%) to clean between their teeth to remove bacteria and debris every day, though more than half (54%) said they only cleaned between their teeth occasionally
• Women were more likely to use dental floss than men, whilst men were more likely to use a toothpick than women
• Nearly a third (30%) admitted they sometimes use a mouthwash instead of brushing – men were more likely to do this than women (39% compared to 25%) 
• Women were more likely than men (83% compared to 69%) to say that it was important to remove bacteria from the mouth on a daily basis
• Men were twice as likely as women to change their toothbrush just once a year (11% compared to 6.3%) 
• Nearly half (45%) of all respondents said a day was the longest they had gone without brushing their teeth, however men were more likely than women to leave it longer between brushes – 19% admitted going without brushing for up to two days compared to 14% of women. One in 20 men went without brushing for up to four days compared to just 1% of females 
• Men were more likely to blame partying and work for not brushing, while women were more likely to blame the delay on travelling on an aircraft
• More than half of all respondents (59%) said they would refuse to lend their own toothbrush to anyone. Of the 41% who said they would lend out their brush, most (23%) said it would be to their partner, with just 5% saying they would lend their brush to their child.
Gum disease signs
Nearly two thirds (63%) admitted they had noticed blood in their spit at some time or other after brushing their teeth – a classic symptom of gum disease. Nearly four out of 10 (38%) said this was at least once a week, with 13% saying it was every day or almost every day. More than half (53%) thought blood in spit was considered a worrying sign and a greater number (60%) said they would be worried about their children leaving blood in their spit. Just under half (45%) correctly thought that blood in the spit or in the sink after brushing could be a sign of potential tooth loss later in life.
Health links: Mixed bag of knowledge
More than three quarters of those questioned (80%) agreed that there was a link between oral health and general health – men were far more likely than women (27% compared to 16%) to wrongly presume that there is no connection. Respondents showed a mixed bag of knowledge when it comes to the health conditions that poor oral health is linked with. Nearly half (42%) thought gum disease and tooth loss (42%) were linked with oral health issues, followed by heart disease (26%), diabetes (15%), cancer (14%), poor pregnancy outcomes (7%), osteoporosis (6%) and stroke (34%). In fact, all these conditions are linked with poor oral health. Three quarters of those polled said they would aim to brush their teeth better and take better care of their dental health if they knew for certain that poor oral health was associated with serious health conditions. 
However, men were more likely than women (27% compared to 22%) to refuse to change their current oral care regime even if they were aware of a health link.
Tooth loss
Men were less likely than women to care about the effect a person’s lost teeth had on their appearance and were more likely than women to say that lost teeth made no difference to them at all (16% compared to 11%). Men were far more likely than women to be unconcerned about losing teeth themselves in later life (51% compared to 31%).
Embarrassing moments
When it comes to the sorts of foods that are most likely to get lodged between the teeth and become annoying, bits of gristle from meat was named as the worst with more than a third (35%) of respondents complaining about the problem. This was followed by peanuts and other nuts (20%), vegetables such as spinach (11%), crisps (10%) and bread (6%).
Visiting the dentist
Half (50%) of the respondents questioned admitted the cost of going to the dentist has put them off visiting a dentist for a check-up or routine dental work – 15% said this was a common occurrence. When it comes to covering the cost of dental care, nearly two thirds (62%) said they would be happy to pay the equivalent cost of a newspaper a day to make sure their or their family’s dental health was secure. The vast majority (91%) felt it was important to have regular check-ups at the dentist, however 21% of women and 29% of men admitted they hadn’t visited a dentist in the last year for a check-up or any other work. 
About ShARP:
To help communicate the latest studies and intelligence on oral care matters and a variety of other important health areas, Simplyhealth – one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers – has launched a new information group. The new Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel – ShARP – will become a leading source of information and data, helping to make more people feel better by exploring ground-breaking research and discussing the latest scientific and medical thinking.
The new Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel – ShARP – will: 
• provide independent and objective information about key health concerns;
• provide experts for journalists and media on all aspects of health;
• deliver breaking news on health issues and research that affect individuals and families.
ShARP is a panel of experts. They are:
• Professor Robin Seymour, a periodontal expert
• Dr Gill Jenkins, a practising GP with an interest in lifestyle health
• Dr Catherine Hood, a women’s health expert
About Simplyhealth:
Simplyhealth is the UK’s biggest cash plan provider and a major player in the private health insurance and mobility markets. It now also includes Denplan, the UK’s largest provider of dental plans, which helps nearly two million people to access dental care and treatment. It’s perhaps no surprise that the company’s phrase is ‘in a world where so many people can’t be bothered, we’re proud to be the healthcare company that can.’
The company is proud of its 140-year tradition of excellence in healthcare service and its strong tradition of caring for customers as true individuals. The company aims to help people access affordable healthcare and in doing so deliver exceptional personal customer service. 
Simplyhealth has over three million customers and patients, serving nearly four million people, and is also a healthcare provider to 20,000 companies. While the company has changed and adapted over the years, its award-winning commitment to do the right thing by its customers has not. Simplyhealth is committed to its strongly held values and to supporting communities. With no shareholders, it only invests its profits into running the business for the good of its customers, or making donations to health-related charities with ÂŁ1.6m given away last year.
The company has always complemented the NHS. Its cash plans help people with their everyday health, whether they use NHS or private practitioners. The private health insurance works alongside the NHS, and is often provided by companies as an employee benefit to help staff at times of ill health.
For more information about ShARP see: / 020 7052 8999
For more information about Simplyhealth see:
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Garlic proven to fight common food poisoning

Washington: Garlic has the power to fight food-borne bacterial illnesses, according to new research.
The common bacteria Campylobacter jejuni, is a leading cause of intestinal illness caused by eating undercooked poultry or foods that have been contaminated during poultry preparation.
“Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the United States and probably the world,” explained coauthor Michael Konkel of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in an article recently published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The researchers compared the effects of diallyl sulfide, a compound that occurs in garlic, and the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and erythromycin on biofilms formed by Campylobacter jejuni. Biofilms are colonies of bacteria protected by a film that renders them a thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free cells. Cell death following the administration of diallyl sulfide occurred at a concentration of resveratrol that was 100-fold less than that which was effective for either antibiotic, and often took less time to work. The team found that diallyl sulfide combined with a sulfur-containing enzyme, which altered the cells’ function and metabolism.


“This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply,” stated lead author and postdoctoral researcher Xiaonan Lu, PhD.
“This is the first step in developing or thinking about new intervention strategies,” added Dr Konkel. “Diallyl sulfide may be useful in reducing the levels of the Campylobacter in the environment and to clean industrial food processing equipment, as the bacterium is found in a biofilm in both settings.”
“Diallyl sulfide could make many foods safer to eat”, noted Barbara Rasco, another co-author of the report. “It can be used to clean food preparation surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta salads, coleslaw and deli meats. This would not only extend shelf life but it would also reduce the growth of potentially bad bacteria.”
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Happy and healthy homes

BubblyKitchenPowder [320x200].jpgSome of the ingredients in cleaning products can be as harmful to your family as the little bacterial beasties you are trying to banish.

Research has proven that high levels of toxins found in breast milk and blood can clearly be traced back to home cleaning products. If you have ever experienced your eyes, nose, head, skin or lungs feeling the effect of harsh chemical while you clean, it is definitely time to change to a safer and healthier alternative.

Two ranges of environmentally and family friendly household products have recently caught our attention;

Organic at heart

All Organic at Heart cleaning products are:

* made from 100% biodegradable formulas
* effective cleaning products
* 100% recyclable and/or decompostable
* full of gorgeous aromas to leave your home smelling great
* made with traditional ingredients eg vinegar and lemon
* free from toxic residues
* 100% safe with essential oils for family wellbeing
* environmentally aware and supporting ethical trade

Check out their new BUBBLY KITCHEN POWDER with sparkly organic orange. Containing absolutely no nasties and packed in a 100% decompostable waterproof bag, it’s a must for all healthy kitchens. Use it for washing up, surface cleaning, carpet freshening, deodorising and much more.


Like Organic at Heart, Method use plant ingredients for their cleaning products. They have a full range of cleaning products for every eventuality and are passionate about the environment. Their philosophy means they are completely committed to happy and healthy lifestyles and sustainability. Their range includes;

* all purpose products
* speciality products for granite, wood, glass, steel and leather – the wood wipes and sprays are especially yummy and make your rooms smell of almond
* a full bathroom range including the super handy all-surface wipes which are flushable                                                                                                                                                          * There is also a full range for your clothes, body and precious items (your kids!)

Method products are available in most supermarkets, even B&Q (!); for more info check out their website


Get beauty from the inside out with free diet booklet from the experts at Yakult


London: A survey conducted by probiotic experts Yakult reveals that 15.5 million Brits are struggling to keep to their New Year resolutions at the start of the year with 5 million admitting to failing altogether.

The research by Yakult showed 52% of people ate and drunk substantially more over the Christmas period with 30% likely to have experienced some form of digestive complaint.

Dr Simon Gabe says: “Digestive problems over Christmas are very common and can occur for a variety of reasons such as dietary changes, stress and gastroenteritis. Infections such as salmonella can and do occur from undercooked turkey, but it is more likely that symptoms suffered are due to a combination of dietary changes and stress.

Irritable bowel symptoms have a seasonal variation and this may relate to the diet and stress during this time of the year.”

Making changes to your diet during this period before youÂ’ve recovered could increase the likelihood of breaking your resolution. Starting a few weeks later will not only be better for you physically but also ease the mental struggle of trying to keep to your resolution.

This is a view of psychologist Donna Dawson who says: “Two weeks into the New Year is the best time to start your New Year resolution. The reason for this is two-fold: firstly people forget that Christmas can be a very stressful period in many ways; secondly, combining the after-effects of the holiday period with returning to work puts people under a great deal of emotional and physical strain. As a result, the majority of people are not mentally ready to begin their resolutions on New Year’s Day.”

Keeping to a successful resolution is a physical and mental battle. However, going back to work after the festive period also adds to the strain. 46% of those surveyed said going back to work after the festive period was a physical and mental shock to the system. When it comes to citing reasons for failure, 18% of people blamed the stress of going back to work, whilst 17% said it was a case of January blues which led them to fail. 38% would delay starting their resolutions if they thought it would mean keeping them longer.

Donna Dawson continues: “By January 14th you should be recovered from Christmas and adjusted to being back at work making it the perfect time to focus on improvements to your life. You have had time to think clearly about what you really want for yourself, and you are physically and mentally more able to work towards achieving it. If you have already broken your resolution, don’t despair as now is the time to start afresh to increase your chance of success.”

The Inside Out Diet is a lifestyle plan, devised by independent experts Dr Tony Leeds, nutritionist Fiona Hunter and also fitness expert Nicki Waterman. As well as providing tips, recipes and exercises, the website has recently launched a new blog in which users can share tips and advice and offer motivation for those looking to lead a health lifestyle and get in to shape. Users can also register for their own free copy of the Inside Out Diet book on the website,

Five Tips for Successful New YearÂ’s Resolutions from Psychologist Donna Dawson:

1) Choose a Realistic Resolution and a Realistic Target Date: First, choose a resolution that can be achieved realistically within your present life-style. Then choose a date for reaching your goal that is neither so soon that you will fail (for example, a month), or so far away that you will give up before you reach it (say, six months). Any New Year’s resolution should be considered an ‘ongoing process’, so give yourself a target date that reflects that.

2) Brainstorm: Write down every idea and activity that will help you to meet your goal – this may mean “adding” or “subtracting” something from your present lifestyle. Also, consider ‘whatÂ’ or ‘whomÂ’ may be holding you back? You may have to avoid doing certain things, or even stop doing certain things for others

3) Prioritise: A big goal can always be broken down into smaller steps to make it more manageable. Find the smaller steps that make up the whole, and then work out a time-span for working out each smaller step into your life (for example, “immediately”, “ a few days”, “a week”, “a month”).

4) Reinforcement; Human beings are creatures of habit; the trick is to unlearn “bad” habits and to replace them with “good” habits. If you are dieting, then reward any success with non-food rewards. If you are getting fit, plan at least two exercise sessions a week within your present routine (write them into your diary as firm dates, and then keep them). By reward and persistence, the “good” habits will soon become automatic, thereby ousting the “bad” habits.

5) Forgive Yourself: If you lapse from your goal, don’t berate yourself and give up in disgust. “To err is human”, and you must take the longer view. Cultivate the difference between ‘willpower’ (an “all-or-nothing” approach which brooks no failure), and ‘self-control’ (which can be ‘learned’, and which allows for some compromise). Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again, always accentuating the positive!

2,025 people were surveyed by YouGov


Yakult is the original probiotic. It was developed in 1935 by Dr Shirota, at Kyoto University in Japan.

Dr Shirota was a powerful advocate of preventative medicine. He believed healthy intestines helped give good health and a long life. His philosophy – Working on a healthy society – aims to improve physical, mental and social health.

Yakult has nearly 75 years in bacteriological research and has achieved global recognition in the use of friendly bacteria in foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Research continues at the Yakult Central Institute in Japan and the company also works closely with scientific and medical communities to increase understanding of the role of friendly bacteria in health.

Today Yakult is consumed by 25 million people in 31 countries world-wide.


Blackcurrant nutrients fight hospital superbug

London: British blackcurrants are known to help prevent AlzheimerÂ’s disease, fight cancer, UTI infections and heart disease. Now new scientific research into this small but mighty superfood has been found to effectively prevent the dreaded MRSA bacteria that lurks in most hospitals.

We are exposed to bacteria on a daily basis and more often than not they cause us no harm. Most infections can be treated with general antibiotics such as methicillin, however over use of such antibiotics has led to a dramatic increase in bacteria which are antibiotic resistant.

Staphylococcs aureus, more commonly known as MRSA, is normally harmless but due to its durability it can be fatal if picked up by those already weak or ill, especially in hospitals. Scientific studies have found that the best way to ward off damaging bacteria may reside in our food. Recent research has found that special compounds found in British Blackcurrants are particularly effective at inhibiting MRSA growth and at the same time successfully stopped the development of many other bad bacteria including Salmonella and Listeria.

Derek Stewart, from the Scottish Crop Research Institute says: “It is clear from the increasing numbers of scientific studies that the natural compounds found routinely in blackcurrants show a diverse range of anti microbial activities which may help reduce the incidence of or help alleviate the symptoms of infection by the life threatening ones known as MRSA.”

Eating blackcurrants or drinking blackcurrant juice as part of a healthy diet, is an easy, natural way to improve your antioxidant intake and maintain a healthy lifestyle, ward off infections and a fine way to load the body with the wonder compounds found in blackcurrants. British blackcurrants are extremely high in health promoting compounds called proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins and ellagitannins (1-3). It is these proanthocyanidins that have been successfully shown to interfere with the bad bacteria and their proliferation.

The Blackcurrant Foundation

The Blackcurrant Foundation has been established by British growers and has close links with partners from all over Britain and Ireland, to raise awareness of the numerous health benefits of blackcurrants from the British Isles. Blackcurrant Foundation members grow 2,000 hectares of blackcurrants across the British Isles which produces a crop of approximately 14,000 tonnes of fruit every year during the harvest season in July and August. At present there are 50 blackcurrant growers in Great Britain compared to440 in 1973. For more information on British blackcurrants or the Blackcurrant Foundation, visit