Trust Me, I’m a Doctor Series 4 – some recommendations and notes
This is Part 4 of my blog post series on this popular BBC program- “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor”, in this , I’d focus just on the ‘Expert’s Recommendations” I extracted online- basically distilling 4 hours of video into 5 minutes reading. Of course, I cannot vouch for the authenticities or usefulness of the extracted information here. I hope, they do provide some interesting reading (as many have been mentioned in other common recommendations, myths, etc), and some practical information either you choose to believe or reject them. Here are the summaries ….BTW, you can find my previous blog posts on the (lessons learnt from) the first 3 series (since 2013) – Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3.
For Series 4 which ran in 2016, also hosted by Michael Mosley, there were 4 episodes and below are some information I extracted online. As said, they’re mainly terse summaries from the “Expert recommendations” or key summarised results, in some complicated subjects, I’ve just provided the link to the original write up. If you’re interested in the experiments carried out, the results, the debates, interviews, etc, you should view the write ups or the actual 1 hour video on each episode.
Episode 1 (New Year Special) –
- Will protein supplements help me put on more muscle? – If you’re healthy and eating a balanced diet then don’t waste your money on whey protein supplements in the hope that they will allow you to put on more muscle. If you are concerned about your muscle mass, the NHS recommends doing at least a couple of sessions of resistance exercise each week to build and maintain strength. But this BBC series have found an easy way to do this with exercises you can do in your everyday life.
- Can I get stronger without going to the gym? – The NHS recommends doing at least a couple of sessions of resistance exercise each week to build and maintain strength.this BBC series results show that this can be done for free in the privacy of your own home. Details of these simple exercises ( which can easily be carried out using a towel, or shopping bag,…) are here in BBC’s online write up which you can print as PDF too for reference. Just remember to make it a habit – 3 sets of 12 repetitions every day.
- can I get my body to burn more fat, without doing more exercise? – it might be possible to change our eating habits around exercise to increase the amount of fat our bodies are burning throughout the day. For women, the results clearly show that eating before they exercise is better than eating after if they want to burn fat. For men, it is better for men to eat after exercising if they want to burn fat.
- Are ‘antioxidant-rich’ products good for me?- The old ‘free radical theory of aging’ is now thought to be wrong. Instead, it is thought that free radicals are vital signals within our cells to stimulate the body’s own repair and regeneration mechanisms. This does not go against the fact that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us – it’s just that this benefit is not now thought to be down to their antioxidant chemicals. Juices and smoothies should be consumed sparingly, because of the high levels of very readily accessible sugar they contain. While they can serve as a component of a healthy diet, it should only be in moderation.
- How much is too much body fat?- Professor Nicholas Finer’s (Consultant in Endocrinology and Bariatric Medicine at University College Hospital, London) advice, is to measure your BMI, and possibly your waist, and that if your BMI is over 25 and your waist is over 35 inches/88c, if you’re a woman, or 40 inches/102cm if you’re a man, then you should lose weight.
- Is it safe to reheat leftovers? – Firstly, store your leftover food well – that means keeping it as cool as possible in between servings. However, beware putting hot food straight into the fridge. All that does is raise the temperature inside your fridge and turn it into an incubator for bugs – not doing any of the food in there any good at all! Instead, cover it, and let it cool to room temperature (no more than 4 hours), and THEN put it straight into the fridge. Secondly, reheat your food thoroughly. Most of us use a microwave oven to do that, but microwaves heat food unevenly, leaving cool pockets where bacteria can thrive. So, take the food out, stir it, and zap it again at least once more to make sure that you’ve got every part piping hot (above 60 degrees Celsius). But note that for rice, once the bacteria have grown on your rice it will be poisonous however well you reheat it (and it will probably make you violently ill within 30-60 minutes).
- What’s actually in sports drinks?- they actually only contain 3 key components: water to hydrate you, sugar for energy, and salt to replace electrolytes lost when you sweat. So to make your own homemade energy drink, all you need to do is mix: 500ml water; 30g sugar (around 6 teaspoons); 0.65g salt (around an eighth of a teaspoon). And for some flavouring add a splash of orange squash- virtually free!
- Are artificial sweeteners bad for me?- The advice was to avoid saccharin. If you are looking for a sugar alternative then at the moment, stevia seems most likely to be the best out there. On the back of packaging it is sometimes called ‘steviol glycosides’, which are the sweet-tasting compounds in the Stevia plant.
- Could I lose fat just by changing my meal times?– The researcher in charge of the study, Dr Jon Johnston thinks that any time we CAN eat a later breakfast or an earlier dinner, we should try it, as every time we have a longer fasting period or avoiding a late-night meal, it’s helping our health.
- Is eating in the evenings bad for me?– message is: eat your biggest meals in the morning, and have a lighter supper (Guess most knew that already!). Should ideally avoid eating after about 8pm. Essentially the earlier you can stop taking in calories, the better.
- How much is too much alcohol? – this is a subject of much debate: The current recommended daily intake of alcohol in UK for both men and women in the UK is 14 units of alcohol over a week – spread over 3 or more days. This translates to 7 pints of weak beer or small glasses of wine, but alcohol levels and serving sizes of drinks vary so much it can mean as little as 4 bottles of strong lager or large glasses of wine. There is a large body of evidence to suggest that drinking at this level is safe – and in some cases could even offer protection against heart disease. But there is also controversy around this research, suggesting that the studies are flawed, and there is good research showing that any amount of alcohol puts you at increased risk of some cancers.
- How do I treat someone having an allergic reaction?
- How do I get rid of dandruff? – The fungus that is the principal cause of dandruff is called Malassezia globosa, and it feeds off the oils on our skin and hair. The most effective anti-fungals are miconazole and ketokonazole. Ketokonazole is found in some shampoos, but miconazole is currently only available in skin creams (and some pet shampoos!). You may find, though, that the effects of an antifungal shampoo wear off after a while, so you might need to cycle some alternatives. Coal tar shampoos can slow down skin turnover (although they may discolour fair hair), and shampoos containing salicylic acid can help get rid of the flakes. However, shampoos containing zinc or selenium can also target the fungus, so there are a wide range of solutions to try.
- Does microwaving food make it less healthy? – the best way to retain vitamins and nutrients when cooking is to use short cooking times that limit the exposure to heat and a cooking method that uses as little liquid as possible – two things that are easy to achieve with a microwave, although studies show that the very best way to retain nutrients in vegetables is to steam them.
- Can WD40 cure psoriasis?
- Can I avoid, or treat, arthritis? – refer to the link for more info and the recommended exercises. For Rheumatoid arthritis, it should be noted that it’s vital to identify it at the very first symptoms/stage (within 1st 3 months) and consult doctor immediately.
- What is sepsis and how can I spot it? – If you recognise these symptoms either in yourself or someone else you should seek urgent medical treatment (8M people died from this each year).The six most common signs
Slurred Speech or confusion
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine (in a day)
“I feel like I might die”
Skin mottled or discoloure
- How to treat your wart or verruca using duct tape – The first step is to cut a piece of duct tape roughly the same size as your wart. Then stick it on top and keep it on for six days. If it falls off, cut and stick on a new piece. On the morning of the 7th day, take off the duct tape, soak the wart in warm water and file off the dead skin with a pumice stone or emory board. Then leave the duct tape off for the rest of the day and night and reapply it the following morning. If you have trouble keeping the tape on, try sticking a plaster over the top of the duct tape. Keep doing this for four weeks. The key is to keep the tape on your wart for six days at a time, followed by a break of one day. And every time the tape is taken off, remember to file away the dead skin from the surface.
Is olive oil really good for me? – it seems that taking 20ml of raw olive oil – either extra virgin or ‘normal’ – can have a positive effect on our hearts.
- Is meat good or bad for me? – Subject of debate – Professor Robert Pickard is Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Cardiff believes that moderate consumption of red and processed meat is not damaging to health. And that we should all eat at least some meat in order to get the nutrients we need; though, that processed meat is different, and may contain carcinogenic chemicals. He adds that we have evolved over many millions of years to eat meat, and that it is an important source of nutrients – particularly of protein for growing children and the over 65s, whose digestion becomes less efficient, leaving them at risk of protein deficiency.However; Dr Valter Longo is Professor in Gerontology at the University of Southern California suggests that proteins, particularly those from meat (and especially red meat), have an effect on growth factors within our bodies which can accelerate aging and the onset of age-related diseases. He points out that people who eat high amounts of protein tend to have an increased risk of death and disease comparable to those who smoke.
- Are beards unhygienic?
- Are oils ‘rich in polyunsaturates’ or ‘rich in monounsaturates’ good for me? – there was no evidence that either rapeseed oil or sunflower oil improves heart health.
- How do I treat a mouth ulcer?
- What can I do about tinnitus? – hearing aid, white noise, music
- What should I not eat or drink when I’m taking medication? – check the site for details on these – grapefruit, liquorice, leafy vege and prune, alcohol, Yeast extracts, preserved foods and aged cheeses
- Do herbal supplements contain what they say on the label? – very variable and inaccurate – investigation shows that a regulatory system for herbal products, like the THR scheme, ensures that people have access to safe herbal medicine products. So, if you are considering buying herbal products then do look out for the THR mark– otherwise, you might not just be wasting your money, you might be consuming other, potentially dangerous, ingredients.
- Why do some people put on weight and not others – and can we change it?
- How can I sleep better if I’m stressed or getting older?– the following regime may help:
Use an alarm clock to wake up at a regular time each day.
As soon as you wake up, open the curtains to get as much daylight as possible (or if it’s winter, try to get a daylight-coloured light bulb with plenty of blue wavelengths). The blue light in daylight helps tell your body clock that it is morning, and melatonin production is suppressed.
Have breakfast and, if you like it, caffeinated tea or coffee is fine. Try to get plenty of morning and afternoon sunlight and do 30 mins of exercise
No caffeine after 3pm. Caffeine stays in the blood for many hours, and stops you feeling sleepy.
Absolutely no afternoon napping!
There are certain foods said to contain melatonin, such as rice, banana, orange, pineapple, walnuts or sweetcorn. The scientific evidence on these is far from strong, but if you like them, there’s no harm in trying some!
No alcohol after supper (and not too much with it). Alcohol disrupts sleep.
Dim your lights, and avoid the bluish light from computer screens or TV for about 2 hours before bedtime. The blue light can disrupt your body clock and melatonin production.
Try a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime, and a warm milky drink at least an hour before bed. Our body temperature needs to drop slightly as we go to sleep (don’t have your thermostat in the bedroom too high), and a warm bath or even footbath seems to help with this.
Do not eat or drink after supper (apart from a little water if you are thirsty).
Absolute darkness in your bedroom (or wear an eye mask), and only go to bed when you start to feel sleepy.
If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up and go to a different room. Don’t switch on bright lights, but try reading in dim light, or close your eyes and imagine sunbathing on a warm beach.
Whatever night’s sleep you’ve had, get up with the alarm the next morning and repeat. The evidence is that you will, over the weeks, start to sleep better.
- Will kudzu supplement pills make me drink less alcohol?
- Can my scales ever be wrong? – Don’t use it on a carpet. And should do to track your weight accurately is compare averages rather than individual figures. Ideally you should weigh yourself every day at the same time of day. Then at the end of each week calculate the average. After a few weeks you’ll be able to see if there are any upward or downward trends. Another option is to weigh yourself once a week, on the same day each week, and calculate the average every month. This will still help you to pick out trends.
- Which is better – running on a treadmill or outdoors? – while there are pros and cons on both sides, running outdoors probably edges it. But the best advice, especially if you’re starting out, is to pick the kind of running that you enjoy the most and that you’re most likely to stick to. And if that means heading to the nearest treadmill just remember to vary the speed and the incline.
- How much is too much… exercise? – : Professor Sanjay Sharma (consultant cardiologist at St George’s Hospital, London and is the Medical Director for the London Marathon) thinks that 150 minutes of exercise a week, preferably in the form of a brisk walk, is exceptionally good for us, not only improving our cardiovascular systems, but reducing our risk of some cancers, improving mental health and slowing down some of the ageing process. Dr Alejandro Lucia (a Professor of exercise physiology at the European University of Madrid) thinks that 150 minutes of exercise per week is the bare minimum – and we should really be looking at 450 minutes if we want to get most benefit. He doesn’t think there is such a thing as ‘too much exercise’.
- Can rearranging my kitchen help me lose weight? – Some of the golden rules are: Store all food out of sight, apart from fruit. Research has found that those who keep foods like cookies, crisps, sweets and even cereal on their kitchen counters are more likely to be overweight. Keeping unhealthy snacks out of sight is the best way to ensure that they stay out of mind.
Rearrange your cupboards to put healthier options first. When we open our cupboards we’re three times more likely to grab the first thing that we see than the fifth one. So when you’re unpacking your shopping make sure you put healthy foods first. Likewise make vegetables more visible in the fridge by moving them out of the bottom drawer and into your eyeline.
Avoid distractions when eating – if we’re reading, working or watching TV we’ll just keep on eating without realising it.
Leave serving dishes in the kitchen rather than bringing them to the dining table – we’re so lazy that if we have to get up and walk to get seconds we’re much less likely to do so! In fact this single change could help us to eat 20% less at dinner.
The key to all of these ideas is that they take our natural laziness and ‘mindlessness’ about food and turn it to our advantage by making the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Tactics that could help us move more ?,- whether you prefer being a competition winner or a team player, social involvement and shared targets will provide better motivation than going it alone.
- How can I make myself buy healthier food whilst shopping?– timely reminders and prompts at the point of decision can really help us to remember our priorities and shop more healthily.
- Should I use paracetamol for my back pain?-the mechanism of paracetamol as a painkiller has always been a bit of a mystery, but other painkillers known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, It may be that much lower back pain is actually associated with inflammation, and hence paracetamol is not the right painkiller for it. Paracetamol is thought to be useful for headaches, toothache, and reducing fever – and its action can be enhanced by taking it with caffeine. BBC have previously reported on the potential for long-term, high-level use of paracetamol
Credits and Sources:
All from BBC various websites, e.g. this is the portal for this program.