Even if you are not aware of Dr Michael Mosley, you will probably know of his work
I was delighted to read a study last week which claimed that drinking red wine could cut my risk of developing prostate cancer.
I was particularly pleased as I’m over 60, with a family history of prostate cancer (my dad had it), which puts me in a higher risk category.
Plus I like red wine – which you may remember is allowed in moderation as part of the New 5:2 Diet, on days where you are not fasting.
The study, which was actually a pull-together of 17 previous studies covering more than 600,000 men, concluded that drinking a glass of red wine a night reduces your risk by of developing prostate cancer by about 12 per cent. Which isn’t a lot, but still good news.
The bad news was that drinking white wine appeared to raise the risk. Why the difference?
Professor Shahrokh Shariat, from the University of Vienna, who was behind the study, thinks that while drinking alcohol is known to increase the risk of getting cancer, the high levels of antioxidants in red wine, known as polyphenols, may be having a protective effect.
And that’s the thing: the truth about alcohol is complicated.
The Government position is that we should be drinking less than 14 units of alcohol a week (about seven glasses of wine or six pints of beer) and it would be best if we drank no alcohol at all.
They say that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and the claim that alcohol has any sort of health benefit is ‘an old wives’ tale’. Really?
Quite apart from this recent report on prostate cancer, dozens of other studies have consistently shown that moderate drinkers (those who drink 14 units of alcohol a week or less) tend to have fewer heart attacks and a better life expectancy than those who drink a lot or don’t drink at all.
A new study last week concluded that drinking a glass of red wine a night reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer by about 12 per cent. Meanwhile, drinking white wine appeared to raise the risk
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: AUBERGINE LASAGNA ROLLS
Pictured: Aubergine lasagna rolls
Preheat oven to 200C/ fan 180C fan/gas 6.
Cut 2 aubergines lengthways into ¼ in-thick slices. Brush with olive oil then cook on baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes until softened. Juice and zest one lemon and set aside. Finely mince 1 clove of garlic, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan and cook garlic for 1 minute.
Add 400g pasta, 1 tsp dried basil and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, add lemon juice. In a bowl, mix 200g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained, 100g ricotta, the lemon zest and seasoning.
Spoon 2 tsp of spinach mix on to end of each cooked aubergine slice, roll up and place in baking dish. Pour over tomato sauce, top with ½ ball mozzarella, torn into pieces and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with leaves.
Higher calorie: Use 3 aubergines, 200g ricotta and add 1 avocado to salad.
Few other countries have as strict guidelines as we do.
The National Institutes of Health, for example, which is responsible for public health research in the US, acknowledges on its website that moderate alcohol consumption (one drink a night for women, two for men) may have beneficial effects on health, including cutting the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. So why is the UK government’s position different?
A persistent criticism of studies which claim to show that alcohol has some health benefits is that the group of non-drinkers who are being investigated may include lots of ‘sick quitters’ – former alcoholics or people who got ill and gave up alcohol. That would skew the apparent benefits of moderate drinking.
Well, in another big recent study, carried out by researchers from University College, London and Cambridge University, they allowed for this. They looked at the records of nearly two million adults in the UK who were over 30, free from heart disease and who had provided their GP with details of their drinking habits.
They then looked to see what happened to these people over a longish period of time (about six years). They found that even when they excluded all former heavy drinkers from their study, the moderate drinkers still had the lowest rates of heart disease and lowest risk of overall death.
The sting in the tail, when it comes to ‘Good News About Alcohol’, is that the benefits drop off pretty dramatically when you go above 14 units a week.
The best estimates are that if you consistently drink two units of alcohol a day above the guidelines (having two glasses of wine a night, instead of one), that will knock about a year off your life. Plus it’s an extra 200 calories. So I guess it depends on whether you think it’s worth it.
I personally aim for a couple of alcohol-free evenings a week (which is in line with the 5:2 diet) and try to stick to a single glass of red. I’m hoping my prostate gland will thank me.
Need something simple? Try these top tips?
With the New 5:2, we’ve tried to create recipes that encourage people to push their culinary boundaries and try new foods. But sometimes something quick and simple is needed. With this in mind, here are a few tips…
■FOR breakfast, a couple of supermarket own-brand free-range eggs will cost about 30p, provide you with lots of high-quality protein and come in at under 200 calories. For variety, I like to add chilli and sometimes turmeric.
■TWO large tablespoons of full-fat yogurt, a handful of berries and toasted nuts is also a very simple breakfast – and about 200 calories.
■WHISK two eggs with some of last night’s cooked vegetables, a slice of ham, shredded, and a sprinkling of cheese to make a really filling 350-calorie omelette.
■FOR lunch, make your own soup. There are lots of recipes in The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book, some at just 100 calories per portion.
■As for snacks, few come quite as convenient as a small handful of nuts. Twenty almonds is about 120 calories, half that of a small chocolate bar.
■FROZEN veg is just as nutritious as fresh and tends to be less expensive. They are also low-cal. A big helping of peas is just 50 calories.
■TINNED and frozen fish is as good as fresh. A small tin of tuna, sardines or salmon (100g) comes to about 180 calories. Serve with veg (50 cals), a tablespoon of olive oil (100) and a serving of brown rice (180).
- For more ideas for meals that are filling but low in calories, visit thebloodsugardiet.com.