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Top 5 health news stories of 2021

Santa reading the paper

The news in 2021 was dominated by the ongoing COVID pandemic but Delta wasn’t the only thing that caught the attention of Healthy Food Guide readers. Here are the top five news stories on healthyfood.com this year.

1. Night owls fare worse in productivity and retirement health

Finnish researchers found ‘night owls’ who stay up late and struggle to rise early tend to be more sleep deprived than ‘morning people’.

This sleep deprivation, in the long term, can lead to underperformance at work and poorer overall health and cognition, the study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine showed.

Night owls had worse ratings for every variable related to sleep and health.

The researchers suggested employers could take people’s chronotype (body clock) into account and organise work schedules with that in mind.

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2. Introverts won the pandemic

Introverts had an increase in mood in response to COVID restrictions, such as mandated social isolation, compared with extroverts whose mood decreased, according to a study of US students earlier this year.

The research published in Plos One, found introverted individuals appeared to be less troubled by being confined at home and those with a tendency towards anxiety, self-doubt, etc, benefitted from not having to deal with the everyday stressors of normal life.

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3. Middle-age spread kept at bay by eating whole grains

A US study found eating three serves of whole grains every day appears to help keep waistlines trim and blood pressure and sugar levels down.

The researchers said the satiating effects of dietary fibre in whole grains may help people avoid overeating, while the presence of magnesium, potassium and antioxidants may help lower blood pressure. And the soluble fibre potentially helps mitigate post-meal blood sugar spikes.

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4. Plant-based diets protect against severe COVID

While being vaccinated is your best protection against severe COVID symptoms, eating a plant-based or pescatarian diet may add an extra layer of protection, international research found.

The study of healthcare workers across six countries found those who followed plant-based diets – higher in vegetables and legumes and low in poultry and red and processed meats – had a 73 per cent lower chance of moderate to severe symptoms when infected with COVID-19, compared with other eating patterns.

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5. A great excuse for that holiday season afternoon nap

Chinese researchers found having a regular 30-minute afternoon nap, when you’re aged 60 years or over, may boost your brainpower.

The study found an association between regular napping (for no more than 30 minutes) and better mental agility, including locational awareness, verbal fluency and working memory.

Read the full story

Date modified: 15 December 2021
First published: Dec 2021


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