Loneliness affects people of all ages, young as much as old. It’s now seen as so serious it’s classified as a public health problem. It’s presented as an “epidemic” causing a wide range of health problems that threaten to cripple health services.
For thousands of years people have used cannabis for recreational, ritualistic and medicinal purposes. In the modern era, the latter property excites a lot of people, and there is no shortage of wild claims about the supposed medical benefits of the plant. Of all the claims, perhaps the most bold is the assertion that cannabis can cure cancer.
Breakfast, we are told, is the most important meal of the day. Over the last 50 years, we have been bombarded with messages extolling the health benefits of processed cereals and porridge oats. We are told breakfast helps us reduce weight by speeding up our metabolism – this helps us avoid hunger pangs and overeating later in the day.
Regular walking produces many health benefits, including reducing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. Best of all, it’s free, we can do it anywhere and, for most of us, it’s relatively easy to fit into our daily routines. We often hear 10,000 as the golden number of steps to strive for in a day. But do we really need to take 10,000 steps a day?
Meal-replacement diets, where some meals are replaced with soups, shakes or bars, have been making a comeback. They first took off during the early days of space travel when the public became obsessed with the idea of a nutritionally complete meal in a single drink or bar. These products remained popular for most of the 70s and 80s, but gradually fell from favour as people began to question the health benefits of these diets.
Do you prefer to rise early with the lark or stay up late with the owl? Your preference turns out to be partly decided by your genes. Our genetic study of nearly 700,000 people has revealed new insights about the genetics of chronotype – our preference to rise early or sleep late – and how it influences our mental and physical health.
I recently visited the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia – one of the best art museums in the world. I was expecting to serenely experience its masterpieces, but my view was blocked by a wall of smart phones taking pictures of the paintings. And where I could find a bit of empty space, there were people taking selfies to create lasting memories of their visit.