Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Could this 'straw' for your NOSTRILS be the answer to overeating?

Don’t be sniffy! Could this ‘straw’ for your NOSTRILS be the answer to overeating?

A tube that is slipped inside the nostrils to dull the sense of smell could offer a simple and drug-free way to lose weight.

People who used the device daily for three months while on a strict diet shed twice as much weight as a second group, who dieted alone. 

They also ate fewer sweets, and drank fewer soft drinks and less alcohol, according to a new study in the journal Obesity Facts.

It is thought that by directing air that’s inhaled through the nostrils away from the smell centre of the nose, the 2.5cm-long hollow tube prevents smells from stimulating appetite.

A tube that is slipped inside the nostrils to dull the sense of smell could offer a simple and drug-free way to lose weight [File photo]

Up to one in four adults in the UK is classed as obese, raising their risk of multiple health conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Studies also show that obesity can shorten life expectancy by almost six years.

Weight-loss diets can be difficult to follow long term and up to 95 per cent of those who do lose weight will eventually put it all back on.

There is an anti-obesity drug (called orlistat) available on prescription, but potential side-effects include loose stools, headaches and gallstones.

Obesity surgery, meanwhile, although very effective, is typically only offered on the NHS to those who are severely obese.

The NozNoz device, from Israel-based start-up Beck Medical, could provide a simple alternative. It capitalises on the close links between smell and appetite.

Food odours have been shown to increase appetite, trigger salivation and release hormones involved in hunger and satiety (or sense of fullness). Furthermore, our sense of smell becomes keener when we are hungry. This effect is particularly strong in people who are overweight or obese, or who have food cravings, but it is not known why.

The device, which is made from the soft silicone used in some contact lenses, diverts inhaled air away from the olfactory epithelium, a sheet of tissue at the top of the nasal cavity that contains nerve cells that communicate smells to the brain.

One tube is inserted into each nostril, where it will redirect air to the posterior nasopharynx, which links the nose with the throat, bypassing the smell-detecting nerve cells and so curbing the sense of smell.

Food odours have been shown to increase appetite, trigger salivation and release hormones involved in hunger and satiety (or sense of fullness). Furthermore, our sense of smell becomes keener when we are hungry [File photo]

In the trial, involving 65 people with obesity, one group used the device for five to 12 hours a day for three months, while a second ‘placebo’ group simply placed two drops of saline solution in their noses each day. All the volunteers followed the same 500-calorie diet.

Tests revealed sense of smell dropped by almost a third in the device-wearers but didn’t change in the placebo group. And those aged 50 and under who were trialling the device lost 26 per cent of their excess weight (22 lb, or 10.1 kg) on average — twice as much as those dieting alone.

The natural weakening of the sense of smell that occurs with age may have prevented the device from boosting weight loss in the over-50s, say the researchers from Tel Aviv University and Hasharon Hospital, both in Israel.

Professor Nadey Hakim, a consultant bariatric and general surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, described the nasal tube as a ‘very clever tool which does not involve medication’.

He added that ‘if results are confirmed by larger studies, it would be a great addendum to the bariatric armamentarium’ of treatment options.

Flash-freezing the body may help with weight loss. Overweight women who stood in a cryotherapy chamber cooled to -130c weighed less and had smaller waists after 20 three-minute sessions. The researchers at the University of Physical Education in Poland suggest that the energy needed to keep the body warm in freezing conditions burns up calories and fat.

Try this

Nucao roasted hazelnut chocolate bars claim to have 65 per cent less sugar than normal chocolate. They’re sweetened with coconut blossom nectar and contain hemp seeds, which provide protein (5.8g per bar) and fibre (3g). 40g bar, £2.35, abelandcole.co.uk

Keep up the exercise routine at Christmas

Cholesterol levels usually rise over Christmas as a result of fatty, rich food and drink, but people who keep up their exercise routine could see them fall, despite their festive diets.

In a study published recently in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, scientists took pre-Christmas cholesterol measurements from 40 regular exercisers, half of whom exercised over the holiday, and half who didn’t.

After Christmas, the cholesterol levels of the exercise group had dropped by 7 per cent while they rose slightly in the other group.

The researchers suggest people should be encouraged to continue exercising over this period for heart health.

Asthma-type inhalers could be a new treatment for autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, where the body attacks itself by mistake.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that using inhalers to deliver doses of an antigen (a protein) that fires up the immune system may help the body to fight these kinds of conditions.

Studies on mice show that delivering tiny particles of antigens to the lung tissue in this way could build immunity to the disorders. 

Inhalers would allow patients to treat themselves rather than have injections or infusions given by medical staff.

Asthma-type inhalers could be a new treatment for autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, where the body attacks itself by mistake [File photo]

App that tells you if you’ve caught a bug

Feel like you are coming down with something? A new app called MyPHD (my personal health dashboard) claims to tell you if you have any infection, including Covid-19.

Developed by Stanford University School of Medicine in the U.S., the app — which can be used via a smartwatch or smartphone —detects changes in heart rate and step count (a marker for being less active) and calculates the risk of an infection, sending a red or yellow alert to your device.

So far the app has been 63 per cent accurate in identifying cases of Covid-19, according to a pilot study published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering this month.

The technology is now set to undergo further testing

Parents of large families at more risk of mental illness

Having more than two children increases the risk of depression, according to a recent study from King’s College London.

This found that parents of three children had an 11 per cent higher risk of developing depression than those with just two (who had no increased risk). Among those with four or more children, the rates were 27 per cent higher, suggests the survey of 52,000 men and women, reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Depression was more likely when parents were not living together and may be linked to the financial burden of having multiple children, say researchers.

Thirty minutes’ mindfulness a day could help reduce migraines.

A new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, asked 89 adults with migraines to learn about the headaches or try mindfulness to help reduce stress. Results showed both treatments helped, but those adopting mindfulness enjoyed a better quality of life.

Vampire jabs could help to restore women’s sex lives

Jabs of their own blood can improve women’s libidos, reports the Turkish Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), blood containing high levels of platelets that help with healing, doubled sexual satisfaction rates, according to a study involving 50 women with low libido. Blood was taken from each woman and put through a spinning process to create concentrated levels of platelets before being injected back into the body.

PRP, already known to help heal ligaments and muscles, is thought to increase the number of blood vessels in the vaginal wall, improving blood flow to the area.

Secrets of an A-list body

Pictured recently wearing a glamorous strapless gown, actress Gillian Anderson, 52, displayed a toned decolletage

How to get the enviable physiques of the stars. This week: Gillian Anderson’s decolletage

Pictured recently wearing a glamorous strapless gown, actress Gillian Anderson, 52, displayed a toned decolletage.

‘I don’t try that hard to stay in shape,’ she has said. ‘I go through stages of yoga a few times a week and throw in some running.’

What to try: A ‘plank hover’ with shoulder taps is great for working the chest muscles. 

Start on all fours with shoulders over your wrists and with knees beneath your hips. 

Raise your knees a few inches up so that they ‘hover’ above the ground and keep your back flat. 

Lift your left hand up and tap your right shoulder. Do the same on the opposite side.

Repeat for 30 seconds and do five sets, three times a week.

Tiny tweaks

Cycle for 15 minutes to improve your memory. Scientists from the University of Geneva looked at memory tests from 15 men after 30 minutes of moderate cycling, 15 minutes of intense cycling and after rest. The study, published in Scientific Reports, found those who exercised more intensely did better.

Citizen Science

The medical breakthroughs helped by ordinary people. This week: Sexual behaviour

Research into sexual behaviour is notoriously difficult because many people are reluctant to share their experiences.

Yet it can provide important information for developing health policies, for example, the use of contraception.

U.S. researchers from Indiana University launched the Kinsey Reporter in 2012, a free mobile app that allows people to provide information about sexual and intimate behaviours anonymously, such as side-effects of the Pill.

So far, there have been about 15,000 reports globally.

Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, says: ‘We expect to get new insights into sexuality and relationships today.’

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