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Health Scan

Here's a snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life!

health and fitness Updated: Apr 06, 2013 23:30 IST

A happy marriage causes weight gain

Young newlyweds who are satisfied with their marriage gain weight in the early years, putting them at increased risk for various health problems. The findings suggest that spouses who are satisfied in the marriage are less motivated to attract an alternative partner. As a result, satisfied spouses relax efforts to maintain their weight, report US researchers in the scientific journal Health Psychology.

Previous research has established that marriage is associated with weight gain and divorce with weight loss, but the role of marital satisfaction in those changes in weight is less clear.

Coffee may not be that harmful after all

Coffee may not be that harmful after all. According to a new study, heavy coffee consumption may protect against liver damage in men who drink alcohol.

The researchers measured blood levels of a particular liver enzyme —gamma-glutamyl (GGT) — and found a possible protective effect for coffee intake in those who consumed alcohol. Drinking alcohol raises levels of GGT in the blood. Over time, drinking can also lead to alcoholic liver disease.

People with liver disease show higher blood levels of GGT. Men who were heavy drinkers and also had five or more cups of coffee daily had a 50% reduction in GGT compared with men who drank no coffee. How the coffee was prepared — whether it was filtered, boiled or served as espresso — did not make a difference.

Eating fish helps you live longer

Eating fish twice a week could help you live at least two years longer. Older people who have higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and seafood have lower risk of overall death by 27% and death from heart disease by 35%. On an average, they live 2.2 years longer than those with lower levels.

The biggest bang-for-your-buck is for going from no intake to modest intake, or about two servings of fatty fish per week. One type in particular - docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA- is most strongly related to lower risk of heart disease death (40% lower risk), especially death due to arrhythmias (electrical disturbances of the heart rhythm).

Walnuts slash diabetes risk

Eating a handful of walnuts two or three times a week can lower the risk of developing type-II diabetes in women by almost 25%. Though the anti-diabetic effects of walnuts were known, the new study reinstated that regularly snacking on them can help prevent the condition.

Eating walnuts one to three times a month curbs the risk by 4%, once a week by 13% and at least twice a week by 24%. The higher the consumption, the lower is the risk of getting type-II diabetes, report researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston after collating data over a decade from 137,893 nurses aged from 35 to 77 years.

Cough into sleeve to stop flu from spreading

The practice of covering the nose and mouth with the hands when sneezing and coughing is more likely to spread the virus. It is best to cough or sneeze directly into a tissue. The next best solution is to use your sleeve. In fact, coughing into your elbow is better than coughing in to your hands, where flu viruses can survive for 30 minutes and spread to any person or surface you touch.

On cloth, paper and tissue, the viruses survive for up to 12 hours, and for up to two days on some hard surfaces. That is why it is important to always wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, and to dispose of used tissues in a bin straight away.