Science Catch-up. Your Kids Might Be Fitter Than Their World Cup Heroes…

by The Health Sciences Academy — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Your kids might be fitter than their World Cup heroes…

2. Why are these scientists adding sugar to vegs?

3. Follow these 5 things = live 10 years longer?

Your kids might be fitter than their World Cup heroes

Study link

With the World Cup around the corner, you may be thinking of taking your kids for a stroll to the park for a game of footy…

Or is it the other way around?

According to this pilot study, it appears young children may be nearly as fit as endurance athletes – and way fitter than untrained young adults!

But is it true for all children?

Initially, I thought the children who took part in the study would be sports superstars, but not at all…

They were ordinary children! And with a relatively low level of physical activity.

Children’s heart rate recovered faster post-exercise compared to endurance athletes (Birat et al., 2018).

Yet, I was specially struck by the fact that the children’s heart rate recovered faster than that of the endurance athletes after performing the same level of exercise intensity!

It seems that the children’s aerobic metabolism was far superior at high-intensity exercise.

This means that they did not generate as much lactic acid in their muscles compared to adults, so they didn’t fatigue as quickly.

So perhaps we should tell our respective football nation coaches to bring young chaps to the field to maximise their future chances of lifting that golden World Cup (!)

But when it comes to athleticism, I always wondered:

Why do some of us love to get active, while others think it’s torture?

Could our inherited genes explain that?

To discover how your genes may be powering your stamina, endurance, or strength, join us for our epic Continuing Education Module on Exercise Genetics here!

Why are these scientists adding sugar to vegs?

Study link

Here’s how you might be able to get your kids to eat their greens without giving you a headache this Father’s Day:

• Option 1 – employ a Mary Poppins for the day
• Option 2 – take her advice about adding some sugar

Hold on… isn’t sugar an evil to avoid at all costs?

Keep reading, because there’s a potential use for this white ‘poison’…

I recently read an experimental study where researchers used small amounts of sugar to favourably improve the taste perception of vegetable purees.

Adding small sugar amounts increased the liking of 3 vegetable purees (Bakke et al., 2018).

They added very little sugar – no more than half a teaspoon per 100 grams of vegetables.

What I found peculiar is that the title of the study is “Mary Poppins was right: Adding small amounts of sugar or salt reduces the bitterness of vegetables” – and although it didn’t involve any children, the researchers and the media concluded these results would be applicable to children too…

But wait, can we extrapolate adult findings to children?

Not really…

I can tell you that children tend to be far pickier with new foods (especially vegetables due to their bitter taste).

Because of this, I’m worried children would require a much higher quantity of sugar to help them overcome the bitterness of vegetables they dislike. So this may not be the best advice.

And I’m even more concerned that parents will add too much sugar to encourage their children to eat more veggies, which may do more harm than good if they over-do it!

If you’re looking for the solution to picky-eating or want to start helping parents, schools, and sports clubs with the foods children eat, be sure to grab your seat for our free Child Nutrition Workshop – and tell an intrigued friend to join us too!

Follow these 5 things = live 10 years longer?

Study link

Want to live a longer and healthier life?

No matter how young you are, I believe we ought to start making the right lifestyle choices as soon as we can…

In this mega-study of more than 100,000 people, fellow Harvard researchers identified 5 things that may help extend our life expectancy by over 10 years.

So what were these 5 things?

Life expectancy was the highest in participants with all 5 low-risk lifestyle factors (Li et al., 2018).

They called them low-risk lifestyle factors.

As expected, a healthy diet involving a high intake of fruit and vegetables was one of them.

The other 4 factors included:

• Being a non-smoker (I’d add avoiding second-hand smoke too)
• Reducing alcohol intake (a maximum of 2 daily units for women, and 3 for men)
• Reaching a normal BMI (a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9)
• Getting physically active (a minimum of 3.5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week)

My take?

I thought it was quite impressive to see the life expectancy of individuals with all 5 factors was a lot longer than those without any (14 years for women and 12 years for men).

Another remarkable aspect is that it involved over 100,000 participants, and the follow-up period was very long too (36 years).

While it’s correlational data, I still think we’re able to take these findings seriously.

(In fact, I’m now going for a spin class to get my daily dose of exercise.)

So we’ve seen that a minimum of 3.5 hours of weekly activity is a good starting point, but what about athletes who train for hours and hours each day?

Could exercising too much cancel out all its health benefits?

Or even worse, shorten our lifespan?

We dig into the science of exercise and longevity in this fun Continuing Education Module – click here to learn more!

If you want to get the latest science and our tips, make sure you sign up to our Thursday emails HERE.

The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alex Ruani, Doctoral Researcher, is the Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, where her team of accomplished scientists and PhDs are training a new breed of over 100,000 highly-specialised nutrition professionals who are leveraging the latest personalisation strategies to help their clients. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL Doctoral Researcher who is fanatical about equipping health professionals with the latest science-based tools so they can succeed in their practices – from identifying the unique nutrient needs to building highly personalised nutrition programs. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition biochemistry, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free email updates.

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