Exercise, alcohol, fruit and veg

There was a strike at the BBC yesterday, so the usual “You and Yours” on Radio 4 was replaced with an annotated compilation of recent in-depth reports by Michael Moseley from past episodes (I believe). It made for an interesting alternative podcast listen on my dog-walk today. He discussed the high-intensity exercise regime he tried for Horizon last year, the ambiguity about alcohol units and whether smoothies and fruit juice count towards your “5-a-day”.

In summary, it seems most of us don’t get enough exercise, and if we do we’re sitting at our desks too long, most of us are not eating enough veggies, but too many people are slurping down processed fruit juice and fruit smoothies, which one nutrition expert described as “bottled obesity”. In general, it seems fruit is fine but veggies are better (not such accessible sugar and more chewing and roughage/fibre).

Jogging couple image via Shutterstock
Jogging couple image via Shutterstock

As for alcohol, it would be best all round if we didn’t drink it at all. But, a quarter of a unit (2 grams, a medicinal, not quite homeopathic quantity) every day would be beneficial to the cardiovascular system (possibly) for some people without causing harm to the liver. Speaking of which one expert alluded to the 21 units for men each week as being an upper safe limit, 40 units and you really are going to cause damage and increase your risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. For women drinking a bottle of wine each week (that’s about 9-10 units) significantly raises the risk of breast cancer: If 100 women drink a bottle each a week, then one of them will get breast cancer as a result, two bottles, the risk is 2 in 100…and so on.

The simple, bottom line on these various in-depth reports were Moseley’s tips. “20+” – 20 minutes or more of exercise each day (including domestic chores), don’t sit for more than 20 minutes and squeeze in a high-intensity burst of 20 seconds on a bike each day. For veggies, one third of your plate should be covered with vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned, but not pureed) and you should avoid processed fruit juices and smoothies. For alcohol: “2+2” – two glasses of your favourite tipple and then two days off (although a couple of days off after a binge is not enough to allow the liver to “recover” from the toxic onslaught of the organic solvent we know as alcohol). He also suggests using smaller glasses.

The You and Yours items are available on iPlayer.