It is not surprising to read that eating healthily could ward off the dreaded dementia and make one’s brain more than six months younger. Researchers say that people who eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish have bigger brains. The findings are the latest evidence that ‘what is good for the heart is good for the head.’

A healthy diet, long known to protect from heart problems, was found to add to brain volume, boosting people’s grey matter and the volume of their hippocampus – the brain’s memory centre. Across more than 4,000 people aged 45 and older, eating well was found to give people an average extra brain volume of 2 millilitres. This is equivalent to a brain being more than six months younger, as it shrinks with age.

Having a larger brain is thought to ward off memory loss which can often be followed by dementia. Dr Meike Vernouij, co-author of the Dutch study from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said: ‘People with greater brain volume have been shown to have better cognitive abilities, so initiatives that help improve diets may be a good strategy to maintain thinking skills in older adults.’ He called for more research to ‘examine the pathways through which diet can affect the brain.’

A healthy diet is believed to strengthen connections in the brain and ward off inevitable age-related decline. The latest study, published in the journal Neurology, involved people with an average age of 66, who were dementia free. They were questioned on their diet, which was marked with a score of 0 – 14. The best were judged high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, diary and fish. Participants then had MRI scans to determine their brain volume. Even taking into account brain-shrinking activities such as smoking and failing to exercise, those who ate well had an average of 2 millilitres more brain volume than those who did not.

Dr Sara Imarisio, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Brain size was a useful indicator of brain health but the study did not allow any firm conclusions about how diet quality relates to the development of dementia.’ But she added: ‘Research suggests a healthy diet may help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Research is supporting pioneering research into ways we can encourage people at risk to adopt a Mediterranean diet.’

Time and again those who adopt a Mediterranean diet have proven beyond doubt that it is at least more likely to ward off dementia in most cases. That’s my own belief, which is now endorsed by the majority of researchers.


For men who fail to perform in the bedroom and suffer a major calamity, the cause of their problem has never been properly diagnosed. Previous research has linked erectile dysfunction to be being overweight, having poor circulation, smoking, diabetes or psychological problems.

But the latest study finds that in all age groups, those who have a section of DNA called Simi are 25% more likely to have erectile dysfunction. In those aged 50 to 59, the age group most affected, it increased the risk by 32%.
Lead researcher Dr Eric Jorgensen, from US Health Service Provider Kaiser Permanente, said: ‘Identifying the Simi focus as a list factor to erectile disfunction is a big deal because it provides the long sought-after proof that there is a genetic component to the disease. Identifying the first genetic risk factor for erectile dysfunction is an exciting discovery because it opens the door for investigations into new genetic-based therapies.’

The discovery was made by analysing the genes of 36,649 men in the US and cross-referring to their medical histories. The same test to corroborate the findings was then carried out under stored genetic data of 222,358 men in Britain who had been enrolled in the UK by a Biobank study.

The authors, writing in Proceedings of the National Assembly of Sciences, believe the genetic marker has an effect on the nerve pathways that trigger erections. They said the genetic component was a ‘previously unknown risk factor.’

It is obviously at an early stage in the findings, but whether the gene’s factor in such cases could be made to operate normally through a treatment breakthrough will give sufferers a new lease of hope in the bedroom.

Describing the Indescribable

Candice Derman is a remarkable woman whose magic is truly indescribable.



The title of her book is Indescribable, in a different, most horrible context by telling the story of her sexual abuse at the tender age of eight by her stepfather.
Quartet is proud to have published her book; written beautifully, it evokes every possible emotion that makes  the reader shiver with pain and sympathy rarely experienced.

As her publisher, I was totally overcome by everything she felt and said and could only marvel at her tenacity and clarity of vision in recalling her ordeal.

I sincerely hope that her book gains the readership it deserves and will draw our attention to the sexual abuse of minors who are, by reason of their innocence, totally defenseless.



In her book Candice says:

I don’t think of myself as a wounded woman with a painful past. I am a woman who is so lucky to have understood kind love in amongst the bad from such an early age. I am a wife not a survivor, I am a woman not a victim, I am a person who will continue to ask questions like a child but who will hopefully find answers as an adult.”



Professional liars are often hard to detect. Research suggests that people who look you straight in the eye may be lying. A study of deception found that ties associated with untruths, such as shifts in eye gaze and hesitation, were more common in honest people.

Scientists suggested that liars may be skilled at suppressing such signals. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used an interactive treasure-hunting game where players were free to lie at will, to assess the speech and gestures of liars and study how listeners interpreted clues to tell truths from falsehoods.

They found that listeners judge truthfulness extremely quickly within a few hundred milliseconds of encountering a cue. However, they also found common cues associated with lying were more likely to be given by truthful people.

Dr Martin Corley, lead researcher, said: ‘The findings suggest that we have strong preconceptions about the behaviour associated with lying, which we act on almost instinctively. However, we don’t necessarily produce these cues when we are lying.’

So now we know!

The study is published in The Journal of Cognition.

Pot calling kettle…

A review by freelance journalist Stuart Jeffries in this week’s Spectator of Jane Haynes new book, If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild, published by Quartet, is certainly causing a bit of a rumpus in the academic world. Jane is a formidable lady who has the knack of stirring up the Establishment, as the title of her book truly infers.


Professor Christopher Prendergast takes issue on many points with Jeffries in a letter he addresses to the Spectator criticising the review for many of its inaccuracies with no holds barred in the language he uses. Could this be the beginning of the best sort of running battle for which Academia is so noted for? Let’s wait and see.

Jeffries takes a swipe at Quartet along the way, suggesting our jacket copy detracts from the book’s merit by its use of an endorsement from the actor and comedian Matt Lucas and our mentioning in our author’s biography that Tatler described her London consultancy as one of London’s most prestigious private practices. Perhaps the 5 quotes on his own latest book jacket are from a better class of person? And calling his memoir of watching television Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy was not a commercial choice to catch some attention, but a serious piece of social criticism from an important critic. Go figure…


Candice Derman book published recently by Quartet books is receiving a great deal of attention. First The Observer carried a small but effective review on October 21st which read as follows.



The Observer Books

In brief: Indescribable; My Father Was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water; Remember This When You’re Sad – review

Candice Derman’s stark account of sexual abuse

Candice Derman

Quartet, £10, pp159

“I like swimming parties, spare ribs and cats,” says Candice Derman, recalling her happy eight-year-old self. Derman grew up to be a renowned actor in South Africa, but here she goes back to the moment her parents split up and her mother’s boyfriend, Joe, appeared on the scene. The first instance of his sexual abuse comes just pages in and is recounted with stark, unflinching simplicity: “Joe touches me down there… In this moment I learn I can become an object.” Published, rightly, to critical acclaim in South Africa in 2010, Indescribable distils Derman’s indomitable spirit in the face of trauma and reveals her to be a stunning writer.
And on the 25th October the Ham & High conducted a most moving interview with Candice with the following heading ‘I know how to carry myself not broken ’.

Candice Derman’s step-father Joe began to abuse her when she was eight years old.

For the next six years she lived a double life, outwardly the happy, extrovert living in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb, but inwardly a scared, numb girl who had developed an eating disorder. When she eventually broke her silence, her shocked mother had no clue what had been happening under her roof.

Candice grew up to become a successful TV presenter and soap actress in South Africa – but quit to write her unsparing account of those years of abuse.

Living for the past five years in Kentish Town with her husband and three-year-old daughter, she publishes Indescribable in the UK this month.

“I always knew I wanted to write this book but for a long time I couldn’t while being in tremendous internal pain,” she says.

“I just needed to be ready and one day I decided it was time. I had a wonderful career but I needed to be free emotionally and mentally, so decided to leave the soap and go on this journey.”

Derman says she felt “compelled” to describe the abuse, in the voice of her younger self, revealing how her parents’ disintegrating marriage broke the family apart, and left her vulnerable to a manipulative father figure, who told her she was clever and beautiful.

“It’s very complex, he became my father. He was loving, interested. The grooming is shocking, as you start loving this person, these things start happening. This person can take you to the movies but they are also dark and scary.

“It’s very confusing. You keep the secret because you are petrified, you are so young. It feels wrong, but you are told that God will understand, and you live with this fear and belief that hopefully it will stop,” she explains. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody,
there are so many mixed emotions, the longer it goes on the longer you can live with the secret, and compartmentalise yourself.”

Derman praises her “amazing husband” for helping her through the difficult writing process. “It was painful for my body physically – our bodies can carry so much, and mine had got used to holding on to pain. But I would read a few pages or a chapter aloud to my husband and have an amazing release and ability to move forward.”

She deliberately describes the abuse in unflinching detail: “I talk about the horror without protecting the reader. We use words like paedophile but no one really understands the horrific nature of what takes place. I wasn’t afraid of what people would think. I thought it needed to be written.”

Derman recalls that it was only when she turned 14 and had a boyfriend who showed her kindness that she started seeing the difference with her stepfather’s ‘love’.

“It had been going on for a very long time but I couldn’t keep it inside any more. I was becoming stronger and my anger was coming out. I’d had enough.” But disclosing her abuse to her mother while Joe was on a trip, brought its own problems.

“Joe chose my mum when she was vulnerable, he came in like a knight in shining armour. She gave him everything and without knowing, her daughter.

“It is hard to tell something really shocking to someone you love. My mother had no idea tragically. People always say ‘how can it happen under a mother’s roof ’ there is a lot of judgement, but these men are manipulative and get away with it because no one imagines it can happen. She didn’t cope with it very well, no one is taught how to cope with something like that, she was angry and I was angry with her.”

She was also swept up in the justice system and in the following years there was despair and suicidal thoughts.

“Being examined by a government gynaecologist, giving a statement to a policeman, talking to a prosecutor, it was a cold and shocking environment for a child. A teen can easily switch into a silence as a coping mechanism. During the court case
I felt so lonely, confused and angry, silence became my friend. Sometimes even now I can have that numbness and ambivalence.”

Although she was spared from testifing, Joe was sentenced to two years with the chance of being out in six. But Derman, who soon immersed herself in art school then acting, refuses to think about what happened to him.

“The justice system let me and other children down, my mum had so much anger but I couldn’t carry that idea of what he might be doing. I wanted to be free, I didn’t want him in my head any more.”

Acting, she says, was a “release” the chance to be different characters and disappear into other worlds. “I was a big performer as a child, I loved the attention. And later it was a gift to help heal, a freedom to be someone else and yet to explore my pain and

Recently, looking at schools for her daughter, she was shown around by a 10-year-old, and it triggered a feeling of “what was going on at that age with me”.

But she refuses to be a victim and long ago resolved to move on and live a good life, without handing over “a baton of pain” to her daughter.

“Me as a child, I feel so sorry for her, but I also feel so much love. I had the ability to see joy in a day when horrible things were happening I feel lucky to be born with a character that could have that thirst.

“I am not my story. Of course I am, but at the same time I am not. I know how to carry myself not being broken. “I live with her all the time now.
She is also me and I love her.”

For only £10, everyone of us can acquire this gem of a book.


Women’s orgasms, we are told, are much stronger than that of men’s and normally longer in duration. Also, multiple orgasm is something that some women enjoy, whereas men do not experience such a gift. Researchers have now found that those women who have Botox treatment to smooth out facial wrinkles are less likely to achieve orgasms. Injections of the toxic substance paralyse nerves making it difficult to produce the full range of facial expressions.

Psychologists at Cardiff University have discovered that, as a result, women find it harder to communicate to lovers that they are enjoying sex. This, the researchers say, affects performance between the sheets and blunts the women’s feeling of physical enjoyment. Dr Michael Lewis, who led the research, explained: ‘that just as people find it difficult to be ecstatically happy without actually smiling, so people struggle to reach orgasm without having full control of the muscles in their face.’

He said: ‘Facial expressions associated with orgasm utilised the same muscles targeted in typical botulinum toxin cosmetic treatments. The predicted consequence of having treatment is that women may feel an orgasm to a lesser extent and may find it harder to reach climax. Analysis from our study suggests that’s what is happening.’

The study involved 36 women, 24 of whom had been treated with botulinum toxin, measuring their female sexual function index orgasm satisfaction score. Those whose frown lines had been injected reported a notable drop in their satisfaction score.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Dr Lewis said: ‘Reduction of mobility in these muscles may interfere with the expression and feedback of excitement during sexual activity. The current research which provides support for this hypothesis is that participants reported that following BTX treatment , there was a decrease in sexual function – especially orgasms – which were harder to achieve and less satisfying.’ He added: ‘the results suggest that facial expressions do not occur simply to communicate pleasure. They are an integral part of the feeling of pleasure and are important in the process of achieving orgasm. This demonstrates an important cue for facial feedback within sexual intercourse and it is potentially a significant negative impact from BTX treatment.’

It’s news that could well have women furrowing their brows – if they still can.

So, the choice is clear – Botox or orgasm? I know which I would choose if I were a woman…