Health Topics

The Ice Epidemic: What Makes Users So Aggressive?

Ice, also known as Crystal Meth, has been blamed for causing many a tragedy. Recently, the murder of Phil Walsh, coach of AFL’s Adelaide Crows, was yet another one. Obviously there’s far more to that particular case than just Ice use, yet from a bystanders perspective it’s hard to imagine any drug fueling that type of rage.

RELATED Understanding Addiction

What’s scary from a public perspective is that violence has become highly associated with Ice and use is reaching epidemic proportions. Paramedics, ER staff and mental health specialists all acknowledge a link does exist between Ice use and violence. So what is it about this particular drug that makers users so aggressive?

I’ve done a bit of research on why Crystal Meth can make users so agro and it does appear to be correlated with various things. Firstly, it’s related to how the drug interacts with chemicals within the brain. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine are affected which predominately relates to impulses, mental processes and the brains pleasure centre. You see, it’s the release of dopamine that makes people feel euphoric, hence why Ice can be so addictive. After all, who doesn’t want to feel good?

What happens after the dopamine is released in Ice users is unlike what occurs with natural dopamine release and reuptake absorption in non-users. Ice users don’t experience reabsorption. Instead, they experience a gradual accumulation, meaning it doesn’t go anywhere and basically just sits there.

The drug also affects other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and epinephrine. These then affect noradrenaline and adrenaline systems which are responsible for our flight or flight mechanisms – the brains chemicals that cause us to experience fear. So given the intensity of this feeling, plus the fact that this drug can last for days, paranoia can easily set in. The brain of an Ice user is in a constant state of preparedness to fight or flee.

Obviously, this isn’t normal and can in itself cause exhaustion. Think of the times when your flight or flight mechanisms have kicked in; and now imagine having that sensation for a prolonged period. Seriously, how exhausting!

The other neurotransmitter Ice affects is serotonin, which is directly linked to emotional well-being. If serotonin is lacking a person can feel flat, depressed, anxious or angry. This isn’t the only avenue where anger enters the equation, however. There are still some other elements.

One is the pre-disposition of the user. If they are generally angry or irritable, Ice can highlight this trait. Then there’s the lifestyle of users; prolonged drug use can cause a heap of social, financial and legal problems. Therefore, most don’t have perfect lives and frustration would be a regular experience. All this can effect their perception, ability to cope, mental health and their environment, given they often mix with other users experiencing similar circumstances.

With this combination of factors all occurring simultaneously it’s easy to see how this drug can fuel aggression, even in the most placid person. If you think about it, it’s hard enough functioning with no sleep let alone neurotransmitters acting abnormally, life at it’s worst and things generally spinning rapidly toward a downward spiral. Eventually somethings got to give – and it does. This is generally when the violence occurs, like a perfect storm of circumstances which have accumulated and then erupted. Unfortunately, though, much of it isn’t rational or proportional and is predominately why this drug is rapidly becoming so deadly.

Image via Herald Sun

July 15, 2015

Could The New Apple Watch Tell You When You’ll Die?

If you’ve ever skipped the gym, indulged in an extra donut or opted for the elevator instead of the stairs then there’s a new app for you.

RELATED: Why Wearable Tech is Geek Chic Not Stylish

London-based company Rehabstudio have announced a revolutionary new Apple Watch app that might predict when you will die. Life Clock adds and subtracts time from your predicted lifespan according to your health choices and activities.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Life Clock’s developers say the goal of the technology is simple: to make life better. “We saw an opportunity,” Rehabstudo owner Tom Le Bree told Wired. “We thought, ‘OK, if time is really a human construct, how can we play with it?’”

Apple Watch, Technology, Health, Life

Life Clock works alongside Apple’s HealthKit data. Each user’s unique information about their activities and lifestyle choices are converted to time and displayed on the watch. For example, if you got sufficient sleep last night, Life Clock will add time to your overall lifespan, showing the impact each activity and choice has on your total wellbeing.

On the other hand, if you got less than 30 minutes of exercise today, Life Clock will subtract the equivalent impact that activity has on your lifespan. Then, it recommends ways to improve your health and increase your overall lifespan. Talk about the ultimate motivation tool!

While Le Bree admits the science isn’t 100 per cent accurate, he hopes it will make users realise the decisions they make now have a real impact on their future.

“[People think] tomorrow, I’m the guy that goes to the gym, quits smoking, and stops eating fatty foods. But today I’m going to have one last cigarette,” Le Bree says, hoping the app will encourage people to seize the day and make better health choices.

The Apple Watch will be available in Australia on April 24, 2015.

Tell us what you think: Would you ever try an app that tells you how long you’ll live?

March 26, 2015

How Dangerous Is Crossfit And HIIT?

We’ve all heard of HIIT, Crossfit, Grit. These types of workout are becoming more and more popular by the day. Men and women of all ages are sweating it out at the gym or Box (as known by Crossfitters); lifting weights, jumping, bear climbing, running up and down stairs, burpees and doing pull ups. These high intensity training methods are “functional” exercise that train the whole body: inside and out! Physically, they help to build muscle, tone and decrease overall body fat percentages. Internally dramatic changes to the cardiovascular, respiratory and neuroendocrine systems can be observed and measured.

These types of training methods don’t target one specific body part or area; it’s all about “functional’ fitness”. One of Crossfits’ philosophies is to train for the unexpected – to be physiologically capable and ready for anything. This means training to be cardiovascular fit, strong, flexible and adaptable.

But how safe are these high intensity workouts for regular people who seek to be ‘fit’ or sports weekend warriors? Can it be dangerous, and most importantly how can you prevent yourself from possible injuries? We addressed these questions to osteopath Lee Muddle, who practises in Canberra. Lee is also a director on the Osteopathy Australia board.

Can Crossfit and other high intensity interval training methods be dangerous?

Like participation in any sport, Yes there is an element of risk of injury. For example, Crossfit may be considered dangerous in a couple of ways.  If participants aren’t coached by a qualified instructor, who is educated and skilled in using proper techniques; especially for Olympic lifts and gymnastic skills, then there is a chance for potential injury.  Poor technique and/or haste in increasing weight or complexity of skills before suitably capable can be hazardous.

What are the typical HIIT/Crossfit injuries?

Crossfit (and the HIIT method) don’t have ‘typical’ injuries per se. They utilise ‘the whole body’ when exercising and no one body part is targeted more specifically or more often than another.  However, the causes of injuries from these types of training are ‘typical’. These include overuse, poor technique, lifting heavier weights than capable and attempting skills beyond skill level.

Who should avoid any kind HIIT?

High-intensity interval training is often introduced to participants who have been exercising regularly for a while. This is not a common form of ‘beginner or introduction’ type exercise.  Although it can be effective and time efficient in regards to fat loss, it is also very demanding both physically and mentally.  It’s not for the faint-hearted or beginner who may already have a dislike for physical exertion. The decision to utilise HIIT methods is not influenced by the age of the participants, but rather their sensibility and maturity to train within their physical limitations and to not push themselves senselessly beyond them. Similarly, the same guidelines apply to Crossfit participation, regardless of age, gender or even being pregnant; everything can be scaled as required.

How to minimise the risk of injuries, and can an osteopath treat the injury?

The best way to avoid injuries is to train under a qualified coach.  Training sessions should be programmed to have incremental increases in skills, weight, flexibility and mobility as experience is gained. Warm ups should be specific to the ensuing activity, cool downs may include stretching. Adequate hydration is also important, throughout and post, training sessions.

  • Should you injure yourself during a workout, cease the painful activity promptly and notify the coach.
  • Apply a compression bandage (if available) to assist with any swelling, and use ice if pain management is required.
  • Elevation (raising the injured area to improve drainage) may be tempting, but gentle movement of the injured area (within your pain tolerance) is likely to improve your recovery time and overall outcomes more

Osteopaths are fully qualified to treat and manage musculoskeletal complaints including those commonly experienced from participating in Crossfit and training methods utilising HIIT. Osteopathic treatment involves safe, gentle and effective manual techniques, including soft tissue stretching, mobilisation, inhibition and manipulation. These techniques assist in improving elasticity, strength, endurance, mobility and performance.

March 14, 2015

What You Need To Know About Organ Donation

Did you know that regardless of your registration status, each family of a potential organ or tissue donor must consent to the donation? Plus, not every donor gets to donate. There are exceptionally strict conditions which must be met to harvest organs. It’s marginally less for human tissue.

In 2013, only 1 per cent of  potential candidates who died in hospital actually met the criteria. This left  Australia with a mere 391 suitable organ donors for our entire population. With approximately 1500 Aussies queuing for an organ transplant at any given time, these figures indicate we desperately need more donors to save lives. Registration is reported to be rising at around 75 per cent of the population happy to donate, but we still need to do more.

The Australian Government Organ and Tissue Donation Authority, reported that only 69 per cent of registered donors have told their families of their potential donation. We really need that figure to rise. When potential donors became available in 2013, only 51 per cent of their family members knew what loved ones wants. Of these, the vast majority (94 per cent) of the families agreed to the donation. When the decision was left to family without knowing, the figure dropped substantially to 60 per cent.

Enough with the stats right? It’s enough to make your head spin. What these figures indicate is that it’s imperative for families to talk about organ donation. We often talk about a whole heap of other crap, like what Aunty Joan did at the last family party, but important stuff like this often gets avoided. In reality, if your family doesn’t know what you want, there is a significant chance they will decline the donation and your opportunity to save up to 10 lives will be sadly lost.

Lucky for us, Australia is a world leader in successful transplants. It’s not just about recruiting donors either. National, state and territory government’s have initiated ‘A World’s Best Practice Approach to Organ and Tissue Donation for Transplantation’ reform. The aim is to increase community engagement, awareness and registration rates, plus improve transplant success through stringent selection criteria and vital funding for medical professionals, post-donor care and facilities.

The federal government has allocated additional funds to secure dedicated specialists, like surgeons, nurses, hospital based transplant specialists and support service for both recipients and donor families. Donor families receive support regardless of their decision to donate or not. It will be a particularly difficult time and significant research has gone into providing the best outcome for both the donor family and individual organ recipients.

After a transplant, recipients receive assistance while they undergo 3 or more months of intensive recovery. For this time, recipients need consistent support as a mass of medications are introduced, including poisonous anti-rejection drugs. Recipients may experience potentially life-threatening side effects from medications and therefore potential recipients without 24/7 support for this period are ineligible for a transplant.

This may seem harsh, but the success of the transplant depends on the recovery period. With such a low availability of donors, specialists want to ensure only individuals with the best chance of survival receive these valuable organs. They are aware they may not be able to save everyone’s life so they must base their decision on these types of variables. It’s the ultimate gift of life and no-one wants it wasted.

Lastly, if you do decide to donate, be aware that your organs will be harvested with the utmost care and professionalism and your family will be thoroughly supported. If you’d like to know more about recipients of organ donors, we have an upcoming article, A day in the life of an organ transplant recipient. I’m blessed to have a family member who has recently an organ transplant and fully  comprehend the precious gift which has been received.

It is a decision which changes far more than an individuals life and impacts everyone they associate with, including the wider community. Who knows, one day it might be you on the waiting list and someone’s donation just might save your life. Surely that’s worthy of a 5 minute family conversation?

If you want more information on organ donation, head to http://www.donatelife.gov.au/

Image via lawprofessors.typepad.com

December 9, 2014

Understanding Addiction

Are you unable to put down your smart phone? Maybe over eating or drinking is your problem? Perhaps you’re indulging in too many prescription pills? Whether someone is overcoming an illegal or legal addiction is irrelevant. Most addictive behaviours can be treated similarly and have a similar pattern and path. Once these are understood, it is much easier to overcome any type of addiction.

Addiction in it’s most basic form, is excessive behaviour. The difference between regular behaviour and an addiction, is that regular behaviour can be ceased without distress and can be absent from ones life, without causing a significant impact.

In today’s society we have many behaviours than can easily lead to addictions. The following scenario depicts an addictive behaviour, associated with mobile phone use.

You hear the tone of your phone go off during a funeral. Instead of switching it off or declining the call; you choose to pick it up and start a conversation. You therefore need to answer your phone, regardless of your physical situation. In this instance, you may have an addictive behaviour attached to the use of your mobile phone.

Why this person felt inclined to answer the call, could have been, for one of two reasons. Either they did it automatically and neglected to notice their surroundings or they felt an overwhelming compulsion to answer it. In the later, they may have needed to answer the call to relieve distress or considerable discomfort they felt, when the phone rang.

This would have occurred through conditioning. Behavioural Psychologists such as Pavolv and Skinner, did extensive research into how behaviours were learned, maintained and extinguished. This has been exceptionally helpful in the field of addiction.

According to behavioural psychologists, the first step toward changing behaviour, is recognising it. For example; alcoholism can’t be treated without the drinker being aware they have a problem. So if you or someone you know has a problem that goes unnoticed; the behaviour isn’t likely to change.

Once the behaviour is recognised as being excessive, measures can be taken to correct it. In most cases this will involve acknowledging and understanding triggers which lead to the behaviour. Triggers are those things in life which prompt a behaviour. Using the scenario above; the ring tone would be considered the trigger and answering the phone, the conditioned behaviour.

Once a behaviour is learned and has been maintained, it can be difficult to extinguish. Maintenance usually occurs so the person can avoid the negative consequences of avoiding the behaviour. For example, alcoholics and drug abusers maintain their addiction, by knowing they need to ingest their desired substance, to avoid withdrawal.

Avoiding negative consequences can be a powerful maintenance tool. Once this is overcome, the process of extinguishing can commence. This involves avoiding the behaviour and reprogramming the conditioning process. With the mobile phone scenario, an example of reconditioning could involve ignoring the ring tone so it diminishes the conditioned behaviour. It may cause the person considerable discomfort to initially ignore the tone, but after a time, it would become much easier.

To alter the behaviour to answer the phone only when appropriate; the tone should be changed and the behaviour of only answering at specific times, would be practised. This would encourage a less addictive behaviour. Similar practices are done with food intake, such as eating only at the table or designating food free zones, such as the lounge room, where people often snack on unhealthy foods.

In theory, overcoming addictions is quite simple. However, emotions complicates the process. If you view an excessive behaviour as a conditioned, rather than emotional behaviour, your chance of overcoming it will be increased.

By Kim Chartres

August 15, 2014

Man Flu Turns Men Into Sick Kids

It’s official: According to women, the common cold turns the average Aussie bloke into a snivelling child when sick. Nearly three quarters of women believe their partner displays childlike behaviour when under the weather and more than half of females claim that Man Flu only exists because men are so pathetic at coping with illness.

The survey – commissioned by Vicks VapoRub – reveals that nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of women believe a cold can transform a strong, strapping man into a big kid, with a need to be waited on hand and foot (47 per cent) or reassured that he really is sick (46 per cent). It’s also not uncommon for men to like being tucked into bed when they are struck with a cold or flu (15 per cent).

When the tables are turned, the majority of women (79 per cent) are confident they are better at handling a cold or flu than their partner. Nearly all women (98 per cent) say that their other half at times demands more sympathy than her when sick, and one of their more common ways to respond is to ‘whinge about how ill they are as if it’s the worst cold or flu ever’.

One thing that both males and females have in common however is the belief that Man Flu exists. 59 per cent of women say this is the case, and nearly one in two (44 per cent) of our male population believe they have suffered a cough or cold which could be described as Man Flu.

However, it’s not all about the men. While child-like behaviour is most commonly observed in our Aussie men suffering from colds, women can throw their toys out the pram too with more than half (57%) of men saying their other half resorts to acting like a kid when sick.  And blokes: watch out for tell-tale female cold and flu signs such as your other half not moving from bed (27%) or becoming needy (21%). And while women say their men complain, nearly half of men (43%) acknowledge that women typically carry on with a cold and go to work, rarely taking a sick day.

TV presenter, writer, broadcaster and regular Man Flu sufferer Jonathan Coleman feels the pain of our male population. He says:

“A severe cold can hit at any time and reduces even the manliest of men (including myself) to a Man Child. My wife can tell I’m acting like a Man Child when my eyes turn watery, I’m buried in tissues or when my bottom lip starts to quiver when I’m not getting my own way.

“For all of those fellow Man Flu sufferers out there, my top tips are to get cosy on the sofa with your favourite TV show, keep your cupboards fully stocked with treats at all times and ensure you have your trusty Vicks VapoRub with you at all times.”

For help in choosing a range of cold and flu remedies you can use the Vicks Product Selector, found here: http://vicks.com.au/product-families.

May 18, 2014

Can Salt Therapy Cure What Ails You?

With up to 40 per cent of children suffering from allergies, parents are opening up to the latest complementary therapy to help battle symptoms associated with common ailments, from the winter cold to hayfever, asthma and eczema. The ingredient? A pinch of salt.

Ancient natural salt caves dating back to the 1800s have paved the way for today’s more scientific salt therapy (also known as halo therapy), helping to relieve the symptoms of debilitating respiratory and skin ailments.

So what is it and how does it work? Salt therapy is a non-invasive, chemical-free therapy designed to relieve congestion, inflammation and allergies of the airways and skin. By widening the airways of the respiratory tract, the micro salt particles reach deep into the respiratory system loosening up the mucus, which helps to reduce inflammation.

The best part – children don’t even know they’re being treated. Kids enter a room with an adult (or the whole family) and simply sit back, play and breathe in an ambient setting, designed to mimic a natural salt cave, filled with toys, a fish tank, bean bags and a TV. During the 45-minute session, a Halogenerator grinds up pharmaceutical grade salt to tiny particles that become airborne and dispersed.

Salt therapy is not a cure and works in conjunction with the sufferer’s medical treatment, helping to relieve symptoms of a range of common respiratory conditions be it ongoing or seasonal, from asthma to bronchitis as well as common skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Husband and wife duo David and Katharine Lindsay founded Salts of the Earth in 2010 after seeing overseas firsthand the effects salt therapy had on David’s father, a long term sufferer of chronic respiratory illnesses. The centres now cater to more than 1000 appointments each week.

Salts of the Earth ambassador Lindy Klim knows first-hand the positive impact salt therapy can have. “My son Rocco had a bad nasal problem that was keeping him awake at night, so we wanted to find a non-invasive, natural remedy that would help to relieve his symptoms,” she said.

“We’re so grateful to have found Salts of the Earth, it really has made such a difference to him. Rocco always had trouble sleeping as he had nasal dripage and was coughing all the time. After using salt therapy, the difference in Rocco was noticeable straight away. He had a perfect night’s sleep without being disrupted – there was no coughing and no complaints.”

Lindy reaps the benefits of salt therapy to maintain her own wellbeing, too. “I fly a lot so it’s nice for me to enjoy the room and take 45 minutes just for myself, knowing that by simply sitting back and relaxing, my recovery from travel is being aided as salt therapy helps me to breathe better and sleep better,” she said.

Dr John Tickell said there are scientifically proven benefits in combining medical and natural therapy. “There is science backing salt therapy, proving that breathing in minute salt particles does work to relieve symptoms, when used in conjunction with regular medication prescribed by your GP. By relieving the symptoms of a condition, medication can become more effective, resulting in better management and stronger relief,” he said.

“People who suffer from respiratory ailments have a condition that either inflames the lungs or produces excessive mucus. Salt can only clear a certain amount at a time, which is why we encourage customers to head into Salts of the Earth for a consultation first so the staff can understand their needs and recommend the best management plan for them.”

April 18, 2014

10 Ways to Love Your Liver (and Improve Your Health)

If one of your new year goals is to work on your health, a good place to start is with your liver. And good liver health means more than just watching how much you drink.

Loving your liver is pretty easy when you know how. Follow these 10 tips to protect your liver and watch your wellbeing improve.

1. Maintain a healthy weight
It’s estimated that 60% of Australians are overweight or obese. And of those classed as obese, approximately 30% will have fatty liver disease, putting them at high risk of liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver failure and liver cancer.

If you carry any excess weight around your middle, it can cause insulin resistance which often leads to fatty liver disease. Measure your middle and  keep it at a healthy circumference. Men should maintain a waist of less than 102cm and women, less than 88cm. Exercising and eating a diet that’s low in fat and high in fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals will help you maintain a healthy weight and liver.

2. Avoid fad diets
Fad diets that make your weight yoyo can put excessive stress on your liver. Avoid any products that promise large amounts of weight loss in an unrealistically short period of time. These diets are usually lacking in essential nutrients and are not beneficial. Aim to lose weight at a healthy rate of ½ -1kg per week.

Liver cleansing and detox diets should also be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, no particular diet is liver cleansing, but a healthy diet improves wellbeing. Take a look at our diet page and ask your doctor or dietitian to help you create a healthy and nutritious diet plan.

3. Limit your fat intake
High levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidaemia) and high levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolaemia) are common causes of fatty liver disease. Keep your levels low by keeping your fat intake low. And of the little fats you do eat, make sure they’re unsaturated (poly- and monounsaturated fats). If a low fat diet isn’t working for you, speak to your doctor about medications that can help.

4. Drink alcohol in moderation
Sensible consumption of alcohol is critical to your health. While alcoholism is more common among men, women are more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol on the liver. In fact, it takes as little as 20 grams of alcohol daily (only two standard drinks) for women to develop liver problems. If you can’t cut back, talk to your doctor about getting professional help.

5. Go for regular blood tests
A blood test is the best way to keep an keen eye on the levels of fat, cholesterol and glucose in your blood – all of which are associated with fatty liver disease. Too much glucose can be an indication that you have Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Diabetes – in both cases you’ll need to carefully control your blood sugar levels through diet, medications and/or weight loss.

Have you ever experimented with intravenous drugs? Did you have a blood transfusion, or organ transplant prior to 1992? If so, make sure you get tested for hepatitis C.

6. Quit smoking
It’s been proven that smoking cigarettes is linked to the development of liver cancer. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects that some medications (such as Paracetamol) have on the liver. Talk to your doctor, or ring Quitline to get help.

7. Get a jab
Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis A, make sure you avoid sushi, or raw/partially cooked clams, oysters, mussels and scallops, as these fish often live in hepatitis A-contaminated rivers and seas. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis B, practice safer sex.

8. Ask your doctor
Mixing medications is never advised without seeking advice from your doctor or pharmacist. This applies to herbal supplements as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Some medications require the liver to work extra hard to metabolise them, and taking too many medications at once can damage the liver. Some herbal supplements can actually be toxic to the liver, such as kava, comfrey, chaparral, kombucha tea, pennyroyal and skullcap. Read our common toxins page for more information.

9. Protect yourself
Practice safer sex and protect yourself from hepatitis B. Unlike hepatitis B, hepatitis C isn’t classified as a sexually transmissible infection, but if there is a chance of blood to blood contact, you should practice safer sex. Less commonly, toothbrushes, razors and other personal care items can also transmit hepatitis B or C, so don’t borrow, or share yours with anyone!

10. Don’t ignore your liver
If you’ve been told that something is wrong with your liver, ask your doctor for a referral to a liver specialist (hepatologist). You might feel fine, but the signs and symptoms of liver disease and hepatitis are not always present.

What are your health goals for 2014?

January 9, 2014

Is Your Kitchen Damaging Your Health?

Forget sharp knives and boiling water: our kitchens are full of dangers that could be affecting our health. Naturopath and author of Digestive Solutions, Michèle Wolff, looks at the nasties hiding in our kitchen and how to avoid them.

Aluminium
The metal-food reaction with aluminium can produce aluminium salts that are absorbed into your body and may be associated with impaired motor coordination and chronic inflammation which can result in a number of health conditions. Aluminium pans get thinner over time, and the only place for it to go is in your food.

Tip: Buy baking paper to wrap your beetroot, fish or potato or put your food in a glass casserole dish.

Teflon-coated vessels
Over time, Teflon can get scratched off into the food. The fumes can also be toxic when cooking in these pans at high temperatures. Never leave Teflon pans on the stove unattended; the toxicity becomes worse with overcooked or overheated foods. Although these non-stick pans are popular there are alternatives that do not harm your health.

Tip: Look for chemical free cookware, such as pans with an ecolon coating which is ecofriendly and chemical free, such as neoflam.

Microwave
Although seen as a speedy and convenient option, microwaves release electromagnetic waves that cause friction and heat to your food. Nutrient damage also occurs and there is a concern with plastics coming into contact with food.

Tip: Do not put breast milk, plastics or metal into a microwave. Exposed to microwaves, breast milk will lose lysozyme (an enzyme with antiseptic action) and antibodies, can foster the growth of pathogenic bacteria, and result in uneven heating which may cause burning in a baby’s mouth. Metal and plastics can create toxic fumes which can cause serious injury.

Barbecue
There is a danger of cooking meats at high temperatures which uses the production of Heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Research has show that these are the carcinogenic chemicals formed when amino acids (from protein) and creatine (a chemical found in muscle) react at high temperatures.

Tip: Avoid medium-well or well-done meat to minimise health risk.

High temperature cooking
Grilling or pan-frying can still cause high amounts of HCAs if the temperature is high.

Tip: Frying is fine, as long as you use the right oils. Cook with ghee, coconut oil or rice bran oil. Coconut oil is slower to oxidise and is not chemically altered when heated at a high temperature. These are the best oils to use when stir-frying as the nutrients in the foods are not compromised by the oxidising oil.

Antioxidants
The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture published a study done on the effects of antioxidants in different methods of cooking. In varying amounts, there was a reduction of antioxidants in all methods of cooking:

Microwaving: 74-79% loss

Boiling: 66% loss

Pressure cooking: 47% loss

Tip: Ideally, it is best to cook in stainless steel, ceramic or glass pans and to cook at low temperatures to conserve nutrition.

Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au.

January 6, 2014

Would You Wear a Bra That Detects Emotional Overeating?

You know how it goes…you’ve had a stressful day and you reach for the Tim-Tams. And before you know it, the packet is finished, and you’re licking crumbs off the couch. And hating yourself in the morning.

Microsoft Research has invented a bra that aims to detect emotional overeating, and curb cravings. The battery-powered bra is equipped with sensor pads that monitors the wearer’s moods and stream information to a smartphone app.

The sensors capture heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement. By both recording moods on a smartphone app and collecting data from the bra-sensors, the scientists could predict changes in physiology that accompany eating and stress, including whether the subjects are happy or angry. The bra also sends a tweet when the bra is removed.

While most stress-eaters are women, more than half the U.S. population has admitted to stress-eating, which then leads to a cycle of putting on weight, getting stressed and eating more, causing obesity.

In fact one of the researchers tried to invent the same type of stress-detecting device for men’s underwear, but it wouldn’t work because it was too far away from the heart.

Would you wear a bra that monitors emotional overeating?

December 5, 2013

Why Playing Like a Kid Can Improve Your Health

Playing like a kid and acting young can massively reduce stress levels and improve the ability to solve problems, according to recent research. Play has also been revealed as being just as important for mental and physical health as sleep, eating well and exercising – and hey, it’s a lot of fun!

Dr. Adam Fraser, evian Live Young expert and leading human performance researcher says, “Playing is not only critical for the development of the brain but also its health.

“Making time to refresh yourself through play is one of the best things you can do for your career, relationships and overall sense of wellbeing,” says Dr. Fraser.

And to show how effective playing and acting young is on our health, evian is setting up a giant backyard in Sydney’s Martin Place and Bondi Beach featuring an oversized Hills Hoist clothesline that adults will be able to swing off and enjoy the rewards of playing like a kid again.

Dr. Fraser shares top 10 ways to live young and experience the benefits:

1.       Get some friends together, go to a toy store, buy some toys and have a play date
Think play dough, finger painting, water guns! Explore an environment that felt magical as a child. It’s sure to put a smile on your face.

2.       Turn your favourite song up loud in the kitchen and dance to it
Let go of your inhibitions and just enjoy yourself without worrying what others think.

3.       Have a tickle fight
There’s no better way to ensure uncontrollable laughter that will leave a lasting smile on your face.

4.       Jump up and down until you’re out of breath
It will release endorphins that will make you feel great.

5.       Build a cushion fort in your living room
Let your creative side guide you and revisit a hobby from your childhood that always felt exciting and fun.

6.       Play in the mud and don’t stress about the dirt
This carefree activity stops you from taking yourself seriously and invites you to simply let loose without an afterthought. It can help put things into perspective.

7.       Have a pillow fight
A really fun way to recreate a much loved activity from your youth.

8.       Draw a picture and don’t worry about how good it is
This is a great way to let your creative juices flow and not think about anyone else’s opinion other than your own. Celebrate your individuality through this activity.

9.       Race a colleague up the stairs
A simple way to release endorphins and encourage a good giggle.

10.   Go to the park at lunch time and play on the swings
This effortless, fun activity will ensure you indulge your inner child and escape the stresses of daily life for a while.

The Live Young Backyard will be unveiled at Martin Place on Wednesday, September 25th from 7am until 3pm. It will then move to Bondi Beach opposite Roscoe St Mall on Campbell Parade on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September from 8am to 5pm.

What’s your favourite way to relax and have fun?

September 24, 2013

Welcome To Vegetaria, Have A Nice Day!

If you’ve ever wondered if we are genetically-geared to be vegetarians, or if avoiding meat is just a hippy-fied way of life, allow me to outline a few of the main points for you. In seeking answers to that very question, I had to concede that scientists believe humans were not designed as flesh-eating machines. Nor have we evolved to become so. The human digestive system, tooth and jaw structure, and bodily functions are completely different from carnivorous animals.

Physiology
Our digestive system is twelve times the length of our body, unlike that of true carnivores, whose is only three times theirs, to allow for the rapid expulsion of the bacteria from decomposing flesh. (Sounds delicious, eh?) We have significantly less hydrochloric acid in our stomachs as our carnivorous cousins, which helps to digest fibrous tissue and bones. Even our teeth prove our vegetarian tendencies. We have molars, those big, flat, back teeth used for grinding food. Unlike grains, meat need not be chewed in the mouth to pre-digest, as it’s digested mostly in the stomach and intestines. That’s why you’ll see a dog or a cat hardly chew its food at all.

Health
Interestingly, but hardly surprisingly, recent studies have shown that a meat diet has a seriously harmful effect on grass-and-leaf eaters. Dr William Collins, a scientist in New York’s Maimonedes Medical Centre, found that carnivores have an ‘almost unlimited capacity to handle saturated fats and cholesterol’. He conducted an experiment, whereby half a pound of animal fat was added daily over a long period of time to a rabbit’s diet, and after two months, his blood vessels became so caked with fat that the rat developed the serious disease, arteriosclerosis. Human heart disease and associated conditions are directly attributable to the amount of animal products we eat.

More Eat and Drink

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November 18, 2003

Welcome To Vegetaria (contd)

Instinct

It?s pretty obvious that our natural instincts are non-carnivorous. Sure, many of us enjoy eating meat, but killing an animal for the purpose of eating it is not high on the list of favourite pastimes for most of us. Not only that, but unless we?re talking about a skilfully prepared beef carpaccio, you?d be pretty hard pressed to find a person who?s willing to scarf down a juicy, raw rump steak, oozing with yummy, sticky blood, or a fresh, uncooked chicken drumstick. Mmm-mmm, gotta love salmonella, adds flavour. Not!! We claim to love our meat, yet we adulterate it with as many ingredients as possible to flavour it. We boil it, bake it, fry it, barbecue it, and disguise it with sauces and spices so that it bears no resemblance to its raw state.I guess you?re thinking that I?m a vego myself, since I?m preaching from the vegetarian soapbox. Well, surprise surprise, I?m not at all. I love wrapping my chops around a forkful of cooked cow or pig or sheep, and the more ?well done? the better. I?m a regular at Lone Star Steakhouse and I ain?t the gal ordering the Caesar salad with the side of mashed potato. I?m Nigella Lawson?s evil fat-loving twin. I’m the ring-in for the half of the Two Fat Ladies who didn’t survive her own cooking. I?m Dr Atkins? prot?g?. And I?m practically the poster girl for the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation. But I will admit, in a fit of righteousness, that a bowl of lentils, a mean green salad and a crunchy apple, will definitely suit me now and then. I just don?t make a habit of it.

By Gina Luca

* Gina is a freelance writer whose passion for talking to people on the Internet provides much inspiration for her writing.

November 18, 2003

How to Get White Teeth?

The thing that separates celebs from us mere mortals has got to be teeth! Smiling at ourselves in the mirror can often be a depressing experience. Those bright, white smiles that smile out at us from the pages of magazines make us all look a little like we have been smoking for fifteen years and eat licorice dipped in red wine every night and then go to bed without brushing. With a little discipline you too can have a sparkling smile!It’s not really that much of a mystery…their pegs have probably been photographically enhanced to look brighter. But it does make you wonder. A smile can be very inviting and it is possible for you to have that affect on others if you give teeth absolute priority. Bright, clean and healthy teeth can move your beauty look onto a higher plain. Sometimes our teeth are all too easily forgotten, so maybe it’s time to pay a little more for the dentist this season and put that Burberry bikini on hold. (Well…for a little while anyway)

Check it out

A yearly check up is imperative for the average person. The teeth also need to be cleaned properly at least once a year. A dental hygienist will clean the teeth and gums to get rid of the plaque and scale build up that we just can’t get to ourselves. This regular hygiene treatment will help to prevent gum disease – which is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. You, of course have to brush twice a day for two minutes, morning and night, using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristled brush. Very important. Oh, and don’t forget to floss with waxed dental floss!

The Wash

A lot of people favour mouthwashes. Generally, they are used for freshening the breath, but they can also dislodge any debris from food before you brush. The best washes are the ones that contain an antibacterial agent to help diminish gum disease. Look for fluoride in them too. This is the product that fights against decay. If you are using one that has alcohol, you should go easy on it and use it in moderation.

Breath

It can be a killer. If your breath is lacking a little freshness, it can sadly be a very quick way for someone to judge you?and it won’t be favourably either! The major problem with bad breath is that often we are the last person to know if our breath is bad. We all know how mortifyingly offensive bad breath can be too. Try this: lick your wrist and wait for 10 to 20 seconds before you smell your wrist. If the smell is unpleasant on your wrist, then you can pretty much be guaranteed that the smell emanating from your mouth is pretty bad too. This is where flossing comes in. Do it every day and you will avoid bad breath and clean your teeth properly. Take your toothbrush to work with you if you are going out after work and give them a brush before you go. The mouthwash will help in this area too. Also, check to see if your mouth gets dry. If you have a dry mouth, drink more water. One of the causes of bad breath is a dry mouth.

November 5, 2002

How to Get White Teeth? Continued

The Buzz

Are electric toothbrushes better than manuals? We all know they look better?that slick state of the art little appliance on your bathroom bench, so sexy – but are they better? The truth is that powered toothbrushes have proved to be up to 25 percent more thorough at getting rid of plaque than manual ones. They are a feasible option because a battery operated one can cost not much more than an expensive manual. Rechargeable ones are more expensive, but the writing is on the wall. They are designed to get rid of the plaque and they do. Maybe it’s time for you manual users to upgrade?Sharing

This is a disaster area. Three words. Don’t do it. Research has proven that it can spread very harmful germs such as hepatitis C. Apart from not sharing your brush, you still have to replace it every three months. Loads of germs build up in there after a while and it’s a good opportunity to get a new colour!

When Whiter is Better

That celeb smile is something we can all have now. Tooth whitening is the perfect way to upgrade your smile and your appearance at the same time because it will not damage the surface of the tooth. Power or laser lightening is another area all together. It is a procedure that is much more expensive. Just like agreeing to pay a lot of money for anything, it’s a good idea to get a quote before you start on the treatment.

Even though there are take-home whitening kits, it’s really something that is best handled by a dentist. Some dentists warn that some brands may contain mild acids that can be abrasive and cause ulcers and gum damage if not used correctly. Whitening is not as simple as it seems. It involves science, time and money. The dentist should do a detailed examination of your teeth before they commence. A consultation is the way to go when it comes to whitening up.

I Hate Dentists

Most of us have a morbid fear of that visit and it’s funny how images from Marathon Man (with Lawrence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman) seem to plague us as we wait in the waiting room. We imagine the worst and quite frankly, having someone fiddle around in our mouths makes you feel pretty vulnerable. If you are really scared, then there are some practices who recognise this and will cater to your needs. Take a recommendation from a friend whose opinion you trust. Most dentists realise that the patient does not enjoy the experience of the visit, but what would we do without them? Just like the eyes, the smile is a sign and you want to give out the right signal – one of brightness and good health. A healthy set of pegs can change your appearance have you turning heads because of the attractiveness of your smile.

Tooth Cleaning Spa

It’s no secret that preventative action helps you avoid the dreaded drill and a professional cleaning is something you should invest in at least once a year. Clean Smile, Australia’s first tooth spa is based in Sydney’s CBD. The very experienced, friendly and professional dental hygienists not only clean your teeth thoroughly but also give you up-to-the-minute information on ongoing oral care plus the latest on tooth whitening and cosmetic services. Treatments are conducted in a calming, spa-like environment fitted out with impressive state-of-the-art equipment and to help keep you relaxed and entertained, you can choose from dozens of latest release DVDs to watch during your visit. Call Clean Smile on 02 9232 2112 for more information.

November 5, 2002

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, is a situation where calcium is being lost from the bones faster than being added, regardless of how much calcium a person consumes. As we age it is normal for both men and women to develop a condition known as osteopenia, this being a moderate reduction in bone mass. This situation is without problem unless it progresses to osteoporosis, which is a severe reduction in bone mass significantly increasing the risk of bone fracture and posture deterioration such as ‘dowager’s hump’.Preventing osteoporosis is about getting the right balance of bone minerals. Healthy bones need calcium, magnesium, boron, other minerals and protein. Generally the mineral calcium is the main focus, yet calcium can not be absorbed into the body, unless a significant supply of magnesium is present. Magnesium is also alkaline, and the latest research by Dr. Susan Brown (osteoporosis specialist in the USA, www.betterbones.com) suggests that a more acidic body is more susceptible to calcium loss. So some research is suggesting a high magnesium intake is probably more important than a high calcium intake.

However, in general we need to look at the raw materials needed to form good healthy bones that will last a lifetime. Food is raw material for the body and a balanced diet, that includes lots of fruit and vegetables, should equal – of your food intake on a daily basis. Eating raw nuts and seeds (preferably soaked overnight) will provide essential fatty acids, which are essential for the absorption of all the bone building materials. Good sources of both calcium and magnesium are sea vegetables and raw almonds. Protein is another essential requirement, however protein in excess produces strongly acidic wastes. These may force the body to call upon its reserves of the alkaline minerals, calcium and magnesium from the bones. So, a high protein diet will increase calcium loss.

Other risk factors that can induce onset of osteoporosis include salt, refined sugar, cigarette smoking, vitamin D deficiencies and excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Because bones thicken or become denser in response to load placed on them, lack of physical activity is paramount in creating a weakening and thinning in bone density. Weight bearing exercise is essential to the recipe for life strong bones. Try yoga, Pilates, resistance training, walking some form of weight bearing movement that you enjoy.

Osteoporosis has also been blamed on estrogen deficiency. However, not even basic medical texts agree with this. Estrogen plays a part in slowing down the bone loss but cannot rebuild new bone. Progesterone, the balancing hormone, stimulates new bone growth. Whilst the researchers and the pharmaceutical industry discuss this controversial issue, it is probably safe to suggest that hormonal balance would play a key role in the prevention of osteoporosis. How do you balance your hormones? Reduce stress in your life. Eat a balanced diet. Get some regular exercise. The formula is the same for most health-related issues. Start today!

Karl Ostrowski, BHMS (Hons), Ass. Dip. Sp. Sc., CSCS, Pilates instructor for The Golden Door, Australia

July 23, 2002

Stomach Problems Explained


It’s everything we don’t want to talk about. We wish it would just curl up and disappear. You cringe when someone mentions his or her own movements. You just don’t want to know. We pretend the toilet doesn’t exist. For some people though it is an alienating and distressing experience that can get out of control. Imagine living with a dehabilitating disease for years avoiding the simple joys in life, like dinner parties and weekends away with friends, just accepting the symptoms because they are what you have learnt to live with; until you are finally diagnosed. Diseases of the bowel are anti-social and destructive to your lifestyle. It’s not much fun spending most of your time in search of a toilet.

Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis are generally grouped together as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). More than 23,000 Australians are inflicted. Approximately 10,000 have Chron’s and 13,000 have ulcerative colitis. Chron’s disease is chronic, life-long and is a disease which causes the immune system to attack and inflame the body’s own tissues, most often the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis also is an inflammatory disease that is characterised by inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining (mucosa) of the colon.

Both diseases have similar symptoms and this can make it difficult initially to differentiate between the two. There are two sad facts: there is no known cure as yet and they are diseases that primarily affect the young. Most cases are diagnosed before the age of 30, although there are cases that are diagnosed in the later decades of life. IBD is uncommon in children but does occur. The same symptoms develop in children as in adults. Scientists believe that both diseases may be due to a defect in the body’s immune system, its natural protection against diseases.

The first large national study of the treatment of Chron’s disease is currently being undertaken solely in Australia. The trial involves 212 volunteers over the age of 18 years with Chron’s disease and is being conducted in up to 20 centres Australia wide. The trial will run for two years. ‘Initial reports from a much smaller open trial in Britain have shown promising results using a combination of antibiotics,’ says Associate Professor Warwick Selby, a gastroenterologist at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Our trial is unique because it’s aimed at ensuring people remain well long after they have finished the treatment. We want to measure the rate of remission after the first 16 weeks and any possible relapses after one, two and three years. Patients will be given the appropriate medication and be provided free to participating volunteers. We hope to have it finished by the middle of the year but we need more people in order to realise its full value, says Professor Selby.

April 9, 2002