Cut your odds of a stroke

Thirteen Steps To Reducing Your Risk Of A Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to a part of your brain, causing cells to die and damage to areas controlling your memory, muscles and speech. The chances of suffering a stroke may be increased due to your genes, but there are some things you can do to lower the risk. Monitor your blood pressure Your blood pressure should ideally be under 120 over 80. The chances of a stroke are increased by not managing high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may suggest changes to your diet, getting more exercise, or prescribing medication to get it under control. Get more exercise Exercising for 30 minutes five times a week will help you to maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure – two things that can lower your odds of having a stroke. Stress less Stress can increase the likelihood of a stroke. Try to maintain a suitable balance between work and life commitments. Lose weight Diabetes and high blood pressure are caused by being overweight. Obesity increases your chances of a stroke, so endeavour to exercise regularly and keep your calorie count under 2,000 a day. Drink in moderation One drink a day can lower your risk of stroke, but more than two can increase the risk. Drinking heavily can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which contribute to a higher risk of a stroke. Check your cholesterol Lower your levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol by cutting down on saturated and trans fats, and boost your levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol by exercising. If your levels of cholesterol are still not ideal you may need to be prescribed medication by your doctor. Listen to your heart An irregular heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation (AFib), can alarmingly increase your chances of a stroke. You may require medication or a brief electrical shock to lower your heart rate and reduce the risk of blood clots which can lead to stroke. Manage your diabetes It is important to watch your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes. Diabetes increases your chances of a stroke, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Increase your fibre intake Your risk of stroke decreases by 7 per cent for every 7g of fibre you add to your daily diet. Ideally, you should be consuming around 25 grams a day – six to eight servings of whole grains, or eight to 10 servings of vegetables. Indulge in a little chocolate Studies have shown that a little dark chocolate a day helps prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with increased risk of having heart disease. The trick, though, is not to overdo it! Don’t smoke Do we really need to spell this one out? Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots and can thicken and narrow your blood vessels leading to a build-up of plaque – leading to a higher chance of a stroke. Eat a balanced diet A balanced diet that includes vegetables, […]
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How you can sit out backache

A Long Time Sitting Doesn’t Have To Mean Backache

During a recent weekend, I traveled to Port Macquarie. I was amazed at the number of caravan parks full of travellers from all over Australia. Some had done the ‘short drive’ down from Brisbane or up from Sydney, but a larger number of people had traveled much longer and further than I would have expected. Prolonged sitting – whether in a car or not – can place increased stress and strain on the body. However, cars traditionally contain bucket type seats which tend to encourage a slumped or slouched posture. For short trips, this isn’t necessarily problematic. However, on back-to-back days, this commonly causes increased stress and strain on muscles, ligaments and structures around the spine. Incorrect seating and steering wheel set-up can mean that drivers or passengers may adopt awkward, slouched and unsupported postures. A large amount of cumulative stress and strain is placed on the spine when long periods of driving are coupled with sitting in fordable camping chairs with little support. This is commonly why people may injure themselves doing seemingly innocuous and simple tasks. For example, have you ever wondered why you can easily lift your suitcase or heavy shopping out of your car, then suddenly strain your back while doing something simple such as putting on your shoes? Regardless of what type of car you drive, additional lumbar support is highly recommended.  A simple way to provide yourself with more lumbar support is to place a rolled-up towel in the small of your back. This support prevents you from getting into positions that may cause too much strain to your lower back. This strategy can be utilised for all forms of transport and travel. Additionally, ensure you are not reaching over the steering wheel, and that the back of the car seat fully supports your upper back, shoulders and head. Strain placed on the spine is essentially cumulative. Try to ensure that time is spent in a standing posture when arriving at your destination. Several exercises can also be performed at regular pit stops as well as each night. Try the following group of exercises. These shouldn’t take any more than five to 10 minutes a day. Some of these exercises you may already instinctively do when you’re getting a bit stiff or sore in the car! These exercises are also good for anyone who sits for long periods. stand up straight with your hands on your hips or in the small of your back. Gently push your hips forward as far as you can hold for a few seconds. Repeat 10-12 times stand tall. Rise up and down on your toes. Repeat 10-12 times stand tall. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 2–3 seconds. Repeat 10-12 times chin tucks. Look straight ahead in a seated or standing position. Tuck your chin in (as if to mimic giving yourself a double chin). Hold for 2–3 seconds and repeat 10–12 times. Try to avoid looking down or nodding your head walk! One of the best […]
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Portrait of senior man driving car

Dementia And Driving – How To Manage

Think back to the day when you were first issued your driving licence. Remember the sense of independence and adventure you felt? Over the years, driving has likely become a necessity or convenience rather than a means to explore, but imagine if the ability to get behind the wheel was taken away from you? While some of us may have the luxury of deciding when to hang up the car keys, for some the decision is made for them. Cognitive diseases, such as dementia, often mean that your family, friends or medical practioner may start the process that ultimately takes you off the road. Specific aspects of dementia that may lead to this suggestion include: memory loss – which can increase your likelihood of getting lost or forgetting where you parked the car visuospatial impairment – which can make it difficult for you to judge distance for other from other vehicles, park your car or stay in lanes impaired judgement – which can make turning, entering traffic from a junction and changing lanes challenging, and decreased insight – which can mean you are not aware that your driving is in fact dangerous. Of course, a dementia diagnosis does not mean that you have to give up driving immediately – the onset of the disease can be gradual and removing a person’s independence or routine may speed up the progress of the disease. If you notice that you, or someone close to you, is having difficulty while driving, it may be time to consider contacting the licensing department in your state or territory to check if a test is necessary. It is actually a legal requirement to advise your licensing authority of a dementia diagnosis. If it’s apparent that a person with dementia, or suspected dementia, is a danger to themselves or other road users, then you need to act quickly and we don’t mean hiding the car keys. You should make an appointment to speak to the person’s GP or contact the local licensing authority about your concerns – it can then issue a request to review their licence. When a diagnosis of dementia is made, it’s better to have the conversation about driving sooner rather than later. The more a person can understand what is happening to them and get used to alternatives, the better. Before you start the conversation, it’s really important to acknowledge just how much driving means to that person and the potential repercussions of them losing that freedom. It could lead to social isolation, the end of a job or volunteering, or a hobby or pastime that keeps them active and engaged. It’s also important to remain calm and not be forceful – you’re not telling them what to do. Frequent discussions about certain aspects may be more effective than one long conversation; ensure that you express that it happens to everyone at some point. Also, be armed with details of alternative transport and a plan of how and when the switch can be made. […]
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Baked salmon and broccoli in dish for healthy joints

Foods That Help Keep Your Joints Healthy

Joint problems don’t necessarily come with age – how we live matters more than how many years we’ve graced the planet. Even so, years of wear and tear can take a toll. Engaging in physical activity and eating properly are both factors which contribute to healthy joints. Imagine your joints as gears. If you don’t look after them, they’ll rust and seize up. Keep them well lubricated, and they will work better for much longer. The physical activity is up to you, however, there are some healthy foods that may help to keep those ‘gears’ lubricated and running smoothly. Salmon Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids – one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s best to choose wild salmon over farmed because the farmed varieties contain fewer to no omega-3s. Fresh wild salmon can be pricey though, so check your supermarket for canned wild salmon as a low-cost option. Sockeye salmon is a good source of vitamin D, which is beneficial for healthy joints and bones. Almonds Ongoing inflammation can lead to the inflamed area becoming vulnerable to damage by free radicals, which then cause further harm to your joints. Almonds are a great source of antioxidants, which fight against free radicals. They also happen to be one of the best sources of vitamin E, which helps to protect joint cells. Papaya Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects our DNA from free-radical damage. Papayas have almost twice as much vitamin C as oranges, plus a generous dose of beta-carotene – another great antioxidant for joint health. Apples Apples are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that is important for building and preserving collagen – which, in turn, provides shock-absorption for your joints. Red apples have the most quercetin – and the darker the red, the better. And remember, all the goodness is concentrated in the skin, so it’s best not to peel your apples. Black Beans Bring on the beans – kidney, white, red or black – they’re all packed with protein. Black beans are better than the others when it comes to joint-boosting compounds, and they’re also richer in the type of antioxidants which assist with the reduction of inflammation. Kale Kale is loaded with calcium, but unlike dairy, is cholesterol-free and lower in fat and calories. It’s rich in vitamins A, C and K, and packed with other minerals that can help to keep your joints healthy and strong. Kale also contains copper, which helps build collagen and ligaments, as well as manganese, which activates enzymes needed for tissue growth and repair. Broccoli Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which is a potent force against free radicals. It’s also packed with vitamins that keep joints well nourished – A, Bs, C, E and K – and loads of calcium and protein to boot. Ginger Ginger has been used in Asia for centuries to reduce joint pain and swelling. The spice has much the same effect as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, by reducing the production of a key […]
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garlic

Foods For Fighting Pain

  Whether we’ve got a headache, aching joints or a hangover, many of us will pop a pill to ease the pain. However, recent research shows that doing so may cause us more harm than good.But, is there another way?Yes. It’s food.Some foods are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can abate pain as well as, or even better than, over-the-counter medicines. Scientists perform ongoing research on certain foods to understand how they act and to test their capacity to relieve joint pain. And according to their research, these seven foods may actually help to alleviate pain. 1. GingerGinger has been long known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains plant chemicals that can help to alleviate muscle and arthritis pain. Add it to your cooking (such as Asian and Indian dishes), juices and tea (perfect with lemon and honey!).2. Oily fishWhen it comes to fatty fish, think salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in these fish can help to reduce joint inflammation and pain, including in the back and neck. For best results, aim for two serves of oily fish per week, or if you dislike the taste, speak to your doctor or naturopath about a good quality fish oil supplement.3. GarlicGarlic belongs to the allium family – which also includes onions and leeks. These aromatic vegetables contain plant compounds that may help with a number of conditions, including arthritis. Use it in your cooking – as much as your taste buds can handle!4. CherriesCherries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which have strong anti-inflammatory actions. Research shows that cherries, particularly cherry juice, can help with muscle pain and osteoarthritis.5. TurmericTurmeric, the Indian spice that gives curries its yellow hue, contains the active ingredient curcumin. Curcumin has a powerful anti-inflammatory action, which may ease the pain in achy joints, including joints affected by arthritis.Unfortunately turmeric is not very well absorbed in the gut, so you need high doses – more so than what you’d get in food – for it to be effective. Speak to an accredited naturopath to see whether it’s worth your while taking turmeric supplements.6. Foods rich in vitamin CBerries, citrus fruits, kiwi and pineapples, for example, are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants that researchers believe may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.7. CoffeeCoffee always seems to be in the news for either being good or bad for us. But when it comes to headaches, migraines and dental pain, coffee is in the good books. However, it’s a fine balance, as having too much can tip you the other way. See if you can limit yourself to no more than two standard cups of coffee per day.No miracle foodsBear in mind that there are no miracle foods. Research is still limited, and is usually performed in a small number of animals.  But a good diet is more than likely to help, as is taking steps to look after your frame.Read more at Arthritis Foundation, body+soul and Senior Planet. 
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Tribulus Terrestris

Four Sex-Drive Supplements For Women

 It’s no secret that, as we age, so too does our libido. The poor thing just gets worn out over the years, and the effects of age, health and how you feel about your relationship can dim your will to ‘get it on’.Still, there are many who are willing but not necessarily able. You can eat and exercise all you like, but some people will require something a little stronger. That’s where libido enhancers come into the picture.It goes without saying that before you take any type of supplement or medication, you should consult your doctor first – and at the very least, have exhausted the diet/exercise option.Most libido enhancers are marketed to men, which is strange because, as we all know, it takes two to ‘tango’. You won’t often see an ad – either in print or online – that promotes sex-drive supplements for women. However, in the interests of ‘equality’ here are four for the girls.  Iron Women low in iron – and men, for that matter – can suffer a diminished libido. A shortfall of iron also translates into reduced desire, arousal, lubrication and the ability to climax. If you get your iron levels in check you should notice an improvement in these departments. However, too much iron can be a bad thing. Taking more than 20mg a day can cause constipation and more than 60mg can be life-threatening.Tribulus terrestris Also known as puncture vine, this fruit-producing Mediterranean plant is, as the name suggests, covered with spines. The fruit, leaves and roots of the tribulus plant has been used for centuries as a medicine.It’s typically marketed to men as a testosterone booster, but women with low sexual desire can also benefit from this herbal supplement. A standard dose is 85mg–250mg per day, but women who took 7.5mg of Tribulus terrestris every day for four weeks experienced increased desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm and sexual satisfaction.Maca Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca is a South American root vegetable that can be consumed as is or in powdered form. If you’re lucky to find it fresh, you can roast it or mash it. You’ll most likely find it dried in a flour-like form, which is great, because it can be used for baking, added to smoothies or even brewed into a weak beer.Because maca is a food, it’s fairly safe to try, but it can increase your estrogen levels, and should only be taken after advice from a health professional.Panax ginseng Otherwise known as Asian ginseng, panax ginseng can help increase desire and arousal in women who are going through menopause. A recent study showed that women who took a thrice daily one-gram dose for two weeks saw improvement in libido, including lubrication, desire, arousal and ability to orgasm.And the good news is that it can also help your fella’s fella too, as doses of 900mg–1000mg a day can improve erectile function for men.Don’t go overboard though, as Asian ginseng can cause insomnia and diarrhoea.As with any change of medication, you’re […]
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Ovarian cancer symptoms

Being Aware Of Ovarian Cancer Warning Signs Could Save Your Life

 Every year, around 1400 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and over 900 will die, so it pays to know the early warning signs to stay one step ahead of this silent killer.To this end, scientists have studied the DNA of around 100,000 people, including 6000 Australian women with ovarian cancer.Their studies revealed 12 new genetic drivers that can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.A woman’s genetic make-up accounts for about a third of her risk of ovarian cancer.Ovarian cancer begins in a woman’s ovaries, with around 90 per cent of ovarian cancers beginning on the outer covering of the ovaries. Once some of the cells in one or both ovaries grow abnormally, the trouble begins.There are three types of ovarian cancer: epithelial ovarian cancer is the one that begins in the outer cells that cover the ovary and accounts for around 90 per cent of all cases; germ cell ovarian cancer starts in the cells that produce ova, or eggs; and stromal tumours occur in the structural tissues that cover the ovary and help to produce estrogen and progesterone. Stromal tumours can affect women of all ages.So, what are the symptoms?Symptoms tend to be noticeable and will worsen over time. These include:abdominal pressure, swelling or bloatingpelvic or abdominal painpersistent indigestion or nauseaconstipationloss of appetite or feeling full after a small mealincreased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waistpersistent fatiguelower back painhaving to urinate often and urgentlyunexplained weight gain or loss. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms over a period of weeks, you should seek the advice of a health professional.For more information about ovarian cancer, including help kits and forums, please visit ovariancancer.net.auAuthor:Leon Della Bosca 
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Psoriasis hand

Psoriasis: Seven Ways To Ditch The Itch At Home

   If you experience recurring itchy skin with dry, red patches, you could have psoriasis. Psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disorder, beginning deep inside your immune system. It comes from your T cells, which are designed to help protect the body from infection and disease. When these white blood cells are accidentally triggered, it can lead to psoriasis symptoms.There’s no cure for psoriasis, but there are many effective methods to help ease symptoms. Here are seven treatments you can try at home to help ditch the itch.1. Add some creamSometimes, a heavy cream can be the answer. You could try a thick cream moisturiser or petroleum jelly, both of which help to lock in moisture, reduce redness and assist the skin in healing. You could also try wrapping the affected areas in cling wrap or tight clothing (such as socks or gloves) overnight for an extra moisture boost. It might be best to avoid heavily scented products, as these can aggravate the skin further.  2. Get some sunSome studies suggest that the sun’s ultraviolet B rays can help fight psoriasis, so when the itch persists, try to spend some time in the great outdoors. Remember to wear sun smart protective clothing and apply sunscreen to areas without psoriasis. Avoiding spending more than five to 10 minutes in the sun.3. Take a dip A salt water bath with Dead Sea or Epsom salts can do wonders to soothe dry, flaky skin. Enjoy a nice long soak, and apply an unscented moisturiser afterwards to seal in moisture.4. Feel the burnChilli has long been recognised for its internal anti-inflammatory properties, but capsaicin, the ingredient that makes chilli hot, may also help reduce skin ailments. Some research suggests applying a topical over-the-counter cream where capsaicin is a main ingredient can cut pain, inflammation and redness. Be warned, some people may experience a burning sensation when they apply it.5. Add some spiceIf you love your curry, this cure will please you. The distinctive yellow herb, turmeric, often found in curry sauce, can help to reduce psoriasis flare ups. It has been known as a healing spice for centuries, and contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. You can try adding it to your meals or taking a supplement.6. Tea tree oilFor relief from itching, and to reduce redness, try tea tree oil. The tea tree is native to Australia and is commonly used as an essential oil and as an active ingredient in many lotions and shampoos. It’s often used to fight skin conditions, such as acne, and has a reputation for clearing up nail infections and reducing inflammation. If you plan to use pure tea tree oil, dilute it with a carrier oil, such as almond or macadamia oil, as pure tea tree oil can burn the skin.7. Change your dietWith a focus on fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is touted as one of the most beneficial in the world. Not only has it been found to help boost […]
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How To Minimise The Discomfort Of Sensitive Teeth

If your teeth hurt when you eat ice cream, drink hot beverages, or eat sour foods or citrus, you may have ‘sensitive teeth’. Sensitivity can be occasional or frequent, and the level of discomfort experienced can vary, but the triggers are usually hot and cold, sweet and sour foods and drinks. Some people even feel pain from simply breathing in cold air.What causes sensitive teeth? Brushing your teeth too hard will not make them cleaner, but it may wear away the protective enamel layer and make them sensitive, so when you brush remember to do it gently and always with a soft toothbrush.Gum disease can cause your gums to recede, exposing the root surfaces which can trigger sensitivity.Grinding or clenching your teeth can wear away your tooth enamel and usually occurs at night while you are asleep.Erosion of the tooth enamel caused by acidic drinks and foods, or stomach acid from reflux or vomiting. Conditions such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease can increase your risk of erosion, so you should take extra care with your teeth in these situations.Chipped, broken, or decayed teeth can cause the nerve in the tooth to become irritated and sensitive.What you can do to avoid sensitive teethThere are some simple things you can do every day to help minimise the discomfort of sensitive teeth. Always use a soft toothbrush and consider using toothpaste for sensitive teeth as a part of your daily routine. When you eat or drink something acidic, it’s best to rinse your mouth with water and chew sugar-free gum afterwards and wait at least 60 minutes before brushing. If the pain is getting you down, or you are tired of not being able to eat your favourite foods, book a dental appointment to discuss your particular situation. Your dentist can identify the underlying cause of your sensitivity and recommend the best oral hygiene practices to help reduce your discomfort and maintain the health of your teeth.It’s important to remember that some tooth sensitivity is caused by more serious problems, including tooth decay, a fractured filling, a cracked tooth or even a root canal problem. So don’t overlook the importance of a professional diagnosis.
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White rice and brown rice together to show bad carbs and good carbs

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs: How To Tell Them Apart

              Carbs receive a lot of bad publicity. We’re also told to avoid carbs since they cause weight gain and type 2 diabetes. But dietary guidelines recommend that we get about half of our daily calories from carbohydrates.Some carbs are bad while others are tremendously good for you. In fact, it’s necessary that you consume carbs for your body to work optimally. But how do you tell the difference?Carbohydrates provide your body with the glucose (energy) it needs to function properly. There are two types of carbs: complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbs are those that the body takes time to break down into glucose, meaning they are absorbed more slowly into your system and give us lasting energy. These are foods rich in fibre and we call them ‘good’ carbs.On the other hand, simple carbs include sugars found in foods, such as fruit and milk products, as well as sugars added during food processing. The more refined the carb, the less essential dietary fibre it contains. Foods containing white flour and added sugars are referred to as ‘bad’ carbs. We can minimise the health risks of bad carbs simply by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates, which rob our body of fibre. Note: just because they’re labeled ‘bad’ doesn’t mean you should never eat them, only that you should eat them in moderation.Here’s a list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs:Vegetables (good carbs):dark leafy greensonionspeasmushroomsasparagusartichokescauliflowerbroccolieggplantcelerycabbageBrussels sproutsgarliczucchinicucumberssweet potatoroot vegetables (i.e. carrot and parsnip)Vegetables (bad carbs):potatoesFruit (good carbs):berriesmelonstropical fruits (i.e. pineapple, mango, papaya)kiwitree fruit (i.e. apples and pears)citrus fruitsgrapesstone fruits (i.e. cherries, plums, peaches, apricots)Fruit (bad carbs):dried fruitsfruit juiceGrains (good carbs):quinoawhole wheat/wholegrain productsbrown ricesprouted grainswhole oatswheat germbranmilletGrains (bad carbs):white flourwhite breadbreakfast cerealquick oatscouscouspastabaked goods (i.e. muffins and cakes)corncream of wheatNuts/seeds/legumes (good carbs):peanutscashewspecansmacadamiassesamealmondswalnutssoybeanslima beansfava beanspeaschickpeaspinto beansNuts/seeds/legumes (bad carbs):honey roasted nutsnuts with a sweet or candied coatingsweetened nut butter (i.e. peanut butter)Dairy products (good carbs):whole milkcreamcheeseunsweetened yoghurtsour creambutterDairy products (bad carbs):ice creamsweetened yoghurtskimmed milk 
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