Goodbye….

 

goodbye

It is with a sad heart that I write this entry, as this will be my last blog on this site.

It is something I have been toying with for some time now — whether to continue this blog or not.

However, it is becoming increasingly more evident that shutting down this blog is the right thing to do. My workload is such that I really have trouble devoting proper time to this site. And with personal projects (I’m writing my first novel!) that I need to spend time on, I simply can’t do this blog justice anymore.

I’d like to thank you for following me and hope that you’ve found some of the information on this site helpful.

I’m still very much dedicated to happy, healthy living and hope you continue your journey in living the happiest, healthiest life possible.

If you’d like to follow me, feel free to jump on over to my FB page at https://www.facebook.com/WriteToThePointCommunications/

You can also follow my other blog about writing (and there may be a bit of health content too), at my website Write to the Point Communications.

Once again, thanks for your support.

All the best in health and happiness.

Nerissa xx

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Women’s Health: What women worry about most

Women's Health Week 2016

Women can be good talkers, but when it comes to women’s health, we often don’t take the time to ask questions, seek out credible information and work on a sound plan of action.

As a result, many women have many fears and unanswered questions regarding their health.

 

Women’s Health Survey

Earlier this year, the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health talked to thousands of women across Australia to find out their greatest health fears and concerns. The result: a comprehensive survey that offers unique insights into women across the nation. It’s the only one of its kind in Australia.

The survey found the top five health concerns for Australian women are:

  • Weight management (23 per cent)
  • Cancer (17 per cent)
  • Mental and Emotional Health (15 per cent)
  • Menopause (9 per cent)
  • Chronic pain (8 per cent).

 

Women’s Health Week 2016

The survey is one of the largest national surveys in Australia with over 3,200 women and health professionals taking part. The unique insights gained through the survey have formed the basis for the annual Women’s Health Week, running from 5-9 September, 2016.

This is a week dedicated to all women across Australia, to focus on health, learn more and take action.

This year’s theme is Am I Normal?

It’s a question every woman asks at some stage of her life. During the five days of Women’s Health Week, topics will focus on:

  • Monday: What’s normal?
  • Tuesday: Body image – you are your own worst critic
  • Wednesday: Healthy weight – know the three Ss
  • Thursday: Mental health – what can you do?
  • Friday: Let’s talk about sex

This free, online health event will provide practical tips, resources and tools, as well as motivating videos and health advice from the experts.

To be involved, simply head over to the Women’s Health Week website, and subscribe.

And as a way to support the event, Write to the Point Communications will be bringing you a host of content specifically surrounding women’s health. To ensure you don’t miss a post, “like” us on Facebook, and subscribe to all notifications.

Further information about the event can be found at Women’s Health Week.

Occasional medicine users don’t get full benefit of medication

Pills And WaterRecent survey findings have revealed that occasional users of medicines — including prescription, over-the-counter, and alternative or complementary forms of medicines — are potentially not getting the full benefits from their medicines, compared to people who take medicines more often.

The survey (conducted for NPS MedicineWise by Galaxy Research) showed people who take medicines less often or who take fewer medicines are more likely to stop a course of medicine early without speaking to the health professional that prescribed or recommended the medicine to them, and less likely to follow instructions relating to their medicines

Furthermore, nearly 1 in 6 people (15%) don’t take their medicine as instructed, this is more common in those who are younger, those who take medicines less than daily, and those who take fewer medicines.

 

Why you should take your medicine

Medicines (whether short-term or long-term) are important in treating illnesses and sometimes preventing them, so you need to use them correctly to avoid further health complications.

Often medications are used for a short time, but there are some cases where your doctor may want you to keep taking medication for a longer period of time.

NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo says that sometimes good reasons to stop taking a medicine, before stopping it’s best to first speak with a health professional such as a doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

“Taking your medicine as instructed, including taking the right dose at the right time, is also really important to help you improve your health outcomes,” she says.

stay safe with OTC medications“‘Even though you might be feeling better, if you don’t feel a medicine is helping you it’s always a good idea to speak to health professionals first to check that it is safe to stop the medicine. For example, some regular medicines need to be stopped slowly or to be replaced by another medicine to prevent serious effects on your health,” says Dr Yoo.

How to be medicinewise

To ensure your safety, and it’s important to be medicinewise. This means:

  • Understanding what your medicine is for
  • Reading the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully
  • Understanding how and when to take your medicine
  • Always following instructions from your health professional
  • Never sharing your medicine with anyone else, and ensuring young children can’t access it.

Equipping yourself with the NPS Medicine Wise MedicineList+ smartphone app (with its medicine reminders and links to medicines information) can help you manage your medicines safely and wisely.

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) or visit www.nps.org.au.

Prepared from a media release from NPS Medicinewise 24 August, 2016

Natural chemicals in vegetables cut risk of insulin resistance

Vegetables cut insulin resistanceIn the first study of its kind, research has uncovered another string to the ‘health bow’ of vegetables, showing carotenoids, the natural plant chemicals in vegies, may halve the risk of insulin resistance in adults, a major risk factor for some of the country’s biggest killers.

The new study, published in the Dietitians Association of Australia’s journal Nutrition & Dietetics, tracked the eating habits of 938 men and women over three years, and compared their intake of phytochemicals called carotenoids found in vegetables to their risk of insulin resistance.[i]

Researchers found those who ate the most of the carotenoids B-carotene and B-cryptoxanthin (found in many vegies, such as spinach, carrots, red capsicum and pumpkin) had a 58 per cent and 49 per cent lower risk of insulin resistance respectively, compared with those who ate the least.

According to Duane Mellor, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia: “Insulin is a hormone, and is vital in helping our bodies use glucose (sugars) from the foods we eat.  But when people have insulin resistance, our bodies ‘resist’ the hormone, and over time, this can lead to high blood sugar levels.

“So the more we do to help keep insulin doing its job effectively, the more we reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes, Australia’s fastest-growing chronic disease,[ii] as well our risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.[iii]

autumn produceAccording to the researchers, the protective effect of some types of carotenoids is most likely because of their antioxidant properties.

Dr Mellor said although studies have shown that antioxidants protect against oxidative stress in the test-tube, the way they seem to stop chronic disease getting a hold in our bodies is a little subtler.  “In simple terms they help our bodies deal with the stress of metabolism by making blood vessels ‘more bouncy’ and our liver more able to deal with what life throws at itiv,” said Dr Mellor.

This research backs up the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommend most Australians eat a minimum of five serves of vegetables each day.

“Vegetables are packed full of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, fibre, and these vital phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, that can protect against chronic diseases,” said Dr Mellor.

Dr Mellor, an Accredited Practising Dietitian, points to everyday vegies that are in season over winter, such as carrots, spinach and broccoli, as excellent sources of carotenoids.

“We need to do much better to reap those long term health benefits. Only seven per cent of Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables each day,[iv] and eating more of them is such an easy way to help avoid devastating diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer,” said Dr Mellor.

Prepared from a media release from the Dietitians Association of Australia

[i] Mirmiran P et al. Association of dietary carotenoids and the incidence of insulin resistance in adults: Tehran lipid and glucose study. Nutrition & Dietetics 2016; 73:162-8.

[ii] Diabetes Australia, Diabetes in Australia. https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia

[iii] Mirmiran P et al. Association of dietary carotenoids and the incidence of insulin resistance in adults: Tehran lipid and glucose study. Nutrition & Dietetics 2016; 73:162-8.

[iv] Mellor D & Naumovski N. Effect of cocoa in diabetes: the potential of the pancreas and liver as key target organs, more than an antioxidant effect? International Journal of Food Science and Technology 2016; 51(4): 829-841.

[v]Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Daily%20intake%20of%20fruit%20and%20vegetables~28

Misleading media reports on high fat, low carbohydrate diet for Australians

Fast Food QuestionsIf you read the recent news reports, or saw the story on Channel 7 News on high-fat diets, you may want to read the following response from the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

Once again, this highlights the importance of seeking factual information that is backed up by scientific evidence, rather than simply believing ‘anecdotal evidence’, or information that does not hold up under scientific scrutiny.

The response from the DAA is as follows:

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is disappointed with recent media reports, including a piece on Channel 7 News (23 May 2016) titled ‘Fatty foods don’t make you fat, but sugar is off the menu: Dieticians (sic)’. 

These alarmist reports contain many factual inaccuracies, with the information presented to Australians not in line with the latest evidence.

Sadly, such reports only confuse the Australian public about what to eat for good health. DAA, and the 5,900 members the Association represents, take very seriously our responsibility of promoting accurate, balanced and complete nutrition information to the public.

We are deeply concerned that yesterday’s media reports suggest ‘dietitians’ agree with the statements in the news reports, as this is not the case.

Check the qualifications of anyone providing nutrition advice

DAA recommends checking the nutrition qualifications of anyone providing dietary advice. As with any field, it’s important that advice is provided by those qualified to do so, working within their scope of practice.

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are nutrition scientists with a minimum of four years’ university study behind them. APDs assess individuals and provide tailored, expert nutrition advice and support, based on the latest evidence. They undertake ongoing training and development to ensure they are up-to-date, and like other health professionals, are bound by professional standards and accountable for the advice they provide.

Unfortunately, an APD was not interviewed for the Channel 7 News story, or other associated stories.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines: Evidence-based guidelines Australians can trust

It is without basis, and grossly misleading, to claim the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) are ‘making us sick’ (as was the suggestion in the Channel 7 News story).

The evidence-based ADG, which were developed by independent experts in nutrition, working with the National Health and Medical Research Council, provide a framework for healthy eating – and DAA supports these recommendations for the healthy population. An assessment of more than 55,000 studies informed the recent review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The ADGs are similar to evidence-based guidelines around the world, across a range of cultures and food systems – but our Guidelines are specific to issues and concerns within the Australian population.

Regarding fat and carbohydrates, the nutrition science tells us:

  • When it comes to carbohydrates, good-quality choices (such wholegrains and legumes) can be part of a healthy diet, and are in fact recommended to help meet daily fibre targets. When it comes to wholegrains, for example, there is strong evidence to link wholegrain intake with lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference, and reduced risk of being overweight.
  • A diet high in saturated fat is a risk factor for heart disease, one of our nation’s biggest killers. Saturated fats tend to increase LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol in the blood and current evidence suggests these should be eaten sparingly to minimize the risk of heart disease. Instead, foods that are rich in unsaturated fats (such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are recommended.

DAA agrees with the message to limit manufactured (or processed) foods – this is what the ADG also recommend, so this is nothing new. The ADG encourage Australians to choose whole foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruit, lean meats and eggs. And for foods within a package, DAA recommends Australian read the nutrition information panel to be able to make informed choices. An APD can work with people on these, and other strategies, to help them achieve a healthy eating plan, tailored to their individual needs.

autumn produceDAA points out that the ‘panel of global dietary experts’ mentioned in yesterday’s media reports consist of the UK-based National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration – whose views on saturated fat have been questioned by the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England. See the response by Public Health England to the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration opinion paper.

DAA appeals to journalists reporting on diet-related issues in Australia to report responsibly, and to source and discuss facts with local experts.  

 

This article was prepared with a press release from the Dietitians Association of Australia, 24 May 2016.

Salt: is it really that bad?

Depositphotos_29890303_m-2015Salt has been around for centuries. It preserves food and adds flavour to foods. In fact, salt is the world’s most popular flavour enhancer. But despite its popularity, most of us are eating too much of it, to the detriment of our health.

Why we need salt?

Our body actually needs salt to function properly. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride ions which the body cannot make itself, hence our need to get it from our food.

Sodium regulates the volume of fluid in the body and aids the uptake of various nutrients into the cells. Sodium plays a role in transmitting nerve signals throughout the body and aids muscle contraction. It also influences the pH levels in the blood.

Chloride is important for the body as well. Like sodium, it influences the pH levels in the body and fluid movement. It is also important for digestion.

How much salt are we really eating?

Most Australians consume around nine grams of salt per day, according to the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH). While nine grams doesn’t sound like a lot, our bodies actually only need one gram per day.

Health experts recommend we  reduce our salt intake to a maximum of six grams per day. However, Australians with high blood pressure, or existing cardiovascular disease should reduce it to no more than four grams per day.

Dangers of too much salt

You may be wondering why salt is such a big deal. It is widely recognized that diets high in salt can lead to:

  • High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) which in turn can increase your risk of experiencing stroke and heart attack, two of the biggest causes of death in Australia today.
  • Kidney disease
  • Stomach cancer.

Salt has also been attributed to aggravating asthma and contributing to osteoarthritis.

Why are we eating so much salt?

Even if you don’t add salt to your foods, chances are you are still consuming too much. Salt is found in many processed and prepared foods that we eat. It is commonly found in takeaway foods, fries, burgers, frozen meals, sauces, marinades, processed meats, potato chips, nuts, tinned veggies, spreads, cheese and biscuits.

And let’s not forget Vegemite, the holy grail of Aussie diets, which contains a whopping 7.5g of salt per 100g. That equates to one gram of salt for every piece of toast topped with the spread.

The importance of food labels

While you don’t have to eliminate all the foods listed above to reduce your salt intake, you should focus on choosing low-salt foods when at the grocery store. That’s where food labels come in. It’s the sodium in the salt that is bad for our health, so that’s what you need to focus on.

Generally:

  • Less than 120mg sodium per 100g is low
  • 120 to 600mg sodium per 100g is medium
  • More than 600mg sodium per 100g is high.

Note: Australia only has a definition for low salt foods, so the medium and high levels here are based on the UK recommendations.

Is one type of salt better than another?

Gourmet rock and sea salts have been popularised by TV chefs and ‘wellness warriors’. Many manufacturers claim their product is ‘natural’, contains ‘essential minerals’, and is a ‘tastier and healthier alternative’ to table salt. However, according to the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), salt is still salt. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from the sea or from the Himalayas, whether they are crystals or grains, or what the price tag is. The bottom line is they all contain an equally high sodium chloride content as table and cooking salt.

Tautumn produceips to reduce the amount of salt in your diet

Reducing the amount of salt in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. By following some of these tips, you will make great progress in cutting back on salt.

  • Don’t add salt to your food during cooking or at the table.
  • Use lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, or herbs and spices as an alternative to salt when cooking.
  • Avoid stock cubes, soy sauce, mustard, pickles and mayonnaise where possible. At the very least choose low salt varieties.
  • Focus on eating fresh vegetables for lunch and evening meals.
  • Make healthy snacks convenient instead of reaching for processed food.
  • Reduce your consumption of high fat, high sugar or high salt snack foods.
  • Keep takeaways and fast foods such as burgers, fried chicken and pizza to an occasional treat.
  • Include healthier options such as boiled eggs and salad, raw vegetable sticks and fresh fruit pieces in lunch boxes.
  • Limit your consumption of processed meats.
  • Avoid consuming salty spreads on a daily basis.
  • Check food labels for salt to compare products, brands and varieties and choose the lower salt options.
  • Choose low sodium foods (less than 120mg per 100g) where possible and avoid high sodium (more than 500mg per 100g) foods.
  • Limit salty snacks.

So next time you reach for the salt, ask yourself if you really need it.

Further information:

World Action on Salt and Health

Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health