Tradies urged to take care

Construction workers positioning cement formwork framesAugust signals the annual Tradies National Health Month. It’s an opportunity to draw attention to the health of all of Australia’s tradies, who continue to have the poorest health and safety conditions of all workers across all sectors.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) leads Tradies National Health Month to educate tradies to keep a check on their safety, health and well being.

 

Tradies are most at risk

According to Safe Work Australia, tradies have among the highest serious injury and disease compensation claims in Australia. Labourers, technicians, and machinery operators and drivers are among the top four occupations when it comes to number of serious injury claims.

The majority of serious claims are from injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, including traumatic joint, ligament, muscle and tendon injuries. While backs still present the highest proportion of body stress injury claims, other body parts affected include upper limbs, lower legs, hips, the abdomen and the pelvic region.

Research also shows tradespersons, labourers and workers across the agricultural and construction industries have high risks of chronic health conditions.

 

Greater awareness needed

It is vital tradies become more aware and active in improving their health and safety. Early injury intervention and treatment through evidence-based care, including physiotherapy, must be part of the solution to prolong working careers, reduce time away from work and improve general well being.

Employers, peak bodies and government are encouraged to acknowledge the significant role they play in ensuring their workers are fit-for-work, and offer appropriate support when it comes to preventative health measures

 

Tips for preventing injury

The APA offer the following tips to prevent tradies injuring themselves at work:

  • ensure tasks are risk assessed regularly to reduce the strain
  • check the equipment you are using is adequate, easily handled and fit for purpose
  • use good posture and technique when handling objects eg: keep your chest up where possible
  • keep your core strong by exercising regularly
  • keep your flexibility by doing 5–10 minutes of stretching every morning
  • maintain quality sleep and nutrition to ensure you have the energy to remain well, alert and safe throughout the day.

For further information, or to find out how you can be involved, visit Tradies National Health Month visit www.tradieshealth.com.au

 

 

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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

 

Endometriosis — what you need to know

illustration of woman and yellow ribbon for EndometriosisDuring March, you may see many women wearing yellow. March into Yellow is a movement aimed at raising awareness of and starting a conversation about a condition that affects between five to ten per cent of menstruating women around Australia — endometriosis.

 

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis (pronounced en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is disorder where tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This endometrial tissue grows within the pelvic region, often affecting the ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining the pelvis.

This tissue acts just like the tissue within the uterus — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because there is no way for this tissue to leave the body, it becomes trapped, often causing pain. Sometimes surrounding tissue can become irritated and may develop scar tissue and adhesions, which bind organs together.

Endometriosis can be extremely painful and may cause infertility. Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown.

 

What are the symptoms

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary, depending upon where endometrial tissue is located. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Painful periods
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain, not related to menstruation
  • Heavy periods, clotting, long periods, irregular periods or premenstrual spotting
  • Ovulation pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in the lower back, thigh or leg
  • Bowel problems including painful bowel motions, diarrhoea, constipation or bleeding from the bowel
  • Trouble getting pregnant.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, speak to your doctor. You may not have endometriosis, but it is worth investigating, particularly if the quality of your life is suffering.

 

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Unfortunately, an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis can take some time, with the average length of time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis being seven years. This is because some women may feel that their symptoms are a normal part of their menstrual cycle. Sometimes doctors may initially attribute symptoms to other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, kidney stones, irritable bowel syndrome, cystitis or stomach ulcers.

Diagnosis is made via a laparoscopy — a surgical procedure involving inserting a long, thin telescope (laparoscope) into the abdomen through a cut near the navel. Gas is pumped into the abdomen to separate the organs, enabling the surgeon to look for signs of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is classified in stages from stage one (mild) to stage four (severe), according to its location and depth.

 

How is it treated?

There are many options for treatment, all of which are based on the severity of symptoms, location of the displaced endometrial tissue, the woman’s age and the outcome the woman wishes for (e.g. improved fertility, pain relief)

There are three main ways to treat endometriosis:

  1. Medications, including hormonal and non-hormonal treatments
  2. Surgical treatment to remove endometrial lesions and adhesions
  3. Complementary treatments including physiotherapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, nutrition, homeopathy and clinical psychology to assist with pain relief.

 

What can you do?

There are several things you can do to help raise the awareness of endometriosis.

You can wear yellow durimarch into yellowng March to start a conversation, or head on over to March Into Yellow  to change your profile picture to yellow for the month.

You can share information about endometriosis via your social media platforms.

You can take up the March into Yellow Challenge and ask friends and families to sponsor you, to help raise funds for awareness, education and research.

 

For further information about endometriosis, visit Endometriosis Australia

To get involved visit March into Yellow.

 

 

Why you should care about Healthy Weight Week

Dangers of being overweightHealth Weeks come and go, and unless we are directly affected by the condition or illness being highlighted, or know someone who is, we generally don’t take too much notice.

This week (15-21 February 2016) is Australia’s Healthy Weight Week.

You should take note, because statistically, your health probably depends upon it.

 

Obesity rates are rising

According to a recent study published in the Lancet, shows that Australian obesity rates are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world.

Currently, 63 per cent of adults are classified as overweight, with 28 per cent obese. Alarmingly, around 25 per cent of teenagers carry too much weight.

To put that in perspective, out of every 10 of you reading this blog — around six of you are overweight with three of you being obese. One quarter of all teenagers who read this are likely to be overweight also.

 

Carrying too much weight is dangerous

For most of us, being overweight is uncomfortable, which is why we want to lose weight in the first place. We struggle zipping up our jeans, that spare tyre around our middle is constantly in the way, and we can’t keep up with the kids anymore.

But some of us are ‘comfortable’ carrying a few (or more) extra kilos. While it’s great to feel comfortable in your own skin, it has been scientifically proven that carrying too much body fat puts your life at risk.

Being overweight can lead to a host of problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal problems including osteoarthritis and back pain
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Gallstones.

Even if you currently don’t exhibit signs of any of the above you are at a higher risk to develop them later on, than someone who is a healthy weight.

For the sake of our long-term health, most of us need to address our weight issues.

 

What you can do

Healthy Weight Week, an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia, aims to address the problem of obesity in Australia.

The first point of action should be to determine whether you are a healthy weight or not. A simple check in the mirror, will usually suffice for most of us.

Dangers of being overweightIf you need to change your life for the better and shed some excess body fat, speak to your doctor.

Losing weight is not just a matter of “going on a diet”. If you carry excess fat, you should have a check-up with your doctor to see if you have any underlying health issues (e.g. high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.). Once you have a baseline for your health, your doctor will be able to advise you on how much weight you should aim to lose, and the safest and most effective way to go about it.

It’s never too late to make a change for the good, and avoid becoming one of Australia’s obesity statistics. So why not take the first step today?

 

Further information: http://www.healthyweightweek.com.au/

The health benefits of FebFast

Health benefits of Feb FastIf you’re one of the many who have signed up for FebFast this year, then you are probably counting down the days until your ‘fast’ is over.

FebFast is the great Australian ‘pause for a cause’. Participants choose to quit alcohol or sugar for the month of February in an effort to raise funds to support youth programs across the country. In addition to raising funds, many Australians use this as a kick-start to a healthier version of themselves.

Whether you have chosen to give up alcohol or sugar for the full 29 days (that’s right, it’s a leap year!), no doubt you will feel challenged along the way.

During these challenging times, it may help to think about the health benefits of giving up alcohol or sugar.

Health benefits of a month without alcohol or sugar

According to the FebFast website, most participants feel healthier after a month without booze or the sweet stuff. They report sleeping better, having increased energy levels, are more productive at work, and of course, save a great deal of money!

In particular:

  • 62 per cent lose weight
  • 81 per cent save money and invest it in something like a holiday
  • 86 per cent become more aware of how alcohol and sugar impact their health
  • 60 per cent are more productive at work, enabling them to have more time with their family and friends
  • 44 per cent sleep better, thereby gaining more energy

Health Benefits of Feb FastBacked up by research

The above claims are not without scientific backing. A pilot study by University College London found that participants who abstained from alcohol for one month had reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and insulin resistance. This in turn leads to better live health and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. [i]

A further study from the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital found that children who gave up sugar for nine days exhibited significant health changes. These included a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin, as well as improved liver function.[ii]

So the next time you find it hard to resist reaching for a beer, or downing a chocolate bar, remind yourself you are not only contributing to a good cause, but doing something positive for your health.

For further information visit the FebFast website.

References:

[i] Andy Coglan, Our liver vacation: Is a dry January really worth it?, New Scientist  published 31 December 2013; accessed 5 February 2016, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129502-600-our-liver-vacation-is-a-dry-january-really-worth-it

[ii] Juliana Bunim, Obese Children’s Health Rapidly Improves with Sugar Reduction Unrelated to Calories, University of California San Francisco, published 27 October 2015; accessed 4 February 2016 https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/10/136676/obese-childrens-health-rapidly-improves-sugar-reduction-unrelated-calories

 

Forget fad diets: portions are the go

Spaghetti with salmon

Dietitians are calling on Australians to start the New Year with a bang by making this year’s resolution to forget fad diets and instead aim for perfect portions.

A new survey of 1,230 Australians, commissioned by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), found about half of all adults aged 18 to 64 (54%) are unhappy with their current weight[i].

DAA will soon launch its annual Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (AHWW) campaign (15-21 February) to make it easier for all Aussies to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

According to the peak body for dietitians, eating the right amount, rather than piling up the plate, is a key way to reduce your kilojoule intake and manage your weight.

‘We all know fad diets come and go, and usually end in failure. So rather than starting the diet merry-go-round this year, make your New Year’s resolution about being more aware of the right portion sizes and how much you’re eating,’ said DAA Spokesperson and AHWW ambassador Professor Clare Collins.

Professor Collins said getting back into the kitchen for more home-cooked meals and keeping a check on how much you serve yourself and your family is a good place to start.

But according to Professor Collins, there’s more to this story.

‘Research shows that substituting vegetables, and other low-kilojoule, nutrient-rich foods, for those that are ‘energy-dense’ is the way to go. This helps to fill you up, without tipping the scales in the wrong direction.

‘Aim for 2-3 or more cups of vegetables or salad a day. At the moment, most Aussie get nowhere near that. So a simple step when cooking at home is to start your meal with a salad or add an extra serve of vegetables to your main meal. Let vegetables fill at least half your plate,’ said Professor Collins, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Professor Collins’ research[ii] has found Australians typically overestimate portion sizes, especially for foods like pasta (a guide good is about a cup) and chocolate (should be no bigger than half a small chocolate bar), compared to what health authorities recommend, and this can lead to ‘kilo creep’ over time.

‘When there’s more food on the plate or when we use bigger plates and bowls, we eat more. The difference between one and two cups of pasta at dinner is around 870kJ. If you eat a double portion size on a daily basis those extra kilojoules could see you gain around 1-2 kilos a month if you don’t burn this off doing extra exercise.

‘To eat less without thinking about it, switch to using smaller plates so you don’t notice you’re serving yourself less food,’ said Professor Collins.

healthy wrapThe DAA survey found that already 26 per cent of Australians said they would review their portion sizes.

‘The challenge is to get everyone to use simple, pain-free strategies – such as smaller plates, greater proportions of vegetables and cooking more at home – to help manage weight,’ said Professor Collins.

Award-winning celebrity cook, Callum Hann, and Accredited Practising Dietitian, Themis Chryssidis (both from Sprout), are supporting this year’s Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, teaching Australians about home cooking and choosing the right portions sizes.

Hundreds of health-focused events, including nutrition workshops and cooking classes, are being held around the country to mark the week. Find out what’s on near you, and get nutrition tips and recipes, at http://www.healthyweightweek.com.au

Prepared by a Press Release from the Dietitians Association of Australia

6/1/16

References:

 [i] Omnipoll survey (October 2015) of 1,230 Australians adults aged 18-64 years, commissioned by the Dietitians Association of Australia.

[ii] Collins CE et al. How big is a food portion? A pilot study in Australian Families. Health Promotion Journal of Australia (2015): 26, 83–88.

[iii] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15. Retrieved on December 16 2015 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Overweight%20and%20obesity~22

[iv] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-2012. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Key%20Findings~1