Monday, 31 December 2012

Don’t be a new year’s Fool

Once the turkey sandwiches have all been finished and Santa Claus and his reindeer packed in a trunk until next year, the New Year celebrations lie ahead. Indeed a season to be jolly as well, but not too jolly – it could land you in the local trauma unit.

From cheers to tears. New Year celebrations are associated with merriment - and drinking lots of alcohol. 'Tis the season to be jolly after all. Watch what and how much you're drinking, as it could turn into the season to be sorry. You could start the New Year with a massive hangover, or even worse, be hospitalised with alcohol poisoning. You may be seeing in the New Year not with the woman of your dreams, but with Sister Mathilda, who looks as if she could be put to good use in a demolition yard. And she's heading for your bed with an injection.

Give me my keysh – it'sh my car. On New Year's Eve, many of the people who drive are less than sober. In fact, this is the night you would swear we've changed over to driving on the right side of the road. Try and avoid having to drive anywhere that night. Have a party at your house, or, if possible, sleep over where you are going. The roads are dangerous, other drivers could be dangerous and you could be a danger on the road if you've had one too many. Don't go there.

Baby let me light your fire. In the southern hemisphere, many people see in the New Year with a braai. Just remember that fires are dangerous and should be tended by someone who has had no more than two drinks. When Tom says, "Have I shown you my fanshy trick with matchesh?", stop him. This is not the time nor the place. In fact, why did you invite Uncle Tom after what he did last year at the party? Don't help the fire along with an inflammable liquid – you could come horribly short. Keep pets and children well away from the fire, and put it out once you have finished using it.

The Big Bang. Fireworks are beautiful and can be spectacular, but are not without their dangers. Only adults should set them off and then only in designated areas. There is a reason why you cannot launch purple rockets from you flat balcony or your backyard – they are a fire risk and can do some serious damage. And, please, if something doesn't detonate, give it at least 15 minutes before you investigate. Bending over a lit firework has cost many people an eye or landed them in the local ICU. If you do land in the ICU, let it be for something heroic, rather than something you'll be teased about for the next forty years.

Down she goes. Alcohol and water are a deadly combination. Post-midnight drunken bravado has seen many a soul disappear beneath the breakers on the beach. Swimming in the sea at night is not recommended. Pools can also be dangerous – if you can't swim when you're stone cold sober, you sure as hell can't swim when you've had several too many. And with everyone around you possibly being in a real party mood, it's surprising how long it could take before anyone realises that it's been a while since you planted slobbering kisses on any party guests. By which time you may already be down under.

From toothpick to beach ball. Having a good time is often synonymous with eating lots of festive fare – chips, snacks, plates of food piled high enough to cause a visual obstruction. There is nothing quite as certain to stop you from being the life and soul of the party, as a good bout of nausea and stomach cramps. And forget about that advertisement of the man who turns green after eating a mound of slap chips, takes the magic antidote and carries on partying. In your dreams. Eat, have fun, but stop when you're feeling full. A friend has seen in the New Year sitting all by himself in someone's guest toilet, with a bucket on his lap – and he says it was no fun. Take it from him.

September baby boom. Think about your friends. Think about how many birthday presents you have to buy in September. Do you think all these babies were carefully planned? No, their imminent arrival was initially probably as welcome as the January credit card statement. And what's more, an unwanted pregnancy is not the only possible unwelcome news these days after a jolly old romp in the hay with the one in the clown suit whose name you can't quite remember.



Sunday, 30 December 2012

Healthy ideas for the New Year

Everyone over indulges at Christmas time, which sadly means two things; our waistlines will suffer and we find it even more of a challenge to go cold turkey in the New Year. Many of us want to continue the indulgent eating into January but there needs to come a point where you get back to reality. To help make this reality not so harsh, we have rounded up 8 healthy ideas to ease you into the New Year.


A great way to use leftovers, stuffed peppers or mushrooms are also a satisfying and filling food option that will save you reaching for seconds. Using plenty of vegetables and flavours such as chilli, tomatoes and spring onions you will have a filling, comforting meal without the unwanted kilojoules. A healthy alternative to your festive roast potatoes and stuffing, this dish will also count towards your five a day.

Muffin top

Rather than reaching for the leftover Christmas pudding try making some healthy muffins. Using flavours such as cinnamon and honey instead of sugar, and vegetable oil rather than butter, you will have a sweet treat without adding to your muffin top! Ditch the mince pies and get baking, throwing in some seeds and dried fruit for good measure.

Healthy toastie

This classic warming comfort food doesn’t have to be a belly buster; there are lighter options that are just as satisfying. Try using wholemeal wraps instead of bread and fill them with beans, spring onion, avocado and a sprinkling of cheddar. Toast until golden and you’ll have a healthy Mexican dish that won’t pile on the kilos like the festive brie and cranberry version. Adding spices will tantalise your taste buds and prevent you seeking flavour in less healthy options.

Chocolate cravings

Chocolate features greatly in many a Christmas family home, but it can be so hard to resist in the New Year when the glistening wrappers are tempting you. To satisfy your sugar craving, and so you’re not missing out completely, opt for a few squares of dark chocolate or Brazil nuts and dried fruit dipped in dark chocolate. The antioxidants will see you through the cold weather when you’re prone to feeling run down.

Take it away!

Despite feeling tired and in need of comfort in January don’t automatically order a takeaway. To replace your favourite Indian takeaway, opt instead for a homemade vegetable curry, packed with spinach, chick peas and tomatoes, as well as the essential spices and chillies to keep your immune system in check. As a comforting yet healthy replacement for your Chinese takeaway, consider a noodle stir-fry with prawns. The protein from the prawns will keep you fuller for longer and save you reaching for the phone to order your usual.


Risotto can be seen as a stodgy and rich dish, but only if you have a cream and butter laden one. There are lots of lighter risotto options that are just as comforting and satisfying and make a nice alternative to common indulgences like macaroni cheese. Try butternut squash, sage and chestnut risotto for a healthy yet festive meal. Risotto is also a great way to use leftover meats, vegetables and herbs from the Christmas dinner.

Have a salad

Don’t be put off just yet! Yes, salad doesn’t sound like the most comforting replacement for the rich Christmas foods you long to continue eating into the New Year, but there are lots of interesting ways to make the humble salad more filling and exciting. The more colourful the salad the better, to beat those post-Christmas blues.


A common New Year’s resolution is to go teetotal, but if that seems as if it will be too much of a shock to the system after your booze filled break then try instead lighter alcoholic options. A small glass of anti-oxidant rich red wine is a good place to start, especially if you warm it up with slices of orange and a sprinkle of cinnamon to continue that festive feeling. Or, there are in fact many brands of non-alcoholic beers and wines available, not forgetting that on a night out you can have some fruity ‘mocktails.’

Happy New Year Everyone!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Disasters

Most people have an idea what they'll be up to at Christmas. Will it be a traditional lunch on granny's farm, a picnic at the beach, a braai at your sister's house, a family roast dinner, or a TV dinner on your own?

Most families have some sort of get-together every year at this time. But think back to last year's do. Did you enjoy it? Or were your nephews and nieces impossible for most of the day – hysterical with excitement about their presents and on an incurable sugar-high? Did your father-in-law misbehave badly after having one too many? Did your sister spoil the day by criticising your brother's interior decorating skills?

Or that other Christmas favourite – old family battles that resurface. Old sibling rivalries, perceived injustices, family vs. in-laws – the possibilities are endless.

There are things you can do to make the Christmas lunch a lot more tolerable for everybody. And things you should definitely avoid. If anyone does any of the following things to you, let them make their own arrangements next year.

Family feud Freddy. Freddy just can't forget about the time their parents helped his sister out with money after she got divorced. Every family has a few age-old battles, or sibling rivalries that get hauled out and dusted off and reworked from a different angle. There is no such thing as a perfect family. Christmas is an emotionally charged time as it is, and the temptation is great to revisit some of these old battlegrounds. Just don't go there. It's not the time, or the place. And next year, you might be sitting at home, alone, with a TV dinner, watching reruns of corny Christmas movies.

Greedy Greta. Indulging and bulging, it's also called. Everyone eats too much at Christmas. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? But if you cater for ten people, and Greta eats half the food on the table, without having made much of a contribution, it's time to shorten your guest list for next year. Especially, if on top of everything, you have to listen to an hour-long complaint about the subsequent indigestion.

Know-it-all Neville. Most of his sentences start with, "Why don't you?" This irritating guest is a painful know-all. The only thing he doesn't seem to know is exactly how irritating he is to everyone else. If you wanted advice on interior decorating, building alterations, how you bring up your children, organise your life, and cooking, you would go and ask the professionals. If you had the money, that is. And after what this Christmas lunch has cost you, you definitely don't. If Neville is wandering around giving unsolicited advice, it might be an idea for him to start thinking of where he will be on Christmas day next year.

All-the-world's-stage Alex. This is the person who chooses to make dramatic announcements. The Golden Rule is that unless you're going to say something pleasant and funny, or you are paying a tribute to someone who is not there, don't make any grand announcements at Christmas lunch. This is not the time to tell the family that you're emigrating, or getting divorced, or whatever. All of that can wait. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, so don't spoil it for everyone else. Don't be selfish and hog the day with some news snippet about yourself.

Special-diet Sue. If you have complicated food requirements, let your host or hostess know in advance. People don't choose their allergies, or their medical conditions, but try to accommodate the hosts as well. Imagine how stressed anyone would be who had to cook a lunch while keeping a diabetic, a vegan, an allergy-sufferer and someone with high blood pressure in mind. It is extremely bad manners to sit down at the table and then announce that you can only eat the potato salad, or that you don't eat fish, or whatever. Even better, rather than have the hostess change the menu for everyone, bring your own food. That way you can have fun too.

Brandon the Brat. Children need to be entertained, especially if there are not many other children around. Bored children are naughty children, and before long, their misbehaviour could spoil the Christmas lunch for everybody. If the kids have something to do, once they've finished eating (a video, games outside, boardgames), they are far less likely to cause mayhem. Over-excited and over-exhausted children on a sugar-high, will spoil a Christmas lunch for everyone.

Empty-handed Elmore. Take, take, take. That's what it is about for this guy. When someone says, "Oh, you shouldn’t have", you definitely should have. If the event is being hosted by someone else, this person has been cooking and cleaning for days in order to get everything ready. A small present, such as a bunch of flowers, or a gift voucher for a massage, is definitely in order. Just think how much work it would have been if you had to do it all yourself. And maybe next year you should.

Loud Lottie. The Christmas lunch table is not the place to hold forth loudly and endlessly on a topic of your choice. Everyone should try to be pleasant and to blend in and not hold the floor endlessly. It's fine if someone is the life and soul of the party for a while, but not if no one else gets a word in edgeways. This is the one day on which no one feels like dealing with difficult people.

Lazy Leonard. It's better to say, "Let me do that", than to wait to be waited on hand and foot. Arrive early and leave late – there is a lot to do, especially if furniture has to be moved, tables set, decorations put up and food served. Not to speak of endless dishes that need to be done afterwards. A helping hand is the best present you can give your host or hostess. It's also a very good way of ensuring a repeat invitation. If you sit around like you're in a restaurant ordering a waitress about, that may be exactly what you will be doing next year for Christmas lunch.

Fighting-fit Francesca. Sex, politics, religion – topics to be avoided at times like these, but Francesca jumps right in. Around most Christmas lunch tables you could find a very wide range of ages – from 8 to eighty. And a very wide range of opinions. This is not the time to try and convert people to your specific brand of religion, tell them about your love life, or climb into local politicians. Your chances of offending someone are high. Avoid all sentences beginning with: " At my church…", "All men are…" and "This government…" Even if you're saying nice things, you could provoke a vicious debate. This is supposed to be the time of love and caring. Maybe the best present you can give your family is to keep your mouth shut.

Puffing Peter. This guy doesn't check to see if there are ashtrays before lighting up. These hosts may be non-smokers or people who don't smoke indoors. Or even outdoors, if there are children. Don't spoil the day for everyone. If you have to smoke, go and do it where it won't offend anyone. Or even better, wait till you're back in your own car or home.

Cash Chris. This is the guest who talks about money incessantly. He forgets that this is a time of peace, or it should be. People are on holiday, and are supposed to be relaxed, and should try to forget about work and money and other worries. How much money you have, and how you made it, is simply not a topic for the Christmas table. Or even worse, how little you have and wondering where you're going to borrow it.

Boozing Belinda. OK, it's Christmas, and a drink or even two is definitely in order – that is if you're not driving. But, while everyone likes their guests to be jolly, no one likes having a drunk around the Christmas lunch table. Belinda is the sort of guest who will have three too many, because she's not paying for it. But next year she will be.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2013!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Immune System Boosters

I have been down the last few days with a cold and I started thinking, ''what have I done wrong?''
It makes so much more sense to boost your immune system as a precautionary measure, rather than trying to do so once you have fallen ill.

Here are ten important things the experts say you should do in order to stay healthy.

Antioxidants directly boost the performance of the immune system. Increase your intake of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin A, beta and mixed carotenes, vitamin E and selenium. But rather eat the foods containing these antioxidants than going for supplements - studies have shown that these can be detrimental to your health.

Fruit and veg daily. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day (with 250mg of vitamin C per glass, it is enough for a child's daily needs in winter, but an adult needs a little more).

De-stress. Control your stress levels with daily relaxation techniques. Ongoing stress places a tremendous strain on your immune system, and this makes you susceptible to viruses that are doing the rounds.

Drink lots of tea. Researchers in Boston found people who drank five to six cups of black tea each day seemed to get a boost in that part of the immune system that acts as a first line of defence against infection.

More than just cereal. French and Spanish researchers found that cereal rich in polyphenols could restore the immune system and extend your lifespan.

Unique soya. Prebiotics, such as the oligosaccharides (which are fermented and not digested) in soya make the immunity-boosting organisms grow more rapidly and enhance their positive effect.

Pre- and probiotics. Pre- and probiotics are powerful immunity boosters. Prebiotics are food components that improve the food supply of the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, so that the beneficial bacteria can grow and flourish. Probiotics are cultures of the beneficial bacteria that occur in the intestinal tract of healthy human beings. Probiotics increase the uptake of important minerals from the GI tract thus preventing deficiencies, which lower immunity.

Essential nutrients. Micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc improve immunity in both old and young. Vitamin A reduces the risk of infection. Iron boosts immunity via a number of important enzymes and immunity factors. Zinc plays an important role in normal growth and increases antibody production.

Cut down on kilojoules. Limiting consumption of kilojoules seems to boost key infection-fighting cells in the immune system, researchers say. In a study done with rhesus monkeys it was found that kilojoule restriction improved the maintenance and production of T cells.


Look after yourself


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Male Worst Health Habits

From workouts to healthy diets, many of us make an effort to look after ourselves. However, we could be compromising our health on a daily basis without even knowing it. From bottling things up to eating fast food, here are the top 10 habits men should try to break.

Binge drinking

Although women are rapidly catching up with men in the drinking stakes, binge drinking is still more common among men than women, and there are consistently higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations in men. Binge drinking not only affects long term health, but it puts your immediate safety at risk and can also lead to rapid weight gain. To safeguard your health, it’s important to stick to recommended limits and drink in moderation.

Avoiding the doctor

Research by the charity Men’s Health Forum has revealed that men are 20% less likely than women to visit their doctor, despite the fact that they have shorter life spans than women and are more likely to die from cancer. While visiting the doctor is rarely a pleasant experience, diagnosing most illnesses early increases rates of survival, so stop ignoring those symptoms and give your doctor a call.

Not doing self-checks

Just like with visiting the doctor, many men avoid doing necessary health self-checks due to fear, denial of the risks, or confusion over what to do. However, it is vital that men check themselves regularly for signs of testicular cancer as incidence of the disease is on the rise, particularly in young and middle-aged men. If you are not sure how to go about checking yourself, visit a reputable website or ask your doctor for tips on performing these necessary checks.

Bottling things up

On the whole, men are less likely than women to talk about their feelings, express emotion or ask for help and support. Perhaps as a consequence of this, men are half as likely as women to be diagnosed with depression, yet are 77 per cent more likely to commit suicide. Depressed men are also twice as likely as depressed women to resort to alcohol and drug abuse. Bottling up anger is just as detrimental to men’s health, with research suggesting that men who don’t express their anger increase their risk of a heart attack.

Stressing over work

While men and women are equally exposed to workplace stress, according to a survey of 3,000 workers by Medicash, men are four times more likely than women to take a sick day due to work related stress and are twice as likely to turn to alcohol to help deal with it. As workplace stress can be an important factor in the development of depression, heart disease and stroke, it is vital to seek a way to resolve your feelings and ease your stress; whether it is by talking to your boss, changing your job or seeking professional help.

Taking hot baths

Many men enjoying soaking in the tub, but for all those trying to conceive it may be time to swap those long baths for showers. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found through their three-year study that having hot baths can significantly reduce male fertility. As sperm develop best in cool surroundings, men should avoid any activity that leads to overheating this area, including sitting in hot tubs or Jacuzzis and regular, prolonged use of laptops.

Not applying sun cream

Although skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, multiple research studies have shown that few of us regularly wear sunscreen, and that men are the worst offenders. According to research by Mintel on sun cream use in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, an average of 52 per cent of women use sunscreen, compared to only 37 per cent of men. However, with many men spending significant time outdoor for sports, work or leisure, it is vital to cover up with appropriate clothing and sun cream before heading outside.

Poor bathroom hygiene

Do you wash your hands after you’ve visited the men's room? According to a study by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association, one in three men don’t! Furthermore, a study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine carried out at UK service stations found that only a third of men washed their hands with soap. Not washing your hands is the quickest way to spread germs and infection, so protect your health and those around you by making sure you lather up before leaving the bathroom.

Not brushing your teeth

According to a study by the American Dental Association, only 66 per cent of men brush their teeth twice or more a day, compared to 86 per cent of women. Furthermore, research findings published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that women are almost twice as likely to have regular dental checkups than men. Failing to look after your pearly whites is not only bad news for your teeth and gums; research has shown that gum disease can increase risk of heart disease, erectile dysfunction and dementia.

Eating fast food and takeaways

In today’s fast food culture, many of us are guilty of hampering our weight loss by indulging in too much junk food, and this is particularly true for men. A survey by Pew Research Center revealed that 47 per cent of men eat in a fast food restaurant at least weekly, compared to 35 per cent of women. With an average takeaway containing over half your recommended daily calories and copious amounts of salt, do your health a favour by cutting back on takeaways and replacing with home-cooked meals.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Health Boost for Christmas

When we think of festive eating, “healthy” and “good for you” aren’t two phrases that spring to mind. However, tucking into your Christmas dinner could actually be better for you than you think. Here are the surprising health benefits of a Christmas dinner.


Turkey is a traditional part of Christmas dinner and luckily it is also extremely good for you. Turkey is a great source of high quality protein, as well as being naturally low in fat – particularly when the skin is removed. Not only this, turkey is rich in vitamins B3 and B6 (important for brain health and energy production) and zinc and selenium (good for the immune system and skin). Furthermore, the festive bird is high in tryptophan, which can help to boost your mood.

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a staple of many Christmas dinners, so it may comes as good news to lots of us that the popular condiment is packed with antioxidants and nutrients essential for good health. Several studies have identified links between consuming cranberries and reduced risks of heart disease and breast cancer.

Bread sauce

While bread is often given the cold shoulder by those of us watching our waistlines, this breadcrumb based sauce is actually good for your health when enjoyed in moderation. As well as being high in fibre and calcium, homemade bread sauce traditionally contains onion and cloves, which have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Brussels sprouts

Many people claim to hate sprouts– perhaps due to their unappealing smell or appearance. However, if you can get past your aversion to this traditional Christmas veg, you could be doing your health a big favour. By tucking into your sprouts on Christmas day you will be filling your body with plenty of essential nutrients, including vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids (great for the heart and brain) and cancer-fighting substances, glucosinolates.


Carrots have long had a reputation for helping you to see in the dark, and it may be that this is not far from the truth. The vibrant vegetable is packed with carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein, which help to protect vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, as well as helping to protect against cancer.

Roast potatoes

Potatoes can get a bad press; however, the starchy veg is actually packed with immune-boosting vitamin C and the essential electrolyte potassium – yes, even when roasted. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that potatoes naturally contain chemicals called kukoamines which help to lower blood pressure, while the skins are rich in phytonutrients such as flavonoids which can help to prevent heart disease. So, no need to feel guilty for tucking into that second helping of spuds!


Parsnips are low in calories but high in fibre, making them a perfect healthy accompaniment to your Christmas dinner. Not only that, parsnips contain the antioxidant falcarinol which can to reduce cancer risk, and are high in folate, which reduces risk of high blood pressure and helps prevent birth defects in unborn babies.

Christmas pudding

If you fancy something sweet following your Christmas dinner, the good news is you can indulge yourself while still reaping some great health benefits. Christmas cakes and puddings may not be particularly low in fat, but a large proportion of their ingredients is dried fruit which counts towards your daily portions of fruit and veg and is high in nutrients and fibre. On top of that, they are packed with health-boosting spices such as cinnamon, which can help control blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory properties, and nutmeg, which is good for digestion.


Many of us like to accompany our Christmas dinner with a glass or two of wine. However, while it is best not to drink too much (for your dignity as much as your health!), a little bit of vino could actually be good for you. Research has found that, when drunk in moderation, the antioxidants in red wine can help to cut heart disease risk, protect against cancer and fight against wrinkles.

Enjoy yourself!


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Strange things the body does

Did you know?

Twitching eye

For no apparent reason your eye suddenly starts twitching out of the blue. You’ve probably heard common superstitions such as: you’ll see someone you haven’t seen in a long time or some good or bad luck is on its way, depending on which eye is twitching. These are, however, just myths.

Why does this happen?

Eye twitching -- also known as blepharospasm -- is an uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the eyelid. Causes include: stress, fatigue and too much caffeine. Although annoying it is usually harmless and often goes away on its own.

That falling feeling

You’re drifting into sleep and suddenly it feels like you’re falling and your body jerks awake. This strange falling sensation is called a hypnic jerk or hypnagogic myoclonic twitch. About 70% of people have experienced it, and is more common in people with sleep problems.

Why does this happen?

As you drift into sleep the body changes in temperature, your breathing slows down and your muscles relax. The brain misinterprets this as a fall and signals your legs to wake up.

Pins and needles

You get up from your chair but one foot has absolutely no feeling in it as you start moving it slowly starts coming back to life. It is often accompanied by a tingling needle and pin sensation. We’ve all experienced sleeping limbs and needles and pins at some point.

Why does this happen?

An arm or leg sleeping usually occurs when pressure is put on a part of the body like sitting on a leg or sleeping on an arm. The pressure cuts off communication from the brain to parts of the body. It squeezes the nerve pathways making it impossible to transmit impulses properly. Once the pressure is relieved normal function resumes. That pins and needles feeling is caused by pain messages sent from the nerves to the brain.


You suddenly blurt out something without thinking to the person you’ve secretly been admiring. And you feel it happening, your cheeks start tingling as they warm up, you’re probably bright red by now. Blushing usually accompanies shame, embarrassment or pressure.

Why does this happen?

According to Medclick blushing is a phenomenon that combines a physical reaction with social behaviour.

When you’re shy or embarrassed adrenalin kicks in, your blood pressure elevates, your heartbeat accelerates and there’s a rush of blood flow. As a result the small blood vessels in the face expand increasing the blood flow which causes reddening of the cheeks and ears. The best way to alleviate blushing is to simply relax and transport yourself to a calm place in your mind.

Pop goes your ears

You’re going up to the 40th floor in the lift, your ears hurt and ‘close’ as the lift ascends there’s a popping sensation in your ears and they appear ‘open’ again.

Why does this happen?

At low pressure the eardrums push outwards and cause a pop, at high pressure the eardrums push inwards causing another pop. This popping keeps the air pressure balanced on either side of the eardrums.

There’s something in my stomach

You’re sitting in a meeting and there’s loud, grumbling, rumbling, bubbling noise, and it’s coming from your stomach.

Why does this happen?

Grumbling is caused by contractions of the muscles of the stomach and the small intestine. These contractions move and push content downwards, it grinds liquids and solids into a mixture called chyme.

According to DiscoveryHealth, moving with the solid and liquid chyme are gas and air. These ingredients get pushed down and broken up into pockets of air, gas also gets squeezed thus making the noise you hear.

Excessive stomach growling can also be the result of irritable bowel syndrome or an upset stomach.





Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tips for a Healthier Christmas

Christmas is notoriously a time to indulge, but don’t let this be the green light to overindulge! You can still enjoy all the festivities of the season and get through the Christmas period without too much impact on your health and waistline. Try our top 10 tips for a healthier Christmas.

Go out for walk after dinner for a healthier Christmas day.

Don’t sit down all day

We know every Christmas special under the sun will be showing on the TV, but you don’t need to plonk yourself on the sofa all day! Encourage the whole family to get out for a walk at some point – ideally, after dinner to aid digestion. The more activity, the better, so take along any new outdoor gifts, like bikes, in-line skates, footballs or Frisbees, climb trees or play old-fashioned games.

Go easy on the booze

If you are firmly ensconced at home over the festive period, those alcohol units can really mount up. Mulled wine on Christmas eve, Bucks Fizz with breakfast, wine with dinner, Baileys, brandy… the list goes on! So, do try to keep tabs on how much you are drinking, and intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft ones.

Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing!

Recent research suggests that we consume around 12 600 kilojoules in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man! This huge feast not only contributes to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn – not to mention lethargy for the rest of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off.

Instead of gorging yourself on Christmas dinner, eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). The chances are, you’ll realise you’ve had enough.

Keep colds at bay

Colds are rife at Christmas, partly because many of us travel around the country, exposing ourselves – and others – to different cold viruses. Minimise your risks by maintaining a healthy immune system (eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and not smoking will help), so you are more able to fight off any viruses.

Don’t stress

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but jolly is the last thing many of us feel with overspending, cooking, cleaning, endless ‘to do’ lists and visitors we could do without. Try to keep a sense of humour and proportion. Is it really the end of the world if the carrots are overcooked or if the mantelpiece is a bit dusty? Do you really care about Auntie Mary’s disapproval of the fact that you and your partner are living together and aren’t married? Remember, Christmas is just one day out of 365 and it isn’t worth stressing over.

Eat fruit

Let’s be honest, most of us get through the entire Christmas period eating no more fruit than the satsuma in the Christmas stocking. It just doesn’t really feature on the Christmas menu. But at this time of late nights, overindulging and partying, it’s more important than ever to get your vitamins and minerals, to help you stay in good health. Ensure that your Christmas shopping list enables you to fill up the fruit bowl and get your five a day. (And no, mulled wine doesn’t count as one portion!)

Do something for others

It’s hard to avoid the consumerism that has overtaken Christmas in the western world, but it doesn’t all have to be about giving or receiving gifts. Try to do something for others this festive season, whether it’s baking some extra mince pies for an elderly neighbour, inviting an acquaintance who doesn’t have family around them to your home or helping out with a local Christmas fete or carol service.

Think before you eat

Christmas is a time of plenty, and with nuts, chocolates, mince pies and cheese straws where ever you look, it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you don’t eat any treats over the festive period! But rather than mindlessly popping whatever is in front of you in your mouth, spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there.

Engage your brain

Instead of switching off in front of the TV, keep your mind active by playing games like Trivial Pursuit or Charades. This is also a great way of getting everyone together. If you aren’t a ‘game’ person, engage your mind by setting up any new gadgets, such as playstations, iPods, mobile phones or computers.

Be a careful cook

If your Christmas duties include cooking the dinner, you won’t be delighted to hear that according to the Food Standards Agency, December is one of the most common months for people to get food poisoning. To minimise the risks, don’t leave food out all day.

Put out small amounts at a time, so that what is on the table has just been cooked or just come out of the fridge. Ideally, try to use any leftovers within 48 hours or freeze them. As for the turkey, always defrost it in the fridge, allowing 10 to 12 hours per kilo and do not wash the bird, as this can spread bacteria around, which will be destroyed by cooking anyway.

Have a happy, healthy festive season!


Monday, 10 December 2012



  • Bilharzia is a parasitic disease caused by worms.
  • Bilharzia causes chronic ill health.
  • It is the second most prevalent tropical disease.
  • It is the eggs, and not the worm, that damage the intestines, the bladder and other organs.
  • There is a link between urinary bilharzia and a form of bladder cancer in some areas.
  • Because the disease is chronic, it adversely affects the socio-economic development of tropical and subtropical regions.
  • If bilharzia is left untreated, serious complications may occur.

Five species of the flatworm or blood flukes, also known as schistosomes, cause the main forms of human bilharzia or schistosomiasis. They are:

  • Schistosoma mansoni – intestinal bilharzia which is prevalent in 53 countries and areas of Africa, the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean and South America
  • Schistosoma japonicum/Schistosoma mekongi – intestinal bilharzia
  • Schistosoma intercalatum – urinary bilharzia
  • Schistosoma haematobium – urinary bilharzia, which affects 54 countries in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean

Only Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma haematobium are found in Southern Africa.

A person gets bilharzia when his/her skin comes into contact with contaminated fresh water. The parasites enter the skin, then migrate through the body to the blood vessels of the lungs and liver. From there they may advance to the veins around the bowel or bladder. The worms will lay eggs which can either be passed in the urine or faeces, or remain in the tissues in the human host. Eggs that remain in the host are usually found in the liver (S. mansoni) or the bladder (S. haematobium).

Infected people can infect fresh water if they urinate or defecate in it.

This will start a new cycle of infection when contaminated water is used in ordinary daily activities such as washing, bathing and swimming or professional activities.


About 600 million people are at risk of becoming infected with this parasitic disease, the underlying causes of which include the following:

  • Extreme poverty
  • Unawareness of risks
  • Inadequacy or lack of public health facilities
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Migratory people and refugees from countries where the disease is endemic
  • Rapid urbanisation
  • Increase in tourism to places that are off the beaten track


Within days of becoming infected with the bilharzia parasite, a rash or itchy skin (swimmer’s itch) may appear. This normally settles spontaneously. Within another month or two a person who has been infected may experience fatigue, fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dysentery and blood in the urine. This phase coincides with the maturation of the worms in the body, and is called Katayama fever.

In chronic bilhazia, it is the body’s reaction to the worm’s eggs, laid in the liver, intestine or bladder that causes the symptoms associated with bilharzia. Eggs are rarely found in the brain.

Blood in the urine is a clear indication of urinary bilharzia, and is the commonest symptom of this type of bilharzia. In the case of intestinal bilharzia, symptoms may initially be so atypical that diagnosis is difficult. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to serious complications of the liver and spleen.

Blood in the urine is a clear indication of urinary bilharzia. In the case of intestinal bilharzia, symptoms may initially be so atypical that diagnosis is difficult. If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to serious complications of the liver and spleen.


The disease commonly affects the following people:
  • Adult workers in agriculture and the freshwater fishing sector. Although these workers usually have only light infections and do not suffer from any symptoms, bilharzia infection has seriously affected the productivity of such workers in north-east Brazil, Egypt and Sudan.
  • Urinary bilharzia affects 66 million children in more than 54 countries.
  • In many areas children between 10 and 14 years of age are infected. The disease substantially affects children’s growth and school performance.


Because of a lack of information or not enough attention to hygiene, people who are already infected with the parasite contaminate their fresh water supply by urinating and defecating in it. The eggs of the schistosomes in the excrement hatch when they come into contact with water and release a parasite, called the miracidium. To survive, this parasite must find a fresh water snail. Once it has found its snail host, the miracidium divides and produces thousands of new parasites or cerceriae, which the snail in turn excretes in the surrounding water. Here it can survive for 48 hours. Any person coming into contact with this water can be infected by the cercariae.

When the new parasites have entered a person’s skin (it can happen in a few seconds), they migrate to the blood vessels of the lungs. From there they migrate to the blood vessels of the liver and intestines (Schistosoma mansoni) and bladder (Schistosoma haematobium). Bilharzia continues its life cycle in the blood vessels of the intestines (in the case of intestinal bilharzia) or the bladder (in the case of urinary bilharzia) of the victim.

In 30 to 45 days a cerceriae is transformed into a long worm. The female worms lay between 200 and 2 000 eggs per day over an average of five years. It is the eggs and not the worm that cause the damage to the bladder, intestines and other vital organs, such as the liver. The body's reaction to the eggs in the liver can cause fibrosis in the liver, which in turn causes enlargement of the spleen, and dilation of some of the blood vessels, especially in the base of the oesophagus.

Risk factors

You may get infected with bilharzia if:

  • You live in or travel to areas where bilharzia occurs.
  • Your skin comes into contact with contaminated fresh water from canals, rivers, streams or lakes.

When to see a doctor

  • If you have travelled to an area where bilharzia is found.
  • If your skin has come into contact with fresh water in such an area.
  • If you have blood in your urine.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Teeth Grinding and Headaches

I have often been told I grind my teeth while asleep. As a result some people have pointed out that it could be why I get headaches. Unfortunately, of this I am unaware.
 The tendency to gnash and grind teeth has been recognised since biblical times, and has been historically linked to tense and unhappy circumstances. In 1931 the term 'bruxing' was introduced to designate the gnashing and grinding of the teeth during sleep.
It is estimated that about a third of the adult population suffers from clenching or grinding their teeth. Most often patients are not aware that they are bruxers, since bruxing is performed on a subconscious reflex-controlled level.
It is only when it is brought to their attention by their sleeping partner or their dentist that they recognise the habit. Even children as young as two years have been shown to grind their teeth during sleep.
Diagnosing bruxing is not very easy, and apart from the spouse or roommate hearing audible grinding sounds, it is sometimes only a dentist who can make the diagnosis.
How do I know if I am a bruxer?
Bruxing has been associated with frequent headaches, sore joints of the jaw, sore and stiff jaw muscles, a tired feeling in the jaws in the morning and locking of the jaws. Pain in the neck, throat, shoulders and face are also frequent complaints.

Bruxing also results in various dental problems. These include excessive wear of the teeth resulting in aesthetically unacceptable shortening of the length of the teeth, sharp edges, wearing down of the enamel on top of the teeth, as well as fractured teeth, fillings or crowns.

Help is there.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Smoker? Diabetic?TB beware?

The modern world has seen a massive resurgence in the ancient scourge of TB, and if you smoke or suffer from diabetes, you are at increased risk of developing this serious disease.
One in three humans globally carries the tuberculosis bacterium in their bodies. For South Africans, where rates of TB disease are the highest in the world, that figure rises to two in three. Half a million South Africans die of TB every year.
In most cases, TB stays dormant ("latent") for life. But, if your body's defences become weakened, the tuberculosis bacteria can activate, and can make you sick and infectious.
HIV-positive people, for instance, whose immune systems are under attack from the virus that causes AIDS, have a considerably higher risk of developing active TB. Indeed, HIV, especially in South Africa which has high prevalence of both diseases, is now considered a “dual” epidemic with TB.
But there are other conditions that raise risk too. Among the less well-publicised, but common groups at high risk are smokers and people with diabetes.
(Other risks for latent TB becoming active include malnutrition, alcohol abuse, indoor air pollution and environmental tobacco smoke, silicosis, and other causes of immune suppression such as taking steroids.)
How diabetes raises your risk for TB
If you have diabetes, your risk for developing TB is thought to be about two to three times greater than normal. There is also evidence that if your diabetes is poorly controlled, the risk for active TB rises even more. This is because among its many potentially negative effects on the body, diabetes impairs the immune system.
Not only are diabetics more likely to develop active TB disease, but the risk of it recurring, and the risk of it being fatal, are also higher.
TB is often missed in diabetics, and vice versa – diabetes is not suspected or recognised in people with TB. There is thus perhaps a need for bi-directional screening, as with HIV-TB: active TB should be checked for in diabetes patients, and people with active TB should be screened for diabetes.
In people with diabetes, TB often goes undiagnosed because it presents differently to “classic” TB. In diabetics, TB may present as shadows on the lungs, and lower down in the lung; it may look more like pneumonia to doctors.
There is justifiable concern that, as HIV and TB are fuelling each other, so will diabetes and TB. The world is facing an “epidemic” of diabetes: in 2011 there were 336 million people with the condition; this number is projected to rise to 566 million by 2030.
How smoking raises your risk for TB
The multiple health risks associated with smoking, including such diseases as cancer and heart disease, are well known. Less well known is smoking’s link with TB.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 60% of TB deaths may be attributable to smoking.
Smoking increases the risk you will be infected with TB in the first place, the risk that latent TB infection will become active TB disease, the risk that TB will be more severe, and the risk that it will be fatal. The longer and more heavily you smoke, the higher your TB risk.
If children living with someone who has active TB are also exposed to second-hand or environmental smoke, it is more likely that they too will develop active TB.
Like HIV and diabetes, smoking is also thought to make the body more vulnerable to TB by weakening the immune system. Another reason may be that smoking damages the cilia, tiny hair-like structures in the respiratory tract that normally help to trap foreign particles in mucus and sweep them out of the body.
About one fifth of the world's population smokes, and most smokers live in developing countries with high TB prevalence, like South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is estimated that smoking could cause 18 million more cases of tuberculosis and 40 million additional deaths from the disease worldwide over the next 40 years.
Be warned!


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas Party Disasters to Avoid

It is the season to be jolly and the year, like all things, both good and bad, comes to an end. The first of the year-end festivities is usually the office Christmas party, which is held a month before Christmas, before everyone goes on leave.

It's that occasion, where dictatorial bosses pretend to disguise themselves as human beings for the day, where everyone pretends to bury the hatchet and where hormones dictate, causing much whispering around the photocopy machine in the months to come. All of course lubricated by alcohol, that great social equaliser.

At the risk of sounding like an old stick-in-the-mud, just a word of warning. Before you get up on the table, baring your midriff, or decide that one more small whiskey can't do any harm – remember you are still at work, among people who might have to decide on whether to promote you in three months' time. People do not forget who fell out of the bus after the Christmas party.

Things not to do at the Christmas party

Hit the bottle. Especially if you are not used to drinking and three or four glasses could make you lose many of your inhibitions. Do you really feel like seeing digital photographs of yourself half-dressed doing a Madonna impersonation on the remnants of the drinks table?

Hit on somebody. If you've been eyeing the new marketing manager for six months, but just couldn't get it together to ask her out, this is not the opportunity. She's not going to take you seriously, and will merely think only Dutch courage made you do it.

Spill the beans about your personal life. Details of your personal life should not be discussed with colleagues. A few drinks may let you tell the wrong person you're having an affair or you don't get on with your stepchildren or your mother has a drinking problem. Tomorrow the story will probably be doing the rounds in the mailroom or on the other floors in your building.

Talk about work. This is a social occasion with your colleagues, not a planning meeting. Don't be a bore. For one day, people want to forget about budgets, sagging sales and looming retrenchments.

Buffet bonanza. Free food doesn't mean it's a good idea to pig out. Have a good time, but don't behave as if you've been stranded on a deserted island for a week. The last thing you want to do is to throw up on the managing director's shoes as you leave the party. This is not a smart career move. More or less in the same vein is stuffing your handbag full of food – this merely makes you look greedy and uncouth.

Ask for a raise. Just because the boss is smiling for the first time in six months doesn't mean this is a good time to talk to him about your increased salary expectations. This simply is not the time and it's also not the place.

Taking a souvenir. This is a killer. Yes, the company has booked out the restaurant for the afternoon, but doesn't give you the right to remove anything. Cutlery, table decorations, napkins – they still belong to the restaurant. Taking them amounts to theft. And how do you explain the spoon cascading from your sleeve as you leave the restaurant?

Picking a fight. Your arch rival is sitting diagonally opposite you at the table and having this person in such close proximity just lets the dam wall burst. If you vent your long list of grievances between the starter and the main course, it will spoil the dinner for everyone. Even if everything you say is true, you're the one to end up looking foolish.

Karaoke crisis. If you can't sing outside the shower, stick to it. If you are a budding Pavarotti, you would have been discovered before this party. A drunken singalong, or even worse, a drunken solo, will do little for your general esteem in the office.

Reciprocate advances from married colleagues. Just don't go down this road. It always ends in heartbreak and drama and will make colleagues lose respect for you. It also complicates the working situation if the person who has to decide on your promotion knows what you look like with no clothes on.

Let it all hang out. If you're usually dressed in semi-formal work gear, by all means go casual for the Christmas party. But don't look as if you're about to audition for a position as a lap dancer at the local strip joint.

Display your exotic dancing skills. Even if you know what you're doing, this kind of dancing best happens behind closed doors between consenting adults. It will be difficult for you to reprimand someone later for being hung over at work, if they can remember stuffing £10-notes into your underwear.

Be antisocial. Even if parties like these are not your favourite pastime, make an effort to be jolly and sociable. Chat to many people and try and have a good time. Don't corner one individual and bore them with endless details of your fly fishing trip.

Drinking and driving. Unless you fancy spending a night or two in the local slammer, sharing a cell with people you wouldn't open the front door to, just don't get in behind the steering wheel if you've had one too many. Call a taxi or get a lift with someone else. Remember there is nothing that sobers you up so quickly as realising that you've run someone over.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Male health throughout the decades

Male Health through the decades

Every man’s exercise needs change throughout his life. Here is a guide to the lifestyle actions and exercises that you’ll need to do in order to maintain your health during four important decades of your life — your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.

Life in your 20s

Statistics show that 21% more men than women aged 16 to 24 are regularly active. Young men are generally more likely to be involved in sport than young women, and are more likely to have kept up an activity since school days. However, a gung ho approach can also mean that ‘action men’ put themselves at risk of sports injuries through failing to warm up, overdoing it and showing off! Also, those of you twenty something who aren’t healthy and active at this stage may well be getting away with it — at least aesthetically.

With an average of 12% less body fat than women, and a higher metabolic rate due to higher lean muscle mass, young men are less prone to gaining weight than women.

However, before you relax, bear in mind that bad health habits will be wreaking damage on the inside. Too much dietary fat, sugar and alcohol, as well as too few vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, can contribute to the furring of the arteries, reduced insulin sensitivity and fatty deposits around the internal organs. But the most important health decision you can make now is not to smoke, as it will become increasingly difficult to give up as you get older.

life in your 20s

If your current activity level involves walking to the bar or ripping the packaging off a ready meal, it’s time to wake up to reality. Heart disease is one of the biggest killers of men, and the evidence that a poor diet and insufficient physical activity are the prime causes is irrefutable. If you’ve had a bit of a break from exercise, do ease yourself back in slowly, allowing a period of weeks (not days!) to increase the volume of activity.

Always warm up before you step up the pace and consider adding some strength training to your regime to make muscles and connective tissues more robust. Even if you are regularly active, make warming up and stretching part of your routine and don’t ignore aches and pains or try to ‘work through them’. It’s much more sensible to take a few days off instead — and if the problem doesn’t go away, see a sports medicine professional such as a physiotherapist.

Vices such as smoking and drinking excessively can deplete your body of vitamins and minerals. Heavy drinking and smoking increase the need for the B vitamins and vitamin C, and may affect zinc absorption levels. These needs can be satisfied by eating meat, shellfish, dairy products and whole grains.

Drinking also increases the need for folate (which occurs in yeast extract, beans and pulses, breakfast cereals, liver, and wheatgerm) and magnesium (in whole grains, nuts and seeds). Smokers may want to up their intake of vitamin E (in vegetable oils, avocadoes, nuts and seeds), as well as stock up on watercress and broccoli, which are high in phenethyl isothiocyanate — a phytochemical that has been shown to reduce the risk of tobacco-induced lung cancer.

Life in your 30s

According to the Harvard Medical School, you're likely to lose five to 15% of your aerobic capacity for each decade after the age of 30. So the rot starts here! But, as the experts point out, exercise regularly and you can combat this natural decline. What’s more, being physically fit can dramatically reduce men's deaths from heart disease, even when cholesterol rates are high, according to research from Queen's University in the United States. Doing the equivalent of four to five 30-minute workouts per week was found to be sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.

Those of you who have been regular participants in sports or exercise for the past decade will be faring better than those who have only just decided to take action — but even regular performers may notice a slight decline in performance in the second half of your 30s, as maximal oxygen uptake begins to deteriorate.

How can you maintain your health in your 30s?

It’s all too easy to slip into an exercise comfort zone as you get older — but be prepared to step outside of it regularly. If you want to stay quick, Harvard Medical School recommends adding speed work to aerobic workouts. Using weights, two to three days a week, combats the natural loss of muscle mass as you age, too.

A recent study in Sports Medicine also found that weight training helps to stimulate the release of growth hormone, which regulates body fat storage — thereby keeping your beer belly at bay! Another wise course of action — not just to maintain performance but to stave off the risk of injury — is to build a strong core.

Life in your 40s

With your career reaching its peak, your free time limited, your kids growing up and your earning requirements spiralling, stress often reigns in this decade — and there is plenty of evidence that this contributes to the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. However, research has proven that exercise can help by giving you more energy, helping you become more ‘stress-resistant’, and allowing you to burn off tension and anxiety.

But many men are stuck in a catch-22 situation, where they simply don’t feel they have the time and energy to devote to workouts. However, even if you can’t find whole hours to spend at the gym, incorporating more activity into your daily lifestyle will help. Stop driving to work if you can use public transport and walk or cycle; stop working through your lunch break; and ensure that some of your family time is spent out doing active things, rather than slumping in front of the TV.

Doing exercise will also help to control your weight — and this fourth decade is the one in which men are most likely to gain weight as a result of fewer calories being burned and more calories being taken in. Added weight puts added stress on the heart and lungs, and on the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips, ankles, and feet.

How can you maintain your health in your 40s?

Now is the time to take control of the stress factors in your life. If you don’t even have time to walk for 30 minutes on five days of the week, you really have to re-assess your work-life balance. And as outlined above, calorie-blasting activity doesn’t have to take place at the gym. Playing sports in the park, dog walking, or going on a family bike ride or hike will all help you burn more calories, get a break from daily stresses, and put a smile on your face!

Research from the University of Arkansas revealed that the amount of energy spent on daily activity accounted for 75% of the variability in body fat levels among subjects — so the more active you are, the less body fat you’ll have. The other thing to think about — even if you are a regular runner or cyclist — is flexibility. Muscles lose elasticity and the connective tissues around our joints thicken as we get older, leading to a reduced range of motion and a greater risk of stiffness, aches and pains — and injury. Stretching, rotating, bending and extending your joints regularly — along with activities such as tai chi, yoga and Pilates — can help to restore a good range of motion and suppleness.

Life in your 50s

According to Australian government statistics, men in their 50s are in the healthiest state they’ve been for decades. Perhaps with less need to ‘prove themselves’ in the workplace (or just giving up hope of a promotion!), and children growing up, middle-aged men are able to spend a bit more time on themselves and finally do something about that burgeoning waistline or high blood pressure problem.

At the VA Medical Centre in Salt Lake City, Utah, physically fit men in their mid 50s were compared to inactive men in their mid 20s. Amazingly, it was found that active older men have lower resting heart rates than younger men — 64 beats per minute versus 85 beats per minute for the younger men — as well as higher oxygen uptake during maximal exercise, and a better recovery heart rate one minute after exercise than men in their 20s. So whether you’ve been an active footy player, runner or gym goer for years or are just deciding it’s time to get fit, it isn’t too late to reap the benefits.

And it’s well worth doing so unless you want to end up housebound: in research from the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, the risk of walking difficulties was highest among men aged 40 to 64 who engaged in a fitness activity once a week, compared with men who got active at least three times a week.

How can you maintain your health in your 50s?

While as far as your heart health is concerned, cardiovascular exercise is the key. Resistance training is arguably as essential to good physical health in your later years as it is earlier in life. It strengthens your muscles and bones, and there are indications thatit is helpful in lowering cholesterol levels, as well as improving glucose uptake (thereby reducing the risk of diabetes) and strengthening the ligaments and tendons to reduce pressure on your joints.

In the past, people with high blood pressure, heart diseases and conditions such as arthritis were warned to avoid using weights, but researchers at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School found that weight training had no adverse effect on blood pressure or heart function. So get pumping!

You might end up with brains as well as brawn if you do: two recent studies found that vigorous workouts at least twice a week could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by 50% and Parkinson's by as much as 60 %. Resistance training — and weight-bearing aerobic exercise — will also help preserve bone density. Also, although the evidence isn’t conclusive, a study from UCLA in the United States found that a low-fat, high-fibre diet and regular exercise may help to prevent or slow the rate of growth of prostate cancer.