Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Why the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Are Important

Now that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are over, it is time to reflect on their possible influence on the world. The disparity of medals between the competing nations is a significant cause for concern. Great Britain with a population of 62 million, for example, won 67 medals whilst India, Pakistan and Nigeria, with a combined population of close to 1500 million, only won 3 medals. However, it is pleasing to learn that some competing nations in Rio won medals for the first time in their country's history.

Whilst some countries, such as the USA, USSR, China and Great Britain, appear to use the Olympic Games as a test of national virility, others are left on the sidelines wondering why they are competing at all. In the race for medals, some individual athletes and, at least one country we are told, have conspired to cheat by using performance enhancing drugs. Yet despite all the negativity surround the games, the youth of the world do come together once every 4 years in the nominated city to participate in a range of activities designated to determine the best in lots of different sports.

One of the IOC's  (International Olympic Committee's ) stated objectives is:  " to cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace. " It can be argued that international sport has contributed  to peace on this planet in that familiarity through sport and contact between nations breaks down prejudices. Even North Korea participated in the Rio Olympics, winning no medals, despite the negative media coverage over the past few years of the regime running the country. 

Sport especially needs to grab the imagination of youth steering them away from a life of crime or addiction to illegal street drugs. The Olympics every four years does demonstrate to the watching public what can be achieved by years of dedicated training for a particular event or group of events. The dedication of the competing athletes to their training schedules over years in preparation for the Olympics can only bring admiration for their  single-mindness and perseverance.

The Paralympics Games are also important to the world as they demonstrate what can be achieved by people suffering from a range of disabilities. The Rio Paralympics Games has run into trouble over funding which is baffling bearing in mind the paralympic athletes are generally going to use the same facilities as used by the able-bodied athletes a few weeks earlier, and the various media outlets are still in place ensuring worldwide coverage. To lose such an event would set back the progress made by a lot of dedicated people over the decades in bringing to our TV screens the extraordinary accomplishments of these athletes despite their  disabilities.

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Saturday, 23 April 2016

British Give Notice of a Sugar Tax

The British Government deserve credit for announcing in their most recent budget statement their intention to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks in two years time. The reason for the notice period of two years is to give the soft drinks industry advance warning of their intentions so the can alter the sugar content of their soft drinks in order to incur the least tax, or avoid tax altogether.The British intend to scale the tax they intend to impose in a two-tier manner in order to reflect the extent of the added sugar in the drink. 

What the British intend to introduce is not a tax on the drinks being sold by a retailer to the public but a levy on the manufacturer of soft drinks in accordance with the following scale: 18 pence for every litre of soft drink containing 5-8 grams of added sugar per 100 millilitres of drink sold; and 24 pence for every litre of soft drink sold containing in excess of 8 grams of added sugar per 100 millilitres of soft drink . Naturally soft drinks manufacturers are not happy with this proposed levy and have publicly stated their dissatisfaction with the Conservative Government for stating their intention to introduce it.

The National Health Service, Public Health England, some doctors and TV chef, Jamie Olivier, have applauded the government for their bold move in stating their intention to introduce a tax on sugary drinks, as they have been bringing to the attention of politicians for years the detrimental effects of too much sugar in soft drinks on public health. Politicans close to the lobbyists for the soft drinks industry have either voiced their opinions against the move or have remained silent on the issue.
 The British aren't the first to move against excess sugar in soft drinks. Denmark, France, Norway and Mexico all have such a tax in one form or another. I highlighted the need for such a tax on this blog more than three years ago because of the health implications of added sugars, and it is now my prediction that most developed countries in the world will introduce one in the next five years. The British move to introduce such a tax could speed up others to introduce one as they are seen as leaders on health issues in certain countries in the world.

Whilst the British initiative only targets added sugars in soft drinks, which is a good place to start, a lot more needs to be done in respect of targeting added sugars in processed foods. Lots of food manufacturers have added sugars, quite unnecessarily, to their products for a variety  of reasons-the most obvious one being to sweeten their product and thereby create an addiction to it. I am sure food manufacturers selling into the UK market have taken note of the British move on drinks and are watching the situation very closely as they are likely to be the next ones to be hit by a tax on added sugars.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 in a report recommended that sugar intake per individual should be less than 10% of total energy intake.  It is very difficult in today's society for anybody to achieve the WHO objective because of the way food and soft drinks industries sell their products through retail outlets. Food labelling, in some instances, does not work because of hidden sugars, such as something listed in the ingredients list as "corn syrup" for example. It is therefore the responsibilities of governments worldwide to protect the public by using the tax system to steer the public away from products detrimental to health, in a similar manner to what they have done with tobacco products.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How to Prevent Digestive Disturbances

An average doctor's workload entails dealing on a daily basis with lots of ailments arising from poor digestion. These problems can largely be prevented. A digestive disturbance is defined as one in which the sufferer has the inability to break down food in the stomach and intestines causing disease , malnutrition or unmetabolised food.

The causes of digestive disturbances can be many as listed as follows: the breaking down of food is not performed properly; the tube from the mouth to the stomach is not functioning properly; there is a slowdown in the production and effectiveness of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid in the stomach as people age; there is a slowdown in the digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas, which are required to process different types of food effectively; the liver's production of bile is lessened; the muscular action of the stomach and intestines is lessened by poor nutrition; stress causing the overproduction of hormones which deactivate certain areas of the body such as the stomach and intestines; eating spicy foods which require higher amounts of enzymes to be broken down; consuming too much processed , fatty or sugary type foods; and poor food combining.

The conventional treatments for digestive disturbances are to prescribe drugs in the antacid or antispasmodic categories. Both of these drug types have serious side-effects which interfere with the natural function of the body causing more serious reactionary problems than the condition being treated. It is therefore best to identify what an individual can do to prevent digestive disturbances occurring in the first instance.

Foods and drinks good for digestion are: red beats, raw green vegetables, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, oatmeal porridge, wholegrain cereals, cod liver oil, blueberries, kiwis, papaya, peaches, tomatoes, carrots, spring water, natural yogurt, cucumbers, ginger, lemon juice, pineapples, grapes, oranges, rhubarb, parsley, chic peas, raspberries, gooseberries, lean meats, high fibre foods and lemon and ginger tea.

Not good for digestion are processed, fried, spicy or sugary foods. Most types of fish, meats derived from game animals or birds, chestnuts and garlic also do not promote good digestion. Avoid stress in so far as this is possible. Poor food combining should be avoided, such as eating starches and proteins in the same meal. Starches with greens, or proteins with greens, are good combinations. Generally, eat fruits separately from the main meals of the day.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

How to Keep The Blood Thin

While some people are more prone to developing blood clots-deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - than others, this condition can largely be prevented by paying attention to the lifestyle you lead as well as diet. Lack of adequate daily exercise, smoking, obesity and dehydration can increase the risk of developing DVT. Changing your daily habits to healthy ones and making the correct food choices can reduce the risk of developing blood clots significantly.

In order to keep the blood thin and avoid the possibility of developing blood clots, you need to do the following:                                                                                                                                          1.Do at least 30 or more minutes of exercise daily. The exercise could be walking, running, jogging, swimming, cycling , dancing, or any other activity that takes your fancy. Adequate daily exercise helps the blood flow throughout the body and negates the possibility of the blood clotting.                                                                                                                             2. Avoid becoming obese. You will first need to establish with your doctor if you are in this category, or approaching it by being overweight. Obesity can be caused by the malfunction of one or more of the bodily organs, by genetic influences, by stress or simply overeating. From once the cause is established, an appropriate diet can be worked out which needs to be rigidly adhered to.                                                                                                                                     3. If you are a smoker, give this unhealthy habit up because the nicotine deposited in the body as a result of smoking restricts the smooth flow of the blood to all the crucial areas that it needs to get to, thereby increasing the possibility of the blood clotting.                                                                                                                            4. There is evidence to suggest that drinking adequate daily amounts of water, or other suitable liquids, can help keep the blood thin. Six or more glasses of water is sufficient on a daily basis for this purpose. Green tea, lemon and ginger tea and cider are also liquids which can help keep the blood fluid.                                                                                                                                 5. The choice of foods eaten at meal times can have a significant bearing on the fluidity of the blood. The following foods are recommended for all persons seeking to thin the blood except those already on medications for that purpose. Anyone in the latter group, should consult their doctor first before embarking on a blood thinning diet in addition to their medication. Here are lists of foods which help to keep the blood fluid::                                                                                                                              (a) Herbs such as garlic, ginger, peppermint, thyme, cinnamon, dill, tumeric, oregano, curry powder and cayenne pepper. .                                                                               (b) Fruits such as grapes, raisins, prunes, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, tangerines, strawberries, oranges and apples. .                                                                                 (c) Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids such as anchoves, salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.                                                                                                            (d) Foods high in vitamin E such as whole grains, .coconuts and sunflower seeds.                                                                                                                                         (e) Healthy oils such as olive oil and sunflower oil, and the ancient food used by the Incas, quinoa, can also aid the thinning of the blood.

You now have sufficient information on this subject to take action, and prevent the consequences of blood clots having a harmful effect on your health 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Alkalize the Body to Prevent Health Problems

Many health problems arise from the body being too acidic. Examples of these are type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, muscle loss, fractures, kidney stone formation, high blood pressure, heart disease and thyroid problems. Therefore achieving the correct pH (acid/alkaline) balance in the diet is important in order not to put yourself at risk of developing a health problem arising from the over- acidity of the body, or acidosis as it is commonly known.

The organs of the body generally do a good job in expelling waste from the body such as excess acids, which are the waste products of metabilism. However, health problems can occur when the body is overloaded with too many acids arising generally from the consumption of too much animal protein instead of vegetal protein. Modern processed and manufactured foods can also be a problem. A lifestyle involving not enough exercise, or not drinking enough water, on a daily basis can also lead to acidosis.

Proteins in foods contain a variety of acids such as sulphuric, phosphoric, hydrochloric, nitric and uric. Acid-producing proteins form the basis of our nutrition since the animo acids which make them up contribute to the proper functioning of the body. Health problems can arise when people consume too much protein. About 50 grams ( 2 ounces) of protein on a daily basis is sufficient for most people; but those involved in heavy manual work, or strenuous physical exercise, could consume 20%-30% more without any adverse consequences in relation to their health.

Acidifying foods strip your body of essential minerals. These types of foods include the following: meats, processed meats, fish, pasta, white sugar, semolina, tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar-laden soft drinks, chocolate, refined oils, hard fat, strong fermented cheeses, refined white flour and derivitive products (white bread, pastry, biscuits etc.), peanuts, asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts and egg whites.

Generally speaking fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods with the exception of those mentioned in the previous paragraph. Milk is also alkaline if consumed in the form of yogurt or non-matured cheese. Because these foods are rich in minerals, they should comprise a major part of the diet. Here is a list of alkaline-rich foods: fruits, unsweetened fruit juice, egg yolks, yogurt, powered milk, vegetable leaves and roots, vegetable stems (except asparagus),vegetable broth, onions, garlic, potatoes, soyabeans and derivitive products, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chives and parsley.

It is best healthwise, in order to avoid the consequences of acidosis, to weight your intake in a 2:1 ratio in favour of  alkaline type foods, as well as taking daily action on the exercise and consumption of water fronts. However, some foods have almost a perfect pH balance. These are listed as follows: fresh good quality butter, whole grain cereals, sprouted grains, green beans, millet, fresh walnuts, rye bread, wholegrain pasta and sweet peas. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Why Detox Diets Are Unnecessary

You generally do not need to detox if you treat your body properly as it is a self-cleansing machine. Whilst detox diets are everywhere, sometimes endorsed by celebrities, they can actually do you harm if they confine you solely to drinking fruit or vegetable juices for more than a few days, thereby denying your body of the essential nutrients it needs causing the loss of muscle mass. The immune system, liver, kidneys, lungs and other organs do a good job in expelling toxins from the body if they are serviced regularly with organ-friendly foods and drinks.  

Even if you have been ill treating you body by regularly consuming junk foods for example, all you need do to remedy the situation is give them up and supplant them with a balanced diet of good foods and drinks. What you generally need are foods high in fibre, an adequate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, fish, lean-meat protein, water and exercise on a daily basis in order to detoxify the body naturally.

Depriving yourself of essential nutrients for more than a few days is counter-productive as it will fool the body into thinking it is not going to get the level of sustenance it had before, and it will therefore hoard calories in the body when you quit the diet in order to compensate for the famine period which it will assume will return. Putting on weight when you leave an unreasonably restrictive self-imposed diet is therefore probable -likely to happen.

If you want your body to be self-cleansing, the first thing you should do is ensure you are taking on board adequate amounts of fibre on a daily bsais. Fibre is found in wholemeal or rye bread, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, French beans, kidney beans, celery, wholegrain breakfast cereals, fruits with their skins after thoroughly washing to remove any chemicals arising from sprays. An adequate amount of fibre in the diet daily will ensure the bowels move regularly and there is no risk of constipation.

It is best to derive the majority of protein in the diet from vegetal sources with a heavy bias towards raw foods. Good sources of vegetal protein are: oatmeal, whole wheat, barley, soya beans, kidney beans, almonds and walnuts. Raw foods could consist of cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, leeks, tomatoes, apples, pears, plums, kiwis, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Herbs like garlic and parsley contain lots of beneficial properties and help to expel toxins from the body.

Fish is the best source of animal protein with a preference for the oily varieties such as salmon, tuna, mackerel or sardines. White meat such as chicken or turkey should be used in preference to red meat . The latter should not be eaten more than twice per week. Eggs are also a good source of animal protein containing various beneficial vitamins, minerals and all the essential animo acids.

It is best to drink six glasses of water daily in order to flush out toxins from the body. The quantity of water can be reduced if you drink green tea, lemon and ginger tea, or dandelion tea on a regular basis. If you take on board enough liquids daily, there is no chance of dehydration becoming a health issue.

Lastly, you need to do at least 40 minutes of exercise daily. The exercise could be running, walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, or anything else you fancy, as long as you engage in it on a regular basis. Exercise helps all the vital organs to function properly, and encourages the body to excrete anything accumulating there that is excess to requirements.

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Friday, 6 February 2015

Consider the Alternatives to Prescription Drugs

I have neglected this blog over the past couple of months due to a move to facilitate my retirement which involved moving from the United Kingdom, where I have spent many happy years, back to the land of my birth- Ireland. I always heard that moving home is a stressful time to which I will add: if you are moving country as well as home, it can be twice as stressful.

I arrived in Ireland only to find my older brother, Kevin, in a very poor state of health. Kevin has a complicated medical history due to which he has been on drugs, prescribed by his local doctor, for bronchritis, blood pressure, prostate problems and sleep deprivation to name just a few. Then two years ago, he was diagnosed as having colon cancer as well as all the other health problems.

Kevin was referred to the local cancer hospital for treatment on the discovery that he had the disease. The hospital recommended that he undertook chemotherapy for his cancer to which he agreed in principle. However, the chemotherapy drugs in addition to the other drugs have had a signifaicant impact on his mental and physical wellbeing due to which he suffered irrational moments, blackouts and falls.

The compunded effects of many prescription drugs acting within a person's body can bring about such reactions as suffered by Kevin. When you consider the possible adverse side effects that a single drug can have on a person, many drugs administered at once can have multiple side effects as well as the possibility of clashes between individual drugs within the whole cocktail administered.

The best way to avoid the compounded effects of many prescription drugs, as suffered by Kevin, is not to go down the drug route to the solution of a health problem in the first instance. You may say this is easier said than done but, if you are computer literate, it can easily be done by entering a search term such as " natural cures for bloodpressure " in a search engine such as Google as an example, and then going through each of the results thrown up by the search.

Whilst doctors across numerous developed counteries may vary in skill and competence, their attitude to prescription drugs is generally much the same in that they consider them safe because their use has been approved by the health authority in the particular country in which they are domiciled. They rarely give thought to, or are ignorant of, the side effects; and don't appear to take into account the compounded effects on a patient of numerous drugs for different health problems at all. Lack of time can also have a bearing on a doctor's decision to prescribe drugs.

You therefore would be well advised to bring up on a visit to a doctor about a health problem what the alternatives to prescription drugs are in its treatment, thereby forcing him or her to at least outline the different courses of action available. Some of the alternative methods of treating a heath problem may involve you in engaging in something on a daily basis, such as doing an adequate amount of exercise for example, which may put some patients off. However, in most health instances there is no " magic pill " that can replace the pursuing a healthy diet, taking sufficient amounts of exercise, and drinking six glasses of water on a daily basis as preventative measures against health problems occurring in the first instance.