What to do if you think you may have the Coronavirus

It’s a pandemic, we are hearing and reading about it everyday on the news. A friend of a friend of a friend has it. And now you think you have it too – because you coughed that one time.

Don’t Panic. Take a deep breath, and let’s look at what to do if you think you have the dreaded Coronavirus.

 

COVID-19 Symptoms

The coronavirus causes COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness very similar to the cold and the flu. The initial symptoms are a high temperature and cough. Other, more intense symptoms might be a shortness of breath.

Just a cough by itself may not be cause for alarm here – have you travelled to a country with COVID-19 cases or come into close contact with them? Is the cough new or have you always had one from allergies etc. Did you go to a crowded place or did you come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus?

 

When to Take the Test

Okay, you think your symptoms mimic the virus – the first instinct is to go see your GP and get a test done. However, the latest directive from NHS says that you do not need to visit a GP, pharmacy, or hospital. All they want you to do is to stay put, at home (also called self-isolation) for at least 7 days. In most healthy individuals, the COVID-19 will exhibit symptoms and be gone within that time-frame, very much like the common cold. You are only advised to call the NHS 111 helpline if you are unable to manage the symptoms on your own, or if the condition worsens. The NHS will then appropriately guide you on next steps.

 

Self and Social Isolation

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days. Do not meet with anyone, try not to travel outside unless absolutely essential, wear a face mask or cover your mouth with your sleeve (or a tissue) if you do have to be outside, and wait for the illness to subside.

Anyone who has come in contact with you should also practise self-isolation for 14 days (from the day they met you and you had symptoms) to avoid being carriers of the disease.

Even if you don’t have the virus, it is best to consider social distancing and avoid crowded places where you might pick up the virus. Remember to wash your hands frequently, and with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap is not available) and avoid touching your face, to minimize the risk of being infected.

If you are still unsure and would like some expert opinion and guidance on your case, schedule an online consultation with a qualified GP. Book a phone/video doctor consultation with Gogodoc and get all your questions answered right away. Whatever the case, stay indoors, wash your hands, and let’s ride this out.

 

Get yourself checked for Corona Symptoms

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Monitor Your Health : Preventive Tests And When To Take Them

When was the last time you had a complete health checkup? Or are you one of those people who only goes to the doctor when something hurts enough to interfere with your lifestyle? We are totally not judging, but just wanted to get on here and remind you that the first step to maintenance, especially in health matters, is monitoring. This is where preventive tests (or screenings) come in.

 

Screenings look for specific indicators of a particular illness or disease in seemingly healthy people. The tests are based off of existing research and the frequency requirements and recommendations for testing are updated as the research updates. The NHS has a list of screenings it provides as part of its service and can be found on their website (or talk to a doctor about it). Screenings help you understand the condition of your health and how best to move forward, should something come back positive (positive meaning the indicators for the illness are present). Screenings are typically ‘recommended’ and not ‘mandatory’ because they are very personal – test results can sometimes be associated with difficult decisions – like terminating a pregnancy because a test shows the fetus is at risk for something, or having to make treatment decisions for life-altering illnesses. Regardless, being aware of preventive screenings and when to take them will help you take charge of your health.

 

Here is a list of common preventive screenings – some of these are administered by the NHS. This list is by no means comprehensive, and your GP will be able to best help you get the type of screening you require, based on your health needs.

 

For Pregnant Women

Screening for possible birth defects, syndromes, infectious diseases and abnormalities – a gynecologist or physician should be able to refer and decipher results.

 

For Children

Hearing Test and physical examination (including bloodwork) is common.

For Women 

Breast Cancer screening – X-ray mammography screenings for women over 50 (every 1-2 years)

Cervical Cancer screening – checks for the health of cervical cells and helps in the early detection of cervical cancer. every 3 years for those in the 25-49 age range and every 5 years for 50-64.

 

For Men

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening (AAA) – For men, and typically around the age of 65

General Screenings

Eye Tests for Diabetics – Anyone aged 12 and above with a  diabetic condition can get an eye test to check for retinopathy

STD screening – for sexually active adults 

Bowel Cancer Screening – Adults over the age of 55, most times a one-off test

 

 

Apart from these, cancer screenings, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, and medication use review should be considered if you are at risk due to genetic, lifestyle, or other factors. There are very many tests out there, but fret not! Talk to your doctor.

Your GP can refer you for most screening procedures (screenings for pregnant women and children might need specialist referrals) and will receive a copy of the results to best direct you on next steps. If you are looking for a GP appointment with no wait time, book your home visit with a Gogodoc GP today  – we have same-day appointments in most cases. Or simply get an online video consultation with our doctors and monitor your health from the comfort of your home. Leave us a comment if you have any questions 🙂

 

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Vitamin Gummies – Yay or Nay?

Who wants to say no to some childlike fun while also boosting their health? Vitamin Gummies may have been created for people that were unable to swallow tablets, but it has grown in popularity primarily because it’s fun while promising to be healthy.

Gummies pack just about the same nutrients as the tablet versions, sometimes even more, if some supplement testers are to be believed. They have steadily grown in popularity and found their way into trends and celeb culture, but the nutrition world is still divided on whether they work. 

The argument for Gummies is that they deliver nutrition in an easy-to-consume form, and that they are not much different from other supplements out there. The argument against is that they aren’t great for oral health (you need to brush after gummies as they tend to leave behind residue).

Take it a step further and there’s the larger question – do we need vitamin supplements at all? The answer isn’t as simple as we would like it to be. The NHS published an article a year and a half ago detailing studies that showed no correlation between vitamin supplements and any reduction in cardiovascular disease (or death in general). The conclusion they arrived at was that it was best to get the necessary vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet, rather than rely on supplements.

It is entirely possible that we are not taking supplements as they are intended to be taken. There is a push with this generation to take charge of our own health and rather than ‘supplementing’ our nutrition needs with gummies, we might just be consuming more of it because we consider it a ‘good thing’. This is a dangerous slope – vitamins in higher doses can actually cause harm – like vitamin B12, which causes dizziness, headache and nausea in large, unnecessary doses. Or that scary story of a man needing a liver transplant because he took too many green tea pills. 

Understanding our nutritional needs (a quick online consultation with your doctor can help!) is paramount. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are also important. So when might you need a supplement?

  • If you have a specific deficiency due to your lifestyle or diet habits 
  • If you have a dietary restriction that prevents you from getting vitamins the natural way (eg., vegan diets do not have B12 so there might be a need for supplements)
  • Pregnant women may need folic acid supplements
  • Women with heavy periods may have an iron deficiency and a need for supplements
  • Special circumstances – residents in the UK are advised to take vitamin D supplements in the autumn and winter months since we do not get enough sun for the body to synthesize this naturally
  • When your doctor recommends a supplement based on your current health needs
  • Children are usually recommended Vitamin A, C and D as supplements

 

Bottomline, not all bodies are created equal, so neither can nutritional needs. The best way to go about maintaining your health is to figure out what your body needs, and then make it as fun as possible to do that.

 

If you are unsure whether you need a supplement, in gummy or tablet form, ask your doctor – schedule an online video consultation with a Gogodoc doctor to understand your health needs and how best to go about living your best life. Our £20 online doctor consultation services are the best way to get expert health advice without having to leave your couch!

 

But the question still remains – if you passed by vitamin gummies in the Supermarket, would you still pick it up? Tell us in the comments!

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The Doctor Will See You Now – Home Visits Over the Years

Have you ever wondered how home visits came about? Or what a GP in the 50’s took along with them on a home visit? Let’s talk a short walk down memory lane. In the olden days, home visits were a given. Hospitals (and doctors) were few and far between and it wasn’t always easy for patients to travel to their doctors, due to poor health, poverty, age, or emergencies. So doctors (more GPs than specialists in those days) made home visits all the time. And we’re talking the 50’s and 60’s with no intermediary emergent services, which meant the GP had to be ready for anything short of an organ transplant on each home visit. Granted they had some help.

Take the doctor’s bag for example – the iconic Gladstone Bag (created right here in Westminster by J G Beard’s leather shop and named after British PM William Evart Gladstone) was built for utility with an easy-to-open hatch (that stayed open) to allow
the GP to reach his tools quickly and easily. Considering a GP might be treating a high fever or a concussion or even childbirth, they had to be carrying everything from thermometers to amputation kits to chloroform! Can you imagine a GP visiting your
home today with all of these tools?

Modern medicine has come a long way and thankfully so. It has changed how we view, seek and administer care, but home visits remain a huge part of that process, at least here in the UK. Things may be changing though, if we are to go by a recent article in the BBC (Nov 2019) that talked about GPs voting to reduce home visits, citing capacity issues. There may be lobbying efforts with the NHS to revamp home visit requirements altogether and there are divided camps on the issue.

But the power of a holistic healthcare continuum, one that includes telemedicine and home visits, cannot be denied. In fact, in a fast-paced world like today, not only do home visits help the elderly and the very sick and serve as the medical frontline, but they also provide a level of convenience in the face of longer working hours, long wait times and travel restrictions. Sometimes, the doctor has to come to you, which is why, at Gogodoc, our GPs are a click away.

To book a home visit in today’s world, all you have to do is download the GogoDoc app, and schedule an appointment for the SAME DAY (£75 for a home visit and £20 for tele or video conferencing). With average wait times at ONE HOUR, we beat the 2-week national average by well, about two weeks!

As the saying goes, the doctor will see you NOW, not in a fortnight.
Book your appointment today, and if you have, tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Book your home visit today.

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Stay safe in the sun this summer

I intended to write this article on the first day of summer. But as I sat on my sun-kissed desk in California, a place known for its warm, dry summers, opal sky and scantily-clad liberals, I figured I better check the weather in London before continuing. With a few weeks of drizzle and clouds, it seems that summer in London is finally on the horizon.

The following are some of the health benefits that exposure to sunlight can bring, including tips to stay safe.

Whereas exposure to excessive levels of sunlight is detrimental to our health, moderate exposure can boost our physical and mental state. The aim is to enjoy the sun sensibly, to make enough vitamin D, while not increasing the risk of skin cancer.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

 

1) Improves the quality of sleep

Waking up in sync with the sun’s natural light switches off melatonin, a hormone made in your pineal gland, associated with sleep onset. This is the reason why you feel alert during your waking hours and tired at bedtime – and discombobulated when you cross time zones after a long-haul flight. It is, therefore, a good idea to open the curtains in the morning and avoid artificial light once the sun goes down.

People with irregular sleeping schedules often have trouble sleeping or feel tired during waking hours. Several studies have shown that chronic disruption of circadian rhythms can lead to weight gain, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioural changes – analogous to the changes observed in people who experience shift work or jet lag.

 

2) Reduces risk of some cancers

Prolonged sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer, but vitamin D is also known to be protective against several cancers, including of the colon, kidney and breast. In a study conducted by the US National Cancer Institute, it was found that high levels of sunlight were significantly associated with reduced mortality from breast and colon cancer. Similar effects were seen in the bladder, womb, oesophagus and stomach cancer.

 

3) Improves mood

Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. It’s no surprise that spending time outdoors improves mood and relieves stress. Lack of sunlight exposure in some people can even trigger a type of depression known as a seasonal affective disorder, which is treated with light therapy.

 

4) Lowers blood pressure

Rates of hypertension tend to be higher in the winter and in countries farther from the equator. A possible explanation is that exposure to sunlight causes nitric oxide in the skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which can help widen blood vessels and lower the pressure inside them.

 

5) Can help with some skin disorders

Sunlight can improve several skin complaints, such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Indeed, eczema and psoriasis are sometimes treated with UV light (phototherapy). However, sunlight can aggravate other skin conditions, particularly rosacea.

 

6) Improves the musculoskeletal system

It is common knowledge that vitamin D is important for healthy bones by helping the body absorb calcium. In a 2013 large Danish study, researchers found that having a history of skin cancer was linked to a lower risk of hip fractures. This may be because those who developed skin cancer also had prolonged sun exposure.

Vitamin D is also important to muscle health, and people with low levels are more likely to experience muscle cramps and joint pain.

 

TIPS TO STAY SAFE

 

There are of course risks associated with sunlight. Prolonged exposure causes damage to the epidermis and to other parts of the skin such as the supporting elastic tissue in the dermis. This damage is known as actinic (solar) elastosis, and gives the skin a baggy, wrinkled appearance. A significant risk factor for malignant melanoma is sunburn, especially during childhood.

 

1) Duration

One of the major benefits of basking in the sun is to make vitamin D, which is useful because there is very little found in typical dietary sources. To prevent deficiency of vitamin D, it is recommended to have 2-3 sun exposures per week. Each exposure should last 20-30 minutes and be to bare skin.

 

2) Stay hydrated

Aim to drink more than the standard eight glasses a day. And get creative: put some frozen berries in your water or even some mint leaves and lime slices. Opt for snacks with high-water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes and cucumbers.

 

3) Wear sunscreen

Look for at least an SPF 30 and wear it when you know you’ll be out and about during the day. Wear sunscreens with both UVA and UVB protection. Blocking UVB may prevent burning (which is what the SPF number indicates), but UVA still delivers skin-damaging radiation (and isn’t rated).

 

CONCLUSION

To summarise, try to have 2-3 sun exposures per week, but avoid the sun when it is strong; and when you think you’re exceeding the recommended limit, cover up, or use high-factor sunscreen.

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Dementia: WHO guidelines on minimising risk

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia worldwide every year, with the figure set to triple by 2050.

The WHO evaluated 12 modifiable risk factors and offered advice on how to tackle them. It provides evidence-based recommendations on lifestyle behaviours and interventions to delay or prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

 

What is dementia?

Dementia is not a single disease, but rather an umbrella term that describes a group disorders. It’s a term used to describe a progressive deterioration of intellect and social functioning as a consequence of brain disease. Dementia is usually progressive and eventually severe.

There are over 100 different types of dementia, and any progressive brain disease (including e.g. multiple sclerosis) can include dementia later.

Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of all dementias, affecting 20% of individuals over 85.

In practice, the term dementia is usually used for patients presenting with symptoms such as problems with memory, speech and understanding, where a general medical cause such as infection or a metabolic disturbance can’t be identified.

 

Who’s at risk?

Dementia can develop at any age from adolescence onwards, but is strongly age related, rare under the age of 60, and very rare under the age of 45.

The incidence increases from 6.7 per 1,000 persons, years 65–69, to 68.5 per 1,000 persons at age 85 years and above. About 5% of the population over 65 has dementia at any one time, and around 163,000 new cases of dementia occur in England and Wales each year.

Thus, as people get older and live longer, it is increasingly common and not unusual for patients to know others who have suffered, or have a family history of the condition. Although there are some genetic types of dementia, these usually present at a younger age.

 

Reducing risk

The WHO has launched its first ever guidelines on how people can reduce their risk of getting dementia.

The main takeaways in the guidelines are to exercise more and maintain a healthy diet, with an emphasis on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet – simple plant-based cooking, little or no meat and a healthy dose of olive oil.

Interestingly, supplementation with vitamins B and E, polyunsaturated fats and multi-complex supplements did not make a difference.

People should be looking for these nutrients through food; not through supplements.

 

Other notable factors

There is now ‘extensive evidence’ that smoking and alcohol are risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline.

In terms of other risk factors, the guidelines note the following may be offered to help reduce cognitive decline or dementia:

  • Cognitive training to older adults with normal cognition and mild cognitive impairment.
  • Weight management with interventions for overweight and/or obesity at mid-life
  • Management of dyslipidaemia at mid-life
  • Management of hypertension and diabetes for adults with these conditions

The WHO did not endorse games and other activities aimed at boosting thinking skills. These can be considered for people with normal capacities or mild impairment, but there’s little evidence of benefit.

 

Conclusion

While there is no cure for dementia, there is hope that having better overall health could help prevent it.

In summary, the WHO recommends staying away from tobacco, limiting your alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure through a good diet and exercise.

It seems that what’s good for your heart is probably good for your brain too.

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‘Give HIV the Finger’

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s defence against infectious organisms and other invaders. If HIV is left untreated, a person’s immune system will get progressively weaker until it can no longer fight off life-threatening infections and diseases. However, the rate at which HIV progresses varies depending on age, general health and background. Testing regularly for HIV means you can get antiretroviral treatment if you need it and stay healthy.

The ‘give HIV the finger’ pun refers to the free postal finger-prick test that people can receive for testing without attending a clinic.

 

HIV in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) has a relatively small HIV epidemic, with an estimated 101,200 people living with HIV in 2015. Just over 5,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2016, according to the data from Public Health England. This is an 18% decline from 2015.

The epidemic is largely concentrated among certain key populations, including men who have sex with men and black African populations. 54% of diagnoses were among gay and bisexual men; 19% and 22% among heterosexual men and women, respectively.

Late diagnosis is an important predictor of morbidity and premature death in people with HIV. In 2016, 42% diagnoses were made at a late stage of infection when treatment is less effective.

 

Current Screening Tests

HIV postal test kits allow people to take a finger-prick blood sample themselves. The samples are sent to a local laboratory for HIV testing. The test is highly accurate and can detect HIV within four weeks after infection.

These tests give a result of ‘reactive’ (positive) or ‘non-reactive’ (negative); reactive results are further classified into ‘high’ and ‘low’ reactive tests. A highly reactive result is suggestive of a HIV infection.

Patients providing a specimen reactive in the screening assay, but not confirmed to be consistent with HIV infection, should be retested using a fresh blood specimen collected at least two weeks later.

Ideally, a HIV antibody test should be performed on venous blood. Most laboratories in the UK use ‘fourth generation’ HIV screening tests. They detect anti-HIV (nearly all can detect the three main Ig classes: IgM, IgG and IgA) and p24 antigen. All patients whose first specimen indicates evidence of HIV infection must have their HIV status confirmed by tests on a second sample collected at another time.

HIV home sampling could potentially improve our ability to identify cases of HIV by targeting people at risk who do not use traditional testing venues such as sexual health clinics. The results data collected between 2015 and 2016 showed that 1.1% of tests submitted via the national postal testing scheme were ‘reactive’ and 0.7% were ‘high reactive’, compared to just 0.3% of tests finding HIV positive results from specialist sexual health clinics.

 

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

The definition of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is based on a potentially life-threatening infection or cancer seen in the immunosuppressed. Patients who have been diagnosed with AIDS have a greater risk of opportunistic infections. The most common AIDS-defining illnesses include:

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Recurrent bacterial pneumonia
  3. Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia
  4. Kaposi’s sarcoma
  5. Lymphoma
  6. Cerebral toxoplasmosis
  7. Cryptococcal meningitis
  8. Intestinal cryptosporidiosis

Patients diagnosed late during HIV infection are at an increased risk of developing AIDS and are more likely to transmit HIV to others. This is one of the key challenges facing the UK, despite rates of late diagnosis being on the decline. In 2017, 428 people died from AIDS-related illnesses due to being diagnosed late. Nevertheless, the number of people diagnosed with AIDS-defining illnesses is declining and fell by 25% from 2015 to 2016.

 

Counselling

Patients identified as being at high-risk for HIV or those with concerns should be offered more in-depth discussion or counselling, in addition to a test. A brief pre-test discussion, explaining that routine HIV testing is recommended, is appropriate, with the aim of obtaining informed verbal consent.

 

Other methods to increase the uptake of testing

The Department of Health recommendation is that patients who come from countries where prevalence of HIV infection is high (>0.5%), all adults presenting to the emergency department in the UK should be tested (with consent). Also, all new patients registering at a GP should be tested. Testing in other outpatient departments, e.g. colposcopy and dermatology should also be carried out.

All patients attending sexual health clinics should be offered a HIV test on an ‘opt-out’ basis, and an information leaflet should be used to increase uptake of HIV antibody testing.

 

The future

Not too long ago, a diagnosis of HIV and AIDS was considered to be a death sentence. This has fortunately changed over the past decade, owing to significant progress made in the provision of antiretroviral treatment and gradual upliftment of the stigma that is attached to the condition.

Progress is still to be made, however, as late diagnosis rates continue to be high. People living with an undiagnosed infection have worse health outcomes and pose a public health risk as they are more likely to pass the virus on to others. Homosexual men and black Africans are still at a heightened risk of HIV. Further, the younger generation has lost some fear of HIV because of the success of treatment, causing them to engage in risky behaviours. These issues can be rectified by narrowing the gaps in HIV prevention and education schemes.

If you have any concerns or questions, you can get help from sexual health clinics, charities, or your GP.

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Is Obesity A Disease Or A Choice?

Obesity is a very important public health problem. The rates are now very high, with over 25% of the UK population and 33% of the US population classified as obese.

Obesity itself results in significant reductions in quality of life but it also leads to a range of serious health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Changes in diet and exercise seem to be the most sensible first-line solution, however health education programs have failed to halt the rising numbers of obese people. This suggests that intrinsic factors, such as genetics, might be important.

This raises an important question: Is obesity a disease or a choice?

 

Recent poll

A recent poll on Medscape revealed some interesting opinions about obesity among healthcare providers. One of the questions asked was ‘How often do you think lifestyle choices are the underlying cause?’ 75% of medical professionals chose either ‘often’ or ‘always’.

When asked what interventions they typically recommend for their obese patients, over 90% selected ‘diet and exercise’. Further, more than 30% of healthcare providers do not consider obesity to be a disease state. However, if obesity is viewed as a disease it may aid toward objectively assessing the factors that lead to it, thus offering better prevention and treatment strategies.

 

What makes obesity a disease?

Obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes. The first, most obvious, argument for why obesity is a disease is that it is associated with impaired body function. It causes, exacerbates, or accelerates more than 160 co-morbid conditions that arise as metabolic, structural, inflammatory, degenerative, neoplastic, or psychological complications. Further, it can significantly affect quality of life or impair longevity.

Taking this into account may prove effective in dealing with its biopsychosocial and economic ramifications.

 

Common assumptions about obesity

It is a common assumption among both healthcare providers and the general public that obesity is a self-inflicted condition. In other words, obesity is thought to be the result of a lack of self-discipline due to addiction to excess or unhealthy foods, and thus these patients are largely responsible for this condition. If patients are not losing weight with diet and exercise, it is because they are not trying hard enough or are cheating on their lifestyle modifications.

Another assumption is that obesity started only in the past 50 or so years. Although the incidence has increased significantly in the recent past, it is in fact a centuries-old condition.

Lifestyle modifications have an increasingly robust representation in evidence-based medicine. However, given the complex and multifactorial nature of obesity, management can fail despite earnest efforts by patients and is often successfully augmented by the addition of pharmacotherapy or surgery.

 

Treatment must be individualised

It is important to realise that for many patients, obesity is multifactorial. There is a wide heterogeneity in the causes and manifestation of obesity, which leads to wide interpatient variability in the response to different therapeutic strategies. It is for this reason that management of obesity needs to be individualised for each patient.

It is therefore important to accept that obesity is not merely a condition arising from ‘food addiction’. In fact, more than 100 aetiologies of obesity have been identified, and we’ve merely scratched the surface at recognising the causal factors.

 

 

Conclusion

The question of obesity being a disease or choice is like the false dichotomy of nature vs nurture. There is no simple either/or answer to this question. It is much more likely to be a combination of both factors.

Obesity involves a complex interplay of underlying medical conditions, such as genetic or endocrine factors, in addition to environmental influencers. Environment plays an important role. Factors such as eating schedules, physical activity, sleep health and medications, can affect weight management.

 

The ultimate consequence is failure of the homeostasis of weight and energy regulatory mechanisms, leading to an elevated body fat set-point.

Only when we recognise that obesity is a disease can we take the next steps of screening, diagnosing, assessing, preventing, and treating this condition.

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skin

Eat Back The Years With These 10 Youth-Boosting Foods

 

Want firmer, smoother skin and a brighter complexion? Try these top 10 anti-aging foods. Our diets have a huge effect on the rate at which we age, so it makes sense to keep them as varied, and antioxidant-rich as possible to prolong and preserve our youth. Team these foods with regular exercise, plenty of sleep and quality downtime, and you could turn back the clock.

eggs

1) Eggs

Eggs contain a compound called sphingolipids that aids in autophagy. Think of a brick wall. Sphingolipids are like mortar, the sticky substance that holds the bricks together. As the wall ages, the mortar can break down, causing the bricks to crumble and the entire structure to lose its strength. But you can keep your mortar strong by eating sphingolipid-rich foods. Doing so will benefit your skin, keeping it fuller, plumper, and smoother.

Sphingolipids also help regulate neurotransmitters, important in healthy brain function. Read better moods, better decision-making, increased critical thinking, and improved memory.

blue berries

2) Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids such as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These are rich sources of vitamins C and K and other nutrients that have an anti-ageing effect and prevent cell damage. 

avocado

3) Avocado

Avocado is one of the anti-ageing superfoods with immense health benefits. It is rich in potassium, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and antioxidants that fight the effects of ageing. Moreover, it’s good for your overall health.

 tomato

4) Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain lycopene. This is a non-provitamin A carotenoid that protects your skin from sun damage. Moreover, the skin of the tomato has an anti-inflammatory effect on the human skin, and the flavonoids in the fruit slow down ageing.

spinach

5) Spinach

Popeye cartoons were exaggerating, but not by much! Spinach is a great source of beta-carotene, which protects your skin from sun damage, and lutein, which has been shown to help skin maintain its elasticity.

green tea

6) Green Tea

There are many kinds of green tea, but they all contain polyphenols, which get rid of free radical toxins in your body, and catechins, molecules that help prevent the sun from damaging your skin. So, drink up! Green tea should be in every anti-ageing diet.

tumeric

7) Turmeric

It’s almost impossible to believe the number of anti-ageing benefits turmeric provides. It’s great for your skin, joints, and brain, and it fights inflammation. It may also reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders and some cancers.

garlic

8) Garlic

Add it to your stir-fry, and you just might boost your heart health. Garlic is said to prevent heart disease and strokes by slowing the hardening of the arteries. The herb may also help fight inflammation and cartilage damage associated with arthritis.

nuts

9) Mixed Nuts

In one study, regular nut intake was connected with a lower risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Make a to-go mix of peanuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts for an easy way to avoid hanger. 

salmon

10) salmon

Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines, trout and mackerel, are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are vital for healthy cell membranes and for keeping your skin looking smooth and soft, as well as maintaining healthy, flexible joints and cognitive function. Since inflammation in the body is linked to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes, omega-3 fats are a vital anti-ageing nutrient.

By Punam Vadgama

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activated-charcoal-black-bread

Activated Charcoal: The New Black, Or Just Another Quack?

activated-charcoal-black-bread

I walked into a trendy hipster café the other day – the kind where dishevelled man buns are the norm and the furniture is uncomfortable. I saw a black croissant on the counter. I was impressed with the barista’s confidence that he could flog it off as edible. To add to the ridiculous selection, there was charcoal-containing fruit juice being sold as a ‘shot’. Elsewhere, I opened a pizza menu and saw an option for a charcoal crust. Some weeks later when meeting a friend for dinner, I found her sipping a pitch black mocktail made with charcoal. The next day my sister showed me a bottle of activated charcoal pills from Holland & Barrett and asked me, “does this work”?

 

Don’t be conned.

Let me begin by first saying that if you hear the word ‘detox’ in conjunction with having to take a pill or potion, you are most likely being conned.

We have all looked for a quick fix to wellness, something to cut the link between hard graft and gratification. Maintaining stamina, eating well and exercising can be difficult to balance in our busy lives. This is where pernicious charlatans seize the opportunity to sell you snake oil, tricking you with pseudoscience and the paralogism of celebrity endorsements.

When in doubt, ask for the evidence or do some research yourself. Don’t settle for an anecdote, such as ‘my friend took it and noticed a difference’. I’m talking about empirical evidence in academic journals. If that’s venturing in unknown territory for you, seek advice from your doctor.

 

What is activated charcoal, anyhow?activated-charcoal

It sounds like something you’d use to fire up the barbecue, but there’s a difference. Activated charcoal is made from carbon-containing material, like wood, coal and coconut shells, which is heated at high temperatures. The carbonised material is then exposed to oxidising atmospheres, a process called ‘activation’, which increases its overall surface area and adsorptive capacity.

Activated charcoal has long been used in emergency medicine for the treatment of drug overdose or poisoning. It is a gastrointestinal decontaminant that avidly adsorbs contents of the stomach. It is beneficial if administered to the patient within an hour of ingestion, or later if the ingestion involves an agent that delays gastric emptying or slows gut motility.

It’s not difficult to see why activated charcoal has been associated with detoxifying the body. If it’s used in emergency medicine to reduce toxic load, then it must be good for everyday use as well. However, this is false reasoning and a deep misinterpretation of its application.

 

Is it safe to eat activated charcoal?

Consuming activated charcoal may seem like an innocuous health fad, but it may be doing more harm than good.

The issue is that activated charcoal is not selective in its binding properties, meaning that some of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your food will also be removed (along with the supposed ‘toxins’).

I mentioned the charcoal-containing fruit juice being sold as a shot. If you think about it, the absorption of the vitamins in the fruit would be impaired because of the charcoal. There is literally no good reason for it to be in the drink.

On a more serious note, activated charcoal can bind with some oral medications and impair their bioavailability. This is not mentioned on the bottles or packaging of activated charcoal products, despite it potentially having serious health consequences for some people.

There is also a prevalent belief that it will help cure a hangover by detoxifying the alcohol and kebab you had last night on the lash. But considering activated charcoal will bind with the contents of your stomach or intestines, it would be useless in this case because the alcohol and dodgy food would have already been absorbed into your bloodstream.

 

A bitter pill to swallow

The detox industry is vast and highly deceptive. The products don’t work, despite anecdotal claims to the contrary. You may want to dabble in it anyway for some harmless fun but consume with caution if you are on prescription medication. There is a possibility that it will make your medication less effective.

Here’s some food for thought: instead of implementing useless detox cycles, it is better to adopt a ‘clean’ eating plan – not as a temporary diet, but a lifestyle change. There is a lot of evidence to show that a whole-food, plant-based diet does wonders for our health. This entails eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

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