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Why a ‘detox’ will never give you the result you want

Why a ‘detox’ will never give you the result you want

It’s almost summer and you might be ready to start your detox. We’ve got good news for you. Don’t bother.

juice. Photo: iStock

This article initially appeared on news.com.au and has been republished here with permission.

Detox diets and cleansing regimes are swamping the internet. And their message is clear: to be our best selves, we need to rid our bodies of toxins, like pollution, pesticides, synthetic chemicals and processed foods.

But, my podcast, Science Vs, asked: is there any science behind these detoxes? Can we do anything to help cleanse our body of toxins?

Let’s start with Colonics — that’s where water is run into the butt hole continually to encourage bowels to open up, and people to poo. The procedures can be used to treat a bout of constipation, but according to the detox industry, it can also “flush out your toxins”, improving well-being, vitality and giving you a “deeper detox”.

Professor Graham Newstead, a colorectal surgeon from the Prince of Wales Hospital at the University of NSW, says to understand if a colonic can help you detox, you’ve got to know some basic facts about the intestines.

The large intestine is closer to the butt hole, and part of its job is to absorb water from poo to keep us hydrated. The small intestine, which is further up, is where nutrients and also potential toxins get absorbed and sent to the blood.

Here’s the kicker: a colonic only washes out the large intestine and it “goes nowhere near the small intestine,” says Graham. That means any “toxins” in the gut would have been absorbed further up.

“If your bowels work normally there is zero science — zero science — in using colonic lavage,” says Graham. “It’s a load of rubbish. It’s as simple as that.”

Two academics papers that trawled through the research on colonics found there is no good science to support using them unless people have digestive issues.

Graham says that it can feel good to get a colonic. (I asked him if it was “like doing a big crap?” And he said “Yeah, that’s all, nothing more.”) But, he says, there are risks involved.It’s hard to know how common these are, but people can end up with bouts of vomiting, diarrhoea, kidney failure or perforated intestines.

Perhaps the solution to a good detox can be found elsewhere? Juice cleanses are big business right now. It’s estimated that cold-pressed juice companies, raked in almost half a billion dollars last year.

With their claims that drinking a diet of juice can “release the toxins built up inside”, I thought I’d give it a go. I committed to 24 hours of eating no food whatsoever — only juice, and by the end, I was promised to feel “an energising, clarifying, and brightening effect”.

Juice cleanses are a bit vague on the details of how juicing will achieve that. And, after much searching at Science Vs, we couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that putting food in a juicer could help you get rid of toxins. But we did notice that a lot of these juicing detoxes, promise that juicing can kickstart weight loss. Can it?

Putting something in a juicer doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Juices can have a lot of calories and a lot of sugar. It all depends on their ingredients. One “green juice” that I was drinking had almost half the sugar found in a can of Coke. It’s not added sugar, it’s naturally found in fruit, but it’s still energy.

All this sugar is part of the reason why two researchers recently wrote in the Lancet that pure unsweetened juice should be characterised as “sugary drinks”, just like sodas.

Juices also often lack fibre, says Professor Stella Volpe at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Our bodies don’t digest fibre, instead it creates this “bulk” in our intestines, that might trigger feelings of us being full. Studies going as far back as the 1970s found people get less hungry after eating whole fruits compared to juice.

That means, if people are eating a regular diet and drinking lots of juice, they might be taking in more calories than usual. If they are just drinking juice and otherwise fasting, then during the “juice detox” they’re probably consuming less calories than normal, but other symptoms might emerge.

For me? After a day of juicing I felt tired, had a headache and couldn’t concentrate. The next morning, suffice to say, I didn’t feel brighter or more energised. Given the lack of science behind this juicing nonsense, I shouldn’t have been too surprised.Still, for those who are desperate to detox, science has some great news for you. We are already detoxing on a daily basis. Our kidneys are efficiently sifting through blood for potential toxins to pee out, and part of the liver’s job is to take toxic substances and convert them into something harmless. No expensive juicing or colonics required.T

o learn more about the science of detoxes, including whether you can put anything in your juice to help you lose weight, and if sweating can remove toxins listen to Science Vs.

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Healthy Life

What the private health insurance changes will mean for you

What the private health insurance changes will mean for you

You won’t be able to claim for yoga and Pilates anymore, but this is what you will be able to get back. 

This article initially appeared on news.com.au and has been republished here with permission.

An overhaul of the private health insurance system will see cheaper premiums and easier access to mental healthcare introduced.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday announced a major shake-up of the system, with those under 30 expected to be the biggest beneficiaries.

Young people are being targeted as they are generally healthy and less likely to claim.

“The more young people you have in the system, the lower the average cost of premiums for everybody,” Mr Hunt told ABC TV.

Health fund membership has been falling by around 10,000 people a month because of premium rises that have overtaken the inflation rate.

Premiums have increased an average of 5.6 per cent a year since 2010, but Mr Hunt wouldn’t put a figure on how much that will fall.

“I’m working with the private health insurers to help drive down premium pressures and they have guaranteed in writing they will pass through all of the cost savings,” he said.

An agreement with makers of hip and knee prostheses and cardiac devices will also save insurers about $1 billion over the next four years.

“And that will go straight through to reduce premiums,” Mr Hunt said.

The federal Health Minister claimed it was the biggest private health insurance reform in 15 years and was just the first round.

But Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King said young people will only save about 70 cents a week while older Australians won’t see a dollar returned to their back pocket.

“It’s clear from this package that the Turnbull government only cares about getting as many people as possible to sign up for private health insurance — it doesn’t care about what happens when they try to use it,” she said in a statement.

Labor, however, welcomed cuts to the cost of devices on the prostheses list.

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said the move wouldn’t solve the issue of affordability, but it was a step in the right direction.

“The biggest problem in the affordability of private health insurance is the amount that’s going into the pockets of the for-profit insurers,” he told ABC radio.

“We need serious reform which addresses the simple fact that (healthcare) costs will continue to increase year on year.”

Here’s what it means for you.

Young people will get cheaper premiums

The changes will make policies cheaper for young people by introducing a premium discount worth 2 per cent per year for each year they belong to a health fund before turning 30, up to a maximum of 10 per cent. This will be phased out gradually by the time they turn 40.

It’s unclear whether the discount applies to under 30s who already have cover so it’s worth checking with your current insurer and to consider changing policies.

You won’t be able to claim for pilates or yoga

According to The Daily Telegraph, rebates for unproven natural therapies will be banned. Those on the chopping block include Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism, homoeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi, and yoga.

Better mental health cover

Even policies classified as Basic will be covered for mental health services, which many policies currently don’t cover.

Consumers who already have a policy will also be able to upgrade their cover to access in-hospital mental health services without a waiting period.

Insurers also won’t be able to limit the number of sessions or treatments a patient can access.

New rural health product

Travel and accommodation benefits will be included under hospital cover for those taking up a new rural health product.

You’ll be able to increase your excess to reduce premiums

The cap on excesses (the extra money people agree to pay if they go to hospital or have other expensive procedures like dental) will be lifted to $750 from $500 for singles and to $1500 from $1000 for families.

This could see policies becoming a bit cheaper.

Price rises should decrease

For those who already have cover, you have been slugged with premium rises of about 5-6 per cent in the past few years.

The reforms hope to get this down to about 3 per cent.

Crackdown on prostheses and medical devices

The government is cracking down on the exorbitant amount of money health funds are paying for prostheses like hip and knee replacements.

In what has been described as a rort, health funds have been paying prices for medical devices that are up to five times higher than prices paid by public hospitals.

This has helped to drive up premiums.

By cutting these costs, it should become cheaper for patients who need things like pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, hip and knee implants.

Health funds have also promised to pass on savings to consumers overall and the government has strengthened the powers of the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman to ensure this happens.

Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Rachel David told The Daily Telegraph that the $1 billion in savings over four years was expected to cut premium increases by about 1 per cent a year, according to its calculations.

Making it easier to choose

Comparing policies can be very difficult and while websites like iSelect and Compare the Market claim to do this, they get commissions from health funds and don’t always show all the options.

As part of the changes, the privatehealth.gov.au website will be upgraded to suggest policies from every health fund. People will be asked what they want to be covered for and what their income is.

More clarity about what’s covered

Policies will be classified as Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic and each of these will have to meet certain coverage standards.

The minimum requirements will be set in 2017—18.

‘Junk policies’ will remain

Basic entry policies that only cover treatment in a public hospital will continue as people on these policies may have been forced to pay up to 16 per cent more to move up to the next level of cover.

The Australian Medical Association has raised concerns about so-called ‘junk policies’ because they don’t cover many illnesses.

For example, people may have paid premiums for many years, only to discover things like hip or knee replacements are not covered under their policy.

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Healthy Life

The seven things I wish someone told me about extreme weight loss

The seven things I wish someone told me about extreme weight loss

“At my heaviest, I was classified as obese. I had a terrible relationship with food and struggled with my weight and an eating disorder. I lost 20kg and it changed my life – but not how I expected it would.”

Here are seven things I wish someone had told me prior.

1. You will still have cellulite

Skinny or not, old or young – cellulite affects most women… and men, too. You can lose weight, squat until you can’t move and lunge like you’ve never lunged before, but it doesn’t mean your cellulite is going anywhere. Most models also have cellulite, just FYI. Of course, no-one would know thanks to Photoshop virtuosos that tactfully blend it away. Cellulite is normal.

2. You don’t need to count almonds

Counting the number of almonds you’re ‘allowed’ is soul sucking and makes healthy eating feel like a burden. Please do not do this. Just take a handful and be done with it. In fact, don’t count anything – macros, points, calories, whatever. As any seasoned dieter will know, you can only count your almonds or calories for so long before you start feeling deprived. Instead, focus on high quality whole-foods, and pay attention to nourishing your body with the correct servings of proteins, carbs, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. And treat yourself once in a while – that’s normal (and necessary!) too.

3. Real, sustainable weight loss takes longer than you think

Fad diets promise you quick ‘solutions’ that will keep you in prime shape permanently. But to lose weight requires major lifestyle changes. You need to re-program your habits and thought patterns, which is far more complex than living off juice for three days. (Don’t do that, please.) It took me over four years to lose 20kg (not 12 weeks or even one year) and however long you think weight loss will take – multiply it by 10, and then add some. Be patient and focus on your health – not the number on the scale. And the results will follow.

4. You won’t automatically love your body

I used to tell myself, “When I lose weight, I’ll be body confident, loveable and good enough.” Unfortunately, losing weight doesn’t get rid of your body insecurities. Before working to change your body, accept your body with all of its ‘flaws’. Changing your body won’t result in body-confidence but accepting and embracing your body as it is can be profoundly life changing.

5. ‘Fitspo’ isn’t actually inspirational (for me, anyway)

Contrary to what you might believe, staring at images of super fit models (‘fitspo’) for motivation might not actually help you. Why? Fitspo can easily make you believe you must have a tight, flat stomach and minimal body fat to be healthy. Fitspo sends the message that its fine to go to extreme measures to lose weight – so long as you look good in a crop top. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise and food, yo-yo dieting, restrictive behaviours and poor body confidence. Unfollow, stat.

6. Losing weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier

People can lose weight in many ways like starving themselves, abusing substances, having a stressful period at work, over-exercising and, sadly, the list goes on. A lower (and arbitrary!) number of the scales isn’t an indicator of a healthy lifestyle – as we all know, true wellbeing is about the whole picture. Please, don’t assume because someone loses weight they are better for it.

7. You will still be the same person

At the end of the day, regardless of what you look like, you will still be the same person, will the same problems. Your social problems won’t go away, you won’t suddenly have more genuine friends, higher levels of job satisfaction, more confidence or be any closer to achieving your dreams. All of those changes come from within – as cliché as that sounds – so if you’re looking to change your life – start from within. A healthy lifestyle should underscore your life, and not necessarily be the key to unlocking it.

Remember, your weight is just a number on a scale or clothing size. It doesn’t define who you are. It won’t change you. It won’t fix your problems or poor self-esteem. Losing weight won’t instantly make you happy.

There are many reasons to focus on being healthy and vibrant but losing weight just to be skinny won’t give you the satisfaction you might think it will. Don’t focus on just losing weight – rather focus on being the healthiest, strongest, happiest and most contented person you can be.

For more from Lyndi Cohen, an accredited practicing dietitian and health blogger, head here and follow her on Instagram @nude_nutritionist.

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Healthy Life

Are we all destined to get lifestyle diseases?

Are we all destined to get lifestyle diseases

What you need to know about your genetic risk factors and healthy-ish habits, according to a doctor.

Listen to Healthy-ish, available to download at Apple iTunes here or wherever you go for your podcasts.

Real talk – and sorry for the downer – but, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lifestyle diseases are the world’s biggest killer. Not Zika virus or some undiscovered animal flu.

We’re talking heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer – all those chronic diseases you never want to tap you on the shoulder and say hi.

But do your MeatFree Mondays, green smoothies and 3 x weekly HIIT workouts, mean you’re in the clear?

That’s the question on the latest episode of our podcast Healthy-ish, now available for download, and we were surprised to hear what Dr Andrew Rochford had to say.

“If you are obese or overweight there is a very high chance that you have lifestyle diseases like pre-diabetes. So it’s pretty obvious, go get tested, figure out if you’ve got it, let’s change your diet, get you moving, let’s stop this before it becomes diabetes,” he tells co-hosts Maz Compton and Melissa Shedden.

“The tricky thing is for people who are ‘skinny fat’, or metabolically obese. In a line up, you wouldn’t pick them as the person with diabetes. What we’re starting to see now is how we process food, and this pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome, isn’t always determined by the amount of fat you carry. We need to be tested.”

In other words, don’t believe a slim build automatically means you’re healthy.

If you’re sedentary, if you don’t exercise, if you have a rubbish diet, and are generally unfit, but your outside appearance doesn’t point to any of those things – that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods,” he warns.

Dr Rochford, who got into medicine after experiencing his father, a type 1 diabetic, have a hypoglycaemic seizure in the middle of the night when he was 10-years-old, uses diabetes as an example – and it’s a compelling one, since 280 Australians develop the disease everyday, according to Diabetes Australia.

“It falls under the category of a silent killer. Diabetes or even pre-diabetes is one with no overt signs, which is why you can’t tell until you get tested – unless you taste your own urine because it gets very sweet.”

Understandably, that comment raised a squeal from Maz Compton, “there’s the quote, doctor recommends….”

For more on the signs and symptoms of Australia’s most common lifestyle diseases, and to hear the science behind plant-based diets as a treatment plan for lifestyle diseases from dietitian Lyndi Cohen, listen to Healthy-ish episode 10, brought to you by myBody+Soul and Priceline Pharmacy. Download now at Apple iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Until October 25, Priceline Pharmacy stores are offering free diabetes consultations. Their trained Diabetes advisors will evaluate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and provide tips to reduce your risk. Visit priceline.com.au/mission-health for more information.

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Healthy Life

Jessica Rowe on hormonal acne, antidepressants and farting in Pilates

Jessica Rowe On Hormonal Acne, Antidepressants And Farting In Pilates

She’s #craphousewife goals.

She’s the lady who started the #craphousewife trend, and despite her 69,000 plus Instagram following, and job as a Studio 10 TV presenter, the Solar D ambassador is not afraid to share that she’s just like every other normal human being. And when we say share, we really mean overshare.

Jess on her skincare routine

Think you have bad skin? Not to worry, Rowe still suffers with breakouts at the age of 47.

“I had terrible acne for many years and still struggle with breakouts,” she tells myBody+Soul.

While the mum-of-2 admits she takes the Pill to help her hormonal acne, she also swears by sticking to a well-oiled skincare routine.

Her picks include “using a serum and eye cream at night”, and making sure to cleanse thoroughly in the morning.

“When I wake up I simply wash my face with warm water in the shower, get rid of any leftover eyeliner with makeup remover and then moisturise with Hydrate.”

After learning the hard way how damaging the sun is, Rowe says the last but most important step of her morning beauty routine involves using Solar D Daily Face Sunscreen ($14.99, solar-d.com.au).

“When I was a foolhardy teenager, I burnt my skin to a crisp, all in the pursuit of a tan. Once I reached my twenties I was far more sun smart.”

The TV personality also makes no apologies for “having sprinklings of Botox” since her late thirties.

Jess on mental health

If you’ve read her autobiography Is This My Beautiful Life, you’ll know Rowe’s life definitely hasn’t, and still isn’t, all rainbows and happiness.

So what’s her secret to putting on that sunshiny smile? A once a week Pilates class, laughing at her embarrassing moments, and prescribed medication to help keep her mind from capsizing.

“Working out is essential for my mental health. Once a week I do Pilates with one of my best friends. We hold our core, talk, laugh and try not to fart while we stretch and move our bodies.

“Weekly exercise helps me enormously. I also take antidepressants which help keep my mind on an even keel. Eating chocolate coated licorice in bed, while I read a Scanda-noir thriller on my Kindle is also a wonderful way of calming my busy brain,” she says.

Jess on outsourcing

If you’re stressed out over the never-empty washing basket or endless meal prep, you might consider giving yourself a break like Rowe.

The self-confessed “crap housewife”, whose signature meal is baked beans on toast, happily admits domestic duties are not her strongpoint.

“I’m comfortable having piles of stuff around as well as shoving any mess into cupboards. A marvelous mature friend of mind reminded me that you live in a home and not a showroom! I’m a huge fan of comedian Phyllis Diller who said, ‘Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?’ Luckily I have a cleaner who comes once a week to stop our house from becoming too chaotic.”

And her parting advice for perfectionist women striving to “live their best life”?

“No one is perfect. You are enough! Embrace your flaws and vulnerability. And sometimes despite your best intentions some days will just be crap! And that is okay too,” Rowe says.

Preach it.

Got 60 seconds? This video will make you relaxed and happier all at once

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Healthy Life

“I thought it was just a bloated tummy – but it was something more serious”

“I Thought It Was Just A Bloated Tummy – But It Was Something More Serious”

Every morning, Nickita was on the treadmill trying to reverse her unexplained weight gain, but a scan uncovered something shocking. 

Pictures: Instagram@nickitapillay.

Think back to when you were 17. You likely had a terrible fringe or other haircut, more moods than varieties of peanut butter, and dreamed of being supermodel slim.

At 17, Nickita Pillay was doing everything she could to beat her swollen belly.

“I remember telling my sister I was getting fat. I’d always been relatively skinny, so would get onto the treadmill at 5am every morning to try and lose my belly,” Pillay tells myBody+Soul.

“I had this really bloated tummy, then two weeks later I got terrible back pains and diarrhoea that left zero time to get to the bathroom.”

It was only because she had a school exam, and needed a medical certificate, that Pillay went to the doctors. They asked if she could be pregnant, which wasn’t possible for Pillay, so doctors performed an MRI scan. What they discovered was shocking.

“They found a tumour 10cm on the top, and going backwards 32cm. It was the size of a football. It was resting on my back and pushing on my bowels.”

At age 17, Pillay was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“I couldn’t believe it. The pain was excruciating,” she says, five years on.

Ten days later she went in for surgery. What followed was six months of “brutal” chemotherapy, and losing her hair within two days, then the unthinkable.

“Because my immune system was so low, in April this year they found cervical cancer cells during a routine check-up. It wasn’t anything abnormal for me,” she says.

The cells were removed, and thankfully Pillay is in remission now, but her diagnosis at such a young age has meant she’s missed out on her late teens, having to defer from uni, and cease working, to fit in the hospital visits. Today, Pillay is aged 22, and she’s giving cancer the finger, studying medical engineering, working as a hair and makeup artist, and competing in fitness comps.

Pillay’s message to young women is clear – listen to your body – if you think something isn’t normal, chances are it’s not.

“We’re from an Indian background, so it’s not normal to tell your dad about girly things – and mum was overseas at the time I was experiencing the symptoms.

“Now, though, I’m not afraid to tell my story. I have to always inspect my own body. No one, not even doctors, know it as well as I do,” she says.

Pillay will have to keep a check on her tumour markers for the rest of her life. She’s using the new world-first app from Australia’s Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation to manage that process.

“It’s an inconvenience to be diagnosed with cancer, but it’s everything else that makes it worse. The CA125 app makes things a lot more convenient. The doctor can logon to the app – and you don’t need to wait for a doctor’s consultation to find out.

“That wait, it feels like you’ve been caught doing something wrong and you’re waiting for the verdict. It’s incredibly stressful and nothing you have control over. The app means you can know the verdict before you go into the hospital, which gives you time to come up with right kind of questions, instead of leaving thinking ‘I should have asked that’.”

What you need to know about the CA125 app

Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation successfully gained a grant to develop the smartphone application to assist ovarian and endometrial (uterine) cancer patients feel more in control of their experience post-diagnosis. The app allows patients to input details given to them by their gynaecological oncologist so they can see quickly and easily progress with the tumour markers in their blood.

Proceeds from the sale of the app ($9.99) go to Cherish to continue its work in the ovarian cancer and endometrial (uterine) cancer space. For more information about Cherish, please visit www.cherish.org.au.

Dr. Oz explains the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Courtesy: Dr. Oz

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Healthy Life

The 7 organs you can live without

The 7 Organs You Can Live Without

If you lose your heart, you’re pretty much a goner. But there are other seemingly vital organs that aren’t all that vital at all.

Photo: iStock

This article first appeared in The Conversation and has been republished here with permission.

THE human body is incredibly resilient. When you donate a pint of blood, you lose about 3.5 trillion red blood cells, but your body quickly replaces them. You can even lose large chunks of vital organs and live. (For example, people can live relatively normal lives with just half a brain). Other organs can be removed in their entirety without having too much impact on your life. Here are some of the “non-vital organs,” reports The Conversation.

SPLEEN

This organ sits on the left side of the abdomen, towards the back under the ribs. It is most commonly removed as a result of injury. Because it sits close the ribs, it is vulnerable to abdominal trauma. It is enclosed by a tissue paper-like capsule, which easily tears, allowing blood to leak from the damaged spleen. If not diagnosed and treated, it will result in death.

When you look inside the spleen, it has two notable colours. A dark red colour and small pockets of white. These link to the functions. The red is involved in storing and recycling red blood cells, while the white is linked to storage of white cells and platelets.You can comfortably live without a spleen. This is because the liver plays a role in recycling red blood cells and their components. Similarly, other lymphoid tissues in the body help with the immune function of the spleen.

STOMACH

The stomach performs four main functions: mechanical digestion by contracting to smash up food, chemical digestion by releasing acid to help chemically break up food, and then absorption and secretion. The stomach is sometimes surgically removed as a result of cancer or trauma. In 2012, a British woman had to have her stomach removed after ingesting a cocktail that contained liquid nitrogen.When the stomach is removed, surgeons attach the oesophagus (gullet) directly to the small intestines. With a good recovery, people can eat a normal diet alongside vitamin supplements.

REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS

The primary reproductive organs in the male and female are the testes and ovaries, respectively. These structures are paired and people can still have children with only one functioning.The removal of one or both are usually the result of cancer, or in males, trauma, often as a result of violence, sports or road traffic accidents. In females, the uterus (womb) may also be removed. This procedure (hysterectomy) stops women from having children and also halts the menstrual cycle in pre-menopausal women. Research suggests that women who have their ovaries removed do not have a reduced life expectancy. Interestingly, in some male populations, removal of both testicles may lead to an increase in life expectancy.

COLON

The colon (or large intestine) is a tube that is about six-feet in length and has four named parts: ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid. The primary functions are to resorb water and prepare faeces by compacting it together. The presence of cancer or other diseases can result in the need to remove some or all of the colon. Most people recover well after this surgery, although they notice a change in bowel habits. A diet of soft foods is initially recommended to aid the healing process.

GALLBLADDER

The gallbladder sits under the liver on the upper-right side of the abdomen, just under the ribs. It stores something called bile. Bile is constantly produced by the liver to help break down fats, but when not needed in digestion, it is stored in the gallbladder.

When the intestines detect fats, a hormone is released causing the gallbladder to contract, forcing bile into the intestines to help digest fat. However, excess cholesterol in bile can form gallstones, which can block the tiny pipes that move bile around. When this happens, people may need their gallbladder removed. The surgery is known as (cholecystectomy. Every year, about 70,000 people have this procedure in the UK.

Many people have gallstones that don’t cause any symptoms, others are not so fortunate. In 2015, an Indian woman had 12,000 gallstones removed — a world record.

APPENDIX

The appendix is a small blind-ended wormlike structure at the junction of the large and the small bowel. Initially thought to be vestigial, it is now believed to be involved in being a “safe-house” for the good bacteria of the bowel, enabling them to repopulate when needed.

Due to the blind-ended nature of the appendix, when intestinal contents enter it, it can be difficult for them to escape and so it becomes inflamed. This is called appendicitis. In severe cases, the appendix needs to be surgically removed.

A word of warning though: just because you’ve had your appendix out, doesn’t mean it can’t come back and cause you pain again. There are some cases where the stump of the appendix might not be fully removed, and this can become inflamed again, causing “stumpitis”. People who have had their appendix removed notice no difference to their life.

KIDNEYS

Most people have two kidneys, but you can survive with just one — or even none (with the aid of dialysis). The role of the kidneys is to filter the blood to maintain water and electrolyte balance, as well as the acid-base balance. It does this by acting like a sieve, using a variety of processes to hold onto the useful things, such as proteins, cells and nutrients that the body needs. More importantly, it gets rid of many things we don’t need, letting them pass through the sieve to leave the kidneys as urine.There are many reasons people have to have a kidney — or both kidneys — removed: inherited conditions, damage from drugs and alcohol, or even infection. If a person has both kidneys fail, they are placed onto dialysis. This comes in two forms: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. The first uses a machine containing dextrose solution to clean the blood, the other uses a special catheter inserted into the abdomen to allow dextrose solution to be passed in and out manually. Both methods draw waste out of the body.

If a person is placed on dialysis, their life expectancy depends on many things, including the type of dialysis, sex, other diseases the person may have and their age. Recent research has shown someone placed on dialysis at age 20 can expect to live for 16-18 years, whereas someone in their 60s may only live for five years.

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Healthy Life

5 gross habits making you sick

5 Gross Habits Making You Sick

You need to stop taking your phone to the toilet, for starters. 

Photo: iStock

This article was originally published by The Sun and appears here with permission.

Everyone hates getting sick, but while most of us blame a sniffly colleague or that guy on the bus who didn’t cover his mouth when he coughed (gross!), the real culprit could be closer to home, The Sun reports.

“People think the toilet bowl and the floor are the dirtiest places around the house,” says microbiologist Professor Sally Bloomfield of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene.

“While that might be true, hopefully we’re not touching these with our hands,” she said.

“Instead, think about the places that harbour germs that we regularly come into contact with before we handle food or touch our mouth, eyes, nose and face.”

“The flu virus dies off within a minute of being outside a person, but norovirus can survive for hours, days and even weeks on a dry surface.”

So other than donning a haz-chem suit, how do you stop these bugs spreading?“The main thing is to practise regular handwashing and to keep critical surfaces, such as door handles and mobile phones, as clean as possible,” says Sally.

Here’s what else to watch out for…

MOBILE PHONE MICROBES

We’ve all done it — used our loo break to scroll through Insta.

“Touching your phone between using the toilet and washing your hands is a very bad idea,” says Dr Paul Matewele, microbiologist at London Metropolitan University.

“Toilet seats, handles, sinks and taps are covered in germs such as E. coli, which can cause urinary tract infections and intestinal illness, C. diff which can result in diarrhoea, and acinetobacter which can cause a contagious respiratory infection.”

According to Dr Matewele, phones are particularly dangerous because we carry them everywhere, touch them constantly and have them out on the table while we eat. Yuck.

STOP THE SPREAD

If you must take your phone into the ladies’, wash your hands thoroughly and give the phone a clean with an antibacterial wipe.

PETRI DISH PURSE

Thought the grossest things in your handbag were all those leaky pens and manky make-up brushes? Not so.

“Handbags, wallets, purses and tote bags often test positively for whole communities of germs, including norovirus, MRSA and E. coli,” says Paul.

“Bags come into regular contact with our hands, money and credit cards (which are notoriously germ-laden), plus people keep food in their bags, which leaves microscopic nutrients that bacteria can feed off.”

STOP THE SPREAD

Try to hang your handbag on a hook rather than placing it on the floor, especially in the toilet cubicle, and avoid placing it on surfaces you’ll be eating off.

“Vacuum the inside of your bag and then wipe down the outside once a month, and machine wash cloth tote bags weekly,” says cleaning expert Vicky Silverthorn.

RIDDLED REMOTES

It’s dropped on the floor, stuffed between sofa cushions and probably been in the dog’s mouth, so it’s no wonder a University of Virginia study of cold viruses on household surfaces showed the remote control was one of the most infested.Anything that people touch regularly is likely to have lots of germs on it,” explains Sally.

“That includes light switches, door knobs, salt and pepper shakers and yes, the TV remote.”

Dr Matewele says many remotes he’s swabbed have showed E. coli.

STOP THE SPREAD

“If you’re practising regular handwashing then touching a germy TV remote shouldn’t make you ill.

Hand-sanitiser is good if you’re travelling and have no access to soap and water, but it’s no replacement,” explains Professor Bloomfield.

“To be safe, when you’re doing your regular home cleaning routine give your remote a wipe too,” she advises.

FESTERING FOOTWEAR

If you’re not yet slipping off your shoes at the door, listen up!

A University of Houston study found that 39.7 per cent of shoes they tested were carrying C. diff — that’s the faecal bacteria that can cause everything from diarrhoea to a fatal infection.

“When people accidentally ingest C. diff they can get very sick,” explains Dr Matewele.

“If you have young children crawling around on the floor it’s even more important to not wear outdoor shoes inside the home.”

It’s also something to consider when packing shoes in your suitcase.

STOP THE SPREAD

“Try to place your shoes in cloth bags in your suitcase to prevent bacteria transferring on to your clothes,” says Silverthorn.

KITCHEN SPONGE GUNGE

Sponges are supposed to get rid of grime, but according to a study conducted by US health body NSF International, traces of coliform — bacteria that contain both salmonella and E. coli — were found in 75 per cent of the sponges they tested. Why so dirty?

“Sponges are the ideal breeding grounds for microbes because we supply them with a nourishing, warm, moist environment, along with nutritive material from food waste,” explains Paul.

“I regularly swab kitchen sponges and find that they are carrying salmonella, campylobacter, staphylococcus, E. coli and listeria, all of which can cause mild to severe gut and skin infections.

But the biggest worry of all of these? Campylobacter bacteria, which comes from poultry, and can cause paralysis in those with weakened immune systems.”

STOP THE SPREAD

Replace sponges every month and wash them at a high temperature in the dishwasher once a week, advises Silverthorn.

DIRTY WEEKEND

There’s no getting away from bug-inducing bacteria, even when you’re on holiday.

Drink up?

A study of US hotels by ABC News found in 11 out of 15, drinking glasses hadn’t been changed or had just been rinsed and wiped with a dirty cloth.

Lights out:

The main light switch and the switch on the bedside lamp are two of the germiest spots in a hotel room, a study by the University of Houston found.

Bed bugs:

Hotel bedspreads had some of the highest germ counts in a Leeds Beckett University study. One, from a five-star hotel, was so high it was “unmeasurable”.

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Healthy Life

35 changes to your body when you’re pregnant

35 Changes To Your Body When You’re Pregnant

Some of these you might not have heard of, but all of these are more common that you might have realised. 

Photo: iStock

Pregnancy – and becoming a mum – are such wonderful, life-changing experiences that the majority of women wouldn’t swap them for even the most glamorous of lifestyles. Which is just as well because, as miraculous and joyous as motherhood might be, there’s certainly nothing particularly glamorous about some of the body issues some of us experience along the way.

1. Sore breasts/breast changes

Usually one of the first signs that you’re pregnant are larger, tender or painful breasts. This can range from noticeably more uncomfortable to: “Don’t even think about touching them”! Your breasts also tend to stay bigger than their normal size, so start the search now for cute maternity bras that are bigger than your grannies.

2. Seesawing emotions

Expecting a baby can be like pre-menstrual tension on steroids. As pregnancy hormones flood your system you may cry at pictures of missing cats stuck to the lamp-post and sob because you broke your favourite teacup. Don’t worry if you feel messy and irrational – you are.

3. Morning sickness

Some women don’t get morning sickness (how unfair is that!) while others, despite using remedies, find themselves vomiting 24/7. Mostly though, you can expect to feel queasy at any time (a kind of 3-month hangover) until, for no apparent reason, it just stops.

4. Varicose veins

These are bulging veins in your legs or vulva caused by the extra weight and pressure of pregnancy and certain hormones. They can ache and are pretty unattractive. Sitting with your legs up, support stockings, and advice from your GP can help.

5. Skin conditions

Not all women glow during pregnancy; some get acne, rashes and marks or discolouration on their face, neck and breasts. If this happens to you, don’t panic – it will all get better after baby arrives.

6. Fluid retention

Swollen ankles, fingers and face are all signs that your body is holding excess water. Worse when the weather is hot, avoiding salt (sodium), sugar and drinking lots of water helps. Always get it checked out by a health professional

7. Increased urination leaking and incontinence

Sometimes it feels like baby is using your bladder as a trampoline. Don’t be shocked if you don’t quite get to the loo on time, especially in the last trimester – even if you are sprinting there 20 times an hour! You might not feel like it, but drink heaps and do those pelvic floor exercises!

8. Constipation

Even if you have never been blocked before, having difficulty doing a poo is really common in pregnancy, especially if you are taking iron supplements. The secret is to increase your fruit, veggie, fibre and water intake till things get back to normal.

9. Reflux/Indigestion

Heartburn and indigestion can be a real pain – literally. As baby gets bigger and your organs get squished up, you can feel pretty uncomfortable after eating. Smaller meals, more often, help. Check out some natural remedies like peppermint and chamomile, too.

10. Cravings

Not just a cover for a major chocolate addiction, cravings are strange and unusual desires for food and even bizarre things like coal and sand. Scientists don’t know why pregnant women crave, but if it’s not bad for you, indulge a little – you deserve it.

11. Stretch marks

These are red lines, usually on your belly, thighs and breasts, caused by your body expanding to an unfeasibly large size in a very short time. Some skin types are more prone. There’s no 100% reliable way to prevent them, but creams and diet may help. They do fade a great deal over time.

12. Changes to your sex life

Whether you feel more or less sexy (both are normal with pregnancy), you will have to modify your love life to make room for a big bump and a body that changes shape daily. Find what works for you and enjoy. It may be the last time you have uninterrupted sex until your child goes to high school.

13. Image/self esteem

It’s hard to feel gorgeous and good about yourself when you are waddling down the street, twice your normal size, and have just had your salary slashed into tiny pieces as you go on maternity leave. Remember, you are growing a unique human being – it doesn’t get more special than that. If you hit crisis, get some counselling; someone to remind you of what a fabulous job you are doing.

14. Contractions

These are the powerful waves you feel across your stomach, thighs, back and legs when your uterus is working to push out your baby. It’s called labour because it’s hard and it’s work! The intensity and frequency vary as labour progresses, but basically imagine your worst-ever period pain, then multiply it by a thousand and make it last 24 hours without a break. (Yes, it may hurt – a lot – but the end result is pretty spectacular.) Thankfully, there’s a range of pain relief choices available – everything from birthing pools to epidurals. Learn what your options are and write a birth plan – just remember to be flexible on the day.

15. Nausea and Vomiting

Throwing up during labour, especially in the transition phase, is quite common. Having some mints or ice to suck on and drinking small amounts of water or energy drinks can really help with the nausea and prevent dehydration.

16. Shaking and shivers

This is a natural reaction to the amount of pain, trauma and shock your body is experiencing. Labour is one of the most intense physical challenges you will ever go through – not to mention the overwhelming emotions that are attached to the arrival of your child. So don’t be at all surprised if you feel very shaky. Warm blankets or a bath can help.

17. Eposiotomy and tearing

The unkindest cut of all! At the end of labour, when your baby is being pushed out, you might sustain a tear to your vagina or perineum. Alternatively your midwife or obstetrician may cut the area with scissors (episiotomy) to prevent you tearing and to make the birth easier. Tell your midwife if you don’t want an episiotomy, and read up on exercises to stretch your perineum pre-labour.

18. Losing control of bladder and bowel

Many women dread peeing or poo-ing in front of others by accident during labour, but it does happen. The pressure exerted on your bladder and rectum is, after all, very intense. The good news is that the medical staff are used to it – and you’ll be so busy that you probably won’t even notice.

19. Soreness and stitches

If you feel like your bits have been hit by a truck, then you’ve probably just had a baby. Warm salt-baths, comfortable loose clothes and pain relief will make a big difference. It gets better – honest!

20. Going to the toilet

It has to happen sometime – but it can be a bit of an ordeal when your perineum feels like it’s been rubbed with sandpaper and your bottom is swollen and tender. Avoid constipation and drink lots of water to make it as easy as possible.

21. Bleeding and lochia

After the birth, bleeding lasts on average between 4 and 6 weeks – but it can be longer or shorter. Heavy bleeding, clots or smelly discharge are all signs that you need to slow down and speak to your midwife or nurse.

22. After-pains

These are painful contractions while breastfeeding and are caused by the hormone that makes the milk come down. This is stimulated by the baby sucking. More severe after second or subsequent births, they feel like mild contractions and can last a few days before settling.

23. Flabby tummy

It’s a bit disappointing to find that after your baby has popped out you still have a huge belly! If you can’t get into your jeans on day two – welcome to the world of real women. It can take up to a year to lose the weight, so take it slowly and set realistic goals. Just eat well and exercise.

24. Exhaustion

Feeling totally sleep-deprived can be one of the hardest parts of being a new mum or dad. You may wonder how you ever slept so much before. If you’re so tired you feel constantly emotional and down, ask for help.

25. Engored breasts

As your milk comes in around the third day after the birth, you may wake to find your breasts hot, rock hard and bigger than a Baywatch babe. Feeding, expressing, warm showers and cool cabbage leaves inside your bra (really!) will soothe and soften them.

26. Leaking breasts

Milk-filled breasts can leak at night, or even during the day if your baby cries, they are late for a feed, or if your breasts are particularly full. Express, use breast pads and become best friends with your washing machine.

27. Three day blues

Around the third day after you’ve given birth, your body starts to dump the pregnancy hormones it’s accumulated and floods your system with breastfeeding hormones. The result: a very emotional new mum. Throw in some tiredness, physical discomfort and feeling overwhelmed at being responsible for a new human being and you can feel like your world is in meltdown. Lots of TLC and reassurance helps.

28. Cracked nipples

A baby’s sucking can really rub sensitive nipples, leaving them blistered and cracked. There are many remedies including nipple guards and creams. Find what works for you.

29. Mastitis

This is when milk ducts in the breast get blocked and then infected. It is usually a sign that you are doing too much and need to have a break. Symptoms include fever, a red area on your breast, very tender breasts and nipples. Treatment includes rest, drinking lots of fluids, continuing to breastfeed and, occasionally, antibiotics.

30. Resuming sex

Excuse the pun, but there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to getting intimate after childbirth. Health professionals recommend waiting until around the six-week postnatal check to make sure everything is healed, but really it’s up to you. The tip is to take things slowly and gently and let desire lead the way. A couple of glasses of wine can help, too!

31. Changes down there

All women’s bodies change after pregnancy and birth, some claim for the better. If you feel there are some negative side effects from the experience, such as painful scars, haemorrhoids or uncomfortable sex, be sure to see your doctor.

32. Pelvic floor exercises

These help your vaginal muscles get back into shape and can help prevent urinary incontinence, a common after-effect of labour. Ask your midwife for instructions and learn how to squeeze the tone back into your pelvic area.

33. Periods returning

This can be a bit of a surprise after nearly a year without one. Normally women start to menstruate between 3–6 months after their baby is born, but this can be longer if you breastfeed. Remember you can get pregnant even if your periods have not come back yet, so check out your contraceptive options.

34. Adjusting to the demands of motherhood

Even if you ran a multinational company or were the head of a small country, becoming a mother can be a big shock. So if you still find yourself in your PJ’s and not having had a shower or breakfast at 5pm, just know that you are not alone. Motherhood is a lifelong learning curve and it’s going take a few months to get the basics under your belt. Relax, let go and enjoy the time with your newborn. You will get on top of the laundry one day.

35. Let’s do it again

It’s a daunting list. Funny how so many women decide to do it all again… and again… sometimes several more times! Which just goes to show that despite all those pesky side-effects, the experience of motherhood is worth more than anything else in the world. And that’s no secret!

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Healthy Life

Vulvar cancer is on the rise in Aussie women

Vulvar Cancer Is On The Rise In Aussie Women

Would you know the signs and symptoms?

Picture: iStock

Just when we all thought cancer couldn’t get any worse, we’ve been hit by another C-bomb.

According to a new study by Cancer Council NSW and UNSW Sydney, there has been a 54 per cent increase of vulvar cancer cases in women under 60 and a 20 per cent increase in women of all ages, over the past three decades.

Yep, another unfortunate medical condition to add to your growing list.

The study found that around 280 Australian women are newly diagnosed with vulvar cancer each year.

“Vulvar cancer is more common in women aged 60 and over, but we are now seeing increasing rates in women under 60,” says Professor Karen Canfell, Director of Research at Cancer Council NSW.

And the main reason for this rise? Exposure to human papillomavirus (aka HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.

While the number of vulvar cancer cases is expected to increase further in the future, Prof Canfell recommends parents should make sure their children have a HPV vaccination in their early teens to counteract their chance of developing it later on.

“It will protect against up to 40 per cent of vulvar cancers, 70 per cent of cervical cancers and up to 60 per cent of oropharyngeal cancers,” she says.

But while we all have a pretty good understanding of the more publicised types of cancer, how many actually know how to detect this gynaecological version?

The signs and symptoms you need to know

Unfortunately, symptoms of vulvar cancer in the early stages will remain unnoticeable. As the disease progresses, symptoms can include:

  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Infrequent bleeding or discharge from the vagina
  • An unusual lump or bump on the vulva that can become itchy or painful
  • Problems with bowel motions and passing urine

Are you at risk?

While ageing plays a large factor in increasing your chances of being diagnosed with vulvar cancer, other risk factors can include:

  • STIs
  • Never having children
  • Smoking
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Chronic vulvar itching
  • A weakened immune system

“We also encourage women to go see a doctor if they experience vulvar cancer symptoms, which can include itching, burning and soreness or pain in the vulva; a lump, sore, swelling or wart-like growth on the vulva; bleeding not related to your period; or hard or swollen lymph nodes in the groin area,” recommends Professor Canfell.

These findings come as thousands of women across Australia are hosting a Girls’ Night In, a Cancer Council initiative aimed at raising funds to support continued research into women’s cancers, but also to have conversations about ways to prevent cancer.

On The Project, the panel discuss if it would be a good idea to screen test for cancer. Courtesy: Network Ten

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