Myth-buster: To consume or avoid those late night meals

We are often told to avoid consuming a late night meal. Read on as Dr Katrina Gallagher clarifies a false myth.

Myth-buster: To consume or avoid those late night meals

Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors didn’t have the modern conveniences (grocery stores, refrigerators, or packaged foods) that we have today.  Different hypotheses exist as to how our ancestors ate, but one hypothesis is that they had to hunt their meat and gather their vegetables, which took a substantial amount of time.  They would snack on the fruits, nuts, and seeds they found along the way.  When evening fell, they would commune to cook and feast on the game hunted that day.  The largest meal was often times the last meal of the day.  They would go to bed with their tummies filled but yet they would wake up the next morning, energized and restored for the next round of hunting and gathering.
We have all heard that we shouldn’t eat within 3 hours of sleep, either because we will get fat or because we will get sick, as our bodies cannot digest while we sleep.  But we also heard not to swim (or exercise) after eating.  So which is: do we rest, or do we move?
Our bodies are controlled by 3 parts of the nervous system: sympathetic (“fight or flight”); parasympathetic (“rest and digest”); and enteric (digestion).  If we are being chased by a lion, the body is too occupied pumping blood to the legs and heart to focus much on digesting.  Nowadays, we aren’t being chased by lions, but by our boss or our spouse or by a deadline or a bill payment — we are constantly being chased, and therefore our digestion begins to suffer.  Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is a good read.
Next time you get a hankering for a chunk of cheese at 10 pm, go ahead and have a bite – but just a piece, not the whole wheel.
The article was originally posted on The Nurturing Vine and reprinted with the permission of the author. The article has been edited for length.
To view more of such content, watch this space. Follow us on Facebookand get notified whenever we update.

Diabetes: Living with it #Part2

Research shows that the developments in pharmaceuticals have made it possible for people with diabetes to lead normal lives and not be weighed down by the condition, as long as a healthy lifestyle is maintained.

Diabetes: Living with it #Part2

1. What are health supplements beneficial for diabetics?
There are a few supplements that can lower blood glucose levels however, they should not replace a prescribed diabetic treatment from your physician. Furthermore, lowering blood sugar levels too low (hypoglycaemia) can lead to fatigue, dizziness and even coma as well. So do discuss with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal remedies.
Some studies on chromium supplements did indicate better glucose control, but mainly with those with already elevated blood glucose levels. Magnesium and fibre-rich foods did show some promise in lowering the risk of developing diabetes.
However, there are conflicting research reports on the efficacy of alpha-lipoic acid, cinnamon, vitamin D, selenium, bitter melon or iron intake in helping with blood glucose levels.
2. What are some long term strategies for managing the condition so that it doesn’t impede quality of life?
In addition to diet, regular exercise, medication compliance and concomitant disease management, there are some essential checks that can keep complications at bay.
When not feeling well, do check your blood sugar more frequently and if it is above 13.0 mmol/l, a urine ketone test may be warranted to detect diabetic ketoacidosis early and seek treatment.
Diabetics are usually unaware of any deterioration till the condition becomes severe. Thus, we generally recommend the following. Daily foot examinations should be done to spot small wounds and ulcers which should be treated carefully and observed till recovery due to slow healing rates. An eye examination should also be carried out annually.
3. Diabetics occasionally feel that the condition excludes them from certain active lifestyle and sporting activities. Is this a necessary worry?
With diabetes, exercise is crucial! Not only will regular exercise results in better blood glucose control, it may even decrease or eliminate the need for DM medications. Diabetics just need to be more careful during exercise sessions.
In order to exercise safely, always check your blood glucose (BG) is above 4.0 mmol/dl before exercising and recheck again periodically especially if the exercise lasts a few hours. Know the symptoms of hypoglycaemia, commonly manifested as tremors, fatigue, dizziness, hunger or a general sense of anxiety. Do carry around fast-acting chewable glucose tablets just in case your blood sugar plummets too fast. Generally, the rule is to take 15g of sugar (3 – 4 sweets) then wait for 15 minutes before measuring blood glucose (BG) levels. If BG is still below 4.0, repeat and re-measure.
Patients with complications such as DM-related eye damage should avoid too strenuous exercises as it may rupture weakened blood vessels in the eye. Those with nerve damage should avoid too repetitive exercises to prevent sores in areas with less or no sensitivity to pain.
4. How can family members of diabetics help support the patient’s daily lifestyle to manage the condition?
Diabetes Mellitus can be a life-altering diagnosis, not just for the patient but their loved ones too. The best way to start the battle with diabetes is to know your enemy. Staying informed would allow you to make practical choices for the patient and help monitor for signs of complications or hypoglycaemia if present. This is especially important if the patient is old or very young in the family.
Patients generally will have to make several huge diet and lifestyle changes. As family members, you will have the option of pacing out and adopting these changes yourself to make it feel like everyone is involved in the new healthier foods and programmes. Exercise is also more fun as a group with sports like badminton, basketball or cycling together. Goal-setting and celebrations when blood glucose targets are achieved can help the transition too.
Lastly, emotional support from family members can be crucial for a diabetic. Diabetes is a life-long disease and the reality of taking medications for life or doing insulin jabs daily from now onwards can be devastating to a child or young adult. Being there for their jabs or when they just need a listening ear is what family is for in such situations. Don’t overwhelm diabetics with textbook advice. Listen and customise plans to what you and the patient think will work for them best or consult with a healthcare professional for more advice.
5. Can the condition be fully treated over time?
Type 1 diabetes is not reversible.
Type 2 diabetes reflects a state where there is insufficient insulin or the body’s cells are resistant to its effects. It is very rare to recover insulin function fully back to pre-diabetic levels however, there are cases where people have managed to control their blood sugar levels to a point where they are able to safely go off medications. In such instances, they still need to adhere strictly to their lifestyle changes. These would include regular exercise, diet changes, weight loss and achieving good control of other metabolic diseases if any.
6. What would be a recommended holistic plan in managing the condition?
The primary goal for DM patients in preventing progression of the disease would be to implement diet changes to minimize blood glucose fluctuations as well as maintaining a healthy body weight. Furthermore, diabetics should stop smoking and control other medical conditions such as` high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These changes can delay organ deterioration as a whole too.
Having Diabetes doesn’t mean you have to slow down!
To read the original article by Guardian, click here. Interested to explore the services that Guardian/MyDoc provide? Get started now. Alternatively, watch this space for more of such articles that matter.

What is sore eyes and why do they need to be cured?

‘Sore eyes’ is a collective term commonly used to describe conditions that affect the eyes. These conditions typically involve pain, irritation, inflammation or tiredness. The two most common eye problems that lead to sore eyes are conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome.

What is sore eyes and why do they need to be cured?
Conjunctivitis
This is the inflammation of the clear covering of the eyeball’s forepart. There are several types of conjunctivitis:
Allergic conjunctivitis (AC) – This is mainly caused by pollen, dust, animal dander, or smoke. AC normally presents itself as red watery eyes accompanied by eye itching.
The first step of AC treatment is to remove the offending substance. Artificial tears or eye lubricants can be used to relieve irritation, while an eye decongestant can be used to relieve the redness.
Eye drops containing phenylephrine are easily found in most pharmacies, while others containing naphazoline or tetrahydrozoline can only be obtained from pharmacists. Eye drops with the addition of anti-histamines (e.g. pheniramine maleate or antazoline) or a mast-cell stabiliser (e.g. sodium cromoglycate) could be used to relieve itching.
Viral conjunctivitis (VC) – This is the most common form of infectious conjunctivitis, and it usually appears after a recent cold, sore throat, or contact with someone who is infected. The eye appears pink, with watery discharge similar to that of AC. Sometimes a foreign object sensation in the eye can also be felt.
VC usually heals on its own within one to three weeks, so treatment goals are mainly symptomatic relief. VC can be managed in the same way as AC.
Bacterial conjunctivitis (BC) – Red eyes and the production of thick, sticky pus which cause the eyelids to be ‘glued’ together in the morning are the first signs of BC. A visit to a physician is usually warranted to get antibiotic eye drops for treatment. The use of an eye decongestant is not recommended in BC as it may mask the symptoms of the infection.
Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and they spread by hand-to-eye contact. One should wash his hands thoroughly and refrain from touching the non-infected eye after touching his eyes’ or nasal secretions. He should also avoid sharing towels or pillows and swimming in pools. Small children with conjunctivitis should be kept home to avoid spreading it in school. A cool compress can be applied to the eyes to relieve the local burning sensation and itching.
Fungal conjunctivitis – This is a rare but serious condition that should only be managed by a physician.
Dry eye syndrome
Dry eyes can be associated with ageing (especially in menopausal women), some disease states (e.g. Sjogren Syndrome), medication (e.g. anti-histamines and anti-depressants), or a combination of these factors. It can be worsened by environmental conditions such as a dry, dusty or windy environment, or air conditioning or heating systems that increase the evaporation of the tear film.
Staring at the television or computer for long hours without sufficient blinking may lead to insufficient tear production and dry eyes. Long-term contact lens wearers may also suffer from dry eyes.
People with dry eyes may experience a rough and gritty feeling or the sensation of a foreign object in the eye. Redness of the eye depends on the severity of the dry eyes.
Treating dry eyes
In most cases, correcting the underlying cause is the first line of treatment for dry eyes. The use of eye lubricants to alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling is the next step. Eye lubricants can come in the form of artificial tears and these usually only differ slightly in the formulation, pH levels, preservatives and a buffering agent.
Some eye lubricants come in a thick gel or ointment form. This type of lubricant is usually made of petrolatum and mineral oil. They are suitable for severe dry eyes as the mixture melts at body temperature to retain water in the eyes for a longer time. These are normally applied at night as it may cause blurring of vision if used in the day.
Do check with your healthcare professional should you have any doubts on managing your sore eyes.
To read the original article by Guardian, click here. Interested to explore the services that Guardian/MyDoc provide? Get started now. Alternatively, watch this space for more of such articles that matter.

Fighting cold effectively: Your A to Z – MyDoc

Is the constant weather change in Singapore taking a toll on your health? Find out the A to Z on fighting cold right here; what causes the common cold or flu, how to tell them apart, and ways to protect yourself against them.

Fighting cold effectively: Your A to Z – MyDoc

Sneezing, having a runny nose, and suffering from a sore throat are common symptoms of a cold or flu, and many of us have, unfortunately, experienced them before.
Cause of cold and flu
More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold. With no vaccine available for colds, our body has to learn to fight against these viruses. And when our body’s immune system fails to protect us, we catch a cold.
On the other hand, the flu is only caused by influenza virus types A, B and C, and flu vaccines are available to provide you with some level of protection against the virus.
Differentiating between a cold and flu
Both colds and flu present symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and cough, and laboratory tests may be required to determine if a person has the flu or a cold. However, if you look deeper into the symptoms, you will realise some differences between them.
In general, symptoms of the flu include a high-grade fever, body aches, fatigue and loss of appetite. These symptoms are intense with a sudden onset.
Conversely, colds are generally self-limiting and do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia and bacterial infection.
Treating colds & relieving symptoms
Though there are vaccines to prevent the flu, there is no cure for the common cold. That means, how well your body fights off the virus depends entirely on you!
Here are some ways to help your body get well faster:
  • Get plenty of rest, especially when you have a fever
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Drink lots of fluids, such as water and clear soups
  • Stop smoking if you’re a smoker, and avoid second-hand smoke
  • Use saline irrigation products to loosen mucus and moisten the skin of your nose
  • Consult a pharmacist for medication to relieve the symptoms of the common cold
You can also approach your pharmacist for advice on self-treatment for colds. After evaluating the severity of the condition and taking into account any drug allergies or medical conditions you have, your pharmacist may recommend non-prescription medicines.
These medicines include:
  • Antihistamines
    • Treats symptoms like sneezing, and runny and itchy nose
  • Decongestant drops or sprays
    • Alleviates nasal obstruction when used over a few days
  • Lozenges and sprays
    • Provides pain relief for a sore throat and reduces inflammation
  • Cough syrups (e.g. anti-tussive and mucolytics)
    • Relieves dry, itchy cough or a phlegmy cough
  • Paracetamol
    • Treats fever and body aches
When to consult a doctor
You should consider seeing a doctor if the cold lasts for more than 10 days. You should also see a doctor is you experience any of the following.
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Unusual symptoms such as stiff neck or vomiting
  • Have a temperature higher than 38.3°C
  • Produce green or bloody mucus
  • Feel pain and pressure in the face or around eyes
Fighting cold: How to protect yourself
Reduce your risk of catching a cold or the flu by washing your hands frequently to stop the spread of germs! Eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep also play an important part in boosting your immune system.
And if you can’t wait to avoid the undesirable flu, get vaccinated today! The influenza vaccine exposes your immune system to the flu virus so that your body will build up antibodies to protect you from getting the flu.
Do note that people who have received flu vaccination may still get the flu, but will usually suffer milder symptoms compared to those who have not been vaccinated.
To read the original article by Guardian, click here. Interested to explore the services that Guardian/MyDoc provide? Get started now. Alternatively, watch this space for more of such articles that matter.

Health risks at work and how to deal with them

An occupational hazard is something unpleasant that one may experience as a result of doing his job. Here are common occupational health hazards faced by office workers and ways to deal with them.

Health risks at work and how to deal with them

1. Musculoskeletal disorders
Back pain, stiff neck and tense shoulders are among the most popular complaints of white collar workers. These problems can result from working on computers and sitting for long hours. To prevent these muscle-related injuries, it is most important to maintain a proper posture:
  • Rest both feet flat on the floor.
  • Adjust the height of the chair so that you can type on your keyboard with your arms straight and parallel to the floor.
  • Push your hips as far back as they can go in the chair.
  • Support your back with either a small pillow or backrest.
  • Position the computer screen or any reading materials at eye level to avoid bending and straining the neck.
Secondly, take small breaks during your work to release muscle tension even if your posture is perfectly correct since the sustained positioning of muscle causes tension and fatigue. It is ideal to stand up and walk around for at least five minutes for every hour of sitting and do simple stretches such as placing your hands on your lower back and stretching backwards.
Lastly, you should stay active and engage in physical activities regularly. Repeat the stretching exercises more thoroughly and massage problem areas to relieve the tension build-up. If you experience persistent pain, consult your healthcare professionals, who may prescribe painkillers to temporarily relieve the pain.
2. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)
CVS is a group of vision-related problems, such as eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes or headaches, resulting from prolonged use of computers or digital devices. Other factors that cause CVS include poor lighting, poor sitting posture, improper viewing distance, glare from the digital screen, or uncorrected eye conditions.
Below are some tips to prevent CVS:
  • Minimise your use of computers or any digital devices.
  • Every 20 minutes, shift your focus away from the computer to a distant object for at least 20 seconds.
  • Maintain a proper sitting posture (as described above) while keeping the screen one arm’s length away from your eyes.
  • Position the screen to avoid glare from artificial light sources or sunlight, or use an anti-glare filter on the screen.
  • Blink regularly to stimulate tear production or apply lubricating eye drops to prevent dry eyes.
  • Get your eyes checked and correct any abnormality since uncorrected eye conditions can aggravate CVS.
  • Do seek advice from your pharmacist to find out which lubricating or relieving eye drops are the most suitable for you.
3. Stress
Some stress is undeniably necessary for one to perform and excel. However, excessive stress will take a toll on your health, leading to irritability, difficulty focusing, tiredness or insomnia. Although stress is unavoidable, these tips may help you to manage and alleviate work-related stress:
  • Track your sources of stress to pre-plan your response for the next encounter.
  • Develop a healthy response to stress, such as exercising, pursuing a hobby or favourite pastime, spending time with your beloved ones, or getting quality sleep.
  • Establish boundaries and take time to recharge so that your work-related stress does not interfere with your personal life.
  • Learn how to relax through meditation, deep breathing or getting support from your friends and family members.
Seek professional advice if you feel stressed all the time, or to the extent that it markedly affects your quality of life – for example, if you experience negative effects on your personality, mood or sleeping patterns.
To read the original article by Guardian, click here. Interested to explore the services that Guardian/MyDoc provide? Get started now. Alternatively, watch this space for more of such articles that matter.