Expert advice for a healthy 2019
Paediatrics How important is it for children to get enough sunlight and exercise? • Getting outside is fundamentally good for everyone, not only physically, but it is also has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing and plays a significant role in a child’s development.
• Sunlight stimulates the brain to produce the mood-enhancing chemical, serotonin.
• Sunlight confers an array of natural health benefits, stimulating the production of a number of hormones essential for a healthy body and mind.
• Melatonin production is essential for the regulation of our circadian rhythms and has a powerful impact on our immune system. It is also a highly effective free radical scavenger and plays a crucial role in the maintenance of our metabolism and weight.
• Exposure to nature enhances children’s concentration, behaviour and self-discipline. Outdoor play assists children to develop their skills as good citizens as they learn about teamwork, moral reasoning, social interaction, conflict and negotiation. General Medicine How important is hand hygiene? Handwashing is extremely important in preventing the spread of germs. Washing your hands with soap removes germs, helping to prevent infections because:
• People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
• Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Under certain conditions, germs multiply in some types of foods or drinks.
• Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tables or toys, and then transferred to
another person’s hands. Handwashing education in the community:
• Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40%
• Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%
• Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57%
What kind of foods should we eat – and avoid – for a healthy heart? A healthy diet may help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It may also help to reduce your risk of developing some cancers, and help maintain a healthy weight. The dietary guidance to reduce your risk of heart disease is as follows:
• Vegetables, fruits and starchy foods should provide the bulk of most meals. The remainder should be made up of protein and dairy foods.
• Limit intake of saturated fat to less than 10 per cent of total fat intake (preferably in lean meat and low-fat dairy products)
• Replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat where possible.
• Eat at least five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
• Eat at least two servings of fish (preferably oily fish) per week.
• Regularly eat whole grains and nuts.
• Limit salt to less than six grams a day.
• Limit alcohol intake to less than 14 units per week. Avoid or reduce the following: • Processed meats or commercially produced foods (including ‘ready meals’) which tend to be high in salt and trans fatty acids.
• Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and processed cereals.
• Sugar-sweetened drinks.
• High-calorie but nutritionally poor snacks, such as sweets, cakes and crisps.
Why is exercise important at every age? The British Heart Foundation recommends adults undertake 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise every week to maintain a healthy heart and body. This should be a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
• In order to maintain the strength of your bones, muscles and joints, include muscle-strengthening activities, such as climbing stairs, walking uphill, lifting or carrying shopping, digging the garden, weight training, Pilates, yoga or similar resistance exercises.
• Ideally, the activities should also aim to improve your flexibility and balance.
• Each session should be a minimum of 8-10 exercises using the major muscle groups. Ideally, use some sort of resistance (such as a weight for arm exercises) and do 8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
• You can do the exercises one after another, or you can split a session up over a day in, say, bouts of 10 minutes.
is vitamin d deficiency a problem in here? How can we overcome this? Vitamin D is essential for our health and wellbeing. In the UAE, 90 per cent of people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
• In babies, deficiency can lead to cramps, seizures and breathing difficulties.
• Low Vitamin D in children can cause soft skull or leg bones, curved legs, bone and muscle pains, weakness, poor growth, tooth delay, repeated infections and even heart problems (rare).
• Adults may complain of tiredness and vague aches and pains; a severe deficiency will cause severe pain and weakness.
• Vitamin D deficiency can be treated using oral supplements and injections, and prevented by adequate exposure to sunlight for 30 minutes daily. Lighter skinned individuals need 15 minutes daily.
• Vitamin D can also be found in certain foods including oily fish (sardines, trout, tuna, salmon, mackerel), egg yolks, red meat, liver and almonds.