Dr Sarah Jarvis

My Weekly’s favourite GP from TV and ra­dio writes for you

My Weekly - - Contents - DR SARAHJARVIS

As a doc­tor, much of my job is pre­scrib­ing tablets. Of­ten they are needed, but I’d rather not dole them out when they aren’t. So many con­di­tions are pre­ventable, and I’d much rather work with my pa­tients to help them make lifestyle changes to keep them healthy.

So what can you do this New Year to make your doc­tor, and your body, happy? Know your num­bers. If you haven’t had your blood pres­sure checked for 5 years, you could be at risk of a heart at­tack or stroke. If you have a home mon­i­tor, great – but be aware it’s av­er­ages that count. The odd high read­ing (over 135/85 at home) is fine, but if it stays that high, see your GP. Phar­macy friendly. GPs are ad­vised not to pre­scribe medicines rou­tinely avail­able from phar­ma­cists. These

DO YOU MAKE A POINT OF WIND­ING DOWN? MORE AND MORE PEO­PLE ARE TURN­ING TO MIND­FUL­NESS, YOGA OR RE­LAX­ATION EX­ER­CISES – THEY RE­ALLY WORK!

in­clude sim­ple pain-killers and anti-in­flam­ma­tory gels, cough and cold mix­tures, some eye drops, omega-3 fish oils and home­o­pathic treat­ments. So don’t spend hours in the wait­ing room to be told to see your phar­ma­cist in­stead! They’re ex­perts in medicines and will be happy to ad­vise on many mi­nor ail­ments. Say no to salt. On av­er­age, we eat a third more salt than we should. Pub­lic Health Eng­land says if we all cut salt by 1 gram a day, we could save over 4,000 early deaths a year. The ma­jor­ity of our salt comes from hid­den sources in pre-pre­pared foods, and cook­ing from scratch helps you con­trol your in­take. Cut down slowly; your taste­buds will change in weeks. If you do want salt flavour, Lo-Salt® make a re­duced sodium al­ter­na­tive (it’s the sodium that raises blood pres­sure).

Stub it out. We’ve done so well – in 1974, al­most half of UK adults smoked. To­day, it’s 1 in 6. It’s never too late for your health to quit; the NHS is there to help. Be al­co­hol aware. As well as help­ing your liver, keep­ing al­co­hol in­take down cuts your risk of can­cer, de­men­tia and de­pres­sion. The Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer rec­om­mends stick­ing be­low 14 units a week for men and women, over sev­eral days with a few al­co­hol-free days a week. A pint of nor­mal strength beer, a 175ml glass of wine or a dou­ble pub mea­sure of spirit all have 2 units. Say yes to screen­ing. The NHS of­fers screen­ing for three main rea­sons: ■ To de­tect con­di­tions early, so they’re more treat­able – like bowel and breast can­cer ■ To pick up risk fac­tors such as ab­dom­i­nal aor­tic aneurysm (swelling of the largest blood ves­sel in the body), high blood pres­sure or high choles­terol, so they can be treated be­fore they cause catas­tro­phe ■ To pre­vent can­cer. Cer­vi­cal and bowel scope screen­ing let doc­tors treat po­ten­tially can­cer­ous changes be­fore “full” can­cer de­vel­ops. Yet half of peo­ple in­vited for bowel screen­ing don’t take up the in­vi­ta­tion and cer­vi­cal screen­ing rates con­tinue to fall. If in doubt, please speak to your doc­tor rather than ig­nore the in­vi­ta­tion – it may save your life! Cut (re­fined) carbs. All carbs make your blood sugar rise, both sug­ary and starchy (bread, flour, pasta, pota­toes etc). New stud­ies show sug­ary drinks may be par­tic­u­larly harm­ful. Fo­cus on whole­grain al­ter­na­tives, in­clud­ing beans, pulses and lentils. Veg out. I spend a lot of time telling peo­ple what they shouldn’t do. But here’s some­thing I’m happy for you to do – eat veg and fruit! Fresh, frozen, canned – it all counts. Leaf through My Weekly for new recipes. Next week: Are You Ever Too Old For A Smear Test?

BE­ING MORE PHYS­I­CALLY AC­TIVE CAN STRENGTHEN BONES AND CUT FALLS, HEART DIS­EASE AND EVEN DE­PRES­SION. STEP OUT FOR HEALTH. IN 1974, AL­MOST HALF OF UK ADULTS SMOKED. TO­DAY, IT’S 1 IN 6’’

Make your doc­tor happy!

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