Mens Wellbeing Support
Spanner in the Works is a men’s health promotion program. For more details about these and other special days check out the “Spanner in the Works” website. The program was originally designed by the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA). Healthy Male have joined forces with AMSA to redevelop the program in 2019. The kit can be used as a comprehensive package or in smaller segments, tailored to your needs.
General News Items
22nd Feb 2019 – Eye Care – David Brand. Several years ago David discovered that he had Fuchs Dystrophy, which is an eye disease caused by losing control of the volume of fluid in the cornea. In David’s case, about 60-70 cells at the back of the cornea degenerated so that they could no longer pump water out of his eyes. The cells do not repair themselves and David’s had deteriorated to the point where he needed a cornea transplant to retain his sight. David was conscious while his cornea was removed and replaced by a healthy one. He said it appeared as though he was looking at a series of red and green stars. The stitches in the cornea were to remain for one year but it turned out that the eye surgeon decided not to remove them until two years after the operation. The fine lines in the photo below show how neat the stitches were. Special eye drops were required to prevent the new cornea being rejected. David suggested that everyone should have a full eye examination that checks out all aspects of the structure of the eye to ensure that any problems are identified in time to prevent them becoming serious enough to require major eye surgery.
8th Mar 2019 – Rex Wiseman described his experiences in a hyperbaric chamber to treat cancer. The treatment involves 2 hours per day in the chamber with up to 9 others. The chamber is pressurised to the equivalent of 2½ atmospheres (like 14 metres under water) and pure oxygen is pumped in for an hour. The treatment is an attempt to avoid radiation therapy, which is a last choice because of the potentially serious complications.
28th Sep 2018 – Shingles Vaccinations – Bob Mann advised us that Shingles can be quite debilitating and we should consider getting a vaccination. For those over 70 it is free and for others its may cost around $170 but is worth it.
6th Aug 2018 More on Defibrillators – Previously we watched a video demonstrating CPR and how to use an AED (defibrillator). At the time someone asked if there is an app that shows the location of AEDs in Canberra. Paul McCarthy searched but didn’t find anything satisfactory (He found some but they showed only a couple of AEDs in Belconnen, which he knew was not correct). Today he stumbled on the following site that shows quite a few AED locations around Canberra. You can set it up in an android phone as a “Favourite” in your browser and it looks like it can also be downloaded into an iPhone as an Android app. 14th Jun 2019 – Bruce McAslan’s Talk and Demonstration about CPR and Using a Defibrillator
8th Feb 2017 – Food Poisoning Issues – As a consequence of getting food poisoning & its extreme debilitating impact I found an article by a lawyer Bill Marler. He’s the managing partner of Marler Clark, dubbed ‘The Food Safety Law Firm’, & has won more than $600 million in compensation claims for his clients since 1998. Read here “A food poisoning expert reveals the six foods he never eats“. Its advice is worth thinking about
10 June 2016 – Erica from Arthritis ACT spoke to us about Arthritis & the various forms of Osteoperosis. Go to Arthritis ACT for a wealth of information on these debilitating problems. Key items from Erica’s presentation
Support Sites for Men
EveryMan (was Canberra Men’s Centre) in the Griffin Building, 20 Genge Street in Civic serves as a single point of contact for many mens issues. Tel 6230 6999. Counsellor Ralph Southwell from here was also involved with the establishment of Melba Shed in 2008.
Canberra Emergency Accommodation Service (CEAS) which offers counselling and advice on where accommodation can be provided in the ACT and region. Contact CEAS on 6257 2333
Prostate Cancer Support Group – ACT Region Inc The group started in 1997 and comprises men who are survivors of prostate cancer and their partners. While members of the group do not provide medical advice they can help the newly diagnosed man, his partner and those concerned for his welfare to understand the treatment options available and how these options can be accessed. They can also provide perspectives on what may lie ahead after treatment has been undertaken. Views and information from our members can be obtained through attendance at one of our monthly meetings or by contacting individual members.
Informal monthly meetings at which about 25 to 30 people attend are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month except in December. Membership is free and open to all. At meetings the exchange of information and provision of advice and support occurs through presentations, discussions and networking. In the ACT and southern NSW region the group is active in promoting awareness about detection and treatment of prostate cancer. This is achieved through a range of activities including addresses to work groups and associations, information stalls at community and other events and advocacy on behalf of those affected by this highly prevalent disease.
3rd Oct 2014 – A member (Doug) advised us of his prostrate experiences where he used a urologist in Melbourne Tony Costello who uses the robotic method for prostate removal. He estimated with accommodation and travel costs to Melbourne his gross costs were around $18K and his net costs after rebates about $14-15K. Ouch! Still cheaper than $20K plus estimated by some others
Prostmate – Doug Crawford provided this link to Prostmate. They provide online advice and support about prostate issues. To get support you need to sign up but its free. This then allows you to connect and talk to professional nurses about prostate problems. The site is provided by Australian Prostate Cancer Research. Urologist Professor Tony Costello at the Royal Melbourne Hospital is involved in this site and an associated Health Clinic for Men
The Driving, Ageing, Safety and Health (DASH) project is an NHMRC funded project. The project evaluates screening approaches & 600 older drivers will be followed for 2 years to evaluate how well a laboratory assessment & an on-road test predicts driving outcomes. Findings from this research project will enable health professionals & licensing authorities to assist in their decision- making regarding the fitness to drive of older adults. If you are interested in participating in this study & 1). Are aged 75 years or over; 2). Hold a current driver‟s license; 3). Are a resident of the ACT or surrounding NSW regions; 4). Have no known diagnosis of dementia.
Please contact DASH on email@example.com or on 61251457 / 61251456 to express interest. Brian Wells gave a short talk on losing a driver License as recently some members have had to stop driving. Brian is currently participating in DASH
This is a way to help you think about, plan, talk about and share your thoughts and wishes about your future health care.
BeMyVoice web site was developed by Medicare Local (ACT). It provides material to help you think about, plan, discuss your thoughts and wishes about your future health care. Having made our Wills and established Powers of Attorney Jim thought he had all bases covered, but this was not so.
Advance Care Planning gives you a voice and a choice in future decision making if there comes a time when you are unable to make decisions about your care.
An Advance Care Plan in the ACT consists of:
- an ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’ – a legal document to nominate a substitute decision maker (attorney).
- a ‘Statement of Choices’ – a guidance document that covers a person’s wishes and choices around health care.
- an optional ‘Health Direction’ – a witnessed legal document that gives competent adults the legal right to refuse or withhold medical treatment.
Forms covering these plans can be found on the Advance Care Planning ACT site
Each State and Territory have their own legislation on Advance Care Planning. Advancecareplanning.org.au includes information and forms for each State and Territory in Australia.
Whilst we were supporting John Arundel in hospital, Jim Grenfell provided the following:
- the link to Belconnen Community Service transport & Bus service. It’s a one on one transport service (costs used to be $5 per day which cover forward and return trips … that’s $2.50 one way for the non-accountant) – the Community Bus is a door-stop service, a gold coin donation
- Red Cross Community Care programs (including Meals on Wheels, Telecross, Home Visitor programs etc.)
Technical Aid to the Disabled ACT (TADACT) Many of our guys have some form of disability. This organisation provides all sort of assistance in the ACT
Mental Health Support
Jim also provided this information which wasn’t known
The Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT) provides a 24-hour, seven day a week service used for assessment and treatment of mentally ill people in crisis situations. Call the CATT Mental Health Triage Service on 1800 629 354 (24 hour service) or (02) 6205 1065.
The Mental Health ACT Services Directory is your guide to the services available at Belconnen Community Health Centre.
ADACAS (ACT, Disability, Aged and Carers Advocacy Service) They provides advocacy to people who have disabilities, are older and fragile and people who live with a mental illness or disorder. The advocate can assist in resolving complaints against service providers and government agencies that provide services to the public. Phone 6242 5060 or email. The ADACAS office is at: Suite 207, Block C, Canberra Technology Park, Phillip Avenue, Watson
The MoodGym training program Mark III – a self help site established by the School of Psychology at ANU. MoodGym an innovative, interactive web program designed to prevent depression. The site also provides a link to eCouch for people in need of more immediate assistance.
E-Couch – an online ANU self help service by the same people at ANU who produced MoodGym. e-couch is a self-help interactive program with modules for depression, generalised anxiety & worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss & grief
Kellie Toohey Gave a Talk on How Exercise Can Assist Cancer Patients With Recovery – 28th July 2017
Kellie has visited the Shed several times most notably on Feb 26th 2016 when she and several students talked about their work at UC. Kellie’s talk was officially titled “Exercise: The effects on Health Outcomes and CVD risk in Cancer Survivors”
The following information is from Shed Newsletter #388 dated 4th Aug 2017
Kellie is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Canberra. She is also studying the final year of a doctorate, and so over the past few years has been heavily involved in research on the effects of exercise on cancer sufferers.
Kellie was introduced by Don Gruber. Don, who is suffering from cancer, has been undergoing exercises under Kellie’s supervision, is an enthusiastic admirer of her skills and empathy.
Kellie began by explaining that she would speak on several topics: The University of Canberra; Cancer and exercise; Exercise recommendations; and Time efficient exercise protocols in improving the health of cancer survivors.
1. University of Canberra
Kellie’s enthusiasm about her university has no limit. She advised that the University of Canberra is regarded as being in the top 100 young universities in the world, that it has a 90% graduate employment record, and that its graduates have above-average starting salaries.
The university has a strong health focus. It already has excellent allied health-care training facilities in a well-appointed health ‘hub’. However, the university’s almost completed hospital will greatly increase the facilities. Included in the hospital are rehabilitation, aged car, and child care centres; residential facilities might also be built.
2. Cancer and the Benefits of Exercise
Kellie displayed a table showing the frequency of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia in 2016. The total diagnosed was 130,466. The present survival rate after 5 years is about 80%.
Of the cancer patients diagnosed over the past five years, approximately 600,000 are still alive and require medical treatment.
Many cancer patients also suffer from other diseases (comorbidities). In a Year 2000 survey, 1823 persons 58% self-identified as having at least one other disease.
Treatment of patients has side effects. CV fitness, muscle mass, and quality of life all fall, and depressive symptoms, fatigue (often for years) all rise.
(A member of the audience asked ‘How do we know when we are depressed?’ Kellie referred to such things as sadness, not getting pleasure out of the things we do, anxiety, and emotional stress. However, the important factor is the length of time we get such feelings; it is normal to feel down for short periods of time, but if such feelings last for weeks then depression probably exists.)
Exercise helps to overcome these problems, especially as there is lessening of the deconditioning caused by sedentary behaviour. Trials (including the voluntary running of mice) show that exercise can reduce tumour growth by 60% to 70%. However, more research is needed; that research needs to look at how much exercise and what types of exercise are optimal.
Potential exercise effects on tumour growth include:
- Blood flow – chemo drugs can get into the tumour more efficiently;
- Muscles produce chemicals that destroy tumour cells;
- Natural killer cells (NKC) become more active; and
- Adrenalin and IL6 rise. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine. In humans, it is encoded by the IL6 gene.)
Unfortunately, structured exercise is not yet commonly prescribed.
3. Exercise Recommendations
The Cancer Council of Australia recommends at least 20 minutes of moderate activity per day. There is a link at the bottom of this article to Cancer Council recommended exercises.
Medicine Australia recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or an equivalent amount of high intensity exercise and two to three sessions of resistance based exercises.
A general rule is that more is usually better than less.
Details of a study published in October 2016 “A pilot study examining the effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular risk factors in cancer survivors”
From ABC Radio Canberra Fri 28th Jul 2017 a 16min audio podcast “High intensity exercise, working up a sweat, and chemotherapy may seem like an odd combination, but what began as a University of Canberra project has turned into an on-going exercise program to help people with cancer”
“Exercise for People Living With Cancer” a 56 page pdf document developed by the Cancer Council of NSW with input provided by Kellie Toohey
Pain Relief Support
TENS machines can provide great pain relief and assist in recovery from muscular and related injuries. Information on TENS is available on Wikipedia
Greg has used the Sportsmed Pro TENS device and found it helpful with healing muscular problems including tennis elbow and dmaged shoulder and arm from falling off a bike.This is made by Bio Electronics (now called ActivLife) who are makers of the ActivBody, SportsMed and SportsMed PRO line of products designed to help relieve muscle pain by generating electrical pulses that go through the body and help create enhanced blood flow in the relevant parts of the body. How does it work.? Well Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (or TENS) is the stimulation of your nerves via a tiny electrical current. This electrical current is not painful in any way and provides just enough external stimulation to trigger the release of your body’s natural pain relief hormones, βeta-endorphins
Special Pain Relief Package – Shed member Ted Kell is the Canberra distributor for Hidow and has offerings of TENS machines called the ‘Pain Pod’ at a special price for Shed Members. Contact Ted directly on 0438 481 350 or email
Other Support Services
ACT Seniors Information Online can help if you are lost in maze of things
TravelScoot Max told us about this small Lithium Ion powerd scooter of about 16KG that can fold up and be put in a car boot and costs about $2,500.
A local supplier of Scooters is Scooters Australia Phone 6288 3538
Treatment of Burns This is more accurate than some of the internet wives tales sent around. If you want more, seek medical advice, or see NHS UK or Red X UK video or Royal Children Hospital Melb treatment of burns
Bowel Screening Kits – These can be arranged through Rotary – contact Ron Thomson 6258 4699
1st June 2018 – Erik Boddeus, the Executive Manager of Retirement Living at Goodwin Aged Care Services presented about the attributes of Retirement Villages versus Residential Aged Care Facilities
He was also assisted by Liz Ley, Independent Living Unit Sales Officer & Laura Reading, Marketing Coordinator
Erik provide a very informative presentation on the issues associated with considering whether or not to move into a retirement village. He discussed the difference between a retirement village which is independent living in a residential community and residential aged care which is more akin to a nursing home where a person is unable to look after themselves and requires a level of care.
The discussion then moved onto why people choose to move from their current home to a retirement village. This choice is associated with current maintenance issues, a desire to downsize, a need to address social isolation or loneliness, a feeling of reduced independence, worries about security or even health issues requiring some external support or care. Organisations like Goodwin can provide more appropriate and flexible accommodation, facilities and services such as residential maintenance and secure parking.
Facilities often include a club house, library, business centre, TV lounges, residents’ kitchen, landscaped gardens, BBQs, gyms and even a Mens’ Shed. Services available to residents can include 24/7 emergency call systems, on-site staff, maintenance services, gardeners, telephone and internet services, activities , entertainment and a number of care options.
Care options include providing extra assistance to keep residents safe, comfortable and well in their own homes. A recent study claims that each additional hour of community care older adults receive per week is associated with a six per cent lower risk of entry into permanent residential care.
Erik then talked about the costs of moving to a residential village. These costs include an ingoing contribution, a monthly maintenance fee and a departure fee. There are many ways these fees can be organised to better suit the resident and Liz spoke about some of the options.
More than 95% of residents living in a retirement community say that their current lifestyle meets or exceeds their expectations and most regret that they didn’t make the move 10 years earlier. Indeed, the majority of residents living in a retirement community are healthier and live longer than their peers.
If interested, then consider your options, talk to the retirement village, talk to existing residents, seek independent legal and financial advice and make the move!
Thanks to Erik, Liz and Laura for a informative presentation on independent retirement living.
11th May 2018 – Ian Peters from Diabetes Australia NSW & ACT talked about Diabetes & the massive impact it is having on Australians health
Ian commenced his presentation with a number of quite alarming statistics about diabetes in Australia:
- Diabetes is Australia’s worst chronic disease with over 1.4 million people affected
- 22,000 Canberrans are affected – a number that is rising at 10-15% per annum
- 50% of patients (excluding maternity patients) in Canberra’s hospitals have conditions relating to diabetes
- It is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults
- It is a leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis
- It increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times
- It is a major cause of limb amputations
- It affects mental health as well as physical health.
- Depression, anxiety and distress occur in more than 30% of all people with diabetes
- Excessive sugar intake, excessive weight and unhealthy diet are the primary causes of diabetes.
When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications.
For our bodies to work properly we need to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin, produced in the pancreas, is essential for this conversion. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body. When people with diabetes eat glucose, which is in foods such as breads, cereals, fruit and starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yoghurt and sweets, it can’t be converted into energy.
Instead of being turned into energy the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. After eating, the glucose is carried around your body in your blood. Your blood glucose level is called glycaemia. Blood glucose levels can be monitored and managed through self-care and treatment.
Three things to know about diabetes:
- It is not one condition – there are three main types of diabetes: Type 1 (10%), Type 2 (85%) and Gestational diabetes (5%)
- All types of diabetes are complex and require daily care and management
- Diabetes does not discriminate, anyone can develop diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease which completely stops the pancreas producing insulin hence requiring the use of artificial insulin. It cannot be cured.
Type 2 diabetes occurs if the pancreas is slightly damaged. It can usually be controlled through diet, exercise and weight control.
Gestational diabetes is increasing, possibly due to women having children later in life and increasing weight over time of the population. It usually passes after the baby is born.
People with diabetes need to keep close control over their glucose readings. A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test which reflects your average blood glucose level over the past 10-12 weeks is essential. For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c level is between 4% and 5.6%. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% mean you have a higher chance of getting diabetes. Levels of 6.5% or higher mean you have diabetes.
Ian handed out numerous NDSS Information Fact Sheets. These can all be accessed by clicking on this link. Diabetes Australia also run a range of information session for people wanting to learn more.
2014 12 05 – Margo Saunders, an independent health researcher presented a talk titled: ‘Here for a good time, not a long time – the challenges of preventive health for men’. It focused on the fact that men are less engaged than women in preventive health, and consequently suffer disproportionally from preventable diseases and conditions. So, here is Margo’s key message:
- Australian men are suffering and dying unnecessarily from diseases and conditions that are largely preventable;
- Men tend to take preventive maintenance seriously when it comes to their cars, their motorbikes and their workshop and garden tools, but not when it comes to their own body
There are a lot of theories about this; and if men are going to stand the best chance of living healthy and fulfilling lives, then we all need to do a much better job of understanding and bridging that gap between ‘men’ and ‘health’. It’s this last bit that’s really important: we need to know what will help men enjoy achieve and maintain an active, fulfilling life for as long as possible. One thing we can generalise about, though – because there is evidence which bears this out – is that, men’s attitudes towards health and health services generally tend to be quite different to those of women. There is also evidence, from Australia and other countries around the world, that one of the most powerful influences on how a man thinks and acts about health and illness is his sense of male identity – his concept of what it means ‘to be a man’. Here are a few interesting statistics:
- Men’s life expectancy worldwide is shorter than women’s by nearly 6 years. The gap has actually been widening, to men’s disadvantage.
- Life expectancy for Australian men is 80.5 years, which is 4.1 years less than for Australian women (84.6 years).
- Only three other countries – Iceland, Japan and Hong Kong – have higher life expectancies for men.
- More men than women die in every age group except the over-65s – and that is only because so many men die before they reach that age.
What health problems do men experience?
- Some health problems affect men more severely than women, or in different ways. For example:
- Men and women can experience different symptoms of heart disease and heart attack.
- Men are more likely than women to have certain conditions, such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease
- Men are at higher risk than women for type 2 diabetes, and diabetes occurs at lower levels of obesity in men than in women.
- Hip fractures are more dangerous for men: men who live at home are twice as likely as women to die within a year of having a hip fracture.
- Men with hip fractures are also more likely than women to have more complications and have a longer stay in hospital. The doctors at Royal Adelaide Hospital who presented these findings believe that these men probably have underlying health issues which hadn’t not come to light before they were injured.
- Top 5 causes of death for Australian males (2011):
- coronary heart disease
- lung cancer
- cerebrovascular disease (eg, stroke)
- prostate cancer
- chronic lower respiratory disease
- There are also differences between men and women in relation to some cancers.
- By the age of 75, 44% of Australian men, compared to 30% of Australian women, will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.
- Men are more likely than women to develop, and to die from several different cancers. These include cancer of the pancreas, stomach, lung, skin and bowel.
- Men are less likely than women to take personal preventive action and less likely to have their cancers detected early.
- For example, men’s higher rates of skin cancer have been linked to, inadequate use of protective clothing and sunscreen, and waiting too long to get a suspicious spot checked out.
- Also, in the ACT and in every other state and territory, fewer men than women complete the screening test that is sent out as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. This is a free test for a very serious disease that affects more than twice as many middle-aged men as women. Concerns were raised in the ACT when breast cancer screening rates dropped to about 52% of eligible women – and yet the proportion of eligible men who take up the offer of free bowel cancer screening is about 36%.
- Australian statistics show that men:
- visit the doctor less often than women do;
- have shorter visits; and
- tend to go only when their condition is in its later stages.
- Most men over the age of 40 have seen a doctor in the past year – but many men take pride in not having gone to the doctor in 10 years.
- Although many people think of ‘men’s health’ issues as being related to the specifics of the male anatomy, these are actually no more than about 5% of all problems that men see GPs about.
- Men make greater use than women do of community and residential mental health services and hospital emergency departments. However, only about 35% of men with mental health problems seek help for those problems.
Talk by David Wild from the Cancer Council on Fri 10th Aug 2012 David is the SunSmart Services Coordinator with the Cancer Council ACT. David gave an illuminating talk about protecting ourselves from the effects of UV radiation Most of what he talked about is on their web here. He also handed out a couple of key brochures which you can view and/or download ie: Understanding Skin Cancer – How Much Sun Is Enough ? More information from David’s talk as Geoff documented in Newsletter #144 is here
AMSA Newsletter item says “A SKIN cancer awareness video aimed at older men has proved more effective than written information in prompting them to visit their GP, a study shows“ RESEARCHERS from the Qld Uni of Technology taught 900 Qld men, aged around 50 years, how to check for skin cancers, with half given a DVD and the others receiving only written information. Overall, 69 skin cancers were diagnosed through clinical skin examinations during the seven-month study period, with a higher proportion detected among the group receiving the video intervention. “We found that the men receiving the video intervention once they visited a doctor were more likely to receive a whole-body skin check than those receiving only written information,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Monika Janda.The video, featuring Australian cricketer Ian Healy, guides men through the self-examination process and urges them to ask their doctor for a clinical skin examination. Every year, in Australia skin cancers account for around 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers. Between 95 per cent and 99 per cent of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. How-to skin check video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtwTMAOV4n4
- Don’t smoke – ever!
- Make sure you have a good healthy breakfast
- Exercise moderately – twice a week is enough
- Maintain normal weight
- Drink moderately – maximum 4 standards drink for men, 3 for women per day
- Get 8 hours sleep a day
- Exercise the brain as you get older – the key message is ‘use it or lose it’!
- Keep your cholesterol levels under control – between 4.5 and 5.0 mmol per/L is normal. [CSIRO says if your cholesterol level is 6.5 mmol/L or greater your risk of
- heart disease is about four times greater than that of a person with a cholesterol level of 4 mmol/L]
- Maximum blood pressure levels before doing anything should not exceed 145/90
- Increase your health awareness and undertake regular annual check-ups
Dr Ian Sykes Men’s Health Session 7th Oct 2011 Well, we are now more enlightened about our personal health and the things to watch out for as on 7th Oct we enjoyed hearing from Ian about a range of health concerns, in particular the “bad” and indeed the “good” aspects of Cholesterol in our system. Ian focussed on Cholesterol in our lives, stressing the importance of its role. While it is important to control the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol in our system, in itself it is essential for correct bodily function. Produced in the liver, Cholesterol performs just some of the following vital functions;
- Helps strengthen, build and maintain cell membranes transported in blood plasma;
- Assists correctly functioning nerve cells, cell signalling and nerve conduction;
- Is the basis of essential steroid hormones e.g. oestrogen, testosterone and adrenaline;
- Synthesises vital Vitamin D (essential); and
- Helps in the production of Bile acids (hence aiding solubilising fats in the digestive tract)
Ian explained that high levels of cholesterol in the blood can damage arteries and are potentially linked to such things as heart disease. However, Ian expressed his personal opinion that “the jury” is still out as to the long-term implications of lowering cholesterol beyond normal ranges, particularly in those people who may be candidates for, or have already suffered heart disease or attacks.
There are several basic ways that may help reduce high cholesterol readings, including dietary modification (using low-saturated fat products), exercise and medication etc. It’s best to use appropriate low fat margarines (e.g. pro-Active) and grill foods rather than fry them. Limit cheese and sugar. If using oils use the poly-unsaturated ones. Ian made the point that, as in all things, it is important that when eating, do so in moderation and be sensible in having a balanced diet (along with the odd “baddie” – but! in moderation!).
We were able to assess our predisposition to cholesterol related issues from a chart provided by Ian, according to various factors within specified age ranges. This chart is the NZ Cardiovascular Risk Calculator from the NPS Ltd. This has recently been updated and a link is here. One reference provides a new Australian based risk chart. He also advised that the total cholesterol readings (HDL+LDL)/HDL should be 4 or less to be in the lower risk areas.
Ian also affirmed and supporting a call by John Burrowes to consider going on the Organ Donor register, and briefly related some personal experience and the potentially-life saving and life-giving benefits of organ donation for donees and their families. He also encouraged us to donate our bodies to help others as well as allow for research. This can be done through the Donate Life organisation Donate Life in ACT (Canberra Hospital)
Ian was a very welcome guest on this his second trip to the Shed and we thank him for sharing with us once again. Thanks also go to Keith Sinderberry for organising this fascinating session.
Special Sites on Nutrition and Diet
Dr Ian Sykes key items for a healthy life – excellent suggestions for older people
Nutrition Australia’s Resources & Fact Sheets Natural News is a non profit collection of public education websites covering topics that empower individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity, consumer choices and informed skepticism. See their Honest Food Guide which can be downloaded for free
World’s Healthiest Foods This is a non profit organisation “The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods” that was established by George Mateljan to discover, develop and share scientifically proven information about the benefits of healthy eating, and to provide the personalized support individuals need to make eating The World’s Healthiest Foods enjoyable, easy, quick and affordable
Diabetes Australia on Eating Well Covers various issues including glycemic index & various foods for a healthy diet
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets Information from the US Government’s Office of Dietary Supplements
ORAC Values The Internet Antioxidant database about ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units
The Glycemic Index Nutrition Data’s description about the glycemic index, its usefulness & its limitations