Archive for July, 2013

Fish Oil & Its Benefits

Posted: July 23, 2013 in Health Products
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fish oil

Fish oil is a nutrient-packed oil derived from the fatty layers of cold-water fish. It is rich in the long chain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for human health. As the body cannot make its own omega-3 fatty acids, we must rely on our diet or supplements to fulfill our daily requirements.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids necessary for human health. Excellent sources of fish oil are found in mackerel, tuna, salmon, mullet, sardines and trout, which provide around 1 gram of essential omega-3 fatty acids for every 100 grams of fish.

The long chain of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil has been found to be more efficiently converted by our bodies than the shorter chain varieties. Research has shown that people who include large amounts of cold-water fish in their diet have a lower incidence of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.

Benefits

Fish has earned a reputation as a brain food because of its link with treating depression, psychosis, Alzheimer’s and other psychological disorders. Other benefits of fish oil include:

  • Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure – fish oil can reduce levels of triglycerides by 20 to 50 per cent.
  • Preventing heart disease and stroke.
  • Relieving the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lowering the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Reducing the severity of period pain.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – some research has linked taking fish oil with improved thinking skills and behaviour in 8 to 12-year-old children with ADHD.

How to take fish oil

The National Health and Medical Research Council suggests a dietary target of 430 mg of omega-3 fatty acids a day for women and 610 mg a day for men. To achieve this, you would need to eat at least two meals with oily fish a week and research has shown that more than 75 per cent of us are failing to consume this amount.

Supplements are an important inclusion in our daily regime to help address these low rates. Available as either capsules or liquids, there are many different supplement brands that vary in the amount of omega-3 fats they contain. Australia’s Omega-3 Centre recommends Australian adults take about 500 mg of essential fatty acids in the form of DHAs and EPAs per day.

Fish oil is an essential inclusion in our diet due to its role in the maintenance and prevention of many health-related conditions. For many of us, consuming the recommended daily intake of omega-3 is challenging and supplements are a beneficial way of ensuring an adequate daily intake.

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chilblains

Chilblains

Winter has arrived, and unfortunately this means many people will again start to suffer from irritating chilblains. It’s now time to take some proactive measures to ensure maximum relief from these itchy and red bumps that occur as a reaction to the cold.

Chilblains are small red and itchy bumps that form as a result of localised vasculitis, or inflammation of blood vessels. In cold conditions, blood vessels can close down in the hands and feet, and when rewarmed, leakage of blood from these vessels results in the painful and itchy chilblain sores that cause great discomfort.

The majority of chilblain sufferers are the young and elderly, but people who suffer from lupus erythematosus, peripheral vascular disease, low body weight and pregnant women are at a higher risk.

Chilblains commonly appear on the fingers and toes, but can also be found on the heels, lower legs, nose, ears and on the wrists of babies. Chilblains take between two to three hours to appear and commonly erupt as itchy red swellings that subside over one to two weeks. Occasionally blistering, scabs and ulceration will occur, with the added potential for infection.

Unfortunately, chilblains respond poorly to treatment and in severe cases topical corticosteroid cream like Prednisone may be used to relieve itching and swelling. Despite this, prevention is better than cure, and there are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of these irritating sores.

It’s important that sufferers avoid smoking, caffeine and decongestants as they cause constriction of blood vessels, which can exacerbate existing chilblains or result in the formation of new ones. Furthermore, avoidance of extreme cold, with insulated gloves, woollen socks and protective footwear is recommended.

Some medical practitioners will prescribe Nifedipine, a drug that helps dilate blood vessels and relieve chilblains, but the use of this medication would need to be discussed with your GP or registered health care provider first.

With chilblains tending to get worse every year, it’s important to take some proactive measures to prevent and relieve these painful sores. Through this, you’ll be able to gain relief and greater comfort both now and in the future.

stretch marks

Stretch Marks

While scars and stretch marks can be difficult to avoid, there are ways that you can improve their appearance.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are red or purplish lines that appear on the skin when it is overstretched in times of rapid growth. They occur because the skin is unable to keep up with rapid stretching and repair itself – resulting in permanent tear-like structures appearing. Over time the scars will fade, leaving shiny-looking lines.

Causes

Periods of rapid growth and stretching of the skin cause stretch marks. Common causes include:

• Pregnancy. Over 50 per cent of women will develop stretch marks in pregnancy. They most commonly appear on the abdomen, but also the breasts and thighs.

• Rapid excessive weight gain including bodybuilding.

• Rapid growth and weight gain in teen years. Stretch marks in the teen years can be distressing. They very commonly happen in young girls in the breast and thigh region. It’s important to note that they are a very common byproduct of growing.

• Cushing’s syndrome.

• Corticosteroid medication.

• Zinc deficiency may also increase the prevalence of stretch marks.

Prevention

Try to avoid rapid extreme weight gain if possible and eat a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Vitamin C and zinc supplements are essential for collagen (helps with skin elasticity), production and skin repair, so may help to reduce the prevalence of stretch marks. If you’re pregnant, wear a supportive bra throughout your pregnancy and while you breastfeed.

What causes scars?

Scars can occur for a wide variety of reasons, from trauma to the skin like a cut, graze or burn, to acne and chicken pox. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process, but the appearance of the scar may vary depending on the severity of the trauma and genetics.

How to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars

You may not be able to make scars and stretch marks completely disappear, but you can fade them. Recent studies show that laser treatment and creams containing Retin-A can be very beneficial. Also, why not try:

• See your pharmacist for products that are specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

• Self-tanning creams are a great way to mask the appearance of stretch marks and scars.

• Creams and ointments containing vitamin E may help.

• With regular use, rose hip oil may dramatically improve the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

• In severe cases a plastic surgeon or dermatologist may help with laser surgery, skin grafts, chemical peels, dermabrasion or steroid injections.

• Always wear sunscreen if you expose your skin to the sun as it may inflame scars.

• Use cosmetics to help cover unsightly scars. Try a foundation and cover-up that has been formulated for inflamed and uneven skin tones.