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Men's Health

  • Prostate Health

    Around 50% of all men over 50 years old and 80% of those aged over 80 years experience symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (sometimes referred to as benign prostatic hypertrophy).

    With these statistics in mind, it’s in your best interest to look after your prostate health, so in this article we explain what BPH is and how complementary medicines may be able to help.

    What is the Prostate?

    The prostate is a small gland the size of a walnut, responsible for producing prostatic fluid, which forms part of semen. It is located directly below the bladder and in front of the rectum, with the urethra passing through the centre of it.

    What is BPH?

    The inner layers of the prostate begin to slowly and progressively enlarge from around the time a man enters his 40s. This enlargement (or ‘hypertrophy’) may lead to obstruction of the urethra and retention of urine. BPH is a consequence of normal hormonal changes related to ageing, such as lowered testosterone, increased dihydrotestosterone and increased oestrogen.

    Symptoms of BPH:

    Although almost all men over 45 years have some degree of BPH, symptoms often do not become an issue before the age of 60.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Urinary urgency and frequency.
    • Hesitancy and dribbling when urinating.
    • Reduced volume and force of urinary flow.
    • Multiple visits to the toilet at night.
    • Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying.
    • Uncontrolled overflow incontinence - where the bladder continues to drip for some time after urination.

    Some of the symptoms of BPH are similar to those of other, more serious prostate conditions, so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described, please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

    Natural Support for your Prostate

    Herbs and nutrients that may support prostate health include:

    Saw Palmetto: The dark red berries of the saw palmetto plant have been traditionally used in western herbal medicine to help maintain prostate health. Numerous scientific studies have shown that saw palmetto extract helps reduce symptoms of BPH such as needing to get up repeatedly during the night to urinate and weakened urinary flow. In mild to moderate cases of benign prostatic hypertrophy, benefits may be experienced in as little as four to eight weeks. Saw palmetto appears to work by reducing the formation of dihydrotestosterone and inhibiting its binding to receptors on prostate cells

    Epilobium: Epilobium has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine as a male tonic and to assist reduced urinary flow. Clinical studies seeking to understand its actions in improving symptoms of BPH suggest that it may work by reducing the formation of dihydrotestosterone

    Lycopene: Lycopene is a red-coloured carotenoid found in foods such as tomatoes, guavas, ruby grapefruit and watermelon. It is a powerful antioxidant that is stored by the body in the prostate gland and may help to maintain prostate health via a number of mechanisms. Cooked tomato products (including tomato sauce) are the best dietary sources of lycopene, but it is also available in supplement form.

    Pumpkin Seed Oil: When taken alone or in combination with saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil has been shown to reduce symptoms of BPH and improve the quality of life of men affected by the condition. These effects may start to become noticeable after just three months of treatment, with additional improvements noted in subsequent months

    Zinc: The prostate contains a higher concentration of zinc than any other body tissue and maintaining adequate zinc levels is important for overall prostate health and functioning. Some evidence suggests that men with BPH and some other prostate conditions have lower zinc levels in their prostates and prostatic secretions than men without prostate disease.

    Researchers have hypothesised that zinc deficiency may contribute to these health problems by increasing oxidative stress (free radical damage)

  • Top Tips On How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

    After a long cold winter, all any of us want to do is get outside and enjoy the warmth of the summer sun!  However it is important that we try to protect our skin as best as we can from the sun’s powerful rays. PV-Nov-blog

    Interestingly enough the skin is the body’s largest organ.1 It covers the entire body and comprises of many layers but let’s look at the primary layers specifically, the epidermis and dermis.1

    Epidermis

    The epidermis is the upper layer of our skin which is visible and can be touched. This layer is comprised of multiple layers of skin cells that are constantly shedding to replenish and protect our skin from our external environment.1 This includes providing protection from ultra violet light, infection, damage associated with trauma and creates a barrier to prevent harmful substances from entering into the body.1

    Dermis

    The skin’s second primary layer is known as the dermis which contains sweat and oil glands that balance our skin’s natural oil production to keep our skin hydrated.1  This layer also contains hair follicles, nerve ending and small blood vessels.1   This layer’s main function is to keep our skin strong and firm because it contains collagen and elastin fibres.1  

    Ultraviolet light

    Australian’s are exposed to some of the highest ultraviolet (UV) rays worldwide!  So let’s take a look at the different types of ultraviolet light and what affect they could have on our skin if it is left unprotected. The two types of ultraviolet light that we need to be concerned about are called UVA and UVB.4  UVA is responsible for tanning the skin because it has the ability to penetrate into deeper layers of our skin.4  UVB have shown to be responsible for causing sunburn because it penetrates the first layer of skin.4

    It is important to note that UV rays are always present and completely invisible so even on a cloudy day you still need to be cautious to avoid getting sunburnt!  Prolonged unprotected UV exposure has shown to contribute to premature skin aging leading to wrinkles, fine lines, brown freckles and changes your skin’s natural appearance and feel.6  If this doesn’t sound bad enough UV exposure can also cause sun spots, pigmentation issues, leathery skin, cellular skin damage, eye damage and even skin cancer. These are pretty serious consequences so you need to make sure that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your skin from the sun at all times! This information may make you think twice if that temporary sun kissed glow is really worth it?! Remember no tan is worth dying for.

    So as you now can see it is important to maintain the health of your skin!  So how do we do this?  Follow these top tips adapted from the Australian Cancer Council!

    1. Slip

    If you are going to be outside in direct sunlight make sure that you cover up your skin as best as you can by wearing thin clothing with long sleeves and a collar.  Materials with tightly woven fibres such as cotton, linen or hemp may help to reflect UV rays.  You may also wish to wear lighter coloured fabrics to stay cooler.  If you are going to the beach try using beach wraps and sun safe rash shirts.

    1. Slop

    During the summer months sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes so you need to make sure that you wear sunscreen even if you are going outside for a short time period!9  Apply sunscreen liberally to all areas of the body that are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.  The Australian Government Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency suggests that individuals should apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going outside and every 2 hours after that.5 Select a sunscreen formula that will be specific to your needs.  This should not be too difficult because there are a variety of sunscreen formulas available on the market such as sport formulas, infant and children formulas, sensitive skin formulas, water resistant formulas, oil free formulas, sunscreen with insect repellent, tinted foundation formulas and everyday formulas. There are also many types of administration methods such as sprays, roll on, tubes, pump packs and lip balms to suit your needs.

    When selecting a sunscreen make sure that you follow the allocated directions on the bottle and always check the following:

    *Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the SPF numbers the greater the sun protection.  The Cancer Council of Australia suggests that individuals purchase sunscreens with SPF numbers between 30+ and 50+.3

    *Provides broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

    *That the sunscreen has a valid expiry date.

    1. Slap

    Wear hats that provide extra coverage for your face, ears, head and neck such as broad brimmed sun hats or bucket hats.

    1. Seek

    Sit in a shaded area or create your own shade!  We all want to be outside in the sun but it is important that we try to stay in the shade as much as possible so that we can protect our skin from UV exposure.  If you are unable to find a shaded area, you may wish to create your own shade by using a sun safe shade tent, small tarp, folding chair with a shade canopy or beach umbrella.  This way you can still enjoy the sunshine and your skin is staying protected!

    1. Slide

    On a sunny day of course sunglasses are a must!  Follow these top tips to protect your eyes!

    *Source sun glasses that fully cover your eyes, wrap around style is best!

    *Ensure that the sunglasses you choose meet Australian standards by referring to the swing tag that should state AS/NSZ 1067:2003.

    *Ensure that you check your sunglasses eye protection factor rating which protects our eyes from UVA and UVB ray’s.  The highest rating’s in Australia are factor 9 and 10.

    *Source sunglasses that are polarised because they help to reduce glare and may be more suitable while driving.

    1. Look at the UV forecast

    Keep up to date with the UV forecast and certain times of the day that you may require additional sun protection.  This information can be accessed daily by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website, see here http://www.bom.gov.au/uv/.7  This way you can ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions in advance each day to take additional precautions to protect your skin.  You may also wish to make plans to be outside during hours of the day that have lower UV rays!

    1. Get your skin checked regularly

    Have your skin checked regularly by a healthcare professional. Make sure that if you notice any moles, sunspots or pigmentations on your skin to get them checked out by your doctor who will be able to refer you onto a dermatologist if need be.3 It is important to self-monitor your skin and existing markings for any changes in size, shape, colour or texture.3 This way you can ensure that you are staying in tune with your skin health!

    1. What should you do if you do happen to get a sunburn?

    *Apply a cool compress to the affected area or take a cool bath.9

    *Avoid using soaps on the affected area because this may aggravate your sunburn further!9

    *Apply aloe vera gel liberally to the sunburnt area to provide a soothing effect and replenish your skin’s moisture to reduce skin peeling and itchiness.9

    *If your skin is blistered seek medical attention and do not pop sun burn blisters because they may become infected.9

    *Stay out of direct sunlight until your sunburn has completely healed.9

    * Drink water, it is highly important to keep hydrated and the cool the body.

    1. Nutrients that support skin health

    UV light exposure can generate harmful free radicals that can damage skin cells and contribute to premature skin ageing. Let’s take a look at some nutrients that can be used to support our skin health.

    *Collagen- Helps to promote our skin elasticity and suppleness. Collagen may also help to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.   

    *Vitamin C- When the skin is exposed to UV light it reduces the skin’s vitamin C availability.10  So how can vitamin C help keep your skin healthy?  Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to rebuild collagen and neutralises free radicals that may have been produced during UV light exposure, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines to reduce premature skin ageing.10

    *Silica- Helps to rebuild and regenerate connective tissue to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.  Silica is also beneficial for the growth of strong hair and nails!

    So now you know how to protect your skin, what measures need to be taken if sunburn occurs and  what nutrients you can use to support your skin health, so now you can get outside and enjoy the weather this summer but stay sun safe!

  • Simple Paleo Diet Tips

    Australia's latest diet craze, the paleo diet, has quickly gained popularity. Based on the dietary intake of people from the Stone Age, the paleo diet focuses on eating healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole foods while cutting out processed and refined foods. To some people, this diet may seem too strict; however, the paleo diet has many benefits, and it offers some healthy eating tips that anyone can follow. August-article

    Choose Foods That Have an Expiration Date

    Imagine the life of those who lived several generations ago. These people did not eat greasy potato chips or shelf-stable dessert pastries. If a food comes in modern packaging and can stay good for years, try to avoid buying it. Focus on adding natural, whole foods to your diet.

    Do Not Fear Fats

    Ironically, foods that have a “fat-free” label are usually the foods you should avoid. In moderation, healthy fats are satisfying and beneficial. Healthy fats can include avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. You can also cook with coconut oil, which can be cooked at a high heat without any negative effects. However, if calorie intake is concern, oil does have a lot of calories, so use it sparingly.

    Eliminate Refined Sugar

    In the Stone Age, sweet food made with refined sugar did not exist. In today's world, people everywhere enjoy and even crave these types of food every day. Your body might find it hard to cut out all sugar at once. Instead, slowly decrease your sugar intake by using dried fruit, honey, Stevia and other natural sweeteners.

    Embrace Vegetables

    Paleo is no different from other healthy, sensible diet plan recommendations that tell people to eat plenty of fresh vegetables. Current food guidelines state that everyone should have at least two fruit servings and five vegetable servings each day.

    Exercise Does Not Cancel Out Unhealthy Food Choices

    Some people think that by burning calories on the treadmill, it will be as if the heavy dessert they ate last night never existed. Unfortunately, exercise does not cancel out unhealthy food choices. It is true that proper diet and exercise are crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle, but maintaining weight consists of 20 percent exercise and 80 percent diet. This is the reason many people find the paleo diet to be successful.

    Get Moving

    While you do not need to start a strenuous exercise regime, it is important to include a little bit of exercise in your daily routine. Being more active helps people not only manage their weight, but also improve their mood and digestion.

    Have Sweet Treats in Moderation

    Concentrated sugar sources were rare in the caveman days, so sweet foods were not part of the typical meal. There is no need to eat sweets or desserts every day. Partake in sweet treats every once in awhile during special occasions, such as a birthday parties.

    Stop Counting Calories

    Those who count calories know that it is a frustrating and tiresome task. To get the same result without the hassle of watching your caloric intake, simply focus on eating sensibly portioned, quality foods.

  • Increase Your Testosterone Naturally by Eating These Foods

    Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that helps people reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass when they work out, helping them to improve their physique. Although men's bodies produce more testosterone than women's bodies, each gender needs testosterone. July-article

    Around 20-years-old, a man's testosterone level peaks. From that point, production of this hormone begins to slowly decline. A significant drop in testosterone may result in decreased energy levels, physical strength and libido. However, the natural decline of testosterone does not have to adversely affect your life. By adding foods with certain nutrients to your diet, you can boost your testosterone levels.

    Amino Acids and Whey Protein - Ricotta Cheese

    Recent findings from the University of Connecticut show that diets with whey protein contribute to a reduced production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can pack on the belly fat and lower sex hormone levels. High levels of amino acids and whey protein, essential nutrients for muscle growth, can be found in ricotta cheese and:

    • Kefir
    • Milk
    • Whey protein powder
    • Yogurt

    Magnesium - Wheat Bran

    Wheat bran is full of Magnesium, which is ideal for those who love high-intensity workouts. Put wheat bran in protein shakes or pancake mixes to easily increase your testosterone. Other Magnesium-laden foods include:

    • Almonds
    • Cocoa powder
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Oat bran
    • Sunflower seeds

    Saturated Fat - Coconut

    A published study in “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”* states that men who took high-fat foods out of their diet and replaced them with low-fat options experienced a decrease in testosterone. Saturated fat from plants like coconut, or fat from meat that accounts for no more than 10 percent of total fat intake, is a healthy way to add fat into a diet without increasing health risks. Some healthy fat sources for testosterone production include:

    • Avocados
    • Dairy
    • Lamb
    • Steak

    Vitamin C - Strawberries

    Strawberries are known for their powerful antioxidant properties that decrease cortisol production during heavy workouts, allowing the body to make more testosterone. These berries are also an amazing source of Vitamin C. This vitamin can be found in other foods besides strawberries, such as:

    • Broccoli
    • Kale
    • Kiwi
    • Pineapple
    • Red bell peppers
    • Tomatoes

    Vitamin D - Seafood

    Seafood is an excellent source of Vitamin D, which is key to testosterone production. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, men whose bodies have high levels of Vitamin D also have increased testosterone levels. Adding seafood to your diet can help counteract the effects of decreased Vitamin D levels from inadequate sunlight exposure that often happens in the winter. In order to boost your Vitamin D intake, you can also eat:

    • Cage-free eggs
    • Cod liver oil
    • Herring
    • Mackerel
    • Salmon

    If you are concerned about having low vitamin D levels, please speak to your GP about having your levels tested.
    Zinc - Pumpkin Seeds

    Zinc is an essential mineral to hormone production and other enzymatic functions. It has been found that men with zinc deficiency have decreased testosterone levels and sperm counts. Pumpkin seeds are a versatile food that can either be eaten plain or added to salads and muesli. To get more Zinc in your diet, try:

    • Cashews
    • Crab
    • Lentils
    • Oysters
    • Steak
    • Wheat germ

    *Dorgan JF, Judd JT, Longcope C, Brown C, Schatzkin A, Clevidence BA, Campbell WS, Nair PP, Franz C, Kahle L, Taylor PR. 1996. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):850-5.

  • Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    Six Supplements That Can Boost Energy

    An active life, refreshing sleep and a diet of natural food is a good foundation for high energy levels. However, there are times when the stress of daily life increases or when some extra support is needed. Rather than reaching for a sugary snack or caffeine, give the natural supplements below a try. PV-march-blog

    Begin With a Multivitamin

    The proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in food employ a wide range of nutrients in order to convert them to energy. Deficiency of any of these nutritional factors can impede the production of energy. A broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral formula can insure that these nutrients are there for energy conversion. Be sure to choose a formula that contains the B-complex group, including folic acid, as well as iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc in the mineral group.

    Consider these other supplements to help boost energy levels in times of need:

    B-complex when stress levels are high

    The B group of vitamins are of utmost importance in converting food into energy, and are needed in higher doses during times of stress. Since they are water-soluble they are not stored in the body, and need to be replenished every day.

    Magnesium supports nerve function

    Magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function. It is also essential for the smooth production of energy. Being under stress increases the body's requirement for this mineral.

    Co-enzyme Q10 for an energy boost

    While Co-enzyme Q10 is a nutrient that is essential for energy production at the cellular level. As we age our bodies produce less of this substance, making supplementation a wise move. It has also been shown to be very important in heart health.

    Iron to combat fatigue

    Many women suffer from low iron level due to menstruation. This may result in fatigue, paleness of the skin and nails and mucous membranes, as well as lack of resistance to infection. Look for iron products that contains folic acid and vitamin B12, which work synergistically with the iron. See your doctor if you suspect your iron levels are low for a quick test to determine if you need to supplement with iron.

    Korean Ginseng for extra stamina

    Korean Ginseng is a traditional medicine herb that supports stamina and vitality. It aids the body and nervous system in adapting to stress, as well as enhancing physical performance. It is used to revitalise and strengthen the body during times of weakness, malaise, fatigue, exhaustion, and stress.

  • New Year, Less Chair

    There's a hidden menace to your health lurking inside every home and office on the globe, even in your friendly neighbourhood coffee shop – chairs! new-year-no-chair

    Recent medical studies have discovered that sitting for long stretches of time can actually change the physiology of your muscle cells and may be detrimental to your health. cause serious illnesses. Two separate reports, one based on a study of 93,000 women who sit up to 11 hours a day and another on 82,000 men who sit for five or more hours a day outside of work, both found results that suggest that too much sitting can signal your body to halt production of important fat and sugar burning enzymes linked directly to your metabolism, causing serious risks to your health and well being.
    .
    All the time that you spend parked at the coffee shop checking your Facebook, crashed on the sofa watching TV or sitting in front of a computer screen at your office, is sending signals to your muscles on a cellular level, halting the activity of the important enzyme lipoprotein lipase and putting your health at risk.

    If you have an office job that requires you to sit a lot, the news that too much sitting can actually have a negative effect on your health and well being may be an unwelcome shock. Fortunately, there are things you can do to counteract the negative effects of sitting for long periods of timethis destructive activity. You can wake your muscles up out of their suspended animation state with just a little bit of basic exercise for two minutes every half hour you spend sitting.

    So set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and try these activities at home and at work to snap your muscles awake and keep your body fit and functioning.

    - Do the plank. More than just a weird internet fad, this simple yoga exercise is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your core, legs and arms all at the same time with minimal movement.
    - Take a walk. Getting up and taking a quick walk to water cooler or taking a bathroom break is enough to get your muscles working and keep your energy up.
    - Stand up for yourself. Just the simple act of standing up for a couple of minutes is enough to fight off the health risks of idle muscles.
    - Embrace the adverts. When watching TV, instead of fast forwarding forward winding through the ad breaks, use them as an opportunity to hop off the couch and get out of your sitting rut.
    - Take the stairs. If you’re fit and able, a quick march up and down the stairs at your work or home will do wonders for kick starting your muscles.

  • Is Stress Making You Sick?

    I’m under a fair bit of pressure right now, and frustratingly, I also feel as though I could come down with a cold at any moment.

    Stress Pure Vitamins Is stress making you sick?

    Initially, I put it down to bad luck that these two issues were occurring simultaneously, but I’ve now realised that it’s no coincidence. Being stressed out can have a significant effect on your immune system!

    Stress makes you more susceptible to colds

    In a scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991, researchers measured the stress levels of 394 healthy people, and then exposed them to either cold viruses or a control preparation that wasn’t infectious. Over the subsequent week, the quarantined participants were checked daily for symptoms such as sneezing, runny eyes, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

    The results of this study confirmed what many of us have always intuitively believed: that when you’re under stress, you’re much more likely to catch colds. On the other hand, when your stress levels are low, you’re less likely to succumb – even when people around you have been infected.

    This phenomenon occurs because the various physiological changes that occur in your body during times of stress have an impact on the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off infectious organisms.

    What can you do?

    As well as maintaining my regular exercise routine and finding time for a few meditation sessions each week, this winter I’ve decided to support my immune system and stress levels by taking a two-pronged approach with herbs and nutrients.

    Firstly I’ll be topping up my levels of B-group vitamins, as they may be needed in increased quantities during stressful periods.

    I’m also taking a multivitamin to help support my immune function and help maintain and improve my general wellbeing . The multivitamin I use has been specially formulated for women, and contains Siberian ginseng, which helps the body cope with the effects of stress.

    Additionally, I’ve decided to take echinacea and andrographis – as they support the body’s natural immune responses and may help relieve symptoms of colds and other mild upper respiratory tract infections. I also take additional vitamin C because it may help reduce the severity and duration of colds, and extra zinc because it’s essential for healthy immune system function.

  • Help Your Brain Stay Active

    My grandmother was affected by dementia in her old age. It was horrible to watch, and must have been even more distressing for her. The whole experience has made me determined to looking after my brain health as best I can - especially as I’ve recently learned that my family history of the condition slightly increases the likelihood of being affected by it myself.  Continue reading

  • Going Vegetarian the Sensible Way

    Health, ethical, environmental, financial or religious reasons may prompt people to follow a vegetarian diet. Although there are many health benefits from following a vegetarian diet, if not adopted wisely it can cause several nutritional problems. But if you plan carefully, it is possible to eat yummy vegetarian food and meet all of your nutritional requirements. The following information can help set you on the right path. Continue reading

  • Enhancing Male Sexual Performance

    If you’re a bloke looking to boost his sexual performance, there are any number of sites on the web that will promise you results… longer, harder, faster, slower. You name it, somebody out there will claim their product can do it for you. Continue reading

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