Health

Gut feeling

Fortunately, there are researchers who believe they may have found a very safe alternative to treating anxiety and depression… and it all starts in your gut.

It is a known fact that a diet rich in probiotics — which support the growth of “healthy” bacteria in the gut — boosts digestive health and can even improve your immune system.

In recent years, mounting evidence has shown that gut bacteria have a significant effect on brain function and mental health.

A new study at Leiden University in the Netherlands, published in the journal Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, further supports this idea: the researchers found that among 40 healthy subjects, participants who took probiotic supplements for four weeks showed a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings.

For the study, the researchers administered a multistrain probiotic — meaning that it contained different types of bacteria — to 20 healthy participants every day for four weeks. The other 20 participants received a placebo. At the outset of the study and then again after the month had gone by, the participants filled out a questionnaire assessing sensitivity to depression.

Participants who took the probiotics were significantly less reactive to sad moods. Improving the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut seemed to have a protective effect against the blues and the type of obsessive negative thinking that is often characteristic of depression.

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher, Oxford neurobiologist Dr. Philip Burnet, said: “It is likely that these compounds will help to manage mental illness. They may also be used when there are metabolic and/or nutritional complications in mental illness, which may be caused by long-term use of current drugs.”

AgoraHealth article reviewed by Barbara Beinart

SAFE SUMMER

Summer is here again. There is plenty of fun to be had in the sun. By following some simple yet important health and safety tips you can prevent heat illness that can lead to life-threatening emergencies. Below are a few tips how to recognize risk factors and respond to warning signs of heat illness, and what precautions to take when it’s hot.

NEVER LEAVE ANY CHILDREN, PETS OR ADULTS IN A CLOSED, PARKED VEHICLE.

SUN SAFETY
Shade. Clothing. Hat. Sunscreen. Sunglasses.
It is important to protect your skin. Take these basic steps to protect yourself and your family against risk of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.
• Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, and apply at least 20-30 minutes before going outside.
• UV rays are weakest before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Plan activities during these times.
• Skin does not have to feel hot to get burned, so protect yourself even on cloudy days.
• Wear UVA/UVB protective sunglasses, and a hat.
• Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water and juice. Alcohol consumption may cause dehydration.
• Protect your arms and legs with loose fitting, tightly woven cotton clothing.
Stay indoors during extremely hot temperatures.

SURF AND SWIM HEALTH AND SAFETY
Rip Currents

IF YOU’RE SWIMMING AT THE BEACH AND FIND YOURSELF BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM THE BEACH AND UNABLE TO GET BACK, IT IS MORE THAN LIKELY YOU ARE CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT.

To avoid rip currents,
• Always swim between the red and yellow flags.
• If you need help, stay calm, float and raise an arm to attract attention.
• To escape a rip, swim parallel to the beach.
• Always conserve your energy; the waves can assist you back to the beach.

The best advice is to avoid rip currents altogether. To reduce the likelihood of getting caught in a rip current, you need to:
• Always swim between the red and yellow flags;
• Observe all safety signs;
• Obey all instructions from the surf lifesavers and lifeguards;
• Understand what a rip current is;
• Know how to spot rip currents and look for the common signs such as deeper, darker water and fewer breaking waves; and
• Do not swim in or near a rip current.
For further information, please visit http://www.ripcurrents.com.au/

If you plan to swim in a river or stream, use extreme caution and stay away from swift moving water. Heavy rain and flash flooding makes many dams, swim holes, rivers and streams unpredictable and dangerous.

BLUEBOTTLE STINGS
Bluebottle tentacles will cause a sharp, painful sting if they are touched, which is aggravated by rubbing the area. Intense pain may be felt from a few minutes to many hours and develops into a dull ache which then spreads to surrounding joints.
A major sting to the face or neck area should be treated urgently, especially if there is swelling to the site. In these cases dial Triple Zero (000) immediately and ask for Ambulance.
• Remove any tentacles that are stuck to the skin with tweezers or a gloved hand.
• Wash the site of the sting with lots
• of seawater. Immerse the victims site of the sting in tolerably hot water.
• If hot water is not available apply ice packs, avoiding direct contact with the skin by wrapping the ice pack in a towel.
• Do not apply vinegar.
• Do not rub sand on the area.
• Your doctor may provide you with further treatment should you feel it

KEEP PESKY BUGS AWAY
Insect Repellant Facts
• Use bug repellant to keep mosquitos, insects and ticks away.
• Do not use an all-in-one bug repellant and sunscreen, it’s best to use two separate products.
• Do not apply repellent to skin that is under clothing.
• Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
• Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas.
• Do not apply aerosol or pump products directly to the face. Spray your hands and then rub them carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
For children, apply repellent on your own hands and then rub them on the child, avoiding child’s hands, mouth, and eyes

TICKS
• Remove ticks using a tweezer, grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight up to remove the tick. Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick.
• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water and wash treated clothes before wearing them again.
• Don’t forget to check your pets for ticks as well.

AVOID BACTERIA AND PESTS AT YOUR BBQ
• Carry food in a cooler with a cold pack. Remember, a full cooler stays cool longer than a half empty one.
• Always take along some foods that don’t require refrigeration.
• A cooler will stay colder if it is kept inside the car and not in the boot.
• Keep coolers in the shade with the lid closed.
• Bring along alcohol-based sanitizers or disposable wipes to keep hands clean.
• When applying insect repellant, spray it away from food areas.
• Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water and when applicable, remove outer leaves or skin.
• Always assume that river waters are not safe to drink. Take bottled water to drink.
• Place all rubbish in the bin or bring it home with you for disposal.

KEEP FOOD SAFE AT THE BBQ
• Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
• Keep food and drinks in separate coolers.
• Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. When the air temperature is above 90°, do not leave food out for more than one hour.
• Use clean utensils and dishes to serve food. Each dish should have its own serving utensils to avoid cross-contamination.
• Preheat cooking grills for 20-30 minutes before using.
• Allow meat to completely thaw in a refrigerator before placing on a grill.
• Marinate meat in a tightly sealed plastic container or sealable plastic bag, and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Do not reuse marinade.
• Serve grilled foods on a clean dish, not a dish used for raw meat.
• Leftovers should be refrigerated or placed in a cooler within one hour after use.

Photo courtesy of : http://editorial.designtaxi.com/news-beach06062013/3.jpg