New Year pot pourri.jpg

New Year pot pourri

By: DR: THOMAS KAISER

[email protected]

Dr Thomas Kaiser is the Medical Director of the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre and is a specialist in good traditional General Practice for the whole family, state of the art aesthetic and cosmetic medicine.

Dear Reader, This year, I would like to give you an overview about the proven best ways to stay healthy.

Each month, I will write in The Resident about one of the most common illnesses and how you can prevent them.

In the next edition we shall start with the latest trends and methods in the field of exercise medicine.

Today is a rather mixed bag of research pieces from internationally renowned journals and other sources.

Live longer

A large study involving 20,000 adults aged 45 to 79 showed that you can keep it really simple when it comes to living longer and healthier.

You can maximise your life expectancy by 14 years if you stay away from cigarettes, eat five portions of fruit, vegetables and salad per day, if you do three sessions of exercise per week and if you drink alcohol only in moderation.

Global picture

While we worry about our Cholesterol and weight, the majority of humans have much more fundamental problems.

They have no clean water to drink and no sanitation. Around 2.6 billion people worldwide lack proper sanitary facilities and 42,000 people are estimated to die every week from diseases related to poor water quality.

The United Nations have therefore declared 2008 as the international year of sanitation to tackle this unacceptable situation.

Climate changes

When the British Medical Journal did a survey among its readers 50 years ago about what the doctors then thought the most valuable advance for improving health (the BMJ was first published in 1840), the majority voted for the introduction of sanitation.

The same question was put to the readers of the British Medical Journal in 2006 and the majority voted for “Action against climate changes in particularly global warming”.

No doubt that the effects of global warming could have disastrous effect on our health and the worst affected would be again the 2.6 billion humans that have disadvantaged living conditions at the moment.

Medical myths

You do not need to drink eight glasses of water to avoid dehydration.

I always suspected that this amount was too much because if I did drink that much I would spend most of the day on the toilet.

This myth goes back to the publication of a well-known American nutritionist some 30 years ago and was never really backed up by proper research work.

While one should drink a good amount of water per day, like a litre or so, it should not be forgotten that all other liquids have to be counted towards our fluid intake.

Certain foods contain a lot of liquid too and this also counts.

Trying to get out of having to give you an exact figure, I would use as a rule of thumb the colour of urine, which should be light but not clear as water.

If you have to go every hour to the toilet you either have a urine infection or you drink too much.

Thirst is a rather late sign of suboptimal hydration.

If you are often thirsty, you probably drink too little or you eat too much garlic. Also consider a blood sugar test.

Alcohol leads to dehydration because it inactivates the anti-diuretic hormone.

If this hormone is inactive, the kidneys give away ample amounts of fluids.

This is the reason why the toilets at the famous beer festival in my hometown Munich are always overcrowded.

Shaving hair does not make it grow back faster or coarser. This common belief has been proven wrong in several research studies.

Through shaving only, the anyway dead part of the hair is removed.

The new hair grows at the same speed. It is also not true that shaving causes the darkening of hair.

This impression can be created because non shavers give their hair the chance to be naturally bleached by the sun.

Reading in dim light does not ruin your eyesight. While it is rather tiring to read under the blanket or in a dark corner, there is no evidence that damage can be done to our eyes in that way. You may well end up with a headache.

A wealth of information, but a crisis in putting it into practice.

It is estimated that the worldwide knowledge doubles every four years. Unfortunately, we are not double as healthy every four years.

Modern medicine has no knowledge problem but we are facing great difficulties putting into practice what we know!

In my humble opinion, this will be the field where real great advances can be made in the future.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2008

Your Dr Thomas Kaiser,

For more information, please call Dr Kaiser on 289 398 009