Category: Mens Health

Southbank Medical Centre

How Fast Food Impacts The Body

How Fast Food Impacts The Body
How Fast Food Impacts The Body

Most of us are all familiar with the term ‘Eat Healthy to Live Healthy’, unfortunately, we rarely pay attention to it and don’t feel too guilty when we grab a zinger burger / pizza or take a sip of coke while driving to or from work. Our lives are so busy these days that many of us don’t pay as much attention as we should to the quality of food we consume on a daily basis. According to the latest research, average families spend more than half of their food budget on ‘fast food’ sometimes also classified as ‘Junk food’. Fast food is any type of food which is highly processed; contain large amounts of added sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Fast food is often rich in calories and very poor in nutritional value. While an occasional night out at a fast-food restaurant is not bad, a habit of eating burgers, pizzas, french fries, energy bars, pasta, bagels, soda, frozen entrees and deli meats can have both short-term as well as long-term adverse effects on your body. Read on to learn how fast food impacts the body.

How Fast Food Impacts the Body

The majority of fast food offered to the public is cheap, tasty, attractive, convenient and socially acceptable in most cultures. Many global food chains spend millions of dollars on marketing their products and offering different kinds of value meals. As an end-user, it is your responsibility to make healthy choices in your life and try to avoid junk food as much as possible. Here are 5 ways fast food can impact your body in a relatively short amount of time:

  1. It Can Make You Obese – fast food is extremely rich in calories, frequent use can lead to unintentional weight gain. 
  2. It Can Skyrocket Your Cholesterol – since fast food (particularly fried items) contain trans- fats, it can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in your body. 
  3. It Can Expose You To Cardiovascular Diseases – fast food contains fat that is made up of saturated fatty acids, these fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels. In addition to that sodium found in fast foods is a risk factor for various cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and stroke. 
  4. It Can Cause Frequent Insulin Spikes – fast food contains loads of carbohydrates and sugar, this increases the body’s demand to produce more insulin, resulting in rapid insulin spikes. This can also lead to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. 
  5. It Can Increase Your Risk of Developing Cancer – fast food contains preservatives such as sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, these preservatives are used to maintain meat colour and hamper bacterial growth. Sodium nitrate and Sodium nitrite can breakdown into nitrosamines – which can cause cancer.

Southank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Health Checks | Why Are They Important?

Health Checks

What Should Be Checked For Women? What Should Be Checked For Men? How Often Should We Have Health Checks?

Health Checks

The term “healthy” may have different meanings for different people, since all of us have different “health goals”. Some of us want to lose weight to look good and feel healthy, whereas for others gaining an extra few kg’s is the goal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of ‘health’ or ‘healthy’ goes way beyond the absence of disease or infirmity; it actually refers to a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. A medically, emotionally, and physically fit person is able to recover and bounce back from different diseases, illnesses, and other problems more quickly and easily and enjoys a healthier and happier life. In order to achieve good health, regular physical activity, healthy diet, healthy relationships, a clean environment, genetics and also regular health checks play an important role.  

Why are Regular Health Checks Important?

The best way to maintain health is to preserve it and the best way to preserve your health is to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. Regular health checks not only help identify underlying medical conditions, but they can also guide you to options that speed up the recovery process and help you maintain and/or improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Here are five important benefits of regular health checks:

  1. Preventive Care
  2. Ongoing Medical Documentation
  3. Health Planning
  4. Personalised Care
  5. Less Healthcare Costs In The Future

What Health Checks Should Be Done For Women

At times, it may seem difficult to spare the time from your busy schedule to go visit your primary healthcare provider, especially if you are not sick, but having some routine checkups will go a long way in making sure that you stay healthy for a long time to come. 

A full health checkup specifically designed for women typically includes a comprehensive general check including markers for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, osteoporosis, major organ functions, and common cancers like breast, liver, and colon cancer. Before your examination, your GP may ask about your medical history, family’s history of diseases, and your lifestyle choices. Your GP will then integrate this information with the results of your tests to detect any potential health issues or the risk of disease. Here is a list of some important medical checkups every woman should undertake:

  • Blood Pressure Screening – checks for any potential cardiovascular diseases
  • Cholesterol Check – assess the risk of developing heart diseases or stroke
  • Pap Test – checks for cervical cancer
  • Mammograms – checks for breast cancer
  • Bone Density Screening – checks for bone diseases, such as osteoporosis
  • Blood Glucose Tests – checks for diabetes
  • Colon Cancer Screening – checks for colon cancer
  • Skin Cancer Screening – checks for screen cancer

Depending on your general health and your family medical history, your GP may advise more tests. Some of these tests may be expensive but the good news is that most of them are now covered in health insurance plans. So, it is always a good idea to check with your insurance provider before making appointments. 

What Health Checks Should Be Done For Men

Most guys don’t visit a doctor until there’s something wrong. However, by being proactive and getting the recommended health screenings for some common medical conditions, they can ensure that they spend less time at the doctor’s office in the long run. 

Here is a list of some essential health checks every man 45 years or older should consider to stay healthy and to pick up early warning signs of illness or disease:

  • Prostate Cancer Screening
  • Blood Pressure Screening – checks for any potential cardiovascular diseases
  • Cholesterol Check – assess the risk of developing heart diseases or stroke
  • Blood Glucose Tests – checks for diabetes
  • Skin Cancer Screening – checks for screen cancer

How Often Should We Have a Checkup?

Let’s face the reality, no one likes to hear bad news, especially if it is concerning their health, but the consequences of skipping regular health checkups can sometimes be quite severe. How often you visit your doctor for such tests will ultimately depend on many factors such as your current health conditions, your age, ethnicity, gender, family history, and your risk of contracting disease. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how often you should have health checkups:

  • Age 18-30 – once in every 2-3 years
  • Age 30-50 – once in every 2 years
  • Age 50 and above – once in a year

These are just general guidelines and are not set in stone, your GP will be in a better position to advise you on frequency of health checkups after analysing your current health status, medical history, family history, gender, age, and many other things.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

Not Sleeping Well? | What Are The Affects On Your Body

What Are The Effects Of Lack Of Sleep Your Body
What Are The Effects Of Lack Of Sleep Your Body

For many people, “a good night sleep” is merely considered down time, when the brain shuts off and the body is at complete rest. Many people tend to give less priority to sleep than other obligations that seem much important. The latest research, however, suggests that the body and mind perform a number of important activities during sleep that help us stay healthy and function at our best during the day.

Insufficient sleep or poor sleep, is linked to a number of problems, some of which are experienced immediately such as fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, and lapses in memory. Also, growing evidence suggests that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, decreased fertility, Immune system deficiency, depression, and anxiety. Lack of sleep or inadequate sleep is a major problem in Australia affecting 30-45% of the population. So, what are the effects of lack of sleep on your body and how can we effectively get more of it.

Effects of Lack of Sleep on the Body

Let’s take a closer look at some of the surprising effects of lack of sleep on the body and mind:

Lack of Sleep and Your Heart

Effects of long-term sleep deprivation on your heart can be dangerous and even deadly. Chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to get cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Brain

Lack of sleep or poor sleep can leave the brain exhausted. An exhausted brain is unable to perform the necessary duties that are vital to keeping us happy, healthy, and productive. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in short and long-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, irritability, lack of motivation, lowered alertness and chronic stress. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Stomach

Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in appetite and lack of physical activity, which in turn may lead to obesity. Sleep deprivation is also believed to cause higher levels of insulin to be released. Higher levels of insulin in the blood promote fat storage and also increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Immune System

While we sleep, our body produces cytokines – protective, infection-fighting antibodies. Cytokines defend our body against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria that cause common illnesses. Lack of sleep significantly decreases our body’s ability to produce these antibodies and therefore make us more vulnerable when exposed to different viruses, germs, and bacteria. 

Lack of Sleep and Your Skin

Saggy skin and puffy eyes are some of the common symptoms of sleep deprivation. If you experience chronic sleep issues, it may even lead to lackluster skin, dark circles under the eyes and more fine lines and wrinkles. Lack of sleep causes the body to release more cortisol – a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol in the body cause break down of the collagen in the skin, resulting in many different ageing effects. 

So, what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Here are some handy tips you can try to restore your sleep balance and ensure unrestricted good-quality sleep. 

  • make sure to stick to a bedtime routine
  • make healthy eating choices
  • get ample exposure to sunlight during the day
  • hit the gym and perform mild exercise during the day
  • avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcoholic drinks close to bedtime
  • keep your bedroom dark and quiet and as comfortable as possible
  • practice relaxation techniques / mindfulness before bedtime

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

What Are The Surgical Options For Weight Loss

Surgical Treatment of Obesity

Operations Available, Benefits and Risks, Success Rates of Treatment

Surgical Treatment of Obesity

The obesity epidemic is on the rise worldwide and as per the latest statistics revealed in the National Health Survey carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics more than 12.5 million (67.5%) Australian adults are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major cause of a number of serious and chronic health conditions such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many different types of cancer. Furthermore, obesity is also associated with significant economic burdens. It is estimated that the economic costs of obesity in Australia would double and touch $120 billion per year by 2025. Keeping in mind the adverse health and economic consequences of obesity, it is no wonder why so many people are now looking for various weight-loss interventions. Surgical treatment of obesity, also known as bariatric surgery, is currently the most common intervention with tremendous results and high success rates.  

Surgical Treatment of Obesity

While excess weight is quite easy to manage using dietary interventions, lifestyle changes, and simple exercise regimes, for those who are morbidly obese or suffer from other serious health issues related to their excess weight, weight-loss surgery also known as bariatric surgery may prove to be the best answer. 

Bariatric surgery is a collective term used for different types of weight-loss surgeries. The basic aim/objective of these surgeries is to make changes in the digestive system to achieve weight-loss goals quickly. The digestive tract/system can be altered/changed/modified in the following two ways to achieve this goal:

  • Restriction – surgery is used to alter/modify/change the shape of the stomach in order to limit its ability to hold food, which in turn limits the intake of food.
  •  Malabsorption – surgery is used to modify/alter/change part of the small intestine in order to reduce the absorption of nutrients. 

Operations Available

Following are some of the most commonly performed weight-loss operations available at this time:

  • Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding

Each type of weight-loss surgery comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages and specific requirements. Let’s have a look these options one-by-one to help you understand them.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

In this type of surgery, a new, small stomach pouch at the top of the stomach is created by using surgical staples. This small pouch is then linked with the small intestine, missing out (bypassing) the main stomach. This significantly reduces the amount of food or drink you can comfortably eat or drink at any given time which causes fewer calories to be absorbed. 

Benefits 

  • 60-80% excess weight loss can be achieved within 12-18 months
  • normalizes high blood pressure and high cholesterol level
  • relief from sleep apnea

Risks

  • natural anatomy is altered
  • chances of dumping syndrome
  • chances of ulcer

Success Rate

  • very successful 

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is a restrictive and malabsorptive procedure and it is not reversible.

Sleeve Gastrectomy | Surgical Treatment Of Obesity

In this type of surgery, the surgeon removes a large part (almost 80%) of the stomach, considerably limiting its ability to hold much food. However, this procedure does not affect the absorption of calories and nutrients in the intestines. 

Benefits

  • 50-60% excess weight loss can be achieved within the first 2 years
  • normalises high blood pressure and high cholesterol level
  • can improve conditions like type 2 diabetes, arthritis, asthma

Risks

  • natural anatomy is altered
  • weight loss is slower

Success Rate

  • moderately successful

Sleeve Gastrectomy is a restrictive surgical procedure and it cannot be reversed.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding

In this procedure, the surgeon places a band around the top of the stomach. The band – which is an inflatable silicone device – helps to slow down the consumption of food. 

Benefits

  • 40-60% excess weight loss can be achieved within the first 3-4 year following the surgery
  • simple procedure
  • lower risk and complications
  • less time consuming

Risks

  • weight loss is much slower

Success Rate

  • moderately successful

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is a restrictive surgical procedure and it is can be reversed.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne


What Is Anemia?

How To Prevent Anemia

Anemia is a potentially serious medical condition where your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, this in turn means you can’t carry oxygen throughout the body and end up fatigued/tired.

How To Prevent Anemia

Our Blood

The average male body contains about 12 pints of blood and a female body about 9 pints of blood. Blood accounts for 7-8% of our total body weight and is composed of 45% blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) and 55% plasma. Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most abundant cells in the blood; they contain a special protein called ‘hemoglobin’ which helps in transporting oxygen to different parts of the body. The presence of hemoglobin in the blood gives it the reddish color.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders; it is characterised by a decrease in either the number of circulating red blood cells (RBCs) in the body or the quantity of hemoglobin within the RBCs. Under such condition, the body is not able to get the required amount of oxygen it needs to perform different functions. Anemia can lead to fatigue, weakness, paleness of skin, shortness of breath, and many other complications.

How to Prevent Anemia

Once we are able to fully understand why anemia occurs, we can come up with a comprehensive plan to prevent it from happening. Here are the four leading causes of anemia:

  • decreased or abnormal red blood cell production (such as heredity spherocytosis, thalassemia)
  • physical loss of red blood cells (such as bleeding from the bowel or stomach, heavy periods or childbirth, cancer, ulcers, and gastritis)
  • destruction of red blood cells (such as sickle cell anemia and artificial heart valves)
  • decreased numbers of red blood cells (due to iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, bone marrow, and stem cell problems)

In Australia, iron deficiency is the leading cause of Anemia affecting more than one million people.

Prevention of anemia depends on the underlying factors that cause it and its severity. Mild cases of anemia usually get better with some quick lifestyle changes, whereas severe cases may need ongoing treatment and can be fatal if left untreated. It’s hard to treat or prevent anemia that is caused by a genetic disease, similarly, you cannot avoid anemia that is caused due to heavy blood loss. If your body is deficient in or unable to absorb and utilise certain nutrients, such as iron or vitamin B12, making diet changes can help manage your levels and prevent anemia.

Following are some of the steps you can take to prevent, treat and control anemia.

Follow a Healthy Diet

Following a nutritious, iron-rich diet can help prevent common types of anemia and increase your energy levels. Iron is very helpful in boosting the production of hemoglobin, which in turn helps to form more RBCs. Here is a list of some iron-rich foods that you can include in your diet plan to prevent certain types of anemia:

  • broccoli
  • red meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • soy products
  • green leafy vegetables
  • dried fruits

Similarly, increasing folate (a type of vitamin) intake is also linked with increased ‘heme’ production. Heme is an important component of hemoglobin that helps to carry oxygen. Here are some food items that are considered a good source of folate:

  • peanuts
  • beef
  • kidney beans
  • spinach
  • black-eyed peas
  • rice
  • lettuce

To make sure that the iron and folate you have included in your diet is absorbed completely by the body, you also need to consume foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is very beneficial in maximising iron and folate absorption.

For people with severe anemia, doctors may advise the intake of iron supplements. The dosage will depend on the severity of the condition and the symptoms. If you are worried you might be anemic contact us for a checkup.

Southgate Medical Centre
(03) 9690 1433
Doctor Melbourne

What Is Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder

What Is It, What Are Risk Factors and Possible Causes, How Is It Treated

What is bipolar disorder

Life never stays the same, it has ups and downs. Sometimes we are sad, other times we are happy. Sometimes we are angry, other times we are all relaxed. For many people, coping with these life changes and accompanying mood swings is relatively easy, for others, especially those who suffer from a particular type of depressive illness called “bipolar disorder”; these mood swings are quite extreme and adversely affect their energy levels and their ability to function.

What Is It?

Previously referred to as “manic-depressive illness”, bipolar disorder is actually a type of brain disorder that is characterised by unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy levels, and ability to function.

Unlike most people, patients suffering from this type of brain disorder often experience extreme mood swings accompanied by changes in energy levels, ability to sleep, think and perform clearly. Sometimes these mood swings and the accompanying symptoms are so strong that the person is unable to even go to school, hold down a job or maintain a healthy relationship. Under extreme conditions, people with bipolar disorder even try to hurt themselves or attempt suicide.

In Australia, bipolar disorder affects 1 in 50 Aussies and is typically diagnosed at the age of 20.

What are the Symptoms?

Bipolar disorder is a type of episodic disorder, meaning it is recurring in nature. It typically consists of the following 3 states or episodes:

  1. a high state referred to as mania or manic episode – the patient feels very happy and “up”, and is more energetic and active than usual
  2. a low state, referred to as depression or depressive episode – the patient feels very sad and “down”, and is less energetic and active than usual
  3. a normal state – the patient feels balanced again

Each episode of bipolar disorder is characterised by particular symptoms. Some common symptoms of a manic episode are outlined below:

Common Symptoms of Manic Episode | What Is Bipolar Disorder

  • excessively ‘high’, euphoric mood
  • increased energy levels
  • extreme irritability
  • aggression
  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • delusions
  • poor judgment
  • increased sexual drive
  • distractibility

Common Symptoms of Depressive Episode

  • extreme depression
  • marked loss of interest or pleasure
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • sleep problems
  • apathy or agitation
  • loss of energy
  • worthlessness and guilt
  • suicidal thoughts
  • severe anxiety
  • inability to concentrate

If the symptoms of a manic episode or depressive episode occur most of the day, every day, for a week or longer, you need to consult an experienced psychiatrist for formal diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.

What are the Risk Factors and Possible Causes?

Although the exact cause of bipolar disorder is still not fully understood, many researchers agree that there are many factors that act together to produce this illness. Here are some risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder:

  • Genetics – people with a family history of the disorder are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder
  • Environment – stressful events, traumatic events, physical abuse, neglect, or other traffic events increase the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder
  • Substance Abuse – people who abuse alcohol or drugs are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder
  • Gender – women are three times more likely to experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder

How Is It Treated? | What Is Bipolar Disorder

Currently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder; the treatment usually revolves around controlling or managing the symptoms. The treatment of bipolar disorder usually involves a combination of medications and psychotherapies. Depending on the severity of the condition, a psychotherapist or GP may recommend any one or both of these treatment options to achieve substantial stabilisation of extreme mood swings and related symptoms.

  • Medication

Medications that are used to treat mental disorders or illnesses such as bipolar disorder are called psychotropics. These medications act on the brain and the nervous system and try to help to restore the normal chemical balance. Most of the symptoms associated usually respond well to these medications. Since it is a recurring illness, the patient may have to use these medications (psychotropics) for prolonged periods in order to treat/manage the symptoms and prevent them from returning.

  • Psychosocial Treatments

The basic aim of using different psychosocial treatments such as psychotherapy, psycho-education, support group, and rehabilitation; is to help the patient learn the skills to:

  • recognise and understand the signs and symptoms of manic and depressive episodes early, so proper treatment can be started early
  • decrease the frequency and intensity of symptoms
  • change their behavior and improve the quality of life

Psychosocial treatments for bipolar disorder are provided by a trained psychiatrist, therapist, or psychologist. Some of the common psychosocial interventions used for bipolar disorder are:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • psycho-education
  • family-focused therapy
  • interpersonal and social rhythm therapy

Several clinical studies have shown that when used effectively with medications, these psychosocial interventions can lead to improved functioning, increased mood stability, and fewer hospitalisations.

  • Other Treatments

In situations where the use of medications and psychosocial treatments works too slowly or proves ineffective, other treatment options such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or “shock” therapy and/or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be recommended. ECT is considered to be a highly effective and safe treatment option for both manic phase and the depressive phase.  ECT involved passing a small electric current through the brain in a very controlled environment, whereas TMS involves passing a series of short magnetic pulses through the brain in order to stimulate certain nerve cells.

Southbank Medical Centre

Doctor Melbourne

ANTIBIOTICS FOR FLU: DO THEY RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS?

antibiotics for flu
antibiotics for flu

Influenza commonly referred to as “flu”, is a highly contagious, acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. According to health experts, thousands of people suffer from this serious viral infection every year in Australia, while hundreds of them die of this deadly disease. According to rough estimates, influenza “flu” contributes to more than 3,000 deaths in Australia each year. This viral infection takes the shape of a pandemic during the winter season and puts a significant burden on the economy, causing not only missed days of work and school but also hospitalisations. So, what is the best way to fight influenza and stay healthy during the flu season? Is taking antibiotics for flu safe? Do they relieve the symptoms? Should you use antiviral medications to relieve flu symptoms? Is flu vaccination the best protection against influenza?

It is important to note that neither antibiotics nor antiviral medications or flu shots are a permanent cure for the flu or kill the flu virus; they only lessen the severity or shorten the duration of the associated symptoms.

Antibiotics For Flu – Do They Relieve The Symptoms?

  • Firstly, you need to understand that common colds and flu are upper respiratory tract infections that are caused by a virus, so the use of antibiotics is definitely not the right choice, as they are only effective in treating bacterial infections. In fact, taking them to treat the common flu virus may do more harm than good.
  • Secondly, you need to understand that taking antibiotics for non-severe viral upper respiratory tract infections such as common cold and flu may compromise your body’s natural response against such diseases and may increase your risk of getting an infection later that may resist antibiotic treatment.
  • Thirdly and most importantly, use of antibiotics for the treatment of common cold, flu, cough, irritation of the throat, and other viral illnesses comes with many side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, ototoxicity, fever, and abdominal pain.

That said, if you have developed a secondary bacterial infection, such as sinus infection, ear infection, or bacterial pneumonia, as a complication of flu, your doctor may advise you to use an appropriate antibiotic to it.

Bottom line: Use of antibiotics to relieve the symptoms associated with influenza (flu) is not a safe and effective option since it is not a bacterial infection.

We recommend having the flu vaccination on an annual basis as the best option to minimise potential harm from this nasty infection.

Southgate Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne

ALCOHOL – HOW IS IT PROCESSED IN THE BODY

Alcohol How Is It Processed In The Body

What is a standard drink, Alcohol intake guidelines, Effects of alcohol on our health?

Alcohol How Is It Processed In The Body

Drinking alcoholic beverages is a norm in many of the Western countries including Australia. According to the latest statistics, 67.9% of Australians aged 18 years and older consume at least one full serving of alcohol in 12 months. Although the percentage of Aussies who drink alcohol on a daily basis has decreased significantly (from 6.5% in 2013 to 5.9% in 2016), there are many people out there who misuse it. Most of the people who drink alcohol on a daily basis have no idea at all as to how it is processed in the body and the impact it has as it travels through the body.

There is a strong need to educate people on how to drink responsibly, and understanding the effects on the body can make people realise how overuse or misuse affects the health.

How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body?

The effects of alcohol consumption on your body depends on your age, ethnicity, gender, daily consumption, and type of alcoholic beverages you drink. Besides this many other factors such as alcohol absorption, alcohol metabolism and alcohol elimination determine how it affects your body in the short and long run.

Alcohol Absorption

The process of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream starts as soon as you take your first sip. A significant percentage of the alcohol (almost 80%) is absorbed through the small intestine, while the remaining (20%) through the stomach. While the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream may vary from person to person and is also influenced by what else you drink or eat, there is no way you can stop the alcohol from entering your system. Once it enters your system, it affects almost every organ and part of the body, including the brain.

Alcohol Metabolism | How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body

Once alcohol reaches the stomach, part of it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tissue lining while the remaining (90%) is broken down into a number of different organic and non-harmful compounds by a process known as alcohol metabolism. While the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys play some role in alcohol metabolism, most of this breakdown occurs in the liver.

Alcohol Elimination | How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body

In addition to direct absorption and metabolism, some alcohol (about 10%) is also eliminated from the body without any changes. Most of this alcohol elimination is in the form of urine or perspiration, some alcohol is also eliminated through breath.

What Is a Standard Drink?

Alcoholic beverages come in different flavors, strengths, and serving sizes, this makes it harder for many responsible drinkers to keep track of how much alcohol they are consuming. As per the Australian guidelines, a healthy adult should not consume more than 2 standard drinks on any day to avoid any harmful side effects. So what is a standard drink?

A standard drink, in reality, is a unit of measurement. In Australia, this refers to any drink containing 10g of alcohol, regardless of the alcohol type or container size. Follow these guidelines to find out how many standard drinks are in different types of alcoholic beverages:

425 ml of low-strength beer (2.7% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

100 ml of wine (white – 11.5% alc. vol. and red – 13%alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

375 ml of mid-strength beer (3.5% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

30 ml of spirit (40% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

275 ml bottle of ready-to-drink beverages (5% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

285 ml of full-strength beer (4.8% alc. vol.) = 1 standard drink

Alcohol Intake Guidelines

There is no specific volume and concentration of alcohol that can be classified as completely “safe” or have “no risks”. Even small amounts of alcohol are associated with both short-term and long-term harms. The more you drink, the greater the risk. However, drinking alcoholic beverages within the recommended responsible limits can greatly reduce the risk of harm.

The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia have developed some guidelines for healthy men and women to stick to a responsible alcohol intake that can reduce the risk of harm from alcohol, these are:

  • Guideline 1 – drinking no more than 2 standard-drinks of alcohol on any given day can greatly reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related injury, disease
  • Guideline 2 –  drinking no more than 4 standard drinks of alcohol on a single occasion can greatly reduce the risk of alcohol-related damage arising from that occasion

Effects of Alcohol on Our Health

Occasional responsible drinking of alcohol is generally fine, but irresponsible or regular drinking can cause some serious health and social problems, both in the short-term as well as long-term. Here is how “excessive” or “binge drinking” can damage your health:

  • brain damage (loss of memory, hallucinations, fits, dementia)
  • swollen liver (cirrhosis)
  • risk of chest infections
  • risk of STDs
  • risk of HIV/AIDs
  • impotence in men
  • infertility in women
  • loss of muscle
  • ulcer
  • enlarged heart (high blood pressure, irregular pulse)
  • pancreatitis
  • diabetes

Southbank Medical Centre
How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body
Doctor Melbourne

Heart Health And How You Can Improve It

Heart Health And How You Can Improve It
Heart Health And How You Can Improve It

Heart-related diseases or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are still the number one killer of men and women in the world. According to recent estimates, more than 18 million people lose their lives due to CVDs each year. In Australia, 1 in 5 adults (22%) of the population are diagnosed with CVD every year. It is expected that by 2030 more than 23 million people living in different parts of the world will die from cardiovascular diseases.  

The good news is that most of these heart diseases or CVDs can be prevented easily by making healthy lifestyle choices. Most of these choices revolve around minimising or completely eliminating the risk factors that increase your chance of developing CVD (heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and arrhythmia). Controlling the risk factors can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing any heart-related complications.

To understand how you can improve health of your heart, it is important to first have a good understanding of the risks factors that increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Risk Factors Associated with CVDs

There is no single thing that causes cardiovascular diseases; in fact, there are “risk factors” that increase your chances of developing CVDs. Some of the risk factors are:

  • having high blood pressure
  • having a high cholesterol level
  • having insomnia (lack of sleep)
  • having diabetes
  • having depression
  • being overweight
  • being physically inactive
  • heavy alcohol use
  • smoking

How to Improve Your Heart Health

Here are a few practical yet simple steps you can take at your end that will surely get you on the road to a healthier heart and better health in general.

Say Goodbye to Smoking

Doctor Melbourne

Smoking is one of the major risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the body to produce a hormone called “adrenaline” which makes the heart beat faster and raises the blood pressure. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the heart, this damages the artery walls. Other chemicals present in cigarettes damage the lining of the arteries and make the blood more likely to clot. All of these things increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, angina, and peripheral arterial disease.

Saying goodbye to smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart health.

Be Physically Active

Regular physical activity is good not only for your heart but also for your general wellbeing. People who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than those who are not physically active. Regular physical activity helps to:

  • build healthy muscles, bones, and joints
  • improves cholesterol levels
  • reduces the risk of diabetes
  • improves mood and helps you sleep better
  • decreases the risk of heart diseases
  • lowers blood pressure
  • improve body composition (body-mass-index ratio)

Moderate intensity rhythmic (aerobic) exercises such as cycling, brisk walking, and swimming are considered to be ideal for a healthy heart. Make physical activity part of your daily routine and aim to do at least 150 minutes of different aerobic exercises in a week to keep your heart in good shape.

Achieve & Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

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If you are obese or overweight, you are at a higher risk of facing serious health problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, diabetes, asthma or other breathing problems. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way in keeping your heart healthy.

You need to first examine your daily eating habit and make sure you are not eating more calories than your body is able to burn, these extra calories actually result in weight gain. By eating the right portion sizes and cutting down on sugar and fats, you can dramatically reduce your waist size. Increasing your physical activity can help you burn the extra calories, and keep your body weight in check.

Eat Heart-Healthy Diet

Good nutrition plays a big role in keeping your heart healthy. By making smart food choices, you can significantly reduce your risk of CVDs. A heart-healthy diet helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol level, and your waistline. According to experts, here is what constitutes a heart-healthy diet:

  • more portions of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and plain unsalted nuts
  • un-refined whole grains and cereals such as oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, bread, and noodles
  • moderate amounts of lean unprocessed meats, reduced dairy products, and skinless chicken
  • oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring and lake trout (at least twice a week)
  • low fat or fat-free milk and dairy products
  • plant-based oils, such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil
  • limited or no use of salt

The exact composition of the heart-healthy diet will ultimately depend on individual characteristics such as your age, gender, physical and mental health, lifestyle, the degree of physical activity, availability of food items in your area, and dietary customs.

Keep your Stress Levels under Control

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There is a strong link between stress and heart health. Studies have shown that people who are under constant stress or do not have quality social support are at a greater risk of developing CVDs. Constant stress can also lead to the adoption of unhealthy habits such as smoking, use of drugs, and excessive use of alcohol, all of which increase the risk of heart diseases.

It is, therefore, very important to learn how to relax and effectively deal with stress. Here are some simple tips you can follow to tackle day-to-day stress:

  • identify situations/activities that make you feel stressed and try to avoid them, if possible
  • be realistic about your expectations/goals and do not try to push things to the limit to satisfy your end goals
  • make sure to keep yourself active by engaging yourself in activities that you like
  • try relaxation techniques or join meditation/yoga classes
  • be socially active and share your feelings with your loved ones

It is never too late to make changes in your life and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Whatever your age, race, sex or medical condition, you can always make these adjustments in your life to protect your heart and your overall health.

Southbank Medical Centre
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Skin Cancer Moles | Mole Checks & Treatments

skin cancer moles
skin cancer moles

Moles, medically referred to as “melanocytic nevi” are pink, brown, or tan colored raised or flat skin lesions of cells that produce “melanin” – the pigment that gives human skin its color. Presence of moles on the skin is not unusual. On average, most people have 10-40 moles on different parts of their skin. They may be present at birth (congenital melanocytic nevi) or may develop in the later parts of life (usually adulthood) as a response to external stimuli (sunlight or UV light), these moles are referred to as acquired melanocytic nevi. Although genetics play an important role in determining the pattern and frequency of skin moles, exposure to sunlight and UV light can also cause you to have more moles and make the ones you already have larger and darker. So, how can you differentiate between a normal skin mole from a skin cancer mole?

While a skincare specialist (dermatologist) is the ideal person to tell the difference between a normal mole and an abnormal one, there are few simple things you can do at home to identify a troublesome mole/blemish/freckle.

Skin Cancer Mole Check

Moles come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Most of them are usually harmless and do not change, there are some that can grow, change in shape and color and even become cancerous (melanoma). Melanomas can develop from existing moles or they can appear as “new mole-like marks” on the normal skin. The good news is that moles that are considered unusual or “atypical” affect only 10% of the population and only 1 in 10,000 people will have a cancerous mole. With early diagnosis and detection, most melanoma cases can be successfully treated.

While a detailed exam by an experienced Dermatologist is the best way to determine if a mole is cancerous or not, there are a few specific things you can do on your own to spot changes or identify any potential cancerous growth. The ABCDEs of moles can help you analyze moles and check for warning signs that may indicate melanoma.  If you see one or more signs, you need to consult your dermatologist immediately.

  • Asymmetry – if the two halves of the mole may differ in appearance
  • Border – if the outside edges or border of the mole is uneven, distorted, or ill-defined
  • Color – if the color of the mole is changing and not consistent or if  you see different colors of dark black, blue, red, purple, pink, or brown within the mole
  • Diameter – if the diameter of a mole is larger than the diameter of the eraser found on the backend of pencil
  • Evolution – if you notice any changes in color, size, shape, or thickness and if this change is rapid or different than you notice in other moles

The ABCDE formula is just a handy tool to watch for general signs, not all skin cancer moles have these traits. Some might be growing quickly but not have other characteristics, while others may not be growing but show discoloration and asymmetry. Your dermatologist will be able to come to a better conclusion after performing a careful history and physical examination and conducting some additional tests such as a biopsy.  

The Treatment Options

The treatment for skin cancer moles depends on a number of factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, the size, location and depth of the melanoma, and your overall health. Surgical removal of the cancerous mole is the most preferred treatment option. A team of specialists including a dermatologist, a pathologist, a plastic surgeon, an oncologist, and a specialist nurse usually participates in these surgeries. In order to make sure that no traces of active cancer cells are left behind, the surgeon may remove a normal margin of the tissue surrounding the mole. If the team of doctors finds that a melanoma has spread beyond the skin, other treatment options may be used, such as:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Knowing your risk factors and being aware of the early warning signs is the best way to deal with skin cancer moles. If you note any changes in the color, size, shape or appearance of your skin moles, don’t wait – consult your dermatologist as soon as possible.

Southbank Medical Centre
Skin Cancer Moles
Doctor Melbourne