Meatless Monday Motivations

The Meatless Monday trend has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years and has led many people to adopting a fully vegan diet. Surviving on a diet devoid of animal products – including meat, eggs and cheese – does not seem appealing, but the reality of it is delicious, healthy, hearty food that bursts with flavour and harms no animals in the process. Meatless Mondays are the perfect excuse to dip your foot in the vegan pond and see if it works for you. We’ve found 3 great recipes packed with nutrients and flavour to help get you started:

With the holidays coming up, people tend to over eat, with most of the consumption being meats from braais and roasts!

Meat has been linked to various types of health issues, so if you’re a die-hard meat lover, perhaps give your tummy a break once a week with these delicious treats.

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The Benefits And Myths Of Lemon Water

Lemon water, one of the latest health trends, has people swearing by the benefits of a simple fruit and water mixture. There are even diets based entirely on lemons, but does it live up to the hype?

Drinking lemon water in the morning is believed to promote digestion, help weight loss, balance the body’s pH levels and “detoxify from the inside out”, while also brightening the skin and boosting your immune system.

This is the nutrient breakdown for one glass of lemon water (water with juice from half a lemon):

  • Calories: 9.
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram.
  • Vitamin C: 25% of the RDI.
  • Folate: 1% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 1% of the RDI.

Lemon water is a low-calorie and low-sugar beverage, even though it doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients, another fruit, say a half an orange, would have double the calories and sugar in your drink. Lemon water is high in vitamin C, comparative to its calorie and sugar content and contains trace amounts of folate and potassium.

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What To Have In Your First Aid Kit At Home

A first aid kit is a good decision for every home, but there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to these kits. There are certain factors to take into account when building your own home kit.

When deciding what to include in your first aid kit, consider the level of medical and first aid training you and the people who will have access to this kit have, or are willing and able to get. For example, most first aid kits contain a triangular bandage, but someone without first aid training would probably not know what to do with it.

Other potential problems with medicines included in kits are allergic reactions, overdosing and interactions between different medicines. You should know what your household can and cannot take and tailor your kit to your family. You know your family’s health conditions, so consider how you can best cater for them.

Where you live and whether there is a doctor or pharmacy nearby are also factors to take into consideration. You’re less likely to need a big, wide-ranging first aid kit if you live in the city as opposed to far from doctors and pharmacies.

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Let’s Talk About Banting

By now, you would not just have heard of this magical diet – you would have seen the miraculous results some people are boasting. Yes, people have managed to lose a lot of weight quickly by following the Banting diet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or recommended for everyone.

It all started in 1862, when William Banting, an obese undertaker in Britain, sought advice from his doctor. His doctor recommended a drastic change to his diet, eliminating most carbs in favour of high fat options with moderate protein. Mr. Banting lost a remarkable amount of weight and thus, The Banting Diet was born.

A few hundred years later, South African Professor, Tim Noakes, came across research which indicated that current international food guidelines were detrimental to overall health. He then conducted his own research and came to the conclusion that the healthiest possible diet for many human bodies consisted of a high percentage of fat and a low percentage of carbohydrates. He went on to challenge international eating guidelines and started The Noakes Foundation to enforce his message, ultimately reversing the global trends related to food and challenging current health and nutrition misconceptions. The first step in his process was to write The Real Meal revolution – the concise Banting guide which has taken the world by storm.

The book teaches you exactly what to eat in order to achieve “banting” status, and contains many delicious high fat, low carb Banting recipes designed to maximise weight loss and promote overall health while you’re Banting.

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Are Your Kids Eating The Right Snacks?

Kids are snacking more than ever. Years ago kids between the ages of 2 and 6 ate on average one snack a day between meals, but today, kids typically eat almost three. Some kids eat even more than that.

Snacks are an important part of their diet because kids have a smaller stomach and high energy needs. However, when kids are allowed to eat all day, it robs them of the chance to develop an appetite. If kids aren’t coming to the table at dinner time least a little hungry, they’re not as willing to try new foods.

Toddlers and preschoolers can go two to three hours between meals and snacks, older kids three to four. Parents should avoid on-the-go snacks- in the car and the pram, in the shopping cart, or as you’re going out the door as much as possible. This could make it harder for kids to eat the right amount because they’re distracted. Mindless eaters don’t have the chance to savour food or pay attention to their body’s hunger or fullness signals, which often end up over-eating or under-eating.

The right kinds of snacks are important as it’s a big part of their diet, you should also feel good about the snacks you give your child. Paediatrician, Dr Shire Singh, says while healthy snacks are excellent for kids, an occasional sweet treat now and then could teach them how to deal with moderation from a young age. “They know they’ve had it before and will have it again” when it comes to sweet things, where as children who are deprived of any sweet things, will sneakily try to have these.

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Should You Vaccinate Your Infant?

Vaccinations are a preventive method of disease control. They’re essentially a trial-run to prepare your body to fight specific diseases. While human body is truly amazing and works very hard to fight off infection, vaccines help this process by exposing the body to specific diseases in minuscule amounts.

When diseases are introduced in this way, the body produces antibodies to counteract and fight these specific disease antigens.

It takes a few days to create the necessary antibodies the first time a disease is introduced. The next time your body is exposed to the specific disease, it will be able to create antibodies much faster and prevent the disease from running rampant and causing damage. This is why vaccines are so powerful.

Vaccines are typically made of dead or weakened antigens so there is no risk of true infection when they are administered. However, the immune system still sees them as an enemy and produces the necessary antibodies in response.

Many people claim vaccinations cause long-term damage; research is still being conducted to determine whether or not this is true. It has been proven, however, that vaccines have eradicated serious, life-threatening illnesses. Polio and smallpox are no longer prevalent; there have been no documented cases of these diseases in years.

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How Your Phone Spreads Bacteria

On each square centimetre of your skin there are about 1 500 bacteria. Five of the most common ways to spread germs are centred around our hands and touching. From unclean hands touching food; working with raw food, then touching other uncooked foods; shaking hands and touching animals.

But throughout our day, there is one common device we are constantly clutching in our hands, our phones. Fun fact: each square inch of your cell phone contains roughly 25,000 germs, making it one of the filthiest things you come in contact with on a daily basis, according to Mashable. However, toilet seat contains around 1201 bacteria per square inch.

The same study showed that a door knob contained even more bacteria, at 8643 per square inch. Many people typically use a door knob each day, yet it still doesn’t come close to the amount of germs you find on your screen.

That is a lot of germs to press to your face daily. Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, says this is not surprising. “Nobody ever cleans or disinfects their phone, so the germs and bacteria just keep building up,” he explains.

But what type of germs would you find on your screen? Well, germs such as E. coli, as well as influenza and MRSA, a germ that causes rashes and skin infections, were present in studies.

Gerba added: “With the advent of touch-screen phones, the same part of the phone you touch with your fingertips is pressed right up against your face and mouth, upping your chances of infection.”

A study involving 200 phones as published in the “Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials” stated “94.5 percent of the phones were contaminated with some kind of bacteria, many of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics.”

A large amount of germs are transferred from our hands to our phones and vice versa, according to the study 30 percent of the bacteria on the phones ended up on the owner’s hands.

“Because people are always carrying their cell phones even in situations where they would normally wash their hands before doing anything, cell phones do tend to get pretty gross,” says Emily Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Time reported.

Germs get passed on to your phone every time you check a text or send an email, but most of the organisms found on phones are not pathogens that will make you sick, Martin added.

So the next time you’re holding your phone think about how many germs are in your hand. However there are ways to minimize the amount of bacteria that’s on your phone. Firstly, the path to a clean phone begins with not taking it into the bathroom. Whether you wash your hands or not, germs still find a way to latch on, so try not taking it along. Other tricks would include wiping it with a micro cloth, etc.

But if you are like most of us, and take your phone EVERYWHERE, invest in insurance not only for your phone, but for your health too! Medical insurance in South Africa is as simple as going to and signing up and we will call you.

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Five Exercises For Great Abs

Your body’s core consists of a group of muscles in and around the abdomen, and its key function is to stabilise the body while it moves. This is why having a strong core is so important – to keep you from getting injured while doing normal, everyday things.

These exercises are not just great for strengthening your core – they’ll help you beat the bulge and create beautiful abs in the process! The best part is that you don’t need any expensive equipment or a gym membership – you can practice these great ab moves in the comfort of your own home.

The Abdominal Hold:

All you need to complete this fantastic ab exercise is a chair, and after a few seconds you’ll start feeling the burn!

  1. Grab a sturdy chair and sit at the edge with your hands flat down, right beside you and your fingers pointed out towards your knees.
  2. Tighten your abs and push yourself upwards, so your butt lifts a few centimetres off the seat.
  3. Hold yourself in that position for 10 – 15 seconds and remember to breathe!
  4. Lower yourself slowly and sit normally for a few seconds – That’s one rep.

Try to do 5 or 6 reps per workout.

High Arm Partial Sit Up

This one is something between a crunch and a sit up – but with an interesting twist!

  1. Lie flat on your back and knees bent at 90 degrees – like you would during a normal sit up.
  2. Raise your arms and point them towards the ceiling, try to keep them pointed up throughout the exercise.
  3. Do a half sit up (or crunch) and then lower yourself to the ground. That’s one rep.

Do as many of these as you can within a minute in your workout.

Flutter Kicks

This seems easy enough, but packs quite the punch due to the rapid movements of your legs.

  1. Lie flat on your back and raise both your legs off the ground
  2. Kick your feet up and down in a scissor-like motion, but make sure they do not touch the ground.
  3. Do this for about a minute, and then rest. This is one rep.

Aim to do 5 – 6 reps in your workout.

The Plank

You’ve definitely heard of this one – it’s well known for shredding cores!

  1. Begin by lying face down on the ground with your hands below your shoulders and your elbows up – like the beginning of a push up.
  2. Push yourself up into the full push up position with your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders and your knees off the ground.
  3. Hold it for 30 seconds, with your abs contracted, your arms and legs extended, and your head aligned with your spine.
  4. As you build strength you can hold this position for even longer, try to aim for a minute at a time.

There are even more difficult variations of this awesome ab exercise, so once you’ve mastered the basic form you can take your workouts up a notch and try a one-handed variety.

The Hundred

This deceptive move looks like a breeze but will have you panting in no time. Just keep breathing.

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides.
  2. Tighten your abs and lift your head up off the ground while simultaneously lifting your feet – at this point your arms should still be supporting you.
  3. Lift your arms and point them straight out in front of you – so your whole-body rests on your bum.
  4. Vigorously move your arms up and down, reaching with your fingertips.
  5. Keep your abs tight and your chin tucked under your head while you do this.

One minute of this is one rep. Try to incorporate 5 – 6 reps into your workout.

Incorporating combinations of these workouts into your exercise routine will get you some stronger core and tight, sculpted abs in no time. Be sure to compliment your workouts with an energy-controlled diet, plenty of water and enough sleep for truly spectacular results.

Before adopting any workout regime, speak to your doctor about what best suits you.

There are many affordable medical aid schemes and medical insurance plans that will ensure you are covered by the best doctors with the best advice on which lifestyle changes to make, that will ideally suit your specific needs.

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Are You Just Really Tired Or Is It A Sign Of A Larger Issue

ARE YOU JUST REALLY TIREDWhile being tired 24/7 is a bitter part of adulthood, at what point does it indicate a more serious issue? There are many factors that affect your sleeping habits, but sometimes you’re more than fatigued.

You should be aiming to get in the around seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be fully rested. Most people struggle to make the minimum hours. Your pre-bedtime habits can affect how you sleep; these denominators could make the eight hours a night you sleep, feel like four. However, it’s not normal to feel persistently fatigued for more than a week, according to Jenepher Piper, M.S.N., a certified registered nurse practitioner tells SELF.

Eating before bed, exercising right before bed, your phone and mattress can all factor into the fatigue you feel the next day. On the other end of the scale, going to bed hungry and not exercising enough can also impact your sleep negatively.

There are many ways in which you could be sabotaging your sleep with, leaving you tired the next day.

In some cases you need to flag your fatigue to your doctor, but when? And what could your fatigue be a sign of?

“Sleepiness is simply the drive to sleep. Falling asleep during concerts, sales meetings, or intercourse are sure signs of excessive sleepiness,” board-certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, M.D, of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine, says.

And, of course, you could also feel wiped even though you know you got enough sleep. This is when you should consider you may just be more than tired.

Your excessive fatigue could be caused by something as minor as PMS, in female’s cases, or getting over a virus. Your immune system works hard to fend off an infection and can leave you feeling fatigued after being sick. Another cause of fatigue could be allergies. Feeling winded, coughing, and a runny nose are all common signs of allergies, but your immune system is kicked into high gear fighting off allergens and can leave you feeling worn out.

Clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D, confirms your mental health can take a toll on your energy too. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness associated with depression can drain you. Clarks added: “If you aren’t sleeping well then you may be more tired, and in turn have more trouble sleeping,”

“Insomnia and mental health challenges are closely related and can exacerbate each other.”

According to Clark “anxiety in particular can be draining” and leave you just as fatigued. If you suspect you’re suffering from these symptoms, you should reach out to your mental health care professional.

If you suffer from diarrhoea, gas, and vomiting once you ingest gluten, or if you don’t feel well after having wheat, barley, or rye products, you talk to your doctor about getting tested for celiac disease. Feeling weak or fatigued, even without other symptoms, could also be a sign of celiac disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Extreme fatigue could also indicate Chronic fatigue syndrome – a disorder that causes extreme and unexplained fatigue. It gets worse with physical activity but doesn’t get better once you rest. Another condition that would leave you feeling fatigued, is anemia. Other symptoms can include pale or yellowish skin, shortness of breath, and cold hands and feet. Anemia can be determined by your doctor and resolved by taking an iron supplement.

Fatigue can also be a sign of a Thyroid problem. Your thyroid helps impact several important functions of your body and an under-active thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, can slow down your bodily functions and leave you feeling tired.

Hyperthyroidism on the other hand, a thyroid condition when your thyroid is overactive, speeds everything up and can cause insomnia and an inner restlessness.

Aging can affect the quality of your sleep, as you get older you may wake up more often and have a less consistent sleep pattern. If your fatigue is coupled with other symptoms or disrupts your daily life, it’s best to speak to your GP.

Affinity Health offers a range of competitively priced health insurance products that are designed to protect you and your family against unforeseen medical expenses… Affinity Health also offers hospital cover for individuals and families in the event of a medical emergency or severe illness.