World Travel Awards conquered by Portugal

Portugal has been mentioned as a leading destination for vacation in many articles and placed in the top of various rankings. This year, World Travel Awards distinguished the country with several awards in different sections.

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Photo credits: Bengt Nyman

Portugal conquering hearts

2018 is definitely the year of Portugal as an unmissable touristic place. World Travel Awards awarded Lisbon as Europe’s Leading City Destination 2018 and Portugal as Europe’s Leading Destination 2018.

Also, it is the third time in a row that Lisbon receives the award of Europe’s Leading Cruise Port 2018 and many Portuguese resorts and hotels conquered a prize in World Travel Awards this year. Regarding places hidden in the countryside, Madeira Islands were awarded as Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2018 and Passadiços do Paiva (Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark) as Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction 2018.

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Lisbon: the chosen place for a visit and for the stay

Lisbon has been in the top of the last rankings as a city break for tourists. The Telegraph explains the main reasons why Lisbon is such a desired destination, considering its restaurants, gastronomy, architecture, street art and closeness to the beach. There are other curious facts about the city: it is one of the world’s oldest ones, it is marked by Portugal’s role in the Age of Discovery and it gets more sun than anywhere else in Europe.

However, Lisbon is just not a city for a quick visit. Very recently it became the home of some celebrities: Monica Belluci, Michael Fassbender and Christin Louboutin bought their apartments in the typical neighbourhood of Alfama while Madonna is in the city’s spotlight because of her struggle to buy her ideal Portuguese house.

What really matters when moving abroad

The living cost, the sun and the quality of life are surely crucial factors that bring so many foreigners to Portugal. Nevertheless, when choosing this country to visit or to settle, there are two essential factors that strongly influence this decision: it is a safe destination and it has one of the few good healthcare systems in the world, as stated by the World Health Organization’s Director-General.

The blues in the spring

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Spring is the well-known season for the reappearance of sunnier days, happier moments and a better mood. So it is the time when flowers start to bloom and nature welcomes new species. A scenario of this character is delightful for many individuals but there’s a significant number of people who dramatically suffer from this climate change.

Anxiety and depression have sprung

In fact, at this time of year, the rates of depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and suicide are greater.

Interestingly, there’s a phenomenon called summertime depression, which means people start to get sad when spring arrives. There are also people suffering from seasonal affective disorder who see their symptoms go downhill with warmer temperatures and brighter days – even if this disorder is typically associated with winter.

Social events in this season may not help: “seeing cheery people all around you is a constant reminder that others are having a good time when you aren’t”, says Michelle Riba, MD, professor and associate director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center. She alerts as well for the fact that social influences and channels like Facebook and Instagram – where people like to show their vacations and that they having a wonderful time – can aggravate the symptoms related with depression.

Nature mixing with our feelings

Spring and depression could be allied due to one component: ragweed pollen. As stated in a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the symptoms before described, happen especially in people who suffer from allergic rhinitis. The rate of allergy is also greater in patients with depression.

In accordance with this research, “it is possible that sensitization and exposure to aeroallergens, which peak in spring, may be conducive to seasonal exacerbation of suicide risk factors such as anxiety, depression, hostility/aggression, and sleep disturbance.”

It is not all about sadness

Depression is wrongly understood as the synonym of sadness. In truth, sadness is an adaptive emotion in response to a significant loss and alert us for something that it’s not right and need attention. It is an essential emotion to experience the painful moments in our lives, nevertheless, depressed people tend to run away from sad feelings and try to hide them.

Depression is a more complex condition, it is characterized by an extended sadness and disinterest for life. Normally, depressed people abandon activities that previously were pleasant, and find difficult to carry out even very simple occurrences. Depression can cause a huge and persistent tiredness, lack of energy, insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) and loss or increased appetite. These symptoms act like a snowball making people feel useless and with low self-esteem.

So, what can we do?

Mindfulness, meditation, hypnosis and self-hypnosis are techniques that have been used by some professionals to deal with their patients’ depression. Studies keep demonstrating that exercise can be compared with an anti-depressive and permits to boost energy, diminish fatigue, enhance cell growth and neurotransmitters linked to humour and endorphins, reduce stress and relieve muscle tension – which is very helpful to combat depression.

However, it is important to look for professional treatment especially if you realize that you are experiencing these symptoms for at least two weeks.

Medical Port works with Portuguese and English speaking specialists in depression, burnout and sleep problems. Don’t hesitate in calling us if you are feeling blue this spring.

New trends increasing childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the current century. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, the number of overweight children under the age of 5 worldwide, is estimated to be over 41 million. Almost half of all overweight children under this age lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.

Societal trends and food marketing are the guilty ones

WHO recognized that the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity results from changes in society. These comprise social and economic development and policies in the areas of agriculture, transport, urban planning, the environment, food processing, distribution and marketing, as well as education.

As stated by Childhood Obesity Foundation, “societal trends have dramatically altered the nature of play and the way children interact with their environment”. Nowadays, they are exposed to marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium. A study made by WHO adds that “researchers examining food brand websites have found that child-oriented webpages frequently promote unhealthy products with dynamic, engaging, persuasive techniques”. A lack of access to physical activity opportunities and a sedentary “screen time” habit are also contributors to this scenario.

Prevention through a healthy diet

A healthy diet is crucial to prevent malnutrition in all forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases and conditions. There isn’t a unique formula to everyone since each individual has his own needs, there are nevertheless basic principles to follow (according to Eatwell Guide):

– Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day;- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, choosing wholegrain versions where possible;

– Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks), choosing lower fat and lower sugar options;

– Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily);

– Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts;

– Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day;

– If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.

 

In case of infants, WHO adds:

– They should be breastfed exclusively during the first 6 months of life.

–  From 6 months of age, breast milk should be complemented with a variety of adequate, safe and nutrient dense complementary foods. Salt and sugars should not be added to complementary foods.

 

Keep your child healthy

World Parkinson’s Disease Day

 

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a long-term progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops when cells in a particular part of the brain stop working properly and are lost over the time. These brain cells produce dopamine which is used by the brain to control movement.

Young adults rarely experience Parkinson’s disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older and men are 1.5 times more likely to have it than women.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Tremor, an uncontrollable movement that affects a part of the body, for example, the hand;
  • Rigidity, meaning stiff or inflexible muscle;
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia), reducing the ability to move and slow the movement’s patient and making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming;
  • Pain which can be a major issue for some people with Parkinson’s and can be felt in different ways. The musculoskeletal pain is the most common type of pain that people with Parkinson’s experience. It is usually felt as an ache around the joints, arms or legs;
  • Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, a condition that causes an overwhelming urge to move the legs;
  • Fatigue, experienced by up to half of people with Parkinson’s and may be one of the earliest symptoms;
  • Sleep and night-time problems that can affect the patient at any stage of the condition;
  • Speech and Communication issues which affect facial expressions, writing and verbal communication in people with Parkinson’s.

Although Parkinson’s Disease has no cure, there are treatments and therapies that can help the patient to control the symptoms such as:

  • Drug treatment, the main method used to control the PD symptoms. This treatment aims to increase the level of dopamine that reaches the brain and stimulate the parts of the brain where dopamine works;
  • Surgery, mainly used to treat people whose Parkinson’s symptoms can’t be controlled by medication;
  • Physiotherapy which can help PD patients having problems with everyday movements, such as walking or getting in and out of a chair or bed;
  • Occupational therapy that aims to help patients to execute everyday tasks when they become difficult to do.

If you need to undergo diagnosis or treatment, or you are a PD caregiver you may contact us and get more information about the Parkinson’s Intensive Learning Camp and individual therapeutic programmes for PD patients of the Campus Neurológico Sénior located in the centre of Portugal.

 

Source: Parkinson’s Foundation and Parkinson’s UK.

The importance of sleep for a healthy life

Contemporary society versus sleep

The benefits of a good night sleep are well known nowadays. However, in the World Sleep Day – celebrated every 16th March -, specialists keep reminding us how our routines are contradicting this knowledge and harming our health, in many cases without realizing it.

The pressure of work and the aim to fulfil the demands of the labour market are making people changing their priorities, placing the sleep time at the bottom. In fact, this behaviour causes diurnal fatigue, concentration problems and symptoms of anxiety, irritability and excessive diurnal somnolence, seriously prejudicing our performance. According to the Portuguese Sleep Society, sleep deprivation affects the memory, synthesis formation, hormones’ release, weakening the immune system and generating several other diseases.

How to get a better sleep

There are some easy and effective tips to help you to get a quiet night:

Adopt the habit of going to bed and wake up always at the same hour. The sun is a sort of time clock that regulates the balance between the environment and the human body’s rhythm. Normally, the human’s endogenous rhythm prepares the body to wake up at 6 am producing cortisol (the hormone responsible for activity and movement), and releases melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleep) at 9 pm, reaching its peak roughly at 12pm.

 

 

Avoid intellectual work (especially if it requires computer’s usage) at night and write a to-do-list instead. According to some surveys, this task will help you to ‘offload’ anxious thoughts and reduce your concerns.

 

 

Turn off smartphones, televisions, and tablets before you go to bed. The blue light issued by these devices suppresses melatonin’s release which affects our sleep and can cause insomnia.

 

 

Soothing infusions like chamomile, tilia, valerian and lavender help the body to relax and have a better sleep night. Coffee, soda, and guarana are the forbidden drinks during the evening.

 

 

Sometimes the origin of lack of sleep is anatomic or psychological. In these cases, a consultation with a specialist is essential to identify and tackle the problem. Medical Port can help you to find the right specialist and to guide you while in Portugal.

World Cancer Day 2018

What do specialists say? Healthy daily habits and screening are the main keys to cancer prevention.

There were an estimated 14.1 million cancer cases around the world in 2012, a number that is expected to grow to 24 million by 2035, according to World Cancer Research Fund International. To combat this disease and following guidelines from health institutions and specialists across the globe, many people in developed countries are changing their habits.

The adoption of a healthy lifestyle can reduce up to one-third of cancer cases, decreasing related fatality rates. Overweight and smoking are pointed out as strong risk factors, with the last being responsible for 90% of lung cancer cases in the world. A diet low in fruit and vegetables, alcohol use and lack of physical activity are also behavioral contributors to mortality associated with cancer.

Diagnose in advance

Screening, combined with a healthy lifestyle, is essential for cancer prevention and treatment. Early mammography screening contributes to reducing breast cancer mortality. For women aged 50 years or old, screening is a vital procedure to detect advanced cancer cases. Even though many people are aware of the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings, there isn´t the same concern with other forms such as colorectal cancer, in which mortality is still very high.

Screening can be effective in selected cancer types when appropriate tests are used, implemented effectively, and linked to other steps in the care process. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

A healthy routine to combat cancer

There is a growing number of people worried about cancer, who nowadays has access to a great amount of information. Aiming to promote a longer and healthier life, informed and concerned individuals are scrutinizing and adapting their diets for the sake of protection. It is already known that adopting specific habits in our daily routine can reduce the risk of a great number of conditions, cancer included. Regarding the World Cancer Day, celebrated every year on February 4th, the World Health Organization recalled the following effective tips for cancer prevention.

 

If you need to undergo diagnosis or treatment, you may contact us and we will make all local arrangements according to your condition and availability, ensuring that you undergo care in distinctive centres in Portugal, with medical experts and multidisciplinary teams.

Portugal: World’s Leading Destination

Portugal was the biggest winner at the latest World Travel Awards: the country was elected World’s Leading Destination. Lisbon got the award for the Best City Break Destination.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Azores

It’s the first time that an European country wins such award. Among the 17 destinations running for this recognition were countries like Brazil, Greece, USA or the Maldives. A couple of months ago Portugal had already won the award for Leading European Destination.

Portugal keeps attracting more and more tourists and foreign residents. This is another recognition adding to many accomplished during the last years. A couple of months ago, Lonely Planet placed Portugal among the top destinations for 2018.

Lisbon, once again

Lisbon, that has also been gathering multiple awards as destination for a while, was as well among the winners at the World Travel Awards Ceremony. This city was the top choice in the category for best city break destination.

 

 

 

World Diabetes Day 2017

422 million adults worldwide have diabetes. The prevalence of this condition is rising at a faster pace than before particularly among low and middle income countries.

There are different types of diabetes. Only type 1 is not preventable. In all cases, the consequences might be severe: vision loss, kidney failure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and even lower limb amputation.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and what causes it it’s still not known. In this case, the body does not produce sufficient insulin and requires a daily intake of insulin to compensate.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body produces sufficient insulin but doesn’t manage to use it well. It used to happen only in adults but lately can be found in children as well.This is the most common type and is normally associated with being overweight and conducting a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, diabetes type 2 can be prevented or delayed with a healthier lifestyle.

Gestational diabetes is temporary a condition that occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by hyperglycaemia. It represented and increased risk during pregnancy and delivery and can lead to diabetes type 2 in the children in the future.

Prevention is in your hands

Leading a healthy lifestyle and not smoking are important steps to prevent diabetes type 2. Additionally, only 30 minutes of physical activity per day can make a difference and help you to keep a healthy body weight.

Book a consultation with a nutritionist if you are looking for help to live a healthier and more active lifestyle!

 

The future of health at the Web Summit

Medical Port visited the tech conference that brought people from all over the world to Lisbon. The future of health was among the topics discussed at the Web Summit.

From alternative therapies to wearables, transplants and hybrid humans: a broad range of topics were discussed at the Web Summit.

The possibility of ever achieving a disease-free world was debated, but the opinion was clear: the majority of the attendees agreed it is quite utopic to ever achieve of such thing, despite the great advances of science.

Longevity was also discussed: could 125 be the new 80 in the future? Maybe, according to Gabriel Otte, who runs an enterprise working on disease prevention. Unfortunately, not all can be controlled by us, as the key seems to lie on a combination of genetics and lifestyle effects. However, Gabriel Otte recommends us to be as proactive about out general health as most people are with their teeth – checking it regularly and focusing on prevention.

Medical Port can help you keeping up your health and taking preventive steps during your stay in Portugal. Contact us for more information!

Lonely Planet: Portugal among the top destinations for 2018

The country comes third in the Lonely Planet ranking. This is just another of many international recognitions portraying Portugal as a desirable tourism destination.

Cascais, Portugal
Cascais, Portugal
Related: Portugal is the country to go in 2017

Already thinking about where to go next year? Lonely Planet, reknown worldwide for its travel guide books, places Portugal in third place in the top ten countries to visit next year. Last year, Lonely Planet had already featured Azores as one of the must visit regions for 2017.

The largest travel guide books publisher describes Portugal as “a dynamic center for art, culture and cuisine” along with the countries natural wonders, such as over 300 Blue Flag beaches and biosphere reserves. Check the full ranking

An established and awarded destination

a map of Portugal displaying the awards won at the World Travel awards
Related: Portugal receives 23 “World Travel Awards” – 2016

This recognition comes after multiple others throughout the last few years and emphasizes  the international appraisal of the country potential. Last month, at the World Travel Awards, Portugal got 37 “tourism oscars” . It was the most awarded country in Europe, gathering nearly 30% of the awards , including the prestigious Europe’s Leading destination along with the Leading Beach destination – the Algarve and Leading Cruise Port – Porto de Lisboa.