Mindful Eating: a new commitment to food

Nowadays, we are always rushing into something or somewhere. When it is time to pause for having a meal, our brain keeps connected to everything around us: we constantly check our phones, we are absorbed by social media news, and stressed by work and life issues. Amidst such turbulence, how can we be aware of the compromises made in our relationship with food?

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Inverting old and bad eating habits

Cultural, economic and marketing practices affect the way we buy and use food. Labour, leisure, preferences and lifestyle changes have made us increasingly sedentary also jeopardizing our eating habits. In the hope of contradicting these paths, many new diets have emerged, offering a range of ways to lose weight and improve our health. All these new solutions are nonetheless focused on cutting and adding nutrients to our meals, forgetting an essential part of the process: our eating behaviour.

Mindful eating cuts across this boom of trendy diets to alert us that healthy eating also included rethinking our eating habits and our relationship with food. This bond with what we eat derives from the awareness taste, smell, colour and texture of food. According to the Centre for Mindful Eating, “pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Mindful Eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating.”

This complete awareness helps us to focus or thoughts and feelings in those physical sensations related to eating, and to identify the true origin of hunger – whether if it is a physical hunger or if it is a consequence of an emotional cause.

Mindful Eating has been helpful in treating many conditions, including eating disorders – like binge eating -, depression or anxiety, and addressing various erroneous food-related behaviours.

How to practise Mindful Eating

Practising Mindful Eating may not be an easy task since it usually contradicts our normal eating habits, simultaneously demanding total concentration. According to the Harvard Health Publishing, there are a few steps that can help us improve our Mindful Eating.

First, the shopping list. We should consider the health value of every item added, preventing us from impulse buying at the supermarket. A second step is discipline.  We should avoid skipping meals and thus prevent seating at the table with excessive hunger. Meals should be taken with an appetite but in appropriate portions.

The third step involves the essence of Mindful Eating. “Appreciate your food. Pause for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the companions you’re enjoying it with.

Bring all your senses to the meal. When you’re cooking, serving, and eating your food, be attentive to colour, texture, aroma, and even the sounds different foods make as you prepare them. As you chew, try identifying all the ingredients, especially seasonings” as advised by Harvard Health Publishing.

The following steps involve taste and chewing. It’s easier to taste food completely when our mouth isn’t full. So taking small bites and putting down utensils between bites could help. Chewing thoroughly and eating slowly are other techniques that improve our experience in tasting all the flavours that are released.

Final advice: “Devote at least five minutes to Mindful Eating before you chat with your tablemates.”

 

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Portugal: another year being awarded by World Travel Awards

This year, Portugal has won another important award: it was elected for the third time in a row as the Best Touristic Destiny in Europe by the World Travel Awards. In the last year (2018), the country received 36 awards by World Travel Awards, this year a total of 39 went to Portugal. Read the full article to know the more important awards that the country won this year.

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Portugal: Europe’s Leading Destination 2019

Since 2008, Portugal has been acquiring distinctions from World Travel Awards in various categories. This year, it was considered Europe’s Leading Destination and Europe’s Leading Tourist Board. It is not the first time that the country receives these awards and it was already recognized as Europe’s Leading Golf Destination. The Algarve, in the south of Portugal, was always a touristic destination, specially for English people, but lately, Lisbon and Oporto have been the centre of attention for welcoming foreigners from all over the world. The main reasons for this popularity might be its pleasant weather, the 3000 sun hours per year, the 850 km of beaches bathed by the Atlantic sea, and the fact that is a place located near several European capitals.

Lisbon: Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2019

In the words of HuffPost, “Lisbon is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination and for good reasons – it’s cheap, it has nice weather, great people, delicious food and lots of things to see and do.” It’s easy to find many articles highlighting Lisbon as the ideal place for living and visiting. Lonely Planet describes it as a city with Gothic grit and glamour. The article also enhances the trademark seven hills that are spread across the cityscape like lofty guardians of colour and history, which are so well appreciated by tourists. As well, the collection of terraces known as “miradouros” (viewpoints), a web of views over Lisbon, the Tejo river and beyond, is another city’s famous attraction. World Travel Awards has been awarding Lisbon in several categories, this year the city was considered Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and Europe’s Leading City Tourist Board.

Passadiços do Paiva: Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction 2019

Passadiços do Paiva (Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark), located on the left bank of the Paiva River, in Arouca municipality, in the north of Portugal, was awarded this year Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction and Europe’s Leading Tourism Development Project. It is not the first time that the geopark receives an award from World Travel Awards: the place where visitors enjoy a journey embracing biology, geology and archaeology has been awarded since 2016. The park is an ideal option for nature lovers, it is a long walkway composed of 8 km, surrounded by natural landscapes with brave waters downhills, quartz crystals and endangered species in Europe.

The Algarve: Europe’s Leading Beach Destination 2019

Passadiços do Paiva (Arouca UNESCO Global Geopark), located on the left bank of the Paiva River, in Arouca municipality, in the north of Portugal, was awarded this year Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction and Europe’s Leading Tourism Development Project. It is not the first time that the geopark receives an award from World Travel Awards: the place where visitors enjoy a journey embracing biology, geology and archaeology has been awarded since 2016. The park is an ideal option for nature lovers, it is a long walkway composed of 8 km, surrounded by natural landscapes with brave waters downhills, quartz crystals and endangered species in Europe.

Madeira Islands: Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2019

It is the seventh year in a row that Madeira Islands are awarded by World Travel Awards, being considered, in some years, the World’s Leading Island Destination. This year, the archipelago was awarded Europe’s Leading Island Destination. The paradisiac islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, 700 km far away from the African coast’s East and 450 km far away from the North of Canarias Islands, which makes this archipelago the southernmost location in Portugal. The most famous islands’ attractions are the tours to watch dolphins, the dive practicing, the walking to see watch the falls, and the biggest variety of parks and gardens.

Five advices for combating stress

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Stress can harm our physical and mental health: it may have a negative impact on our mood, cause insomnia and the development of several chronical diseases. However, avoiding stress is not an easy task.” Nowadays, the job market is extremely demanding, we face an overwhelming amount of information, and there is a huge number of technological innovations and devices distracting us continuously. The world is more and more challenging, and to live in a calm and relaxed manner seems unattainable.

However, being able to achieve peace of mind, controlling negative thoughts is crucial for a healthy mind and body. We describe bellow five techniques recommended by Harvard Health Publishing to prevent anxiety in order to live healthier:

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Advice 1: Give a good laugh

The first advice is to stay positive and laugh: these behaviours lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter stimulates circulation and many organs, aids muscle relaxation, and activates and relieves our stress response. It also improves our mood and our immune system and relieves pain while increasing personal satisfaction, which in turn helps to reduce depression and anxiety.

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Advice 2: Meditate

Many authors have said how important meditation is for releasing stress and managing fears and negative thoughts. And the best part is that meditation is actually free! One may meditate anytime and anywhere, improving mental and emotional health. It also boosts concentration and improves our mood. Recently, many have discovered the benefits of mindfulness, a practice that helps release anxiety and depression, and entails a number of modalities, such as mindful eatinga technique that allows us to absorb all the sounds around and various tastes of the food while eating.

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Advice 3: Practice exercise

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins”. Regular exercise is considered a natural anti-depressive, and may help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, a natural cannabis-like brain chemical (endogenous cannabinoids), as well as other natural brain substances that can enhance our sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, when we exercise, we also take our mind off worries, escaping the cycle of negative thoughts, improving our good mood, our memory and our thinking skills. Exercise is key to achieving a happy and focused brain.

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Advice 4: Unplug

We spend our day fully connected with various technological devices such as a computer, tablet, smartphone and television. We inexorably check arriving emails, text messages, or social media posts. At the same time, we are inescapably distracted by commercials on TV or any other media. In order to avoid stress, we need to unplug for a reasonable time, saving some moments just for us, and escaping devices that can generate stress in our minds.

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Advice 5: Escape stress

As Harvard Health Publishing recommends, we should find ways to take the edge off our stress. Very simple things can give us much needed break from stressors in our life, such as a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favourite hobby. Find a way that allows you to release stress and use it to alleviate anxiety.

 

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Longevity: the impact of stress and social relations

Longevity is determined by factors endogenous as well as exogenous to the individual, such as stress and social relationships. Stress may develop into serious illnesses and make us have unhealthy habits. Social relationships affect our lifestyles and the ageing process. In which other ways can stress and social relations interfere with longevity?

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The ageing process influenced by stress

Scientific evidence shows that stress affects the ageing process. As Harvard Health Publishing explains, short-term stress response can help us deal with difficult situations. However, chronic stress can lead to physical damage, increasing blood sugar and worse diabetes. It also may promote high pressure and cause insomnia.

Plus, long-term stress can make us feel anxious, worried, depressed, and frustrated. It also can increase the risk of heart disease and heartburn, contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, among other health problems.

Because of the many impacts of stress, we should learn how to control and avoid its worse symptoms including blood pressure, headaches, back pain, indigestion, or heart palpitations. People who suffer from frequent or chronic stress tend to have a poor concentration, be indecisive and experience emotional symptoms like crying, irritability, or edginess. Also, stress can influence our health by making us adopt unhealthy habits like eating poorly, exercising less, drinking more, and even relying on medication.

Job stress decreasing our health

Job stress is a factor also known for disproportionately affecting the ageing process. Individuals with that endure high job stress levels have the shortest telomeres, which have a crucial role in the decay of human cells. Telomere shortening has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

On the other hand, job stress may cause job burnout too, which in turn may entail, according to Mayo Clinic, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, anger, irritability, alcohol or substance misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and vulnerability to illnesses.

Longevity and social relations

Apart from stress, there are other determinants of longevity. One of the most important tools to a longer ageing are social relationships, including social networks, social support and social participation.

Maintaining smaller social networks, and contacting them less frequently can impair longevity. Conversely, according to Harvard Health Publishing, those who enjoy closer links with family and friends are more likely to live longer than people who are isolated and lonely. In an attempt to better understand how much social relationships affect longevity, researchers mentioned by the magazine conducted a meta-analysis showing that people who have regular contact with friends, family, and neighbors have a survival advantage comparable in magnitude with quitting smoking habits and about twice as large as exercising regularly or maintaining a normal weight.

In short, Harvard research suggests that meaningful relationships are a prescription for better emotional, mental, and physical health. Good relationships appear to protect our brains when in our 80s, sharpening memory for a longer time.

 

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A happy, focused brain: how exercise can help

Physical activity is one of the best tools to prevent some non-communicable diseases and premature death. It is considered a natural anti-depressive, improving our good mood, our memory and our thinking skills. What other benefits can exercise provide to our brain and health in general?

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The benefits of exercise in the body and brain

 Many people stay at home inactive, not knowing that the lack of physical activity is one of the leading risks for death worldwide and that it has a key role in preventing noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.

It is already well known by scientific evidence how necessary and important exercise is, not just because it helps us to stay in good shape, but also because it improves our physical health. What is less acknowledged is how it helps the good functioning of our brain, developing additional capacities in this vital organ. It improves our good mood, acts as a natural anti-depressive, and increases intellectual skills.

 An ally to memory and thinking skills

Physical activity has many advantages; one of them is that it changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a direct way in which this happens comes from the exercise’s ability to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation, stimulating the release of growth factors – chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Conversely, exercise benefits our mind indirectly by improving mood and sleep and reducing stress and anxiety.

As affirmed by the magazine, people who exercise have greater volume in parts of the brain responsible for controlling thinking and memory – the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex – than people who don’t practise any physical activity.  These changes emerge little after taking action: for instance, engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.

A natural anti-depressive

Regular exercise may help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance a sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, when we exercise, we take our mind off worries,  escaping the cycle of negative thoughts.

Regular exercise can boost confidence by enabling us to meet goals or challenges, and by helping us maintain a good shape a positive self-image.

Exercise yourself! – learn how to start

 There are no excuses to avoid practicing physical activity. The World Health Organization recommends action of people of all ages:

Children and adolescents:

– They should practice at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Doing it more than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.

– It should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least three times per week.

Adults:

– They should engage in physical exercise during at least 150 minutes per week when activity is of moderate intensity, or at least 75 minutes in case of vigorously intense activity, or an equivalent combination of both. They may double their moderate activity per week if they wish to benefit from additional health benefits.

– They should perform muscle-strengthening activities involving major muscle groups at least two days a week.

– In the case of senior adults with poor mobility, they should practice physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls a minimum of three days per week.

 

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Longevity: moving our body to live longer

Why physical activity has such an impact on our health? What happens to our health when we do not add workout into daily routines? What does longevity mean and how is it linked with exercise?

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The concept of Longevity

Living longer and better is an aspiration pursued by most people. Longevity corresponds exactly to that ability to add more years into our lives, as well as more health into those extra years.

In 2015, the World Health Organization introduced the concept of Healthy Ageing, the process of developing and maintaining a functional ability that promotes wellbeing in older age.

Among many of our daily habits, physical activity is one of the most important determinants of longevity due to its role in the prevention of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and premature death. Exercise improves our overall health, mood, and quality of life. It can also sharpen mental function, boost concentration, and help us to sleep.

Inactivity: putting our lives at risk

Nowadays, unconsciously, many of us spend most of the time seated while watching TV, checking our mobile phones and tablets, working on computers or reading. As opposed to a decades ago, people currently spend much more time inactive and motionless, especially due to the use of technology: washing machines allow us to relax and rest; cars are more affordable which means we walk less. All in all, contemporary life is much easier than in the past.

Despite such a very pleasant and comfortable scenario, the lack of exercise contributes to the emergence of many chronic conditions and increases the risk of premature death. In most developed countries, economic activity revolves around the services sector. Workplaces are mainly at offices, where we stay seated and seldom move away from the desk. Unfortunately, children are already experiencing the impact of inactivity as there are much more pretexts to play inside than outside.

Move your body: it’s never too late to start

The good news is that the benefits of physical activity accumulate across life, so we are never too old to start worrying about exercising. Harvard Health Publishing advises us to work toward reducing the amount of time we spend sitting every day. For instance, those with desk jobs are recommended to get up to walk around regularly, try chair yoga or a go for a few desk exercises. If we have been inactive for quite a while, we should walk 2 minutes every 10 to 15 minutes (during commercial breaks when watching TV or reading). And if we jog, we could add an extra level of effort to it by starting at our regular pace and then gradually increasing it.

Small adjustments in our daily routine can add up to big changes in our life. Adding physical activity into our everyday habits will allow us to increase longevity, living longer and better.

 

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Alzheimer’s Disease: hindering the onset of the condition

Many thoughts cross our mind when we think about ageing. When it comes to mental health, we are increasingly aware of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease for the patient and for his/her carers. Uncertainty makes us wonder what causes the disease and how can we prevent it.

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Understanding Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older adults, as explained by the National Institute of Aging from U.S.A. This is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. Usually, people who suffer from the condition ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find simple things utterly confusing. In some cases, they become worried, angry, or violent, as the disease progresses.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association from U.S.A., individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia experience multiple symptoms that change over a period of years, and reflect the degree of damage to neurons in different parts of the brain. Early symptoms include difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events, apathy and depression. Later symptoms vary between impaired communication; disorientation, confusion; poor judgment; behavioural changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Alzheimer’s disease is ultimately fatal.

Is prevention in our hands?

 Genetic is a crucial risk factor for late-onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and until now, no lifestyle factor has shown to reduce the risk of developing the condition; however, according to the Mayo Clinic website, some changes in our behaviour can help.

Evidence suggests that the same factors that place us at risk of heart disease may also increase our chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

Cigarette

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

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Uncontrolledvascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Having diabetes can be also considered a risk.

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Refraining from physical activity.

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Not pursuing a heart-healthy diet containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts and vegetables, while limiting saturated fats, red meat and sugar.

 

Additional studies also pointed out that having a mentally stimulating job, engaging in mentally stimulating activities and exercising the brain throughout life may have a positive influence on the disease’s onset. Remaining socially active may too support your brain’s health and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

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Formal education and thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory.

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Mentally stimulating job.

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Socially engagement.

Ask for professional help

If you wish to undergo diagnosis or treatment or if you are a carer of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may contact us and get more information about our services. Finding an expert in the field may not be an easy task, especially if we are in a foreign country and facing a new language. Medical Port provides the access to the most appropriate specialists, arranging English-speaking staff able to understand and answer your needs and concerns.

 

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Stroke: stay safe and act fast

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 million people worldwide are affected by stroke each year. Of these, 5 million die and a similar number become permanently disabled. A stroke can seriously damage the brain, reducing functionality and quality of life permanently, so it is important to understand and learn how to avoid it.

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How a stroke develops in our bodies

As explained by the WHO, our brain can only function if adequately irrigated by blood. Two large blood vessels, running along either side of the neck, carry blood from the heart to the brain. Arriving at the brain, these in turn narrow gradually until becoming tiny tubular passages supplying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the brain. When this flow of blood is significantly reduced or even interrupted; the brain loses its ability to nourish and function, becoming seriously damaged.

Effects of this condition depend on which part of the brain is affected and how severe the damage is. A stroke may affect just one part of the body, such as the face, an arm or a leg. In other situations, it can completely paralyse important bodily functions.

When it develops into its most dangerous outcome, it is called a major stroke. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death. To realize if someone is having a stroke, it is important to observe the symptoms. The most common one is a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms may occur, including sudden onset, numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or both eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache with no known cause; fainting or unconsciousness.

Symptoms of a minor stroke may be similar to those of major strokes, but milder and of shorter duration, even less than an hour. In such cases, the person recovers without treatment.

ACT FAST

Strokes can strike suddenly and be fatal if assistance is immediate. When detecting signs of stroke it is urgent to call a doctor or ambulance. A stroke can progress fast so it is imperative to take action even if the symptoms don’t appear severe. Think “FAST” and pay attention to the following symptoms:

Barry Langdon-Lassagne CC 3.0                                 Face. Ask the person to smile. Observe the lips are uneven.

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                              Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting downwards or unable to rise?

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                             Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Notice if the speech is slurred or strange.

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                           Time. If you detect any of these signs, call an ambulance immediately.

 

Stay safe

Pursuing healthy life habits daily can save lives, especially if we stick to the following advice:

CigaretteIf you’re a smoker, quit. The risk of stroke drops immediately after a person quit using tobacco products, and can be reduced by as much as half after 1 year. Every way of smoking is harmful, being it in cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, tobacco chewing, and even second-hand tobacco smoke.

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Adopt a healthy diet. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and two servings of oily fish a week. Avoid unhealthy meals with too much food, calories, fat, sugar or salt.

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Limit alcohol. We may not entirely quit alcohol, but it is important to learn how to be moderate: a man should not drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women not more than one.

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Practise physical activity. Exercise lowers the risk of stroke for many reasons. It helps the body to burn sugars and fats and to keep a proper weight; lowers blood pressure; increases oxygen levels in your body; reduces stress; strengthens the heart muscle and bones, and improves blood circulation and muscle tone.

Check yourself regularly

Prevention includes regularly visiting our physician and being aware of our overall health. If you are living in Portugal and need medical assistance with English-speaking staff, you may contact us and we will support you with local arrangements according to your condition and availability.

 

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Water: the most valuable substance of all

One can endure only a few days without water. Although very often forgotten, providing the body with the fluids it needs is vital to life itself and to proper performance.

 

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The value of hydration

Water represents 75% of body weight in infants and 55% in elderly, being essential for cellular homeostasis and life. Staying hydrated is crucial to the body’s ability to control temperature.

Adults are recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, although it also depends on the person and each individual’s characteristics, including their diet, gender (since men generally sweat more than women), and body size (larger people are more prone to sweating than thinner people). Environmental conditions are also an influencing factor: the higher is the temperature, the higher is the risk of dehydrating.

The intensity of exercise and its duration affects as well the loss of fluid. Those who enjoy physical activity should drink before, during and after exercise. Dehydration can occur in every physical activity setting, even if the temperature is not high. Well-trained athletes need to be even extra-cautious. Their bodies are used to additional stress and perspire much more than less fit people, so they are able to stay cool more efficiently than most of us.

Dehydration: know the signs

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, we should be aware of a few signs of dehydration.

First, the colour of the morning’s first urine is an overall indicator of hydration status.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 14.43.45  Straw or lemonade coloured urine is a sign of appropriate hydration.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 14.55.38 Bright urine often is produced soon after consuming vitamin supplements.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 14.56.16 Dark coloured urine, the colour of apple juice, indicates dehydration.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 14.56.59Colourless urine means overhydration (happens when the body takes in or holds on to more fluid than the kidneys can remove).

Also, early signs of dehydration are thirst, flushed skin, premature fatigue, increased body temperature, faster breathing and pulse rate, increased perception of effort and decreased exercise capacity.

Later signs include dizziness, increased weakness and laboured breathing with exercise.

Don’t wait to feel thirsty

For some of us, the practice of drinking water regularly can be a tedious task and is often forgotten. Oblivious to the fact that we are not taking the necessary amount of water, symptoms of dehydration may appear.

To make drinking water a habit is extremely important. Having a glass with water at the same time each day could facilitate the adoption of the routine. You may also carry a bottle of water on the morning commute or keep a cup of water on the desk. Waiting for thirst to replenish your body’s water levels may not be the best strategy: by the time you become thirsty, you have already lost two or more cups of water from your physical structure.

 

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Lifetime consequences of a stunning tan

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In our minds, we always link summer to images of paradisiac beaches with tanned bodies composing such idyllic scenes. As the bathing season starts, we concern ourselves with getting that right golden brown tone. But how much do we worry about maintaining a healthy, young skin?

High temperatures, higher risks

Behind the sunny weather that warms up our vacations, numbers speak out loudly: according to the World Health Organization, nowadays, 2 to 3 million non-melanoma and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer. In the U.S., where the tanning trend is blatant, one in five will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, as stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Even as prevention of skin cancer is acknowledged by the population at large, there are many good practices still to nourish. Excessive exposure to the sun is well known as the biggest cause for sunburns – what is not so obvious is that neither shade nor sunscreen alone can completely prevent it from happening. In 2017, JAMA Dermatology showed that 78 % of participants in a “shade” group got sunburned after a 3½-hour period, while only 25 % of those wearing sunscreen did.

For those who enjoy their vacations at the mountains rather than the beach, prevention shouldn’t be less reinforced: according to the Skin Care Foundation, levels of ultraviolet radiation increase by up to 24 % for each 1,000-meter increase in altitude.

Medication is also another troubling issue: some common prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antibiotics, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Tanning beds myths

On one hand, we already know that the sun can be dangerous – even if we can’t fully grasp how much. On the other, there is a growing belief that tanning beds are beneficial to our health.

Many even think that this procedure fulfils the same purpose as light boxes used to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions. However, machines used in tanning salons are nothing like the light boxes we find today in doctors’ offices.”

Also, there is the widespread idea that tanning beds improve our vitamin D levels. Few of us know that tanning beds emit UVA rays, instead of UVB, the ones that actually interact with the protein in the skin that converts solar rays into vitamin D.

One study observing 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 found that 61 of them (97 %) had used tanning beds. As dermatologists highlight constantly regarding the dangerous consequences of tanning beds: one visit to the tanning salon significantly increases your chances of a cancer that can kill you.

The right formula for a young skin

For those who cannot do without a brown skin in the summer, the American Academy of Dermatology advises to apply self-tanner rather than get a tan. “Every time you get a tan, you prematurely age your skin.”

Expensive anti-ageing procedures and products sold as formulas to keep our looks fresh and young are not effective in preventing the ageing of the skin. Instead, sunscreen and similar ways of protection must be used regularly to keep your skin young.

Protect yourself: check regularly 

Use as many types of sun protection as you can, in combination, including clothing, hats, sunglasses and getting out of the sun – which is the best prevention you can accomplish.

Skin cancer prevention also includes being aware of changes in the skin, particularly those that look odd. A physician should promptly assess any new lesion or a progressive change in a lesion’s appearance (as size, shape, or colour).

Medical Port provides access to care in the fields of Dermatology and Oncology with English-speaking staff in Portugal. Please contact us if you want to undergo a medical consultation in order to check your skin. Stay safe this summer!

 

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