Archive for Health

Less Chemicals. Better for the Environment. Better for you.

Recent developments into research into the long-term effects of chemicals on the planet and the human body have seen a shift away from the use of plastics and chemicals. Organic is the new buzz-word and people aren’t just making the switch for the image associated with it, but also for the plethora of good health benefits. These days there are chemicals in your water, in your hair products, in your processed foods, in the containers they are stored it, in your make-up, in your cleaning products, and in your clothing and laundry detergents.

Twenty, ten or even five years ago, many of the effects from chemicals we come into contact with everyday were not well known or understood. Today is a different story and the younger generations need to be aware of the implications of regular exposure to toxic chemicals because of the potential harmful side effects. Here are some that you should be aware of:

Bisphenol A – Also known as BPA, Bisphenol A is used to make most plastic and epoxy resins. It is also used as a liner on tinned foods. The problem with BPA is that is exhibits estrogen like properties so your body thinks it is a natural hormone and absorbs the chemical. This can cause cancer, neurological and physical disabilities. Because of this the use of BPA has been banned in some plastics in both the European Union and Canada. Unfortunately that is not the case here in Australia.

You have probably noticed a trend with people who no longer use plastic drink bottles, preferring to drink from stainless steel or glass containers instead. Heating food in plastic in a microwave (or even using a microwave in general) is being more often discouraged, and even storing food in plastics in no longer considered to be perfectly safe. Many people are opting out from eating tinned foods as well because of the BPA in the lining. BPA is not the only nasty chemicals contained in plastics, but it is one of the more toxic.

Parabens

Another chemical endocrine disruptor with links to the occurrence of cancer, Parabens are widely used as a preservative in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Used primarily for their bacterial and fungicidal properties, these chemicals can be found in hair shampoos, moisturizers, topical pharmaceuticals, makeup, salon cremes, toothpastes, personal lubricants and shaving gels. Some recent studies indicate that when applied topically to the skin, some parabens react with UVB, increasing skin aging and damaging DNA. Many professionals including hairdressers, make-up artists and naturopaths refuse to use products containing parabens due to the dangers. To them the benefits of using such products don’t outweigh the associated risks.

Ella, a stylist at Unsurpassable, an award-winning hair salon in Brisbane had a lot to say when asked about parbens and the product lines they use at the salon. “We try and stay away from chemical products as much as possible. Too many shampoos, hair conditioners and other cosmetic and salon products contain a plethora of chemicals that can’t be good for your skin. By using organic products and limiting our exposure, not only do we get better results but we also keep the hair naturally healthier over the longer-term.” Ella noted that there had been a shift among her hair salon clients and the general populous in Brisbane, away from chemical products as awareness of their dangers increased.

DEET

Almost all bug sprays contain DEET a chemical containing Toluene which is a nervous system depressant. Did you really think those sprays that are so deadly to insects wouldn’t have any affect on you? Insect repellants also often contain this poisonous chemical.

DEET is so toxic that some countries have banned its usage in products above certain concentrations. Here in Australia however, no such laws exist. Keep this in mind next time you spray those ants of cockroaches, or put repellant on your skin to keep away those mosquitoes. After spraying any bug, leave the room for at least half an hour and make sure it is aired out sufficiently. Remember the chemicals in DEET linger on for much longer than you can smell them!

There are currently many safer alternatives to DEET based repellants. In studies conducted at the University of Florida, lemon eucalyptus lotion was found to be extremely effective in repelling insects, as was citronella. These are just a few of a number of alternative repellants available, all of which are almost certain to be less toxic to you than anything containing DEET.

These are just a few examples of the huge range of dangerous chemicals you come into contact with on a regular basis. While you can’t escape from them all, you can make a difference to your health by staying away from them as much as possible and limiting your exposure. If everybody stopped buying products containing such chemicals, it would no longer be profitable to manufacture them! So next time you’re out shopping, think about buying organic and staying away from nasty plastics and chemicals. Not only will you be doing yourself and your family a favour, but you’ll be helping to make our world a nicer place to live.

 

New Media’s Role in Health 2.0

Here at Ideas For Good we believe that the convergence of new media technologies is altering the way in which users consume and process information. Today’s media consumers are relentlessly connected, presenting strong implications for how consumers of health information access, process, and retain health related knowledge.

New media’s role in ‘Health 2.0’ leverages exponentially growing technologies to personalize healthcare. Through increasing Internet connectivity, consumers are empowered to make more informed and sophisticated choices in relation to their health. This participatory model of the doctor-patient relationship, or the ‘patient–helper’, combined with new media technologies, enables the physician to provide a faster, cheaper, and more effective process of treatment than previously possible.

iPhone Diabetes Tester

This is evident in mobile app technology such as the iBGStar, a simple, ingenious device that attaches to an iPhone allowing patients to check their blood sugar levels. The free diabetes manager app also makes it possible to track and analyse medical data in real time, with the ability to send emergency alerts to the owner’s physician, enabling a quicker, and more personalized response to any issues.

This technology is not limited to diabetes, with a range of mobile apps utilizing the connected health model to assist in monitoring blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, weight, and even sexually transmitted diseases, although I’m not too comfortable with urinating on my phone just yet!

Combining these new media technologies with the virtualization of medical records allows doctors to effectively crowd source data in a way that was not previously possible. By aggregating patient data, doctors could compare a myriad of information across large amounts of patients such as treatments, dosage effectiveness, side effects, and symptoms all compiled over a time scale relatable to each patient.

Although a public health management system that allows these kind of capabilities may not be available for some time, sites such as Patients Like Me are already available. By facilitating in the tracking of patients health within the community, patients build a profile and can compare their health with other sufferers of the same disease. This goes well beyond the traditional use of a medical record moving the focus toward a proactive approach to health.

This participatory approach toward health does however have its’ drawbacks. one of those being an “epidemic of misinformation” whereby recipients of online health information are prone to outbreaks of ‘cyberchondria’ or becoming victims of ‘cyberquakery’ through unregulated information such as advertising being positioned as advice. The resounding response from medical authorities is overwhelmingly negative, however, their greatest concern is seen to be with the quality of the information being provided. With the correct use of new media technology, these ideas for good will provide a faster, cheaper, and more personalized strategy towards health.

Addicted To Technology: A Day Without My Smartphone

Smartphones have such a dramatic influence on how we go about our daily lives, they make basic tasks simpler and provide us with answers to life’s daily questions with ease. But with all this power are we becoming a slave to our devices? As part of one of my Ideas For Good health challenges, I recently spent a day without my phone just to make sure that I could in fact still live without it. This is a recount of my smartphone-less day.

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After relying on my smartphone for the last 5 or so years, I was somewhat anxious about switching it off and leaving it at home as I hurriedly made my way out the door toward the train station.

Destined to prove to myself that I do not in fact suffer from nomophobia, I pushed the thoughts of why I wasn’t listening to music on my walk out of mind and tried to distract my brain by taking a closer look at my surroundings; morning joggers, suit and tie types half dressed jumping into their cars, mothers kissing their kids goodbye as they drop them off at school.

I jump the train and spot a seat; my hand instinctively dives into my pocket. For a split second I panic thinking I’ve lost my phone before my conscious thought kicks in and reminds me of today’s blight.

I get to work and head for the conference room for the morning meeting. A few of my colleagues give a quick glance up from their portable screens and mumble a barely audible ‘good morning’. I find a seat and look around to see if anyone is up for sharing a story from the weekend, what I notice, and what I too would normally be doing, everyone is busy checking their emails, trying to get a head start on the day.

The meeting wraps and I take my barely legible notes back to my desk where I now have to double-hand the key deadlines for sales paperwork and client appointments that week into my Google calendar, again, something I would be able to do on the fly with my smartphone.

These trends continued throughout the day as I sat at my desk in order to not miss being contacted by potential clients. I had emails from clients telling me I was unreachable as my mobile is the first and sometimes only number I give as I am constantly out of the office.

Before heading home, I called into a friends place. Surprised by my unannounced visit she welcomed me in. I explained my challenge and she willfully turned her phone off so I didn’t feel left out. We shared some wine and sat on her balcony and talked.

A few hours went by and I realized that this is possibly the longest uninterrupted conversation I have had with anyone in an unfathomable amount of time. I began to wonder what a release from technology’s overwhelming grip could mean to the personal relationships in my life. Would I be a better friend? Or would I be left out? Disconnected from the online personalities that we all work so hard to maintain? Joseph Heller knows what I’m talking about.