The everyday habits causing your tooth sensitivity

Jan_dental_sensitivity promo_no text.jpgEveryone knows how important it is to brush twice daily and floss for healthy teeth and gums. No doubt, your dentist reminds you at every six-monthly visit. But did you know that there are lots of things you can do to prevent the serious and growing problem of tooth erosion?

‘Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and it is designed to protect the inside of your teeth’ says Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the healthy teeth clinic in Surry Hills.

‘But acidic foods and drinks can damage the teeth by etching away at the thin layer of enamel. This leads to sensitivity and this can leave your pearly whites less than white,’ he adds.

Tooth sensitivity: why it happens

‘Teeth are made up from layers, the outer surface is enamel and when this is worn away, the dentine layer is exposed, which is a yellowy or off-white colour. Dentine has tiny holes in it and via these holes, hot and cold temperatures and even sweetness, and sour tastes can reach the nerves causing pain.’ Explains Dr Lincoln.

More and more people are being affected by sensitive teeth, a problem that can start early in life. Plus, if tooth erosion affects the adult teeth, the results are permanent because enamel doesn’t grow back!

It’s all about pH

‘Both acids and alkaline are measured via a system called pH and your mouth has a pH of around seven (a pH of one is very acidic and 14 is very alkaline). So seven is neutral because it’s right in the middle of the pH scale.

‘So, acidic drinks – such as cola which has a pH of around three – erodes enamel i.e. it dissolves the calcium salts in it. See for yourself – if you have a baby tooth to experiment with, drop it into a glass of cola and it will eventually dissolve. Foods such as pickles and vinegars, and drinks such as wine also etch away at your enamel,’ he says.

Enamel erosion can have other causes too, including:

  • Acid reflux – where acid from the stomach flows up the mouth causing the pain of heartburn). The acid usually affects the teeth at the back of the mouth.
  • Frequent vomiting – which can be caused by medicines and also the condition bulimia. This also erodes the back or chewing teeth.
  • Over-brushing or using abrasive toothpaste – both can wear down your precious enamel.
  • Physical wear and tear – including tooth-to-tooth grinding, which can lead to the gradual loss of enamel.

What you can do

‘Leave some time between eating acidic foods or consuming acidic drinks – including breakfast juices and tooth brushing. This is because the acid will have softened the enamel. And, brushing too soon can literally brush enamel away. So brush before food and rinse your mouth with water afterwards,’ Dr Lincoln advises.

Remember, it can take up to 30 minutes for the surface of a tooth to get back to normal pH after an acidic drink so wait at least this long before brushing.

 

Treatment

Sensitive teeth can be treated with high-strength fluoride toothpaste or remineralising pastes containing calcium and phosphate. If the damage is severe, though, you may need restorative dentistry.

Practical tips to protect your enamel

Don’t brush too soon after eating foods with acids in them (including pickles and ketchup) and drinks (such as juices and wine).

Eat fruits as part of a meal since chewing stimulates saliva, which is your body’s natural way to cleanse your mouth.

Avoid fizzy drinks, especially with screw caps to discourage sipping throughout the day. ‘If you want a fizzy drink, drink in one go and use a straw to reduce contact with the teeth. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Remember that juices and some alcoholic drinks including wine are also acidic and spirits with juices plus cider. Sparkling water has less of a damaging effect but still contains acid,’ advises Dr Lincoln.

See your GP if you are having problems with acid reflux.

See your dentist to check you haven’t cracked a tooth or filling that’s causing the sensitivity.

 

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Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the healthy teeth clinic in Surry Hills
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Got a bad breath problem? This could be why …

You probably won’t be surprised to know that a lot of people have a bad breath problem. But did you know bad breath is a chronic problem for one in four people[i]?

If you’re that one in four, it’s a problem for you – and possibly those around you. Learn about the gases that cause imperfect pongs and what you can do about them …

Bad breath affects most of us at some time or another – after a night’s sleep or after chomping on onions and garlic. But lingering smells need attention. Dr Lincoln Law who practices at the Healthy Teeth clinic in Surry Hills explains: ‘Bad breath is also known as halitosis or feta oris and it’s a pretty common reason for people coming into the clinic.’

Flagrant not fragrant

Research backs Dr Lincoln’s experience; it’s the third most common reason for seeking the help of a dentist after tooth decay and gum disease[ii].

As for the causes of less than fragrant breath? ‘Well, there can be many,’ explains Dr Lincoln.

‘Poor oral hygiene is the major cause of bad breath. It can happen when bits of food caught in your teeth start to break down. When mouth living bacteria eat these bits of food, they release noxious gases,’ says Dr Lincoln.

Anyone for bad eggs?

Scarily, these noxious gases include hydrogen sulphide (think rotten eggs), dimethyl sulphide (think rotten seaweed) and cadaverine and putrescine (the gases given off by decaying corpses) …

‘Lifestyle factors such as smoking also cause bad breath because of the tar and carbon that remain in the mouth. Smoking and alcohol consumption also dehydrate the body, which can cause dry mouth and can affect the quality of your breath.’

The food factor

Food is another factor that can cause bad breath. Take the popular paleo way of eating. ‘Severe dieting means that your body breaks down different nutrients and this can cause bad breath. Low carb and no carb diets can also do it.’

Dr Lincoln explains: ‘That’s because, when you cut the carbs and increase your protein intake, your body burns fat and this produces volatile compounds called ketones, which cause a particular kind of bad breath. Better dental hygiene can’t fix this one – it’s best to include a few low GI, healthy wholegrain foods in your diet. You can also try masking the smell with sugar-free gum.’

Feed bad bacteria

Most of the time, the cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Pongs occur when bacteria eat the traces of food that remain between and on the teeth and gums, producing sulphur-containing gases.

Dr Lincoln says that, in his experience, people just need a little help to improve their oral hygiene – the best approach is with gentle but effective cleaning techniques for each individual.

‘Bacteria live in your mouth. They find homes in the crevices of the tongue, teeth and gums where they eat the food you eat and emit foul-smelling gases that cause odours. So removing bacteria and their waste through an effective cleaning regime can freshen your breath for a few hours,’ advises Dr Lincoln.

 Health conditions and halitosis

Serious illnesses – like bowel problems and pneumonia – as well as reflux problems, can cause bad breath. Medication can also be a trigger – including nitrates used to treat angina, some chemotherapy medications and certain tranquillisers, plus any kind of medicine that causes dry mouth.

Although medical problems need prompt medical treatment and you need to see your GP, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from bad breath. ‘Recent research suggests that one of the most effective ways to beat bad breath is based on bacteria,’ says Dr Lincoln.

Better bacteria

‘More and more research is showing that one of the most effective ways to treat bad breath is via probiotics (good bacteria). There are trillions of beneficial bacteria that live in and on your body that are vital to life and can help to reduce bad breath. So, many new treatments are likely to focus on increasing certain beneficial probiotics,’ he explains.

Probiotics work by forcing out the bad guys i.e. the bad bacteria which are potentially disease-causing microorganisms. Look for oral probiotics designed specifically to improve your dental health.

Feeding the good guys

‘Encouraging lots of prebiotics is important, too. Prebiotics – like wholegrains, pulses, veggies and fruits – are foods that nourish you and promote the growth of good bacteria. Yet another reason to enjoy a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates,’ explains Dr Lincoln.

Crunch time

‘Vegetables are an especially good choice because they are also rich in water and fibre – you could say they act like a dietary toothbrush. Drink lots of water and try to rinse your mouth with water after eating to help the natural mouth cleansing action of saliva,’ ends Dr Lincoln.

Of course, effective and regular cleaning is absolutely vital to maintain a healthy mouth. So don’t neglect regular check-ups with your dentist for a professional clean.

[i] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166636.php

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12013345

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Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the Healthy Teeth clinic in Surry Hills

Quick, tasty, lovely lunches

Making fast, nutritious and delicious lunches and lunch choices can be a challenge whether you’re working, studying or running around with the family. The health and wellbeing team at rt health fund share some of their tips to selecting healthy eats – where delicious meets nutritious!

You already know the basics – fresh is best and the less processed, the better. For example, canned tuna or fresh fish trumps fish nuggets and an apple is a better choice than a sugary apple bar from the supermarket. But time and hunger can challenge the best of intentions. So, if you’re watching your weight or trying to boost the nutrient content of your diet, here are some super quick tips:

1. Fill up half of your lunchbox or plate with veggies – red, orange, blue and yellow. The more colours, the better. Go for masses of green veggies such as broccoli, kale, rocket and asparagus – these are ultra-low in calories and very high in nutrition.

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2. Make a quarter of your meal starchy carbohydrates – the wholegrain kinds of bread, rice and pasta are best because they have their fibre, vitamins and minerals intact. In the same way, potatoes with their skins on are better than without and sweet potatoes are a great choice. Try to avoid white flour foods, for example white bread and pastry because they have had the fibre and nutrients removed from them in processing. Without the fibre, these foods are digested quickly so you feel hungry again after a short time. So, for a steadier life, go wholegrain.

3. Make a quarter of your lunch protein foods. Fish is a great choice as it provides omega-3 essential fats (oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are especially high), lean meat provides a big hit of iron and pulses (peas, beans and legumes) are a rich source of protein with added fibre, vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fats.

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4. Add a source of calcium – either dairy or a vegetarian alternative such as soy or almond milk. Many women don’t get enough bone and teeth-building calcium, which can lead to issues such as osteoporosis later in life.

5. Some fresh fruit – which provides vitamins, minerals, fibre and a whole host of protective plant pigments. Plus, when you have a meal that satisfies your savoury taste buds, you may want something sweet to finish. Fruit could do the trick and could reduce the temptation for sugary/fatty snacks.

Here are some quick lunch ideas to get you started (most can be made at home using supermarket ingredients but some can be bought from takeaway shops):

  • Canned tuna with a little low-fat mayonnaise and lots of salad on a wholemeal roll
  • Roast beef with lettuce and lots of sliced tomato on rye bread
  • Supermarket salad leaves (lettuce, baby spinach, rocket) with tomatoes, feta and a can of drained red kidney beans
  • Hummus, pita bread and a double serving of tabbouleh

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  • Sushi and boiled green soybeans (edamame)
  • Quinoa with a rainbow of veggies
  • Poached eggs on wholegrain toast with spinach and avocado
  • Store-bought soup with added frozen baby peas
  • Vietnamese rice paper rolls with a large side salad
  • Falafel/chicken/lean meat roll with extra salad
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and lots of steamed veggies
  • Indian dhal with basmati rice and a big salad
  • Hot smoked salmon with mashed potatoes, green beans and grilled tomatoes
  • Mushroom and veggie omelette with wholegrain bread
  • Thai salad with fish, meat or tofu
  • Tofu and veggie stir fry
  • Homemade chilli con carne with meat or veggie mince and extra beans with tomato salad.

And for something sweet …

  • Fresh fruit
  • Sugar-free dairy or coconut yoghurt
  • A few dried peaches/apricots/prunes with unsalted nuts
  • Sugar-free jelly
  • Canned peaches or apricots (drained)
  • A couple of squares of dark chocolate.

Do you know what hepatitis is?

‘Hep’ means liver and ‘itis’ means inflammation of, so hepatitis literally means inflammation of the liver.

Your liver is a large organ – it’s your body’s waste disposal system. It also regulates metabolism, stores iron and vitamins such as folate and B12 and produces proteins and bile, a liquid that’s needed to digest fats. If your liver doesn’t work properly, the result can be serious illness and it can be life-threatening, too.

The causes of hepatitis can be due to chemicals, alcohol, drug use and viruses such as the yellow fever virus and the virus that causes glandular fever.

There are seven forms of hepatitis – some types don’t cause serious health problems but others can result in chronic (long-term problems), scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and even liver cancer.

Here’s our guide to what you need to know about the different types of hepatitis.

What are the symptoms?

Short-term (acute) hepatitis may not have any symptoms at all and if there are symptoms, they might be pretty non-specific i.e. they can be connected with many conditions. For example, nausea, tiredness, abdominal pain, muscle and joint pain, getting bruised easily, a high temperature (fever) of 38 degrees Celsius, dark coloured urine and light bowel movements are signs of hepatitis.

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Long-term (chronic) hepatitis may not have any obvious symptoms, either, until the liver stops working properly and liver failure results. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) is also a sign of late stage liver failure. Hepatitis may only be picked up during blood tests.

If you have any persistent or troublesome symptoms that you think could be caused by hepatitis, go and see your GP immediately.

The seven types of hepatitis are:

  1. Hepatitis A

Caused by the hepatitis A virus, this infection is caught by consuming food or drink contaminated with the bowel movements of an infected person. It is most common in countries with poor sanitation. This type of hepatitis usually passes in a few months. But, it can be severe and even life-threatening.

If you’re travelling overseas, book in before your trip to see your GP, who may recommend a vaccination.

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  1. Hepatitis B

Caused by the hepatitis B virus, infection is spread via the blood of an infected person (e.g. through shared injection needles).

Most adults can fight off the infection in two months or so. But infection in children may be long-term and can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Treatment may involve antiviral medications. If you are in a high-risk group, for example, if you are a health care worker or you inject drugs – your GP may recommend vaccination.

  1. Hepatitis C

Caused by the hepatitis C virus, this is usually spread via blood-to-blood contact with an infected person (e.g. via shared needles or through poor health care practices). Symptoms of infection may be similar to a bout of flu and many people don’t know that they are infected.

Around one in four people can fight off the infection but most people will develop chronic hepatitis C[i], which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Treatment is usually antiviral medication but currently there is no vaccination.

  1. Hepatitis D

Caused by the hepatitis D virus, this infection only affects people who already have hepatitis B. It is usually spread through blood-to-blood or sexual contact. It is not common in Australia[ii].

Long-term hepatitis D infection can increase the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis D, your GP might suggest the hepatitis B vaccine to protect you from getting hepatitis D.

  1. Hepatitis E

Common in developing countries, this type of hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis E virus; infection is usually caught via consuming food and drink contaminated with bowel movements from an infected person. Generally mild and short-lived, the infection doesn’t require any treatment. However, for a small number of people, it can be serious (such as those with a suppressed immune system) and it can become chronic.

There’s no vaccine to protect against hepatitis E but you can reduce your risk by being very careful with food and drinks when travelling to parts of the world with poor sanitation. If you are pregnant, you should not travel to areas where there is a lot of hepatitis E, especially during the last three months of pregnancy.

  1. Alcoholic hepatitis

Caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a number of years, many people who have it don’t know that they do because it usually doesn’t have any symptoms. However, it can be detected by a blood test (liver function test). Your liver can usually recover if you stop drinking alcohol. But if you don’t, the result can be liver failure or liver cancer.

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  1. Autoimmune hepatitis

Like other autoimmune conditions, autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the cells of the body start attacking itself. Treatment involves medication to stop the attack.  More research needs to be done to find out why it happens and if anything can be done to prevent autoimmune hepatitis.

For more information, contact:

  • Your GP
  • National Hepatitis information line on 1800 437 222
  • DirectLine (for information about where to get clean needles and syringes for drug users) on 1800 888 236
  • Immunise Australia information line on 1800 671 811.
Ravinder Lilly
Ravinder Lilly, Dietitian at rt health fund

 

[i] NHS Choices. Hepatitis. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hepatitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx#hep-C

[ii] Hepatitis Australia. Hepatitis D. http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/hepatitis-d/

Don’t get slugged with an extra penalty!

Did you know that almost three-quarters of Australians without private hospital insurance don’t know that they could be slapped with a 10-year Lifetime Health Cover loading*?  The statistics are even higher for young Australians (18-31) without private hospital insurance – a massive 80% are unaware of LHC*. Thankfully LHC can be avoided or minimised so read on to find out how!

What you need to know …

Lifetime Health Cover is a government initiative that’s designed to encourage Australians to take out private hospital cover early in life and to keep it. If you don’t have private hospital insurance before 1 July following your 31st birthday, the LHC meter starts running. And, from that point on, hospital cover will cost you an additional 2 per cent on top of the usual price every year you delay, up to a maximum loading of 70 per cent! And, the loading stays with you until you have paid it for ten continuous years.

Not yet 31?

If you take out hospital cover by the time you are 31 (and keep it) you’ll pay the lowest rate offered by the health fund you join. And, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if the unexpected happens, you have choice, security and control.

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Already over 31?

The longer you delay, the more you’ll pay. This can mean that hospital cover ends up costing you thousands of dollars more than you needed to pay. So, for example, if you were to put off taking out hospital cover until you were 40, you’d be paying 20% more than someone who took out the same hospital cover at age 30. This loading could add up to thousands of dollars over a ten-year period! The bottom line is that if you want to avoid getting tripped up by the LHC loading, you have to take out hospital cover sooner rather than later (and keep it)!

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Dropped your private hospital cover?

If you’re over 31 and have held private hospital cover without an LHC loading but you’ve let your cover lapse, you may be subject to a loading when you choose to re-join a health fund later on. Our team can explain the details and why getting hospital cover and sticking with it is so worthwhile.

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New to Australia?

If you’re a new Australian and you hold either a green or blue Medicare card, the LHC loading can be avoided by taking out private hospital cover by 1 July following your 31st birthday. Over 31? Take out hospital cover before the first anniversary of the day you registered for full Medicare benefits. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a 2% loading for every year you are over 31!

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If you want to avoid the LHC loading or minimise it – talk to us today! We can explain the details to you in plain English and you won’t be rushed off the phone. Give our team of experts a call on 1300 56 46 46.

For further information about Lifetime Health Cover see the Australian Government’s Private Health Insurance Ombudsman website.

Daniel Walshaw
Daniel Walshaw – Marketing Communications Content Specialist at rt health fund

 

Disclaimer: This information is brought to you by rt health fund – the health fund for transport and energy industry people. You are welcome to reproduce this article with mention of rt health fund as the source. With all tax-related issues, we strongly recommend you speak with your accountant, financial planner or tax adviser. The information provided here is intended to be for information only and should be carefully evaluated for its source, accuracy, completeness and relevance for your purposes.

*Ipsos/iSelect, June 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Macular degeneration and diet

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration affects one in seven Australians over the age of 50[i]. It is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in the country, being responsible for 50% of all blindness; more than glaucoma and cataracts combined.

The macula is a part of the eye, which is responsible for giving you the clearest vision. In macular degeneration, the cells in this area become irreversibly damaged and the result is a loss of vision.

There are two forms of this condition – wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. There is no cure for either type of macular degeneration right now, but your optometrist can inform you about the different treatment options that can help to reduce vision loss for those with wet macular degeneration. In Australia, smoking is a major cause of blindness from macular degeneration[ii].

Why diet and vitamins are important for your eye health

Eating too many saturated fats has been shown to increase the advancement of macular degeneration[iii]. Saturated fat is found in foods such as beef, pork, lamb, butter, cream and high-fat cheeses as well as fast/takeaway/processed foods.

On the other hand, people who enjoy a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish have a lower incidence of macular degeneration[iv].

Carrots and celery

Protective plant pigments

Vegetables and fruits help to protect against macular degeneration. They contain antioxidant vitamins (such as vitamin C) and also antioxidant-rich pigments, one of which is lutein. Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens and collard greens (the darker the leaf, the more concentrated the pigments). Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits are especially rich in pigments – these include red grapes, oranges, rockmelons and mangoes. Orange produce contains the pigment beta-carotene, which helps to protect your eyes. Try and opt for five servings of veggies and two fruits daily. A serving is equivalent to ½ cup of most foods and one cup for leafy greens.

Make more of fish

Fish is also good for your eye health – eating fish has been shown to lower the risk for macular degeneration[v]. The recommended intake of fish is two to three times a week and the best types of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines.  If you don’t eat fish, think about taking a daily omega-3 supplement. Speak to your local pharmacist about the best option for you.

Salmon

What about supplements?

A specific supplement for eyes may help to protect your eye health; it may also help to reduce vision loss in people who have moderate macular degeneration. Supplements have not been shown to be beneficial in patients who do not have macular degeneration, or have only mild macular degeneration. Talk to your optometrist to find out more.

About the author

Jane Le is qualified in ocular therapeutics and has been an optometrist since 2006. She has worked extensively across Australia and as a volunteer optometrist in El Salvador and in Mexico.

Optometrist Jane Le
Jane Le, optometrist at rt healthy eyes

 

 

[i] Macular Disease Foundation Australia. Deloitte Access Economic Report. http://www.mdfoundation.com.au/mdfreport.aspx

[ii] Australian Government. Smoking Causes Blindness. http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/content/warnings-b-eye

[iii] PubMed – NCBI. Progression of age-related macular degeneration: association with dietary fat, transunsaturated fat, nuts and fish intake. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14662593

[iv] AMD.org. Diet And Vitamins for AMD. http://www.amd.org/can-diet-and-vitamins-help-macular-degeneration/

[v] University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids

Young, fit and out for fun?

You may need health cover more than you think!

Since you’re young, health insurance probably isn’t on your radar. And, although it’s true that chronic (long-term) conditions such as diabetes are more likely to affect older people, did you know that more young people are admitted to hospital for accidents and injuries than people at any other life stage? Health insurance really can protect your health …

More young people are admitted to hospital for accidents and injuries than people at any other life stage.

Your health, your way

It’s natural to want to make your own decisions about your life, your way. And, health cover can do this by giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if the unexpected happens, you have choice, security and control.

First Start Hospital cover has been developed as a great start to health insurance by providing cover for the kinds of things young people are more likely to need. And, it doesn’t cost as much as you might think. For around only $16.22* a week, about the same as four coffees or a weekly membership at your gym, you could be covered if something were to happen to you.

Need convincing? Here’s how health insurance can protect your health!

Last Friday night …

Hands up who’s familiar with this scenario?

‘My cousin was walking down some nightclub stairs late one night wearing super-high stilettos. She tripped, fell and tore the ligaments in her leg and ended up needing surgery and physiotherapy for months after.’

Young people_extras

Need help paying for those extra services?

Young people are the highest users of services covered under extras (ancillary) cover such as dental, optical, physio and chiro.

But apart from a very small number of services, there’s no Medicare coverage for these things. So, if you’d like some assistance with these types of health care costs, private health insurance is the only way to go.

Dancing into trouble

This young dancer trains four to five times a week. And the workouts are pretty intensive.

‘Even though I haven’t had an injury, I do have to see my physio regularly. Plus, I need to have remedial massages to ensure that I take care of my body. If I didn’t have health cover I might put it off – which wouldn’t do my health much good.

I love that I can use HICAPS for on-the-spot claiming – I never thought about health insurance before joining rt health fund, which is when I started paying attention to what I could claim. And extras by itself isn’t that expensive. You never know what you might actually need!’

The trouble with teeth

‘My friends and I were mucking around on a jet ski when my mate went head-over-heels and chipped both his front teeth. He had to walk around with broken front teeth for weeks while he scraped together the money to get them fixed.’

With extras cover from as little as $4.80 a week**, why wouldn’t you get covered?

Mix, match ‘n’ save!

One of the easiest ways to save money on your health insurance is to mix and match your hospital and extras cover based on your individual needs.

rt health fund offers a range of covers. First Start Hospital and Value Extras are a great choice for young people who are taking out health cover for the first time and who don’t have any specific health issues or concerns.

Give our team a call on 1300 56 46 46 to talk through your options, the costs and how it all works or join online here.

Jenna Kazokas_edited
Jenna Kazokas – Marketing Communications Digital Producer at rt health fund

*Prices are indicative, based on a single, NSW-based membership, receiving a 26.791% rebate with no Lifetime Health Cover loading and $500 excess.

**Prices are indicative, based on a single, NSW-based membership on Value Extras cover, receiving a 26.791% rebate.

Seven better health habits to learn from your kids

As a mum, I know that with age comes education and experience. But on the downside, I think we may also unlearn a thing or two – and it turns out that your kids can be the ones to teach you. For example, it’s natural for children to put their health first without even realising it. So, maybe it’s time for the grown-ups to do the same. Here are seven valuable lessons you may be able to learn from your kids …

  1. Better breathing

Have you ever seen a baby breathe? Noticed the way the diaphragm (the large muscle below the lungs) rises and falls? This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and it’s the natural way to take in a deep breath and oxygenate your body. This kind of breathing expands your lungs and presses down the diaphragm, causing the abdomen to expand as the lungs are filled with air. When stressed or anxious, adults are prone to shallow breathing from the chest, which means that the bottom parts of the lungs don’t fill up, denying the body of vital oxygen.

Whether you’re sitting, standing or lying down, place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach and breathe out, exhaling completely. As you inhale, count slowly to five and the hand on your stomach will rise up. Then exhale, counting down slowly from five until that hand goes down. Though it’s not as easy as it sounds and you may need to practice it, regular abdominal breathing is a great way to keep your stress levels down, as well as slow down your heartbeat and reduce or stabilise your blood pressure[i].

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  1. Ask why?

Take a look at your phone. It’s always undergoing improvements, updates and revisions, and isn’t that a bit like life? It can get pretty hectic and scary for us adults, but for children, new and unfamiliar obstacles are just tasks that need to be learned and mastered. Be curious about the world and ask questions, as not only does this provide a mentally stimulating workout that may help keep conditions such as dementia at bay, but people may also consider you to be a good listener and conversationalist.

Whether you’re eight or 80, you can always learn, so enjoy the journey to discover, develop and grow. When you can, be flexible, open and embrace uncertainty, rather than letting your doubts take over. Take your time to look around, appreciate what you have and talk with others about the weird and wonderful world that’s out there. 

  1. Eat like a kid

No, this doesn’t mean order the chicken nuggets off the kids’ menu! But, do try to keep your portion sizes smaller. That way you can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Healthy children usually eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full because they follow their natural body and brain cues and are in tune with their hunger and fullness.

If you grew up being told to eat everything on your plate, even if you were full, don’t let that habit stick – make a conscious effort to stop when you’ve had enough. Making a child eat when they aren’t hungry overrides their natural appetite cues and has links to weight problems later in life. Has this happened to you? Eat smaller, more regular meals packed with veggies to avoid getting over hungry and binging on something you shouldn’t.

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  1. Don’t sit still

Children are always on the move and this is not only a great way to learn, but it also strengthens bones and muscles and burns kilojoules. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for adults, especially if your job means you have to sit for long periods behind the wheel or in front of a computer terminal. If that’s the case, make sure you get up frequently and stretch.

Getting fit for kids isn’t about slogging it out on a treadmill for an hour, it’s about finding something that they love doing and doing it over and over. After all, exercise shouldn’t be a chore and doesn’t need to be. Love to walk? Visit your nearest national park and enjoy a bush walk. Love to dance? Try out that Zumba class you’ve been meaning to try. You get the picture …

  1. Know when it’s time for some R&R

When was the last time your kids said ‘I want to go home’? Generally speaking, kids know when they are tired and will let you know when they need to rest. So just like them, respect your cues and listen to your body when it tells you it’s tired. Ignoring those natural signals to rest can trigger stress and illness in both your body and mind. Lack of sleep in adults has also been linked with obesity since it triggers the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, as well as having links with type 2 diabetes, poor memory and loss of focus.

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  1. Ask for help

When kids need help, they ask for it, whether it’s with their homework or getting something off the top shelf. As we grow up, asking for help becomes a little harder – perhaps because we fear the way we will be perceived by others. Asking for help when you need it may put you out of your comfort zone, but it helps you learn, grow in confidence and get better (whether this is better at a skill or better health wise).

Us adults feel like we need to do everything for ourselves, but there is nothing weak or embarrassing about asking for help. Whether it’s your family, friends, GP or a support hotline, someone is always ready to help you – and you and your family deserve to get that help.

  1. Look on the bright side

Not only are kids naturally inquisitive, but they’re optimistic as well (usually!). Looking on the bright side is linked with less stress and better wellbeing. One study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that people who were more optimistic had higher levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides[ii], which are a type of fat. No wonder they say that laughter is the best medicine!

What are the children in your life teaching you about looking after your health?

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Simone Tregeagle, Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund, with her daughter

 

[i] Harvard Health Publications. Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
[ii] The American Journal of Cardiology. Relation Between Optimism and Lipids in Midlife. http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(13)00388-3/abstract

Protect your hardworking eyes

They work when you work, they work when you’re relaxing and they even work when you’re sleeping. So, are you giving your hardworking eyes the care they deserve?

At work …

Most eye injuries (60 per cent) occur during work[i]. According to the Australian government, the construction, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are where most eye accidents at work occur[ii]. Any job that involves airborne particles or hazardous substances carries a risk of eye injury. Protect your eyes by:

  • Wearing the right eyewear – your workplace health and safety policy advisors will direct you on the right kind of eyewear you need. Generally speaking, safety eyewear made with polycarbonate lenses and a safety frame with side shields or close fitting wraparound styles give the best protection.
  • Seeking shade – it’s not just your skin that the sun can damage, ultraviolet (UV) rays can also harm your eyes[iii]. Over time, too much sun can contribute to cataracts (where protein builds up in the lens making it cloudy and preventing light from passing clearly through it). So, if you work outside or spend part of the day outdoors, always wear a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Driving safely – did you know that the sun can penetrate glass and damage your skin and eyes? If you do a lot of driving, think about applying a clear, protective UV blocking film to the side windows as well as wearing sunglasses. And, if you’re suddenly more sensitive to light, see your GP.

safety at work

Protecting screen eyes

Do you find that you’re having trouble reading fine print whether you’re working in front of a screen or relaxing behind one? Called presbyopia (pronounced press-by-o-pee-a), this condition tends to affect people aged 40 and above. It happens as the lens loses its flexibility. And, in order to focus when you’re reading, the lens needs to be flexible enough to adapt and change shape.

If you work with computer screens for much of the day, you may experience eye strain – a bit like repetitive strain injury for your eyes. If this is you, your optometrist may prescribe computer glasses, which have lenses that are specially designed to maximise your vision at the kind of close-up distances that you need to be able to focus on when doing computer work. You can also make changes to your computer screen such as placing the screen about an arm’s length away from your eyes and a little below eye level. Also, make sure to take regular breaks from computer work. A good rule of thumb is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your computer about 20 feet (around 6.1m) in front of you for 20 seconds.

Feeding your eyes

What you eat can benefit your eyes. So, try to snack on nuts and seeds, which contain key antioxidants such as vitamin E and zinc to protect your eyes. Go for a mixed handful of almonds, Brazil nuts and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Flax and chia seeds are also a good option, as they contain omega-3 fats, which lubricate cells and help to reduce inflammation.

Go for green, yellow, orange and blue … Veggies are low in kilojoules and packed with nutrition, so opt for a cup or more daily. Brightly coloured veggies and fruits (such as carrots, eggplant, mangoes and blueberries) are also rich in eye protecting antioxidants.

vegetables

Avoid dry eyes. Your tears naturally lubricate your eyes but health conditions, medications, dry air, allergies and getting older can all cause dry, irritated eyes. Essential omega-3 fats help to nourish you from the inside out so try to enjoy oily fish like salmon, sardines and fresh tuna two or three times per week. Or, think about taking a fish oil supplement. These fats are called essential because your body can’t make them for itself – you have to get them from your diet. If dry eyes persist, ask your optometrist about a suitable product that might help or see your GP.

Due for a check-up?

You need regular eye exams all through your life, especially if eye problems run in your family or if you have other risk factors.  An eye exam can also show other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Book an eye test with our qualified optometrists at rt healthy eyes. We’re open to – and we welcome – everyone!

Call rt healthy eyes Surry Hills (NSW) on 1300 991 044

Call rt healthy eyes Charlestown (NSW) on 1300 782 571

This health message is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health fund, Australia’s only dedicated, not-for-profit health fund for people who work in the transport and energy industries.

[i] National Center for Biotechnology Information. Epidemiology of ocular trauma in Australia. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10485561

[ii] Australian Safety and Compensation Council. Work-related eye injuries in Australia. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/Documents/201/WorkRelatedEyeInjuriesAustralia_2008_PDF.pdf

[iii] The Skin Cancer Foundation. How Sunlight Damages the Eyes. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/for-your-eyes/how-sunlight-damages-the-eyes

Where we get our inspiration …

What have I learnt from my children?

In honour of International Women’s Day, we share some thoughts about what being a mum means to some of the ladies that connect with rt health fund.

Children learn by what they see

‘My girls are now almost 21 and 19 and over their lifetime, I have learnt (finally) that they really do learn things from you by watching the way you do things again and again.

In order for them to live happily and healthily, I realise that I need to be living that way too. If I don’t love myself enough to look after myself well, that’s what they will learn too. You know that safety instruction that you’re given on airplanes about putting on your own oxygen mask first? Well I understand that this is so important in so many ways …

My children have brought me to the peaks of joy and pride, and to the depths of despair and frustration. So I guess you could say they have also taught me to be resilient.’

Fiona Riley, Transport Women Australia Ltd (TWAL)

Fiona’s daughters Lauren in pink and Morgan in black
Fiona’s daughters, Lauren in pink and Morgan in black

A child’s smile can lift you from the worries of the world!

‘My children have taught me that no matter what is going on in our lives, that the smile of an innocent child can make all the worries in the world disappear – even if only momentarily!’

Katrina Jorgensen, Queensland Rail

Katrina with her sons Cooper and Joshua
Katrina with her sons Cooper and Joshua  

Be there!

‘What have I learnt from my children? One of the biggest factors is the value of being ‘present!’  No amount of gifts can make up for not being there when your children need you.’

Lisa Acret, Queensland Trucking Association Ltd. 

Lisa with her son Mitchell
Lisa with her son Mitchell

I now know that if it is to be …

‘I have learnt a couple of things from my children …

  1. If it’s to be, then it’s up to me …
  2. Self-belief. My children have shown me the importance of being the best you can be. Have dreams and ambitions and then do what you can to bring them to fruition.’

Maureen Paterson, Encompass Credit Union

To be a better person

‘I have learnt some very important lessons from my two daughters, most of all to not be selfish.

Having to be totally responsible for these precious girls and raising them to become independent, selfless women has made me take a good look at myself. And I am still learning from them! I can definitely say that I am certainly a better person for having them.

My mum reminded me the other day that family and relationships are all that matters. And it’s true.’

Jen Bogaart, rt health fund member 

Jen with her daughters Emersen and Layla
Jen with her daughters Emersen and Layla

Excitement for the future

‘What I feel that I have learnt most from my beautiful seven-month-old son so far is that joy and innocence still exists in the world that we live in.

Seeing life through his eyes is so very refreshing. It really is the simple things in life that matter. I feel so blessed to have a happy and healthy son whom my husband Brenton and I adore beyond measure and would do anything for. I’m sure that every parent feels exactly the same.

I am so very excited for the future and all of the milestones to come as we watch little Oliver grow up and experience the wonderful journey of life.’

Rachael Tickner, QRI Lifestyle

Rachael and Brenton with their son Oliver
Rachael and Brenton with their son Oliver

It’s about patience and understanding

‘I am blessed to be the mother of four wonderful children (two amazing adults and two school-age children) and have learnt many things. But one of the most significant of these is the need for patience and understanding.

My children make me stop, listen and really appreciate the important things in life. Children feel happy and secure when they have good friends around them and I have learnt to appreciate the comfort that comes from friendship, both in their lives and in my own. I enjoy the funny things they do, we laugh a lot. And, I love joining them when they are being creative – it helps keep me feeling young.’

Mary Mason, rt health fund member

Patience is a virtue

‘As a mum to three beautiful children, I have learnt to cultivate patience – which I really didn’t believe I had in me. I have also learnt not to assume anything, not to jump to conclusions and to understand that things are not always as they might seem at first.’

Linda Rollason, rt health fund member

Sharing life, love and counsel

‘My children are now adults in their own right – loving and capable wives and mothers. I have learnt that you cannot love too much or give too much of your time, presence or counsel, and that I am still a part of their lives as they will always be a part of mine. I know that, to them, it is very important that I take care of my health and remain active and that they want to know about and be a part of my life, just as I want to know what is happening in their lives and my grandchildren’s lives. These are the things that are important to me.’

Maureen McAlorum, rt health fund member

Maureen with her granddaughter, Bianca
Maureen with her granddaughter, Bianca

Sharing life, love and counsel

‘My children have taught me to not hold grudges. A stressful morning of spilt cereal, half-dressed children, forgotten library bags and meltdowns over lost, adorable purple unicorns can all be forgotten when they give you a hug and tell you that you’re the best mum in the world. Or, they flash a cheeky smile with a freshly picked flower in their hand!’

Ali Rees, rt health fund member

Ali, her husband Brett and their children Nevaeh and Travis
Ali, Brett and their children Nevaeh and Travis

This message is brought to you by rt health fund’s Strategic Business Development Manager, Rebecca Delahaye and Key Account Managers; Alison Weatherill, David Stock and Cassandra Reynolds.

The not-for-profit health fund for the transport and energy industries.