Tag Archives: Simone Tregeagle

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].

small image_breathe

  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.

small image_family eating

  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.

small image_relax

  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?

Version 2
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

Advertisements

Don’t be that one in five …

One in five young people don’t know that they could be heading for a 10-year government penalty!

Are you that one in five? Or do you know someone that may be in this boat?

Thankfully, this cost can be avoided …

iStock_000007281377_LargeSo what’s it all about?

It’s all due to a system called Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) – a government loading that hits anyone over the age of 31 with a penalty for not having private hospital cover before the cut-off date (which is June 30 after a person’s 31st birthday). The loading increases annually, potentially adding up to thousands of extra dollars paid for private hospital cover. The government introduced LHC to encourage people to take out private hospital cover early in life, and keep it …

And that’s just the start of it!

By not taking out hospital cover by the cut off date, the loading increases a further 2 per cent for every year over 31 that a person doesn’t have private hospital cover. Scarily, more than one million Australians are paying a LHC loading today.

LHC can add up and up and up

‘Hospital insurance isn’t on the radar – or in the budget – of a lot of younger people. If they do think about it, they think they can wait until they’re ready to start a family or until they’re older and more likely to want private cover. But what many people don’t realise is that by then, the LHC loading has really added up,’ says rt health fund Chief Operating Officer, Simone Tregeagle.

‘If you leave it until you’re 40, you’ll be paying 20 per cent more for your health cover every year for 10 years until the loading drops off. And that easily adds up to thousands of dollars over a ten-year period!’

Read all about it!

Each year the government writes to everyone turning 31 who doesn’t have hospital cover to tell them about the looming LHCiStock_000057180950_Large loading. But the statistics show that awareness of LHC is pretty low. And it’s not just the thirty-somethings that are affected.

A lapse of judgment could cost you dear!

Simone Tregeagle adds, ‘There’s a fairly low level of awareness among older people who have private hospital cover that if they let their cover lapse for a period of time, they may face a substantial LHC loading when they choose to re-join. So getting hospital cover and staying with it really is worthwhile.’

New Australians

The government also wants people who have recently moved to Australia to take up hospital cover. So, if you – or someone you know – receives full Medicare benefits (i.e. holds either a green or blue Medicare card), LHC loading can be avoided by taking out private hospital cover. This needs to be taken out by 1 July following the person’s 31st birthday. If the person is over 31, hospital cover needs to be taken out before the first anniversary of the day they registered for full Medicare benefits in order to avoid the loading.

‘If full Medicare eligibility is kept for a year without taking out private hospital cover, the government will charge a 2 per cent loading for every year that person is over 31. Scarily, if that person is 45 years of age and hasn’t taken out private hospital cover one year after Medicare eligibility kicks in, the loading would be a huge 30 per cent!’ explains rt’s Simone Tregeagle.

So what can you do to avoid being slapped?

Read, read, read …

  • Read the information that’s sent to you by the government
  • Get hospital cover by June 30 following your 31st birthday
  • If you’re older than 31, get hospital cover as soon as you can to reduce your LHC loading
  • Be aware of the consequences if you have hospital cover and choose to drop it after the age of 31
  • If you’re new to Australia, or know someone who is, and they’re 31 or older, give them a heads up and get them to take out health cover to save excess payments
  • Call us – our team can explain the details in plain English. And you can relax and speak for as long as you need – you won’t be hurried off the phone. Rest assure that you can take as long as you need to make the right decisions for you.

To find out more, call us on 1300 56 46 46 or visit www.rthealthfund.com.au/lhc.

IMG_5977
Simone Tregeagle, Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund.

Seven ways to feel awesome this autumn

Vintage bicycle waiting near treeYour chances of infections such as colds and flu definitely increase as the colder months creep up. So as the temperature dips, try these awesome autumn tips.

  1. Eat a rainbow

Fruits and veggies are rich in potent plant pigments – that’s what gives them their vibrant colours. And, each colour packs a different potent nutritional punch.

For the biggest nutritional bang for your buck, brighter is better – dark green spinach, cabbage or broccoli, vibrant orange citrus and deep purple blackcurrants.

Red, purple and blue fruits contain anthocyanins (pronounced an-tho-sy-a-nins), which are potent antioxidants that help to strengthen your immune system. Blueberries are great but can be pricey and you can find the same antioxidant goodness in seasonal purple produce like grapes or eggplants. Orange fruits and veggies contain beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, another vital nutrient for immune health. Don’t like carrots? Try sweet potato or pumpkin instead.

All fruits and veggies contain immune boosting vitamin C but leafy green veggies, berries, citrus fruits and capsicums are extra rich. To protect the vitamin C in your foods, eat raw or steam gently and don’t keep produce warm for long periods – heat and oxygen destroy vitamin C. Fresh foods also provide a powerful antioxidant called glutathione (gloot-a-thy-own), which helps strengthen your immune system but it is also quickly destroyed by heat.

  1. Go nuts for Brazil

Brazil nuts are a rich source of the antioxidant mineral selenium, vital to helping the immune system fight off the viruses responsible for colds and flu. Just one or two Brazil nuts each day can provide all the selenium you need. Other good sources include seeds, shellfish, whole grains and lean meats. One animal study suggests that low levels of selenium may cause the flu virus to mutate to a stronger form[i]. Brazil nuts are also high in zinc, another immune booster that works hand-in-hand with vitamin C.

  1. Watch the sweet stuff

Assorted Donuts on whiteFoods that contain refined carbohydrates – such as biscuits, sweets and sugary fizzy drinks – are overloaded with sugar. Although sugar gives you an energy boost, it’s short-lived and soon triggers a sugar low as your body tries desperately to keep blood glucose (blood sugar) levels to within normal limits. Recent research suggests that overloading on sugar actually triggers a reduction in the functioning of the immune system by inhibiting phagocytosis, the process by which viruses and bacteria are chewed up by white blood cells[ii]. That doesn’t mean you have to cut sugar out completely – just moderate what you eat and make it a treat, not a daily staple.

  1. Don’t skimp on slumber

Getting enough restful sleep is vital for mind and body. This is because lack of sleep stresses the body, lowering the immune system and increasing your chances of infection.

One study published by the European Journal of Physiology found that just six days of restricted sleep affected the immune system so much that it reduced the protective effects of a flu vaccination. They also reported that a lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to catching colds[iii].

  1. Get a move onFitness Girl running at sunset

Staying active, even in the colder months, is vital for many reasons. Exercise boosts immunity by increasing the number of white blood cells, natural killer cells, that fight the invading microorganisms that cause infection.

But exercising needs to be a habit. Don’t think you have to force yourself on a daily hour-long run though – half an hour is plenty or three ten-minute bursts of activity. Aerobic exercise is important for strengthening the heart, lungs and bones while strength exercises, using weights, are important to help build lean muscle. Try yoga for better balance, flexibility, meditation and relaxation. Stress zaps your energy and your immune system, so moving more is more important than you might think.

Exercising outside also means that you’re exposed to sunlight. This reacts with a cholesterol-like substance in the skin to make vitamin D, which is vital for a healthy immune system. One study of children showed that vitamin D could be an important way to avoid flu[iv]. But remember that even in winter it’s important to protect skin from harsh rays by using sun protection. You can also increase your vitamin D levels by eating mushrooms, tofu, eggs, margarine and fatty fish like salmon and fresh tuna.

  1. Pop a probiotic

Your body is alive with microorganisms, which live in synergy with your own body cells. They’re vital for life and produce vitamins and proteins to boost your immune health. Poor diet, medications and stress can all affect your good bacteria levels. So as well as taking a probiotic supplement (probiotic bacteria are also found naturally in foods like sauerkraut and preserved lemons) you can feed the good guys with prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, leeks and kale.

  1. Get a flu jab

Every year a different strain of flu travels around the world and so a different flu vaccination is offered. The flu vaccine is a dead or inactive form of the virus so it will not make you sick. By having a flu jab, your body is able to fight the infection by making antibodies – disease fighting soldiers – that are specific to that particular strain. And if your body was to come across that strain again, it would be able to react rapidly to make the right flu fighting antibody soldiers. This is because it would already know the specific type of antibodies needed to fight that specific germ.

The flu is a very serious condition. So if you’re in an at risk group or you’re prone to infections, it’s important to get a flu shot. It takes weeks to recover from the flu and your immune system is lowered for weeks afterwards, which increases your chances of catching another infection.

IMG_5977
Simone Tregeagle, Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund.

[i] David Williamson. Scary study: selenium deficiency causes flu virus to mutate into more dangerous forms (press release). UNC News Services. http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/jun01/beck060801.htm

[ii] Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, and U. D. Register. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1973. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract 

[iii] Luciana Besedovsky, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. Pflugers Arch. 2012 Jan; 463(1): 121–137. Sleep and immune function. Published online 2011 Nov 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

[iv] Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May; 91(5):1255-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094. Epub 2010 Mar 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962

Seven ways to feel fab and beat the bloat this summer season

Simone Tregeagle is the Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund
Simone Tregeagle is the Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund, one of Australia’s oldest and most trusted not-for-profit funds

According to Nutrition Australia, Aussies will pack on between 0.8-1.5kg over the festive season[i]. It doesn’t sound like much. But the problem is that most of us don’t shift the extra kilos during the year. When you add it all up over the years it’s no wonder Australia has a major weight problem! What with all the festive buffets and bring-a-plate get-togethers, there are plenty of chances to eat and enjoy – perhaps a little too much! So, here are seven ways that you can do both without ending up with a weight hangover when the new year arrives.

  1. Don’t skip brekkie.

A healthy breakfast provides long-lasting energy and helps to prevent you becoming so hungry that you  overindulge at your festive feast. Protein and healthy fat keeps you fuller for longer, so try some peanut butter with wholegrain bread, eggs with tomato and sourdough, or yoghurt with sweet seasonal fruit.

  1. Expect some stress

You might find that the season of good cheer isn’t always that cheerful. In fact, it can be a pretty stressful time of year, and studies show that your emotional state guides your food choices. So, when people are in a good mood, they make  healthier choices while more indulgent foods are more likely to be on the menu if you’re feeling down or stressed. There are lots of things that can help you de-stress, but one size doesn’t fit all. Try exercising (strenuous exercise like fast walking or running and mind-body exercise like yoga and tai chi), eating well and deep breathing. Try to plan ahead and be realistic – stick to a Christmas budget, avoid family conflicts, make time for yourself and create to-do lists.

  1. Choose your mates wisely

Your eating buddies are strong influences and lots of research shows that you tend to mimic the eating and drinking habits of the people you’re with. So, if you want to make healthier choices, stick with people who have healthier attitudes to food and drinks.

  1. Expect to fall off the wagon

With so much food and drink around, you’re bound to overindulge. The trick is to make up for it. So, if you know you’re heading for a family blowout, cut back a little at lunch and do some extra exercise to burn it off. Try to opt for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day . Even if you can’t manage half an hour in one go, opt for three ten-minute mini workouts. Great for your body – and helps to beat stress, too! Don’t forget to check with your GP if you haven’t exercised for a while or if you have a medical condition.

  1. Watch your drinks

Your body was made to expect zero calorie water to quench thirst – not juices, sugary drinks and boozy beverages. So, it can’t clock up the calories in drinks as well as it can when you eat solid foods. A standard drink = 10g alcohol, which is equivalent to: 100ml wine, 30ml spirits or 250ml of beer. But restaurants can serve wine in glasses that are two or three times the standard serve – and when you lose count of the top-ups, it’s difficult to keep a handle on your drinking. So, finish one glass before accepting a top-up, go for low sugar, low-cal options when you can. And, when you’re choosing coffee, opt for low-fat milk and say no to syrupy add-ons (one medium latte can add up to 300 calories – the same as a jam doughnut!).

  1. Fill up at the buffet – but don’t fill out!

Buffets can be a minefield but they can be your friends, too. Opt for masses of low calorie salad and veggies as a first plate (minus the cheesy/oily dressings) and eat slowly. Soup is also a great starter even though it’s summer. It takes a while for your body to ‘sieve out’ the ingredients in soup so your stomach stays fuller. This helps to take the edge off your appetite so you’re less likely to go overboard when you get your next plate.

  1. Downsize your crockery

According to pioneering food psychologist Dr Brian Wansink, subconscious eating habits lead to unnecessary weight gain. He has shown that people eat more food if the food is served on large plates – even if they don’t like the food they’re eating! Plus, people feel just as satisfied and enjoy food just as much if it is served on a smaller plates. So trick your appetite into satisfaction – go for smaller crockery and slimmer glasses!

Good health is what we’re all about at rt health fund and helping you ‘be well, get well, stay well’ is what we want for you today and in the future. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2015!

Simone Tregeagle Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund