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A great escape

Issue 22 > AUTUMN 2013

The healing powers of a health retreat

Going the

distance How to find your running feet with friends

A hearty menu Comfort food treats from Karen Martini on page 18


Inside 1 Welcome 2

Your Say Letters and Ask Our Expert

4

Australian Unity & You Information about member benefits, plus competition winners

6

Spotlight On Managing medicines

7

Know Your Cover Choosing a policy that suits you

8

Expert Opinion Skin: a vital organ

10 Focus On ’Male menopause’ 12 Facts On Anxiety disorders 14 Member In Focus Margaret Gurney 16 Travel Health retreats 18 Eat Well Delicious comfort food recipes from Karen Martini 22 Live Well Recreational running 24 Hot Topic The great milk debate

16

25 Wellplan Rewards Special offers for members

18


Welcome

Good health represents so much more than not getting sick. At Australian Unity, we believe you should be looking after your wellbeing around the clock and, as such, do our best to provide useful services that will help you stay healthy and get the most out of life. After all, your health matters – to you and your family.

In this issue of wellplan, we’ve included a number of suggestions on what you can do to improve your wellbeing. This might be as simple as taking up recreational running, which, as we find on page 22, is an excellent way to keep fit and can be an inclusive social activity. On the other hand, if you’re seeking some exclusive ‘me time’, a peaceful health retreat holiday could be the perfect answer. Turn to page 16 to find out more. This issue also canvasses a range of health topics, such as how to manage anxiety disorders; how to treat common skin ailments; and the effects of declining testosterone levels in men as they age. And, to help you make smart, delicious food choices, we’ve included a selection of recipes from chef, restaurateur and food writer Karen Martini’s latest book, Feasting. We hope these features, plus the wide range of other stories and information in this issue of wellplan, will help to not only keep body and mind in good shape but also give you a healthy appetite for life!

Contributors HELEN HAWKES Currently based near Byron Bay, Helen Hawkes has written extensively on health issues for magazines including The Australian Women’s Weekly, Vogue Australia, Australian Men’s Health, GoodMedicine and GQ Australia. She investigates the ‘male menopause’ myth on page 10.

ANDREW TURNER Andrew Turner began his tenure in the health publication field as editor of the AMA (NSW) journal The NSW Doctor and has had numerous articles published on a diverse range of health topics. He examines anxiety disorders on page 12.

SARAH HOLLINGWORTH Amanda Hagan Chief Executive Officer – Healthcare

Sarah Hollingworth has edited several health magazines and, as a writer, covered a variety of health and lifestyle-related topics for titles such as Vital Health, Bite and TIME. She talks to artist and Australian Unity member Margaret Gurney on page 14.

CHRIS SHEEDY

AWARD WINNING HEALTH INSURANCE 2009

Freelance writer Chris Sheedy’s strong interest in health and fitness has seen many of his features appear in publications such as Body + Soul, GoodMedicine and Men’s Fitness. Chris explores the world of recreational running on page 22.

Australian Unity Health Limited ABN 13 078 722 568 Information provided in this publication is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest. wellplan magazine is published by Edge on behalf of Australian Unity; edgecustom.com.au. Change of address enquiries: 13 29 39

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your say

ON THE ROAD

Letters Winning letteR I was pleased to see the article ‘Brain reaction’ about stroke in your Spring edition (wellplan issue 21). We need more articles like this to help people understand the seriousness of major illnesses. I work as a medical receptionist in a busy general practice and often take calls from patients describing similar symptoms to those outlined in the article, sometimes experienced over a period of 48 hours, and wanting an appointment with us as soon as possible. We advise them to go to hospital, having discussed this with the relevant GP. Most patients don’t want the hassle of going to hospital; they would rather come to our bulk-billing practice and wait to see their own GP. This action is life threatening, as if they are having or have had a stroke, the best place for them is hospital and that is where we will send them anyway. People do not realise that their life is at risk by delaying seeking the proper medical help, denying that it could be a serious condition. Being suddenly sleepy and waking disoriented, unco-ordinated and with blurred vision is not normal. My advice is to listen to your doctor. If they tell you to go to hospital or call an ambulance – DO IT. Don’t wait. Be sensible and responsible. Don’t delay taking action, as it could save your life. J. Wilson, South Windsor, NSW

The author of this issue’s winning letter has won a third-generation 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi, $419rrp, while the authors of the other published letters in the ‘Your Say’ and ‘Ask Our Expert’ sections have received a copy of Karen Martini’s Feasting cookbook, $39.95rrp. Here at Australian Unity, we love to hear from our members and always welcome your comments. However, while your letters often make their way into wellplan, we can’t guarantee that they’ll all be published, or included in every issue.

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In June 2012, my family and I were dealt the devastating news that I have bone cancer (myeloma). I am able to be part of a brandnew trial, which involves travel twice a week – some 275 kilometres return from home to hospital – to see specialists who can provide my treatment, which will hopefully put this cancer into remission and allow me a quality of life I had expected before my diagnosis. After our initial shock, many weeks of waiting for confirmation and a myriad of tests – including three bone-marrow extractions and countless blood tests, X-rays etc. – treatment has begun. And, thanks to modern medicine, there has already been a decline in the number of cancer cells that are in my blood results.

MAKING THE SWITCH My husband of nearly 42 years and I are rapidly approaching the status of ‘older Australians’, but we figure we have a little way to go yet. We received our first copy of wellplan magazine recently (great muffin recipe, thanks!). For decades, we were members of a very high-profile health fund but were concerned by both the rising costs and limited benefits of membership, so we decided to explore the other options available to us. Based on what we discovered, we switched to Australian Unity and have been extremely pleased by both the savings we have made and the standard of service we have received. While we are quite at home in the age of digital communication, sometimes it is helpful to speak with a human. Our experience with Australian Unity’s staff has been fabulous. We found them to be both patient and informative, even before we signed on. Clearly, changing health funds is not just for the young. I had surgery recently and our dealings with Australian Unity were simple and

There is still much to get through, but early positive results are encouraging. I happened to be looking at the Australian Unity website and noticed that, with my Extras Cover, I could receive some assistance with the travel component of my treatment, and also for the cost of some medications if over a certain amount. The amount is limited to $120 for the year, but when faced with such an emotional challenge, any financial help lessens the burden a little. Thank you Australian Unity for recognising that there are many little ways to help that are outside regular optical/dental benefits or treatments for well-recognised ailments that afflict many of your members. K. Parton, Harvey, WA

without fuss. Our only regret is that we didn’t change sooner to Australian Unity. The company ethos is evident in the wellplan magazine, with a focus on achieving and maintaining good health. Add to this the terrific service and it sounds like a plan to us! A. & J. Brownrigg, Eltham North, VIC

HEAD OF THE CLASS Thank you for your informative article ‘Think before you drink’ in the Spring edition of wellplan (issue 21). I am a Health Education teacher and am currently discussing the impact of alcohol on adolescents in my Year 10 class. It was a thought-provoking article that initiated a lot of discussion among the students and encouraged them to pursue additional research in areas such as adolescent brain development. I hope you don’t mind that I made 30 copies and each student now has one in their health portfolio! I thought you would like to know that wellplan magazine is a fantastic educational resource, as well as great reading! N. Swingler, Aldinga Beach, SA


Ask Our Expert This issue’s questions have been answered by practising GP and medical educator Dr Genevieve Yates. If you have a health question for wellplan’s experts, write to wellplan@australianunity.com.au. Please note that we may not be able to publish all correspondence.

I’m 74 and have been taking 20mg of Lisinopril a day since 1990. What I’d like to know is how can a doctor tell me what my blood pressure is when it jumps to about 200/100 when they check it, but when I take it at home after I’ve settled down, it’s more like 138/76? The pills don’t stop it getting up there and most doctors tell me I need more, or stronger, pills. I’ve tried all the suggested things to lower my blood pressure: good diet, exercise, watching my cholesterol. Can you suggest anything else, as I don’t want to end up having a stroke? C. Park, Balcatta, WA It sounds like you might have white-coat hypertension: high blood pressure readings when taken in the doctor’s office compared with home readings. It’s very common and has nothing to do with whether or not the doctor is wearing a white coat! The good news is that your home readings are the ones that count when it comes to risk of stroke and heart attack1. My advice to patients in your situation is to continue healthy lifestyle modifications (diet, exercise, etc) and to regularly record home blood pressure readings with an accurate machine. It may be best to speak to your GP about adjusting your medication doses based on these home readings, rather than clinic measurements.

I drink skim milk at home and will eat whatever margarine or low-fat spread is in the fridge, but I prefer the taste of regular, full-fat dairy. I eat pretty well in all other respects and exercise regularly – is it really so bad for my health if I make the switch to full fat? P. Wallace, Kensington, VIC Standing in front of the everexpanding milk display in your local supermarket nowadays can cause your head to spin: full cream, reduced fat, no fat, extra calcium, permeate-free, A2 ... the list goes on. Interpreting the research on which type of dairy is best for your health is equally confusing. We used to think that low-fat dairy decreased your chance of heart disease compared with the full-fat varieties, as it’s lower in saturated fat. We recommended skim milk to our patients at risk of cardiovascular disease, reassuring them that the sacrifice they were making in the taste department was worth it. New research has revealed that the waters are a lot muddier or, dare I say, milkier than previously thought. Not only do several studies conclude that full-fat dairy does not increase your risk of heart disease compared

I’ve been having early nights lately and getting around seven to eight hours sleep a night but am waking up really tired and often with a sore throat. This has been going on for the past two months. In recent years, I’ve been told that I snore occasionally. Is it possible that snoring could be the cause of my tiredness and, if so, are there any (non-surgical) options I can try that actually work? K. Anderson, St Kilda East, VIC Snoring is a risk factor for sleep apnoea (when breathing intermittently stops) – and divorce! – but usually doesn’t have any significant health risks in itself. For those, like yourself, who have symptoms such as daytime tiredness and waking unrefreshed, it’s very important to exclude sleep apnoea

with reduced-fat dairy2, but some research suggests that full-fat dairy may actually decrease it3. The reasons are unclear but may be due to healthy nutrients in dairy fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids3. Based on current evidence, going back to full-fat dairy is unlikely to cause you harm. Remember, though, that reduced-fat dairy products have fewer kilojoules, so if you’re watching your weight, they might be a better option for this reason. See our Hot Topic on page 24 for more on this issue.

as a condition, which has serious health consequences if left untreated. Other symptoms of sleep apnoea can include morning headaches and irritability/depression. Testing is done through a formal sleep study, which can be organised by your GP. There are a myriad of non-surgical treatments for snoring. Nasal decongestants or devices that help flare the nostrils can be used if the snoring originates from the nose. For mouth breathers, mandibular advancement devices may help; these are best fitted by a dentist experienced in snoring treatments. Sleeping on your side – assisted by pillows, bed wedges or even a tennis ball sewn into the back of a T-shirt – can assist too. Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss (if overweight), increasing exercise, stopping smoking and decreasing alcohol and sedative use, are also important.

References: 1 Wexler, R., ‘Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in primary care’, Southern Medical Journal, May 2010, 103 (5): 447-52 2 Kratz, M., Baars, T., Guyenet, S., ‘The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease’, European Journal of Nutrition, July 19, 2012 3 de Oliveira, Otto MC., Mozaffarian, D., Kromhout, D., Bertoni, AG., Sibley, CT., Jacobs, DR Jr., Nettleton, JA., ‘Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2012, 96 (2): 397–404, Epub 2012, July 3

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AUSTRALIAN UNITY & YOU

Member benefit

Eyecare Advantage At Australian Unity, we recognise that good eyesight is precious and, given that 80 percent of blindness and vision impairment in Australia is preventable by early detection1, we believe it’s important to have your eyes tested regularly, especially as you get older. With eligible eye tests fully covered by Medicare, there’s no reason to put off your next appointment. Australian Unity Extras Cover is ideal for vision-impaired members, as it offers generous

optical benefits of between $150 and $300 per year, depending on the level of Cover, with limits renewing on January 1 each year. Plus, having your eyes tested is even more affordable when you visit our preferred partner, Eyecare Advantage. Fully Australian owned, Eyecare Advantage offers a 12-month warranty on your glasses, no time limit for adjustments and exclusive member-only discounts, as outlined below. Now that’s useful.

Purchase any pair of complete spectacles and receive your choice of 25 percent off OR a FREE pair of single-vision stock prescription sunglasses or readers*. For more information, store locations or to make a booking, visit eyecareadvantage.com.au or call 1300 709 033. Full details on the benefits available under your level of Cover can be found when you register or login to Online Member Services at australianunity.com.au/memberservices or call 13 29 39. *Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Free pair of single-vision stock prescription sunglasses or readers available from a selected range of frames only. Reference: 1 World Health Organization (1997), ‘Blindness and Visual Disability Part II of VII: Major Causes Worldwide’, Fact Sheet No 143.

Get with the program Taking care of our members is a priority at Australian Unity. For those members with heart disease, type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis, that means providing special coaching programs to help manage your condition and achieve your health goals. Provided through our preventative health company, Remedy Healthcare, the coaching programs can also assist in

identifying risk factors and preventing complications often associated with your condition. Best of all, the programs are free and easy to access, with advice offered over the phone*. With the help of one of our team of experienced clinicians, you can learn how to manage your condition and achieve health objectives that are relevant to you and your lifestyle.

To enrol in a program or to find out more, call 13 29 39. 4 > wellplan

Member benefit

Am I eligible? You are eligible for the Remedy Healthcare programs if you have been: diagnosed with coronary artery disease and/or had a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty or stent procedure; or

diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; or

diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at high risk of developing it.

*Available with all Hospital and Combination Covers except Budget Hospital, Care ‘n Repair, Smart Start and Overseas Visitors Cover. A 12-month waiting period applies for new members.


AUSTRALIAN UNITY & YOU

Congratulations to our winners! In the previous issue of wellplan (Spring 2012), we gave Australian Unity members the opportunity to enter two separate competitions. The first one invited members to take part in our reader survey for the chance to win a $200 gift card.

The five winners are: M. Dalton, 3178; V. Hexter, 3122; P. Woolford, 3810; S. King, 3065; P. Foster, 3350. In the second competition, a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher was up for grabs for members who signed up to receive wellplan magazine online. The winner is: J. Faulkner, 4510.

Staying safe for life Ongoing research demonstrates that the cervical cancer vaccination offers significant benefits to women up to 45 years of age1 – and reduces the burden of cervical cancer and other human papillomavirus (HPV) related illnesses in Australia. Australian Unity is therefore pleased to be the first private health fund to pay a benefit for this important treatment to those who are eligible for the National HPV Vaccination Program. At your next check-up, why not ask your GP whether the vaccination is right for you and, if it is, we’ll cover 100 percent of the cost, up to $200, on completion of the course of three vaccines*. While the vaccine is an effective preventative measure, pap tests remain

the first line of detection for cervical cancer. It’s therefore vital that all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active – including those who have been vaccinated – continue to be tested every two years, in line with Cancer Council Australia recommendations. To claim, just send a copy of the prescription for your third cervical cancer vaccination with a completed claim form to Australian Unity. For more information, call us on 13 29 39 or go to cancer.org.au or cervicalcancervaccine.org.au *No waiting periods apply. Lifetime limit of $200. Available with all Hospital and Combination Covers except Care ‘n Repair, Smart Start, Budget Hospital and Overseas Visitors Cover. Reference: 1 cervicalcancervaccine.org.au

Health audit When preparing to make changes to your lifestyle habits or health, it’s not always clear what needs to be done – or even where to start. The often-daunting process, however, can be simplified with the assistance of a health coach. You’ll be amazed by what you can achieve with the motivational advice and support of an expert. Forget doing it on your own – a coach can help you determine your health status, set goals and overcome any barriers that are holding you back. To help pave the way to a healthier you, most Hospital and Combination

Member benefit

Member benefit

Covers with Australian Unity will pay $45 towards an annual health-coaching consultation with a registered health professional, such as a dietitian, psychologist, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist*. Just ask your local health professional if they offer health-coaching services; alternatively, your GP or practice nurse may also be able to recommend a health coach that’s right for you. *No waiting periods apply. Available with all Hospital and Combination Covers except Care ‘n Repair, Smart Start, Budget Hospital and Overseas Visitors Cover. Excludes Extras only.

To claim, simply go to australianunity.com.au/healthcoach to download a health-coaching form and claim form. Ask your health professional to complete the health-coaching form during your consultation, then, when you’re ready to claim, simply return the tear-off section, along with your consultation receipt and a completed claim form, to Australian Unity. Keep the other part of the form with your personal health information for your own reference.

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SPOTLIGHT ON

Managing

medicines Having trouble keeping track of your medications? Find out what you’re taking – and why – with the help of two government-funded programs. Words Mel Hearse Of the 140,000 Australians admitted to hospital every year with medication-related problems, studies have shown that an estimated 50 percent could be avoided1. So what’s being done to find a solution? Two initiatives, the Home Medicines Review (HMR) and MedsCheck, offer free, private consultations with pharmacists to enable individuals who are at risk to discuss medications and how best to manage them. The Australian Government funds both schemes under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement between the Department of Health and Ageing and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia – which means neither program will cost users a cent.

Home Medicines Review (HMR) “HMR services provide a comprehensive review of your medicines to identify any drug-related issues and ensure you receive the optimal benefit from them,” explains Toni Riley of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

“HMR is targeted at consumers identified by their GP as having a clinical need for the program or, in layman’s terms, those deemed at risk of experiencing medication misadventure.” As well as detecting and addressing medication-related problems, the HMR helps improve knowledge of your medicines and gives practical, personalised advice on how best to manage them. Reviews are conducted in your own home and require a referral from your GP.

MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck MedsCheck and Diabetes MedsCheck provide an in-pharmacy review of your medicines, including educational and self-management advice. MedsCheck is targeted at individuals taking five or more prescription medicines and those who have had a recent significant medical event, such as hospitalisation or a new diagnosis, explains Riley.

Diabetes MedsCheck focuses on type 2 diabetes medicines management, monitoring devices and education. “It is targeted at those with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and who are unable to gain timely access to other diabetes education or health services in their community,” says Riley. As with HMR, both MedsCheck programs aim to identify problems with medicines and help people learn more about their medicines – including how medicines affect medical conditions. Neither MedsCheck service requires a referral from a doctor. Reference: 1 abc.net.au/health/minutes/stories/2011/05/17/3122211. htm#.UI8HSYUn0io

Am I eligible? To be eligible for MedsCheck, you must: ■ be a Medicare and/or DVA cardholder ■ have not received a MedsCheck, Diabetes MedsCheck, Home Medicines Review (HMR) or Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) in the past 12 months ■ be living at home ■ be taking five or more prescription medicines ■ have had a recent significant medical event To be eligible for a Diabetes MedsCheck, you must meet the above criteria (except for the last two points) and: ■ have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the last 12 months, or ■ have less than ideally controlled type 2 diabetes and be unable to gain timely access to existing diabetes education/health services in your community

Find out more Ask your pharmacist or GP about these services, or for more information visit 5cpa.com.au

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know your cover

Finding

right fit the

Your health needs change over time, so it stands to reason that your Health Cover should too.

Whether living the single life or planning a family, playing injury-prone sports or leading a hectic life that calls for natural therapies, the many different products offered by Australian Unity are designed to suit the changing needs of our members – no matter what stage of life you’re at. But how do you choose which policy is best suited to you? After all, health insurance can be confusing. Some policies offer a lot of Cover for hospital visits, with very few Extras; some appear inexpensive but provide minimal Cover; and others provide extensive Cover – but not necessarily in areas suited to your needs. We can help you compare what you get out of your Health Cover, and not just the price you pay, by understanding what you currently use and are likely to use based on your age, family circumstances and health or fitness activities.

Choosing the best product for you When assessing your Health Cover, consider the following: Are you new to health insurance? If you’re young and starting out in life, finances can be a little tight … you may just want the bare minimum of Cover for unexpected accidents, plus a range of Extras – such as remedial massage, physio and general

dental – in which case, products like Care ‘n Repair or Smart Start may be the right fit. Are you trying to save money? If you’re fit and healthy and don’t foresee a hospital visit any time soon, you might consider switching to a higher excess – for example, from $250 to $500 – to reduce your monthly costs, but not your level of Cover. Will you start a family in the near future? If children are on the horizon, you may want to switch to a Family Cover, not

only to accommodate birth-related services – including home births, which are unique to Australian Unity – but also to ensure your newborn is covered for any medical treatment from the very moment they arrive. Have your children left home? As an empty nester, you could consider switching to a level of Cover that excludes pregnancy and birth-related services, though you may still prefer the security and reassurance of comprehensive Hospital and Extras Covers.

Top tips for checking your Cover ■ Check

that your Hospital Cover is still relevant using your Product Fact Sheet. Ensure you understand what is covered, what excess you are paying and what exclusions or restrictions apply to your chosen Cover. ■ Consider whether you need to pay for services you no longer need as a result of changes to your personal circumstances.

■ Check

your eligibility for the latest preventative health benefits, as you may be eligible for things you didn’t realise you could claim on. ■ Check whether or not you have served all waiting periods. ■ Check whether your benefits on certain Extras items have increased over time, since your membership began.

Call us on 13 29 39 and ask us for a ‘Right Cover Check’ or visit australianunity.com.au to find out more.

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Skin deep WORDS Ian Neubauer

Your skin is your body’s first line of defence against physical damage, infection, dehydration and more – so it makes sense to take good care of it.

The skin is our body’s largest organ, an outer shield designed to ward off a range of potential health problems. But, while offering multiple layers of protection to the body within, the skin itself is prone to a number of conditions, which have accounted for at least 15 percent of visits to GPs in Australia in the past1. High as this figure is, the actual frequency of skin disease in the community is thought to be higher still, because many sufferers don’t consult doctors at all. “Community-based data collections show that medical practitioners are consulted about skin conditions by less than 50 percent of those who have them,” writes Professor of Dermatology Robin Marks in the Atlas of Common Skin Diseases in Australia2. “People frequently seek advice from others in the community … or they merely treat themselves, based on information from elsewhere.” To help you take better care of your skin, we’ve consulted dermatologists and prominent research groups about some of the most common skin problems affecting adults in Australia.


expert opinion

ECZEMA

What is it? Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is the most common of all skin conditions, resulting in red, dry, itchy, scaly and – in severe cases – weeping and bleeding skin. According to the Eczema Association of Australasia, it will affect one in three Australians over the course of their life3 and is most common in people with a family history of an atopic disorder or allergy. Expert advice While there is no cure for eczema, it can be managed. Professor Stephen Shumack, a dermatologist and Medical Director of the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia, says your GP is the first port of call. “The key thing they’ll advise is to cut back on hot showers and prescribe topical steroid creams that have anti-inflammatory properties.” It’s also important to keep the skin well moisturised.

PSORIASIS

What is it? This skin disease is characterised by a red, scaly rash that tends to occur on the elbows, knees and scalp. Expert advice While the cause of psoriasis is unknown, dermatologist Dr Catherine Reid says we do know that “it gets better with exposure to the sun, so when skin is covered in winter, it may fire up”. Treatment involves a combination of strategies: over-the-counter topical-type corticosteroids that have anti-inflammatory agents; phototherapy, also known as light therapy, where the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light under medical supervision; and ‘systematic’ medications – prescription drugs often used for patients who are not responsive or unable to take topical medications or undergo light therapy4.

Cool response The hot summer sun can be unkind to our skin, but cooler weather can cause – and irritate – epidermal conditions, too. Hidden beneath layers of clothes, it’s easy to let your regular skin regime lapse during the cooler seasons; however, this is when it needs the most attention. You can minimise the toll that the next few months will take on your skin by adapting your habits accordingly. Heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners help take the cold bite of winter away, but they also take away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin, causing uncomfortable dryness around the arms, hands, face, neck and other exposed areas. Long, hot showers each day can also be damaging. “What that does is wash away natural oils, causing your skin to sting and flake when you dry yourself off with a towel,” explains dermatologist Professor Stephen Shumack. He suggests

limiting showers to 3–4 minutes, using cooler water and spending the same amount of time rubbing a mild moisturiser over the skin. Moisturising is particularly important for eczema sufferers, whose condition will often worsen in the cooler months when skin tends to dry out due to low humidity, according to dermatologist Dr Catherine Reid. “People with eczema have to use a lot more moisturiser in the winter,” she says. Another common skin ailment in winter is windburn, especially for those living in or visiting alpine regions. “Burns and rashes on places like the lips, ears and hands are common,” says Professor Shumack, “and you need to keep these areas protected with lip balm, gloves and plenty of sunscreen.”

HIVES

What is it? Appearing as itchy bumps, hives are an inflammatory response to an irritant or foreign substance. They usually last for a day or two but can persist indefinitely. Expert advice “Hives are quite common, and if you know what causes your hives, you can remove the offending agent,” says Dr Reid, citing foods, chemicals, drugs, insect bites and tight or synthetic clothing as common causes. “In 50 percent of cases, patients won’t find the cause, so you treat the problem symptomatically. The first line of treatment is over-the-counter antihistamines; the next is seeing a GP.”

ACNE

What is it? Consisting of mild to severe outbreaks of pimples and cysts, acne mainly targets the skin on the face, back, arms and chest. Expert advice Although acne is usually associated with teenagers, dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook says that one in three people will continue to suffer from acne well into their adult years. Dr Cook describes acne in adults as a serious “disease of the skin” and says sufferers need to seek professional advice from day one to get optimal results. “Many people look at acne as a few pimples that your beauty therapist can treat, but that can make it so much worse,” she says. “Acne can be linked to underlying hormonal issues, so you need to see an expert to make sure they thoroughly investigate the problem. Otherwise, you can go down a path where a potential hormonal imbalance gets overlooked, and that can impact upon other things like fertility and lead to long-term scarring.” For those fortunate enough not to suffer from a skin condition, it doesn’t mean you can take this part of the body for granted. To ensure the skin continues to play its important role, try to keep it clean, nourished and protected on a daily basis. You’ll not only look better but you’ll help prevent health issues in the future.

References: 1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Medical Practitioners Survey’, 2004, abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/dossbytitle/E938F9361125 A9FACA256E1300775330?OpenDocument 2 Marks, R., Plunkett, A., Merlin, K., Jenner, N., Atlas of Common Skin Diseases in Australia, Department of Dermatology, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, 1999, dermatology.svhm.org.au/resources/4548-atlas.pdf 3 Eczema Association of Australasia, ‘Facts About Eczema’, eczema.org.au/info/ facts.html 4 National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis.org

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The

change of life

Unexplained sweats, mood swings, weight gain ‌ are men over 40 susceptible to menopause, too? WORDS Helen Hawkes


FOCUS ON

Manning up about health A middle-aged male who spruces up his wardrobe and buys a convertible may blame hormonal changes for his so-called mid-life crisis. But while a slow decline in testosterone happens to all men as they age, it can’t really be blamed for sudden changes in behaviour or wellbeing, say health experts. While women generally experience a 90 percent decline in oestrogen over 12 months at menopause, men’s testosterone levels decline about 1 percent a year as they age, says endocrinologist and clinical research fellow Dr Carolyn Allan, Medical Adviser for Andrology Australia. She says ‘male menopause’ is a bit of a myth, although about one in 200 men under 60 years of age do have a medical condition that causes the testes to make less than normal amounts of testosterone. The most common of these is Klinefelter syndrome, a genetic disorder in which the testes don’t function adequately. Damage to the testes (for example, through infection, trauma, medications or chemo/radiotherapy), undescended testes, or – rarely – a lack of hormones produced by the brain, can also affect testosterone production1. “We know, as a group, these men are under-recognised,” says Dr Allan. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency may include low energy, poor concentration or memory, mood changes, reduced muscle strength, sweats and even a low sex drive. Blood tests are used to check hormone levels and, if a deficiency is found, treatment

in the form of injections, implants, tablets, patches or gels is often recommended. For men who feel they may be a bit low on testosterone but who don’t have a medical condition, the long-term benefits and risks of supplementing testosterone are uncertain, warns Dr Allan. Despite this, statistics show that testosterone replacement treatments are a booming business. Professor David Handelsman, Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology & Andrology at the University of Sydney and founding director of the ANZAC Research Institute (the country’s leading clinical research centre in the clinical pharmacology of androgens), has found that, from 1992 to 2010, total annual expenditure on testosterone products increased ninefold to $12.7 million2. He says the introduction of two new testosterone products – an injection and a gel – marketed by Bayer in Australia, has seen a sharp increase in prescribing trends. “By definition, only doctors can write prescriptions [for these drugs],” says Professor Handelsman. “However, not just anti-ageing clinics but also many individual doctors – including GPs and specialists who believe they are treating a condition called ‘andropause’ [more or less the same as male menopause] – are prescribing them.” Apart from medical conditions, our increasingly unhealthy Australian lifestyle may be playing a part in the number of men seeking testosterone therapy from

According to Andrology Australia, one in three men have a problem below the belt. And every year, about 700 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, says Cancer Council Australia. Unfortunately, the fact that men don’t tend to talk about their reproductive health and are less likely to visit the doctor means they are putting their lives at risk1.

So, what can you do? Have regular check-ups to ensure you’re in good health and talk to your GP if you have a concern. For more information, visit talkaboutyourtackle.org

doctors or anti-ageing clinics. For instance, says Dr Allan, obesity can negatively affect testosterone levels. She says a healthy lifestyle – fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, plenty of fresh air and regular exercise – is one way to help ensure hormones function adequately. If you are an overworked, under-exercised middle-aged male, you might want to talk to your doctor – not about testosterone supplementation but about changing your lifestyle.

Let’s hear it for the boys! Men’s Health Week 2013, June 10–16, is a celebration of the positive roles men and boys play in our society, as well as an examination of environments that are leading to adverse male health outcomes. A boy born in Australia in 2010 has a life expectancy of 79.5 years, while a girl born at the same time could expect to live to the age of 843. Right from the start, boys generally suffer more illness, more accidents and die earlier than their female counterparts4.

To find out more, visit menshealthweek.org.au References: 1 andrologyaustralia.org 2 Handelsman, DJ., ‘Pharmacoepidemiology of testosterone prescribing in Australia, 1992–2010’, Medical Journal of Australia, June 4: 196 (10) 642–5, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/22676880?dopt=Abstract 3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1367.0 – State and Territory Statistical Indicators, 2012, abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1367.0~2012~Main%20Features~Life%20 Expectancy%20at%20Birth~5.16 4 menshealthweek.org.au

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High

anxiety Most of us feel worried or anxious every now and then, but when it becomes incessant and interferes with daily life, it’s time to seek professional help. WORDS ANDREW TURNER

Imagine feeling compelled to wash your hands for hours on end or going to bed at night, only to get up dozens of times to check that the front door is locked. Even worse, imagine not leaving your house for several years, your heart racing at the very thought of stepping foot outside the confines of your own home. Such extreme scenarios are symptoms of different types of anxiety disorders and, sadly for some, are a constant reality.

 

What is anxiety? National mental health organisation SANE Australia defines anxiety as a medical condition characterised by persistent, excessive worry. It is the most common type of mental disorder, affecting around 14 percent of Australians aged 16–85 (including one in five females aged 16–54), according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics1. There are various types of anxiety disorders that manifest in a range of behaviours, but common to them all is an anxiety so severe that it inhibits a person’s ability to carry out or enjoy everyday life2. The difference between those who feel the occasional bout of anxiety and an anxiety disorder sufferer, explains SANE Australia’s 12 > wellplan


FACTS ON

Paul Morgan, is that the anxiety is persistent and excessive for the latter and interferes with their life over a significant period of time. “When someone has an anxiety disorder, you’d almost characterise it as a big red button in the brain that’s pressed when you’re really anxious or worried about something,” says Morgan. “Except that it’s like having pressure on that button all the time.”

 

Common types of anxiety The impact of anxiety on a person’s life depends on the type of disorder, explains Morgan, but it can be debilitating and, in some cases, can impair their ability to function in social and occupational situations. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) This disorder can result in excessive worrying and feelings of anxiety over work matters, finances or health – or a combination of all – over several months or more3. “They can carry on with their work and life, but there’s this persistent, excessive worry all the time and it stops them enjoying life,” says Morgan, adding that a person with GAD may constantly worry, for example, that their car might break down, even though it’s regularly serviced and well maintained. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) People with OCD, a condition that affects more than 450,000 Australians, feel driven to carry out repetitive behaviours in an effort to minimise their anxiety4. Common causes of this anxiety are obsessive fears of germ contamination or self-harm, or compulsions like cleaning and hoarding. As Morgan explains: “People with OCD might brush their teeth for two hours every night until they’re bleeding, or they might get up from bed and check the door, go back to bed, get up and check it again and do this for hours.” Social Phobia While most of us know the feelings of anxiety associated with events like delivering a speech, Morgan says Social Phobia is intense, excessive worry about social situations “to the point where it can affect their capacity to work or mix with people at all”. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Someone with this disorder experiences the feelings of a traumatic event that they’ve either witnessed or been involved in that’s

“scarred into the brain” and which can return to them “over and over later in life”, says Morgan. Panic Disorder This involves sudden, recurrent panic attacks5, where, as Morgan explains, the sufferer “can actually faint or experience very unpleasant, distressing symptoms like they’re having a heart attack”.   Specific Phobias A person may experience intense anxiety when exposed to a specific object, such as a type of animal, or a specific situation, such as enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), heights or receiving an injection. These are also categorised as anxiety disorders6.

The road to recovery The good news is that, with appropriate medical intervention, the symptoms associated with these anxiety disorders can be managed, minimised and even eliminated. The first step is an assessment and diagnosis by a GP, who may prescribe medication, especially where there is concurrent depression. The GP might then recommend psychotherapy, which involves regular visits with a psychologist, a psychiatrist or someone who is professionally trained to provide treatment for anxiety. There are two broad approaches to this therapy, explains Morgan. “One is to help manage the symptoms as they occur to try to get the brain out of the habit of being anxious. This includes cognitive behavioural therapy, where you talk to a therapist about what situations trigger your anxiety, and then it’s about observing yourself, recognising when you’re becoming anxious and choosing an enjoyable activity or engaging in positive thought that gets your brain out of the groove of always being anxious.” The second treatment approach is psychodynamic therapy, which involves examining the factors that may have led to the development of the anxiety disorder in the first place. “It may have been a certain relationship early in life where these patterns first started, or it might have been what home life was like or moving school dramatically,” says Morgan. “... it’s about helping people to understand, so they think ‘oh, that’s why that’s happening; I get it now’. This then gives a foundation of understanding on which to

Providing support Family and friends are crucial in assisting an anxiety sufferer to recognise their condition and ultimately seek treatment that will get their lives back on track. Paul Morgan, from SANE Australia, provides these tips for supporting an anxiety sufferer.   ■ Calmly convey that they seem to be worried all the time. ■ Demonstrate compassion and express the fact that it must be distressing for them. ■ Talk about feelings and behaviours rather than symptoms. ■ Gently suggest a visit to a GP to chat about their behaviour. ■ Leave them with a pamphlet about anxiety disorders.

Need help? SANE Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263) sane.org beyondblue info line 1300 224 636 beyondblue.org.au

build coping strategies for how the person feels now.” References: 1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Australian Social Trends’, March 2009, abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/4102.0 Main+features30March%202009 2 SANE Australia, ‘SANE Factsheet 12: Anxiety Disorders’, 2011, sane.org/images/stories/information/ factsheets/1108_info_12anxiety.pdf 3 beyondblue.org.au 4 SANE Australia, ‘SANE Factsheet 8: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’, 2010, sane.org/images/stories/information/factsheets/1007_info_8ocd.pdf 5 beyondblue, ‘Factsheet 36: Panic Disorder’, beyondblue.org.au 6 beyondblue, ‘Factsheet 38: Specific Phobias’, beyondblue.org.au

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Spirit of

creativity

The key to good health and happiness, believes Melbourne artist Margaret Gurney, is following your passion and doing what you truly love. WORDS Sarah Hollingworth photography Jarrod barnes

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When 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche crafted the phrase ‘that which does not kill me makes me stronger’, the very idea of adversity being a source of strength seemed ludicrous. More than a century later, it’s an aphorism that Melbourne artist Margaret Gurney could have done without, but she admits adversity has shaped the person she has become. The past is not something Margaret, now in her mid-60s, is particularly keen to dwell on – “it’s all about the future,” she says. But to examine the woman she is today, it’s necessary to reflect on the many challenges and, indeed, achievements of yesterday. The daughter of Australian war artist Alex Gurney, Margaret was just 11 when her father, 53, died from a heart attack. Margaret says that although her father, also creator of the legendary ‘Bluey and Curley’ cartoon, was a fabulous artist with a creative spirit, financial matters were not his strong suit.

“My mother, just 43 years old and not tertiary educated, had to find work to support the family,” she says, describing her as an incredibly intelligent and industrious woman. “It was 1955 and she had a real struggle, so she was very determined this wasn’t going to happen to me.” Indeed, her mother’s doggedness assured Margaret of a tertiary education; something she could “fall back on” in times of need. Surrounded by art and spending endless hours drawing on the floor of her father’s studio, Margaret was destined for a life of creativity – it was part of her “essence”, she says. It was no surprise, then, that she chose to go to art school, where her mother stipulated she study the more practical graphic design course. “I wanted to do painting,” remembers Margaret, “but my mother delivered the ultimatum: ‘you need to do graphic design so you can support yourself’. So I did.”


MEMBER IN FOCUS

Four years later, graduating top of her class, Margaret went to work in the heady world of advertising as an art director, later moving to Channel 0 (now Channel 10) as a graphic designer. During her career, she worked on successful campaigns, such as the iconic 1960s’ advertisement ‘A hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer’, and designed flip cards (a oncecommon production technique) for television. Margaret might have fulfilled her mother’s ambitions to be educated and financially self-sufficient, but being a woman in the 1960s’ workforce, she says, was tough. Australia was riding the second wave of feminism, but discrimination and exploitation in the workplace were still rife. “I was determined that being looked over because I was a female wouldn’t be my destiny,” says Margaret. “Just about every job I have done, I have been the first woman in the role.” With positions as a graphic designer, art director, lecturer and arts education manager

(among others), Margaret’s mother would be proud of her daughter’s working history. But it has not been without challenge. At the age of 43, just like her mother some 30 years earlier, Margaret was left widowed with two children, aged 14 and 16. Though there was little to celebrate during that time, Margaret was eternally grateful for her education and a solid career. When her husband was diagnosed with cancer – just weeks after her mother had died – Margaret had been preparing for her firstever art exhibition. However, with medical appointments, treatment and eventual aroundthe-clock care, all artistic endeavours were cast aside. And, as a consequence of grief and mourning, it was many years before Margaret was able to put brush to canvas again. “Once my mum died, I was the orphan,” she says. “Then my husband died and it really blew my life apart.” Unlike some artists who channel their grief into their work, Margaret says she has never been ‘inspired’ by suffering. “I don’t know why, but I close down,” she says. Instead, Margaret says painting is part of her recovery process. “Once I started painting again, I knew I was getting better.” Today, the artist truly believes if you have the passion to follow your heart, you will be a happier person. And, “when you’re a happier person, you’re a healthier person”. For Margaret, this means being immersed in art – be it sessional teaching at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), painting Kakadu landscapes, participating in the local Pink Lady Art Exhibition or visiting galleries. She paints with a deep passion and, she says, “for the sheer love of such a creative outlet”. Having lost both her parents, husband and all her siblings, Margaret is acutely conscious of the need to maintain a healthy existence. Walking every day along the beach and swimming in the sea during summer, the sights and sounds of nature are a great source of inspiration and inner contentment. “Spiritually, I find it such a lovely thing to do,” she says. Good mental health, she believes, also contributes to good physical health. “Self-identity is very important,” she says. “I came out the other side [of adversity] feeling defined by who I am as a person, not who I’m married to or what job I’m doing.” Margaret would also like to think she’s come out the other side with her sense of humour intact. “If it’s a choice of laugh or cry,” she says, “I always hope I’ll laugh.”

Embracing the artist within When talking about art and creativity, Margaret Gurney likes to reference American writer-director Steven Soderbergh, who won the Best Director Oscar in 2001 for the film Traffic. During his acceptance speech, Soderbergh said: “I want to thank anyone who spends a part of their day creating. I don’t care if it’s a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theatre, a piece of music – anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think this world would be unliveable without art.” They are sentiments that resonate strongly with Margaret, who believes that everyone has a creative side and that people should embrace and nurture this creativity. To get in touch with your inner artist, Margaret suggests: ■ Listen

to your creative side (even if you think you don’t have one!). ■ Don’t be afraid to try something new – be open-minded to exploring all areas of inspiration. ■ Try different pursuits until you find one that gets the creative juices flowing. ■ Look for group classes – they often bring together like-minded people and are a great source of support. ■ When researching classes, ask if you can look around the centre or sit in on a class. Margaret Gurney’s artwork, and details of her current and upcoming exhibitions, can be viewed at gurneyart.com.au

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Finding your

balance

Planning your next vacation? A health retreat could be the perfect way to completely unwind and pamper your body and soul. WORDS Beth Anderson

Life is fast and furious. Most of us overtax our schedules with a juggling act of relationships, work and family commitments, housework, social activities and more. It’s little wonder, then, that a 2011 study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), found that stress levels among Australians are on the rise, with more than 12 percent of respondents to the online survey revealing they battle a level of distress considered to be in the severe range1. And how do we deal with this stress? According to the survey, many of us turn to a range of vices, such as television, food and – in the case of 40 percent of respondents – alcohol, to dissipate the pressures of everyday life1. Unfortunately, such tactics often amplify, rather than alleviate, the problem. Checking in to a health retreat may be a more constructive way of treating the symptoms of stress. Retreats offer a chance to unwind, shut out the rest of the world and indulge in a bit of ‘me time’ – all the while shining a spotlight on your lifestyle and how it’s affecting your health.


TRAVEL

Which retreat is right for you? When contemplating your healthy holiday, consider what you want to achieve. Are you just looking to de-stress or do you have another goal in mind, such as improving your fitness or losing weight? There is a range of retreat options available, from yoga getaways and weight-loss or detoxification programs to business-oriented workshops and meditation courses. At Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, located in a secluded region of Tallebudgera Valley, in the hinterland of Queensland’s famous Gold Coast, guests can choose from more than 13 different programs, with choices covering health and wellness, stress and resilience, and nutrition and movement. According to Gwinganna’s General Manager Sharon Kolkka, the objective is the same, regardless of the program you choose. “On each program, we take a community of exhausted, world-weary guests and provide them with a supportive and nurturing environment in which to switch off and disconnect,” says Kolkka, a lifestyle specialist. “Our aim is to provide the tools and knowledge for long-lasting benefits and inspire each guest to make their health a priority.”

What to expect Spectacular scenery, fresh air and guidance on how to reduce stress, eat well and enhance healthier ageing – what’s not to enjoy about a health retreat? Days generally start early and are filled with a diverse selection of activities. Exercise – often staged outdoors to help guests ‘reconnect with nature’ – is common to most retreats, with options ranging from yoga or

Top five Pilates to more challenging pursuits, such as rock climbing or mountain biking. Many retreats offer workshops on themes that run the gamut of stress management, nutrition and sustainable living. Most also allow and encourage downtime for resting, relaxing with a book or indulging in a massage or pampering treatment. Initially, a sense of detachment – from family, work and responsibilities – can unnerve first-time retreaters. “Often people will feel a sense of calm and stillness that they haven’t had for a long time,” says Kolkka. “It’s about removing all the distractions, including technology, and coming back to some basics: fresh air, healthy foods, early nights and lots of fun. “By the end of a week, guests say they feel more energetic and focused. It’s about developing greater resilience to cope in our busy world.”

Time-out The length of your stay will be determined by the outcome you are seeking – as well as the time and funds you’re willing to dedicate to the venture. While a retreat may not be the cheapest holiday option (prices generally start from about $2,000 a week), the investment in your wellbeing is worth it. “Most guests are time poor and looking for maximum benefits in their time with us,” says Kolkka. “While best results come from a stay longer than four days, a shorter stay can still provide a wonderful outcome and help guests recharge and refocus. “On departure, guests tell us they feel like themselves again – equipped with more energy than they have had in years. Many say it gives them a new perspective and is life changing.”

tips to prepare for your retreat ■ Reduce

your intake of caffeine, alcohol and processed sugar prior to your stay to help prevent withdrawal symptoms.

■ Get

ready to switch off your mobile phone and laptop. “The more guests disconnect from the outside world, the better the results will be,” says Sharon Kolkka.

■ Think

comfortable and simple clothes when packing; this will help you acclimatise to the serene and slow-paced environment.

■ Keep

your schedule light, as a jam-packed itinerary of activities may impede your objectives.

■ Pre-book some spa treatments

so you can switch off and hit the road to rejuvenation as soon as you arrive.

Resting, relaxing, the odd bit of gentle exercise – why aren’t we all doing this? “Slowing down is not generally easy for most of us anymore,” says Kolkka. “It can take a couple of days to settle in, so be patient.”

For more information about Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, visit gwinganna.com Reference: 1 The Australian Psychological Society, ‘Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A state-of-the-nation survey’, psychology.org.au/Content.aspx?ID=4096

Exclusive member offer Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat invites Australian Unity members staying in its lovely Orchard Suites to save 15 percent on programs from 1 March until 2 May 2013. Packages include stylish eco accommodation, certified organic cuisine, movement activities, selected spa treatments and access to the Spa Sanctuary – the largest spa in the Southern Hemisphere (refer to each program for specific inclusions). Conditions apply and limited spaces are available*. To find out more, visit gwinganna.com. *Orchard Suites and programs for guests are subject to availability. Valid for new bookings only, for stays between 1 March and 2 May 2013. Orchard Suite accommodation only. Use promotional code: Australian Unity 13. See gwinganna.com for further conditions.

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Feast of

flavours

Select one dish or execute an entire banquet with the help of chef Karen Martini and her latest book Feasting. Here, we share recipes from the ‘Comfort Food Dinner’ menu – a collection of complementary flavours to inspire your next party.

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Recipes and images from Feasting, by Karen Martini, with photography by Earl Carter, published by Lantern, $39.95rrp.


eat well

Ham hock, red lentil and tomato broth Serves 6–8 1 large ham hock (700–900g, ideally an organic hock or the knuckle end of a leftover ham) 2 litres water 2 litres chicken stock 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 brown onions, diced 1 leek, sliced 5 cloves garlic, sliced 2 sticks celery, sliced 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1 bay leaf 4 sprigs thyme 1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons fennel seeds 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roughly ground 1 red chilli, sliced 1 tablespoon tomato paste (puree) 400g can crushed tomatoes ½ cup (100g) brown rice 1 cup (200g) red lentils 250g plain yoghurt Hot chilli sauce, to taste ¼ bunch coriander, leaves picked To serve Mountain bread or other light flatbread (optional)

1. Place the ham hock, water and half the stock in a very large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. 2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion, leek, garlic, celery and carrot for 10 minutes or until golden. Stir in the herbs, spices and red chilli. 3. Add the cooked vegetables to the hock mixture, along with the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, rice, lentils and remaining stock. Simmer over low heat for about an hour until the soup is thick and flavoursome. If you think the soup is getting a little too thick during cooking, add some more water. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. 4. Spoon in a little yoghurt, drizzle with the chilli sauce and finish with a sprinkling of coriander. Serve with mountain bread (if using).

Roast chicken with shredded spinach and yoghurt Serves 2–4 100g bulgur (cracked wheat) ½ teaspoon ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend) 250ml boiling water 5 tablespoons plain yoghurt 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ½ red onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 handful small basil leaves, shredded 1 handful sorrel leaves, shredded (optional) 2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, shredded 50g pine nuts, toasted Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper ½ bought free-range roast chicken, bones removed, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 small red chillies, finely sliced ½ lemon

1. Place the bulgur in a saucepan, add the ras el hanout and boiling water and simmer over low heat for 4–5 minutes. Drain. 2. Combine the yoghurt, olive oil, onion and vinegar in a large bowl. Set half aside for later. Stir in the bulgur, basil, sorrel (if using), spinach and half the pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and toss gently to combine. 3. To serve, spoon the reserved yoghurt mixture over the top and scatter over the chilli and remaining pine nuts. 4. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice. wellplan > 19


eat well

Beetroot slaw with apple and red cabbage Serves 4–6 2 beetroot, peeled and cut into matchsticks ½ red onion, chopped ¼ red cabbage, shaved thinly 50g walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted 1 granny smith apple, cored and cut into matchsticks 4 sprigs mint, leaves picked Extra virgin olive oil, for coating Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Dressing 3 heaped tablespoons sour cream 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Juice of 1 large lemon 2 tablespoons raw sugar 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1. Combine the beetroot, onion and cabbage in a bowl. 2. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and scrunch with your hands to combine well. 3. Toss the walnuts, apple and mint in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 4. Place the cabbage in a serving bowl and top with the apple and walnut mixture.

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eat well

Yoghurt, honey and chocolate cake Serves 8 130g plain flour 130g self-raising flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon pouring salt 2 eggs 140g honey, plus extra for drizzling (optional) 280g butter, melted 170g plain yoghurt 110g raw sugar 150g good-quality dark chocolate buttons 1 vanilla bean, finely sliced on the diagonal

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 22cm square cake tin with baking paper. 2. Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a bowl. 3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl until light and fluffy, then add the honey, butter, yoghurt and sugar. Whisk together well, then gently fold in the flour mixture and chocolate buttons. 4. Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the vanilla bean over the top. 5. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve drizzled with a little extra honey, if liked.

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Run for

your life

Recreational running not only helps to improve fitness and general health but can also provide the companionship and support of like-minded individuals. WORDS Chris Sheedy photography Jarrod barnes

In the late 1970s, when Tim Crosbie first entered the recreational running scene, the sport was going through its first big boom. The second boom, he says, is happening right now, with people of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds donning their running shoes. “In my social running group – The Crosbie Crew – which consists of 350 to 400 runners in Melbourne, we have elite runners, back-ofpack runners and everybody in between,” says running coach Crosbie, who is also the Club Development Manager at Athletics Victoria. “The fantastic thing about group running is that all the runners have enormous respect for each other. Some of the elite runners, 22 > wellplan

for instance, have it easier than some of the back-of-pack runners, who may have had to overcome adversity – whether it’s age or illness or something else – to run the distances they do. There is huge respect all round.” The Crosbie Crew runners range in age from teenagers to late 60s. The group often splits into smaller packs of runners of similar ability for training runs, but they also train together, sometimes in mixed relay teams, so they can get to know each other better. “That’s one of the most amazing things about social recreational running – the fact that you immediately find yourself in a group of like-minded people; it’s an instant social circle,” says Crosbie, adding with a smile, “We’ve had a few weddings, a baby and there’s another baby on the way from within our group. I’m a running coach, but sometimes I feel like a bit of a life coach, too.”

Running is excellent for cardiovascular fitness, and Crosbie says one of the most beneficial aspects of the sport is the general improvement in lifestyle for participants. “They tend to eat more healthily, they lose weight and they give up bad habits in order to perform at a better level each week,” he says. Accredited Exercise Physiologist Dr Ian Gillam, a Fellow of Sports Medicine Australia, says research has shown that fitness in mid to late life has more of a bearing on longevity than anything else, even weight. “Fitness in that period actually adds an average of five years to your life,” says Dr Gillam. “Fitness is by far the most important determinant of long-term health, and running is excellent for cardiac and metabolic health.”

Slow but steady For newcomers to the world of recreational running – and even seasoned campaigners – it’s important to heed the advice of experts who cite over-training as one of the main causes of running injuries. Crosbie says he keeps his eye on new runners to ensure they don’t attempt too much too soon and tells


Live well

Tips to keep you on track How do you avoid running injuries? Here are some suggestions from the experts at Sports Medicine Australia’s sports injury prevention program, Smartplay1. ■ Start

by seeing a professional trainer (in a set-up such as a social running group) for advice on running style. ■ Ensure you always warm up and cool down with a slow jog. ■ Avoid doing too much too soon. ■ Allow 48 hours rest between running sessions. ■ Cut down if you experience pain. ■ Stay hydrated. ■ Avoid running when you’re tired. Reference: 1 smartplay.com.au/ImageLibraryAssets/Resources/National/sport-specific-2008Running-fact-sheet-nat.pdf

his new charges to simply be consistent and steady rather than over-perform. If you’re considering entering the running scene at an advanced age, or if you’re overweight or have had lower limb injuries, Dr Gillam suggests you first visit your GP or an accredited exercise physiologist to seek advice on how to start your exercise program safely and minimise any possibility of adverse injury. Specialists at Sports Medicine Australia’s sports injury prevention program, Smartplay, similarly caution that running is not appropriate for those who are heavily overweight, have significant skeletal misalignment, unstable hips, spinal stress fractures or knee cartilage damage. For those who fit into one of these categories – or if running is simply not your thing – there may be lower-impact activities you can undertake to help keep you fit. Dr Gillam says similar health and fitness results can be achieved by brisk walking, swimming, riding a stationary bicycle or using an elliptical cross trainer, as found in gyms. “If you’re carrying extra weight or have lower limb injuries, then these other forms

of exercise will be a better start,” he says. “Then, once you’re down to a healthy weight, you can take up running if your GP or exercise physiologist agrees.”

Fitting the occasion For the estimated 1.2 million Australians over the age of 15 who are now recreational runners, wearing appropriate running attire is another important factor. Ensure you have the right shoes for your foot shape and your gait, fitted at a reputable running or sports store, for example, or on the advice of a podiatrist or other medical professional. You should also wear light clothing, sunscreen and a hat to protect against sunburn, says Smartplay. In terms of company and support, it always helps to run with a group, so do some research on running clubs in your area. Then, when you feel up to it, book into a major event as a reward for all your hard work. Running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge when it’s closed to traffic or into the MCG when it’s part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival is a great thrill.

“The very best thing about running is the mutual support between participants,” says Crosbie. “We are people of all ages and all backgrounds running together. Very few are competing against one another. We’re mostly competing against ourselves, which means we can afford to be great friends with those around us and we can help others out as much as possible. The group will help you advance yourself.”

Starting line Check out these websites to find a running club near you: activeglobal.com coolrunning.com.au running.meetup.com

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Hot Topic

The great

milk debate

Gone are the days of having just one choice of milk for your cereal or coffee. But with so many options now available, how do you choose the right one for your health? WORDS Kimberly Gillan

Milking it

Cow’s milk or soy? Low-fat or full-cream? Vitamin-enriched or extra calcium? The seemingly endless array of milk alternatives in the supermarket these days – not to mention a wide variety of opinions and information – can leave consumers feeling slightly overwhelmed and confused. Here’s a rundown to help you navigate the milk maze.

Dairy in the diet People have consumed cow’s milk for centuries, but this dietary stalwart has had a bad rap in the past few years, with rumours spreading about its contribution to weight gain, mucus production, asthma and even acne1. According to Kate Gudorf, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, most of the bad stories aren’t true. “Dairy provides really beneficial nutrients to our diet,” she says. “It has calcium, which is important for bone health, and it’s also a good source of protein, which is important when you’re trying to lose weight, because it keeps you satisfied and full. It also provides carbohydrates, potassium, phosphorous and Vitamins A and D.” Dairy’s biggest downfall is the notion that full-cream options contain saturated fat, which some studies suggest can increase cholesterol levels1. But, if this is the case, simply opting for a low-fat or skim variety reduces this problem. “If you’re looking to lose or maintain weight with a low-kilojoule eating plan, low-fat or skim milk might be your best option,” says Gudorf.

The soy story Soy milk is made from soybeans and contains protein and carbohydrates, which help 24 > wellplan

The world of milk encompasses more than just dairy and soy; here are some additional varieties to consider. ■ Rice

strengthen bones and muscles, plus give you energy2. “In terms of nutritional profile, soy and dairy generally have a similar fat, kilojoule and carbohydrate content,” says Gudorf, adding that “regular soy is higher in fat but it’s not bad saturated fat”. Given that soy doesn’t naturally contain calcium, Gudorf recommends choosing a calcium-fortified soy milk for healthy teeth and bones. Also, she notes, “soy can be more expensive and it has a bit of a chalky taste that takes getting used to”. Soy is a good option for vegans, as well as those who are lactose intolerant. “Lactose is the sugar in dairy, and some people lack the enzymes to break that sugar molecule down – whereas soy milk is naturally lactose free,” says Gudorf. Soy is also often recommended for menopausal women because it contains phytoestrogens, which have been shown to help reduce hot flushes2. Cow’s milk, soy or one of the many alternatives … ultimately, your milk preference will be determined by what works best for you. References: 1 abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/ stories/2011/11/10/3358951.htm#.UIH0Ho7dIUU 2 betterhealth.vic.gov. au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Soybeans 3 sogood.sanitarium.com. au/products/beverages/so-good-rice-milk 4 sogood.sanitarium.com. au/products/beverages/so-good-almond-milk 5 nimbinvalley.com.au/ index.php?page=intolerance-and-allergies

milk is made from brown rice and is lactose free and low in saturated fat3. It has very little protein, even if it’s protein enriched, so make sure you supplement your diet with legumes or lean meat – and always look for calciumfortified options.

■ Almond

milk is made from ground almonds and is lactose and gluten free4, low in saturated fat and contains Vitamin E. Again, you need to make sure you choose a calcium-fortified option.

■  Goat’s

milk has a similar nutritional composition to cow’s milk, but it has a different protein structure, which can make it easier for some people to digest5. The biggest drawcard for goat’s milk is the taste, which can provide a nice alternative to dairy.


wellplan rewards

Wellplan Rewards

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Australian Unity is pleased to deliver these exciting offers, as part of our improved Wellplan Rewards Program. In response to feedback – and with our focus on providing additional benefits for our members – we have sourced rewards that are specially tailored to your lifestyle and needs. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our loyal members. Enjoy!

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Wellplan - Issue 22