Issue 23 > spring 2013
Spring treats Seasonal recipes from Maggie Beer
Why we need to move more
Win an iPad! Find out how on page 2
9 Inside 1 Welcome 2
Australian Unity & You Information about member benefits, sponsorships and our iPad giveaway
Ask The Expert Insights from a naturopath and three common health myths debunked
Hot Topic The perils of sitting too much
Know Your Cover Smart Essentials
Spotlight On Managing moles
10 Expert Opinion Caring for your spine 12 Facts On The overuse of antibiotics 14 Member In Focus Michael Cannon 16 Focus On Mobile phones and their effect on your health 18 Live Well Garden your way to wellbeing 20 Eat Well Spring treats from Maggie Beer
24 Nutrition Olive oil 25 Wellplan Rewards Special member benefits and discounts
There’s never a bad time to take a good hard look at your health. For me, this happened about two years ago when I came across the Fitbit Tracker: a wearable fitness device that, among other things, monitors your physical activity with a view to helping you achieve a certain number of steps each day. At the time, I decided to make a commitment to move more. And I’ve never looked back since.
This little gadget has changed my life. I’ve restructured my work around reaching my step quota and have stopped making the same old excuses: that I’m too busy or too tired to exercise. Regular activity has become a habit, and as a result, I now lead a more balanced life. As you’ll read in our Hot Topic article on page 6, increasing evidence suggests that our sedentary lifestyles are not only damaging our quality of life but also reducing our lifespan. So, even if you don’t have a gadget tracking your progress, it’s time for you to get moving too. It seems I’m not the only one making simple but effective changes to improve my wellbeing. In this issue of wellplan, we talk to author and Australian Unity member Michael Cannon, who credits a complete lifestyle overhaul – including participation in our Healthy Heart Program – for improving his health (and saving his life). We also hear from chiropractor Dr Patrick Sim, who offers tips to help you care for your spine on page 10. And we chat to celebrity landscape gardener Matt Leacy on page 18 about the power of gardening to improve both your mental and physical wellbeing. What better time to get your hands dirty than right now, as we head into spring? Speaking of warmer weather, our Eat Well section on page 20 features some delicious seasonal recipes from one of Australia’s bestknown food personalities, Maggie Beer – the perfect way to celebrate winter’s departure! We hope you enjoy the issue.
Contributors DR GENEVIEVE YATES This issue’s ‘Ask The Expert’ is Genevieve Yates, a GP and medical educator from Ballina, NSW, who is also a regular columnist for the medical newspaper, Australian Doctor. Genevieve answers some common health questions on page 5.
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 wide spectrum of health topics. He addresses growing concerns about the overuse of antibiotics on page 12.
melanie hearsE With a master’s in Health Promotion, Melanie Hearse is often called on to contribute to such titles as Diabetic Living, Good Health and Weight Watchers. Melanie investigates the myths and facts surrounding the use of mobile phones on page 16.
KIMBERLY GILlAN Amanda Hagan Chief Executive Officer – Healthcare
Kimberly Gillan is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist, who writes about nutrition, exercise and mental health for a range of publications, including Body + Soul, Marie Claire and Weight Watchers. Kimberly explores the health benefits of olive oil on page 24.
AWARD WINNING HEALTH INSURANCE 2009
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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AUSTRALIAN UNITY & YOU
new Online Member Services:
You can now access simple and useful live support on the Australian Unity Health Insurance Facebook page. As well as helpful ideas and inspiration for getting more out of your health insurance, you’ll have access to exclusive tips and advice on staying healthy, plus special member offers and discounts.
It’s all about you!
Our new-look Online Member Services boasts a range of simple and useful enhancements, meaning you can now enjoy even greater control of your health cover – wherever and whenever you like.
New to Online Member Services? Registering is easy. Simply go to the login page and open the ‘Register’ link. Your password and directions will be emailed to you instantly. Alternatively, call 13 29 39 and speak with a consultant, who will set you up immediately. Your new Online Member Services – it’s all about you!
As well as being able to make a claim, update your personal and communication details or set up direct credit or direct debit arrangements, a range of new features makes it easier to: ■ see how much you’ve claimed on your extras and how much you have left to claim ■ submit most claims online then upload your receipts ■ check and update specific details about your membership ■ calculate how much you’ll get back for a treatment or service with the new benefits calculator.
To log in or register for Online Member Services, visit australianunity.com.au/ memberservices
WIN an iPad! To celebrate the recent release of your new-look Online Member Services, we’re giving away an iPad with Retina display, wi-fi + 4G, 64GB (worth $899).
For your chance to win, just log in to the new Online Member Services at australianunity.com.au/memberservices before 30 September 2013.
For competition terms and conditions, go to australianunity.com.au/logintcs
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So, ‘like’ us on Facebook and join the conversation today at facebook.com/AustralianUnityHealth
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index
has found that personal wellbeing seems to increase with age. Some of the happiest Australians are
aged 76 and over,
with an annual household income of
What's On? 21 September World Alzheimer’s Day alz.org 16 October Ride2Work Day ride2work.com.au/rtw 16 October World Spine Day worldspineday.org
AUSTRALIAN UNITY & YOU
Did you know?
A US survey found that
Australian Unity has jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the Heart Foundation’s Jump Rope for Heart program in 2013 – the 30th year of the popular health and fundraising initiative that involves thousands of students from schools around Australia. In Victoria alone, more than 500 primary schools and
around 80,000 students will this year join in the excitement of the annual event. As a Victorian Supporting Sponsor, Australian Unity will help raise awareness of heart disease. “Australian Unity has been a proud supporter of the Heart Foundation for many years,” says Amanda Hagan, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Unity Healthcare. “We are committed to supporting our members and their communities to be physically active and to manage their health. For kids in particular, being active can be great fun, and that’s what Jump Rope for Heart is all about.”
about 40% of the general population
and 80% of mental health
believe the moon affects human behaviour – even though more than 99% of the evidence says it doesn’t. professionals
Source: abc.net.au/science/ articles/2012/03/27/3464601.htm#.Ua6Vu-tOkio
To find out more, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au/ sites/jumpropeforheart/Pages/ default.aspx
eyes have it
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. Our extras cover is ideal for vision-impaired members, as it offers generous optical benefits of between $150 and $300 per person, per year, depending on the level of cover, with limits renewing on 1 January 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% off or a FREE pair of single-vision stock prescription sunglasses or readers*.
Member benefit 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 log in 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.
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Ask The Expert
minutes with… a
With a background in microbiology, naturopath Judy Smith has a keen focus on the importance of diet and a healthy digestive system in maintaining good health. Here, she tells wellplan how she applies this knowledge in her practice. Interview Kate Smith
What drew you to naturopathy – and your particular focus on digestion? I began my studies in 1996, primarily to address my own family’s health problems, and haven’t stopped. There’s so much research being done on the gut, how it works and the impact on our entire wellbeing when it doesn’t. When should someone consider visiting you? Many of my clients have long-term unresolved health problems; they’re run-down and have ‘unaccountable’ aches and pains. They might suffer from allergies, weight problems, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. I see many children with tummy upsets, poor concentration in school and sleep difficulties; teenagers with anxiety or acne; and women with fertility, PMS and menopausal issues. What happens in your consultations? I start by taking a detailed case history. My analysis of the iris and sclera (the white of the eye), as well as urine and saliva, give me a picture of how your body is functioning, in particular how well you are digesting your food and your control of blood-sugar levels. We then start working together to finetune which foods are best
for you. I may also recommend herbal remedies and supplements to boost vitamin and mineral reserves. What differences do your clients see? The first indicators of better health are more energy, clearer skin and brighter eyes. What motivates you in your work? It’s exciting to use my skills as a microbiologist to better explain good gut bacteria. I’m able to give people the confidence to say no to certain foods. And I love sharing in the delight of my clients’ growing wellbeing. Are there any misconceptions about natural therapies? Some clients hope I’m going to recommend a particular remedy that will magically improve their health. But to truly benefit, you need to actively commit to changing your diet and lifestyle habits. Do you have any advice that everyone can adopt for better health? Use soap and water rather than anti-bacterial sprays and wipes, which kill good bacteria with the bad. Get out into the sunshine every day to soak up essential Vitamin D. And don’t put up with feeling miserable: listen to your body.
Benefits are paid for naturopathy services on most extras and combination covers. To find out if you’re covered, call us on 13 29 39 or log in to Online Member Services at australianunity.com.au/memberservices to view your cover details.
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Dr Genevieve Yates gives her expert opinion on three common health questions.
Man flu: myth or reality?
There is a hilarious clip on YouTube called Man Cold1, in which a bloke with a cold phones emergency services. To the bewilderment of his wife, who also has a cold, the paramedics take the man’s plight very seriously, diagnosing a ‘man cold’ and providing a bell so she can respond to his every need while he remains lying helplessly on the couch. The term ‘man flu’ entered our vernacular a decade or so ago and has since become of interest in both popular culture and scientific research. Some argue that excessive
illness behaviour in response to a cold or flu is not gender specific and point out that, on average, working females take significantly more ‘sickies’ than men2. Several scientists, meanwhile, have proposed theories for ‘man flu’, including men having weaker immune systems for evolutionary reasons3 and having more temperature receptors in their brains that make them feel sicker with a fever4, but the research is, as yet, inconclusive. Whether citing such research is going to benefit the man-flu-inflicted male struggling to obtain spousal sympathy, I’m unsure, but I’m sure a few will try it out!
Ask The Expert
Food cravings: 2 do they signal a deficiency? There is a common perception that craving a particular food is your body’s way of telling you that it is lacking a certain nutrient. This is true, occasionally. For example, salty foods are often craved by those suffering dehydration. However, more commonly, such cravings are more psychological than physical. Foods containing high amounts of sugar and fat, such as chocolate, stimulate pleasure centres in the brain by increasing endogenous opioid levels5. We can also crave foods we associate with previous positive experiences, especially if we’re hungry, stressed or bored. Learning to recognise what’s responsible for your food cravings, such as stress, is the first step to combating them. Eating balanced and nutritious meals, exercising regularly and minimising both stress and boredom can be beneficial.
organic: 3Going healthier or not?
References: 1 YouTube, Man Cold youtube.com/watch?v=VbmbMSrsZVQ 2 The Telegraph, ‘Women take more sick days than men’, 25 May 2011 telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8534796/Women-take-more-sick-days-than-men.html 3 MailOnline, ‘Why man flu isn’t his fault (it’s because he’s so macho)’, 24 March 2010 dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1260180/Why-man-flu-isnt-fault-hes-macho.html 4 MailOnline, ‘Man flu does exist: Chaps “run a higher temperature and feel rougher” when they are fighting off a bug’, 24 January 2013 dailymail.co.uk/health/ article-2267507/Man-flu-does-exist-Chaps-run-higher-temperature-feel-rougher-fighting-bug.html 5 Rogers, Peter, ‘Food cravings and addictions – fact and fallacy’ in Carr, Tanya; Descheemaeker, Koen. Nutrition and Health – Current topics – 3. Antwerpen: Garant. pp. 69–76 6 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dangour, AD; Dodhia, SK; Hayter A et al, ‘Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review’, September 2009 7 Annals of Internal Medicine, Smith-Spangler, C; Brandeau, ML; Hunter, GE et al, ‘Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review, 4 September 2012
Retail sales of ‘organic’ food continue to skyrocket, but is such produce healthier? The short answer is: no. Organically grown food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food6. The risk of getting food poisoning is no different7 and the same food-handling safety guidelines (such as appropriate storage) apply. There may be less pesticide residue on organically grown food, but pesticide use in conventionally grown food is tightly regulated and current research indicates that the traces of pesticide residue on conventionally grown food pose little threat to human health7. There may be other reasons you choose to buy organically grown food, such as taste preference, but the important thing, health-wise, is that you eat plenty of freshly washed fresh fruit and vegetables daily – organically grown or not – as part of a balanced diet.
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When it comes to fighting chronic illness, it seems the chair-bound among us are sitting ducks. WORDS beth anderson photography Jarrod barnes
Are you sitting down to read this? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t be... According to a stream of recent studies, our tendency to sit for long periods of time has reached crisis point – increasing our risk of diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and premature death. One such study, released last year by the University of Leicester, found that prolonged sitting doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease1. A few months earlier, a University of Sydney investigation found that men and women aged over 45 who sat for 11 hours or more a day were 40 percent more likely to die within the following three years than people who sat for fewer than four hours a day2. In a bid to investigate what could be done to counteract this sedentary culture (and its harmful effects), researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute recently examined what would happen if office workers used height-adjustable desks to alternate between sitting and standing every half hour over the course of a day. 6 > wellplan
They found that replacing 50 percent of sitting time with standing at work burned 13 percent more energy compared to sitting all day – which, over a week, is equivalent to around 45 minutes of brisk walking3. With Australians now sitting for about 80 percent of their working day, we’re putting ourselves at risk of health problems, says the Institute’s Professor David Dunstan. “Eight to 11 hours of muscular inactivity is not what we were designed for,” he says. “And it’s quite clear that people who sit for longer amounts of time throughout the day are at greater risk of chronic diseases than those who sit for lower amounts.” But what is it about sitting that’s so bad for us? “When we sit, we have a state of muscular inactivity,” explains Professor Dunstan. “Our muscles serve as a key regulating part of the body, and by sitting, we’re reducing the capacity for our body to undertake those regulatory processes in an efficient manner.” Of course, our predication for sitting doesn’t stop at work. “People may spend eight hours sitting at work, then they’ll sit
in the car and then go home and slump in front of the TV on the couch,” he adds. “We live in an environment that’s highly conducive to a lot of sitting.”
Finding a solution In response to such reports, Australian Unity is doing its own research – exploring how technology can encourage people to move more. For six months, around 200 of its staff tested the effects of the Fitbit Wireless Activity Tracker: a wearable device that, among other things, monitors the number of steps its users take each day. “When you start wearing the Fitbit, you get quite shocked at how sedentary you are,” says Amanda Hagan, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Unity Healthcare. “Day to day, we all sit down way too much.” While you can customise the device’s settings, the default Fitbit goal is 10,000 steps a day – roughly equivalent to the Australian Government’s recommendation of 30 minutes of activity most days of the week4. As Amanda learnt all too quickly when she first started
hot topic Fitbit users Elton Walker and Rachel Morgan
Hitting the ground running Australian Unity staff member Elton Walker is one such Fitbit user whose experience yielded great results. “I used the device purely to lose weight,” he says. “I had to make a few other changes in my life, such as healthy eating, but the Fitbit motivated me to keep moving. Since I’ve been on it, I’ve lost 17 kilos.” For Elton, one of the gadget’s best features is its ability to track your progress in real time. “If, by lunchtime, I’ve clocked 3,000 steps, I know I’ve got to do another 7,000,” he explains. “And when I’ve forgotten it, I still stick to my plan. “The device has given me the opportunity to become more aware of what I’m doing each minute of each day.” His colleague Rachel Morgan has likewise learnt to make healthier use of her time. “Getting the Fitbit was my wakeup moment of realising how much I wasn’t doing,” she says. Like Elton, she has enjoyed significant weight loss and increased energy levels – outcomes that have benefited more than just herself. “I have two young boys and I’m now more active with them,” she says. “We don’t just sit around watching TV; we get out and ride our bikes or go to the park and play footy. “Our home life is very different.”
Simple steps Amanda Hagan, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Unity Healthcare
using the device, reaching such a target requires effort, unless you have a very active lifestyle or profession. “It totally changed my life in terms of daily exercise,” she says. To hit her daily target during work hours, Amanda moves away from her desk as often as she can, heading outside for a walk during lunchbreaks and always taking the stairs rather than the lift. The fact that the data collected by the device syncs immediately with an online community comprising family, friends and peers has been a major source of motivation. “If you’re competitive, it definitely sparks some different behaviour,” she says. “It’s certainly not the answer to everything, but there’s a cohort of people whose lives it can seriously change.”
All three Fitbit users agree that minor changes have helped them reach their step quotas: parking further than usual from the office or supermarket or visiting a colleague’s desk in person rather than phoning or emailing. Such simple adjustments are supported by research from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, which suggests that, even if we go to the gym, we’re still subject to health problems if we’re then in a chair for the rest of the day5. This is good news for those of us who are less enthusiastic about rigorous exercise: it seems it’s more important to move on a frequent basis than sweat it out in our gym gear for a condensed period of time. “One of the simplest messages that we use is to stand up, sit less, move more, more often,” says Professor Dunstan. “We need people to look at opportunities to reduce their total sitting time, but also look at strategies to break up that sitting time on a frequent basis.”
References: 1 ScienceDaily, ‘Sitting for protracted periods increases risk of diabetes, heart disease and death,’ 15 October 2012 sciencedaily. com/releases/2012/10/121015090048.htm 2 JAMA Internal Medicine, ‘Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222,497 Australian Adults’ 26 March 2012 archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108810 3 Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, ‘Swapping between sitting and standing at desks is good for heart health’ 13 May 2013 bakeridi.edu.au/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=336&Article=1 4 Department of Health and Ageing, ‘An active way to better health: National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults’ health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/ BC3101B1FF200CA4CA256F9700154958/$File/adults_phys.pdf 5 International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, ‘Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call centre employees’, 26 October 2012 ijbnpa.org/content/9/1/128 6 Jenny Craig, ‘Waiters Win National Walk Off’, April 2012 jennycraig.com.au/media
Who’s walking the walk?
In a 2012 study undertaken by weightloss company Jenny Craig6, 100 Australian adults from 10 different professions were given pedometers to calculate how many steps they took on an average workday. Here’s how the different industries measured up. ■ Waiters 22,778 ■ Nurses 16,390 ■ Retail workers 14,660 ■ Farmers 14,037 ■ Mothers 13,813 ■ Teachers 12,564 ■ Tradesmen 11,585 ■ Hairdressers 9,209 ■ Office workers 7,570 ■ Call centre workers 6,618
For Victoria-based individuals or organisations wanting to participate in research studies undertaken by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, which look at the health benefits of reducing sedentary behaviour, please register your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
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KNOW YOUR COVER
At Australian Unity, we’re constantly striving to improve our range of cover options. So, no matter what your immediate health needs are, we can find a solution that works for you.
If you’re looking for a well-balanced level of hospital and extras benefits at a competitive price, Smart Essentials might be the answer. It’s the perfect mid-level cover for members looking to take the next step with their health insurance: when you want to be covered for a broader range of procedures, not just accidents and basic extras. Under Smart Essentials, you can access a range of treatments at more than 500 private hospitals with which we have an agreement – and you won’t pay any excess for day surgery procedures. To help keep your costs down and ensure you’re not paying for things that you’re unlikely to need, hospital-based treatments and procedures such as hip and knee replacements and major eye surgery are excluded, along with cover for obstetrics. When it comes to extras, you can get money back on general dental procedures and major dental work, such as crowns, as well as optical, physiotherapy, chiropractic, remedial massage treatments and more. Each year, as Smart Essentials members, singles can get over $2,000 back and families over $4,000 back on extras. Plus, you can access many preventative health benefits, such as doctor health checks and quitsmoking programs, as well as assistance with weight loss and fitness. To learn more about Smart Essentials, or to find another cover that’s better suited to your needs, call us on 13 29 39 or visit australianunity.com.au/health
While Smart Essentials includes both hospital and extras services, you can also mix and match our separate hospital and extras covers to get exactly what you’re after.
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Mole control Know what to look for when keeping an eye on your moles. Words Shannon Crane
Moles: they’re odd little things, but almost all of us have them. In fact, many Australians will have more than 50 moles by the age of 151 and, while the majority are harmless, some carry the risk of skin cancer.
occur on a mole,” he says. “It occurs on skin that previously didn’t have a mole. “That’s why people need to not only be checking a mole or two, they need to be checking all of their skin.”
Are some moles more dangerous than others?
How can I reduce my risk?
Dr Phillip Artemi, a dermatologist and Honorary Secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, explains that there are two main types of moles – or ‘naevi’, as they’re known in the medical world: congenital and acquired. Congenital naevi appear at birth, occurring in about 1 percent of babies and categorised as small (less than two centimetres), intermediate (from two to 20 centimetres) or large (greater than 20 centimetres). Acquired moles, meanwhile, appear throughout life – usually during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. “The large congenital naevi – the ones that are greater than 20 centimetres – certainly have a higher risk of turning into a melanoma,” says Dr Artemi. “The small and intermediate congenital and the acquired [naevi] all have the same risk, which tends to be small.” Dr Artemi says that it’s not just moles that we need to pay attention to. “Seventy to 75 percent of the time, melanoma doesn’t
People with fair skin that burns easily or those who have a lot of moles or freckles are at greater risk of developing skin cancer2. Similarly, if you or family members have a history of skin cancer, your risk increases. Dr Artemi says that, while you can’t change your genetics, there are some simple ways to
How to spot a mole Used by dermatologists around the world, the ABCDE guidelines3 are a useful way to monitor your skin and detect the early signs of melanoma. While it’s important to discuss your skin cancer risk and need for regular examinations with a medical practitioner, you should still get to know your own skin and seek expert advice if you notice any of the following:
help prevent skin cancers, such as covering up or using sunscreen when outdoors, avoiding solariums and checking your skin regularly. “Australia has the highest incident per capita of skin cancers, including melanoma, making us the skin cancer capital of the world,” he says. “It’s a deadly disease, but it’s preventable and it can be detected early, so people need to be alert.” References: 1 Australasian College of Dermatologists, ‘A–Z of skin: moles & melanoma’, dermcoll.asn.au/public/a-z_of_skin-moles_melanoma.asp 2 Cancer Council Australia, ‘Check for signs of skin cancer’, cancer.org. au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer.html 3 Melanoma Institute Australia, ‘Checking your skin’, melanoma.org.au/ about-melanoma/detection-and-screening/checking-your-skin.html
■ A SYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other. ■ BORDER: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred. ■ COLOUR: The colour is not the same all over but may have differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white or blue. ■ DIAMETER: The area is larger than six millimetres or is growing larger. ■ EVOLVING: Changes in size, shape, colour, elevation or another trait (such as itching, bleeding or crusting).
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Dr Patrick Sim, National Board Director of the Chiropractorsâ€™ Association of Australia (CAA), shares his top tips to help you care for your spine. Interview Helen Hawkes
EXPERT OPINION Staying mobile is essential to a healthy spine. Our joints are genetically designed to move – yet, unfortunately, many of us simply sit too much. When our bodies adapt to constant sitting over an extended period, we become less skilled at basic functions that require co-ordination and balance, such as standing, walking, running and jumping. We also feel stiffness in our muscles, and we might feel pain in our lower back, legs, neck and hips. Sitting for long periods can lead to increased stress on the discs between the vertebrae, as well as inflammation and weakening of the core stabilising muscles in your back.
Get moving As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors were believed to have walked up to 15 kilometres a day. That’s what we should be aiming for, too, but even starting with a short walk and building up your fitness over time will produce results.
Squats, lunges and press-ups can increase strength and endurance and help improve your posture. When you’re on the go, try to move your whole body and swing your arms to get more movement in the upper spine. For those looking to build bone density, it can be useful to carry a backpack while walking. Swimming is also a good way to exercise without much impact, but I would advise avoiding breaststroke, because it can cause lower-back and pelvic problems. Pilates can help you build core muscles and provides stability and protection for your spine. Similarly, yoga will help you develop good balance, flexibility and strength. Speaking of which, strength training is valuable for the spine, and using your own body weight is generally sufficient. Squats, lunges and press-ups can increase strength and endurance and help improve your posture.
In the workplace For those who have a sedentary job, such as working at a computer, you may think that sitting for long periods is unavoidable during
the day. But there is a solution – a height-adjustable desk that will allow you to stand some of the time. You can use a height-adjustable chair, too, so you can sit when necessary. Another good suggestion is to take a break once an hour. Get up, go for a drink of water and move around for one minute. When you stand, imagine your head is being stretched upwards and feel the gentle stretch through your back. You can also stand up every time you’re on the telephone – and never cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder. Sit on the front edge of your chair sometimes, too. You will find that your shoulders automatically come back and you sit more upright.
On the home front Try introducing a new routine at home to get you moving more. Instead of watching television, go for a walk or play a ball game; join an exercise class after work; or install a treadmill or an exercise bike in your living area. Diet also plays a part when it comes to looking after your spine. Fresh fish, high-quality protein and lots of fruit and vegetables will help keep your back and spinal column healthy.
And while you sleep First, a good mattress and pillow is a worthwhile investment for your spine. Then you need to think about how you sleep. Your best option is lying on one side with your knees slightly bent. Your pillow should be placed in a position that allows the arm that you’re lying on to sit in front of the chest. If you sleep on your back, you tend to rotate your head too far one way or the other. And sleeping on your stomach is the worst position of all, as it rotates your neck and often over-extends the joints. People who are stressed may find they naturally fall into this position. But putting a pillow against your chest should stop you from turning onto your stomach. Of course, it can be difficult to break old habits – particularly those such as sleeping and sitting that are so deeply ingrained in our routines. However, the more often we do something, the better we get at it, so persevere with these small changes and you’ll soon be enjoying the benefits that they bring. For injuries or ongoing concerns, consult a professional for a proper diagnosis. To find a member of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, go to chiropractors.asn.au
Straighten Up and Move World Spine Day, 16 October 2013, offers a timely reminder to look at our daily habits and how they affect our spinal health. Research has shown that: ■ B ack pain affects two million Australians every year1. ■ The direct cost of back pain in Australia has been estimated at around $1 billion annually. But the main economic burden, around $8.1 billion, stems from lost work time2. ■ Up to 80 percent of Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives and 10 percent will experience significant disability as a result3. This year’s theme, ‘Straighten Up and Move’, will see participating healthcare practitioners and organisations around the world providing patients with important information, tips and tools to help them prevent spinal disorders.
To find out more, visit worldspineday.org
References: 1 Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, chiropractors. asn.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id= 149&Itemid=267 2 Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, ‘Low back pain in Australian adults: The economic burden’, July 2003 vol. 15 no. 2 79–87 3 Medical Journal of Australia, ‘Back pain: a National Health Priority Area in Australia?’ 2009; 190 (9): 499-502 mja.com.au/ journal/2009/190/9/back-pain-national-health-priority-area-australia
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Antibiotics have worked wonders saving patients with infections for decades, but experts warn that misuse and over-prescription is reducing their potency. WORDS Andrew Turner
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Antibiotics transformed modern medicine when they first became widely available to consumers during World War II, but some 70 years on, the overuse and misuse of these once-heralded miracle drugs are driving an increased resistance to treatments. So serious is the issue that infectious disease experts are warning that, if the problem of over-prescription of antibiotics is not addressed soon, their effectiveness could be reduced to the point where many infections are untreatable.
per day, compared to an OECD average of 20.” As a recent study conducted by NPS MedicineWise indicates, ignorance among Australians about when antibiotics should be used is rife. According to the research, one in five Australians expect their doctors to prescribe them – or their child – antibiotics when they have a cough or cold, and only 40 percent are aware that antibiotics should not be taken for viruses1.
A bitter pill to swallow
When antibiotics aren’t the answer
With around 19 million prescriptions written for antibiotics every year, Australia is among the highest users in the developed world, says Dr Philippa Binns, Clinical Adviser at NPS MedicineWise. “We know that Australia’s use of antibiotics is above the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] average,” she explains. “We’re using what we call 24 defined daily doses per 1,000 people
So, exactly what are antibiotics and when are they effective? “Antibiotics are medicines that treat infection caused by bacteria. The way they work is that they either kill the bacteria outright, or they stop the bacteria multiplying,” says Dr Binns, adding that antibiotics are effective in treating only bacterial infections, not viral infections.
Avoiding infection Dr David Looke offers these tips for avoiding the need for antibiotics by preventing the spread of infection in the first place.
Dr David Looke, President of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, maintains antibiotics “make no difference” to viral respiratory infections and that symptomatic treatments such as paracetamol, decongestants, hot lemon drinks and rest are the best remedies when we’re suffering from a sore throat, excessive sneezing, a runny nose and a headache.
One in five Australians expect their doctors to prescribe them – or their child – antibiotics when they have a cough or cold. “In general, most of the common infections that people suffer from, such as respiratory tract infections and many cases of gastroenteritis, are caused by viruses and they don’t need to have an antibiotic or anti-viral treatment, because they get better by themselves,” he says. “Antibiotics, on the other hand, are needed for more serious infections, such as pneumonia, serious soft tissue and skin infections, such as cellulitis, and urinary tract infections – or even more serious ones like blood poisoning, where the bacteria multiply in the blood, and meningitis. We want to reserve antibiotics for people who have the serious infections.”
Beware the super bugs The result of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics is alarming, according to infectious
disease professionals, with healthcare associated infections (HAIs) or ‘super bugs’ emerging that are resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics2. Contributing to this scenario is not just the proliferation of people using antibiotics when they don’t need to, but the fact that the effect of antibiotics goes beyond simply killing the bug they were intended to, says Dr Looke. “They affect all the other bugs in the body and the millions of organisms in your bowel and on your skin,” he explains. “Also, the effect of the antibiotic doesn’t end in your body, because they’re often passed out down the toilet into the sewerage system, where they remain active and affect all the environmental organisms.”
■ K eep yourself fit and eat well. ■ Practise good hand hygiene, which is very important to stop the spread of common infections between people. ■ If you cut yourself, clean the wound carefully and cover it with sterile dressings and wash your hands. ■ Avoid food-borne disease by making sure your food is cooked properly and by keeping it refrigerated. ■ Maintain hydration on a hot day to avoid urinary tract infections.
Spreading the message While some would argue the solution to the over-prescription of antibiotics is in the hands of our medical professionals, the reality is more complex, maintains Dr Looke. “There are always those stories about doctors missing a case of a serious infection and not giving antibiotics, and no doctor wants to be one of those,” he says. “The patient expects the doctor to give them antibiotics. You take a risk that there will be a serious side effect, and it’ll be worse than the infection you want to treat. A lot of doctors weigh up the benefits versus the side effects for the patients.” The good news, claims Dr Binns, is that the public is gradually becoming aware of the danger of viewing antibiotics as a quick-fix solution for ailments, partly through recently launched campaigns designed to tackle antibiotic resistance in the community. “We are looking at it from both angles,” says Dr Binns. “One is educating the public about understanding when antibiotics should and shouldn’t be used, and we’ve also done some work with GPs to give them tools to be able to have conversations with their patients to offer alternative treatment and to explain the problem of antibiotic resistance so that it’s a productive consultation and everyone understands each other’s point of view.”
Preventing resistance If you develop an illness – despite taking the above precautions – the following steps may help prevent antibiotic resistance. ■ D on’t expect a prescription for antibiotics for viral infections, because they won’t work. ■ If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them as directed. ■ Don’t share your antibiotics with family members. If they’re unwell, they should seek their own medical advice. ■ Don’t keep unused antibiotics in case of future infection. Source: Dr Philippa Binns, NPS MedicineWise
References: 1 NPS MedicineWise, ‘1 in 5 Australians expect antibiotics for coughs or colds: new NPS campaign’, 19 April 2012 nps.org.au/media-centre/media-releases/repository/1-in-5-australiansexpect-antibiotics-for-coughs-or-colds-new-nps-campaign 2 Wired, ‘Technology: The Superbug’s Kryptonite’, 2 May 2013 wired.com/insights/2013/05/technology-the-superbugs-kryptonite/
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‘write’ stuff for the
Author Michael Cannon lives by the edict ‘you are what you eat’ and credits a complete lifestyle overhaul – including participation in Australian Unity’s Healthy Heart Program – for saving his life.
WORDS Sarah Hollingworth Photography Jarrod barnes
Eighty-four-year-old Michael Cannon, a former writer and historian, modestly refers to himself as a “middle-ranking journalist with no academic training beyond a bare Year-12 pass”. Yet, 21 books on Australian history and a string of interesting stories paint a different picture. Michael was always destined to be a journalist. His great grandmother – a social editor for the Melbourne Bulletin – was one of Australia’s first female journalists. His grandfather was the founding editor of Sydney’s now-defunct newspaper The Sun as well as Melbourne’s The Sun News-Pictorial (now the Herald Sun) and his mother worked as a journalist and editor until the age of 86. 14 > wellplan
Like it or not, journalism was in his genes and, at the age of 17, Michael found himself in front of Sir Keith Murdoch being interviewed for his first ‘real’ job as a cadet journalist. Michael says Sir Keith had just one question: ‘Are you a communist?’ “It was the McCarthy era so it was a natural question,” explains Michael. “I had to think very quickly and I said, ‘I used to be when I was younger but not now’.” As Michael tells it, Sir Keith laughed and, from under his bushy eyebrows, told him to start Monday. The veteran journalist has a raft of entertaining stories, including inadvertently uncovering the Chifley government’s secret plans for nuclear weapons.
As The Sydney Morning Herald’s London correspondent, Michael interviewed Sir Marcus Oliphant at the University of Birmingham. Michael put the Australian physicist at such ease that he ‘hinted’ at Australia’s plan to make its own atomic bomb. What started out as a general interest piece, says Michael, finished up as a scoop. In addition to the SMH, Michael worked as a reporter for several well-known newspapers and magazines. By 1963, however, he’d had enough of the “stressful life of working on daily papers” and was ready for a lifestyle change. It led him to the world of Australian history and book writing. Dinner-table stories told by his grandparents of the family’s lost wealth in the 1880s and ’90s
member in focus piqued an interest in the land booms that swept Australia. A trip to the Melbourne Public Library (now State Library of Victoria) revealed a dearth of books on the topic and the 34-year-old leapt at the opportunity to start researching his first book. Published in 1966, The Land Boomers was an overnight success. Nearly half a century on, it remains in print, available as a paperback and e-book from Melbourne University Publishing, having been through 17 editions in hardback, paperback and digital versions.
After an operation to “clean out his arteries”, Michael says he completely transformed his life and diet by taking part in Australian Unity’s Healthy Heart Program. “I used to be a great old Aussie meat eater – steak, chips, eggs – all that bad stuff,” he confesses with a laugh. Since changing his eating habits, Michael has found a new lease on life. “I truly believe you are what you eat, and there’s such a tremendous difference to how I feel that there’s little incentive to go back.”
“I truly believe you are what you eat, and there’s such a tremendous difference to how I feel that there’s little incentive to go back.” Michael attributes his success to “luck”, claiming it was a boom time for Australian history books. Yet it was to be the first of many popular titles that he would write over a two-decade period. His final book, That disreputable firm… the inside story of Slater & Gordon, was published in 1998. Soon after, Michael retired to the seaside village of Inverloch in Gippsland, some 140 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. He bought a disused dairy farm in the hills and began a program of bush regeneration, planting thousands of eucalypts and other native trees. But it proved to be a fleeting Shangri-la – unexpected ill health soon turned Michael’s idyllic life into one of doctors’ appointments and expensive operations. For a man who had always been fit, healthy and never smoked, Michael says it came as a huge shock. “By the time I was 75, I was blind in one eye and my blood pressure was zooming upwards. I had to do something drastic if I wanted to keep on living.”
A good heart Members with coronary artery disease can follow Michael’s lead and sign up for Australian Unity’s Healthy Heart Program*. The telephone-based healthcoaching program is provided by Remedy Healthcare on behalf of Australian Unity and is delivered by registered clinicians, including dietitians, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. The program
incorporates education and advice on many risk factors that can affect heart health, such as diet, activity, medications, cholesterol and diabetes.
Today, Michael’s life mantra is to keep active and healthy for as long as possible. He achieves this with daily walks and swims (in the summer months), entertaining his four children and seven grandchildren, doing crossword puzzles, reading books and using his favourite piece of technology – the iPad. “It was given to me for my last birthday and now I’m a real addict,” he says enthusiastically. Though he uses his new ‘toy’ to read emails and newspapers, Michael says he still prefers to read his beloved books in print. “It’s just not the same reading it on screen but, other than that, it’s an amazing piece of technology.” With experiences and tales to rival the best-travelled and most prolific journalists, Michael’s own life story is a worthy piece of Australian history. And, with plans to leave his personal daily journal to the National Library of Australia, hopefully a future historian will one day commit Michael Cannon’s thoughts to print – the hard copy, that is, not the e-version.
To learn more about the program, visit australianunity.com.au/healthy-heart, call 13 29 39 or email customerservice@ australianunity.com.au
*A 12-month waiting period applies and you must have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease or have had a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, angioplasty or insertion of a stent, to be eligible. Not available with extras only cover or Care ‘n Repair, Smart Start, Budget Hospital, Budget Workers Cover and Non-Working Visitors Covers.
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Mobile phones and your
They’re a constant presence in our lives, but do our mobile phones have the potential to make us sick? Words Melanie Hearse
While international research has failed to find conclusive evidence that mobile phones can damage your long- or short-term health, a question mark still lingers over the potential health hazards they pose. Many people continue to worry that research has simply failed to highlight any health risks because mobile technology is still relatively young. Are their fears well founded or should they put them on hold?
Why the worry? The concern about health risks relating to mobile-phone use stems from the possibility that devices that emit radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) could cause cancer, says Randal Markey, Communications Manager at the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA). The obvious focus, he says, is on the brain, eyes and ears, which come into close physical contact with mobile phones. “Research has been targeted to study if there is a possible link between mobile phone use and a range of cancers, including brain tumours, tumours of the acoustic nerve and tumours of the parotid gland, which is the salivary gland situated at the base of the ear,” says Markey.
So what does the research say? According to the World Health Organization (WHO)1, a number of studies have been performed over the past two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk – to date, no adverse health effects have been established. 16 > wellplan
Dr Andrew Penman, CEO of Cancer Council NSW, has publicly commented on such research, saying mobile phones have been widely used in Australia for nearly 20 years now, and there has been no associated increase in brain cancer cases here or overseas2. He quotes US research that likewise found that while mobile phone use increased substantially in that country from 1992 to 2008 (from nearly zero to almost 100 percent of the population), US trends in the incidence of glioma – a type of tumour that starts in the brain or spine – remained generally constant3.
Safety first To further allay fears, Markey points out that measures have been taken to reduce the potential danger. “Mobile phones operate at low power levels and adjust their output to operate at the minimum power level necessary to work effectively,” he explains. “All mobile phone models sold in Australia are designed, built and tested to meet strict science-based safety standards, which include the added precaution of a safety margin to ensure they can be used safely by the general public.” National and international health agencies, including WHO, recognise such safety standards, saying they provide ample protection for all members of the community – including children, whose thinner skulls and developing brains would make them much more vulnerable to potential damage1.
Further precautions If people are still concerned, Markey suggests they try reducing their exposure to mobile phone radio signals by limiting the number and length of calls or by using hands-free devices. Using phones in areas that offer good reception whenever possible also decreases exposure, as it allows the phone to transmit at reduced power. For now, while the long-term risks are still not completely known, small steps like these may preserve peace of mind each time we pick up the phone. References: 1 World Health Organization, ‘Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones’ Fact sheet N°193, June 2011 who. int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/ 2 Cancer Council NSW, ‘Brain cancer mobile phone panic should be put on hold’, cancercouncil. com.au/55695/news-media/latest-news-news-media/media-releasesnews-room-news-media/brain-cancer-mobile-phone-panic-should-beput-on-hold/?pp=15491 3 BMJ, ‘Mobile phone use and glioma risk: comparison of epidemiological study results with incidence trends in the United States’, 2012 344:e1147 bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1147
“All mobile phone models sold in Australia are designed, built and tested to meet strict science-based safety standards.” Randal Markey, Communications Manager, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
A proven hazard While radio frequencies may never be proven to pose a health risk at the safe levels set, there is one hazard that has been linked with mobile phones – the use of mobiles while driving. Randal Markey says that, when it comes to driver distraction, research strongly indicates that using your phone increases your risk of having a car accident. His tips? ■ Use your smartphone’s features. Smartphones provide voice-activated dialling and automatic answering features to reduce the effort of making and receiving a call and allow drivers’ eyes to remain on the road – and their hands on the steering wheel – at all times. You can install apps that limit a phone to calling by voice activation. ■ Never text – it’s illegal and very dangerous. Texting drivers take their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval. This means that at 60kmh, a driver is not watching the
road for 75 metres or nearly half the length of the SCG or MCG! This also applies to reading emails, engaging in social media and browsing the web. ■ Don’t always answer your mobile. Hands-free mobiles in cars are legal in all Australian states and territories. However, this does not mean it’s appropriate for drivers to use them at all times. Don’t use your mobile in heavy traffic, at intersections, in bad weather or if road conditions are poor. ■ Buy, install and use a cradle for your phone. Australian road rules require drivers to place their mobiles in approved cradles fixed to the dashboard, so they are looking at the road ahead and not glancing down. Drivers can also use a Bluetooth kit, provided they don’t touch their handset. Study the road rules applicable to your state or territory for further information.
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Thereâ€™s growing evidence that gardening is good for you, in more ways than one. Words Emma Wheaton
Many people will agree that keeping a garden is an enjoyable activity – even just sitting in your yard or having a dig around in the dirt feels good. And while the main objectives of gardening may be to improve your surroundings or to grow your own produce, this outdoor activity is increasingly being recognised as a means of improving health.
Stress less In a 2011 study undertaken in the Netherlands, researchers found that gardening can relieve stress1. Thirty gardeners were given a stressful task before being split up – half the group were sent outdoors to do some gardening, and the others were instructed to stay indoors and read. The results showed that those who were gardening had significantly reduced levels of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol, and also reported being in better moods than their reading counterparts. Landscape gardener Matt Leacy, a former co-presenter of Channel Nine television programs Domestic Blitz and Backyard Blitz and now Director of Landart Landscapes, is an advocate of carefully considered outdoor living spaces and believes that gardening offers wellbeing benefits to people of all ages. “I challenge any adult to not get a ‘pick me up’ from a beautiful garden or a kid to not run or climb a tree; in my opinion, it’s impossible,” he says. “It hits people subconsciously … I am
sure that the right garden space will leave most people more energised and inspired.”
Healthy inside and out When it comes to gardening, mental and physical health go hand in hand. If you consider the activities involved in creating and maintaining a garden – planting, weeding, digging, raking, carrying and moving supplies and new plants – it’s clear that this hobby doubles as a great workout. Gardening can be a gentle form of exercise for people of any age, improving strength and flexibility and burning about 1,260 kilojoules per hour2 – the equivalent of going for a brisk walk for the same amount of time, only with the added benefit of creating a lasting outdoor space. As Leacy points out, it’s proven that exercise improves mood, reduces weight and increases energy. “Gardening can be really physical, so it makes sense that all of these things apply,” he says. “Plus, if you grow your own vegies, you get the health benefits of eating well at the same time.”
Growing community Popping up in neighbourhoods, community education centres and empty city spaces Australia-wide, community gardens are surging in popularity. These urban pockets of hands-on gardening are socially stimulating and generally support sustainable living. They are particularly beneficial for people living in apartments who don’t have sufficient outdoor garden space, and for those keen for a different type of social interaction. Hugh Canning, one of the Vice Presidents of volunteer-run community garden Veg Out in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, says that community gardens provide “inner city living with the benefits of having your own garden”. “It’s a green environment, and people tend to make their plots organic,”
he says. “Community gardens provide the social aspect of interacting with your local community, as well as the benefits of growing your own food.” Located in what was once a lawn-bowls green, Veg Out has 150 plots for people to use. Canning says that people generally bring their own plants and that the group also has a greenhouse from which seedlings are sometimes given out. “We have a working bee on the first Sunday of each month so people can come down, get themselves known and put their names down for a plot,” he explains. For more on Veg Out, visit vegout.asn.au and for information about other community gardens around Australia, visit communitygarden.org.au
A garden for all Leacy and others believe that visualising a garden, making it happen and then maintaining it is, for many people, a rewarding and mood-lifting experience. After all, plants need to be nurtured before a gardener sees the fruits of their labour, which engenders a sense of responsibility and purpose. It is for this reason, coupled with the sensory stimulation that horticultural activity brings, that there has been a rise in recent years in the incidence of garden beds in aged-care facilities, where residents are increasingly being encouraged to get outdoors and into the garden3. And the benefits are not confined to adults. Kitchen gardens are now flourishing in many schools and kindergartens as a vehicle to teach children responsibility, how to grow their own food and how to eat and live healthily – all habits that will hopefully grow into a lifelong love of gardening and the many positives it can bring.
Happy digging If you feel like you may need a healthy boost this spring, it could be the perfect time to get your hands dirty outdoors. Matt Leacy shares his tips for healthconscious budding gardeners: 1. Grow lots of dark-green vegies and try to eat them every day. 2. B end your knees to save your back or build a raised garden bed. 3. Swap motorised tools for ones that need elbow grease. This will keep up the physical activity and reduce fumes. 4. Grow an apple tree. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
References: 1 Health.com, ‘Why gardening is good for your health’, 8 July 2011 edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/ index.html 2 ABC Health and Wellbeing, ‘What moves you: Housework and gardening’ abc.net.au/health/healthyliving/fitness/exerciseguide/ stories/2007/06/05/1952728.htm#.Uar5kY61lSU 3 The Age, ‘A patch of evergreen’, 6 April 2013 theage.com.au/lifestyle/homestyle/a-patch-ofevergreen-20130405-2hbid.html
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Celebrate the return to warmer climes with these delicious recipes from one of Australia’s best-known food personalities, Maggie Beer. Recipes Maggie Beer Photography Tony Lewis
Beetroot and Vino Cotto salad Serves 4 8 baby beetroot, leaves trimmed off Sea salt flakes ¼ cup Vino Cotto* ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil Freshly cracked black pepper 100g walnuts 125g rocket, young leaves 1∕3 cup goats cheese Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
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1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. 2. Place the beets in cold water and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain. Let the beets cool and remove the skins. 3. Combine the Vino Cotto, extra-virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste. Toss the beets in the dressing and place on a roasting tray. Roast for half an hour or until cooked through. 4. Reduce the oven to 180°C and roast the walnuts for five minutes. While warm, remove the skins by rubbing with a tea towel.
5. Combine the walnuts, rocket and baby beets and gently toss with the liquid left over from the beetroot roasting. 6. Place onto the plate and top with the goats cheese. Serve at room temperature with a final drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Maggie’s tip: Boiling beets can take a much longer time to cook than you think. Baby beets could take 15 to 40 minutes, while larger ones can take 40 minutes to an hour or more. Use timing as a guide only.
One-pot chook Serves 4 4 chicken marylands 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon tarragon, chopped 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for sautéing 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 16–20 small pickling onions, blanched then peeled 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped and blanched 8 cloves garlic, blanched 1 sprig marjoram 12 baby truss tomatoes Sea salt flakes Freshly ground black pepper 2 fresh bay leaves 2 cups chicken stock Flat leaf parsley, to serve Stuffing 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 90g mushrooms, chopped 1 quarter piece Preserved Lemon*, chopped and pulp removed 2 sprigs rosemary, stripped and chopped 2 sprigs thyme, stripped ½ cup coarse breadcrumbs 1. To make the stuffing, place a mediumsized, non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat and add the butter to the pan. Once this starts to turn nut-brown, add the olive oil to inhibit burning, then add the mushrooms and fry for 3–4 minutes. Next, add the Preserved Lemon, rosemary, thyme and breadcrumbs and continue to cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Joint the marylands into two, taking out the thigh bone. 3. Combine the remaining butter with the tarragon and mix together well. Place your finger between the skin and meat of the thigh to form a pocket, then divide the butter mix between each thigh, placing under the skin of the meat. 4. Divide the stuffing mixture between the thighs, placing in the middle of each, and tie up into a little parcel with string. Season. 5. Add two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to a heavy-based casserole pot and place over a medium to low heat. Gently sauté the parcels and drumsticks until they colour slightly, tossing one of the sprigs of rosemary into the pan. The drumsticks will take longer than the thighs. 6. Take the chicken pieces out as they brown and put them aside. 7. Toss the blanched onions, potatoes and garlic into the same pan. Add the remaining extra-virgin olive oil to stop the vegetables from sticking. Cook until gently coloured. 8. At this stage, add the marjoram and then place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables in a single layer. Add any chicken juices from the resting plate. 9. Place the truss tomatoes gently between the chicken pieces, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, add bay leaves and remaining sprig of rosemary and pour over the chicken stock. 10. Cook the chicken, covered, on top of the stove until the potatoes are nearly tender then take the lid off to reduce the liquid a little, for about 20 minutes. 11. Garnish the dish with chopped parsley and black pepper and serve, in the pot, at the table. wellplan > 21
Crispy-skin salmon with pea puree Serves 4 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 4 thick salmon steaks, skin on Sea salt flakes, to taste 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 4 lemon wedges 1 teaspoon chervil, chopped Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving Pea puree 1½ cups frozen peas 15g unsalted butter 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 golden shallots, peeled and chopped ¾ cup chicken stock 1 sprig chervil 1 tablespoon lemon juice Sea salt flakes, to taste 1. For the pea puree, spread peas on a tray to thaw for 10 minutes. 2. Place a large frying pan over medium heat, add the butter and melt with the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the chopped shallots and sauté until soft. 3. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to the boil. 4. Add the peas to the shallots, along with the sprig of chervil and lemon juice.
5. Pour the hot chicken stock over the peas and quickly bring to the boil again, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. 6. Pour the pea mixture into a blender or mouli and process until fine. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. 7. For the salmon, heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat with half the butter. 8. Season the salmon on the skin side with sea salt. 9. Once the pan is hot, add the extra-virgin olive oil and place the salmon steaks skin side down in the pan. Cook for about two minutes or until the skin is crisp. Putting the salmon aside, quickly wipe out the pan with a paper towel. 10. Return salmon to pan, add the remaining butter and return to heat. 11. Once butter is melted, turn the steaks over with tongs and almost immediately take the pan off the heat and allow salmon to sit in the hot pan. The centre of the fish should be a little rare. 12. To serve, pile a layer of pea puree onto a plate and place the fish on top. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each piece of salmon, sprinkle the chervil on top and dress with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Fig and almond tart 7 large black figs, ripe but firm, sliced into thirds lengthwise 50ml Fig Vino Cotto* Rough puff pastry 270g plain flour 270g unsalted butter, chilled and diced 1 pinch salt flakes 135ml iced water Egg glaze 1 egg yolk ½ tablespoon milk 1 good pinch salt flakes Almond frangipane 240g unsalted butter 300g caster sugar 4 eggs ¼ cup brandy 40g plain flour 400g almond meal To serve Good-quality ice-cream
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1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. 2. To make the pastry, tip the flour onto the bench and make a well in the centre. Put the diced butter and the salt into the well, then use a pastry scraper to cut the butter into the flour. Make a well again and pour in the iced water. Using the pastry scraper, work the flour and butter into the water, but do not knead the dough. At this point, the dough will look very lumpy, the butter still in pieces, but it should hold together. Flour your workbench and roll out the pastry to make a rectangle about one centimetre thick. Keeping the longer side of the rectangle parallel to the bench, fold both ends into the centre – it will look like an open book. Then fold one side over the other – to close the book. Cover and place pastry in the fridge for 10 minutes. 3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process above. Place into the fridge for a further 10 minutes. 4. At this stage, make the egg glaze by beating the egg yolk, milk and salt together well with a fork. Set aside. 5. Remove the pastry from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding method. Cover and place pastry in the fridge for
a further 10 minutes. Remove the pastry and roll it out on a floured bench until it is four millimetres thick, then cut out a rectangle 12cm wide x 30cm long. Place onto a baking tray and brush around the sides with the egg glaze, reserving some for step 7. Then cut strips of the puff pastry two centimetres wide, from all sides, and place around the edge of the tart base to build up a slight edge. Place in the fridge for five minutes. Remove from the fridge, spike the bottom with a fork, then place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes. 6. To make the almond frangipane, place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and beat for approximately six minutes, with an electric mixer, until light and creamy. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, then the brandy. Mix for a further minute and then add the flour and the almond meal, mixing until well combined. Put into a container and set aside until ready to use. 7. Remove the pastry from the oven and carefully press a clean tea towel over the centre to force out all the accumulated hot air. Spread a quarter of the almond frangipane evenly over the pastry base (see Maggie’s tip), brush the sides with egg glaze and bake for a further five minutes.
8. Remove tart from the oven and turn the oven onto grill at 200°C. Place the prepared fig slices in a roof-tile pattern on top of the almond frangipane and brush with Fig Vino Cotto. Place under the grill for 3–5 minutes until golden brown. Remove the tart from the grill, cut a portion and serve with ice-cream. Maggie’s tip: Because I like to freeze some of the almond frangipane to use at a later date, I always make more than I need. For this tart, you will only require a quarter of the volume that this recipe makes, and the rest can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen. If you would rather make a smaller quantity, you can adjust the ingredient measurements accordingly. *This product is available from good delis and supermarkets and is also part of Maggie’s range of gourmet essentials. Call 1800 800 272 or visit maggiebeer.com.au to find your nearest stockist.
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good oil The
Adding a drizzle of olive oil to your meals is a smart move when it comes to looking after your health. WORDS Kimberly Gillan
While ‘low fat’ might have been the catchcry of the 1990s, these days the world of nutrition focuses more on good fats and the health benefits they offer, especially for the heart. A recent Spanish study of more than 7,000 people found that those who ate a Mediterranean-style diet – with at least four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus three or more servings of fish each week – had a 30 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease than people who followed a low-fat diet1. Olive oil helps our hearts by decreasing bad cholesterol and fat in the blood, as well as reducing inflammation in our arteries. With all these health benefits, it might sound tempting to guzzle it by the bottle, but Accredited Practising Dietitian Julie Gilbert warns that more is not necessarily better. “The important message is that you still have to look at the serving size or you will consume too many calories,” explains Gilbert, who is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. “In Australia, we recommend the total fat intake each day should be 30 to 45 grams. About 20 millilitres of that should be good fats, such as olive oil, nuts or avocado.” And, given extra-virgin olive oil’s fruity flavour, it’s ideal for drizzling on salads, stirring through pasta or serving with bread. “A teaspoon, or five millilitres, is a good serve for dipping a slice of bread in,” adds Gilbert.
Olive oil options Check out the olive-oil section at the supermarket and it’s easy to get confused by all the options. Here’s a simple breakdown2: ■ Extra-virgin: This
is the purest form of olive oil – extracted from premium-grade olives using traditional cold-pressing techniques, without heat or chemicals, in order to preserve its taste. The less olive oil is handled, the better the taste, which is why extra-virgin is great on salads and bread.
Made from second-grade olives or from the second pressing after extra-virgin oil, without heat or chemicals. Its flavour is not as strong, so it’s better for frying.
After virgin oil has been extracted from low-grade olives, the remnants are processed using heat, chemicals and high-pressure techniques to make this commercial-grade oil. It’s then mixed with some virgin olive oil to give it colour and flavour.
or extra-light: This variety is made from the final pressing of olives, making it the lowest quality. ‘Light’ refers to the flavour and colour.
blends: Olive oil is mixed with canola, vegetable or sunflower oils to be used in products such as margarine and canned tuna. Read the nutrition panel on such products, because it may be mixed with oil that contains saturated fat.
References: 1 Time.com, ‘Mediterranean diet lowers risk of heart attack, stroke’, 25 February 2013 edition.cnn.com/2013/02/25/health/ time-mediterranean-diet/index.html 2 betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/ bhcpdf.nsf/ByPDF/Olive_oil/$File/Olive_oil.pdf
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Australian Unity membership provides more than just great-value health cover. Subscribe to Wellplan Rewards and take advantage of the following exciting offers.
Cancer Council sunscreen Keep safe in the sun with 20% off Cancer Council SPF30+ sunscreens* Cancer Council cares about protecting you and your family from the dangers of sun exposure. Its innovative range of high-quality, Australian made and owned SPF30+ sunscreen formulas is trusted by families and individuals nationwide. The range includes products that are suitable for everyday use, as well as those with specific lifestyle benefits. Cancer Council also cares about the community – and preventing a disease that touches so many of its members. That’s why sales of all Cancer Council products help fund cancer research, patient support and education. So, when you buy a Cancer Council product, you know you’re not only protecting your family’s health, you’re also promoting hope.
Go to: australianunity.com.au/ wellplanrewards Search for: Cancer Council Sunscreen For more information: shop-vitalitybrands.com and enter promo code ‘ccaunity’ to receive discount *Free delivery within Australia for order totals over $40. Offer valid until 31 December 2013.
Save up to 30% on a range of Wilson tennis racquets and accessories* No other company has been as influential and intimately involved in shaping the game of tennis as Wilson – a brand at the heart of sports history for almost a century. As the originator of breakthrough technologies, Wilson has produced legendary equipment and earned worldwide authority in each sport it’s involved in. If you want the best tennis racquet and accessories available, purchase them from Wilson. Available racquet styles include the One BLX2, Surge BLX, Juice 100 BLX, Federer Pro Hybrid, Steam 100 BLX, Five 103 BLX, Juice 26 Junior and Pro Staff Six One 90. Go to: australianunity.com.au/wellplanrewards Search for: Wilson Tennis For more information: spendless.net.au/australianunity or phone 1800 352 600
Discounted movie tickets Save up to 35% on movie tickets* Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a good movie on the big screen? Sitting in cinematic comfort with the obligatory candy bar treats at hand, your senses are surrounded by larger-than-life action and astonishing sound effects – the perfect escape, as well as a great way to relax with family and friends. If you’re already thinking about your next movie night, why not purchase movie tickets and movie vouchers online through our Wellplan Rewards partner Spendless, where you’ll
Wilson tennis equipment
find great value and genuine savings? Movie vouchers are available at discount prices and can be used at a wide range of participating cinemas. Go to: australianunity.com.au/ wellplanrewards Search for: Discounted Movie Tickets For more information: spendless.net.au/ australianunity or phone 1800 352 600
*Members are required to create an account online with Spendless before making a purchase. For Spendless’ supply terms and conditions, please visit spendless.net.au. The Spendless website is operated by Spendless Buying Advisory Services Pty Ltd and not by Australian Unity. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Offer does not include $1.50 postage and handling Australia-wide.
*Members are required to create an account online with Spendless before making a purchase. For Spendless’ supply terms and conditions, please visit spendless.net.au/australianunity. The Spendless website is operated by Spendless Buying Advisory Services Pty Ltd and not by Australian Unity. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Offer does not include $1.50 postage and handling Australia-wide.
Strike bowling Enjoy a deal for the whole family for just $20* Strike understands the needs of the social bowler and is on hand to assist you in selecting the correct shoe size and the appropriate ball, as well as familiarising you with the basic rules and aim of the game. Its reception staff are even available to offer tips on how to bowl your first Strike! Strike bowling venues are at the forefront of bowling innovation and technology. With automated scoring on the lanes, UV lighting, bumper bowling for children, animated scoring screens and large music video projectors, there really is no other bowling experience quite like Strike.
Go to: australianunity.com.au/ wellplanrewards Search for: Strike Bowling For more information: strikebowling.com.au and enter the promo code ‘AUSFAM’ to book online *Family deal is for up to four people (four games in total). Valid for Australian Unity membership cardholder and three guests. One use per member per day. Available every day until 5pm. Valid for online bookings only. Not valid in conjunction with functions or any other offers.
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Introduce a friend to Australian Unity and receive a $100 gift card in return.
Some things go hand in hand. Like Australian Unity and health insurance that’s Simple. Useful. Like discovering something good and sharing it with friends. So, it makes sense to introduce your friends to Australian Unity to experience a great range of products and award-winning customer service. Your friends will enjoy the rewards of being an Australian Unity member, and you’ll get something in return. Simple. For every friend you introduce, you’ll also receive a $100 gift card. It’s our way of saying thanks for your loyalty and for telling your friends about us. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can introduce, so there’s no limit to how many times you could be rewarded. Useful. All you need to do is ask your friends to include your membership number when they purchase their health cover, either online or by calling 13 29 39. Once your friends join, we’ll send your gift cards out to you.
For more information, call 13 29 39 or visit australianunity.com.au/mgm for full terms and conditions. If undelivered, please return to: 114 Albert Rd South Melbourne VIC 3205
This offer applies when a new member purchases a hospital only or combined hospital and extras cover and excludes extras only cover. $100 Universal Gift Card is issued by Heritage Bank Limited ABN 32 087 652 024 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 240984. Gift Card image is for illustration purposes only.