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Feelgood Friday, March 4, 2011

Here’s lookin’ at you

Our expert guide to living a long and vital life: 8,9

Picture: Getty Images



Shared cancer experience helps teens through dark days: 4, 5


Tampon celebrates 75 years of discreet management: 11


Ready-made pancakes and batters feel the heat: 12



2 News front Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON ■ OPEN DAY: Have you ever wondered about Tai Chi or how Shiatsu can help you with health problems? There is a free open day at the Teaching Rooms, 6 Sidney Place Wellington Rd tomorrow where you can find out more about these and other therapies. Doors open 11am and 5pm and donations are being accepted for Make-A-Wish Ireland ( See for more information or contact Diana Cassidy on 021-4872324. ■ FATHERS MEETING: Meeting an adult son or daughter for the first time is a nerve-wrecking experience for any parent who placed their child for adoption. On March 10 Barnardos will host a support meeting for birth fathers in Dublin. To book a place, please contact Aine O’Leary at 01-4530355 or email Free, but donations on the night to cover costs welcome. Barnardos Post Adoption Service is running a four-session course for adopted adults starting on March 24. See for details. ■ WOMEN’S DAY: Dervish in Cornmarket St Cork are celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on Tuesday next, with donations going to local women’s charities. Bookings through Dervish at 021-4278243. ■ MBS FESTIVAL: The Mind Body Spirit Festival opens today in Cork City Hall (1 to 9pm). It continues tomorrow (10am to 6pm) and Sunday (11am to 6pm) and will feature Anna-Louise Haigh, known as The Soul Whisperer. Free lectures include how to interpret your dreams by Eilish Kelly on Saturday at 12.45pm. Aidan Storey on Sunday at 12pm. Full details ■ CHERNOBYL FUNDRAISER: April 25 this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and Chernobyl Children’s Project International have invited the Rathmines & Rathgar Musical Society to travel to the Veznovo Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus, to put on a concert for the children. There will be a coffee morning to fundraise for the trip on Friday next from 10.30am in Bull McCabes pub, Kinsale Rd, Cork. To find out more visit or call Fergal O’Sullivan on 086-6034974.

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A new initiative by the Oesophageal Cancer Fund aims to reduce the rate of risk, Helen O’Callaghan reports

I feel fit now


HEN dad of one Chris Hogg began to experience difficulty swallowing, his wife insisted he see his GP. The then 29-year-old was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in May 2009. “I had half of my oesophagus and one-third of my stomach removed. This was after three weeks of combined radio and chemotherapy to reduce the tumour. I feel very fit and in good health now.” Ireland sees 450 new cases of oesophageal cancer annually. The most common symptoms include difficulty swallowing (food sticks on the way down), unexplained weight loss, new onset of indigestion in over-50s, persistent hiccups, pain between the shoulder blades and discomfort behind the breast-bone. Barrett’s oesophagus — a condition whereby long-term acid regurgitation from the stomach to the oesophagus causes tissue irritation — underlies the vast majority of cases of oesophageal cancer that occur in Ireland. Barrett’s Oesophagus occurs in about one in 10 people who suffer chronic heartburn and reflux. Last year the Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF) established the first register of Barrett’s Oesophagus patients in the Republic of Ireland. The initiative aims to improve cure rates in the cancer through earlier diagnosis in the at-risk population.

● Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to

Education has long been seen as the key to success, but if a new report is to believed it


Forty percent of cases of the most common type of oesophageal cancer seen in Ireland relate to diet and obesity. Diets lacking fruit and vegetables, vitamins A, C and B2 may increase risk of developing the cancer. Frequent drinking of very hot liquids may also increase the risk. Smoking is a major risk factor, while long-term heavy use of alcohol also raises chances of getting the cancer. Chairperson of the OCF Noelle Ryan confirms that Ireland has one of the highest rates worldwide of oesophageal cancer, but says it’s heartening to see steady progress in

Udo Erasmus, the creator of Udo’s choice ultimate oil blend, is searching for Irish recipes to include in his new guide to healthy eating. The booklet, which will be published in 2012, will include at least one recipe from each county of Ireland and the health guru is looking for would-be chefs to submit recipe ideas to him and if they are chosen for publication will receive a cash prize. The winner of the healthiest recipe will receive F2,000 and their idea will be included on the menu of The Cellar Restaurant in the five-star Merrion Hotel in Dublin. The closing date for submissions is May 31. For more information, visit

A new report has claimed that parents who dose their children with a combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol medicines to combat a cold or fever could be doing more damage in the long run. The study, published by the American Academy of Paediatrics, found that parents are relying too heavily on over-the-counter drugs and administering higher doses than necessary in a bid to make their children better quicker. The report advised that medication should only be given four times in 24 hours as excessive dosage could lead to rare side effects such as asthma, stomach ulcers and even kidney problems.


Picture: Nick Bradshaw

the cure rate. “The chance of curing patients, who can be treated for oesophageal cancer, is now about 35% if diagnosed early, compared with less than 20% over 10 years ago.” ■ Lollipop Day — the national oesophageal cancer awareness day to highlight the association between difficulty swallowing and this type of cancer — takes place on March 4 and 5. With the theme, My Boy Lollipop, volunteers will sell lollipops to raise funds for research into oesophageal cancer and Barrett’s Oesophagus. For more information and to donate, visit


■ MAHAYANA METHOD: The Academy of Luminaries introduces the Mahayana Method by Mahayana Isabelle Dugast designed to help people acquire the tools to transform their experience of life and achieve success. Mahayana is giving free talks at the Rose Garden Centre, 57 Glendower Court, Ballincollig, Co Cork, on Monday from 7.30 to 9.30pm and on Tuesday 7 to 8pm at the Teaching Rooms, Wellington Road. For more details visit


BETTER CONDITION: After suffering oesophageal cancer at the age of 29, Chris Hogg is now in good health.

years and discovered that those with a higher education had lower blood pressure and were less likely to smoke or be overweight.

Everyone knows that too much salt is not good for your health, but experts in Australia have discovered that blood flow in the body’s main arteries are seriously reduced within 30 minutes of eating a salt-laden meal. These findings — published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — were concluded after participants consumed meals containing 4g of salt, but the average evening meal can contain up to 8.6g. Over-consumption of salt has been linked to heart attacks, kidney disease, strokes, cancer and osteoporosis.

RECIPE BOOK: Udo Erasmus is offering a cash prize for would-be chefs in Ireland to submit recipe ideas for his new guide.

is also the key to longevity. The Blood Pressure Association has revealed that people who attend college are likely to have lower blood pressure than those who leave school in their teens. The American research team tracked a group 4,000 men and women from across the social spectrum for over 30


Diabetics are being urged to take better care of their feet to prevent long-term complications. In a global consensus published in Diabetic Medicine, sufferers are being advised to undertake a basic foot-care regime as they are prone to ulceration and circulation problems which can, in extreme cases, lead to amputation. Basic foot care includes: washing and drying the feet well, moisturising and checking regularly for abnormalities. For more information on this condition, visit

Editorial: 021 4802 292

Arlene Harris

Advertising: 021 4802 215



In profile

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Cian Healy



A real trier

NTERNATIONAL rugby player Cian Healy who’s currently playing in the Six Nations Rugby tournament for Ireland, made his debut in the November, 2009 draw with Australia. The 23-year-old, who grew up in Clontarf, had been upbeat after Ireland’s defeat by France in the second game of the 2011 Six Nations contest, and last weekend this optimism was put into action as Healy played in Ireland’s victory of Scotland at Murrayfield. “It’s all about team camaraderie and picking each other up — everybody has to be in good form. And it’s very easy to pick ourselves up with the squad we have.” Cian keeps healthy by taking Berocca multivitamins every morning. “It helps you think smarter and act faster throughout the day,” he says. His girlfriend, Laura, is a sports enthusiast and works for her family’s furniture company. What shape are you in? Pretty good. We work out with the Leinster and Ireland fitness guys, so they put us through our paces with lifting and fitness exercises. All the games keep your fitness high, too. Do you have any health concerns? No, I’m young, so nothing has caught up on me yet. I’ve been in hospital a couple of times with minor knocks. What are your healthiest dietary habits? Morning would be my healthiest — I take vitamins, fish oils and a protein supplement. I’d usually get my meat and veg in every day. For a long time, I didn’t eat red meat, but when I came into professional rugby I was forced to, because I struggled to keep my weight up. I made the turnover to eating steaks, but chicken is still my favourite.

I don’t really have time to relax. I don’t watch TV. I paint or draw. Apart from that, I have a pretty high-tempo lifestyle. I like getting out and about rather than sitting down Do you pray? It’s not that I kneel down and put my hands together. I have my own way of doing that sort of thing and my own people that I talk to. What would cheer up your day? A good song on the radio. Helen O’Callaghan

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? My main one is pizza. What would keep you awake at night? Everything — I’m not much of a sleeper. I’d be awake, thinking, most of the night. It’s not that any problem would keep me awake — I’ve just got an active mind. How do you relax? I don’t really have time to relax. I don’t watch TV. I paint or draw. Apart from that, I have a pretty high-tempo lifestyle. I like getting out and about, rather than sitting down.


WELL-ARMED: Rugby player Cian Healy takes vitamins, fish oils and a protein supplement in the morning to stay healthy. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? I’d have all my friends from the parish of Clontarf. One or two of them have passed on, so I’d like to have them back.

at Clarion Hotel Cork Do something positive this March 2011 and feel better about yourself. Grab your gear bag and do some exercise…

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When did you last cry? I shed a tear on my first cap in the November 2009 series against Australia. What’s your favourite smell? Spray paint. What would you change about your appearance? My teeth — I’ve got a big gap.


Clarion Hotel Cork

What trait do you least like in others? Greed — people who always take and never give.

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What trait do you least like in yourself? My time-keeping — it isn’t the best, but I’m working on it.


Promotion is valid during March 2011 only FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011




Coping with life

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CanTeen is providing a welcome support group for teenagers who have battled cancer.


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Sue Leonard talks to some of them about how they’ve shared experiences

It’s good to talk


T’S tough being a teen. In a world of change, appearance and friends are central. So imagine how it must feel to get a diagnosis of cancer? Not only do they have to deal with a life-threatening illness with gruelling treatments and side effects, they also see their looks change and lose contact with friends. “It’s hard for them to cope with the chemotherapy,” says Evelyn Griffith of the support group CanTeen. “There’s the hair loss and sometimes it makes them fat. “It can be lonely too. These teens might be in hospital for months. Their friends can’t visit, and when they’re at home, they’re often too ill to go out. And teenagers hate feeling left out.” This is why CanTeen came into being. Run in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society, CanTeen provides weekends at activity centres, or to just relax. It’s proved a lifeline for the members who are aged from 12 to 25. “CanTeen is about fun,” says Griffith. “It’s about feeling normal. The members talk to each other. They compare treatments. They find it wonderful to meet someone who really understands. They feel less alone.”

FULL LIFE: Aoife Bass, who lost an eye to cancer as a baby says although she has ‘been through the wars’ with surgery, it hasn’t affected her life too much. Picture:` Nick Bradshaw



LOUISE JOHNSTON, a 17-year-old from Cavan found CanTeen a real lifeline when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. “My family and friends have been amazingly supportive, but in CanTeen everyone understands how hard it has been. Every single person has been through the same, and sometimes much more. You can talk to them in your lowest times, and know that they have been there.” Louise started getting headaches in June 2009. Six months later the pain was so severe, she could barely stand. “My GP sent me to the medical assessment unit in Cavan general Hospital. They did some scans and took some blood. That night Mum and Dad told me that I had a tumour on my brain. They said I had to have surgery. “That was scary. It had been planned for the next day in Beaumont Hospital. I was given loads of tablets to ease the pain, and sent by ambulance to Beaumont. That night was the worst ever. I was tossing and turning. I was so worried. “The next day the doctor came and told me all the risks connected with the surgery. That was hard. He said I might lose my balance and coordination. That would have been a huge loss, because I love playing tennis and playing the piano. And at the end of the list he mentioned death. “The surgery took just under four hours. When I woke up I was back in the ward. My brother was there, and a priest friend from Cavan. The pain in my head had gone, and I could talk perfectly. “I stayed in hospital for a week. In physiotherapy I had to practice walking and throwing a tennis ball. My coordination was perfect. But after two weeks at home my balance got bad. I was worried, but with physiotherapy it gradually got better. “I’m now back to normal. I’m playing tennis, but I get very tired. It’s hard trying to

My family and friends have been amazingly supportive, but in CanTeen everyone understands how hard it has been. Every single person has been through the same, and sometimes much more —

work and to keep up with friends. But I’m so lucky that it happened in transition year and not now that I’m in fifth year. It won’t affect my future.” MICHEÁL CURTIS from Wexford was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma — a cancer that happens in large bones, mainly in teenage males — in June 2008. The 20-year-old first felt pain the previous September. The pain was frequent and severe, but Micheal didn’t tell a soul. He struggled through his Leaving Certificate, and after his last exam he went to football training, “But the pain really nagged,” he says. “I celebrated that night, and went to Croke Park the next day. But I was feeling really bad. I couldn’t eat and had no energy. “That night I couldn’t even lift my legs into the bed, so my mother took me to Care Doc. The doctor told me to go straight to A&E in Wexford. “An X-ray showed a white spot, the size of a football. The hospital tried various tests but couldn’t find out what it was. So, after a week, I was sent to St James’s hospital. “They took a biopsy, and it showed a tumour attached to three ribs and my lung. They said it was Ewing’s Sarcoma. That was a terrible shock. My mother had breast cancer in 2002. She couldn’t believe cancer could hit our family twice.


“I was moved into the oncology ward for chemotherapy. I had a week’s continuous chemotherapy, then two weeks at home. I had eight 21-day cycles. I was very sick, and the pain was horrific. I went from 11 and a half stone down to seven and a half.” Next came the surgery. And after that came 38 sessions of radiotherapy at St Luke’s. “That was a breeze,” says Micheál. By July 2009, Micheál was free to enjoy life again. He’s gradually building up his strength, and is studying mechanical engineering at Waterford College. “My cancer has given me a better life,” he says. “I got closer to my four brothers and sister, and I’ve made amazing friends through CanTeen. I used to be deadly serious about sport. Winning was everything. Now it’s about fun as well.” AOIFE BASS was just a baby when she contracted cancer. She was diagnosed with a retinoblastoma — cancer of the eye — at just five weeks. She needed immediate surgery, and she lost her eye. “It hasn’t really affected me too much,” says the 18-year-old. “I do remember at primary school when I said I had just one eye nobody understood. But my friends now know that I’ve been through the wars.” Aoife needed further operations to get the socket of her eye to right for a prosthesis. “When I was eight I had coral in the sock-

et to keep the lid in place, and when I was 12, after my confirmation, I had the coral removed and some tissue moved up from my bum. My consultant, Dr Paul Moriarty, joked that it was like a tattoo. It left a butterfly shape. I still remember the pain afterwards. “I have a prosthesis in my eye, and people don’t really notice. I am aware that I can’t see out of it. I’m on the school hockey team, and I can’t play on the wings. But I have 96% sight in my other eye. “It won’t affect my future. I’m hoping to study nursing at Trinity or UCD. I’d like to specialise in children. If I don’t do that I plan to become a Montessori teacher. “I’ve been going to CanTeen for about 18 months now. I love it. The weekends away are fantastic, and our annual Ball is an amazing night. “Now I know I’m not the only one with cancer. The others have been through the same.”


Louise Johnston

TRUE FRIENDSHIP: Micheál Curtis suffered a tumour which was attached to three ribs and his lung but says his experience of lead to him making amazing friends through the support group CanTeen. Picture: Patrick Browne



6 Making choices

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Patrick Holford’s new book The Feel Good Factor contends that anti-depressants can be replaced by food and mood controlled with diet, says Deirdre Reynolds

Beating depression F

ROM flooding to freezing, negative equity to emigration, it may feel like there’s been nothing but month upon month of misery in recent memory. But a new book bravely claims we should all be on top of the world, anyway — without popping happy pills. British nutrition guru Patrick Holford’s latest tome, The Feel Good Factor — 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood and Motivate Yourself has topped the Irish bestsellers list. In it, Holford says that antidepressants don’t work — but that we can eat our way to happiness with mood-boosting foods like oily fish and chia seeds. Hot on the heels of his divisive views on HIV (that vitamin C could be as effective as some drugs in treating the disease) and autism (that there is a known cause and ‘cure’), Holford is bracing himself for the backlash. “There hasn’t been much opposition to the book — yet,” he says. “Generally speaking, the pharmaceutical industry is on my case, though — especially after my book, Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs. And this book does the same for antidepressants, so I’m sure there’ll be a bit of flack down the track.” Bright-eyed, slim and practically wrinkle-free at nearly 53, Holford is his own best advertisement for the adage that “you are what you eat” — something that’s core to his 32 hit books, with such ambitious titles as Say No to Cancer and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan. “I do my best,” he says, when I suggest he must have the healthiest diet in Britain. “When I was studying psychology, I would smoke and drink coffee and wake up sleepy — then I discovered the effects of nutrition and supplementation. People have often said to me ‘you’re going to burn out’ — writing 32 books in 13 years, but I’m about to turn 53 and have lots of energy. “Apart from a slight deterioration in my eyes,” he says, tugging at his glasses, “I don’t have any health issues — so I think it works.” Throughout our interview in a southside Dublin hotel, Holford drops the names of various surveys, top US professors, medical journals and case studies to support his book — perhaps conscious that his detractors often counter argue that his alternative nutritional therapies are unproven. So whatever about writing about brain food for kids or the perfect pregnancy diet, why tackle one of the most taboo health issues left? In Ireland, 400,000 people suffer some form of depression, according to Aware — yet it’s still a topic that’s swept under the carpet. I know this sounds a bit corny,” says Holford, “but the Dalai Lama said that ‘every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering’ — that’s really what my work is about. My background is in mental health and depression is a subject I’ve always wanted to write about. “We’ve been treating people for mental health problems for a decade at the Brain Bio Centre in Richmond [a treatment centre specialising in Holford’s ‘optimum nutrition’ approach],” he says. And it’s through the results we achieved there that it became clear that there are certain things which really work. “The purpose of this book is to show people that they can make a few simple changes in their life that will give them energy and


If your knee hurts, you think there’s something wrong with your leg. But if you feel depressed most people blame the mortgage, their job or relationship. They don’t ask what they’re doing that affects how their brain functions — like eating sugary foods

get them out of a black hole,” Holford says. And contrary to common mores, happiness is not just a state of mind — it’s determined by the contents of your fridge, too. “If your knee hurts, you automatically think there’s something wrong with your

leg,” he says. “But if you feel depressed and your get-up-and-go has got up and gone, most people blame the mortgage, their job or relationship.” “They don’t ask themselves what they’re doing that affects how their brain functions

The Feel Good factor tour details The details of Patrick Holford’s Feel Good Factor seminar tours are as follows: Friday, March 11 Venue: O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel — Aton Suite, Fenian Street, Off Merrion Square North, Dublin 2 Time: 6.15pm-9.15pm Saturday, March 12 Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Inis Mor Ballroom, Lough Atalia Road, Galway

Time: 4pm-7pm Sunday, March 13 Venue: Radisson SAS Hotel, Great Island Ballroom, Little Island, Cork Time: 4pm-7pm Monday, March 14 Venue: Whites of Wexford, McClure Suite 2, Abbey Street, Wexford Time: 6.15pm-9.15pm visit:


— like not exercising enough or eating sugary foods. Then, when you get desperate, you go to the doctor,” he says. “Doctors mean well, but it’s a lot easier to say ‘take this antidepressant’ than look at all the other factors. “Quite often, if you started to exercise three times a week, eat more oily fish or take a vitamin D supplement, you’d begin to feel better within a week. There’s an awful lot you can do that costs nothing.” In the current climate of doom and gloom, though, aren’t we all just meant to be depressed? “21st century living is a recipe for the feel-grim factor,” says Holford, as I slug on an industrial-strength Americano inadvertently illustrating his next point. “You wake up in the dark to the sound of the alarm clock, head on auto-pilot to the kettle and have a strong cup of coffee, and maybe a piece of rocket fuel called ‘toast’ covered in jam. “We’ve really become hooked in a cycle of feeling tired all the time, needing stimulants like caffeine and sugar to rev up, not being able to relax and using alcohol as a relaxant and then not sleeping well. “Recovering the ability to sleep naturally and wake up full of energy is the key to the Feel Good Factor,” he says. “If you get your nutrition right, you won’t need that coffee to get going.” The Feel Good Factor — 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood and Motivate Yourself by Patrick Holford, published by Piatkus, out now, F13.72 from Easons.




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Psychological issues and emotional pain cannot be healed by spiritual means

All in the mind



Tony Humphreys


ITHIN myself, and with individuals who attend for therapy or participate in courses I direct, and, indeed, with colleagues and friends, I am frequently faced with questions about the relationship between psychological and spiritual work. Spirituality has long been a struggle for me, even though many who read my books or attend my courses say that my work is spiritual. I am inclined to clarify my work by asserting that it is primarily psychological in nature and in practice, but that I can understand how some people come to see it as ultimately spiritual. I know that my fear is that individuals who are troubled and troubling — which includes all of us — may seek out spiritual practices as a way of resolving deep emotional issues. This practice has become known as spiritual bypassing. Having spent seven years in a monastery and undoubtedly having had several spiritual experiences, I still emerged from the cloisters as uncertain, insecure, and vulnerable as I had been when I entered. Over my years in clinical psychological practice, I have met with several individuals who had gone the spiritual route to resolve their deep insecurities, but emerged even more insecure. When we encounter obstacles to our mature development in our homes, classrooms, schools, churches, communities and workplaces, we creatively find ways to defend ourselves against such emotional, social, physical, sexual, intellectual and creative abandonment. These defence mechanisms are formed at an unconscious level and they deepen and multiply over the years that we continue to experience threats to our wellbeing. There is no way around these defences — neither drugs nor spirituality work. However, when individuals attempt to ease their emotional pain with either drugs or spirituality, I understand that they are seeking answers that do not necessitate going into their painful stories; my hope is that, at some future date, they will grasp the nettle of their inner turmoil. The reality is that the efforts to use spiritual practice to try to rise above, and transcend, our emotional and personal and interpersonal issues — all those hidden, unresolved matters that weigh us down — will not work. I can understand, from my own life, how spiritual bypassing can be particularly tempting for individuals who have little or no sense of self. After all, the core wound we all suffer is the disconnection from our own being. This inner disconnection originally took place in childhood, in response to parents and other adults who did not fully see, welcome, accept, celebrate and love us. In the struggle to reconnect with ourselves, the lure of spiritual teachings and practices that urges us to “give ourselves up” and have a “spiritual identity” can be difficult to resist. However, such an identity is as defensive as the old, masked, psychological identity because it is based on avoidance of unresolved emotional issues that have been crying out for resolution. It is in this way that involvement in spiritual teachings and practices can result in a rationalisation, and a strengthening, of old psychological defences. For example, those individuals who have a deep, real need to be seen as the special individuals they truly are can empha-


Picture: Getty Images

When individuals attempt to ease their emotional pain with either drugs or spirituality, they are seeking answers that do not necessitate going into their painful stories sise the “specialness” of their spiritual insight and practice and/or their special relationship with the spiritual teacher to shore up a sense of self-importance. This “specialness” is an unconscious substitute for the real thing — which is their own unique and special presence. The reality is that while many Western and Eastern spiritual teachers are very warm, kind, loving and personal in their own way, more often than not, they frequently do not have much to say about the personal and interpersonal aspects of life. Indeed, they tend not to detect the tendency in themselves and in their followers to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep low self-esteem, social alienation and other emotional defences. It is my experience that spiritual practice is best pursued from a place of inner solidity, and from a place of ongoing resolution of alienation from self and others. As human beings, we live on two levels — the psychological and the spiritual; these two dimensions cannot be reduced to one. When such a reduction is attempted, we neither realise ourselves psychologically nor spiritually. Dr Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist, author, national and international speaker. His recent book with co-author Helen Ruddle, Relationship, Relationship, Relationship: The Heart of a Mature Society is relevant to today’s topic.


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8 Cover story

Growing old gracefully

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Want to make it to a ripe old age and still have fun along the way? Peta Bee asks the experts what we need to do to stretch out those golden years with a smile on our faces



ATEST figures from the Irish Cancer Society show that one in three of us will develop some form of cancer in our lifetimes and that the disease is responsible for 8,000 deaths each year and 25% of all deaths in Ireland. Rates of heart disease and strokes are also on the rise. But are the odds really stacked against us? Of course, there is a considerable genetic influence with many of the killer diseases — if your parents suffered from cancer, then your risk is raised. But researchers think that, to some extent, your life lies in your hands and that you can influence longevity by making changes to your lifestyle. Addressing the ‘big four’ — smoking, drinking, exercise and obesity — can result in significant gains to your golden years. But how else can you stack the odds in your favour? SMOKING Our addiction to the evil weed is one of the shortest routes to the grave and you don’t need to have a 60-a-day habit to raise your risk of dying early. In Ireland around 7,000 deaths a year are directly related to smoking and the anti-smoking charity, ASH Ireland, says tobacco-related diseases are responsible for causing illness in thousands more. A 50-year, ongoing study at Oxford University revealed that smoking reduces your life expectancy by 10 years. If you give up smoking you halve your risk of dying early, even if you don’t quit until the age of 50.Throw away that last packet of cigarettes and your blood oxygen levels will begin to return to normal after eight hours. After 48 hours your sense of taste and smell will improve — 12 weeks later your circulation will speed up making it easier to walk and run. As soon as you stop, says the Irish Cancer Society, your risk of lung cancer drops. Fifteen years after you give up you will be as likely as a non-smoker to get cancer. Avoid cigarettes for five years and your risk of dying from heart disease will be half that of a smoker’s. EXERCISE A survey conducted a few years ago for the Irish Sports Council revealed that less than one in five Irish women came close to conducting the accumulated 30 minutes of physical activity per day, for at


Ten tips for making it to your 100th birthday SO you want to live to 100? Here are the top ten tips on how to do it…


Get a dog: Dr Deborah Wells, a psychologist at Queen’s University in Belfast, reviewed dozens of studies to conclude that dog owners enjoy a longer and healthier life than the rest of the population. “It’s possible that dogs can directly promote our health by buffering us from stress,” she says. “Owning a dog can also lead to increases in physical activity and help the development of social contact which may enhance physiological and psychological human health.” Eat blueberries: Blueberries may stem and even reverse age-related health problems. A study at Tufts University in Boston found that after two months on blueberries, older rats not truly navigated mazes faster, they also had better balance and were more coordinated — skills regulated by the brain. Key to their potency is blueberries’ antioxidant content, the highest of commonly eaten fruits.

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least five days per week, as recommended by the World Health Organisation for good health. Men fared slightly better, but overall too many people were active at an intensity that was too low to benefit their health. Dozens of studies have proven the benefits of regular exercise in fighting off killer diseases and the council is urging the nation to get active for the sake of its collective health. At the National Public Health Institute in Finland, people with Type II diabetes who exercised moderately (eg: walked a total of four hours a week) lowered their risk of dying by 39%. Those who were highly active (ie: did three hours of vigorous exercise like running a week) were almost half as likely to die as non-exercisers. A separate study at the US National Institute of Health showed that lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity to an average 150 minutes a week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease more effectively than medication. What’s to lose? Get moving. OBESITY Recent reports by the Irish Pharmacy Union showed that obesity levels in Ireland have reached epidemic proportions with one-fifth of all adults now dangerously overweight and with obesity causing 2,000 premature deaths each year. Both under-activity (see above) and diets that rely increasingly on junk and convenience foods are to blame. Studies have shown that cutting down on unhealthy, calorific foods will do more than protect your waistline. Professor Christian Leewenburg of the department of ageing at the University of Florida says the average human life could increase by 30%

with a healthy diet (cutting out high amounts of fat and junk food) and regular exercise. He found that mutations in the energy centre, or mitochondria, of a cell are caused by obesity and lack of activity. These mutations “lead to programmed cell death” and are directly linked to the ageing process. And when it comes to life extension, cutting down on calories may also help. Emerging studies into the benefits of calorie restriction suggest that consuming a third less calories could enable humans to live a third longer lives. At America’s National Institute of Ageing in Baltimore, Dr Mark Mattson discovered that mice fed every other day lived longer than those allowed to eat at will. His results suggested that consuming one-third fewer calories could extend lifespan by one-third. ALCOHOL You may think a daily drink with your evening meal is a harmless tipple, but as a nation our fondness of the bottle is seriously impacting on our health. According to Alcohol Ireland, a higher proportion of Irish women drink alcohol than in any other country and the average person aged 15-plus in Ireland consumes the equivalent of 490 pints of 46 bottles of vodka

Get married to someone who makes you laugh: Living happily with a spouse can extend your life by up to three years, several studies have shown. Psychologists at Wayne State University looked at photographs of old baseball players and found that those who smiled for the camera lived an average seven years longer than those who looked less than happy. Married women live an average four years longer than unmarried women, and married men live a decade longer than single counterparts.

each per year. Not only is this affecting mental health — depression and suicide attempts are strongly linked with alcohol consumption — but Alcohol Ireland says that liver disease linked to drinking rose by 147% in recent years and that many cancers, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and female breast, are related to alcohol consumption. The guidelines for women are no more than 14 alcohol units per week and for men 21 units (a unit is the equivalent of a small glass of wine) and with two to three days of the week alcohol free. Cut down to sensible levels in order to see your twilight years.


YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH Been to church lately — or ever? Researchers now believe that a strong faith has psychological effects that manifest themselves as physical benefits and they have shown that attending a religious service at least once a week appears to help you to live longer. Even when other factors like age, race and illness were accounted for, psychiatrists at Duke University medical school found church-goers were 28% less likely to die in a six-year period. Dr Harold Koenig, who lead the study, said attending church had similar benefits to quitting smoking in terms of the extent to which it could prolong life.

Get rich (but be generous): Being comfortably wealthy triggers the release of a hormone called DHEAS (or dehydroepiandrsterone) that has been linked to longer life. Having more DHEAS in the body is linked to a better memory and levels are considered a guide to life expectancy and people with better socio-economic circumstances had the highest levels. But it is better to give than receive a study published in the journal Psychological Science showed. Psychologist Dr Stephanie Brown surveyed 423 older people over five years and found that those who were helpful and


Look on the bright side: Being optimistic can extend your life. A study at the Mayo Clinic in America, psychologists found that pessimists lived an average 12 years less than optimists. “It is likely that optimistic people have lower levels of stress and stress hormones that can adversely influence health,” says psychologist Dearbhla McCullough. “But it is also known that negative people are less likely to carry out self-checks for serious diseases like cancer which could also impact on their lifespan.”


HAPPY EVER AFTER: Having a laugh regularly influences the possibility of you living a long and healthy life — and if you are happily married and have a good social life into the bargain, as well as owning a dog, you increase your chances even more. Picture: Getty Images generous to others lowered their risk of dying by up to 60%.


Stand up: Are you sitting down to read this? Then you could be shortening your lifespan. A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiloogy revealed that the less time people spend sitting down each day, the longer their lifespan. The study followed 120,000 healthy adults and showed that women who spent more than six hours a day on their behinds had a 37% increased risk of premature death compared to women who sat for three hours a day or less. For men, long hours of sitting brought an 18% increase in the risk of premature death.


Turn off the TV: Australian scientific research in the journal Circulation suggests the more TV a person watches, the sooner they die. According to Professor David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Research Institute in Melbourne, every extra hour spent watching television increases people’s risk of premature death. “People who watch four or more hours of television a day have a 46% higher risk of death from all causes and 80% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease,” he said.


Win something: Academy Award winners live an average four years longer than other actors; multiple Oscar winners live six years longer. In a study funded by the Canadian

Institute of health, University of Toronto researchers included all 762 actors and actresses ever nominated for an academy award in a leading or support role. On average, Oscar winners lived to 79.7 whereas other actors died aged 75.8. “Winning anything can raise your self-esteem and give you the motivation to set new goals in life,” says McCullough. “And people who stay mentally and physically focused are known to live longer.”


Socialise with friends: Staying in touch with friends will enhance longevity by a decade or more, researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide reported in the Journal of Epidemiology Community Health this Summer. A study of almost 1,500 people aged 70-plus showed that those with a good network of friends (but not necessarily relatives) lived longer than those who didn’t socialise.


Eat the Mediterranean way: A Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and olive oil could extend your life by at least 12 months according to a study in the British Medical Journal. In a pan-European study of more than 74,000 people over 60, conducted at the University of Athens medical school, researchers found that those who stuck closely to the diet, which is low in saturated animal fat, lived longer.


10 Medical matters

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lergic reaction might be. A person with a peanut allergy might react with a tingle in the mouth, a case of hives or a full-blown anaphylaxis, depending on many variables, including how much peanut they ate and in what form. These tests along with an elimination diet which should only be done under medical supervision, are considered the usual way to help diagnose allergies to specific substances. There are other allergy test such as candidiasis allergy testing , electro acupuncture biofeedback, hair analysis, or urine autoinjection, Vega test, and kinesiology ,which may work , but, as yet, are unproven methods. It is recommended to have allergy testing done by a medical or health care professional trained in this area of medicine.

MY three-year-old daughter suffers from severe eczema. I got her tested for food allergies and I was told she was allergic to seven foods. Should I cut out these foods from her diet completely? How do allergies affect children and do they grow out of them?

Dr Niamh Houston



Dr Niamh Houston is a GP with a special interest in integrative medicine. If you have a question about your child’s health email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

A. Children seem to be more vulnerable to allergies than adults. Allergies to food, house dust mites, animal dander and pollen are the most common. These allergies can show up as allergic rhinitis (hay-fever), asthma, and atopic dermatitis (eczema). Also, frequent ear infections may be related to allergy. Symptoms of an allergy develop as the body releases special antibodies called IgE, which trigger the release of Q. I get itchy scaly skin between chemicals that can cause the physical my toes frequently and would like to symptoms and changes associated with OUTGROWING PROBLEM: About 80% of children with know if there are any natural treatallergies such as hives, runny nose, ments for athlete’s foot that can itching or swelling of the lips, tongue allergies to milk, eggs, wheat, dairy and soy outgrow them, usually by age five. Picture: iStock help? or throat, upset stomach, cramps, bloating or diarrhoea, wheezing, diffiA. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that culty breathing or anaphylactic shock — a lives in dead skin found in toenails, hair and life-threatening reaction that needs emergency treatment. antibodies to a large number of foods, and it outer skin layers. It is very common infection and thrives in warm, moist, damp conTo find that your child has food allergies can be challenging to sort out which really ditions found in shoes, socks, swimming can be both welcome and unsettling news. do pose problems. Experts say that up to pools, public changing rooms. But not all With the use of allergy tests booming, more 20% of children are wrongly diagnosed and itchy scaly feet mean you have athlete’s foot. parents are coming away not fully underdo not eat certain foods because they think standing what they mean. Confusion over they are allergic to them, but have not had a Your doctor can scrape some skin off the affected area and send it to the lab to confirm test results has made it harder to track the confirmed medical diagnosis. Also many of the type of infection and best treatment. true prevalence and growth of allergies. the symptoms of food allergy are common There are many anti-fungal creams/ointWhat experts agree on is that the most imto other complaints, and so it’s not always ments that are available over the counter portant part of a food-allergy diagnosis is easy to identify correctly. that can be used in the initial treatment the history. What did the child eat and what Skin prick tests are the most common phase. There are also oral anti-fungal tablets kind of reaction did he/she have? tests for allergy — small amounts of suspect that can be taken. Skin-prick and/or a blood test to confirm allergy triggers are introduced through the Steps used to prevent athlete’s foot include that the child has antibodies to the suspect skin of the arm or back by pricking or wearing protective footwear when in public food will be needed too. puncturing the skin with a needle. If your Food allergy should also be considered in child is allergic to a substance, you will see a showering areas and wearing cotton socks that allow your feet to breathe. Wash your children who do not respond to treatment raised, red, itchy bump usually within 15 feet with soap and water daily and dry very for atopic eczema, reflux (where stomach minutes. The bigger the reaction or bump thoroughly. Using a good quality foot powcontents flow out of the stomach and into the more sensitive your child is to that parder every day can help prevent athlete’s foot. the gullet) and chronic constipation. ticular substance. This test may not be suitAn excellent home remedy is tea tree oil, Some experts believe it’s not helpful to able for very young children. extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca altest for food allergies when there’s no histoThe RAST blood test is used to detect ry of problems with those foods. Most chillevels of IgE antibodies and is useful if a skin ternifolia. Select a product that is 100% tea tree oil and apply few drops to affected area dren have food allergies, just not to all the test is difficult due to a widespread rash, or foods they are being told they are allergic if there is a risk of a sudden and severe aller- three times a day for up to two weeks after infection has cleared. You could also apply to. Avoid placing your child unnecessarily gic response to using skin allergens. Both grape-fruit seed extract two-three times a on a severely restricted diet. type of tests are about 90% accurate. None day to the affected area. Children with ezcema tend to have Ig E of these tests can predict how severe an al-

NOTE: The information contained in Dr Houston’s column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first


Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD Feelgood

HERE was a time when parents were revered more than iPhones and backchat was the name of a weekly radio review show. This was an era when society still moderately subscribed to the Victorian ideal that children should be seen and not heard and teaching them to talk was no more momentous than instilling in them when to be quiet. It was a time characterised by the ability of children to know when to be invisible, to speak when spoken to, to not interrupt and to display a firm grasp of the basic rudiments of good behaviour. Sadly, after decades of excess and having sacrificed nice manners on the altar of overindulgence, we have bred a generation displaying all the symptoms of a very 21st century affliction. This syndrome, known in pop psychology as Too Much of a Good Thing, is the direct result of the inability of those in positions of authority to refuse their offspring anything. Because, like the girl from Oklahoma, parents can’t say “No”, children have acquired an automatic sense of entitlement, which has in fact become the new Millennium’s zeitgeist. This brings us to another song title — “I want it all and I want it now” — a reasonable demand for a spectacularly successful rock band but not for a child of five. Having spoiled our children at the expense of character-building, we have helped create a

society where many of its members are at the tipping point of tolerance. A bus-full of disruptive urchins is no fun for anyone. Schoolkids who refuse to give up their seat to the elderly man who can barely stand are to no one’s credit. Children who would bankrupt their parents to fund their own extravagant lifestyle are a sad indictment of a very mixed–up generation programmed to accept nothing less than instant gratification. One could say “I blame the parents”, but when many mothers and fathers work around the clock to earn a decent living, they may be partially forgiven for not wanting to put up a fight during the limited quality time they get to spend with their children. It is easier to acquiesce than spend half the evening arguing over why Sophie’s mummy said “Yes” to the post-Leaving Certificate gorgefest in Santa wherever, while you, the mean mother, said “Over my dead body”. I’m not sure what the cure is to this apparent role reversal where parents live in fear of being told off by their children. It is difficult to pinpoint the moment when the pendulum swung in their favour. The truth is discipline is as important to your child’s survival as it is to successful parenting. Let’s raise children we don’t spend the rest of our lives recovering from.


Children who would bankrupt their parents to fund their own extravagant lifestyle are a sad indictment of a very mixed–up generation programmed to accept nothing less than instant gratification



Adapting to life 11 It’s the 75th birthday of tampons and Kya deLongchamps celebrates the story of the little tubular invention which has brought personal comfort to many women XH - V1

Making a splash T

HIS month a discreet little 75th celebration will lift a smile for the millions of women who enjoy the benefits of tampons in their daily round. Tampax, the first applicator tampon, able to wick away up to 18g of moisture and be whisked to oblivion with its removal cord, was designed and patented by Dr Earle Cleveland Haas in 1929. A talented scientist but no businessman, Haas sold his invention in frustration to Gertrude Tenderich, a Canadian entrepreneur and then owner of the Tampax company. The debut of the commercial tampon was a quiet but triumphant moment in mankind, or should we say womankind. “Welcome to a new day for womanhood” Tampax announced brightly as in July 1936 the first pocket-rocket slid shyly across a pharmacy counter. It’s touching to know that Dr Haas was inspired to act by the regular suffering of his own wife, stoically upholstering her under-parts with uncomfortably suspended rags at their home in the 1920s. In 1981, at the age of 96 the great man was still enthusiastically perfecting his tampon design. Meanwhile, the plucky Tenderich, using her own home sewing machine and Dr Haas’s compressing machine, sat up nights to fashion a working tampon she could confidentially take to market. For 75 years women have been able to relegate the trials of the period to the same nuisance league as tooth brushing and nail buffing. The embracing of girdle-free clothes skimming the body, and the advent of trousers as acceptable attire for girls was enhanced by the streamlining allowed by a tampon. Swimming and sports — again in more clinging, flattering forms, were no longer out of bounds. That dreaded camel-toe bulge in the panties was for many banished to the gory history of bravely grinning Madonnas crotches hammocked in nappy-sized sanitary belts, silently offering the leaks and humiliation up to God. Calloused by change, we can only imagine the challenge of getting the ‘catamenial device’ to market in times where society was strangled by manners, religious tenants and the enduring male shudder that accompanies the very mention of “Aunt Flo” strolling through town. The notion of a woman struggling to get something jettisoned into the holy of holies by lamplight must have been deeply mortifying for a generation of well corseted, devout mothers. According to writer Nancy Friedman in her Everything You Wanted to Know about Tampons the tampon went underground in the 1930s, relegated to the effects of actresses and prostitutes at a time when no “respectable” woman would fumble about with her delicacies. Delving bravely into the cultural history of menstruation, there is a Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health in Washington DC, run at the home of a man — Harry Finley. Finley gamely covers everything from tampons and blood extractors to the curious world of the menstrual hut where women were sent in ancient Hawaii and Mali to do


Toxic Shock Syndrome TOXIC shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection. It occurs when the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, which normally live harmlessly on the skin — invade the body’s bloodstream and release poiPicture: Getty Images sonous toxins. These toxins cause a massive drop in blood pressure (shock), resulting in dizziness and confusion. They also damage tissue, including skin and organs, and can disturb many vital organ functions. Symptoms: A sudden high temperature A sunburn like rash Vomiting Diarrhea Fainting or feeling faint and dizzy Muscle aches Confusion If you experience any of these symptoms contact your doctor or other health care professional immediately. If TSS is left untreated, the combination of shock and organ damage can result in death. During the 1980s there was a rise in the reported incidence of TTS linked to the use of high absorbency tampons. While these issues have been largely resolved through alternations in design, it’s very important to use tampons correctly for them to remain completely safe.

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their worst out of sight and scent of their wider community. Visit If you want to get serious on the subject, today, there’s an entire human rights movement directed against “menstrual suppression” with the tampon as a central issue for women’s physical and personal liberty in the developing world. The engineering of the applicator has kept an army of stoic-faced scientists at their benches since the 1920s, but more fascinating again is the application of the sylvan stopper. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but the shame of being discovered openly menstruating to the knowledge of strangers by a visible leak lingers. Mopping up fluids was one thing, but tackling deeply ingrained attitudes and fears was never going to be easy. Modern society still has a collective inability to deal with the natural reality of periods. Tampons had their own unspoken taboo. Despite no official attitude by the Catholic Church, today only 4% of Italian women vouch to use tampons. Still, out of sight and mind, there’s a lot to celebrate in the modern day Scarlett Pimpernel. The talent of the

tampon to conceal that highly personal moment of a woman’s menstrual cycle added immense challenge to the marketing campaign for women’s personal products, largely conducted by male copy writers into the 1960s. By the early ’70s attitudes relaxed and tampons hit the small screen. The Americans are particularly skilled at total denial. Stopping up a period, deftly still emblazoned “keeping your period private” by Tampax advertising genies, is presented as a positive pleasure. Today, when your tweenager appears with a halting expression and a muscle wringing cramp, the Universal mother presented in the Tampax ad is delighted to get that curious moment silenced with the perfectly named “digital tampon”. Immaculate nouns like “petals” and “pledgets” thrown a girlish lightly-scented veil over a dark world of womanly mystery. The word “light” floats away to a breathy “lite” and “night” turn to a carefree, e-free “nite”. If you want a dash of how daring the Proctor and Gamble creatives have become take a look at the cringe-making and officially sponsored Zak/Tampax viral on YouTube, featuring a boy with a period. This slender design icon has claimed the market and today over 100 million women in 150 countries buy into the Tampax experience.


Get into good habits THE Toxic Shock Syndrome Information Service (TSSIS) advise: ■ Always use a tampon with the lowest absorbency rating suitable for your flow. ■ Use a sanitary towel or pad from time to time during your period ■ Advice about TSS is included in the tampon manufacturer’s leaflets with the product. This information is regularly updated, so read it. ■ Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon. ■ Change tampons regularly and never insert more than one at a time. ■ When going to bed insert a fresh tampon and remove it on waking . ■ Remove a tampon at the end of the period.





Food survey

ANCAKES make a nourishing snack, lunch or supper, a good breakfast. Fill with leftovers, a freshly made bolognese sauce, shredded leeks and some creamy cheese to make an easy filling. Shredded duck with a squeeze of lime juice, hoy sin sauce and salad greens is a treat. With one of the perfect foods — the egg — as their base, any flour can be used from the lightest white to buckwheat, spelt, wholemeal and mixes of all three. The more wholemeal used the heavier the pancake will be, and many spelt flours tend to give a heavier finish too and, like gluten-free flours, don’t blend so well with the egg and milk mixture. The creamier the milk, the silkier the batter will be — I add some melted butter which adds flavour, but also makes the pancakes easy to fry on the pan. Our survey this week looks at four ready-made pancakes, most of which taste much the same, and four mixes which we had hoped would be easy to use. None of them came up to scratch compared to my simple recipe, but for convenience are a useful enough standby. I asked an inexperienced cook to make the pancakes to see how easy they were to work with. Pancakes by Roz This recipe will ensure your pancakes are light and full of flavour. Any plain or self-raising flour will do. Watch sell by dates on eggs and buy the freshest possible. Choose a frying pan with the lowest sides so steam can evaporate efficiently to keep them crisp as they cook. 125g flour 3 eggs 250ml milk 30g melted butter.

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Roz Crowley use it straight away if necessary. Heat the frying pan and rub it with a little butter. Butter wrapping is ideal for this. Any more and the pancake will be heavy. As there is butter in my pancake batter, it’s often not necessary to add more butter to the pan later. Pour the pancake batter into a jug and pour a skim of batter onto the hot pan. Roll the pan quickly so the batter spreads over the pan and replace on the heat. Allow to cook until brown without moving it around. The pancake will only flip successfully when well cooked. Tilt the pan away from you so the pancake almost slides off, and flip so the uncooked side goes onto the pan. Allow another minute to cook this second side. Serve immediately or stack and put in a warm oven to keep hot while cooking the rest.


Mix all together in one go until well blended. Allowing the mixture to stand for half an hour may improve it marginally, but

Betty Crocker Shake to Make pancakes, 155g F1.89 THE dry mix comes in a plastic jug to which 290ml of water is added and shaken to blend. In the mix are wheat flour, sugar, vegetable fat, salt, dextrose, egg white powder, egg yolk powder and skimmed milk powder. The result was the best of the easy mixes, easy to pour into the pan, no sticking, no lumps. The taste was a little sweet, but was the favourite of tasters. A shame the jug doesn’t have a line to indicate the volume of water.

Picture: iStock

Galberts mini pancakes 350g F2.99 The serving suggestion is for heating in the microwave for just a few seconds and it makes a big difference. Made with buckwheat flour as well as wheat flour, skimmed milk powder and some emulsifiers, the preservative E202 is potassium sorbate and nothing to be concerned about. These were the only ready-made pancakes which were quite eggy. A nice, light texture with a natural flavour. Easily the most popular of the selection.

chooseday Mothers Pride Pancakes, 350g F1.19

Eight pancakes made with buttermilk which provides the dominant flavour here. Texture is heavy, more like cake than pancake. Quite sweet. Score: 4

St Bernard pancakes Dunnes Stores, 250g F1.15

Can be eaten cold or as suggested heated by grilling for two minutes. These eight pancakes were improved by grilling, but it wasn’t enough to lighten them or give them any flavour. Sugar was the dominant taste. Lots of preservatives and raising agents, but nothing to worry about. Score: 4

Score: 7

Score: 7

Ballymore Crust pancakes, Aldi, 224g F1.15

Orgran Gluten Free Apple & Cinnamon pancake mix, 375g F3.84

Odlums Perfect Pancakes pancake flour, 500g F1.69

Nash 2 Go spelt and buttermilk pancake batter 450ml F3.85

Made with buttermilk and flour, these eight readymade pancakes also have some sugar which is the only flavour here. Texture a little heavy. Need to be heated.

To make the batter, add water or milk to the pack along with two eggs. We tried these to see if the apple and cinnamon would give a lift to the pancake mix but they only made the taste heavier. Those with some food intolerances should be able to eat these, as they are wheat, gluten, dairy, yeast, soy and nut free. The result was quite a rubbery pancake and tasters didn’t like the added flavours.

To halve the pack we add two eggs and 575ml milk. The flour already has raising agents and salt. This needs to be spread thinly on the pan to avoid heaviness. While pleasant enough there was little flavour. Suits sweet and savoury fillings.

With no list of ingredients on the carton, this liquid batter makes about 12 pancakes and is made from eggs, buttermilk and spelt flour — a healthy combination. It took the inexperienced cook four attempts before he got the batter to spread across the pan and make the pancakes light, but they were still a little heavy. The result was the flavour was nicely savoury, but tasters didn’t like the strong buttermilk flavour.

Score: 4

Score: 5.5

Score: 4.25



Score: 6



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Male health

Use your legs to get moving


T MIGHT be time to get on your bike, according to the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) which is calling for policies to promote active travel — walking and cycling. Half of all car owners in the Greater Dublin Area drive for trips of less than one mile. In Northern Ireland, car travel accounts for 50% of all journeys less than two miles and almost two-thirds of journeys less than five miles. “There is considerable scope to replace car journeys with walking and cycling and doing so would increase physical activity which would benefit people’s health straight away,” says IPH public health development officer Teresa Lavin, author of the IPH’s briefing paper, Active Travel — Healthy Lives. As the level of active travel increases, road traffic injuries and deaths decrease. “For example, in Germany and the Netherlands where there are high rates of active travel, pedestrian fatalities are 10 times lower than in the United States which has high car usage,” she says. The report also highlights that getting on your bike and using walking have environmental, economic and social benefits. “Increased active travel reduces greenhouse gas

GOOD BENEFITS: Using your bike to commute has environmental, economic and social benefits. Picture: Getty Images

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN

emissions, brings better air quality and less noise, benefiting both the environment and health,” says Lavin. Not only that, but you might actually get to talk to your neighbours when you’re not locked away in the bubble of your car. The IPH’s research shows that walking and cycling more promotes social cohesion and enhances community life by increasing the opportunities for social interaction, not to mention increased safety from anti-social behaviour due to more people on foot or bicycle in the area. The paper also highlights the need to address health inequalities when promoting ac-

tive travel as people in disadvantaged communities are less likely to walk or cycle due to traffic, noise, crime, litter, poor street lighting and poor quality public transport. Active modes of travel also reap substantial economic benefits. Research from Scotland

Cancer society seeks good communicators

Greater awareness of fire safety urged

THE Irish Cancer Society (ICS) is seeking volunteers to get two important messages into the community: ■ It is possible to reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 50% by making lifestyle changes. ■ Spotting a change early that could be cancer can save lives. To become a volunteer, you must attend a two-day training programme on either April 8-9, or in September, 2011 (dates to be con-

THE Irish Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) has called for greater fire safety awareness in light of the recent increase in domestic fire fatalities across Ireland. The association has released figures showing that 18 fatalities occurred in December and January, almost 50% of the entire figure (40) for 2010. The CFOA said smoke alarms were either not present or not working in



firmed). You don’t need to have medical training to become a volunteer. However, a number of qualities are important. These include: being able to deliver a talk/information while sticking to the ICS message; good communication skills; a willingness to learn; reliability; and being able to organise and keep records. For more information, contact Rosemary Scott at 01-231 0579, or email


most the majority of cases. “Forty to 50 people have died in accidental house fires every year over the last 20 years and this trend has continued this winter,” said CFOA chairman Michael Raftery. “The CFOA urges the public to check smoke alarms, not only your own, but also those of elderly relatives or vulnerable neighbours. Householders should always make sure that flammable materials are kept as far away from sources of heat as possible.”

has suggested that if 40% of all car journeys switched to bicycle, this would result in a saving of £2 billion (F2.4 billion) per year due to reduced mortality. The saving is estimated to be closer to £4 billion (F4.8 billion) if improved health is also included.

DId you know... Boys who are high caffeine consumers get a greater rush from caffeine than girls Source: University of Buffalo, US


NATURAL RELIEF: A.Vogel Bio-Propolis, F8.41 is a natural cold sore ointment that inactivates the cold sore virus and helps to prevent a secondary infection. Propolis is a natural antiseptic found in beehives, which protects the inside of the hive from viruses and bacteria. “If you are prone to cold sores, I would definitely apply Bio-Propolis to the infected area five times a day,” says A.Vogel Herbal Advisor Nicola Murphy. “It can reduce the healing time of a cold sore by 50%.” Rich in aloe vera gel to moisturise and Lysine to prevent cold sores, Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Lip Balm, F3.85 also contains Tea Tree, Menthol and Vitamin E ensure your lips stay protected all day. A Vogel, Viridian and Aloe Pura products from health stores and selected pharmacies.




BEAUTY STAPLE: Vaseline has been a beauty staple for many years. Now the Vaseline Lip Therapy tin has had a mini makeover, as well as introducing new cocoa Butter, F2.32 to the tin range, which also includes Original, F1.75; Aloe Vera, F1.75 and Rosy Lips, F2.32. Vaseline have also launched new Lip Therapy Sticks, which are available as Original, Aloe Vera, Rosy Lips and Cocoa Butter, F2.99 each.


PUCKER UP: Lips need a little extra care in drying wind and weather to stop cracking and peeling. Protect your lips and provide a good base for your lip colour with Weleda’s 100% natural Lip Balm, F7.95. Scented with vanilla and rose, six natural moisturisers are blended to provide long lasting protection: organic jojoba oil, shea butter, beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax and rose wax. Weleda products are available from health stores and pharmacies.


Lip Therapy


SPRING TINGLE: While these bright spring days are sure to lift the spirits, unfortunately the change in weather can also trigger painful cold sores. Compeed’s Cold Sore Patch is designed to soothe the tingling of the cold sore, prevent the formation of a scab and speed up the healing process. The ultra-thin transparent circular plaster is virtually invisible when worn and you can still wear your lipstick or gloss over it. Available from pharmacies, the patches come in a lightweight compact with a mirror and cost F9.99 for 15.





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Don’t be fooled by pretty packaging when choosing moisturiser

Soft ’n’ smooth BE CAREFUL: Lots of moisturisers dress themselves up in pretty little outfits and give themselves a massive price tag and masquerade as some sort of beauty must-have, when actually they are quite ineffective. Picture: Getty Images

The news on ... DAISY EAU SO FRESH Admittedly it looks like one of those ladies from the1950s with a floral swimming cap on its head, but the contents are worth a spray. Marc Jacob’s Daisy Eau So Fresh is a twist on the Daisy fragrance — it’s fruitier and lighter with top notes of grapefruit, raspberry and pear, mid notes of jasmine, rose, violet and apple blossom and base notes of musk, Virginia cedar and plum. Daisy Eau So Fresh, F60 for 75ml.

TAKE THREE SHOWER GELS TO soap or not to soap, that is the question. We like soap — it’s old-fashioned and more environmentally friendly as it uses substantially less packaging, but shower gel has it’s place too. Remember to always rinse out and recycle your old shower gel bottles and don’t buy anything unless it has a recycling symbol.


Y skin looks like it’s beyond saving. An image of a Komodo dragon pops into my head when I run my hand over the skin on my thigh. I blame the weather. Several months of freezing cold temperatures and big dumps of snow and our skin goes into veritable iguana-like meltdown. The only thing I can really do is to moisturise and moisturise, but getting the right body moisturiser is essential to success. The world of body moisturisers is a minefield. A minefield largely because there is a lot of rubbish out there. All moisturisers are not born equal. Believe me. Instead, lots dress themselves up in pretty little outfits and give themselves a massive price tag and masquerade as some sort of beauty must-have, when actually they are quite ineffective, and worse... don’t rub into the skin properly (one of the worst offences for the body moisturiser). The key is not to judge a body moisturiser by its cover. Instead, you need to look to brands that are a little less glamorous, brands such as Nivea, Neutrogena and La Roche Posay. Brands that are functional rather than super-feelgood. But you will be rewarded for it.

Emily O’Sullivan Nivea’s SOS Relief Body Lotion, F5.76, has got us out of many a dry-skin pickle, while Neutrogena’s Deep Moisture Comfort Balm, F6.57, scoops out of the tub like rich whipped cream and turns your skin into velvet. It’s not quite what we’d expect from a balm (it’s more like a cream, really), but it works a treat. Of course, just because a body moisturiser is fancy doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Far from it. Both Chanel and Guerlain are partic-

ularly skilled at creating the kind of rich unctuous creams that you can’t wait to slather generously on your skin. Truly indulgent but truly divine. Mid-market there are some great things happening, too. The Body Shop’s classic Body Butters, F15.95, are still good contenders and have proved their staying power — they have been th company’s fastest selling products since they were first launched in 1992. I love the olive flavour and am pretty partial to coco butter, too. Still, after all these years trying beauty products there are two body moisturisers I reserve particular affection for. One is Origins’s Ginger Soufflé, F32.50, and I’m not alone with this one, it’s a bestseller for the company and there’s a good reason why: it smells divine and it feels like silk (they call it “whipped” and it’s a pretty good description). It’s the kind of moisturiser that you know you’re going to run out of quickly, because you want to use it morning and night. Equally luscious is Lush’s decadent Creme Anglaise, a sumptuous vanilla-scented dessert-style cream that is simply divine. Yes, for a Lush product it’s expensive at F37.50, but it’s worth every fabulous little cent.

Johnson’s Body Care 24 Hr Moisture Body Wash with Shea & Cocoa, F3.59. This has a really, really sweet fragrance, which some people might be into but might be just a little too cloying first thing in the morning. Having said that, it’s a good, frothy and generously foaming body wash that does feel deeply moisturising and soft on the skin. Boots Extracts Fairtrade Mango body wash, F5.99. Mango, mango, mango, yum — fruity and not too sweet, this body wash uses certified Fairtrade ingredients and organic mango extract to gently cleanse with a totally exotic fragrance. Original Source Tea Tree and mint shower gel, F2.39. A burst of freshness and a glorious tingle of minty tea-tree, if you’re the kind of person that needs to be refreshed in the morning, the this is the shower gels for you. It really does help to wake you up. Plus, you can get it in a nice pouch that reduces packaging by 75%.

STUFF WE LIKE Neutrogena Deep Moisture Comfort Balm, F6.57. Yet again, the title of this one is a bit misleading, as it’s not really what we expect from a balm. Having said that, we’re fans of its rich creamy texture and it got our thighs feeling super-soft within a few days. It takes a while to sink in, but we’ll forgive it that. Nivea SOS Body Relief, F5.76. Good, decent, solid and reliable — this body moisturiser does exactly what it says on the tin. No, it won’t win any awards for style — but it’s not trying to. Instead, it’s a salve for very dry skin and is enriched with panthenol and calendula oil.


Origins Ginger Soufflé Body Moisturiser, F32.50. It doesn’t really smell gingery, and it’s not really soufflé-like in texture, but why quibble about minor issues when dealing with one of life’s ultimate body moisturisers. Scent-wise, it’s fresh and tangy, while grape seed oil, rice bran oil, apricot kernal oil and olive oil ensure that our skin is soft as can be. The Body Shop Olive Body Butter, F15.95. The number one bestselling product at The Body Shop. Needless to say, there’s a good reason why these body butters have endured so since their launch nearly 30 years ago. They work. They’re

not too stick, not too buttery, but instead give a great dose of hydration and soften things up quick smart. Lush Creme Anglaise, F37.50. Expensive for Lush, you betcha, but Creme Anglaise is their, well, creme de la creme of body moisturisers. Sweet orange oil is blended with natural butters and a little bit of saffron to give it golden colour, just like the dessert. Yum. Bliss Naked Body Butter, F23.62. Having a scented body moisturiser is all very well, but admittedly sometimes it can clash with your favourite fragrance, which is a bit of an inconvenience.


Bliss’s Body Butters are famed for their excellent hydrating abilities and Naked delivers the same formula, minus the scent. Nifty.

BIG SELLER: The Body Shop Olive Body Butter, F15.95. from the body butters range which has remained popular since first launched nearly 30 years ago.



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Natural health


Megan Sheppard Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

I AM due for a cataract operation shortly. I am wondering if it would be beneficial to take arnica to prevent bruising and bleeding, beforehand or afterwards. I am not on any medication and it is being done under local injection. Also, I read that taking vitamin B2 helps prevent cataracts but if you have one it may accelerate cataract formation. A. You are correct. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), along with antioxidant vitamins C, E, selenium, zinc and the phytonutrients in bilberries, are brilliant in the prevention of cataracts. These nutrients slow and may reverse the damage. Some studies suggest that vitamin B2, taken in therapeutic doses, may exacerbate existing cataracts. So, while the jury is out on this particular nutrient, there is a wealth of scientific evidence showing the benefits of bilberry and vitamin E, in particular, so take 80 mg of bilberry daily, alongside 500iu of vitamin E (natural), for best results. Taking 500mg of vitamin C, up to four times daily, will help with both slowing the progression of your cataracts and your body’s ability to recover well following the cataract operation. Homeopathic arnica is what you should be taking to ensure that your body copes well with any surgical operations. Not only is it safe for all ages, but it won’t interfere with any other medications, such as the local anaesthetic. Take Arnica 30c (one tablet twice daily) for two days before your operation, and then twice daily, at a dosage of 200c, for three days following. The reason why you will benefit from taking the arnica, both pre- and post-operatively, is because it can help to reduce soreness, bruising, tissue damage, and bleeding related to surgical procedures.

atom gradually loses its energy, and the body recognises this atom as the same nascent iodine it produces in the thyroid in order to make the T3 and T4 hormones. The atomic iodine is considered to be the safest, and least irritating, of all the iodine formulas available. You only need a small amount of nascent iodine — begin with 3-5 drops daily and increase over the course of a week, until you are taking this amount three times daily. From the second week onwards, increase to 5-10 drops, three times daily. Take it on an empty stomach, and ensure that you take smaller doses more frequently rather than taking catch-up doses if you forget, as the smaller doses are highly effective. It can keep you awake if taken late at night, so try and work it so that your last dose of the day is an hour before tea time, if possible. Note: I take nascent iodine and have not had any trouble taking doses before bedtime, so it may be worth seeing how it affects you if this suits you better to take a later dose. ■ IMPORTANT ADDITION TO INFORMATION GIVEN ON February 25, 2011 This is regarding the reader who wrote in relation to her boyfriend’s trouble with pain and rectal bleeding. I had suggested a Picture: Getty Images number of possible causes, including diverticular disease, and a kind doctor has written in to suggest that it may in fact be Meckel’s Diverticulum. Meckel’s Diverticulitis is a congenital condition where the small intestine bulges out, much like a hernia, except it is present from birth. While most people don’t experience any symptoms, rectal bleeding is a symptom commonly observed. Since the area of concern is in the upper digestive tract, the bleeding is generally “old” blood and so is very dark, almost black, when it is excreted. remission. Nascent iodine works by counter reacting against cell differentiation in cancer- Another potential symptom is pain in the upper abdominal area, although the bleeding ous tissue. This form of iodine is produced by subjection of a 1% percent tincture of io- commonly occurs without prior associated symptoms or pain. dine to a high electromagnetic field, for a You should definitely check further with a given time, in order to produce the nascent specialist, even if it is simply a case of ruling iodine state. out the possibility of Meckel’s Diverticulitis This atomic state and electromagnetic as the root cause. Surgery is the preferred charge is held by the atom until it is diluted treatment, with resectioning of the diverticuin water and consumed, where it is readily lum and/or any areas of bowel affected by absorbed and utilised by the body. perforation, strangulation, or obstruction. Over a period of 2-3 hours, the charged

The phytonutrients in bilberries are brilliant in the prevention of cataracts

Q. Could you kindly let me know the brand of iodine recommended over the last couple of weeks? They come in drop form and help prevent against cancer. A. The iodine drops that I recommended recently are called nascent iodine. There are a number of conditions that have been successfully treated using nascent iodine. Cancer patients, in particular those with breast cancer, have shown significant improvement using nascent iodine, even to the point of total

Megan puts the spotlight on:


HILE Light therapy is already well-known to help with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), it has recently been confirmed that it helps with a number of mood disorders. Research published earlier this year in the Archives of General Psychology has shown that Blue Light Therapy (treatment using 7,500 lux of bright blue light) significantly reduced depression scores in a group of individuals aged 60 and over who had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (non-seasonal). The treatment consisted of an hour exposure to the light each morning for three weeks, and the control group were exposed to 50 lux of dim red light during the same period of time. There is much evidence to show that



light specifically from the blue area of the visual spectrum is the most beneficial in treating mood disorders. The above study also resulted in better sleep in those getting the blue light treatment. Biochemical markers identified a significant lowering of cortisol levels (responsible for stress), and a marked increase in melatonin levels (responsible for BRIGHTENING UP: Light sleep). therapy boxes such as this So, not only is the can be used to help with Blue Light Therapy beneficial for SAD, it is mood disorders.


Light therapy also recommended for mood, sleep and stress disorders. An older study on this form of light therapy (2005) indicated that energy levels improved along with mood. This is likely linked with better quality of sleep and lowered stress levels along with the regulation of mood. Researchers have found that the hormones and brain chemicals which control both mood and sleeping patterns are linked with SAD — the lower the levels, the higher the risk of developing this

condition. SAD is thought to affect up to a quarter of the adult population, with the main symptom being depression. There are a number of telltale signs, including an increased appetite with strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, weight gain, fatigue, wanting to sleep for longer and get up later, plus an energy slump in the afternoon. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, SAD during the winter months, is highly stressed, or has trouble sleeping, then it would be well worth considering blue light therapy or investing in a specially developed lightbox to help with these conditions naturally.




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Prevention is better than cure

When 34 year old Kenneth Fallon started losing his hair 4 years ago he went to see the HairClinic and was told about a revolutionary painfree laser treatment that prevents hairloss and helps to thicken existing thin hair. “The trichologist told me that it was important that I caught my hairloss early as when the hair is gone, it’s gone, and the laser can only work on thinning hair. I cannot grow hair on a bald head. I was

Before treatment

also told that the condition I had, known as Androgenic Alopecia, was an inherited condition and as my dad was bald, as was my grandad, I knew I has to do something as I was heading the same way. “Unfortunately with my work and the birth of my daughter, I didn’t go ahead with treatment straight away as recommended and my hair just got worse and worse. I kept meaning to do something about it but I just

kept putting it off which I know is the worst thing to do as I know once the hair root is dead, it’s too late. One evening, after we had been out with friends, a friend of mine posted the evening’s pictures on Facebook and I couldn’t believe how bad my hair looked. I hated seeing myself like that and I knew I had to do something. The next day I made another appointment with the HairClinic which was the original Cork City

clinic I had visited all those years ago and I was told that I has lost some hair around the crown so I would always be a little bit light in that area. But the great news was that the laser treatment would stop my hair from getting any worse and also thicken my thinning hair. 9 months on and there has been a huge improvement in my hair and I am delighted. I just wish I had done treatment earlier when I first noticed the thinning!

Stops hairloss and thickens hair in 94% of patients

Totally safe and painfree

Works for men and women

FDA cleared as having no side effects

FREE Consultation

After 6 months laser treatment

No 2 Camden Place, St Patricks Bridge, Cork t: (021) 4552424

OPENING TIMES: Monday to Friday 8am-9.30pm

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Feelgood 04-03-2011  

Feelgood is a health and wellbeing supplement published by the Irish Examiner every Friday.