Healthy body – healthy mind?

September was World Alzheimer’s Month and a report released to mark the event points out that some of the ‘modern’ diseases which plague today’s population, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, could be linked to an increased risk of dementia in later life.

Avoid dementia through healthy living?

A person with diabetes, for example, has a 50% higher risk of developing dementia, according to the report. Studies in the elderly have also shown a link between smoking and dementia. While risk is similar between ex-smokers and people who have never smoked, those who continue to smoke are at much higher risk of dementia.

It is important, says the report, to ‘preserve brain health during mid-life’ as people who enter old age with well-developed, healthy brains have a reduced chance of developing dementia. The changes in the brain responsible for dementia can begin decades before symptoms appear, so, like saving into your pension fund, it is never too soon to start looking after your health. A visit to the pharmacy for advice would be a good start.

Restless legs?

Restless legs?

When you try to relax in the evening or sleep at night, do you ever have unpleasant, restless feelings in your legs that can be relieved by walking or movement? If the answer is yes, you may have Willis-Ekbom disease, more often known as restless legs syndrome. It is a common nervous disorder where people have an uncontrollable urge to move certain parts of the body, particularly their legs. The cause is unknown.

Losing sleep with restless legs?

Apart from getting up and walking around, what can you do about it? Simple steps such as sleeping in a quiet, comfortable and cool environment, and going to bed and getting up at a regular hour may help. Avoid drinking coffee before you go to bed. During an attack you may benefit from walking and stretching, or bathing in hot and cold water.

If these simple measures are ineffective you could ask your pharmacist to recommend a mineral supplement (magnesium, potassium and calcium. If this does not work, the next stop is your GP.

That gut feeling is all too common and we can help

Constipation is a condition which provides a source for much toilet humour. But be careful where you direct your wit: constipation is believed to affect one in seven adults in the UK, and your joke might hit closer to home than intended.

The causes of constipation can be broadly split into ‘functional’, such as blockages and obstructions, and ‘neurogenic’, brought on by conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or spinal cord injury. Many medicines also have constipation as a side-effect.

If you have occasional problems, a visit to your local pharmacy may provide a solution. Reviewing your diet and using a bulking agent, such as ispaghula husk, taken with plenty of water, might help move things along.

But if you have two or more of the following symptoms for over three months, then it’s best to make a visit to your GP. Symptoms to watch for are: straining when on the loo, lumpy or hard stools, a feeling of incomplete evacuation, or of blockage.

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It pays to be straight…

A PhD study carried out in three pubs by students from Bristol University looked the effect of straight and curved glasses on beer consumption in three pubs over two weekends. And guess what?

Excessive alcohol drinking is a major public health concern and anything that can help control alcohol intake attracts interest – even a PhD study carried out in three pubs by students from Bristol University.

They studied the effect of straight and curved glasses on beer consumption in three pubs over two weekends. The pubs using straight-sided glasses reported lower takings, indicating less consumption. This was consistent with previous laboratory findings that showed participants drunk at a slower rate from straight glasses.

They also found that people given beer in a glass showing measurements of a quarter, half and three quarters had slower drinking times (10.3 mins) compared to the non-marked group (9.1 mins).

With a pint of beer (4.0%) providing 2.3 units of alcohol and 183 calories, anything that encourages moderation helps… Remember men should not regularly exceed 3-4 units a day, and women 2-3 units. Your pharmacist can give you more advice if you need it.