PROTECT YOURSELF THIS SEASON CHANGE FROM COLDS AND FLUS

A seasonal change is among us and in the next few months the South African weather forecasts will start reflecting colder weather conditions as autumn and winter creeps up on us. Helping your body transition with ease through seasonal changes is important, as colds and flus become a lot more prevalent during these times.

Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer at Profmed says, “You may not be able to completely prevent colds and flu this time of year, but by practicing good hygiene and being careful to avoid cold germs, you may escape cold and flu season unscathed.”

Anderson offers the following top five tips to safe guarding yourself against the dreaded colds and flus:

Get a Flu Vaccine – Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself against the flu viruses going around each year. Head to your doctor early on in flu season (as soon as the vaccine is available) and get yourself vaccinated. While the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, if you are a healthy person generally, the flu vaccine can lessen the severity and duration of your symptoms.

Take Probiotics – Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can help keep the body healthy and protect it from “bad” bacteria and there’s even some thought that taking probiotics may help to prevent cold and flu viruses. Regular use of probiotics keep people healthier and reduces the incidence of upper respiratory infections (like the common cold). Rather consider eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yoghurt than taking probiotic supplements to prevent flu.

Feed your body with water and healthy foods – General good health practices keep your body strong and ready to fend off cold germs and the flu virus. This includes drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses. Shoot for six to eight glasses of water per day, more if the weather is hot. A healthy diet can strengthen your immune system and help you prevent flu and cold viruses from attacking. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, and complex carbohydrates are the keys to good nutrition that will stoke your immune system.

Incorporate enough exercise and rest into your day – Exercise not only makes you feel great and helps you stay fit, but it also boosts your immune system and can help prevent cold and flu viruses from making you sick. Additionally, warding off extra weight is important for overall health, particularly when it comes to preventing colds and flu. Getting enough shut-eye each night offers bigger benefits than staying awake during a long afternoon at the office. Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy immune function, and that insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality is associated with lowered immune function.

Be germ conscious – Ensure you wash your hands regularly. This will help to get rid of cold germs you pick up from doorknobs and stair rails, and keep you from getting them into your body. We understand that sometimes you can’t always get to a sink when you need to wash germs off of your hands. So keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer handy is a good idea to help disinfect hands and prevent flu and cold viruses. In addition, to prevent cold and flu viruses, don’t touch “your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands. This is how germs get inside your body and grow into an upper respiratory infection.

“By practising the above mentioned tips you can reduce and possibly completely skip the cold and flu season emerging on the other end with very little battle wounds. Avoiding germs and ensuring your immune system is strong and functioning are vital during season changes,” concludes Anderson.

HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH – MAKE YOUR HEALTH IMPORTANT

In the busy everyday hustle and bustle many people often take for granted how much they rely on their bodies on a daily basis and the importance of good health. It is important to realise that without good health, life loses its quality and it becomes difficult to cope with existing health issues.  Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer of Profmed says making your health a priority means taking the next step in ensuring you lead a positive and rewarding lifestyle.

April marks Health Awareness Month in South Africa. This month brings to the forefront the importance of knowing your health status and being proactive in ensuring good health. Illnesses such as autism, haemophilia, malaria and the importance of vaccinations are highlighted during this month and recognised on separate days. These days signify opportunities to encourage, support and create awareness and education around these conditions.

Anderson suggests “Visiting your General Practitioner (GP) once or twice a year is crucial in ensuring your body is performing at its peak. Regular health check-ups and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help detect illnesses during early stages, when your chances of treatment and recovery are high. These tests involve blood pressure, heart activity, cholesterol, diabetes and other extensive screenings for cancers.”

“While some factors may be attributed to genetics, others depend on age – a large part depends on lifestyle choices. For example, what you eat, how active you are and whether you smoke or consume alcohol excessively, is crucial. These important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare. It is vital to acknowledge that prevention is better than cure and everything is good within limits,” adds Anderson.

Not only in this month, but all year round everyone should prioritise getting the right care, screenings, and treatments and taking the steps that help your chances of living a longer, healthier life. “Use this month to educate yourself on the several common illnesses people suffer from in SA and get yourself cleared by seeing your doctor,” concludes Anderson.

 

LEGISLATION ON ALTERNATIVE MEDICINES VITAL FOR CONSUMERS

download (3)New legislation being introduced to monitor and regulate the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) should be welcomed in order to ensure that consumers who opt to use such products are fully aware of the benefits, or lack thereof.

This is according to Graham Anderson, CEO and Principal Officer at Profmed, who says that while CAMs may be hailed as potential cures for a broad range of ailments, some claim that the use of CAMs can often have little to no effect, or worse, even be detrimental to one’s health.

“It is concerning that products are being sold commercially in South Africa which have not been properly regulated and tested. These products often feature strong claims within their marketing campaigns, outlining the supposed health benefits. Furthermore, some of these products, which are often thought to be herbal, contain toxic ingredients such as arsenic, lead and mercury,” says Anderson.

In light of this, the Minister of Health released amendments to the Medicines and Related Substances Act at the end of 2013 which stated that all CAMs will now have to be regulated by the Medicines Control Council (MCC).

According to the Chairman of the Health Products Association, Norman Fels, a number of deaths have even been attributed to the use of untested alternative drugs. “Due to this worrying trend, government has been forced to establish a legal framework to regulate the CAM industry and its associated products,” explains Anderson. “These new regulations state that all alternative medicines need to be registered with the MCC and all producers will now need to provide proof of safety and efficacy.”

According to the amendments, manufacturers and wholesalers of these products need to be licensed, and are required to comply with new labelling requirements which inform consumers that the product is ‘not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease’ because it has not been clinically tested.

The Pretoria High court is set to give a response to the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPASA) on their petitions, which were submitted to the court last year to dispute the amendments made by government. The HPASA has strongly rebutted the new amendments made by government, citing that it is unfair to treat CAMs in the same way as conventional pharmaceuticals. However, the fact remains that most homeopathic medicines have not undergone clinical studies which can prove cause and effect, although many continue to claim to offer similar benefits to their regulated conventional counterparts.

At the same time, the Medicines Control Council in South Africa states that there are in fact a significant number of complementary and alternative medicines which have ‘well-established medicinal use with recognised efficacy and an acceptable level of safety’.

“There is currently a high level of uncertainty around the effectiveness and safety of CAM products, and until their claims can be proven and clarified, few medical schemes will cover consultations and prescriptions for such treatment,” says Anderson.

“We would strongly recommend individuals ensure that they understand all the facts about any medication before consuming it, as not only could you be wasting both your time and money on ineffective remedies – it could actually result in doing more harm than good to your body.”