Health Conditions Men Should Watch Out For

In our fast-paced lifestyle, it causes us to often neglect our health. But staying informed is essential! Here are some health conditions every man should watch out for.

1. Heart Disease

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men.In Singapore, it is the second leading cause of death among men, accounting for 19.7% of total male deaths in 2022 (1). Factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking significantly increase your risk.

Maintaining heart health involves:

  • Regular exercise with cardio activities such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling
  • A balanced diet with less sugar and salt intake, more leafy greens and healthy fats.
  • Routine check-ups

Early detection is key to mitigating these risks! Being proactive can help you live a longer, more energetic life and have a healthy heart.

2. Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. From 2017 to 2021, there were 6,912 reported cases of prostate cancer, accounting for 16.8% of all male cancer cases (2). It’s vital to understand the symptoms, which include difficulty urinating, blood in urine, and pelvic discomfort.

To stay proactive:

  • Schedule annual screenings for a comprehensive health check
  • Staying informed about your family history

These steps can significantly increase early detection and successful treatment rates. If you face any discomfort or symptoms, seek help from your healthcare provider immediately.

3. Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, affecting millions of men worldwide. About one in 10 (9.5%) of Singapore residents aged 18 to 74 years had diabetes mellitus during the period 2019-2020. A higher proportion of males (10.6%) were diabetic compared to females (8.4%) (3).

 It’s essential to watch for symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss.

Managing and preventing diabetes involves:

  • Having a proper diet to adopt a healthy lifestyle
  • Include regular exercise to your daily routine, like taking the stairs or doing household chores

By consistently following your health plan, individuals can effectively prevent or better manage this condition.

Taking proactive steps towards a healthier lifestyle can make a significant difference. Stay informed, get regular check-ups, and don’t ignore symptoms. Addressing these health concerns early can lead to better outcomes and a higher quality of life.

References

  1. https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/default-document-library/nphs-2020-survey-report.pdf
  2. Cancer Statistics (nccs.com.sg)
  3. Singapore Health Facts: Principal Causes of Death

Menopause

We are delving into a topic that affects countless woman: menopause. A prevalent concern and a condition that women frequently seek help for. Here are the common symptoms that women face, but not limited to:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood issues
  • Skin dryness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Sexual issues
  • Urinary complaints
  • Other systems in your body like one’s bone health (e.g. osteoporosis) 

Natural menopause, which is defined as the menstrual cycle permanently ceasing (diagnosed after 12 months1), is a normal and physiological aspect of aging in women. It also signifies the end of their ability to reproduce. It typically occurs when a woman is around the age of 502, this phase of life is characterised by a decline in the body’s production of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen, which can impact woman in different various ways such as the symptoms mentioned above.

That being said, perimenopausal (before/after menopause) and menopausal symptoms can vary widely among individuals. The treatment and management of menopause are usually holistic and based on the severity of the symptoms. There are various treatment options available, so we recommend consulting your healthcare provider for further guidance.

Disclaimer:
All content in this publication is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute any form of medical advice or clinical care nor is it intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Please speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions pertaining to your healthcare.

1) https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/264088-overview

2) https://www.singhealth.com.sg/patient-care/conditions-treatments/menopause

Stressed out? It shows on your skin

Stressed out? It shows on your skin

Contributed by Dr Kok Wai Leong, Senior Consultant Dermatologist, StarMed Specialist Centre

Is stress wreaking havoc on your skin? If you’re noticing rashes, acne breakouts, or other skin issues, it may be more than just a coincidence. 

I often get asked by patients whether there is a link between stress and skin health – the short answer is a resounding yes. Many of us have experienced outbreaks of rashes, acne, or sensitive skin during stressful periods. This is your body’s response to stressors from environmental changes or personal challenges.

Stress stems from various sources, from preparing for an important presentation to coping with loss or a devastating life event. When feeling stressed, your body triggers a chain reaction of increased levels of hormones and chemical signals. These changes can manifest in various skin, hair, and nail issues, including:

  • Sensitive skin
  • Inflammation in the skin
  • Hair loss
  • More oil and sebum production
  • Skin infection and delayed wound healing

Sensitive skin
During periods of stress, your body’s immune response undergoes changes that can lead to more sensitive and reactive skin. As a result, you may notice redness and itching, or stress-induced hives characterised by raised, itchy bumps or patches.

Inflammation in the skin
Stress is a catalyst for various inflammatory skin conditions, notably atopic dermatitis and rosacea. Atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, flares up due to heightened inflammation levels during stressful periods. Similarly, rosacea, characterised by facial redness, worsens as stress triggers increased blood flow to the skin, intensifying the symptoms.

Immune-related conditions, also known as autoimmune diseases, occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells, including those of the skin. Individuals with vitiligo, a condition characterised by white patches on the skin, may experience exacerbations triggered by extreme or sudden stress.

Hair loss
Hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, is another common consequence of stress. This condition often occurs after significant physical or emotional stressors, resulting in temporary hair loss and nail abnormalities.

More oil and sebum production
Individuals with acne may notice flare-ups during times of stress. This occurs due to heightened cortisol levels, which stimulate increased activity in the oil glands. Similarly, skin infections like cold sores may flare up, and wounds may take longer to heal when stress levels are high.

Skin Infection and delayed wound healing
Skin infections such as cold sores are typically more active during periods of stress. Also, you might find that your skin does not heal as well when you are stressed.

Behavioural and lifestyle effects
Stress can indirectly affect your skin in many ways through behavioural and lifestyle changes. It can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, and exacerbate tendencies to scratch or touch the skin, which can further aggravate existing rashes or acne.

Furthermore, individuals under stress may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive consumption of sugary and dairy-laden comfort foods or increased alcohol and tobacco use. These actions may aggravate skin inflammation and worsen conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or urticaria.

Caring for your skin during times of stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life, affecting everyone to varying degrees. While it’s impossible to completely eradicate stress from our daily routines, there are effective strategies for mitigating its impact on both our minds and skin.

Begin by prioritising relaxation techniques such as mindfulness exercises. These practices can significantly reduce stress levels, benefiting you’re your mind and your skin. Additionally, adopting healthy habits like staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and ensuring you get enough sleep can work wonders for your skin health.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Stick to a consistent healthy lifestyle routine, as your skin requires good habits for repair and restoration.
  • Adhere to any additional skincare routines recommended by your dermatologist to address specific concerns.
  • Be mindful of your urge to scratch or touch your face. Instead, try distraction techniques like tapping and keep your hands clean.
  • If you find yourself struggling to cope with stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Behavioural therapy and other therapeutic options can provide valuable support.

By being mindful of the impact of stress on our skin and taking proactive steps to manage it, you can safeguard your skin’s health and appearance. Remember to continue implementing these lifestyle and skincare practices, and if your skin concerns persist, consult with a dermatologist for personalised guidance.

Schedule a consultation with StarMed’s Senior Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Kok Wai Leong, via our Virtual Patient Companion here. Alternatively, you may reach out to us at 6322 6333, or through WhatsApp at 9655 2101 to secure an appointment.

References

  1. Hunter HJA, Momen SE, Kleyn CE, et al. The impact of psychosocial stress on healthy skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015;40(5):540–546.
  2. Patel A, Jafferany M, et al. Multidisciplinary and Holistic Models of Care for Patients With Dermatologic Disease and Psychosocial Comorbidity: A Systematic Review. JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(6):686–694.

Difference among Heart Diseases

Difference among Heart Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally. According to the World Heart Organisation, there were 17 million premature deaths (under age 70) worldwide, 38% of whom were due to cardiovascular diseases. (1)

In Singapore alone, according to the Singapore Heart Foundation, 1 out of 3 deaths is due to heart disease or stroke. On average, 23 individuals die from heart disease each day in Singapore. From data collected in 2022, cardiovascular disease accounted for 31.4% of all deaths in Singapore. (2)

An overview of Cardiovascular Disease

The term cardiovascular disease encompasses a wide range of diseases related to the heart, the blood vessels, or both. These disorders can seriously hamper a person’s quality of life and survival as their implications are often systemic and complications may further damage other vital organs such as the brain (as in stroke).

Cardiovascular diseases may originate as a consequence of intrinsic heart dysfunction. This group of disorders include heart rhythm abnormalities, conduction defects of the heart, dysfunctions of the myocardium, and diseases of the heart valves. This can cause ineffective pumping of the blood, resulting in heart failure.

On the other hand, some cardiac diseases may be due to systemic pathologies of blood vessels. These may be primary disorders such as essential hypertension, caused by the age-related stiffening of blood vessels. In addition, such disease may be secondary to some other systemic pathology such as diabetes and high cholesterol.

Explaining the terminology – Difference in Cardiovascular, Heart Disease & Coronary Heart Disease (3)

Cardiovascular Disease – It is a more general term under which all illnesses related to the heart or blood vessels are classified. It includes arrhythmias, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, coronary artery disease, cardiac failure, peripheral artery disease, stroke, cardiomyopathy and congenital heart defects.

The primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease are smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol consumption and genetic predisposition. Such risk factors ultimately compromise the function of the heart directly or most commonly through the buildup of plaques in the arteries.

The primary symptoms of cardiovascular disease are shortness of breath, chest pain and discomfort, easy fatiguability, palpitations, and dizziness for which immediate medical help must be sought.

Heart Disease – Although this term is used interchangeably with cardiovascular disease, it is important to differentiate the two. The term “heart disease” refers to conditions in which there is a local pathology limited to the heart only such as problems with cardiac muscles, cardiac conduction systems or heart valves. Thus, every cardiovascular disease is not a heart disease but every heart disease is classified under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease if not properly managed may ultimately lead to heart failure, where the heart is unable to pump the blood efficiently. So, the treatment of heart failure must be accompanied by the treatment of the primary heart disease which leads to heart failure.

Coronary Heart Disease – This is a disorder related specifically to the blood vessels which supply the muscles of the heart, the coronary arteries. Like all other muscles of the body, the muscles of the heart also need oxygen-rich blood for proper functioning.

In coronary heart disease, the supply of oxygen-rich blood is interrupted due to the narrowing of the coronary vessels or their spontaneous spasm. Such narrowing happens due to the build-up of ‘plaque’, the primary cause of which is atherosclerosis. Over time this narrowing worsens and the heart tissue is further compromised due to lack of enough oxygen. Ultimately this results in a severe emergency, the symptoms of which are called “heart attack”.

How to prevent Cardiovascular Disease? (4)

Although genetic predisposition is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), most of the risk factors are modifiable. The risks can be minimised by the following ways:

  • Eat a balanced diet – Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains are packed with natural vitamins and antioxidants. Meats rich in low-density lipids and salt-rich diets should be avoided. Add diets containing high-density lipoproteins to your diet since they are cardioprotective. These include avocado, nuts, olive oil and fatty fish.
  • Remain physically active – Regular physical exercise remains the best weapon in your arsenal against cardiovascular diseases. Steady-state cardio (such as brisk walking) done regularly has been shown to significantly reduce CVD and hypertension.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight – Excess body fat can result in insulin resistance and CVD. The risk of metabolic syndrome can be significantly managed by maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol – Smoking significantly increases the risk for atherosclerosis. Alcohol can also increase the risk of CVD. Counselling and support groups can provide help in doing so.
  • Avoid added sugars – Added sugars alone are responsible for increasing cardiovascular risk. Manage intake of sugar and carbohydrates with high glycemic index.
  • Manage stress levels – Stress and anxiety are also a risk factor for CVD. Effective management of daily life stresses is also effective.

In short, cardiovascular disease is one of the most common health issue with significant morbidity and mortality. Seek immediate help in case of any symptoms and conduct regular visits to your physician for screening and optimisation of your cardiac health.

You may book a Health Screening appointment at Amara Clinic or contact our clinic for your enquiries about Personal Health Screenings. For enquiries about corporate healthcare programmes, including Executive Health Screenings, GP Services, or Weight management programmes, please contact our Corporate HQ.

References

Managing Chronic Rhinitis: Tips for Health-Conscious Individuals

Managing Chronic Rhinitis: Tips for Health-Conscious Individuals

Living in Singapore, a vibrant metropolis nestled amidst lush greenery, often comes with its fair share of sniffles and sneezes. But for those afflicted with chronic rhinitis, it’s much more than seasonal sniffles. It’s a constant battle against a runny nose, stuffy head, and frustratingly itchy eyes. 

Chronic Rhinitis 101

Chronic rhinitis, affecting many Singaporeans, is a long-term inflammation of the nasal passages. It manifests in a persistent symphony of symptoms – a constantly runny or stuffy nose, postnasal drip, frequent sneezing, and reduced sense of smell. The two main culprits behind this symphony are:

  • Allergic Rhinitis: Dust mites, mould, pollen and pet dander – these environmental allergens trigger your immune system, leading to the characteristic runny nose and itchy eyes.
  • Non-Allergic Rhinitis: This encompasses a range of triggers like strong odours, pollution, cold temperatures, and even hormonal changes.

Identifying Your Triggers: The Key to Minimizing Misery

Understanding your triggers is the first step to managing chronic rhinitis effectively. Keep a symptom diary to track what sets off your sniffles and sneezes. Is it the morning after dusting your room? Does the first whiff of blooming jasmine leave you gasping for air? Once you identify the culprits, you can implement avoidance strategies:

  • Environmental Control: Regularly vacuum and dust, invest in air purifiers, change bedsheets often and consider allergy-proof bedding.
  • Outdoor Protection: Avoid peak pollen seasons, wear a mask during high-pollution days and keep windows closed at night.

Common Medications (please speak to your healthcare provider beforehand)

  • Over-the-Counter Options: Antihistamines and nasal rinses are common medications that patients can buy over the counter.
  • Prescription Medications: If over-the-counter options aren’t effective, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications (e.g., nasal corticosteroids and decongestant sprays) or recommend allergy testing to identify specific allergens.

A Final Note: Breathe Easy, Live Fully

Chronic rhinitis doesn’t have to rule your life. By understanding your triggers, taking proactive steps and seeking support, you can effectively manage your symptoms and reclaim your breath. Remember, with a little vigilance and a focus on healthy living, you can conquer congestion and embrace a life filled with fresh air and vibrant experiences.
 
At MHC, we understand the unique challenges of managing chronic rhinitis in Singapore. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals provides comprehensive care, tailored to your individual needs.

Breathe easy and make Health Connect your partner in conquering chronic rhinitis. Visit our website at or contact us to schedule an appointment today. Don’t let chronic rhinitis hold you back – experience the difference personalised care can make!
 
Remember, health is a journey, not a destination. Let MHC walk alongside you, every step of the way.
 

How the Kidneys work – A brief Physiology

How the Kidneys work – A brief Physiology

Every cell of the human body requires a specific set of conditions for proper functioning, of which the balance of electrolytes, pH and concentrations of certain molecules has prime importance. In turn, every living cell contributes to a change in these parameters by producing various molecules, hormones and waste products. An optimal set of conditions is maintained by the organs of homeostasis, of which the kidneys are the main foundation.

The kidneys have an intricate network of tubules and blood vessels. Waste products (like urea and creatinine) and certain essential blood-borne chemicals are filtered out into these tubules. As the filtrate fluid moves down these tubules, water and other essential elements are reabsorbed to maintain body homeostasis. The remaining fluid of the tubules containing the waste products is ultimately excreted out as urine.

The kidneys also produce hormonal responses relating to maintaining blood pressure, red blood cell production and activation of vitamin D.

Types of Kidney Disease

Kidney diseases are primarily classified into the following types:

  • Infective – Urinary tract infections and pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney) result from retrograde movement of bacteria through the urinary tract. These are treated by hydration, antibiotics and other conservative measures.
  • Renal Failure – Most often resulting from chronic diseases and acutely from toxins, drugs or IV contrast. Result in a rise in blood urea and creatinine. Dialysis is often required in these conditions.
  • Kidney stones – May pass in the urine on their own by hydration, dietary modification or other conservative measures. Otherwise, surgical removal or lithotripsy is sought.
  • Kidney diseases having protein loss in urine – These are nephrotic or nephritic syndromes and involve damage to the glomeruli. Medications are often effective.

Ways to keep your Kidneys healthy

  • Manage Chronic Diseases – Most of the common chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and heart diseases often lead to a progressive failure of kidneys. Such diseases should be kept in check with regular visits to your healthcare provider and being compliant with the management.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and hydration – Avoiding excess salts and proteins, especially in the setting of failing kidneys is essential. Hydration also helps prevent certain kidney stones and infections.
  • Regular physical exercise – of about 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Get enough sleep – helps manage stress hormones and the resulting damage from their excess. 7 to 8 hours of sleep is recommended every night.
  • Quit smoking and excessive drinking.

In short, maintaining a healthy kidney is a necessity for healthy living since it is a vital organ of our body and failure to do so may result in the decline of well-being.  Visit your healthcare provider for your regular blood and renal function tests to find out about the health of your kidneys.

Disclaimer: 

All content in this publication is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute any form of medical advice or clinical care nor is it intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Please speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions pertaining to your healthcare.

References

  1. Dalal R, Bruss ZS, Sehdev JS. Physiology, Renal Blood Flow and Filtration. [Updated 2023 Jul 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482248/
  2. https://www.ajkd.org/article/S0272-6386(13)00590-8/fulltext#secd109855982e235 
  3. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/prevention

Taking Control of Your Health: Managing High Cholesterol in Singapore

Taking Control of Your Health: Managing High Cholesterol in Singapore

Living in Singapore, known for its bustling energy and vibrant culinary scene, it’s easy to let health concerns slip down the priority list. However, one silent yet significant factor can be lurking beneath the surface – high cholesterol. This waxy substance, while essential for our body’s functions, can turn into a silent threat when its levels climb too high.

Why Should You Care about Cholesterol?

Cholesterol itself, at health levels, isn’t bad. It plays an important role in building cell membranes, hormones and even vitamin D. However, the trouble arises when the “bad” type of cholesterol, like LDL (low-density lipoprotein), accumulates in your body. These substances will be deposited in your vessels, affecting the blood flow. This, in turn, increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.

Testing Your Cholesterol

Knowing your cholesterol levels is the first step to taking control. Regular cholesterol screenings with your healthcare provider, in adherence to the national screening guidelines, aids in early detection and intervention. Your doctor can interpret your results and advise on the best course of action.

Conquering Cholesterol: A Roadmap to a Healthier You

The good news is, that managing high cholesterol can start with small steps. Here are some practical tips you can incorporate into your Singaporean lifestyle:

  1. Embrace a Heart-Healthy Diet:
    • Say no or cut down on saturated and trans fats: Fatty meats, fried foods and processed snacks are loaded with these. Lean and healthier protein sources like fish and chicken breast can be chosen instead.
    • Fill your plate with fibre: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are great alternatives.
  1. Move Your Body, Regularly with Healthier SG:
    • Physical activity is important in achieving healthy cholesterol levels. Engage in physical activity that is suitable for your age group, fitness levels and medical issues. Speak to your healthcare provider to find out more about what is suitable for you.
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight:
    • Excess weight and obesity may result in high cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help one improve their cholesterol levels and overall health. To find personalised weight management strategies that work for you, consider speaking with your doctor or a registered dietitian who can provide professional guidance and support.
  1. Partner with Your Doctor:
    • It’s important to have regular checkups so you can keep tabs on your cholesterol levels. That way, you can stay on top of your treatment plan and make any necessary adjustments. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about them. They’re there to help you and will be delighted to answer any questions.

Remember, managing high cholesterol is a marathon, not a sprint. By making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle and partnering with your healthcare team, you can take control of your cholesterol and pave the way for a healthier, happier you.

Commit to your heart health today! Schedule a cholesterol screening with your doctor, visit the MHC clinic for personalised guidance and support, and join the growing community of Singaporeans living heart-healthy lives. Together, we can raise awareness and conquer high cholesterol, one step at a time!

Let MHC be your Healthier SG navigator. Enjoy personalised health plans, expert advice, and a dedicated care team by your side, all within the convenient Healthier SG framework.

Facts about Diabetes Mellitus: Key Information for Health-Conscious Individuals

Facts about Diabetes Mellitus: Key Information for Health-Conscious Individuals

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition that affects how your body utilises blood sugar (glucose) for energy. It’s a prevalent health issue in Singapore. Uncontrolled, it can lead to a cascade of complications that significantly impact your health and well-being.

While there are multiple types, the common ones in Singapore are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.

Understanding the Different Types of DM

While there are multiple types, the common ones in Singapore are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.

  • Type 1 DM: The body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, resulting in insufficient insulin production.
  • Type 2 DM: The body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects, leading to high blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational DM: Develops during pregnancy.

Recognising the Risk Factors

Several factors can increase your risk of developing diabetes, including:

  • Genetics: Family history
  • Ethnicity: Certain ethnicities, like Asians and Indians, are at higher risk.
  • Unhealthy diet: Consuming sugary drinks, processed foods and excessive carbohydrates can contribute to diabetes.
  • Physical inactivity: Lack of regular exercise can elevate your risk.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Being Aware of the Symptoms

Some symptoms of DM and/or its complications include:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Feeling more hungry
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow-healing wounds

Complications

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause disturbances in other various body systems:

  • Heart disease and stroke: DM increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
  • Kidney disease: DM can harm your kidneys, leading to chronic kidney disease and even kidney failure.
  • Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy): Damage to the nerves which causes problems like numbness and tingling.
  • Vision problems: Diabetes can damage delicate structures in your eye, like the retina, thereby causing visual problems.
  • Foot problems: Diabetic neuropathy and poor circulation can increase the risk of foot infections, ulcers and even amputations.

Taking Control of Your Health

Early diagnosis and proper management are crucial to preventing DM complications like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and nerve damage. Here are some key aspects of diabetes management: 

  • Health screening
  • Regular blood sugar monitoring: Regularly checking your blood sugar levels helps you track your progress and make necessary adjustments to your diet or medication.
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular physical activity
  • Medication adherence: If prescribed medication, take it as directed by your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels effectively.
  • Weight management

By understanding diabetes, its types, risks and management strategies, health-conscious individuals in Singapore can take control of their health and well-being. Remember, early diagnosis, proper management and a healthy lifestyle are key to living a fulfilling life with diabetes.

Take the first step towards a healthier, happier, and more productive future for your company. Contact MHC Asia today! Please chat with us through WhatsApp for more information.

Resources:

Maintaining Bowel Health: Tips for Health-Conscious Singaporeans

Maintaining Bowel Health: Tips for Health-Conscious Singaporeans

Eating isn’t just a delightful experience that tantalizes our taste buds; it’s a cornerstone of well-being, providing essential nutrients that fuel our bodies and invigorate our vital organs. The profound connection between what we consume and how our bodies thrive makes nurturing a healthy digestive system a top priority, accomplished through mindful food choices and sensible eating practices.

Simple Strategies for Wellness

A few fundamental principles can make a difference when embracing a lifestyle that supports optimal digestive health. Here’s how you can take charge of your digestive well-being:

  1.  Embrace the Fibre Revolution: Fuel your body with the goodness of high-fibre foods – a cornerstone of digestive health. Incorporating various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet ensures a seamless digestion process. Fibre not only prevents constipation but also bolsters a healthy weight. Furthermore, it protects against diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and haemorrhoids.
  2. The Fibre Symphony (Soluble and Insoluble): Dive into the world of fibre’s dual prowess – soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre in vegetables and whole grains adds bulk to your stools, facilitating smooth movement through your digestive tract. On the other hand, soluble fibre, found in foods like oat bran, nuts, and legumes, attracts water and prevents overly liquid stools.
  3. Balance Fat Intake: While fat plays a role in your diet, opt for moderation and balance. High-fat foods can slow down digestion, potentially leading to discomfort. Pairing fats with high-fibre counterparts can aid in smoother digestion. Lean meat, such as skinless poultry and pork loin, provides essential protein without overburdening your digestive system.
  4. Cultivate a Probiotic Haven: Unlock the potential of probiotics, the tiny warriors that mirror the healthy bacteria residing in your gut. Probiotics are guardians of your overall well-being in a world of dietary challenges, antibiotics, and stressors. These microorganisms can enhance nutrient absorption, tackle lactose breakdown, shield against IBS, and fortify immune defences. Nourish your gut with probiotic-rich foods like low-fat yoghurt and kefir, integrated seamlessly into your daily routine.
  5. Harmonise with Regular Eating Patterns: Sync your meals with the rhythm of your body. Your digestive system operates optimally by following a consistent eating schedule, avoiding unnecessary strain. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks regularly create a harmonious environment, reducing the likelihood of bloating and indigestion. Aim for meals every 3 to 4 hours to facilitate effective digestion.
  6. Hydration: Hydration isn’t solely about quenching your thirst; it’s a key player in digestive well-being. Adequate water intake facilitates fibre movement through your colon, culminating in softer stools that pass quickly. Sip water throughout the day to maintain a well-hydrated digestive system.

Physical Activity

Physical activity emerges as a stalwart ally when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that those who embrace an active lifestyle are more likely to keep their weight stable, whereas a sedentary existence often paves the way for incremental weight gain. However, the amount of activity required to prevent weight gain remains a subject of ongoing debate. Recent research suggests that the recommended two-and-a-half hours of weekly training must be revised.

Intriguingly, the Women’s Health Study followed 34,000 middle-aged women over 13 years to discern the optimal activity level for weight maintenance. The findings underscored that women in the normal weight range required an hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily to retain their weight within a 2-3kg range.

Vigorous Activity vs. Walking

Unveiling the nuances of activity intensity, the research emphasizes the effectiveness of vigorous activities over leisurely walks in weight control. The Nurses’ Health Study II, tracking over 18,000 women for 16 years, revealed that incorporating 30 minutes of additional daily physical activity led to less weight gain. Vigorous pursuits like bicycling and brisk walking emerged as practical strategies, while slow walking failed to yield comparable results.

Activity and Weight Loss

While exercise undoubtedly contributes to weight loss, it synergizes most effectively with a reduced-calorie diet. Studies indicate that in the absence of calorie moderation, extended periods of exercise or high-intensity workouts become essential for weight loss success. Research on overweight, inactive adults showcased that high-intensity exercise resulted in abdominal fat loss, whereas low- and medium-intensity routines elicited no significant change.

A parallel trial on post-menopausal women engaging in moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity for 45 minutes five days a week unveiled notable reductions in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat over a year.

How Activity Fights Obesity?

The mechanisms by which physical activity counters obesity are multifaceted:

  1. Enhanced Energy Expenditure: Physical activity increases overall energy expenditure, enabling weight maintenance or loss, as long as calorie intake isn’t escalated to counteract the extra burned calories.
  2. Fat Reduction: Activity targets total body and waistline fat, retarding the onset of abdominal obesity.
  3. Muscle Power: Muscle-strengthening endeavours, from weight lifting to push-ups, augment muscle mass, elevating resting energy expenditure and supporting weight management.
  4. Mood Uplift: Physical activity alleviates depression and anxiety, fostering commitment to exercise regimens over time.

The Optimal Daily Activity Quota

Aspiring to do at least an hour of activity daily for effective weight control proves pivotal. While 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days can lower the risk of chronic disease, a more active lifestyle is essential to counterbalance sedentary habits and societal influences that fuel overeating.

Recognise that fostering an active lifestyle is not solely an individual endeavour as our environment significantly influences our activity levels. Factors such as accessible parks, sidewalks, and bike paths play a role.

Common Digestive Disorders

From time to time, many of us encounter stomach issues that range from minor discomfort to more severe disturbances. These concerns stem from our eating habits, stress, or digestive disorders. Symptoms like cramps, vomiting, and changes in stool consistency can signal something amiss in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This complex system involves various organs working together to nourish our bodies and eliminate waste.

Digestive disorders manifest when the intricate balance of the digestive system falters. Experts categorize these disorders into two main types: organic and functional GI disorders. 

Organic GI Disorders: These disorders arise from structural abnormalities in the digestive system that impede proper function.

Functional GI Disorders: Despite appearing structurally normal, the GI tract doesn’t perform as it should in these disorders.

Common Digestive Disorders and Their Symptoms

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A prevailing symptom of IBS is abdominal pain, which can occur before or after bowel movements. Diarrhoea, constipation, or a combination of both are also characteristics. Other signs include bloating, white mucus in stools, and a feeling of incomplete bowel movements. Traumatic life events, mental health conditions, infections, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can also contribute to IBS.
  2. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): SIBO arises when bacteria from the large intestine invade the small intestine. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation. Treatment often involves antibiotics and medications to address digestion and underlying causes.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

For those experiencing the disorders above, knowing when to contact a doctor is vital.

  1. IBS: Seek medical advice if severe abdominal pain, cramps, or other IBS symptoms disrupt daily life or worsen suddenly.
  2. SIBO: If you’re facing SIBO symptoms for the first time, immediately contact a doctor. Consultation is crucial if you have a prior diagnosis and your symptoms worsen, or treatment proves ineffective.

Navigating Digestive Wellness

Understanding digestive disorders empowers you to identify symptoms, seek proper treatment, and enhance your overall well-being. Whether you’re dealing with the everyday challenges of IBS or facing rarer conditions, such as Hirschsprung’s disease or achalasia, timely medical intervention can make a difference. Remember, your digestive health is a fundamental aspect of your overall health, and seeking professional guidance ensures you can face any challenges that arise on this journey to well-being.

At MHC, we recognize the power of early diagnosis, enabling timely intervention and improving disease management outcomes. From the initial consultation to follow-ups, our program will continue to help patients control and manage weight, a great way to avoid colorectal cancer.

You may book an appointment in Amara Clinic or contact our Corporate HQ for questions and enquiries about personal and corporate healthcare programmes, including Executive Health Screenings, GP services, or weight management programmes. Staying healthy and active helps promote a healthy colon. Please chat with us through Whatsapp for more information.

References:

Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Strategies in Singapore

Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Strategies in Singapore

Colorectal cancer is a formidable adversary, but with early detection and proactive measures, it’s a battle that you can win. This comprehensive guide aims to empower Singaporeans with knowledge about colorectal cancer, the importance of screening and the actionable steps they can take to safeguard their colorectal health.

Understanding Screening: A Vital Step in Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Screening involves looking for cancer before any symptoms appear. Detecting cancer early dramatically improve treatment success rates. Doctor would usually recommend screenings based on age, family history, and lifestyle. Remember that a screening test doesn’t imply a cancer diagnosis; it’s a preventative measure.

Colorectal Cancer: The Basics

Colorectal cancer originates in the colon or rectum’s tissues, part of the digestive system. The digestive system breaks down nutrients and eliminates waste from the body. Colorectal cancer ranks the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. While various factors influence the risk of developing colorectal cancer, early detection and prevention are critical.

Why Early Detection Matters

Early detection offers a significant advantage when it comes to colorectal cancer. It’s essential to emphasise that the earlier cancer is found, the more treatable it is. This is why regular screenings are recommended, even if you feel healthy.

Types of Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

There are various screening tests available to detect colorectal cancer. These include:

  1. Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): This test checks the stool for traces of blood not visible to the naked eye.

         Two types are used:

    • Guaiac FOBT – which detects colour changes on a particular card.
    • Immunochemical FOBT (FIT) – which uses antibodies to detect blood. If blood is found, further testing is recommended.
  1. Sigmoidoscopy: A procedure involving a thin, flexible tube inserted into the rectum and lower colon to examine for polyps and cancer. It’s a vital tool for early detection.
  2. Colonoscopy: Similar to sigmoidoscopy, but covers the entire colon. It’s performed using a longer tube and offers the advantage of removing polyps and taking tissue samples for examination.
  3. Virtual Colonoscopy: This involves creating detailed images of the colon using X-rays. While it’s less invasive, any abnormalities require further testing.
  4. DNA Stool Test: This test analyses stool DNA for genetic changes that could indicate colorectal cancer.

Understanding the Risks of Screening

While screenings are crucial, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks:

  • False-Negative Test Results: Sometimes, even with cancer, the test might show normal results, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment.
  • False-Positive Test Results: The test might suggest cancer when none exists, causing undue anxiety and necessitating further testing.
  • Complications from Screening Tests: Procedures like colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy carry minimal risk, including tearing of the colon lining and bleeding.

The Power of Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer screenings save lives. Detecting polyps and cancer at an early stage can prevent the progression of the disease and increase the chances of successful treatment.

When to Get Screened

According to local guidelines, commencing at age 50, screening is recommended for individuals without risk factors. Screening should be initiated for those with heightened risk before turning 50, depending on the specific risk factor(s) at play.

Choosing the Right Screening Test

Different screening tests have pros and cons; your personal preferences, medical history, and risk factors should influence your choice. Options include stool tests (FOBT, FIT, and FIT-DNA), sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and virtual colonoscopy.

In the ongoing battle against colorectal cancer, new research has unveiled compelling evidence highlighting the impact of diet and lifestyle choices on cancer risk. A recent report, a breakthrough in the field, has provided insights into the role of wholegrains in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. This article delves into these findings and sheds light on other factors influencing your risk of developing this disease.

The Wholegrain Advantage

Research has unearthed a critical link between wholegrain consumption and colorectal cancer risk reduction for the first time. The report revealed that consuming 3 servings, totalling 90g, of wholegrains daily, such as brown rice or wholemeal bread, can lead to a 17% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer. But how do wholegrains achieve this?

One mechanism is accelerating the transit time of potential carcinogens through the bowel, reducing the duration they come into contact with the cells lining the bowel. This underscores the preventive potential of wholegrains and highlights the importance of dietary choices in shaping cancer risk.

Unveiling Risk Factors

The report doesn’t just stop at the positive aspects of prevention. It also reinforces certain well-known risk factors that increase the likelihood of colorectal cancer:

  • Processed Meat Consumption: Indulging in processed meats like bacon or salami heightens the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Excessive Red Meat Intake: Consuming more than 500g of cooked red meat per week, such as beef or pork, increases risk.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Consuming two or more alcoholic drinks daily, equivalent to two glasses of wine or two-spirit measures, elevates the risk.
  • Weight Management: Being overweight or obese correlates with colorectal cancer risk.

On the flip side, the report further substantiated the positive effects of physical activity. Regular physical activity, like cycling to work or using the stairs, has been found to decrease the risk of colon cancer. This serves as a reminder of the multifaceted impact of our lifestyle choices on our overall health.

Taking Practical Steps Towards Prevention for Singaporeans

  1. Embrace Positive Dietary Changes: Reduce red and processed meat consumption research indicates that consuming red and processed meat can elevate your chances of developing bowel cancer.

These categories encompass beef, lamb, pork, goat, sausages, bacon, cured meats and reformed meat products. If your daily intake exceeds 90g of red or processed meat, aim to cut it down to no more than 70g. To put this into perspective, one back bacon rasher equals around 25g; a single sausage is about 60g, a medium pork chop weighs approximately 120g and a medium steak clocks in at about 115g.

  1. Increase Dietary Fibre: Intake fibre plays a vital role in a healthy diet by supporting digestion, preventing constipation and reducing the risk of bowel cancer. Add wholegrain cereals, wholewheat pasta, oats, beans, chickpeas and lentils to boost your fibre intake.
  2. For adults, daily consumption of at least 30g is recommended. For example, two slices of wholemeal toasted bread provide 5.6g of fibre, while a baked jacket potato with the skin on delivers 4.7g.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Aim to consume 6-8 glasses of fluids each day. Water, low-fat milk, sugar-free drinks, tea and coffee count toward hydration. While fruit juices and smoothies also contribute to fluid intake, limit their consumption to a combined total of 150ml per day, considering their sugar content. Swap out sugary soft drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar alternatives to effortlessly reduce sugar intake.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight: Carrying excess weight, especially around the waist, increases your susceptibility to bowel cancer. It is estimated that 11 out of 100 bowel cancer cases are linked to unhealthy body weight in the UK. Checking your Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a simple gauge of your weight’s appropriateness for your height.
  5. Embrace Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity diminishes your risk of developing bowel cancer. An active lifestyle aids in maintaining a healthy weight and promoting overall well-being.

Adults over 19 should strive for daily activity, with at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise spread across a week. This can translate to 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week, which can be extended to 60 minutes as fitness improves. If you’re new to physical activity, begin with 10 minutes and gradually increase. The guidelines also advise including strength training twice a week. Apart from being physically active, especially for those over 65, minimising prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour is essential.

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption is linked to various cancers, including bowel cancer. Roughly 6 out of 100 bowel cancer cases in the UK are associated with alcohol intake. To cut down on alcohol, incorporating several drink-free days into your week is a practical approach.
  2. Quit Smoking:  Around 7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are attributed to smoking. The risk escalates with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Smokers are more likely to develop non-cancerous growths (polyps) in the bowel, which could turn cancerous if left untreated.

Empowering Yourself for a Healthier Future

Colorectal cancer’s prevalence is a concern, but we possess strong evidence that underscores the power of lifestyle changes. By embracing a diet rich in whole grains, moderating red and processed meat consumption, limiting alcohol intake and staying active, you take proactive steps towards fortifying your body’s defences against colorectal cancer.

It’s not about drastic shifts but gradual, sustainable changes that accumulate over time. With this knowledge, you can make choices supporting your colorectal health, creating a foundation for a brighter, cancer-free future.

At MHC, we recognize the power of early diagnosis, enabling timely intervention and improving disease management outcomes. From the initial consultation to follow-ups, our program will continue to help patients control and manage weight, which is a great way to avoid colorectal cancer.

You may book an appointment in Amara Clinic or contact our Corporate HQ for questions and enquiries about personal and corporate healthcare programmes, including Executive Health Screenings, GP Services, or Weight management programmes. Staying healthy and active helps promote a healthy colon.

Resources:

  • https://www.wcrf.org/positive-steps-to-decrease-colorectal-cancer-risk/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35283438/
  • https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/new-colorectal-cancer-report-your-faqs-answered/
  • https://ukhsa.blog.gov.uk/2019/04/01/seven-ways-to-reduce-your-risk-of-bowel-cancer/