Health News | Is canned or frozen produce bad for me?

National Nutrition Week 2018 runs from 9 to 15 October 2018.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important to help prevent non-communicable diseases. Unfortunately, eating healthy food is often seen as a luxury, as fresh produce, fruit high in antioxidants, such as berries, and quality protein sources, such as lean beef and seafood, can be expensive.

There is a myth that fruit and vegetables that are preserved through canning and freezing are not as healthy as fresh, organic produce.

Many South Africans are not privy to exclusive fresh produce purchased at organic markets and quality supermarkets. Cheaper, processed meats and sources of refined starch are often more affordable and stretch further to feed an entire family on a low budget.

But canned or frozen produce can form part of a healthy diet, studies suggest. An analysis by researchers at the Michigan State University recently showed that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. These findings were published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

In fact, this research found that the level of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids increase in canned tomatoes. As for canned beans and legumes, the fibre become more soluble through the canning process as compared to beans that are cooked from scratch.

It will last you longer

Canned and frozen produce can be stored for far longer than fresh produce, which eliminates wasting food and money. The price of off-season fruit and vegetables will fluctuate during the year while the cost of frozen produce will remain mostly stable. You are also able to buy in bulk and store this produce, which can work out cheaper in the long run.

Choose wisely

Adults should include a wide variety of vegetables, including greens, red and orange vegetables, legumes and starchy vegetables in their diet to get an optimum range of nutrients. Ensure that you buy different groups of these vegetables. A bag of mixed vegetables may contain green beans, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, which is a good variety of vegetables to include with your meal.

As for tinned fruits and vegetables, you need to think a bit more strategic – as some varieties are packed in syrups and sauces with high amounts of sugar and sodium.

The bottom line is that it’s often a more budget-friendly option to purchase frozen or canned produce, which is better than no produce whatsoever.

Here are a couple of handy tips for budget-friendly healthy meals:

  • Rinse canned fruits, vegetables and legumes to reduce the sugar and salt content.
  • Look out for low-sodium or low-salt varieties if you can afford it.
  • Stretch your budget by shopping for no-name or store-brands.
  • Use canned tomatoes as a base for pasta sauces.
  • Replace starchy, sugary desserts with canned fruit cocktail (drain and rinse to eliminate the sugary syrup, or buy a variety with no added sugar). Serve this with a low-fat, plain yoghurt for added protein and creaminess.
  • Canned peaches and pineapples served with cottage cheese are delicious and offer fibre, vitamins and protein.
  • Replace the meat in soups and stews with lentils and beans – this will stretch the meal further and you will pay less.
  • When cooking mince, add soy, lentils, beans, oat bran and/or vegetables to bulk it up. You can also add beans, lentils, potatoes and other veggies to stews, casseroles and curries.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Why do I get cramps after I orgasm?

Let’s talk orgasms: They’re supposed to feel good, right? (Or, you know, meh…but that’s another story altogether.) What I’m getting at: They’re most definitely not supposed to hurt. Like, at all.

And yet, because the human body is full of mysteries, sometimes orgasms actually do hurt – and that sucks. Yep, we’re talking about those annoying cramps that strike seemingly out of nowhere right after sex.

What causes painful orgasms, anyway?

Okay, so the official name for this pain is dysorgasmia, which again, means you’re having pain either during or after your orgasm, says Dr Christine Greves, a board-certified obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

For women who experience pain after they orgasm, the cramping (which can feel like period cramps) usually happens right away and can cause pain for a few hours after sex, Dr Greves says. You can feel the pain or the cramping anywhere in your vagina, and/or in your lower abdomen or back.

Here’s the thing: Your uterus is a muscle, and it contracts when you orgasm. “Just like any other muscle in your body, you may have some discomfort after it gets a workout,” Dr Greves explains.

But in some cases, an underlying gynaecological condition can also trigger that pain or cramping after sex, like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids, says Dr Greves.

To put it as delicately as possible, the pain here usually stems from the, uh, friction that happens during sex. In PID and endometriosis, the inflammation and pain already associated with those conditions can be worsened by, well, the penis; though this is less an issue directly related to orgasms, and more about pain during sex as a whole, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Read more: 8 reasons why you’re having painful sex

Pain during sex isn’t just something you should deal with.

For starters, this is a serious barrier to your pleasure (I’ll say it again for the people in the back: Sex isn’t supposed to hurt). And then there’s the fact that you could have an underlying condition that needs treatment.

“If this is new for you, see your gynae for an evaluation,” Dr Greves says.

If you don’t have any underlying conditions like PID or endometriosis, your doctor may recommend that you try using a hot pad on your pelvic region (to try to get your uterine muscles to chill out) and taking some OTC anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain.

But again, don’t sit on this and assume that you’re doomed to suffer through crampy orgasms for the rest of your life. “If you notice a change in your body, you should always get it checked out,” Dr Greves says.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Are STDs a deal breaker? This expert weighs in on how to tell her

If you thought the “your friends are annoying and I never want to hang out with them again” conversation was awkward, try telling a potential partner you have an STD.

That confession is never easy, sure. But the shame associated with having an STD makes people less likely to talk about it with former, current, and future partners, finds a new review from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the number of sexually transmitted infections in young people increasing by half a million, in the last two years, in Gauteng alone, it’s something to think about… and most definitely talk about, too.

The key to dating again is telling her about it the right way. Here are a few expert tips to help you break the news to a potential partner.

Read more: Why your children should be learning about sex and how Durex is helping them do that

Curable STD? Just delay the deed

“If you just started dating someone and you’re being treated for a curable STD, don’t have sex and don’t bring it up,” says Dr Patrick Wanis, communications expert and relationship therapist. “You’re not out to manipulate her – so if her health isn’t at risk, there’s no need mention it,” he says. “It could lead to unfair judgment for no reason.”

Your move: Say you want to hold off on sex until you know each other better. (Just don’t put yourself in compromising situations – like in her bed after a night of drinking!) And of course, make sure you have the doctor’s OK before doing to the deed.

But if you’re dealing with an incurable STD (herpes, AIDS or hepatitis B, for example), you’ll need to have a talk.

Here’s your plan:

1. Don’t bring it up too soon

Start dating as you normally would. “You wouldn’t reveal everything about yourself on the first date anyway,” says Dr Wanis. After all, there could be no chemistry and she might turn out to be just a friend.

“Once feelings are involved, you don’t want to wait too long,” says Wanis. “It will just make it more difficult if she says it’s a deal-breaker.” Think: Serious enough but not too serious. Just delay the talk (and sex!) until you’re sure it could develop into a relationship.

Related: Can you still have sex after having a heart attack or stroke?

2. How to tell her

State the facts without victimising yourself or being defensive, Dr Wanis recommends. “You’re telling the truth and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Being too defensive might increase judgment on her part. It’s not a reflection of who you are so don’t present it as such.

What if she tells her friends? By breaking the news free of shame yourself, she’ll be less likely to tell people with the intention of hurting you if things go sour. That said, “Be prepared that she might go to her friends for advice,” says Dr Wanis.

Read more: This guy discovered that too much drinking could give you an STD

Another good thing to mention: Explain how to reduce transmission. “You need to explain how it will affect your sex life together,” says Dr Wanis. If you have herpes, for instance, you can greatly lower her chances of getting the disease with antiviral medication and condoms. Mention anything specific to your disease that she should know.

3. Give her time

Don’t expect an answer in the moment. “Present the facts, express that you still want to see her, but tell her to think it over,” Dr Wanis says. Any initial reaction will be out of fear or obligation.

Read more: This is exactly how and why you should be having sex like your noisy neighbours

4. Be brief with the details

“People often want the back story,” says Dr Wanis. “But the more details she has, the more she’ll visualise the event.” Keep it brief. Sure, you can admit that it came from an ex, a friend or even that random shot-girl from Cancun – but keep it minimal. She doesn’t need to replay your past in her mind.

This article was originally published on

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Another good reason to not pick your nose: You could be spreading pneumonia

Your mother told you not to do it, and new research confirms that nose-picking isn’t healthy for you or those around you.

In a study involving 40 adults, British researchers found that the bacteria behind potentially lethal pneumonia could be spread by picking and rubbing the nose.

It was known that the pneumococcus bacteria that cause pneumonia spread through airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes. But this study is the first to show that it can easily spread between the nose and the hands.

The health implications are nothing to sniff at, the research team said.

“Pneumococcal infection is a major cause of death around the world, and it is estimated that it is responsible for 1.3 million deaths in children under 5 years [of age] annually,” said lead researcher Victoria Connor. She’s a clinical research fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in England.

“The elderly and people with other causes of impaired immunity, such as chronic illness, are also at an increased risk of pneumococcal infections,” she added.

Connor called the current understanding of how pneumonia is transmitted “poor, so we wanted to look at how it may be spread in the community.”

In the study, the hands of the 40 healthy adults were contaminated with pneumococcus bacteria. Participants were divided into four groups. The “wet sniff” group sniffed their hands, which had been contaminated with water laden with pneumococcus bacteria.

The “dry sniff” group did the same, but this time the bacteria were applied dry, to the back of the hand. A third group, called “wet poke,” picked or poked their nose with a finger that had been contaminated with bacteria-laden water, while the “dry poke” group did the same, but with fingers tainted with air-dried bacteria samples.

The result: while pneumococcus was readily passed on in all of the test groups, hand-to-nose spread of the germ was highest among the “wet sniff” and “wet poke” groups, probably because bacteria die off more in dryer environments, the team said.

The findings were reported October 10 in the European Respiratory Journal.

The study suggests that good hand hygiene, as well as keeping kids’ toys clean, could help protect youngsters from catching and spreading the bacteria to other children. It could also cut down on spread to a child’s elderly relatives, who may be more susceptible to infection, the researchers noted.

Of course, Connor acknowledged that “it might not be realistic to get children to stop picking, poking and rubbing their noses.”

There might even be one positive side to nose-picking. “[The] presence of the bacteria can sometimes boost the immune system of children and can reduce their chances of carrying it again later in life,” Connor noted in a journal news release.

But spreading these germs can cause real harm to others, she stressed.

So, restraining kids from picking their noses “may be important when children are in contact with elderly relatives or relatives with reduced immune systems,” Connor suggested.

“In these situations, ensuring good hand hygiene and cleaning of toys or surfaces would likely reduce transmission, and reduce the risk of developing pneumococcal infection such as pneumonia,” she said.

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Global mental health report blasts South Africa for Esidimeni

Exactly a year after the start of the arbitration hearings that sought justice for the families of the dead Life Esidimeni patients, the esteemed The Lancet medical journal has released a global mental health report condemning the local disaster as “tragic”. 

“In 2016, a tragic case occurred in South Africa when the Gauteng Department of Health stopped funding a large 2000 bed facility and allowed the dis¬charge of vulnerable people with psychosocial disability into unlicensed community residential facilities, leading to the death of over 140 people,” noted the 46-page report which brought together global mental health experts, advocates and mental health users. 

Penned by the Lancet Commission on Mental Health, the report highlighted that people living with mental illnesses still routinely suffer “gross human rights violations” including “torture”. 

According to the report, mental disorders are rising in every single country in the world and will cost the world’s economy $16 trillion by 2030. 

Today [October 10] marks World Mental Health Day, and the report notes that young people bear “the brunt of the burden of mental ill health”.

Half of all mental illness starts by the age of 14 with most cases undetected and untreated, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO).

Globally, “depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents” with suicide being the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds, noted the WHO. Among 15 to 29-year-olds, suicide jumps to second place. 

More than 90% of these suicides occur in in low- or middle-income countries.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), almost one in five teens have considered suicide and they have had reports of suicides in children as young as six years old. 

“The youth are not equipped with enough coping skills or support structures to handle the kind of problems that they have to deal with every day,” said SADAG’s Cassey Chambers.

The organisation is particularly concerned about the upcoming matric and university examinations, a time where suicide attempts are at their highest.

Along with highlighting mental illness in young people, the Lancet report recommended government’s be held accountable and approach mental health from a human rights basis. 

“The Commission calls out the shameful and shocking treatment of people with mental ill health around the world,” said Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet.

While the Commission’s report recommended “a wholescale shift to community-based care”, it should not be implemented in the negligent and torturous manner of the Life Esidimeni move. 

Professor Vikram Patel, one of the Commission’s editors, said that mental health “is the foundation of human capability that makes each life worthwhile and meaningful”.

“Anyone who cares about poverty, education, social cohesion or economic progress should work to improve mental health, putting the vast knowledge we have on promotion, prevention and care into action,” said Patel.

– Health-e News

NEXT ON HEALTH24X | Mom-to-be’s high-gluten diet linked to type 1 diabetes in baby

If a pregnant woman eats a lot of high-gluten foods, the odds that her child will have type 1 diabetes rise significantly, new research suggests.

In the study, published online in the BMJ, pregnant women who had the highest consumption of gluten had double the risk of having a child with type 1 diabetes compared to those who ate the least gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

However, the study authors noted that it’s too soon to recommend that pregnant women change their diets based on the results of this one study.

“The study brings new ideas to how type 1 diabetes develops. We did not know that the pregnancy period is important for the development of the disease or that the development of the disease is starting that early in life,” said study co-author Dr Knud Josefsen.

Changing one’s diet during pregnancy 

“And it also holds the potential to reduce the frequency of the disease by simply changing the diet during pregnancy,” added Dr Josefsen, a senior researcher at the Bartholin Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

However, “the study is observational and the link that we describe is an association,” and not a cause-and-effect relationship, Dr Josefsen said. The research also needs to be repeated in other populations.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, according to JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). Insulin is a hormone that helps usher the sugar from foods into the body’s cells to be used as fuel.

The attack on the immune system cells leaves someone with type 1 diabetes with little to no insulin. Without insulin injections, via multiple shots a day or an insulin pump, someone with type 1 diabetes doesn’t have enough insulin to survive.

Gluten is found in many foods, including bread, pasta, cereal, crackers and cookies, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Gluten triggers the immune system disorder called coeliac disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed.

There’s already a known link between coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes, approximately 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also have coeliac disease, Dr Josefsen said.

Findings of the study

The latest study included data from almost 64 000 pregnant women enrolled from 1996 through 2002. Nearly 250 of these women’s children developed type 1 diabetes.

The women answered questions about the foods they ate when they were 25 weeks’ pregnant.

The average gluten intake was 13 grams per day. The range was less than seven grams per day to more than 20 grams per day. Dr Josefsen said a slice of bread has about three grams of gluten. A large serving of pasta, about two-thirds of a cup, has five to 10 grams of gluten, he said.

The researchers found that a child’s risk of type 1 diabetes increased proportionally with every 10 grams of the mother’s daily gluten intake.

gluten baby

Dr Josefsen said there are some theories as to how gluten might contribute to the rise of type 1 diabetes. One is that gluten may cause inflammation and an immune response.

Maija Miettinen, co-author of an editorial that accompanied the study, said most of the theories as to how these two conditions might be related come from animal models. Like Dr Josefsen, she said more research is needed.

“This is the first study to suggest an association between high gluten intake during pregnancy and the risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, it is too early to change dietary recommendations concerning gluten intake,” she said. Miettinen is a researcher with the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland.

Miettinen also pointed out that women who have high-gluten diets in pregnancy may also continue to serve their children high-gluten fare. “We do not know whether the possible risk associated with high gluten intake comes through prenatal exposure, childhood diet or both,” she said.

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