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6 Health Hacks You Need to Know

Experts like a cardiologist, psychologist and dentist give us their best tips – free.

 

1. HOW TO… HAVE WHITER TEETH

The Expert: Dr Lynette Ng, prosthodontist and dental director, The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic

It’s All About Timing

  • Two to three minutes: how long a proper brushing takes “Use short strokes in a to-and-fro manner over a small area – two to three teeth – at one time. Brush twice daily.”
  • 30 minutes: how long you need to wait to brush your teeth “After drinking acidic drinks like coffee or tea, rinse immediately. Then, wait to brush your teeth – to avoid amplifying damage to the tooth enamel caused by acids from the drink.”

Two Unlikely Culprits of Tooth Discoloration

  • Mouth rinses – “Avoid those that contain chlorhexidine (an antibacterial agent), which can stain your teeth.”
  • Sports drinks and sodas – “Acidic in nature, these can cause your tooth enamel to thin, making it more susceptible to stains. Plus the erosion exposes dentine (a yellowish tissue), making your teeth appear less white.”

16 Shades of White

  • “A typical tooth shade guide has 16 colours. On average, you can expect to see your teeth lightened by seven to eight shades after a tooth-whitening procedure.”

 

2. HOW TO… CRUSH YOUR SUGAR RUSH

The Expert: Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian and founder, Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants

Time those cravings

  • Go Greek – “A great alternative to normal yogurt because it’s lower in sugar levels. Eat it with untoasted muesli or fruit for added sources of fibre, or mix with dill and garlic for a healthy dip that goes with crunchy vegetable sticks.”
  • Reach for nuts – “Walnuts and almonds contain protein, good fats and fibre, which help your body to crave less sugar.”
  • Keep warm – “A bowl of vegetable soup and multigrain bread are excellent options that satisfy your craving, help prevent blood-sugar spikes and keep you full till your next meal.”

 

3. HOW TO…GET OVER YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION

The Expert: Ho Shee Wai, registered psychologist and director, The Counselling Place

What to do When the Cravings Strikes

  • Get off the grid “Call to wish your friend a happy birthday instead of posting on her Facebook wall; if you feel an urge to post a status update, write it down in a (physical) journal instead.”
  • Allocate social media-free times “Restrict usage to no more than two hours a day and use an alarm so you’ll know when time is up. Lock your phone or computer away so you won’t be tempted to use it.”

 

4. HOW TO… STRENGTHEN YOUR HEART

The Expert: Dr Paul Chiam, senior consultant cardiologist, Mount Elizabeth Hospital

Am I Having a Heart Attack?

  • Women often experience more non-specific signs of a heart attack than men do. Here’s what to look out for:
  1. Shortness of breath without significant chest pain
  2. Abdominal discomfort
  3. Nausea and vomiting without significant chest pain

Make Your Heart Stronger

  • Do regular exercise – Work out at least three times a week, for 20 to 30 minutes each time. Even something simple like brisk walking brings benefits.
  • Cut out smoking – According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, smokers face, on average, thrice the risk of having heart attacks compared with non-smokers.
  • Eat healthily – Have a diet that is low in fat and sodium, and includes vegetables and fruit.

 

5. HOW TO…IMPROVE YOUR VISION NATURALLY

The Expert: Dr Allan Fong, deputy head and consultant, General Cataract & Comprehensive Ophthalmology Service, and consultant, Refractive Surgery Service, Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)

What You’ll Need

  • Wrap-around sunglasses with 99 to 100 per cent UVA/UVB protection “They help to protect your eyes against excessive exposure to sunlight, which has UV radiation that can cause premature cataract development, leading to worse eyesight.”
  • Artificial tears eye drops and omega-3 oral supplements “These help to improve symptoms of dry eyes, especially in air-conditioned rooms, which can cause intermittent blurring of vision, as well as discomfort and fatigue.”

Contact Lens Wears, Beware

  • Wearing contact lenses when you sleep, bathe or swim predisposes you to higher risks of infections like corneal ulcers, which can be sight-threatening in extreme cases. Best way to prevent this: avoid wearing your lenses for more than eight to 12 hours at a time, and remove them when there is discomfort or redness.

 

6. HOW TO… MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BMI

The Expert: Dr Christina Low, general practitioner, SMG Medical, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic

Her Best Tips

  • Be consistent with your diet – “You’re more likely to keep to it if you pace yourself on most days, instead of restricting calories during the week, which may lead to overindulgence during the weekend.”
  • Have a safe and realistic goal – “Aim to lose 10 per cent of your starting weight (or less, depending on how much you need to shed) in six months. You shouldn’t lose more than 1.5kg a week.”
  • Keep a diary “Studies show that writing down when, what, where and how much you eat is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy weight.”

The Link Between Obesity and Breast Cancer

  • According to Dr Wong Chiung Ing, consultant and specialist in medical oncology at The Cancer Centre, “there is consistent evidence to support the higher risk of breast cancer in obese, postmenopausal women.
  • A 2006 study revealed that women who gained 10kg or more after menopause had an 18 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, compared to those who maintained their weight”.

 

More tips on healthy living.

 

By Lee Xin Hui, Her World, May 2015

Photo: 123rf.com

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