TIP! Antioxidant-rich foods, like blueberries and tomatoes are good, for your skin. File picture: Tracey Adams
TIP! Antioxidant-rich foods, like blueberries and tomatoes are good, for your skin. File picture: Tracey Adams

Johannesburg - Don’t eat this. Sit like that. Have this checked. With so much health advice out there, it’s hard to decide what’s really important. We asked seven doctors for their top take-home messages so you can have a healthy day (and night)!


Don’t rinse just yet

“You need to brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day. After brushing, leave the paste in your mouth and swish for two to three minutes, then spit it out. If you rinse your mouth immediately after brushing, you’re getting rid of the fluoride from the toothpaste.

Be sure to also brush your tongue; this is essential as bacteria builds up in the mouth.

The best time to brush your teeth is after breakfast and after dinner, rather than before.

Some of the best toothpastes on the market right now are those that contain chlorhexidines (normally found in mouthwashes), such as elgydium.

And the best toothbrush to use is one with soft bristles.”



Limit sun exposure

“Quit smoking! It gives you wrinkles and pimples.

And remember: no anti-ageing cream is more effective than keeping your face out of the sun – a big hat should be a compulsory fashion item. There is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan. A tan is the way the body protects itself from further DNA damage caused by sun exposure.”



Don’t stress out

“We all have a sense of what makes us stressed; pressure at work, relationship conflict, traffic, shopping – the list is endless. But think before you act.

Stress, which can lead to anxiety and depression, is one of the key factors in keeping the mind well-regulated.

Monitoring your stress levels can be done in two ways: firstly, try not to get into situations in which you can become too stressed, and secondly, if you are stressed and feeling overwhelmed, find healthy and appropriate ways to deal with it.

After a busy day, go for a run, walk the dog or take the kids to the park. If you can avoid stressful situations and you can limit making situations stressful, you will go a long way towards making your life healthier.”



Watch your weight

“Lifestyle conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, are a major cause of morbidity and even mortality. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, weight and waist circumference is the first step to managing and preventing the dangerous side effects of such conditions.

Although diseases of lifestyle are the number-one killers in Western society, they can be prevented, controlled and sometimes even cured through simple lifestyle changes. Knowing and understanding your risk profile can be lifesaving.”



Eat your greens

“It’s very important to eat your eggs, green leaf veggies and red peppers. These are good for a healthy retina and help fight macular degeneration.

Try to have an eye test every two years, or once a year if you wear contact lenses.”



Have annual scans

“Although few women look forward to their gynaecological visit, it is of huge importance that all women who are sexually active see a gynaecologist yearly.

Pap smears – to detect cancer of the cervix (a common but preventable cancer) – are mandatory on these visits.

In younger women, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and contraception are the cornerstone of good gynae healthcare.

In women of 40 years and older, a yearly ultrasound scan to detect ovarian cancer is critical. Patients older than 50 years need yearly mammograms, three to four yearly bone densitometries (to pick up thinning bone), as well as scans to detect early ovarian disease.”



Prevent HPV

“I urge parents to vaccinate their children against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cancer in men and women. Infection often occurs at a young age; mostly in the late teens and early 20s. The vaccine gives protection from four HPV strains, two of which cause most cancers, including oral cancer. Males and females between the ages of nine and 26 can take three vaccine doses over six months. This can save thousands of lives and many people are unaware of it.”


* This article appears in the September issue of Glamour magazine, on sale now.