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So here is what we know about fat…

  • Saturated fat is the kind of fat found in butter and lard, pies, cakes and biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages and bacon, cheese and cream.
  • Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease, according to NHS Choices.
  • Most of us eat too much saturated fat - about 20% more than the recommended maximum amount.
  • The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day.
  • The average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

However according to Dr Aseem Malhotra, these facts are incorrect. In an opinion piece published in the British Medical Journal late last year Dr Malhotra claims there is too much focus on saturated fat with other factors such as sugar often overlooked.

It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease.

Dr Malhotra, a cardiology registrar at Croydon University Hospital, London, says the mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades.

The food industry has compensated for lowering saturated fat levels in food by replacing it with sugar, he says, which also contributes to heart disease.

Adopting a Mediterranean diet - olive oil, nuts, oily fish, plenty of fruit and vegetables and a moderate amount of red wine - after a heart attack is almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as taking a statin, writes Dr Malhotra.

However, Prof Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, says studies on the link between diet and disease frequently produce conflicting results.

Unlike drug trials, it is difficult to carry out a controlled, randomised study, he says.

However, people with highest cholesterol levels are at highest risk of a heart attack and it's also clear that lowering cholesterol, by whatever means, lowers risk.

Cholesterol levels can be influenced by many factors including diet, exercise and drugs, in particular statins, he adds.

For more on Dr Assem Malhotra stance on saturated fat and the role sugar plays on heart disease, you can view his full interview with the BBC here.

It's true, SCHILLER Defibrillators save lives! Just ask Darren Kay who has amazingly saved not one, but two fellow soccer players out on the field in less than a year. 

Armed with a SCHILLER defibrillator and years of experience as a paramedic, Kay says that it should be mandatory for sporting clubs across Australia to own a defibrillator. For more information on the importance of defibrillators and how you can earn one for your club, follow this link. 

 

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised. Content may be graphic and unsettling for some.

Heart failure is the number one cause of death across the globe

While there are a number of preventative measures you can take now to avoid heart failure in the future, for some, a heart transplant is the only option.

With 5,000 heart transplants performed each year and approximately 50,000 potential candidates, this incredibly invasive surgery can often give life back to recipients when all is lost.

In 1967, when this procedure was first conducted, rejection was common. Most recipients passed away within 18 days of a transplant. Recipients now though have much better odds with a survival rate of 90% in the first year and 74% in the five years post surgery.

Before the procedure candidates must pass numerous physiological and tissue testing. Even once the candidate has been approved for a transplant issues in donor compatibility can arise.

Here you can view this incredible operation for yourself. There is a warning on this content though. It may be graphic and unsettling for some. Viewer discretion is advised.

Earlier this week I wrote about new research that has just come out of the US relating to self-control and willpower.

The study highlighted that while it appears willpower is a finite energy source, you can do exercises to increase your supply. A little like building muscle at the gym.

Here, Belle Beth Cooper from Buffer talks about the 6 best ways you can strengthen your willpower in every day life, as well as a couple of exercises to get you on your way.

1. Increase your capacity for pressure: Learn how to manage stress

Being under high levels of stress means that our body’s energy is used up in acting instinctively and making decisions based on short-term outcomes. Stopping to take a few deep breaths when we feel overwhelmed or tempted can be a great start in managing our stress levels and improving our willpower.

2. Encourage yourself to stick to your plan

Self-affirmation can even help you to have more self-control when you’re running out, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. A good example of this is the difference between telling yourself “I can’t” and “I don’t.” Taking back control of the situation using the phrase “I don’t” has been shown to be more effective at helping you to stick to your plan and break bad habits: Every time you tell yourself “I can’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations.

This terminology indicates that you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. So try telling yourself that you don’t do that 'bad habit', rather than punishing yourself by saying I can’t.

3. Get more sleep to help your brain manage energy better

Sleep deprivation (even just getting less than six hours a night) is a kind of chronic stress that impairs how the body and brain use energy. Daniel Kripke an acclaimed sleep researcher, found in a recent study that

people who sleep between 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours a night, live the longest, are happier and most productive.

4. Meditate (for as little as 8 weeks)

Meditation has also been linked to increasing the reserve of willpower we have available, as well as improving attention, focus, stress management and self-awareness.

5. Better exercise and nutrition: The most ignored route to higher willpower

Another great way to train the brain, that is often easily ignored or undervalued, yet can make you a lot more resilient to stress, and thus boost willpower, is regular physical exercise. Both relaxing, mindful exercise like yoga and intense physical training can provide these benefits. Not only will exercise and good nutrition improve your willpower, but they’ll make you feel better as well. Exercise in particular is known for making us happy by releasing endorphins.

6. Postpone things for later to gain focus on what’s important now

Postponing something you really shouldn’t have can be effective if you’re trying to break a bad habit. In Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Roy F. Baumeister explains that people who tell themselves “not now, but later,” are generally less tormented by the temptation of something they are trying to avoid.

Rewarding yourself for holding out is a great exercise to begin. It can be a great way to encourage the development of willpower. Like these poor kids with their marshmallows.

Another exercise to try is to choose your food mindfully. By choosing your food mindfully, you exercise your willpower, with every meal you take. Choose your food in such a way to make sure that you are not harming your body, or your mind while you are eating. Or at the end of your shower everyday, blast yourself with cold water. This will challenge your comfort zones.

For a whole list of these exercises, and more, check out Wiki How for some great tips. 

So it’s no great secret that a healthy diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep each night will have us living a healthier, happier life.

Medical professionals have been telling us for years that we would all live longer if we'd just stop smoking, binge drinking and eating fast food. So why do so many of us still succumb to these nasty habits, even though we know it’s detrimental to our health?

Well as Dr Baumeister of Florida State University puts it…

Avoiding regular indulgence, and committing to a healthier lifestyle requires self-control. And Self-control requires will power.

Dr Baumeister says that poor self-control correlates with just about every kind of individual trauma that we experience.

People with low self-control express more prejudice; they have more problems with emotional control and anger, they do not do as well financially or with emotional relationships.

Low will power correlates with low self esteem and creates a flow on affect across every aspect of your life. With this knowledge Dr Baumeister and his colleagues decided to learn more about willpower and find out how much self-control we exercise every day.   

They set up a study in which people carried beepers around as they went about their daily lives and activities. Every so often the beeper would go off and the test subjects would report if they were ‘desiring’ anything at that moment, and if so, what.

We found people reported that they were having a desire about eight hours a day,’ says Dr Baumeister. ‘They may be small desires, like the desire to have a cup of tea or go to the bathroom… as much as a desire to save the world or fall in love or have sex with somebody. But desires great and small, we have them about half the time we are awake and people try to restrict or control about 40 per cent of them.

We may well be using up a lot of energy just resisting desires.

In his research, Dr Baumeister has tested the hypothesis that willpower is a finite energy, and that people who engage in one task that requires self-control deplete their energy for another task.

In one study, a small subject group was required to resist the temptation to eat chocolate for a period of about five minutes, instead they were given radishes to eat.
Researchers then measured how long the subjects would persevere with a frustrating task.

They gave up a lot faster. Again, resisting temptation took something out of them and they didn’t persevere as well on the second task.

Dr Baumeister says that as the day wears on, people are more prone to give in to temptation. You can’t necessarily feel when you are depleted, so it’s important to know when you are most vulnerable.
One of the classic situations where willpower is required is dieting, but according to Dr Baumeister it is an especially difficult case, because glucose is required to fuel our willpower.

It turns out the energy for willpower is linked to your body's basic energy supply, so it's kind of a Catch 22, that in order to resist the temptation to eat, you need willpower, and in order to help willpower you need to eat,’ he says.

So how do you increase your willpower in order to live a healthier life then?

Well Dr Baumsieter believes that most of us can improve our natural levels of self-control through exercises. When people perform self-control exercises over a couple of weeks in the lab, they do get better; not only at what they are exercising but at other willpower-based tasks as well. In one study, asking participants to concentrate on their posture improved their performance in unrelated tasks in the laboratory.

Dr Baumesiter suggests targeting one challenge at a time.

Make New Year's resolutions, but don't make a lot of them at the same time because trying to work on several things at once divides up your willpower. Start with the easiest one, just work on that until you get that right, and not only will you have the benefit from that and the confidence and so forth, but it will also improve your willpower and then you can move on to a slightly more difficult challenge.

To read more about self-control and Dr Baumsieter studies into willpower follow this link.

So this week I located the big red bus aka the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Donor Centre not too far away from our office. I mentioned to Simone my plans of donating blood for the first time & before I knew it she was on board as well.

After doing some research online about what to expect and if there is anything we need to do in preparation I also stumbled across some interesting information. Not only does the recipient benefit from the donation but also the donor!

Here are the top 5 reasons for donating blood

  1. The Joy of Saving Human Lives 
  2. Free Health Check-up
  3. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
  4. Burns Calories
  5. Reduces the Risk of Cancer

Read more about these benefits here

As first time donors, Simone & I were surprised in the difference of our experiences, so we decided to share them with you below;

What was your reason for donating blood?

Simone: I have actually had a phobia of needles since I was a small child AND I tend to pass out at the sight of blood! So this was kind of like a ‘face your fears’ experience for me. I had wanted to donate for years but always been too scared to. I knew it could save lives, but for some reason I kept allowing my fear to stop me. That was until Cath told me she was donating and I thought, why not! Lets do this!

Cath: I have been meaning to donate for awhile now, about 3 months ago I saw the big red bus on the way to work and thought today is my day, however life got in the way. But when I saw it for the second time (last week), I was determined to pop my blood donation cherry, as who doesn't want to help save lives while sitting in a chair.

How did you feel during the donation?

Simone: I was actually petrified – all the way up until they stuck me with the needle. Then I was fine.

They ask you so many questions in the lead up. It is really quite hard to be an eligible donor. In fact if you have even been out of the country in the past 4 months you are not eligible, and if you have had acupuncture or piercings in the past 6 months. If you are over the age of 65, have recently been in hospital, had the flu or even if you are homosexual – these are all potential factors that may mean you are not eligible to donate. Plus the list goes on. But that is why it is so important to donate regularly if you are eligible!

Cath: I'm not going to lie, I was quite nervous awaiting my needle, prompting me to ask the blood collecter, 'what did it feel like?' he said 'everyone's pain threshold is different, however I think it's the uncertaintity that people fear most'.. with that, in went the needle, it felt like a sharp pinch.. then nothing .. yes nothing, blood was flowing and I was sitting back relaxing watching the World Cup on TV, happy days. Six & a half minutes later my bag was full, yep apparently if this was a sport, I would be an Olympic contender, haha.

How did you feel after the donation?

Simone: I couldn’t believe that it actually hurt less than a blood test. The finger prick test that they do at the beginning hurt more. Well not the actual prick – that didn’t hurt at all. More the sting after, and it is just that - a little itty bitty sting. I have NO IDEA what I was afraid of!

Unfortunately the vein that we used to get blood out must have had a valve near it? Don’t quote me. It’s just what the nurse told me. Anyway, it meant my blood didn’t flow quickly or strongly enough so the machine made this horrid beeping sound and we eventually had to stop the donation short, as I couldn’t fill the bag.
Apparently it wasn’t enough for a full sample but they could use it for platelet donation. I was pretty disappointed after the donation. But also relieved that they managed to get any blood out of me at all. And I was also excited that I was now registered to donate and could come back in 3 months and try again.

Cath: As per protocol, I was asked to remain seated for another 10 minutes after the collection. Then I was then offered a selection of sweet and salty treats, crackers, biscuits & muffins oh my! There was also bottles of water and juice for rehydration. After a drink & a few snacks I was feeling great, not just physically but mentally, it's a real fist pump moment.

What was your overall experience?

Simone: I was elated walking out of the big red (blood donor) bus. I had faced my fears, and while I didn’t donate quite as much as I had hoped, I still made a difference. I was really happy in myself. In fact I felt like super woman! Like I was doing my part to help save lives, one platelet at a time.

Cath: Yes the initial paperwork was time consuming (mainly as this was my first time), but what is time when you can effortlessly be apart of saving human lives!

Would you donate again?

Simone: Oh yeah! I am all booked in for when the bus returns to Warners Bay on the 13th of September. Might just see you there!

Cath: You betcha! In 3 months time you will find me on the bus, sleeves up, waiting to contribute in possibly saving another 3 lives!

We hope after reading this that we have inspired those of you who are able but unsure, to give blood, to give life.