Monday, 30 September 2019

Easy Ways to Avoid High Blood Pressure

Boston University researchers reveal an often-missed culprit is uric acid — the same troublemaker that causes gout. Uric acid is a normal waste product of metabolism, but if your blood level gets too high and your kidneys can’t flush it out, this compound can tighten your arteries, causing blood pressure to soar. The good news: Six studies suggest lowering your uric acid level can help you trim up to 22 points off your blood pressure. And it’s easy!

  • Refill your glass with water
  • Snack on berries
  • Try celery seed*
  • Flush away trouble with diary servings


My 2 cents:
These is always a cause for high blood pressure. Uric acid is one (as above). Another is stress. If you have body ache and pain, like on your shoulder, arms, neck, removing the ache and pain will most likely reduce your high blood pressure.

* celery seed - some people may have gastric or stomach discomfort when eating too much celery. Celery is good for inflammation, so eat in smaller portion instead of not eating it. For example if you are taking the celery seed supplement, take 1/4 or 1/2 instead of the whole tablet.

You may want to read Is date fruit good or bad for the heart?

Accidents involving elderly pedestrians on the rise, many due to jaywalking: Police


Traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians are on the rise, and many are caused by jaywalking, mid-year statistics from the Singapore police released on Saturday (Sep 28) showed.

In the first half of the year, there were 183 accidents involving pedestrians who were aged 60 and above, an increase of 59.1 per cent from the same period a year ago. Nearly a third of the cases (32 per cent) were attributed to jaywalking.

Seventeen elderly pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents – a 54.5% spike from 11 fatalities a year ago. Injuries among elderly pedestrians also rose by 61.9% to 170, compared to 105 in the first half of 2018.

“For their safety, elderly pedestrians should use pedestrian crossings when crossing the roads, and refrain from jaywalking,” the Singapore Police Force said.


My photo - purple flowers

A public domain photo by me

Best Cholesterol-Lowering Food

Not all cholesterol is created equal. Cholesterol — a waxy substance made by the body and found in some foods — is something the body needs, at least in small amounts. Increased blood levels of cholesterol — particularly the LDL or "bad" cholesterol — have been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here is a list of nine cholesterol-lowering food, which also provide a myriad of other heart health benefits:
  1. Nuts
  2. Oats
  3. Barley
  4. Avocado
  5. Soy
  6. Beans, peas and lentils
  7. Berries
  8. Fruits and vegetables
  9. Dark chocolate


A handful of nuts a day could stave off middle aged spread

A handful of nuts a day could cut the risk of obesity by almost a quarter, research by Harvard University suggests.

Experts said that eating a few nuts each day, instead of turning to crisps or biscuits, could help to ward off middle-aged spread.

The twenty year study of 290,000 adults aged 24 to 75 found a higher intake of nuts was  associated with a 23% lower risk of putting on 11 pounds, and of becoming obese.

Researchers suggested that the high fibre content of nuts can delay stomach emptying so making a person feel sated and full for longer. Nut fibre also binds well to fats in the gut, meaning that more calories are excreted.


Saturday, 28 September 2019

More women going for first breast cancer screening, but not the second

X-ray. Image for illustration only

More women over the age of 50 in Singapore are going for their first breast cancer screening, but most still do not get their second check-up done two years later.

Over three years, the number of women who went for their first mammogram rose by around 1,000 each year - from 6,550 in 2014 to 8,598 in 2016, according to the latest statistics from the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

But from 2016 to last year, more than four-fifths of them did not go for a second mammogram, despite the age group being at risk of breast cancer.

These numbers are a cause for worry as breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Singaporean women, with one in 14 suffering from the condition before the age of 75.


Antibiotic resistance: UTI, among top 10 causes of death in Singapore, trickier to treat

A recent Singapore study in three polyclinics concluded that more than 20% of UTI cases were resistant to antibiotics prescribed to them.

Research by the New York City Department of Health in the United States showed that a third of uncomplicated UTI cases were resistant to Bactrim, one of the most widely used drugs, and at least one-fifth of them were resistant to five other common treatments. A third of all UTIs caused by E. Coli in Britain were resistant to “key antibiotics”.

“Patients who take many courses of antibiotics are more likely to develop resistant bacterial strains,” said Dr Valerie Gan, consultant in the Department of Urology at the Singapore General Hospital.

Those who have been hospitalised frequently for other medical problems could also develop resistance as they are exposed to more resistant strains of bacteria, she added.

Read more @

More than 12,000 dengue cases reported so far this year

A total of 12,108 dengue cases for this year were reported as of Sept 21, up by 1,360 from 10,748 cases as of Aug 24.

This is the highest number of cases reported in three years.

However, the number of weekly cases has continued to fall, to 303 in the third week of September, down from 480 a month before.

As of Wednesday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) had closed 1,092 of the 1,183 dengue clusters since the start of this year.


U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 12, illnesses climb to 805

U.S. health officials on Thursday reported 805 confirmed and probable cases and 12 deaths so far from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping, with the outbreak showing no signs of losing steam.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 530 cases and seven deaths due to severe lung illnesses, an increase of 275 cases over the week.

U.S. public health officials have been investigating these illnesses, but have not linked it to any specific e-cigarette product.

As of Sept. 24, the confirmed deaths were reported in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oregon, the CDC said.


Friday, 27 September 2019

Prostate cancer could be cured in one week thanks to incredible new treatment

Prostate cancer patients could be cured in as little as a week with new high-dose targeted radiotherapy.

In trials, tumours were wiped out within days with treatment times slashed from the standard one to two months.

The breakthrough could save the NHS millions. It comes after Sir Rod Stewart revealed he has beaten the disease.

One patient who took part in trials said: “It was a breeze – not something I’d usually associate with cancer treatment.” Developed by a UK team, it is the quickest form of the therapy to get this far in clinical trials.


Applications for new home caregiving grant to open from Oct 1

Seniors or their caregivers will be able to start applying for a new grant to offset costs of long-term care from Oct 1 this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Sept 25).

The S$200 Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) replaces the existing S$120 Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Grant.

Those who are already receiving the FDW Grant will be automatically enrolled onto the HCG, and need not apply, MOH said in its press release.

The new grant, a monthly cash payout, will be paid to eligible care recipients, who can also choose to nominate a caregiver to receive it, MOH said.

Read more @

Ways you may be dulling your smile


Warning: Coffee sold online found to contain banned substance that may increase risk of heart attacks, strokes

Consumers here have been warned not to buy or drink S Gold Coffee - a brand of coffee sold online - after it was found to contain sibutramine, a banned substance that may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 26) that it was alerted by a member of the public who became suspicious when her appetite “was suppressed significantly” after consuming the coffee.

Tests revealed that the product contained sibutramine, which used to be a prescription medicine for weight loss but has been banned here since 2010 as it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Read more @

Is date fruit good or bad for the heart?

Dried and fresh dates

Your food choices are the biggest determinant of your risk of heart disease. Ample consumption of unprocessed plant foods coupled with limited intake of refined, nutrient-deficient foods is a major key to heart protection. Three of the top risk factors for heart disease are obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Dates are a sweet and chewy fruit that are not only delicious but are also packed with nutrition that can benefit your heart.

Dates contain:
  • Fibre
  • Minerals include potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc
  • Vitamins A, C and several B vitamins
  • Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin


My 2 cents:
Fruits that are red like dates, beetroots, dragon fruits are good for the blood too.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Exceptional people: PM Lee wins global interfaith award

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, receiving the World Statesman Award from Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation

The equality enjoyed by Singapore’s races and faiths today was not achieved through policies, edicts or government action alone, but reinforced through the daily lives of Singaporeans and religious leaders, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Sept 23).

This has allowed Singapore, over half a century, to uphold the fundamental principle set out by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew when Singapore separated from Malaysia — that “everybody will have his place: equal; language, culture, religion”, said Mr Lee.

“I hope future generations of Singaporeans will cherish this harmony, realise how precious it is, and strengthen it further. We must never allow religion to be weaponised or used as a front for other conflicts,” said Mr Lee at an annual awards dinner held by the United States-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Mr Lee received the World Statesman Award. The award is given to leaders who support peace and freedom by promoting tolerance, human dignity and human rights by championing these causes in their homeland and working with other world leaders to build a better future for all, the Foundation said previously.

Read more @

Exceptional people: Woman rescued from lake at Xiao Guilin after British tourists sound the alarm

source: cna

A 72-year-old woman was rescued and arrested on attempted suicide on Tuesday (Sep 24) from the lake at Bukit Batok Town Park, also known as Little Guilin or Xiao Guilin, after two British tourists saw her in the water.

Simon and Lesley Brewin, who are in Singapore to visit their children, suspected something was amiss when they saw a small stool propped against a side barrier by the lake.

Mrs Brewin, 65, went to get help from passers-by, afterwhich she jumped into the water to save the lady. She said she gave the woman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while waiting for help to arrive.

Read more @

My photo - purple flowers

A public domain photo by me

Small Trial Reverses a Year of Alzheimer's Cognitive Decline in Just Two Months

In the ongoing efforts to control and treat Alzheimer's, one of the more promising avenues of research is using electromagnetic waves to reverse memory loss – and a small study using this approach has reported some encouraging results.

The study only involved eight patients over a period of two months, so we cannot get too excited just yet, but the researchers did see "enhanced cognitive performance" in seven of the participants.

In this case, the volunteers – who all have mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) – were fitted with what's called a MemorEM head cap, which uses specially developed emitters to create a custom flow of electromagnetic waves through the skull. Treatments are applied twice daily, for an hour, and they can be easily administered at home.

"Perhaps the best indication that the two months of treatment was having a clinically-important effect on the AD patients in this study is that none of the patients wanted to return their head device to the University of South Florida/Byrd Alzheimer's Institute after the study was completed," says biologist Gary Arendash, who is CEO of NeuroEM Therapeutics.

Red more @

The Nutritional Deficiencies That Cause Cold Hands and Feet

The saying goes "cold hands, warm heart," but having colds hands and feet may indicate nutritional deficiencies. Having cold-to-the-touch extremities is not dangerous by itself, but inadequate vitamin and mineral intake may lead to other, more dangerous health problems.

Cold hands and feet may result from the following deficiencies:
  • Iron - eat more liver, oysters, spinach
  • Vitamin B12 - eat more fish, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and dairy products
  • Niacin - eat more beets, fish and sunflower seeds
  • Magnesium - eat more soy, whole grains, many types of nuts, baked potatoes, seaweed, green leafy vegetables.


Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Babies Born by C-Section Have Different Gut Microbes Than Vaginally Delivered Infants

For the past decade, scientists have been fascinated by how the bacteria in our guts influence our health and determine whether we get sick. Yet a big question has remained unanswered: How did we get those original microbes at the beginning of our lives?

A study titled “Baby Biome” released today in Nature offers a clue: It turns out the way we were born plays an important role in determining which of the 5,000 different species of microorganisms colonize our guts. A group of scientists from the United Kingdom’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, University College London and the University of Birmingham, analyzed the gut microbiota DNA from 596 newborns in British hospitals and concluded that babies delivered via caesarean section had different gut microbes than those who were born vaginally.

The new study found that babies born via caesarean section had more harmful pathogens picked up in the hospital that could expose them to future infections - pathogens that were more likely to have antimicrobial resistance - compared to vaginally delivered babies.

“The babies born vaginally seem to have acquired their bacteria from their mother, and the acquired bacteria are found in their mother’s gut,” he says. “[In] the babies born by caesarean that transmission pattern is disrupted. The more common bacteria that are found in babies born by caesarean are bacteria associated with hospital settings.”

Read more @

You may want to read Babies born by Caesarean ‘one third more likely to develop autism and ADHD'

What happens when you breathe in haze year after year? Doctors in M'sia explain

While immediate health risks such as breathing difficulties and well as ear, nose, throat and eye irritation in the short term are known, frequent and extended exposure could result in more severe and even potentially deadly complications and diseases. These may include cancer, heart attacks and stunted physical and mental development.

“The health risks associated with particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) are well known. These are capable of penetrating deep into lung passageways and entering the bloodstream leading to effects on the heart, brain and lungs,” Dr Helmy told Malay Mail.

“It's a known risk factor for lung cancer. Lungs-wise, haze can lead to reduced lung function, increased respiratory infections and more asthma attacks.”

Read more @

Trying to lose weight but can't?


I wanted to be a perfect work-at-home mum. It (burnout) nearly killed me

Burnout can happen in office and home

Just like people suffering from job burnout, mothers and fathers can burn out too. New research on parental burnout confirms this.

A Belgium study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in 2017, found that close to 13% of over 2,000 parents surveyed had “high burnout”, which meant that they experienced exhaustion, reduced efficiency and emotional detachment — symptoms that the World Health Organisation has identified as work burnout  at least once a week.

In another study published in Clinical Psychological Science last month, researchers found that parental burnout might have serious consequences for both parent and child, increasing the risk of parental neglect, harm and thoughts of escape.

Read more @
You may want to read Suffering burnout at work? Understand why it happens and take steps to prevent it

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Exceptional people: Chinese boy, 9, gives father life-saving bone marrow after gaining 18kg to be a donor

The procedure to extract Lu Zikuan’s bone marrow began on Sept 9, his father’s birthday.

A nine-year-old boy, Lu Zikuan, in central China has given his father the best birthday present ever - a life-saving bone marrow transplant - after deliberately gaining 18kg so that he could be a donor.

His father, Lu Yanheng, had for years battled a debilitating type of blood cancer that had left him almost bedridden at home in Henan province, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Tuesday.

The transplant took place at Peking University’s People’s Hospital, and the procedure to extract Zikuan’s bone marrow began on September 9 — his father’s birthday.

“This is a day I will never forget — my son gave me the hope to live on my birthday. I thank my son for everything he has done for me,” the father wrote in a post on microblog site Weibo. “He said he had pain in his leg and back ... this is too much for a child.”

Read more @

10 tips for staying safe while travelling

It pays to be extra watchful while on holiday.

The next time you are going on a holiday, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind.
  • Do not sleep in airports
  • Beware of theft on planes
  • Use your room safe
  • Check for hidden cameras
  • Double-lock your door and check your window
  • Leave keycard at reception
  • Use ride hailing apps or registered taxis
  • Change or withdraw money only at banks
  • Keep valuables hidden
  • Do not use public wi-fi


My photo - Go-kart @ Orchard

A public domain photo by me

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Exceptional people: Woman helps cardiac arrest victim a day after learning first aid

She spent two days learning first-aid skills from the Singapore Red Cross, and 24 hours later, Ms Priya Choudhary helped save an elderly man who had fainted at Queenstown Stadium.

Recalling the incident to The New Paper last Wednesday, Ms Priya said: "A harmless situation can go dramatically wrong and the least you can do is to be prepared."

She hoped more people would learn first aid to help others in emergencies.


Eight brands of heartburn medicine taken off shelves due to cancer-causing impurities

Image for illustration only

Eight brands of medicine used to treat heartburn, including the widely used Zantac, have been taken off hospital, clinic and pharmacy shelves here since Monday.

This is after the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) found unacceptable amounts of an impurity in the medicines that, when taken over long periods, could cause cancer.

It found that eight contained trace amounts of a nitrosamine impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine, which exceeded the internationally acceptable level.

The brands are: Zantac, Aciloc, Apo-Ranitidine, Hyzan, Neoceptin R, Vesyca, Xanidine and Zynol.


Scam alert: Over $1.5 million lost so far to new tech support scams: Police

Since August, at least 21 cases of a new variant of technical support scams have been reported, the police warned in a press release on Wednesday.

In these scams, callers would impersonate staff of telecommunication service provider Singtel and the Singapore Police Force.

Others would claim to represent the Cyber Crime Department of Singapore or the Cyber Police of Singapore and deceive victims saying they had committed a criminal offence.

The cases so far have resulted in a loss of more than $1.5 million, it added.


Forum: Time to be more strategic - and empathetic - in helping the needy

The case of the 78-year-old man who had a kitchen full of unused bottles of soya sauce gives valuable insights into the inadvertent nuisance that giving without empathy can lead to (Donated food gone to waste sparks debate on efforts of volunteers, Sept 8).

Though it is heartening to see that people do care about volunteering, it is time that such activities are undertaken with a strategic intent.

Often, volunteer groups do not set guidelines or any form of restrictions when it comes to donations.

This, as I understand, is more to encourage donors than due to a lack of intent.

Efforts at the grassroots level could be needed in order to shift the focus from the collection and distribution of donations to the real needs of the beneficiaries.

Conversations with the beneficiaries, house visits and lifestyle observations could help towards this end.

As donors, it would be worthwhile for us to see a beneficiary as a real person and to ponder on how our donations might be used or wasted.

For instance, in the case of the beneficiary cited in the article, if the volunteers had recognised that an appointment with the plumber and payment towards plumbing services would solve the immediate problems at his home, this could have been conveyed to potential donors or volunteers.

An interesting comment was put forth in the article that donors do not trust the low-income groups to make wise choices and, hence, would prefer to donate in kind.

If this is true, then efforts should be made towards conveying the correct scenario to potential donors, and inviting them to understand the real issues of the beneficiaries rather than leave it to donors to give indiscriminately.

This would also help in increasing the sense of purpose among donors.

Sudeepa Nair


$100 incentive for early disposal of e-scooters that do not meet safety standards: LTA

Image for illustration only

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is offering a $100 “early disposal incentive” for each non-safety-compliant e-scooter sent in for free disposal at designated disposal points from Monday (23 September) to 30 November, 2019.

In a media release on Friday, it said that such measures are aimed at encouraging personal mobility device (PMD) owners to dispose of their non-compliant devices early. Authorities brought forward the deadline to comply with the new standard from 1 January 2021 to 1 July 2020.

The LTA said that, for safety reasons, non-UL2272 PMD owners should discard their devices only at the designated disposal points set up by LTA-appointed e-waste recyclers across HDB estates or at LTA’s Sin Ming office.

To apply for the early disposal incentive, e-scooter owners must log into their SingPass/CorpPass account and submit an online application at the One Motoring website to dispose of their devices.


Thursday, 19 September 2019

Signs you may have clogged arteries or heart trouble

Each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 735,000 people suffer a heart attack and 610,000 people die of coronary heart disease (CHD). That’s one in four deaths.

Preventing heart disease in patients is a physician’s main goal, but early detection is the next best thing. This can lead to changes in lifestyle and medical therapies that can delay or deny the onset of a heart attack; almost 80% of heart disease is preventable with lifestyle changes.

Signs that you may have clogged arteries include:
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Calf pain when you walk
  • Tight jaw
  • Lower back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Smoking habit

Signs that you may have heart trouble include:
  • You get easily fatigued doing any physical activity OR you suffer from a shortness of breath
  • Your gums are swollen
  • High blood pressure
  • You have trouble breathing in your sleep
  • Your feet and legs are swollen
  • You have heart palpitations
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Neck or jaw pain

Ways to keep your heart healthy

"Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in this country," says Dr. Haythe, who is also the co-director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at Columbia. "The key to longevity is to take really great care of your heart."

Dr. Haythe explains that your heart is a muscle and, therefore, like your other muscles, it needs to stay in shape. "It’s also intimately connected with your neurological system," she says. "So your mood and stress levels have a huge impact on how your heart feels."

Heart health tips:
  • Set exercise goals
  • Stick to a Mediterranean-style diet
  • Prioritize healthy sleep habits
  • Try meditation
  • Take care of your teeth

Do muscles deteriorate due to a lack of exercise?

Muscle tissue deteriorates in both size and strength due to a lack of exercise, according to Vicci Hill-Lombardi, associate professor at Seton Hill University's School of Health and Medical Sciences.

This deterioration is known as muscle atrophy. Some muscle atrophy results from disease; however, disuse atrophy - caused from lack of muscle use - is much more common in today's society. Decreased activity, sedentary jobs and injuries leading to casts or slings all contribute to muscle deterioration.

Muscle deterioration is seen most dramatically with bed rest and space travel, where muscles are almost completely at rest. Just one week of bed rest reduces muscle strength by over 30%. Astronauts could not walk properly on Earth after spending a week or more in a weightless environment.

Though muscles get smaller and weaker if you stop exercising for a period of time, they regain their size and strength when you resume your fitness routine.


Ways to Cleanse Your Colon and Preserve Your Youth

Your colon is 5 feet long, but, as large as it is, we tend to give it very little of our attention until it has a problem. Our colons play such an important part in our daily life and because of this, we shouldn’t ignore them.

Here are ways that will keep your large intestine clean and healthy.
  • Add vitamin C to your diet
  • Probiotics, the friendly bacteria that protects your colon
  • Add more resistant starches to your diet. Resistant starches are like fibre, but they are from carbohydrates.
  • Drink more water for digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Eat plenty of high-fibre food
  • Drink herbal tea
  • Try a saltwater flush


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

15 deaths from dengue so far this year, highest in a decade

Six more people have died from dengue, bringing the total number of dengue deaths this year to 15 - the highest toll in more than a decade.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that it was notified of the six deaths after its last joint update with the National Environment Agency (NEA) on July 29, about eight weeks ago.

"Although most dengue patients recover from the infection, elderly patients and those with concurrent medical conditions are at higher risk of developing complications that can lead to death," she said.


Three suspected PMD fires over the weekend worry residents

Calm turned to chaos in a Circuit Road block last Saturday afternoon after an explosion rocked a seventh-storey flat.

A woman in her 50s, who wanted to be known only as Madam Kho, said the moment she heard the explosion, she and her sister, who was visiting, fled their eighth-storey unit with her 16-year-old son, their dog and three pet turtles.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it responded to a fire in a seventh-storey unit at Block 85 Circuit Road at 3.35pm last Saturday.

On Friday, at about 4.10pm, SCDF responded to a fire in an 11th storey unit in Block 120B, Rivervale Drive.

The owner was taken to the Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation and preliminary investigations indicated the fire originated from a PMD which was being charged.

In a third case over the weekend, SCDF said it responded to a fire at Geylang Lorong 4, which affected two third-storey shophouse units on Sunday.

Fire at Geylang Lor 4. Source: cna

My 2 cents:

PMD fires are real. So if you have a PMD, please make sure you monitor your PMD while charging. If the machine is hot, turn off the charging. Do not charge your machine over night.

Cutting through the haze: When do you need an N95 mask?

According to NEA’s list of frequently asked questions and answers on its website, in general, a healthy person may want to wear a mask if he has to be outdoors for several hours when the forecast air quality is in the hazardous range.

N95 masks are not necessary if you are going to be indoors or out for only a short period of time, such as commuting from home to school or work.

Some elderly people, people with lung or heart conditions, and women in the later stages of pregnancy may have reduced lung volumes or breathing issues and should take a break from using the masks if they feel uncomfortable.

You can reuse your N95 mask, said NEA. However, the mask should be changed when it is soiled or distorted in shape. It should not be shared.

Read more @

Forum: Paternal involvement a need, not a choice

While I appreciate the opinions on fatherhood expressed by Madam Lily Ong (Strike a balance in efforts to spur active fathering, Sept 4) and Ms Yeo Boon Eng (Taking paternity leave a personal choice, not a need, Sept 6), research evidence should be highlighted for a more balanced perspective.

Extensive research in many advanced societies has shown a strong correlation between not having an involved father and worse-off development outcomes for children, including crime and delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems and sexual promiscuity - all of which impose heavy costs on families and society.

A New York Times report, citing research done at the University of Oxford, reveals that, against widespread and deeply ingrained beliefs, new fathers undergo biological changes, hormonal and in the brain, when they welcome the arrival of a child.

Much of parenting is not instinctual for anyone, both mother and father, and the first days of parenthood present a steep learning curve that is a key transition in a parent's life.

Besides the recuperation after childbirth and breastfeeding, which mothers do exclusively, fathers similarly have to go through a process of getting attuned to an infant, learning what each of the baby's cries means, mastering diaper changes and getting used to frequent interrupted nights.

This process of getting the heart of a father turned towards his newborn child should not be underappreciated. Research conducted by the University of Denver surmised that "learning how to emotionally bond with his infant may particularly be an important part of becoming a father", because men do not experience the hormonal surges that accompany pregnancy and childbirth.

The United Nations Children's Fund has launched an Early Moments Matter campaign to encourage governments and companies to invest in family-friendly policies.

Progressive companies like Facebook, Novartis and Aviva have equalised maternity and paternity leave in recent years.

An increasing number of celebrity fathers have come out to share their stories of fatherhood, including former footballer David Beckham and Singapore's very own Gurmit Singh.

It is timely for Singapore society to have a mindset shift on this issue - paternal involvement in a child's upbringing is a need, not a choice.

Deborah Ong Siew Mei


Happy feet: Simple ways to pamper your soles at home


You may want to read The secret to back pain is in your feet!

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Are you getting more forgetful? How to tell if it is a sign of early dementia

Have you ever walked into the kitchen to get something but forgot what it was you needed? What about the times you could not recall where you had placed your keys? Or you hare at the gym but you have forgotten to bring your workout gear – again. More detrimentally, were there occasions when your mind drew a blank when your boss asked for some crucial numbers at a meeting?

Are you developing dementia?

It is a particularly salient question, considering September is World Alzheimer's Month.

“The answer is no,” said Dr Ng Li-Ling, vice president of Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) in Singapore. “Most people forget little things every day, like people’s names or where we’ve placed our keys. But this is a normal part of life.”

While it is common to forget the name of someone you have just met, someone with early signs of dementia may do so repeatedly and even forget about ever meeting the person.

Interestingly, the early signs seen in younger patients are different from the older ones, according to the Alzheimer's Society in the UK. Older patients tend to suffer from memory loss, but in younger sufferers, they may have problems with eyesight, planning and making decisions, and speech instead.


All childhood vaccinations to be subsidised at polyclinics and CHAS GPs by end of 2020

All polyclinics vaccinations under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) will be subsidised for Singaporeans by the end of 2020, and the subsidies will be extended to general practitioner clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

This was announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Aug 28), as part of efforts to make childhood preventive healthcare more affordable and accessible.

With the changes, vaccinations for pneumococcal disease and human papillomavirus (HPV) will be subsidised as well - at both polyclinics and CHAS GPs.

Read more @

Handful of nuts twice a week can cut chance of dying from heart disease by almost a fifth, study finds

Image for illustration only

Eating a handful of nuts at least twice a week could cut the risk of dying from heart disease by almost a fifth as experts said they were a good source of unsaturated fat, containing polyphenols which help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

More than 5,000 adults, aged 35 and over, with no history of heart disease, were quizzed about their diet in detail, every two years.

Over the 12 years that followed, there were 751 cardiovascular events, including 179 deaths.

The study found that those who consumed at least two portions of nuts a week had a 17% lower risk of death from heart disease, compared with those who only ate them once a fortnight.


How processed foods make you fat

Image for illustration only

In recent years, many nutrition experts have linked the obesity epidemic to the spread of ultra-processed foods that are engineered to have a long shelf life and irresistible combinations of salt, sugar, fat and other additives.

These foods tend to make people overeat because they are full of refined carbohydrates, added sugars and fat that appeal to the human palate, experts say. Most of these foods, however, tend to lack fiber, protein, vitamins and other important nutrients.

Now a small but rigorous new study provides strong evidence that not only do these foods tend to make people eat more, but they also may result in dramatic and relatively rapid weight gain and have other detrimental health effects.

The research, published this month in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that people ate significantly more calories and gained more weight when they were fed a diet that was high in ultra-processed foods like breakfast cereals, muffins, white bread, sugary yogurts, low-fat potato chips, canned foods, processed meats, fruit juices and diet beverages because these foods caused a rise in hunger hormones.

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Technology: 3D printing part of new technologies trialled by HDB

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HDB is exploring the use of 3D concrete printing technology to expand its design capabilities. The process removes the need for moulds or formworks, allowing objects with “intricate detail or geometric forms that would be near impossible to create with traditional methods”, said HDB.

“And since the printing process is highly automated, this reduces their reliance on manual labour,” he added.

While traditional methods could take up to several months to build a room-sized component, it would take just 13 hours – not including steel reinforcement bars – to complete with 3D printing.

There are plans use 3D printing for smaller components used in precinct designs, such as landscape furniture or architectural designs in common areas for some projects in Tengah and Bidadari.

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Sunday, 15 September 2019

First Zika cluster of the year after 3 cases in Serangoon Gardens

Three cases of locally transmitted Zika infection have been confirmed at Hemsley Avenue, in Serangoon Gardens area, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (Sept 13), making this Singapore's first Zika cluster of the year.

"Residents and stakeholders are urged to maintain vigilance and continue to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats, as there could still be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases which might result in further transmission of the virus if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity," said NEA.

The virus has been associated with neurological diseases such as microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with a smaller head due to abnormalities in the development of the brain.

Both Zika and dengue are spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

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Flu-related complications. Watch for the increased risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death

Certain groups of people have a higher risk of getting myocarditis as a complication from a viral infection such as flu.

Assistant Professor Laura Chan, consultant at the department of cardiology of the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), said that people at risk of flu-related complications are those with weakened immune systems, chronic diseases, and a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40. People living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, are also more vulnerable.

Myocarditis is just one of many heart complications linked to the flu. The NHCS sees around 10 to 20 myocarditis cases each year.

Other flu-related cardiac complications include a heart attack, pericarditis (swelling of the pericardium, the thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart), arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

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My photo - lanterns

A public domain photo by me

Drinking tea improves brain health

Are you a regular tea drinker? You might have better brain efficiency compared to non-tea drinkers, a study from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has found.

By looking at the brain imaging data of older adults, researchers found that those who consumed tea at least four times a week had brain regions that were connected in a more efficient way, NUS said in a news release on Thursday (Sep 12).

The results found that those who consumed either green tea, oolong tea or black tea at least four times a week for about 25 years had brain regions that were connected more efficiently.

Team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said the results suggest that drinking tea regularly can protect the brain from age-related decline.

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SingHealth to issue digital MCs from 2020

Singapore’s largest healthcare cluster is making paper medical certificates (MCs) a thing of the past, aiming to roll out a digital medical certificate system by early next year.

It is hoped that the system, called DigiMC, will reduce administrative hassle and chances of MCs being forged or misplaced, even as some people interviewed by TODAY raised concerns about the level of security it affords.

SingHealth, which oversees several hospitals including the Changi and Sengkang general hospitals, generated one million hardcopy MCs in 2017.

Digital MC can be
  • sent via Short Message Service (SMS) to the patient’s mobile phone,
  • forwarded to the patient’s employers, and
  • backed up on cloud services for later reference, allowing it to be accessed perpetually.

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Friday, 13 September 2019

Exceptional people: Yip Pin Xiu winning gold at World Para Swimming Championships

Singapore para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu Yip (centre) with her gold medal at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London, with silver medallist Aly van Wyck-Smart of Canada (left) and bronze medallist Angela Procida of Italy. Source:

Singapore national para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu became a world champion for the second time in her career, after she clinched the gold medal in the women’s 100m backstroke (S2) race at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London on Wednesday (11 September).

The 27-year-old – who is the world record-holder in the event – clocked 2min 18.61sec to win her race by more than 20 seconds over silver medallist Aly van Wyck-Smart of Canada, who clocked 2:39.27. Italy’s Angela Procida won the bronze medal in 2:42.71.

“I’ve been swimming for 15 years now, but victory is special to me and recognition for all the hard training I do. The journey is important to me and I’m happy to be at this point now.”


How intermittent fasting can help lower inflammation

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Intermittent fasting and related diets are having a moment. And there might be some good reasons to extend their 15 minutes of fame.

A new study has concluded that intermittent fasting reduces inflammation, a condition that can lead to various diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

That reduction, the study found, was due to a reduction in cells that cause inflammation — called “monocytes” — in the blood.

You may want to read Alternate-day fasting has health benefits for healthy people

My photo - lantern & mooncake festival 【元宵节】

A public domain photo by me