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health checks you need across your life

How often should you get a health check up

By Featured, General Wellbeing, Men's Health, Women's Health

What is a Regular Health Check Up and why are they important?

Regular health check ups can identify any early signs of health issues. Finding problems early means that your chances for effective treatment are increased. Many factors such as your age, gender, family history, lifestyle choices determine the types of health check ups you will need and will impact on how often you need a health check up. 

If you’re under the age of 35, health checks every 2-3 years is sufficient enough, however annual assessments are recommended for those who have family members suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis, etc. People above age 60 or with pre-existing chronic illness should also consider a bi-annual check-up to ensure their health is maintained at its optimum level.

We have more information about health check ups and screening here and information about our comprehensive health checks here.

 

All Ages Health Check Up:

1. Melanoma/Skin Cancer 

In addition to self-checks, you should also see a GP or a skin cancer doctor for a full-body skin examination at least once a year. If you are at high-risk of skin cancer, your doctor will request that you have more frequent checks. This might be every three or six months, depending on your risk factors.

getting a skin check for melanoma as part of a health check up2. Dental Health

Most dentists recommend a routine dental check-up every 6 to 12 months, but a cookie cutter approach does not necessarily work for everyone. Some may need to visit a dentist more or less frequently and the dentist will advise how often a check-up is required. 

 

20-40’s Health Check Up: 

 1. Sexual Health

  • STI Check 
  • Chlamydia test 

2. Cervical Cancer (Women)

The Pap test has been replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years. The CST is safe, more accurate and detects human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, the main cause of cervical cancer. Your first CST is due at 25 years of age or two years after your last Pap test. If your result is normal you will be due in five years to have your next test. Even if you have been vaccinated against HPV, you should continue to have regular screening as the vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV infection known to cause cervical cancer. 

3. Reproductive Health (Women)

If you are planning to have a baby, chat to your GP about how to prepare yourself. 

4. Heart Health

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol (40’s)

Read more about heart health here and here.

heart health check up 5. Diabetes

If you are over 40 you should be screened for type 2 diabetes. Your GP will use a questionnaire known as AUSDRISK for this.

6. Breast Health (Women)

Ensure you’re keeping up with your monthly self-exams and see your doctor if you notice any abnormalities such as changes to the shape of your breast, discomfort, dimpling on the skin or redness.

7. Mental Health

If you experience symptoms such as intense sadness, anxiety, irritability and changes to eating and sleeping habits for more than two weeks, chat to your GP about a mental health plan.

8. Testicular Health (Men)

A testicular self-check is especially important in your 20s and 30s as testicular cancer is the second most common type of cancer in young men aged 18-39.

 

50’s+ Health Check Up:

1. Breast Cancer 

It’s recommended that women between the ages of 50–69 years attend the BreastScreen Australia Program every two years for screening mammograms. Women aged 40 – 49, and those over 74, can also be screened free of charge on request.

2. Bowel Cancer 

When you reach 50, it’s recommended that you take a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years to screen for bowel cancer (yes, it means testing your poo). The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends free at-home sample collection kits to people over 50 in the mail, but if you haven’t received one, chat to your GP or pharmacist.

3. Bone Density 

As your body winds back oestrogen production, bone density will begin to decrease which can lead to osteoporosis. Your GP can let you know if you need to have a bone density test.

bone density and bone health in your health check up4. Heart Health

Instead of every two years, these tests should now be performed annually:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol 

5.  Prostate Cancer

Discuss testing with your doctor. It is not recommended that all men are routinely tested for prostate cancer. You will need to consider the benefits, risks and uncertainties of testing, as well as your risk of developing the disease. More information about men’s health can be found here.

 

Can I perform a Health Check Up at home?

It is recommended that you perform regular checks at home to help keep track of your health, monitor ongoing conditions and check symptoms. 

  • Skin checks: Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer but you can screen yourself quite easily. Check yourself once a month, looking for new growths or moles that have changed or started to bleed, itch, burn or crust over. Speak to a doctor if you find these. 
  • Breast checks: It’s important to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel at different points in your menstrual cycle. Breast changes can happen for many reasons, and most are not serious. Contact your GP if you notice any changes such as lumps, thickening of the skin or changes in colour.
  • Diet: A healthy diet improves your general health and wellbeing. 
  • Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight range helps prevent longer term diseases such as diabetes.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of many diseases. By quitting you can reduce the harm and lessen your chances of developing heart disease, lung disease or having a stroke. 
  • Alcohol: ensure you stick to the recommended intake of alcohol for men and women throughout the week.

dental health is important as part of a health check upYou should also speak with your doctor about immunisations in particular:

  • a pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one, or if it has been more than five years since you had the vaccine 
  • an annual flu shot
  • a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster every 10 years
  • a shingles or herpes zoster vaccine

Check-ups with other health professionals may include:

  • a dental exam – every year or so, or more often if recommended by your dentist.
  • an eye test – every one to two years if you have vision problems or glaucoma risk
  • a hearing test – if you have symptoms of hearing loss.

an eye check up or exam is an important part of your health check upPlease follow the links for more information about health check ups and screening and our comprehensive health checks.

easy ways to prevent type 2 diabetes - healthmint medical centre

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk

By Diabetes, Nutrition

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions worldwide. With type 2 diabetes, the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose) levels is affected as the body either produces not enough insulin or it resists insulin. This results in too much glucose being present in the blood. Effects of uncontrolled cases can cause serious health issues including kidney failure, heart disease and blindness to name a few. 

There are certain factors that may influence your likelihood to develop type 2 diabetes that you can’t change, such as genes, age and past behaviours. However, there are many actions you can take to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

The good news is that pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable. Making positive lifestyle changes is the number one way to avoid the disease. These same changes can also help lower the chances of developing other conditions like heart disease and some cancers. 

Achieving a healthy weight, eating a balanced carbohydrate controlled diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking all help to improve blood glucose control. 

Most people know they need to make changes, but it can be difficult to know how to stick with it. 

Don’t forget you’re not alone in this – your GP can help support you, and a Dietitian can complement this by helping to set goals that are realistic and work for you. Changing one thing at a time and making the changes part of your every day is a great way to set you up for successfully lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Ways to lower your type 2 diabetes risk

 

1. Exercise 

Keeping up regular physical activity several days a week may help prevent diabetes. Working out more frequently and working your muscles more often leads to improvements in insulin response and function. High intensity, strength training and interval training have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in those in high risk categories for diabetes. 

Simple walking briskly for a half hour every day can reduce the risk of developing the disease by up to 30%.

excersise is important for preventing type 2 diabetes

2. Keeping your weight under control

If you are overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every kilo you lose can improve your health. 

keeping your weight under control is important for preventing type 2 diabetes

3. Cut out the sugary beverages and processed foods

Eating and drinking things containing high levels of sugar and refined carbs can put those at risk of diabetes on the fast track to developing type 2 diabetes. Sugary drinks like soft drinks, fruit juices and pre-mixed alcoholic drinks have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Consuming adequate amounts of water may provide benefits. Some studies have found that increased water consumption may lead to better blood sugar control and insulin response, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. 

Processed foods are linked to all sorts of health problems including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Cutting back on packaged foods that are high in vegetable oils, refined grains, refined carbs, excess sugar and additives may help reduce the risk of diabetes. Focusing on whole foods like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats can be beneficial.  

cutting out sugar foods and drinks helps to prevent type 2 diabetes

4. Quit Smoking 

It’s well known that smoking has been shown to either cause or contribute to a multitude of serious health conditions, including many types of cancers, emphysema, and heart disease. 

There has been research linking both smoking and second hand smoke exposure to type 2 diabetes. Quitting has been shown to reduce the risk over time. 

Quitting smoking helps to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes

5. Optimise Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is important for blood sugar control. Studies have found that people who don’t get enough vitamin D have a greater risk of all types of diabetes. Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish and cod liver oil, in addition to a safe amount of sun exposure. Vitamin D levels can also be increased with supplements. 

The best way to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes is knowing you have control over many of the factors that influence diabetes. Pre-diabetes can be seen as a motivator for making the necessary changes that can help to reduce your risk. Consuming the right foods and adopting other lifestyle behaviours that promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels will give you the best chance at avoiding diabetes. 

food sources that help increase levels of vitamin D - which can help prevent type 2 diabetes

Ask a HealthMint GP about: 

  • A weight loss program or group 
  • Seeing a registered dietitian 
  • A type 2 diabetes prevention program

It can also help to get your family and friends involved – eating better and moving more is good for everyone! 

various foods that can cause food allergy healthmint

6 Things You Need to Know About Food Allergies

By Children's Health, Chronic Disease, Nutrition

What is a food allergy? 

Food allergies are an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When a person eats a food containing that protein, this causes the immune system to have a large reaction, triggering symptoms that can affect a person’s gastrointestinal tract, skin, breathing and/or heart.

In Australia, food allergy is estimated to affect 1-2% of adults, 4-8% of children and 10% of infants under 5 years of age (https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-anaphylaxis/food-allergy). Some of them will experience life-threatening allergic reactions.

Are food allergies on the rise in Australia? 

Australia takes the cake as the allergy capital of the world, and according to research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, has the highest published rates of food allergy in children! 

Several factors have been identified by researchers as to the reason why the rates are rising: 

  • Modern, urban lifestyles.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies – this is thought to change immune system development.
  • Changing the modern diet – the gut has been altered by increases in processed foods and food manufacturing along with higher sugar diets over the last 50 years. 
  • Avoidance of allergens during the first phases of an infant eating solids – it is now recommended that all children, regardless of family history of allergen, are exposed to allergenic food during the first 12 months of life. 

Which foods cause allergies?

While there are more than 170 foods known to have triggered severe allergic reactions, the most common triggers of allergic reactions in childhood are: 

  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts 
  • Cow’s Milk

Fish and shellfish allergies are most common in adulthood. 

food allergies healthmint include prawns eggs nuts fish

Less common (but still major) food allergies include: 

  • Sesame
  • Soy
  • Wheat 
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Banana
  • Chicken
  • Mustard 
  • Celery

Peanut, tree nut, sesame and seafood allergies are usually lifelong. 

Children often outgrow cow’s milk, egg, soy and wheat allergy at some point throughout childhood but there are a few who may continue the allergies into adulthood.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Some food allergies can be severe, causing life threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. 

Food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside a hospital setting.

Allergy symptoms range from hives, rash, swelling of the mouth, vomiting to difficulty breathing, persistent dizziness, swelling of the throat and loss of consciousness and sudden collapse. 

If left untreated, there is a chance these symptoms can be fatal. 

Deaths from food allergies are rare. There are more fatal allergic reactions to medications and insect bites and stings than there are to foods.

Food intolerance is not life threatening, however it can cause milder reactions like digestive pain, gas, bloating and nausea. 

It is important to know the difference so you can get medical attention if you or your child experiences an allergic reaction 

symptoms of food allergies - healthmint lady scratching arm

What are the treatment options for food allergies? 

Currently there is no cure for food allergies and avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction. Even after a successful diagnosis of food allergies, avoiding trigger foods is challenging and accidental exposures are common. 

Adrenaline is the first line treatment for severe allergic reactions and can be administered by an auto-injector called the EpiPen.

epipen for food allergies children healthmint

It is important for people with allergies to get a correct diagnosis and explore the best currently available therapies with their doctor (link). It is also important to be educated about the risk of severe allergic reactions and be prepared to treat with an EpiPen, as well as having regular reviews of an allergy action plan. 

Long term actions to reduce the risk of the next generation developing food allergies include: 

  • Following recommendations for introduction of allergenic foods such as peanuts and eggs into the diet in infants in the first year of life 
  • Avoiding exposure to smoking 
  • Having a healthy and well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Increasing the levels and absorption of Vitamin D

young child with food nut allergy healthmintAre food allergies different to food intolerances?

Adverse reactions to foods occur in a small proportion of the population. These reactions are not the same as allergies, but may include:

  • Irritable bowel symptoms, colic, bloating, diarrhoea 
  • Migraines, headaches, lethargy, irritability
  • Rashes and swelling of the skin, asthma, stuffy or runny nose

With the processing and manufacturing of foods in modern times, added ingredients including food additives, food colourings, processing aids and extra inclusions of naturally occurring food components such as lactose and gluten can be a cause of food intolerance. 

To properly diagnose a food intolerance under medical supervision and guidance, you can start by eliminating all suspect foods from the diet and reintroduce them one by one to see which food or component of food causes a reaction.

If you think your child (or yourself) has a food intolerance, it is important to seek advice and clarification from a medical practitioner since the symptoms may be related to any number of other conditions. 

what to expect when seeing a psychologist at healthmint cranbourne croydon

What to Expect When Seeing a Psychologist

By Featured, Mental Health

Are you going to see a psychologist for the first time? Congratulations on taking an important step towards improving your mental health and making it a priority!

Why Might I Choose to See a Psychologist?

You might visit a psychologist for help with concerns  such as:

  1. Depression, anxiety or stress
  2. Drug and alcohol abuse
  3. Eating disorders
  4. Fears and phobias
  5. Low self esteem
  6. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A psychologist can also help you deal with challenges you may face in life such as:

  1. Relationship issues and breakdowns 
  2. Financial stress
  3. Grief or loss
  4. Domestic violence 
  5. Ageing 
  6. Situations in your social life, with family or work 

Note that not all psychologists treat the same presentations or age groups. Please see our FAQ’s regarding psychologists and review individual practitioner bios for more information.

 

What is it Like to See a Psychologist? 

You may be feeling nervous about coming to see a psychologist and the fear of being judged or not connecting with the psychologist can be daunting. The important thing to remember is that you have taken the first, and sometimes hardest step already – reaching out for help. 

A psychologist is there to help and support your journey of developing a better mind space for yourself. Here’s a brief outline on what to expect in general, noting that each psychologist may take a variation of this approach, and this can be discussed in your first visit.

 

First and Second Appointment: Assessment 

If you’ve been referred by your GP they will write on your Mental Health Care plan why they have referred you to a psychologist.  You will also be asked to explain in your own words what you would like your psychologist to help you with.

The first and second session will include specific questions about your past and current difficulties and you will be given some forms to fill out to see what symptoms are present and how severe they are. 

what to expect when seeing a psychologist at healthmint cranbourne croydon

Third Appointment: Treatment Planning 

You will be given information about your symptoms and possible diagnosis, as well as an understanding about what may be contributing to it. A plan is made together to move towards positive change and you will be given strategies to start to use in the following weeks. These typically include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and other evidence based techniques. Your psychologist will make suggestions as to what tools and resources will help you achieve your treatment goals, and guide you to seeking other services if needed.

 

Fourth Appointment Onwards: 

The new practices you have been taught are monitored and sustainable changes begin to be made.

 

Before Coming to Your First Psychology Appointment Please Think About:

  1. What would you like help with from a psychologist?
  2. What do you want to see change?
  3. What is your goal of undertaking psychological treatment? (Note that this may not be the same as the doctors/referrers goal)
  4. How will you know if treatment is working?

 

This will be talked about in your first two sessions to help plan your treatment.

 

Keeping your GP Updated, and Requests for Letters or Reports

Your GP will be updated after the sixth session on your treatment progress. If you would like to continue seeing a psychologist they can give you a Review which allows you to access more sessions, in accordance with Medicare regulations.

Please note: Many psychologists require clients to attend at least three appointments if requiring a letter or report, and these incur extra charges.

Summary of the Benefits of Seeing a Psychologist

A wonderful benefit of seeing a psychologist is having somewhere safe to open up about your feelings, experiences, worries and concerns. Remember seeing a psychologist is a confidential environment to discuss what’s bothering you with an objective ear – someone who does not judge you, and who has a vested interest in your well being. 

Seeing a psychologist shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it. It means you are taking your mental health seriously, and everyone can benefit from seeing a psychologist at different times in their lives. 

 

Our HealthMint psychologists look forward to working together with you! 

For FAQs and to read more about Psychology Services at HealthMint please visit our Psychology web page 

To book an appointment, please click here

 

children's health playing happily

What to Consider When it Comes to a Child’s Health

By Children's Health, Featured, Immunisation No Comments

Why is child health important? 

The early years of a child’s life are very important for their health and development. Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special health care needs, are able to grow up with their social, emotional and educational needs met. Having a safe and loving home and spending time with family―playing, singing, reading, and talking―are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise, oral health, emotional support, sleep, and preventing disease through immunisations can also make a big difference. 

Good Nutrition

Poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles have been linked with obesity, and children who are overweight or obese are more likely to become obese adults, putting them at risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease at younger ages. 

Processed foods are often full of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and calories. Provide and cook meals for your child with natural foods like:child healthy eating

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits 
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Poultry 
  • Fresh fish 
  • Whole grains 
  • Fibre-rich foods like beans and leafy greens

Encourage physical activity as much as possible 

Get children off the couch, reduce screen time, and have them playing outside often. 

Being involved in physical activity team sports is a great way to increase activity and has social, and emotional health benefits too. Regular activity supports brain development, muscle controls, balance and coordinator, bone strength and helps maintain a healthy weight. 

Running around outside can also positively affect sleep patterns, mental health, concentration at school and at home, self esteem and confidence. 

Other forms of activities that benefit your child’s health in a holistic way include: 

  • Dancing 
  • Arts and crafts
  • Tidying up and assisting with chores around the home
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Singing

Create a healthy smile

Good dental and oral health starts with your child’s baby teeth. Establishing good brushing and oral habits from early on promotes behaviour they will take into adulthood. 

Poor oral health is associated with increased risk of chronic disease later in life, including stroke and cardiovascular disease. It is also central to overall health and wellbeing, positively affecting their quality of live, social interactions and self esteem.

child brushing teeth oral health

Dental decay is the most prevalent oral disease among Australian children. 

Ways to reduce the chances of tooth decay in children are: 

  • Limiting consumption of beverages containing high amounts of sugar
  • Reducing sugar-laden snacks (lollies, muesli bars, cakes)
  • Regular trips to the dentist
  • Practising good oral hygiene – brushing teeth at least twice daily

Nurture their minds

Children’s social and emotional well-being and how they think and feel about themselves and others, and deal with daily challenges is a component of mental health and wellbeing. 

It is important to care for your child’s social and emotional development so they:

  • Are confident 
  • Can communicate well
  • Do better at school
  • Are equipped to develop and have good relationships
  • Can take on and persist with challenging tasks 

The Smiling Mind app is a great resource for children (and adults!) that involves a series of short exercises that guide children through breathing and becoming aware of their bodies to “put a smile on their mind”. It is based on the principle of “Mindfulness” – that is, being aware of taste, touch, sight and smell to be “in the moment” and truly achieve a sense of calm and perspective.

Get enough shut-eye

Sleep is essential to your child’s health and healthy brain development. A lack of sleep has been associated with the development and severity of a range of physical, behavioural and other mental health issues. A lack of sleep in children can cause an increased risk of obesity.

Keep immunisations up to date

Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children against certain diseases.

Immunisation protects children (and adults) against harmful infections before they come into contact with them in the community.

It uses the body’s natural defence mechanism — the immune system — to build resistance to specific infections.

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal infection
  • Polio (poliomyelitis)
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Children aged over 6 months can also have the flu vaccine each year, which is available in autumn. Children aged 12 to 13 should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) through their schools.

National Immunisation Schedule can be found here

 

For more information on HealthMint’s Child Health services and health checks – visit here >

Role of the GP in pregnancy - GP and pregnant woman in consulting room

Planning for a Baby: How your GP Can Help

By Family Planning & Parenting, Featured, Women's Health No Comments

The role of a GP during pregnancy is not just about providing care for the several months of pregnancy, it’s about the commitment and continuity of care through the years and decades of your family’s health. Read on for how your GP can help when planning for a baby.

GPs bring a very broad skill base and referral networks with them when they are involved in maternity care, which involves pre-conception, antenatal, postnatal and neonatal aspects of care. 

Planning for a baby 

Having a baby is a very exciting time! 

If you are preparing for pregnancy, it is a good idea to speak with your GP first. There are many things you can do to improve your health and minimise the risk to your baby, all before conceiving. 

Your GP will provide you with expert advice on planning your pregnancy – they understand the medical issues, mental health concerns, have a well connected referral network and are used to working as a team in order to get you the best care possible. 

The preconception period (3 months before pregnancy) is the time to make life changes that you and your partner can help boost fertility, reduce problems during pregnancy and assist in recovery after birth. 

Preconception Check Up

During your appointment with your GP, you may ask them about: 

Immunisations

You may require boosters, even if you were full immunised as a child. All women should have up to date immunisations against Rubella (German measles) with the MMR vaccine. This will need to be done at least one month prior to conceiving. Once you are already pregnant (of if you suspect you may be) you cannot be immunised against Rubellas because it is a “live vaccine” and poses a serious risk to your baby’s health

Other immunisations you may need before falling pregnant:

  • Hepatits B
  • Chickenpox
  • Influenza

Ones that can be administered during pregnancy:

  • DTPa (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)

If you are unsure about your immunisation status, ask you GP for a blood screening test. 

For more information on pre pregnancy immunisations click here

Questions to ask your GP

Take this opportunity to maximise your overall wellbeing, and identify and minimise any risks. You may also ask your GP about: 

  • Testing for STIs 
  • A cervical screening test
  • A blood test to check your iron, vitamin D levels, and Rh factor to see if you are positive or negative
  • A urine test to screen for UTIs and kidney disease
  • Current medications 
  • Preexisting conditions such as asthma, heart problems, diabetes, epilepsy, blood disorders
  • Mental health including depression
  • Any genetic disorders in the family 
  • A pelvic, breast, and abdominal exam
  • A weight check: if you are overweight or underweight, you may have irregular periods, which make it harder to conceive. Your GP can help you set some goals to reach a conception-ready weight that will help to support a healthy pregnancy. 

woman holding a positive pregnancy testTop 10 pre-pregnancy questions 

When planning for a baby your GP can help with the answers, but it is a great opportunity to go into your appointment armed with a list of questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with your GP. 

Here are 10 common questions to get you started (in no particular order): 

  1. Should I take a prenatal vitamin? 
  2. Am I up to date with my immunisations?
  3. Are my current medications safe to take during pregnancy?
  4. Am I in a healthy weight range for pregnancy?
  5. What foods should I avoid?
  6. Can I still exercise? What exercise is safe?
  7. Is my family history of ‘x’ a concern?
  8. I have ‘x’ health condition, how might pregnancy affect it?
  9. What is the process of picking a hospital and the schedule of scans and hospital appointments like?
  10. Are there any other questions I need to ask?

Antenatal care – Your GPs role in pregnancy

Shared maternity care is a popular option of care for healthy women with a low risk pregnancy. 

Shared cared means that during your pregnancy, you can see the same GP for most of your pregnancy visits with some visits at the hospital. 

Dr Imasha will be offering shared maternity care at HealthMint Cranbourne very soon. You can find out more by contacting our Cranbourne clinic here

Postnatal care – Your GPs role after birth 

GPs are in a wonderful position to provide care after your baby arrives – for you and the entire family. 

It is recommended that you, and your baby see your GP when your baby is between five and 10 days old, and again at 6 weeks old. These are routine check ups and of course, you should always seek medical advice immediately if you or your baby are unwell. 

Your GP will work in collaboration with other healthcare providers such as your maternal and child health nurse, midwives, lactation consultations, paediatricians and obstetricians in order to optimise the care and outcomes for families. 

Your GP can build on and manage the relationship with you and your baby during post party and manage common neonatal concern, as well as medical and mental health problems of the mother and other family members, should they arise. 

Medical conditions that may have developed during pregnancy such as hypertension, diabetes and anaemia can also be managed by your GP. Preventative and lifestyle recommendations can also be established. 

GP postnatal check up with babyIf you are ready to discuss how your HealthMint GP can help when planning for a baby – Please book an appointment at one of our HealthMint clinics 

Try for 5 - national nutrition week HealthMint

National Nutrition Week: Try For 5

By Children's Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition No Comments

It’s national Nutrition week! Every year in October Nutrition Australia run their Try For 5 campaign to encourage and inform Australians to increase vegetable consumption to the recommended 5 serves per day. We all know vegetables are good for us; they are naturally packed full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants to help fight off disease and fibre to help our gut stay happy. Eating more vegetables is one simple and easy thing that you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

While we all may know that vegetables are good for us, surprisingly only 4% of Australian adults eat the recommended 5 servings!

So, what does a vegetable serve actually look like?

A serve of vegetable is 75g. This can look like:

  • 1/2 a medium size potato or other starchy vegetables,
  • 1 cup of raw leafy greens vegetables  e.g. spinach, salad leaves, kale
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables e.g. broccoli, carrot, pumpkin.

serves of different types of vegetablesWhat are the Health Benefits of having vegetables and Try for 5?

1. Bone Health:

many vegetables contain key vitamins such as vitamin K and C which helps your body keep your bones healthy. Vitamin C is essential in formation of your cartilage and joints

2. Brain and Nervous system:

Many nutrients are important for your brain and nervous system to function well. Some of the most significant ones include B-vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium. These nutrients are important in allowing our brain to send messages to the rest of the body.

3. Digestion:

In order to keep our gut health, we need fibre. Fibre from vegetables are key to help ensure your bowel movements are regular and keep your gut healthy and happy.

The vitamin and mineral found in vegetables are essential for the body to function. And an easy way to ensure we are getting enough of each nutrient is to Eat the Rainbow. Eating a variety of colours is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and even more important if you are suffering chronic illness.

As mentioned earlier, There are many benefits of eating the rainbow, from improvements in inflammation, to fibre and gut health. And we can’t forget antioxidants…

Vegetables and antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.

The sources of antioxidants can be artificial or natural – all fruits and vegetables have a variety of antioxidants (known as phytochemical), which give them their vibrant colours and with each carrying unique health benefits.

❤️Red –  full of antioxidants (particularly lycopene) including tomatoes, red berries, apple, red capsicum …

🧡Orange –  high in carotenoid which give us that bright orange colour in pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots.

💛Yellow – full of beta-carotene a great source of vitamin A. Enjoy, plenty of sweet corn, pineapple, lemon and yellow capsicum.

💚Green – the most nutrient dense food packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. From green leafy vegetables like spinach, silverbeet and kale to broccoli, zucchini and avocado.

💜 💙 Blue/Purple, containing powerful antioxidants. These can be found in blueberries, plum, purple carrot and eggplant

💟 White/Brown, Although low colour, they are packed full of nourishing goodness, showing benefits to every part of the body. From onions and garlic to mushrooms and potato.

So remember, to consider and enjoy the rainbow when you Try For 5! 

rainbow coloured vegetables and fruit all laying together

It’s all the colours of the rainbow!

Eating 5 serves of vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are aiming for 5 here are my top tips to help you achieve your goal.

  1. Eat vegetables that are seasonal. They are more affordable and also carry the essential vitamins needed to help you during that season.
  2. Frozen or Fresh? BOTH. Vegetable is a vegetable and if you are concerned about it not lasting long the frozen is just as good as fresh.
  3. Add more, and more.. if you have a dish aim to add more vegetables into it. It can be incorporated into the meal or added on the side. A fave is adding hidden vegetables to dishes such as spaghetti bolognese!

This year’s Try for 5 campaign presents an exclusive collection of vegetable-focused recipes, veg tips and information to inspire you to get more veg in your day. At this time, we need to look after our health, and the planet’s well-being too. With the Coronavirus pandemic we are making more meals at home than ever. It’s true that right now, we all want to feel connected with our family and our community.

Let’s celebrate and try for 5 serves of fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced veggies!

If you would like guidance or assistance with your diet and nutrition, our very own Dietitian Saabira Wazeer is here to help! To book an appointment just click below!

 

Saabira Wazeer HealthMint Medical Centre DietitianThis article was written by

Saabira Wazeer

Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Counsellor.

Saabira is a friendly and motivational dietitian who practices the very unique non-diet approach. This means that instead of giving you a strict diet, Saabira will work with you on your relationship with food, in order to help you make meaningful changes that will last a lifetime. Saabira is extremely understanding and easy to work with, and knows how important it is to eat and enjoy a delicious range of foods.

Areas of interest:

  • Disordered eating behaviours for adults and children
  • Hormonal issues
  • Non-diet approach
  • Gut health
  • PCOS
You can find out more about the Dietitian services at HealthMint here
anxiety and tips to cope

Anxiety Symptoms and Tips to Cope

By Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health No Comments

Anxiety Symptoms and Tips to Cope

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences to varying degrees. Many people think that anxiety is just panic attacks and a sick feeling in your stomach, which it is, but it can also be so much more than that:

  • It can be the perfectionist tendencies
  • It can be your procrastination
  • It can be the thoughts that everyone is staring at you and judging you
  • It’s the hot and cold flushes
  • It’s the fear that you’ll say something wrong and look stupid.
  • Thinking that a potentially bad situation is going to be the end of the world
  • It’s feeling tired, weak and having trouble concentrating
  • It’s feeling fidgety and restless
  • It’s avoiding places and situations that you believe are going to cause you anxiety

Tips to cope with Anxiety

There are many effective ways to cope with feelings of anxiety:

  • First cab off the rank is the classic, and always in fashion, deep breathing.
  • Taking some slow and long deep breaths can help regulate your system, and decrease the feelings of anxiety.

If you struggle to take some slow, deep breaths, maybe try the 4-7-8 technique.

What is the 4-7-8 technique?

The 4-7-8 breathing technique (touted by integrative medicine expert Andrew Weil, MD) is thought to help reduce nervousness and stress, calm anxiety, and help people drift off to sleep more quickly.

It can actually change the speed at which your heart beats and promote the effective pumping of blood to various organs and muscles. Here’s how (and why) to do it.

  1. Breath in for four seconds through your nose
  2. Hold this breath for 7 seconds
  3. Exhale completely for 8 seconds through your mouth.

This forces the brain to focus on regulating your breathing, rather than your anxious thoughts and feelings.

Talk to yourself (no, seriously, have a chat with yourself).

Often time we let our anxious thoughts go unchecked, they just wash over you without you putting up a fight. When you have a negative or anxious thought, ask yourself: how likely is this to happen?

Lastly, try some grounding techniques. Grounding or mindful techniques help you stay present, focused on what is around you, and out of your head. 

  • Ask yourself, what are:
    • 5 things you can see
    • 4 things you can hear
    • 3 things you can touch
    • 2 things you can smell
    • 1 thing you can taste
  • If you’re around people, ask yourself questions about them, such as:
    • What is their favourite movie, food, celebrity
    • What is their superpower
    • What do they do for a living

Also having tangible things to help ground you can also be really helpful, such as a stress ball. Keep your mind focused on what the stress ball feels like in your hand, and how your fingers tense when squashing it and how they relax when you let the stress ball go.   

If you’re feeling like your anxiety is becoming overwhelming and it is difficult to cope, please reach out to your GP, come see a Psychologist or give a call to the many great support lines that are out there:

Beyond Blue: 1300-222 4636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lauren Foreman - Principal Psychologist Graham Psychology at healthMint medical centre in CroydonThis article was written by

Lauren Foreman

Principal Psychologist B.BSc, PostGradPsyc, GradDipProfPsych.

Lauren is a qualified psychologist who uses her experience from working in a wide range of social settings to enhance her treatment style.
Lauren has extensive experience working with high school aged children, professional athletes, in corporate settings, within the not-for-profit sector and is an experienced workplace trainer.  ​
Her treatment experience includes depression, grief and loss, anxiety, significant trauma and relationship counselling.

Graham Psychology at HealthMintGraham Psychology is at HealthMint Medical Centre in Croydon

Graham Psychology is a boutique service who offer a range of psychology services including:

Treatment for Stress, Anxiety and Depression​ | Sport psychology | Trauma counselling | Child and adolescent counselling | Autism (behavioural assessments and programs) | Anger management | Workcover referrals, NDIS and TAC claims | Employee resilience counselling | Grief and loss | Relationship counselling | Parenting advice | Addiction counselling | Eating disorders | Child Psychology | Corporate Services | Vocational Assessment | Supervision

For more information and to book an appointment visit here

patient and doctor sitting in an appointment discussing chronic disease management

Chronic Disease Management

By Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes No Comments

Chronic Disease Management in General Practice

Almost half of the population of Australia suffer with at least one chronic disease and these conditions account for the vast majority of the causes of illness, disability and death. Chronic diseases are also on the rise in our society, mainly due to longer life expectancy & a historical change in lifestyle.

So what is a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is a medical condition that is long term and persisting, slow to progress but can lead to severe disability and a shorter lifespan.

Examples of chronic diseases that are common in Australia include:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic back pain
  • Mental health conditions
  • Some cancers

What can I do to help manage my chronic condition?

There are many complex factors that contribute towards disease such as genetics, gender & environment, yet many conditions are triggered by lifestyle factors such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, poor diet (and obesity) and lack of physical activity.

Make sure you have a great GP

When you go to see a great GP if you have multiple issues to discuss, they will break them down into what’s most important and start with those, and invite you to return to spend more time going through the rest of the things on your list. That’s because a great GP knows that rushing through everything in one go is not really doing justice to your needs. You can read more about what to look for in a great GP

Have a healthy lifestyle

Live a healthy lifestyle. Many people with chronic conditions feel better with a good diet, being as active as they can be, being a healthy weight, not smoking and minimising alcohol.

Medication 

Understand the medication you take – make sure your GP reviews them on a yearly basis if you are taking them long term.

Management Plan

Ask your GP for a chronic disease management plan (see below)

The power of a good GP

People may not realise that GPs and practice nurses are experts in screening for risk factors of chronic health problems, poor lifestyle, recognise early symptoms as well as advising and empowering people on proactive lifestyle changes or active treatment to prevent the disease.

However, once a person has developed a chronic disease, the GP becomes the facilitator to direct that person’s care, with the focus being less on cure but control of progression,  avoidance of complications such as disability, hospitalisation and early death.

It could be argued that good GP care in recent times has helped revolutionise the care of illness, with the realistic expectation for people to live a near normal life with a chronic disease rather than suffer significant suffering and an early demise.

What is an integrated chronic disease management plan?

The Australian Government continues to invest in GPs leading disease management through the chronic disease management plan (CDM), a medicare rebatable case meeting with the GP and/or practice nurse to work in partnership with the patient to set goals of treatment and plan how these are going to be reached. Goals usually have a pragmatic and realistic focus on achieving optimal health and functional outcomes in living with the condition. The plan will involve various measures that incorporates clinician-led medical treatment and lifestyle measures that the patient is given the responsibility to build into their routine.

Part of this plan often involves generating a team care arrangement (TCA) to enlist the help of 2 or more allied health professionals such as a physiotherapist, podiatrist, dietitian etc to reach these health goals. Up to 5 visits to private allied health professionals are subsidised per year under these plans.

Not everyone qualifies for a CDM & TCA plan; the rules stipulate that a person must possess a valid medicare card and have a chronic medical condition. Medicare have entrusted GPs with the discretion of what constitutes a chronic disease, yet it is essentially an illness that has lasted for at least 6 months.

Separate from the CDM, there are also separately funded GP-led care plans enabled for diabetes and mental health, two of the more common long term health problems in our society.

Chronic disease management at HealthMint

At HealthMint we believe that the value of a high quality plan comes in a skilled, perceptive and enthusiastic GP and/or practice nurse dedicating a good amount of time to the patient, considering a tailored plan to the individual and providing practical tips on how to achieve the best health outcomes.

We are confident that we provide a superior service since time and effort has been put into gathering an excellent group of caring GPs and nurses who are provided with the time to spend getting to know their patients, enabling them to work in partnership to inspire and empower these patients to improve their health and quality of life in spite of their chronic disease.

We recommend that if you find yourself hampered by unpleasant symptoms of a chronic medical illness on a daily basis then do not waste another day settling for second best, and book an appointment with one of our GPs or practice nurses to discuss your management options.

Access the factsheet for patients on chronic disease management.

Dr Chris Madden GP at HealthMint Medical Centre Croydon Central Shopping CentreThis article was written by

Dr Chris Madden, GP

General Practitioner MBBS, FRACGP, DRCOG, DFSRH, BSc (Hons)

Chris is passionate about delivering high quality holistic care in the community. He really enjoys interacting with patients, recognising and advising on their physical and emotional problems as well as counselling on preventative medicine and lifestyle change to help people achieve their best long term health. Chris is devoted to educating, inspiring and mentoring future GPs & is an accredited supervisor & Medical Educator with Eastern Victoria GP Training. Chris is originally from the UK, having trained as a doctor in London, and moved to Melbourne in 2011 after completing his GP training. Away from work Chris loves spending time with his wife and kids as well as doing many activities such as jogging, cycling, bushwalking, swimming, socialising and travelling. Chris is also an avid fan of Leicester City Football Club.
woman practicing breathing techniques in nature and being mindful

Getting Started with Mindfulness

By General Wellbeing, Mental Health No Comments

What is mindfulness?

 

Originating from ancient Eastern traditions, mindfulness is essentially trying to connect our mind to the present moment, non-judgmentally.

However, when our mind swings from the past to the future, and back again, it can rarely have a chance to rest in the present.

Why can this be unhelpful for mindfulness?

 

When we recall painful memories/regrets, or worries for the future, we feel the horrible feelings that come with it and can’t do anything to change it.

We have no control over what has already happened or what is to be. Our power and control rests solely in the present moment.

What does being in a state of mindfulness feel like?

mindfulness words in a wave illustration

 

If you think about the moments when you feel most calm and at peace, it is usually when you’re completely engaged in the moment, free from unhelpful self-talk and stress.

It might be feeling the breeze on your face when you are outside, enjoying a hot shower, or being engrossed in a hobby.

Your whole being is involved and engaged in the moment, body and mind.

This integrated state is so different to what we are used to – driving home from work and thinking about dinner, on a zoom call but wishing you were talking to your friends and talking to your friends with your mind on housework!

How can mindfulness be achieved in daily life?

 

Try an activity where you can actively connect with your body:

  1. Laying on your back in bed/on the couch, feeling the rise and fall of your breath in your abdomen and chest.
  2. Body scan. Work your way slowly up from your feet to your forehead, simply noticing the sensations in each part. You can take this a step further by intentionally tightening and loosening muscle groups (progressive muscle relaxation)
  3. Taking a deep breath, stretching your hands up to the ceiling, and exhaling slowly allowing your arms to rest gently by your sides. This can be repeated for a few minutes

mother and daughter practicing yoga pose in the loungroom

Make the most of nature:

 The outdoors is an easy space for us to feel connected with our senses and trying to get outside when the weather is good can be helpful.

Use your senses to engage in the moment – what can you hear? See? Touch?

When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, trying to ask ourselves “What is under my control right now?”

These are simple practices we can all try no matter where we are, the aim being to make it more than a ‘practice’ but an awareness that can benefit our lives.

mindfulness woman in nature holding out her arms

 

To see where you are at in your mindfulness journey, you can try this simple questionnaire called Mindful Attention Awareness Scale 

Smiling Mind can support your (and your family’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. They offer a FREE daily mindfulness and meditation app and guide at your fingertips. You can learn more about them here

Priyanka Nair HealrhMint Medical Centre Psychologist

Priyanka Nair

General Psychologist (BHSc, MHSc, PGDipCounsPsych)

Priyanka is a lovely and warm registered Psychologist, trained in New Zealand.

The two main modalities used by Priyanka are, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). Priyanka also has experience with Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and has conducted skills-based groups for both adults and children.

Priyanka has worked with adults presenting with a range of concerns including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, work and financial issues, chronic fatigue, interpersonal difficulties, adjusting to physical illness, grief, and managing sleep. She has seen the impact of mental distress on career, relationships, and personal happiness, and aims to equip clients with skills to manage the mind. She is passionate about third wave psychology, and particularly resonates with ACT, a values-based, mindful approach to managing the mind and its thoughts/emotions.

Priyanka is aware of your needs, and will tailor every session to accommodate you. She is able to build rapport easily, and works with you to find a long-term approach to manage any unhelpful patterns in your lives.

Book Appointment

Watch Priyanka introduce herself here

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