Byon May 30, 2017
Every winter when you get sick, do you tell yourself to be more prepared next year? As soon as someone sneezes do you find yourself with yet another cold or flu?
Don't worry! It doesn't have to be that way! Get prepared this cold and flu season. Reduce your risk of getting sick by building strong immune defences. If you do get sick, a strong immune system will also reduce the severity of your cold and flu symptoms, and help speed your recovery.
Read our newsletter for our tips on how to stay well...............
ByKnowing what to feed your athletic (as well as not-so-sporty) children may seem an increasingly mysterious thing given the varied, and often conflicting, information we are fed these days. on December 7, 2016
ByCalorie counting is a waste of time. How often do you hear people say that? Come and visit us at All About Health and Wellness and you will be on the receiving end of that message – accompanied by sound reasoning and advice. We challenge the “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” mantra chanted by dieticians, doctors and most people involved in weight management. Their message, very simply, has been that too many calories in and not enough burning out, increases your weight. But, Paddy and I are supportive of the argument that this is fundamentally flawed because of the varying ways different foods are processed in the liver. We are strong proponents of endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig and his beliefs around the controversies in nutrition. His task, he says, is to debunk 30 years of nutritional information, including the “If you eat it you (you’d) better burn it" message. His scientifically validated presentation The Skinny on Obesity focuses on the fact we eat more than we did 20 years ago; namely that we are eating more sugar, and herein lies the problem. Sugar is the culprit in both the “why are we eating more and why have we got so obese in such a short time” questions. Thirty years ago, fat was identified as the bad guy in the dietary family. Food producers removed the fat and replaced it with sugar, which was required for palatability. (With 15 teaspoons of sugar, one bottle of Coke will put you over the suggested daily limit and, worse still, any sugar that isn't used by the body will be stored as fat.) Sugar is made up of two molecules – glucose and fructose. Glucose is the energy of life; fructose is something altogether different. In Dr Lustig’s words, “fructose is a poison. It’s nothing to do with calories, it’s a poison in itself”. How the liver processes fructose is different from how it processes glucose. With glucose, 20 per cent is processed in the liver and 80 per cent is used in other parts of the body, for example the muscles, brain and other organs. However, with fructose, 100 per cent is metabolised in the liver. When that happens, the liver (which is dealing with a toxin) reacts by increasing insulin resistance. This is bad as the pancreas then has to work over-time and the end point is that the by-product is converted to fat that is stored around the organs. This never used to be the case. It is only because we now have so many more foods with a high level of sugar – therefore fructose – that insulin resistance then occurs. Yes, fructose is the culprit, but it’s not that simple. There are hormones at play. Ghrelin is the hormone that sends the message we are hungry (grumbling ghrelin!). Leptin is the hormone, stored in fat cells, that sends a signal to the brain to say you have eaten a sufficient amount. But, the big problem is that when insulin levels are out of whack or insulin resistant (thanks to fructose) that alters the leptin’s response. So the brain still thinks you are hungry… and you eat more. As Dr Lustig says….”We are eating more than we did 20 years ago because our leptin is not working as effectively. There is something wrong with our biochemical negative feedback system that normally controls our energy balance.” The reason our leptin isn’t working and the reason we can’t stay energy stable is because of the increased introduction of the fructose poison in our diets. Here’s what we know about fructose in relation to dietary hormones: * Fructose does not suppress ghrelin – the hunger hormone * Acute fructose ingestion does not stimulate insulin. Insulin does not go up and if insulin doesn’t go up then leptin doesn’t go up and if leptin doesn’t go up then your brain doesn’t see that you ate something. Therefore you eat more. So, back to that calorie counting mind set. You may reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories a day and think you will be OK. But, ask yourself, what type of 500 calories are you eating? You may have cut down on your calories – you may even be exercising more – but remember, your liver deals with various calories in different ways. De-bunking 30 years of dietary belief is a big deal and may take a bit of getting your head around. Come and see Paddy who will help you test some of your dietary calculations, and assist you in creating a diet with a fructose diminished focus. Come to the clinic for advice around how to eat, what to eat, why we may overeat, and for hormone supplement advice. How to eat covers, for example, chewing your food and not drinking water with your meal (so you don’t dilute stomach acid so it can breakdown your food). What to eat will cover both portion size and content. We can also assist with identifying the emotional issues behind overeating and ensuring you are truly congruent with losing weight at a sub conscious level. Further to that, we can advise in regards to the hormone supplements that can be taken to assist the weight loss process. Also of note: while we say exercise is not the answer to calorie counting, it is still important. Exercise reduces stress, it helps bring insulin levels down, and it detoxifies fructose. on September 21, 2016
ByIf I had my top 10 books piled on my bedside table, chances are Tripping Over the Truth would be found resting there. This book, by science writer Travis Christofferson, illuminates a hugely interesting viewpoint on cancer treatment. Part of this perspective is based on starving cancer cells of their primary fuel – namely glucose. I am sharing my appreciation of this book’s messaging as it is a nice segue from my last blog with its focus on the ketogenic diet. As discussed, a ketogenic diet is heavily restrictive on sugar intake. Christofferson’s book is the best thing I have read in a long time. Here is someone who has had a thorough look at the causes of cancer – a topic which is still hugely researched and debated. There are essentially two schools of thought around this. One has attached importance to genetics, the other school of thought attaches itself to metabolic matters. Christofferson is a champion of the latter. He challenges everything we thought we knew about cancer, suggesting the reason for the failed war against this disease actually stems from a flawed paradigm that categorises cancer as an exclusively genetic disease. Tripping Over the Truth explores the non-toxic therapies born from the metabolic theory of cancer. Metabolic therapies highlight one striking feature in particular, I find – the potential to treat all types of cancer because they exploit the one weakness common to every cancer cell: dysfunctional metabolism. My take on this is as follows. Diet plays a key role in cancer treatment and prevention. If glucose is recognised as a primary fuel for cancer, then it makes good sense to look at a keto diet, in which glucose has no place. This is a low-carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet. Shift your metabolism from relying mostly on glucose for fuel, to relying mostly on fat-based sources of fuel. You will push your body’s metabolism into ketosis, which is a good thing. When you adapt your diet accordingly, your body gets better at burning and utilising fats as a primary energy source. Fat is an important source of essential fatty acids and nutrients, and fat with protein helps moderate the insulin response. This is a hugely desirable outcome, as cancer cells thrive so much on glucose. Dr Gary Fettke – orthopaedic surgeon and senior university lecturer – is another promoter of the metabolic model of cancer. Having battled cancer himself, Fettke came to realize the influence of nutrition on cancer, and the importance of eating a diet high in healthy fats and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber, i.e. non-fiber carbs). He speaks of 16 clinical human trials that are currently under way to research calorie restriction and ketosis diet management with cancer patients. Is it possible that chromosomal damage is simply a marker for cancer and not the actual cause of the disease? Fettke believes there is compelling evidence that suggests this is the case. Scientists over time have studied how cancer cells grow, divide and what their energy sources are. In a nutshell, they have observed that cancer cells operate in a different way to healthy cells in that they really love glucose. Those who expound the metabolic theory tell us that once a cancer cell has formed, altered genes are the result. It isn’t the genes causing the cancer, they argue. The genes’ maladaptation is the result of the metabolic change that goes on in the cancer cells. Where does that leave us? Documented cases show the advantages of putting people into a ketogenic state, plus reducing calories quite aggressively. What was noticed was a reduction in the activity and size of tumours. Essentially, if you starve cancer cells from their favourite food - ie glucose – this can literally cause the cancer cell to die. There are additions to this equation. There are drugs now used to help that process – a process quite different to chemo or radiation. What is now gaining increasing interest is the process of putting the cancer patient through diet changes to produce ketosis, adding the aforementioned drugs, and even using hyperbaric (oxygen) therapy … results being seen include quite remarkable improvements in cancer patients. I believe this approach is a credible cancer preventative and cancer attacker (in what Christofferson would describe as a gentle rehabilitative way rather than the all-out combat of chemotherapy or radiation.) What adds to the excitement around this is that the benefits of kestosis are so far-reaching. This doesn’t just benefit one part of the body – for example muscles, gut, brain – the benefits are widely spread, which is the way things happen in nature. Drugs usually target one area, without a cross-over effect. Consider closely what you feed your body’s cells. The root causes of all diseases are very similar within the cells of the body, so a keto diet plays a part in being a life saver on many fronts. It is most certainly a hopeful and exciting perspective. At All About Health and Wellness we are well versed on the advantages a keto diet can have on your health, well-being and sporting performance. Come and talk to us about how your performance will be better on this recommended type of fuel source. Paddy can discuss the keto diet and offer expert advice on how to make this adaptation easier and incredibly effective – all backed by the latest science. on August 2, 2016You can follow us on Facebook here to join the conversation.
Byon June 17, 2016
It’s time to stop vilifying the fats, and let’s debunk some carbohydrate myths while we are at it!Fats, proteins and carbohydrates will be key characters in this column as we discuss how best to fuel your muscles and your exercise in general. It may well be time to look at changing your fuel source for your exercise…and for general health benefits too, including weight loss. Traditionally, the belief has held that when we exercise, the major source of our fuel should be carbohydrates. This was a strongly held belief that has been prescribed for the best part of 40 years. Now we are saying, “hang on, that isn’t quite the way”. In a similar way we were told that eating fats was linked to cardio and blood pressure issues. Fats were vilified and carbohydrates were lauded. It’s time to get the facts right.
Flipping the food pyramidIn reality, the traditional food pyramid we have operated by for far too long can be turned upside down. That pyramid has breads, cereal, rice and pasta at the bottom in the “eat plenty of” category, and fats at the top in the “use sparingly” zone. Things change. What we now know is that we store more fat in our body than we do carbohydrates (glycogen). Essentially, we are now acknowledging that the fat tank provides equal, if not better, benefits. What we need to do is get our body to burn and use the fat tank, not the carbohydrate/glycogen tank. Keto adaptation is the official term for this and is the most efficient path to accelerated fat burning. In short: a keto adapted diet is one that has low carbohydrate intake and higher levels of good fats and protein.
What is Keto adaptation then?This is the process of shifting your metabolism from relying mostly on glucose for fuel, to relying mostly on fat-based sources of fuel. Not only does fat oxidation increase, but your body will start producing enough ketones. They can be used as a significant source of fuel as well. Ketones are derived from partially metabolized fat, and they can be used in many of the same tissues of the body as glucose can, including the brain. The benefits of using fat and ketones rather than glucose for fuel are many. Fat is an important source of essential fatty acids and nutrients. Moreover, ingesting fat with protein helps to moderate the insulin response. A keto diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, and a high fat diet. How do you know if you are burning fat? Your body goes into a state called ketosis. This can be measured with a quick dipstick into your urine. This will tell you when you are fat burning. Insulin is a critical part of the whole equation, and this is, essentially, what causes problems. When we are on a high carbohydrate diet we end up producing and having altered insulin and this inhibits fat burning. Here’s an analogy. If you light a fire you use twigs to ensure it burns fast and hard. The twigs are carbohydrates. If you want a fire for a good barbeque you have to put charcoal on. Charcoal is the fat in this equation. We are teaching the body how to go from burning the twigs to the charcoal. A key point is that, when you adapt your diet accordingly, your body gets better at burning and utilising fats as a primary energy source. It is literally an adaptive process – a time to look at what is in your diet. Now is a good time to increase good fats, nuts and fibrous vegetables and reduce bread, pasta and white rice, for example. In brief:
- Carbohydrate-based fueling is a self-perpetuating cycle: it runs out quickly, and every time you eat more carbs you delay adaptation to fat-burning.
- Fat-based fueling is sustainable, because it allows access to a very large store of energy without you frequently stopping to refuel. Blood sugar is maintained though precise internal processes without wild swings. These two together create a desirable flow of even, stable energy, mood, and alertness.
It takes time for our metabolism to adjust to dietary changeSo, if we reduce carbohydrates in our diet, we reduce insulin levels and with this comes an increased ability to burn fat. But, this doesn’t happen in a day. It takes time for the metabolism to adjust to producing and using ketones at a significant rate – you may feel a bit slow during the change-over. Even though changes are evident within days of carbohydrate restriction, improvements continue for weeks. We recommend committing to a very low level of carbohydrate intake, and staying with it consistently for at least long enough to get ketone production in full force – about thirty days. Remember, you can measure this in your urine. We have the urine sticks to measure this by. Rest assured, if you experience any discomfort at all, you are likely to feel fully functional within 4 or 5 days. However, metabolic changes continue for at least two weeks and often more.
The individual touch – we’re here to helpUnfortunately results can vary from individual to individual. Paddy and I are here to provide assistance and help you gain maximum advantage from this positive paradigm shift. I am here to talk about exercise your muscles will thrive from, and how your performance will be better on this recommended type of fuel source. Paddy can offer expert advice on how to make this adaptation easier and incredibly effective – all backed by the latest science. She will also be able to discuss keto diets and assist with the weight loss benefits to this.
ByIf you are over 40 you may not like the tone of this…but your muscle tone will thank you for taking the time to read this! The fact is that after the age of 40 we naturally lose muscle tissue as a consequence of the normal aging process. Any loss of muscle mass is of consequence, because loss of muscle means loss of strength and mobility. There’s even a name for it. Welcome to sarcopenia. In real terms, what that means is, a loss of muscle tissue that equates to about three kilograms per decade after the age of 40. Yes, that is the natural rate of loss you are up against; but only if you do nothing about it. Really, it’s not that scary. The good news is, you are still able to put on muscle tissue by exercising the right way – even when you are in your nineties. So, what is the right way? While it is great if you cycle, jog, or swim – and you will note improvements – this is not going to grow your muscles optimally. The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise specifically focused on resistance or strength training. This form of exercise increases muscle strength and endurance through the use of weights or resistance bands, for example. Resistance training is the champion here, as it positively influences the neuromuscular system, as well as hormone concentrations and protein synthesis rate. There is no doubt that resistance training is beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia. It’s the energy within the muscle that you lose the most. This is because the power cells in the muscle, called mitochondria, diminish. Think of mitochondria like batteries - are you an Energiser or a lesser quality battery. These are the very structures that are stimulated, both in number and quality, when you do resistance training. So you can turn your lesser quality batteries into Energisers. As you become older you lose strength, confidence, balance and become susceptible to things like falling. If you fall you are more likely to suffer a fracture and that can cause a whole range of detrimental health issues that worsen your frailty. As with many things, there is a strong benefit in speaking with a professional to ensure you are adopting the approach that is right for your life stage and physical condition. At All About Health and Wellness we are primed to deliver optimal benefits with the proper number, intensity and frequency of resistance exercise. Simple compound exercises like squats are helpful; pulley weights are the ideal. You can use your own body weight as resistance when doing exercise, for example doing squats. To maximise the benefit, hold a weight close to your chest - this is great for your butt and calves and thigh. I have clients who come in for personal training sessions geared specifically around building energy in their muscles. At All About Health and Wellness we have a personalised gym and I demonstrate on a one-on-one exercise basis. Visiting your physiotherapist is not just about getting an ache or pain fixed, and this is a case in point. Working on developing strong muscle tone also stands you in good stead should you sustain an injury. That preventative strengthening work will function as a safety valve. Muscle tone strengthening is advantageous from a preventative as well as reactionary perspective – we are not talking solely about injury rehabilitation. It’s a both sides of the coin thing. While we have been talking about natural changes that occur without an injury being part of the equation, it is important to note that muscle weakening occurs even more so when an injury is involved. If you tear your achilles tendon, for example, you can lose your calf muscle bulk by up to 50 per cent within 10 days to two weeks after that injury, in some cases. So, if you don’t exercise to get that stronger you will be left with a weakness you will have to improve. It’s not going to come back by itself; you have to do some hard work. While resistance training is very effective at fighting low muscle tone, it’s important to ensure you are taking in adequate amounts of protein required to build muscle. You can enlist the help of the All About Health and Wellness team on this front also. You can also follow us on on May 5, 2016Facebook for more updates on living health and improving your road to wellness. Healthy Regards to all, Paddy & John, All About Health and Wellness.
Byon March 24, 2016
Summer has only just retired, but already pre-season winter sport trainings are out of the starter blocks.
The question is… are you ready and set to go too?
Now is the perfect time to start preparing your body for winter sports to reduce injury and unwanted muscle pain, and to prevent illness.
As we well know in our sports-focused nation, wintry conditions are no barrier to exercising. All that is needed is good preparation. Exercising in cold weather no doubt places extra demands on the body, which can lead to reduced sporting performance and an increased chance of injury (and illness). But, the good news is that most cold-related injuries can be prevented with good preparation.
There are things the All About Health and Wellness team can help you with in the lead up to your full immersion in winter sports.
* There are specific sport-related exercises that will be beneficial to your pre-season training. It is important to warm up, stretch and cool down for longer than usual, as cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are at greater risk of injury. See us for stretching advice specific to your needs. There’s great value in receiving such individual advice, as generic information is not always effective. For example, the needs of an 80 year-old golfer will tend to be different from those of a 15 year old rugby player!
* Strapping and bracing have key roles to play in the prevention of injuries as they maintain a stable position of bones and muscles. Strapping/taping is most often used to help recover from overuse and other injuries, yet it is also valuable as an injury preventer as recent research shows. A study in Sweden, for example, analysed the benefits of strapping the ankles of one group of basketballers competing at top league level over a season. Others in the same group were left with ankles unstrapped. The results showed that players were 60 per cent less likely to sustain an ankle injury if they had opted to have their ankles strapped as a preventative measure. Strapping is not, therefore, simply there as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff once the damage has already been done.
Of course we can provide that ‘ambulance’ service too - we are also here to help you out if you are heading into winter sport with some extra injury baggage from summer.
* Nutritional advice. Be mindful that winter sport preparation is not just about what we do with our bodies; it’s what we put into them. It’s an optimum time to recognise, and act on the fact, that various vitamins have a key role to play in immunity boosting and seasonal nutritional requirements in general.
A website we often like to refer to is www.nutritionfacts.org. Among the many wisdoms (including those of a medical doctor who researches nutritional medication) to be gleaned from this site is the message that moderate exercise improves immunity and decreases illness rates.
Scientific-based literature also tells us that if you do a little bit of exercise you are stimulating your immune response; if your exercise programme involves too much sustained and intense exertion you could in fact be inhibiting/reducing your immune response. Overtraining may actually put excessive stress on your body and increase your risk of infection. The result of that can be lost training days and a less-than-optimum performance.
So how can we fight off sickness and continue to train? There is a need to think nutrition in relation to your immune system. There will be the need to compensate, and a great way to do so is via a recommended nutritional intake. There are various superfoods available to do just this. An example of one of them is nutritional yeast. This is high in the B vitamins (B6, B12, B9) and is also a good source of protein, magnesium and zinc. Come and have a chat and we can advise which immunity boosting option will best suit your individual needs, and in what therapeutic dose. It’s important to ensure that you are not only investing in the product best for you, but the correct therapeutic dose too.
Other tips to assist your pre-season training:
* Dress in layers to trap heat and prevent heat loss. Add or remove layers of clothing as necessary according to exercise level/conditions
* You can protect your body further by making sure you wear the right protective gear for your winter sports
Enjoy winter sport activities to the fullest, with adrenaline, strength, stamina and of course remaining injury-free.
Give us a call, so we can have you poised at that winter sport starting line, ready to excel and enjoy.
101 Churchill Drive Crofton Downs
Ph: 04 479 2800
Or 0800 200 299
Byon February 25, 2016
The hardest part about championing a change in your diet is breaking old habits. Whether you’re out socialising at a café with friends, or standing in front of your pantry on a Saturday afternoon feeling nibblish, it can be hard to know where to start with making a change.
Going gluten free can be one of the biggest mental hurdles to overcome. It means reducing your bread, pasta, pastries, cake, crackers, cereal, beer and oats intake right down to minimal or zero, which means undergoing both a mental paradigm shift in thinking and changing your day-to-day approach to eating and decision making.
The good news is that you’re not alone. Around the world, more and more adults and their families are turning to gluten free diets to help support their overall digestive health. At All About Health & Wellness we are here to support you on this journey to better health, which is why we have compiled this five-tip guide to gluten elimination for you and your family.
Here are our five top diet-changing tips:
1. Find Support.
When going gluten free, it can be tough feeling like you’re missing out on the foods you and others love. We recommend asking for support from your families and friends in making the diet transition, because you will then feel less isolated by your diet. You can make it easy for your friends and family to help you make good diet choices by keeping them informed. Let friends know of good gluten free recipes before you go around for dinner parties (Jamie Oliver is always a good go-to – check out his gluten free beef lasagne. Who said this had to be boring?), or recommend great local cafes that you know have a good range of gluten free options before you go out together for a family catch up.
We also recommend looking at online reviews to find local cafés that celebrate diversity of diets and provide good gluten free choices. We like Midnight Espresso, Beach Babylon and Flight Coffee Hangar in Wellington for these reasons.
Another way to find support at home is to involve your kids/partners in meal preparation and grocery shopping, and look to move to a low-gluten diet as a family unit. Substitute rice for pasta dishes, or use gluten-free alternatives, find tasty gluten free sauces to share and do the cooking together to get your wider family’s buy in and support.
2. Eat before you go out and carry tasty gluten-free snacks with you
Impulse decisions are made on an empty stomach. If you’re going somewhere and you’re not sure if there will be gluten free options available to you, make sure you’ve eaten so you’re likely to be more willing to politely turn down any gluten-laden foods that might come your way.
Children’s birthday parties can be particularly bad for this (think sausage rolls and chocolate cake galore), but it’s a good habit to get into and will help you balance your diet in the long-run too.
Also use snacks strategically to help you manage hunger in between meals. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours so you don’t ever feel ravenous, and drink lots of water to keep on top of any cravings that might come as you transition to the new diet.
3. Find 3-4 Gluten Free meals you love, and get good at cooking them.
Instead of focusing on what is not good for you, focus on the foods you love and that you can eat. From chicken skewers with a yoghurt spice sauce on a Wednesday night, to a homemade blueberry compote with gluten free waffles for your Sunday lie-in, the choices for a gluten-zero can be endless.
Have fun getting inventive in the kitchen with a fantastic variety of gluten free cooking ingredients available at most good supermarkets (we like Common Sense Organics on Wakefield Street) and make sure to keep us posted with your new creations so we can share the word.
4. Limit Exposure
Organise your weekly grocery shops to fall after you’ve had a good meal and when your willpower is high. Conversely, avoid shopping when you’re tired or feeling emotional, to help put you in the best position to make good choices.
As a good rule of thumb, try shop around the edges of a supermarket, taking in a good amount of fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, dairy (most gluten free options are labelled clearly these days, but always check on the back if you’re unsure) and eggs. Compliment with brown rice, beans, quinoa and nuts, and you’ve got a good staple diet ready to go.
Eventually you’ll be able to run on autopilot and shop without overthinking it, but when you’re starting out, watch out for gluten surprises. These can be hiding in flavourings, dressings, chocolates, and foods like pickles (for a list of 18 gluten surprises, see this blog here), or give Paddy a quick call if you have any questions about the right foods for you.
All of this preparation won in the supermarket means that when it comes time to look in the pantry, you’ll be well prepped to make good choices and make the most of the ingredients that are available to you. This approach works best when you are feeling tired after a long-day as it’s easy enough to keep on track because you don’t have to think twice about what’s okay for your body and what’s not.
5. Focus on the benefits
According to the 21 day rule, It takes an average human being 21 days to break a habit. Getting through the first three weeks of your new regimen will be the hardest, but stay focused on the benefits!
Soon common symptoms like digestive upset, lethargy, foggy minds, depression, joint ache, bloating and headaches will ease, and you’ll feel fuller, stronger and healthier. Keep this in mind as you’re about to break down and refocus in on your health goals.
If you’d like to organise a time to meet with Nutrition and Allergy Specialist Paddy Sullivan at All About Health & Wellness’s Crofton Downs or Eastbourne Clinic, you can make an appointment here.
Make sure to let us know what your top tips are by emailing through to email@example.com or by engaging with us on Facebook.
You can also follow us on Facebook for more updates on living health and improving your road to wellness.
Healthy Regards to all,
Paddy & John, All About Health and Wellness.
ByI received this article from "Daily health Tip - Baseline of Health - Jon Barron.org" and felt I needed to share it because of the important information it contained. I would also add in here that it is a really good idea to rinse the cleaning solution (which is a disinfectant base) off the lens with a saline solution. Happy comfortable lens wearing, and here's to eye longevity! on September 12, 2015
|Today's Daily Health Tip for Patricia!Contact Lens Abuse Rampant by Hiyaguha CohenYears ago my optometrist warned me off of getting contact lenses, saying that most of the serious eye problems he dealt with were the direct result of his patients wearing contacts. Clearly, a huge segment of the population does not go to my eye doctor because there are about 41 million contact lens wearers in the US alone.According to a new report just issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), many of those wearers are at risk. The report, which surveyed 1000 contact lens wearers, found that 99 percent of those who wear contacts do not follow correct safety protocols, doing things that might lead to serious eye infection and other problems.The biggest violation that the study found was that most users fail to remove their lenses while swimming or showering. Eighty-five percent of the respondents said they showered with their lenses on, and 61 percent kept them in while swimming. The problem is that microorganisms and other contaminants in the water can get trapped between the lens and the eye, and these trapped microorganisms can trigger infection.How can you get infected taking a shower? It's an oxymoron, right, since showers are supposed to clean you off? According to the CDC, "Even household tap water, although treated to be safe for drinking, is not sterile and contains microorganisms that can contaminate lens cases and contact lenses and cause eye infections."In other words, the microorganisms in tap water also account for the fact that rinsing and storing lenses in water is a no-no. The lenses should be cleaned and stored in contact lens solution, but 35.5 percent of contact lens wearers use tap water instead. Among those wearing hard contacts (20 percent of all contact wearers), 91 percent rinse with water.It's even worse to keep on the lenses for your daily swim. If you haven't read our recent blog on swimming pool pollution, you might want to do so now to find out how much excrement is in your pool water. You might also want to research the bacteria count in the water at your local swimming beach while you're at it. There is a reason the CDC urges contact lens users to take the things out when swimming.The CDC cites snoozing with the lenses intact as another major problem. Fifty percent of users report sleeping with their lenses still in, and 87 percent nap with them. As we wrote last year in another blog, even though some types of lenses are meant to be slept in, infections arise more frequently when contact lens wearers do just that. Ophthalmologist Dr. Rebecca Taylor explains that sleeping with contacts on is "like having a plastic bag over your head when you sleep. It's not ideal for oxygen exchange."Your eyes apparently need to breathe to stay healthy, otherwise you risk not only eye infections, but also ulcers of the cornea and other types of irritation. In fact, a 2012 study found that the risk of developing a type of infection called keratitis increases 6.5 times if you leave the lenses in when you go to bed. The bottom line, says the CDC, is that sleeping without removing contacts presents risk no matter what type of lenses are involved, including the "safe to sleep in" variety.Other problems cited in the report involve cutting corners in the cleaning regimen. To keep contact lenses sterile, you're supposed to use an antiseptic cleaning solution each time you remove them, but apparently, even those who use the solution instead of water typically cheat. Instead of changing the solution with each rinse, as is recommended, 55 percent of the respondents said they top off their old cleaning solution instead.Similarly, lots of the users surveyed failed to replace their lenses on time. "One thing that we see people doing a lot is using the lenses beyond the lifetime of the lens," said Dr. Robert Steinemann of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "If it's a two-week lens, they keep it four or six weeks, if it's one month, they keep it two." He says this is a problem because degraded lenses can become more vulnerable to contamination.Likewise, contact cases need to be replaced at regular intervals, and 82 percent of the respondents didn't replace their cases often enough. Plus, they didn't wash the case regularly enough or with fresh solution.Dr. Steinemann notes, "The lens case can get dirty, and germs from the case get onto the lens or vice versa, and eventually they get onto your eye and attack your cornea…and "[this can happen] within 24 hours of wearing a compromised lens." The bottom line is that failure to follow the proper contact lens hygiene regimen will most likely catch up with you sooner or later. One-third of the study participants admitted that they'd already suffered from infection, red eye, ulcers of the cornea, or other problems as a direct result of wearing contacts. And the CDC notes that each year one out of every 500 contact lens wearers develops a serious infection that could lead to blindness. Those are not negligible odds. To view article references and comment, click here.|