Fabulous fibre
The benefits of fibre in the diet have been known for many years. In fact, one of the earliest proprietary fibre supplements, containing parts of the seed of the Plantago ovata (psyllium) plant, was marketed more than 75 years ago as the non-irritant laxative Metamucil. But, we now know that fibre offers more benefits than just a better functioning bowel. Each of the four main types of fibre – soluble fibre, insoluble fibre, resistant starches and so-called oligosaccharides – works in a different but complementary way. So, it’s important to get dietary fibre from a variety of sources: fruit, vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts and the bran or husk of cereal grains.

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That\'s just too salty
Most Australians would probably ask: what is there to be aware of? We’re all aware of salt. But maybe we’re not all aware of just how much more salt we consume than is good for our health. The ideal intake of salt is 1-2 grams per day, but many Australians consumer five or ten times that amount. Salt is a leading cause of high blood pressure; and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

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Good health gift ideas
For many people, Christmas has deep religious significance; for others, it’s simply a time to relax and enjoy a few days off work. But for almost everyone, this time of year has traditionally become one of celebration. Throughout many societies it is commonplace to exchange gifts or simply ‘season’s greetings’, and to express sentiments of peace and goodwill. Wishes of good health usually accompany greetings at this time of year; so, perhaps some healthy gift ideas could be worth a thought as well.

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The rate of breastfeeding is a worldwide issue. On 1 May 2012, UNICEF issued a statement of concern about the major declines in breastfeeding rates across East Asia in relation to deteriorating infant and child health. One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) project goals is to reduce child mortality. It has been reported in 65% of the world’s infant population aged one year or less, only 35% are exclusively breastfed between birth and four months of age.

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Celebration of ageing
Living longer is a great thing, but we also need to remain healthy to enjoy our longer lives to their fullest. Unfortunately, debilitating conditions such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and some types of arthritis are more common in older people.

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Dealing with D words
For people with diabetes, having one chronic medical condition is usually quite enough of a challenge. When they’re told they are also more likely to develop another potentially serious disease, maintaining a reasonably bright outlook on life could become even more of a struggle.

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Enjoy alcohol - in moderation
Alcohol dependence can creep up on some people and so it pays to be aware of some of the tell-tale signs. These include worrying about when you’ll be able to have your next drink; sweating, nausea or insomnia when you don’t drink; and needing to drink more and more alcohol to get drunk.

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Getting your teeth into good health
The once controversial issue of fluoridation of water now has broad national support. More than 70% of the Australian population has access to artificially fluoridated drinking water consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. And, since the 1960s and 70s when this oral health strategy was introduced, the incidence of dental caries (tooth decay) in Australia has been significantly reduced.

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Should you go gluten-free?
The term ‘gluten-free’ is ubiquitous in modern society. Dietary gluten (or wheat) is often blamed for causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms, health problems, and weight gain. There is a wealth of expensive gluten-free products now on the market, and sales of these products are growing rapidly. Today many people avoid gluten in the belief that it will improve their health or help them to lose weight. Health professionals have expressed concern that increasing numbers of people are self-diagnosing gluten allergies and intolerances.

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Teenagers and alcohol - an unhealthy combination
Along with the beginning of every new school year, we can almost guarantee we’ll get a new wave of head lice infestations. Sucking blood from a human scalp is the most popular pastime of Pediculus humanus capitis (that’s the official name for a head louse). In fact, sucking blood is about the only thing the little louse really does.

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