Home Healthy Life Health What’s On The Health Horizon?

What’s On The Health Horizon?

0
SHARE

Experts share what they wish we knew about healthy lifestyles and what the future holds. By Sarah Marinos.

Cutting edge research and medical innovations are set to revolutionise the way we approach everything from diabetes to mental health. Experts predict that it’s going to get easier to stay healthy and manage disease. We talk to the those in the know to find out how.

-sponsor-

heart

THE HEART

Professor Garry Jennings is chief medical advisor at The Heart Foundation.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

Until now we thought too much sitting wasn’t good for us but lack of exercise was the real problem health-wise. But it seems sitting has its own negative effects. For middle-aged and older people, every hour spent sitting and watching TV each day increases the risk of death from heart disease by seven per cent. More recently, sitting down has been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

The London Underground now has signs describing sitting as ‘the new smoking’ and I agree. So get up and move around as often as you can.

-sponsor-

WHAT’S COMING OUR WAY?

We know high cholesterol and high blood pressure are bad but we can’t tell exactly how these will affect each person’s health in the future. In years to come we’ll see detailed personalised assessments of who is at risk and how – perhaps using a blood test, urine test or a DNA swab from inside your cheek. You will get recommendations based on your specific risk, rather than treating everyone the same way.

DIABETES

Professor John Dixon is a physician and diabetes researcher at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

Growing Australian waistlines are strongly linked to more people developing diabetes. Because of the strong link between the obesity and diabetes epidemics, the most impressive treatment we know for weight loss – bariatric surgery – should be a good treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation recommends it for people with a BMI over 35 because, for some, lifestyle measures such as eating less and moving more are not enough. So if your BMI is over 35, talk to your GP about weight-loss surgery.

WHAT’S COMING OUR WAY?

Smart insulin that is injected and released in the body when needed will be terrific and so will devices that offer continuous glucose monitoring without needing to prick a finger to check blood sugar levels. We’ll also have more diabetes drugs that help weight loss, like liraglutide. Previously, insulin and oral tablets for blood glucose often led to weight gain but we’ll have more drugs that improve blood sugars and help with weight loss.

health

NUTRITION

Professor Clare Collins is a nutrition and dietetics researcher at the University of Newcastle.

WHAT SHOULDWE KNOW?

People who carefully self-monitor their health do better, whether they want to improve their eating habits, physical activity or weight.We don’t really need any more knowledge about the nutritional content of food – there’s heaps of that information available. But more of us need to realise the importance of self-monitoring our kilojoule intake to see whether we’re gaining a few kilos. Then we’re more likely to realise that we reach for a muffin at 3pm every day, or that we need to do more exercise that day.

WHAT’S COMING OURWAY?

Clever technology will help improve our eating habits and weight-loss efforts. You’ll be able to use your smartphone to snap a picture of your food and get feedback on how many kilojoules it contains or how much fat or salt. A new app, Lose It, takes a photo of your apple, for example, and tells you its kilojoule content. The Easy Diet Diary app lets you scan barcodes and select foods from a list that you can add to your food diary.

MENTAL HEALTH

Professor Ian Hickie is a psychiatrist and leads the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

You need to recognise and take care of your body’s 24-hour clock. People don’t understand the importance of our 24-hour pattern of activity and the restfulness that relates to the day/night or light/dark cycle. These 24-hour rhythms drive our mood, attention, memory, immune system and risk of infection, metabolic system andwellbeing. But we treat ourselves as machines. Knowyour clock and maintain a daily routine as much as possible.

WHAT’S COMING OUR WAY?

If you have your mobile phone handy, you’ll be able to access a world of mental health expertise. Australia is a world leader in the development of online mental health tools and technologies that put the person in control. So, getting support will rely on accessing technology, not whether you can afford to go to a clinic or having to wait 12 months to see a psychiatrist.

EXERCISE

Carly Ryan is an accredited exercise physiologist at Exercise & Sports Science Australia.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

Not enough people understand that exercise improves health. Exercise is medicine and a treatment. For cancer, it improves people’s symptoms and quality of life post-treatment. There are also strong benefits for diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular conditions and neurological conditions such as MS.

In New Zealand doctors issue a ‘green prescription’ – just as they’d write a script for medication, they write a script for physical activity. We want more GPs to consider this lifestyle approach, rather than going straight to medication.

WHAT’S COMING OUR WAY?

We’re going to see people take more control of how they manage their own health and finding something that works for them, and that means in the exercise space as well. So rather than being told this is how you must do things and following a cookie-cutter exercise program, they’ll get tailored advice from qualified exercise professionals that will make a greater difference to their health.

oral

ORAL HEALTH

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds is CEO and director of research at Oral Health CRC at the University of Melbourne.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?

We now know that the mouth contains beneficial microbes and disease-causing microbes and the balance between them is critical for oral and general health. Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors, as well as poor oral hygiene, can result in an imbalance and an emergence of disease-causing bacteria. This can result in chronic inflammation which destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the jaw bone. This occurs in about one in 10 adults.

Poor oral health is also now linked with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.

WHAT’S COMING OURWAY?

We’ve identified a key bacterium that can cause severe gum disease. We’ve produced a vaccine that, in animal models, switches this destructive immune response to a protective one that stops the disease. Human clinical trials are expected to begin in 2018.

0 Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.