| TB levels rising in Northern Cape

Tuberculosis infections in the Northern Cape have been rising steeply, particularly in the John Taolo Gasetsewe District.

A recent forum explored what was happening in the province, and what could be done to address the situation and reduce the spread of the disease.

TB neglected for some time

The district has the second highest rising rate of TB in the country. According to Audrey Kgape from the provincial Department of Health, the rise may be caused by different reasons including poor adherence to treatment.

She said efforts to curb the spread of TB had dipped when the country turned its focus on HIV as the priority health issue.

“As a result, most of the energy was directed to HIV and TB was neglected for some time,” Kgape said.

Dikeledi Senatle, a professional nurse and a TB survivor, said she believed the stigma attached to having TB was the main cause of the poor adherence levels.

“Wearing a mask can be very challenging,” Senatle said, explaining how people in the infectious phase of TB were supposed to wear masks in public in order not to spread their infection to others, particularly when they cough.

MacDonald Keetsamang from Networking HIV & AIDS Community of Southern Africa (NACOSA) said poverty was also driving the rise in TB.

Watching people’s reaction

“Our people want to be permanently placed on a disability grant, and that is why some of them will default on their treatment,” he said.

As Nacosa we are facilitating consultative forums for community based organisations and funded some to facilitate community dialogues around TB which also includes the mines.

Malebogo Marumo a community health care worker said she one day decided to wear a mask and went to town; this was just because she wanted to see the people’s reaction towards her, and starting from the hiking spot she struggled to get a lift.

Until she got into a taxi which the passengers look so frustrated and angry at the driver that how could he want to put their lives at risk with a TB patient.

Marumo said from that day she noticed that it is not easy to live and be accepted in the society with TB especially MDR.

Basic hygiene a challenge

Phillemon Mailinga from Hearts of Compassion, an NGO that focuses on palliative care, said basic hygiene education was important to reduce the risk of TB infections. Basics such as washing hands, opening windows, smart coughing and adhering to TB treatment, although important, may not be applied by patients living in shacks without running water – making basic proper hygiene a challenge.

Malinga said Hearts of Compassion found poor and unemployed patients found it difficult to adhere to treatment.

It was suggested that the Department of Education join the fight against rising TB levels as children were becoming infected and their studies were being affected in cases where they were hospitalised for long periods. – Health-e News.

Image credit: iStock | 4 signs you’re not getting enough protein

Protein doesn’t directly fuel your workouts, but it’s a vital part of every athlete’s diet.

You need it to help your body produce enzymes and hormones, expedite healing, support your immune system and provide your body with the building blocks for new cells.

As an athlete, you’ll need to consume more protein than your non-athlete friends.

“When looking at the increased needs of the athletic population, it is for recovery, because protein is not an efficient fuel source,” said Stevie Lyn Smith, a registered dietician and seven-time Iron Man finisher.

The differences in protein needs between men and women are not fully understood by researchers. But typically, women need to consume less protein than men because of their smaller size.

“Protein needs are based on grams-per-kilogram of body weight for both men and women,” said Smith.

Some studies have suggested that women’s protein needs may change over the course of the menstrual cycle, but researchers have just begun to scratch the surface of women’s specific nutrition needs.

Of course, your needs will depend on what kind of training you do.

“Protein turnover will be affected differently in a strength athlete versus an endurance cyclist,” said Dina Griffin, a certified sports dietitian.

Your predominant muscle fibre type, whether it’s fast, medium or slow twitch, is also a determinant in your protein needs.

“Athletes’ bodies need extra protein to help in muscle repair, growth, and strengthening,” said Smith. Here are four signs that you might not be getting enough protein to support your training.

1. You’re frequently hungry

Protein deficiency in athletes is often connected with poor dietary choices or disordered eating.

“With how the Western diet has developed with access to plenty of good sources of protein, it’s very unlikely you see someone deficient in protein,” said Smith.

Good protein sources
for athletes include eggs or egg whites, lean meats such as chicken and fish, whey or casein powders, or plain yogurt.

“Animal sources of protein are going to provide the best bang for the buck for athletes,” said Griffin. A meal with sufficient protein should make you feel full.

“This satiating effect is due to a multitude of factors, such as amino acid and hormone response and oral perception cues,” said Smith. If your meals leave you feeling hungry, you might need more protein in your diet.

According to Griffin, feeling hungry every one to two hours might be a sign that you should add protein to your diet.

2. You experience energy lulls

A heavy training schedule combined with work or family life can wear you down. You may feel tired during the day, and it can be hard to isolate exactly why. The answer might be not enough protein.

“Having energy lulls, which can feel like fatigue or sluggishness during the day is one subjective sign,” said Griffin.

In addition to its role in recovery, protein helps stabilise blood sugars. No doubt you’ve heard the term “hangry”, which refers to that uncomfortable combination of hungry, tired, and cranky.

“When our blood sugars get too low, one of the results is hunger,” said Smith. “In turn, that often leads to overeating, which can cause our bodies to store excess fat.”

If you feel like you’re constantly swinging between extreme hunger and overeating, adding protein to your diet might help mellow things out.

3. You’re struggling to recover from workouts

If you’re following a training plan, you should have recovery days – and the occasional recovery week – built into your schedule. Recovery days might mean stretching followed by an easy spin around flat roads or another form of active recovery, such as walking.

Whatever form it takes, you should feel refreshed after a recovery day.

When your recovery days just aren’t cutting it, you might need additional protein in your diet.

“Protein intake is needed as part of a recovery nutrition protocol to help with restoration and repair of muscle tissue,” said Griffin.

Consuming protein within two hours after exercise helps ensure that your body has the resources it needs to repair muscles damaged or stressed by your training efforts.

“For endurance athletes, I encourage them to get 4:1 carbohydrates to protein,” said Smith. She recommends grabbing a recovery drink within 30 minutes of finishing your workout session.

4. You’re unable to build muscle

For many cyclists, building muscle is not necessarily their first priority. Instead, there’s a premium placed on being as lean as possible. At the same time, you still need to build muscle to ride well.

Not only does heavy training break down muscle fibres, but also also you need to maintain healthy muscle tissue to produce that hill-crushing, sprint-winning wattage.

Protein is a significant source of amino acids, which provide the ingredients for muscle growth. There are more than 50 amino acids found in nature and of these, nine are essential to the human body.

“Amino acids are the building blocks of the body,” said Smith. The body can extract amino acids from animal proteins and some forms of plant protein, such as soy.

“Vegetarian athletes need to be more careful when planning protein intake because plant sources of protein do not provide the same amino acid levels,” said Griffin.

This article was originally featured

Image credit: iStock

NEXT ON HEALTH24X | This is how you will avoid gaining weight this festive season

The average person starts putting on weight in October, and the kilograms you gain between Halloween and Christmas can take five months to lose, according to recent Cornell University research.

That means it’s already been two months of weight gain you probably didn’t even realise was happening.

And chances are you’ll snack on some more Advent calendar/after dinner/Christmas cracker chocolates this week – and keep munching all the way to New Year’s Day.

Read more: 5 festive season food hacks to stop you eating til you feel bloated and guilty

Traditionally this time of year is when you give yourself excuses,” says Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour. “You say, ‘I’ll gain a little bit now, and when the new year comes around, I can lose it.’”

But  then you will need to work even harder to lose even more weight in a few months. You need a plan to curb holiday overeating now. That’s where Gaddour comes in.

Read more: The 6 real reasons you overeat

Here are his three cardinal rules for maintaining healthy eating and fitness habits during the holidays:

1. Plan your cheat days.

Schedule your indulgence days in advance, so you can put in plenty of work before letting loose. “If you know that the company Christmas party is going to be on a Tuesday, you need to make sure you’re dialed in with your nutrition the weekend before,” says Gaddour.

Read more: 5 things you need to know before your next cheat meal

2. Always break a sweat before a big meal.

Pre-game your Christmas feast with a killer workout that will make you feel less guilty for the calories you’re putting in.

Read more:
5 body weight exercises you should do before your christmas feast

3. For every treat, do 100 burpees.

You can either perform them all at once, or scatter them throughout the day. “This will get you in the habit of taking into account what’s coming into your body,” Gaddour says.

Read more:
Feel the burn in just 4 minutes with this insane burpee workout

This article originally appeared on

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NEXT ON HEALTH24X | The dangers sugary drinks pose to children

Liquid sugar is easily absorbed, and most of the sugar from sweetened beverages has no nutritional value beyond the sugar content.

The fact that sugary drinks are a major cause of obesity and diabetes came into focus at the recent Cardio Vascular Disease Imbizo in Sandton, Johannesburg.

High cost of healthy food

Speaking at the Imbizo Lynn Moeng Mahlangu, the cluster manager of Health Promotion and Nutrition at the National Department of Health, said that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or SSBs has strongly being linked with type 2 diabetes.

“In 2013 the Department of Health developed a strategy to tackle non-communicable diseases, and one of the keys was to reduce sugar intake by 10%,” she said.

Moeng Mahlangu said that South Africa is in the top three countries in Africa when it comes to people living with obesity.

She said one of the reasons for this is the high cost of healthy food.

“People choose unhealthy products because they are cheaper,” said Moeng Mahlangu.

“This is one of the debates we are having, involving other departments like agriculture,” she said.

Negative impact on health

“Our children are consuming 40 to 60 grams of sugar a day. This means their intake is between 100 and 200% more than it should be,” she said.

She said this was a dangerous situation as obese children generally tended to remain obese throughout life, and much of this was due to the consumption of sugary drinks.

According to Professor Karen Sliwa, director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa and president-elect of the World Heart Federation, there is overwhelming data to confirm that a very high sugar intake has a negative impact on health.

“It is bad in many ways. It makes us obese, especially when we don’t move enough,” she said.

“You can develop diabetes, high blood pressure, you can develop heart disease or have a stroke,” said Sliwa, adding that these factors can lead to long periods of ill health or early death.

According to Sliwa, implementing a tax on sugar tax is one way of trying to combat this disease, as making SSBs more expensive would drive down consumption.

Fat until you’re old

“By decreasing the amount of sugar in beverages we can address some of those issues,” she said, adding that a sugar tax alone was not enough to address the problem properly.

“Although the sugar beverage tax will hopefully show the same results experienced in other countries where it saw a decrease in obesity, the core issues around poverty still needed to be looked at,” said Sliwa.

She said it was important for government to take the lead and make South Africa one of the first countries in Africa to implement the tax.

Sliwa said that educating the people on healthy living was important.

“Some people don’t know that if you are short of breath it can mean that your heart is failing. People don’t know that there is no cure for diabetes, and that you always have to take your medication,” she said.

Professor Liesl Zuhlke, President of the South African Heart Association said the health of children needed to be made a priority.

“If you are fat at 13 years, its possible that you will stay fat until you are old,” she said, explaining why children needed to be taught to make good choices for themselves. – Health-e News.

Image credit: iStock