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Mapp & Hession Pharmacy Blog

Chocolate Therapy!!

Posted by mapphess on 19 July 2012

Dark Chocolate For Your Heart!

Sometimes nutritionists can seem like spoilsports, telling us our favourite treats are bad for our health and should be avoided. If you're a chocolate lover, there is nothing to fear in a recent study that recommends a daily serving of dark chocolate for your heart. How can our favourite indulgence be good for us? Here's what the study discovered:

Dark Chocolate an Effective Preventive Therapy
In a research paper published in the British Medical Journal, Monash University researchers concluded that "blood pressure and cholesterol lowering effects of dark chocolate consumption are beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular events" in high risk populations. Since cardiovascular disease is responsible for 29 percent of deaths worldwide, it is safe to say it is something all Australians should be concerned about.

Noting that no long-term, controlled studies of dark chocolate had been undertaken, the research team used the available data and a sophisticated "Markov model" to analyze the probable outcome of a diet that included 100 grams of dark chocolate consumed daily over a ten year period versus a chocolate-free diet.

How Dark Chocolate Can Prevent Heart Disease and Strokes
The purpose of the Monash University study was not to determine which specific ingredients in dark chocolate were responsible for potentially preventing cardiovascular diseases. Many earlier studies have indicated that polyphenols, particularly a group of polyphenols calle flavonoids, which "exhibit antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and metabolic effects" are probably responsible for dark chocolate's effectiveness. In the body, flavanoids (or flavanols) stimulate the production of endothelial nitric oxide, a substance that causes dilation of blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

High levels of flavonoids are found in cocoa beans,  the main ingredient in high quality chocolate products. This is part of the reason why dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa than milk chocolate, is emphasised. Researchers also recommend "premium quality" dark chocolate with not less than 70 percent cocoa be consumed. While premium quality chocolate is more expensive than cheaper chocolate bars, their research also determined that "chocolate therapy" was a cost-effective form of preventive therapy.

In a summary of the study published by Monash University (A dark chocolate a day keeps the doctor away), lead researcher Ella Zomer said: "We're not suggesting that the high-risk group use dark chocolate as their only preventative measure, but in combination with sensible choices, such as exercise." The ideal or "best case scenario" as indicated by their study model was the consumption of "100g of dark chocolate every day over a 10 year period."

Some habits are easier to get into and stick with than others. It's nice to know that, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, a little daily "chocolate therapy" can help prevent heart disease as well.

Read more:

Article by Rob Schneider for natural therapy pages

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Don't Be A Heartbreaker!!

Posted by mapphess on 17 May 2012
Don't Be A Heartbreaker!!

Do you have high cholesterol or heart disease? Have you been prescribed a drug to lower your cholesterol?

Recent studies have shown these medications can lower your levels of Coenzyme Q10 in your body by up to half.

What does Coenzyme Q10 do?

It is associated with the manufacture of the basic energy molecule of cells. Coenzyme Q10 is important for energy production and is a powerful antioxidant to help maintain the health of cells in the body.

The heart muscle contains the greatest concentration of Coenzyme Q10 in the body and can have a role in preventing certain types of heart disease such as

  • stroke
  • congestive heart failure
  • high blood pressure
  • angina
  • atherosclerosis

It also has a protective effect on the cells of the haert and helps to keep the blood thin, allowing it to flow easily to all areas of the heart.

Coenzyme Q10 can also help prevent cholesterol from becoming harmful by oxidising in the body and forming plaques in the artery.

The good news

Supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 (as a simple daily dose) can restore or increase  these levels so you get all the benefits of this important nutrient.

Coenzyme Q10 is reported to increase stamina and endurance, has positive effects on the immune system and can also help the nervous system, menopausal symptoms and weight control.

Coenzyme Q10 is not just for heart disease. It plays an important role if you are undergoing an exercise program and can help your heart to work more efficiently, ensuring you get the most out of your workout. Almost all athletes competing at higher levels are already taking this supplement because it allows the body to utilise oxygen and nutrients better. This can work for weekend warriors and people trying to get fit, because it enables you to potentially get results faster.

There are many different formulations and sources of Coenzyme Q10 and not all are equal, so it is important to get the right formulation for you.

Call into Mapp and Hession Pharmacy and talk to Paul, Greg or Colin to find out more about this supplement and if it is right for you. Some medications can be affected by Co Q10, so talk to us first.

You can also get more information at our website and for regular tips and updates go to our facebook page

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The Benefits of Walking

Posted by mapphess on 29 April 2012
The Benefits of Walking

The Benefits of Walking

When we think of getting fit, we almost automatically associate it with vigorous activities. Sports, going to the gym, attending yoga or pilates classes or some other activity that requires a certain level of fitness to begin with or that involves a complicated learning curve come immediately to mind. In the meantime, one of the best fitness exercises of them all is one that comes naturally to all of us:  walking.

With obesity and heart disease rising to epidemic levels, it's important for all of us to find ways to prevent these and other modern diseases from occurring. A change to a healthy diet will certainly help, but combining that with a daily walking routine will help even more. Just some of the benefits of walking include:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Reducing the risk of stroke by up to 50 percent.
  • Losing weight and increasing lean muscle mass.
  • Improving good cholesterol levels while reducing bad cholesterol levels.
  • Reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

How to Get Started Walking

Unlike other exercise programs, all that's really needed to get started on a regular walking program is to simply start walking. One way to do this is to walk to work and back. If this is not possible, you can get off the bus or train or park your car further from your place of work and walk from there. Another possibility is to replace that heavy lunch with a lighter lunch and a short walk.

Once you start walking, you'll quickly notice the difference. You'll feel lighter, brighter and more cheerful. You'll probably find yourself sleeping better at night, too. This will motivate you to walk even more and you can begin a regular walking regimen. To get the most out of walking, fitness experts recommend half an hour per day of uninterrupted vigorous walking. By "vigorous," they don't mean huffing, puffing and sweating profusely. You just want to walk fast enough to elevate your metabolism and burn more kilojoules than you consume. As a rule of thumb, if you are walking hard enough to still be able to carry on a conversation but not sing, that is enough.
Walking: The Best Way to Lose Weight

Extreme diets and exercise programs are one way to lose weight fast, but they can backfire on you. Your body stores fat in order to have energy reserves for heavy activity. When it burns fat fast, it gets the message that it needs to replace the fat just as quickly. Low intensity exercise, like walking, burns carbohydrates first, telling the body to replace carbohydrates instead of fat.

As you continue with your walking program, your body will gradually adapt and you'll need to walk with great intensity in order to get the same benefits. Climbing stairs or hills, walking with weights, taking longer walks or stepping up the pace are all ways to do this. All the while, you will be getting stronger and healthier than ever before, without feeling like you're on a strenuous weight loss program.

When walking:

  • Start off at a leisurely pace and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Cool down by slowing the pace towards the end of your walk.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself based on your current level of fitness rather than an athlete's fitness level.
  • Wear comfortable, arch supporting and shock absorbing shoes and walk on a soft surface like grass whenever possible.
  • Watch your stride: your heels should touch the ground first, followed by the rest of your foot in a rolling motion.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your walk.


Other than that, there is little technique involved in walking other than to enjoy its many benefits.

Article by Rob Schneider

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Vitamin B12. An essential nutrient

Posted by mapphess on 1 February 2012
Vitamin B12. An essential nutrient

Vitamin B12 is used by the body for many different functions including cellular division, metabolism and in the nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is obtained exclusively through meat, fish, eggs and dairy products and people on a vegan diet have a difficult time obtaining this nutrient. While all eight B-complex vitamins are water soluble, which means they cannot be stored by the body and must be consumed each day, excess amounts of Vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver for short periods of time.
Most symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency manifest themselves directly related to the major function the vitamin performs. In the case of Vitamin B12, this means anemia along with fatigue and muscle weakness as a result of its function in the cellular division required to produce red blood cells. Nausea, vomiting and Diarrhea are common symptoms that occur related to Vitamin B12′s function in the digestive system while tingling and numbness are related to Vitamin B12s function related to myelin production in nerve cells.

One of the primary functions of Vitamin B12 is to regulate cellular division. Because of this function, cells that divide rapidly require large amounts of vitamin B12. One of the places cellular division takes place most rapidly is in the bone marrow where new red blood cells are created. If there is a deficiency of Vitamin B12, red blood cell counts in the blood stream will be reduced and a large percentage of the blood cells found will be prematurely formed and incapable of carrying oxygen.

Another major function of Vitamin B12 is in the formation of myelin, which is the protective sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Inadequate amounts of myelin result in symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the extremities. It is important to note that in most cases, this damage is irreversible and permanent.

Vitamin B12 is also used in fatty acid metabolism and the ‘freeing’ of energy that is stored in the body in the form of fat. In the absence of Vitamin B12, the body’s ability to burn fat is diminished. This can create a cascading effect on many different systems of the body since fatty acid and of course energy are required at many different places.

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient whose major functions involve cellular division, nervous system protection and metabolism. Vitamin B12 is only found in meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. A deficiency of vitamin B12 will result in many different problems, most notably anemia, digestive problems, and the inability to utilize fat and fatty acids correctly.

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Vitamin D. Free from the sun?

Posted by mapphess on 12 January 2012
Vitamin D. Free from the sun?

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency has become a global health concern.

During pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risks for pre-eclampsia and the need for a Cesarean section. The children who have been vitamin D deficient while in the womb are then at increased risk for developing asthma and other associated breathing disorders.

Professor Michael Holick is a worldwide expert on vitamin D and he claims "vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk for many chronic illnesses in children and adults including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, infectious diseases and some cancers."

The big question is how do we ensure we are getting enough vitamin D without exposing ourselves to increased skin cancer risk from too much sun.

Current Australian guidelines suggest 1000IU a day for adults and about half that amount for children. Dietary sources of vitamin D are limited to oily fish, cod liver oil and some fortified foods. Therefore supplementation and sensible sun exposure are the major ways to ensure we have enough of this important vitamin.

Prof Holick says "It has been estimated that exposure of arms, legs, stomach and back to an amount of sunlight that is half what it would take to cause a mild sunburn will give you approximately 5000IU of vitamin D3" It is not recommended at all to expose the face to sunlight as it is only 9% of the body's surface area and insufficient for vitamin D3 production. Sun exposure before 10am and after 3pm (when it's safest to be in the sun) is ineffective for vitamin D3 production. Even when you do get all the ingredients right for vitamin D3 production from the sun, you have to get this exposure almost every day!

Supplementation with vitamin D is therefore a practical and safe method of ensuring we receive adequate levels of this important vitamin.

Benefits of D3

The widespread deficiency that is sweeping Australia is becoming an increasing concern for health care professionals as vitamin D3 plays an important role in many systems of our body.

Bone health
Vitamin D3 maintains strong healthy bones. Vitamin D helps us to absorb calcium which we all know is important for bone health.

Muscle strength
Vitamin D3 maintains muscle strength. Vitamin D3 can also improve non-specific muscle pain which may be helpful in patients with fibromyalgia.

Immune function
Vitamin D3 maintains healthy immunity. By having an adequate level of vitamin D we are ensuring that our immune system is working optimally to ward of any colds and flus, etc. Exciting research has also shown that it can enhance the body’s immune response to both bacterial and viral infections.

Heart health
Vitamin D3 maintains heart health. Vitamin D can help lower blood pressure. Having a deficiency in vitamin D increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems

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