Q: I’m a working mother of 42 and want to do a sensible health MOT. I’m generally healthy but get tired. I can’t afford to pay very much. Could you advise?
A You should discuss your individual health concerns with your GP but most will think it’s sensible to do the tests below, as well as routine tests such as blood pressure. These are recommended by Professor Charles Clark (charlesvclark.com), and Dr Eric Asher, medical director of Third Space Medicine (thirdspacemedicine.com). Unless marked otherwise, they are blood tests.
Thyroid The thyroid gland produces two main hormones (T3 and T4), which control all metabolic activities (eg heart rate and how fast you burn calories). A thyroid function test will determine if you have Hyperthyroidism, which means you make more thyroid hormones than you need; or hypothyroidism which means you don’t make enough. Women are much more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Iron Women of childbearing age are often iron-deficient due to menstruation or pregnancy. HRT can be another factor, as can a vegetarian diet or one low in red meat.
Vitamin D Many people in the UK are believed to be deficient in vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, which is linked to many disease conditions including bone problems (see osteoporosis below).
C-Reactive Protein This measures the level of inflammation anywhere in the body; it won’t give specific information but if you have an abnormal result your GP could look at more precise tests.
Lipid profile This measures the levels of fats (lipids) in your blood. These are triglycerides – high levels are a particular risk factor of heart disease – and the two types of cholesterol: high density lipoprotein (HDL) the so-called ‘good’ one, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) the ‘baddie’.
Diabetes A simple blood sugar test can detect signs of metabolic syndrome (the precursor to diabetes) as well as the disease itself. This is particularly important if you have diabetes in the family, or are overweight.
Bone density: talk to your GP about your risk of osteopenia, the first stage of weak bones, which can lead to osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Society has a Healthy Bones Questionnaire on its website (nos.org.uk).
Peak flow: this simple breath test can indicate undiagnosed asthma or emphysema.
Lastly, don’t forget to have your eyes tested and also your hearing. Your GP should be able to advise on where to go locally. Do make sure that the eye test includes a full examination for glaucoma.
By gum, it’s good!
Teethers for babies to suck on have proved their worth for four centuries. Now, Danish eco baby brand Hevea offers an award-winning Panda Teether, (£8.99), made from 100 per cent natural rubber and free from chemicals BPA, phthalates and PVC. It’s soft and pliable but provides enough pressure to help soothe sore gums, with a ring cut-out in Panda’s tummy for baby to hold. Hevea is donating £1 from each sale to WWF UK.
A Juicy Boost
Most of us look and feel a bit jaded right now. Consuming fresh green vegetable juices helps to alkalise our systems, and hydrate every cell in our bodies including skin. A colleague tested the Radiance Juice Cleanse, a three-day package of three 500 ml batches of fresh juice delivered nationwide (from £195, from radiancecleanse.com). The diet is tough, she admits, and not cheap, but the result – clearer skin and eyes, a clean-feeling body, sounder sleep and a newfound resolve to eat well – was worth it. Meanwhile, a friend and her husband who’d had a month of debilitating flu tried the Supergreen Smoothie from The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible (written by Jo Fairley and me). She credits drinking it three times daily with restoring their bounce within a week. We recommend drinking it for breakfast then between two main meals of fish (or organic chicken/fresh tofu) and salads. For details, see beautybible.com.
The Bag That’s Pick of the Pack
Last October, YOU magazine collaborated with Arthritis Care (arthritiscare.org.uk) in a competition for youngsters aged 12-16 to design a school rucksack for children with arthritis, which affects 12,000 children under 16 in the UK. There was a wonderful response with over 140 entries. The judges, however, were unanimous in choosing a design by Micah Scott, 12, from Drumglass School in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. (Micah’s whole class entered as a special project.) Said chiropractor Dominic Cheetham, one of the judges: ‘we all agreed that Micah’s simple design with two big zips, an extendable handle and optional wheels, plus padding for the back, was the most suitable, original and helpful for children with arthritis’. Micah’s design will be made up, and presented to him by Dick and Dom TV star Kelly-Anne Lyons, who developed arthritis as a teenager and is Arthritis Care’s celebrity supporter for young people.