4 gift of health ideas for Mother's Day

SINGAPORE - It may be the thought that counts, and a simple 'thank you' is enough to make a mother's day.

However, instead of a traditional gift of flowers and a card, how about this year, you give your mother the gift of health.

Singapore is set to be the world's third-fastest ageing nation, as the proportion of those aged 65 and above is predicted to double to 20 per cent by 2020.

It's a fact most of us are not young any more, and with age comes multiple health problems.

Our skin sags, bones become brittle and our immune system weaker against the many health threats out there.

Thus the greater importance placed on regular health screenings, proper medical diagnosis, medicinal supplements and other health packages for healthy and active ageing.

And don't just consider the health aspect. Many often forget that aesthetic procedures can help ageing women look good and feel good - bringing a smile to their faces.

Too practical you say?

A recent survey conducted here revealed that one of the most common sacrifices mothers said they make was the inability to buy things for themselves.

Here are some health ideas on what to get for your mum this coming Saturday:

Food for thought

Nutrition is really the key to longevity - we know that populations have been able to live longer because we have access to better food today than we used to.

But good nutrition also helps us to live well. Food does not only provide calories for energy, but also a variety of micronutrients, macronutrients and other healthy components that work to keep our cells, tissues, nerves, muscles and organs healthy.

However, giving edible presents does not have to mean giving chocolates, snacks or even bottles of wine. There are healthier options out there that will make your mother glow inside out.

For example, regular consumption of bird’s nest is traditionally believed to keep the skin healthy, moisturised and radiant.

Bird's nest is also widely regarded to have properties that strengthen the respiratory system.

To mark Mother's Day, Brand's is launching a contest where 10 winners will walk away with each a Brand's bird's nest pack, and a hundred other winners to receive $100 worth of Brand's bird's nest products.

To enter, just send in your most memorable photo or video capturing the essence of Mothers Day to the contest tab on Brand's Facebook contest page at www.facebook.com/brandsbirdsnest by May 13.

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure

In Singapore, the main causes of death in old age are cancer, heart and hypertensive diseases.

When it comes to health, prevention is always preferable to a cure. So early diagnosis of hidden problems is the secret to a long life.

Dr Chee Jing Jye, Medical Director of The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre of the Singapore Medical Group (SMG) shared with YourHealth some of the health screenings that are popular among mothers or menopausal women.

1. Pap smear

What it is: A simple painless procedure done in the clinic where some cells are collected from the cervix. It is to screen for cancer of the cervix.
How often: At least once every three years till 70 years of age.

2. Mammogram

What it is: An x-ray of the breasts to screen for breast cancer
How often: Annually between 40 to 50 years of age, then once in two years till 70 years of age.

3. Bone mineral densitometry

What it is: An x-ray of the spine and hip to screen for osteoporosis.
How often: At least once in three years after menopause (usually for those 45 years of age and above).

4. Stool occult blood

What it is: The collection and examination of stool for blood in the feces that is not visibly apparent. It is to screen for colorectal cancer.
How often: Have one once a year after 40 years of age

5. Fasting glucose and lipids

What it is: A simple blood test to screen for diabetes and high cholesterol.
How often: At least once in three years after 40 years of age.

6. Ultrasound scan of the pelvis

What it is: It is to screen for gynaecological pathologies like fibroids and ovarian cysts.
How often: Can be done annually.

Make your mother feel beautiful

Make your mother feel beautiful

Being healthy inside is one thing, but how about making your mother feel beautiful inside?

According to Dr Yeak Hwee Lee, Medical Director of the Singapore Aesthetic Centre, many mothers face the problem of skin changes when they hit menopause.

Menopause occurs from the ages of 45 to 55, when the body stops producing eggs. This is accompanied by a drop in the female hormone oestrogen.

Female hormones are responsible for the production of skin oils, as well as for the manufacture of collagen and elastin, she explained. Areas like the face, groin and lower limbs experience dryness and age more.

Along with biological changes, the cumulative effects of our daily exposure to the environment also damges our skin.

Faced with daily pollution, sun exposure and stress, many ladies complain about their skin feeling dry. Fine wrinkles start to appear and many experience sagging of the skin.

Combating ageing is not only a combination of lifestyle changes, exercise and diet. There are aesthetic procedures out there which may more effectively enhance the appearance of the skin, Dr Yeak shared.

For example, certain simple procedures such as skin microdermabrasion or diamond peels may help restore skin brightness by mechanically removing the dead cells.

Simple chemical peels with glycolic acids also help to exfoliate the dead superficial cells, and also helps to stimulate the production of collagen, she said.

Occasionally, ladies may also develop age spots or pigmentation problems with age and sun exposure.

To treat this, lightening creams and procedures like intense pulsed light will help eradicate or lighten these problems. Occasionally, lasers are required to treat more stubborn spots.

Body beautiful

Body beautiful

According to Dr Kevin Teh, Medical Director of the Singapore Lipo, Body & Face Centre, more mature ladies have a couple of major issues besides skin-deep woes.

These include:

1. Slowing metabolism and increasing adipose storage

Here, bulges start appearing and areas of fat that used to be amenable to dieting become stubborn and difficult to get rid of.

"In my aesthetic practice, the most common areas they notice this happening is in the tummy, love handles, outer thighs and underarms," he said.

Solution: Vaser liposelection / Spot lipo for stubborn fat

Fat removal is very popular as it truly works, he said.

Dr Teh said that in his experience, many patients come to him complaining that they've tried several fat-busting methods such as exercise, diet, acupuncture to no avail.

Procedures such as heating, wrapping, massage and fat-freezing have varied levels of success.

However, he said that Vaser Liposelection has been clinically proven, and is even an FDA approved treatment that definitely removes excess fat.

The procedure is also suitable for spot lipo for stubborn fat.

The procedure is extremely safe and the recovery smooth. Even ladies as mature as 69 years of age have come into his clinic for treatment, he said.

2. Loss of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid

At 50 years of age, women may have only half the concentration of collagen left in their skin, he said.

This translates into loss of youthful facial volume in their cheeks, deepening wrinkles and the sagging of the skin all over the body.

Solution: Velshape skin tightening / Botox / Facial fillers

Velashape skin tightening procedure requires no surgery and only takes an hour for a treatment, he said.

This is a medical-grade skin tightening procedure that boasts of little to no discomfort.

In fact, it is so comfortable, that some patients fall asleep during the gentle procedure, Dr Teh said.

Skin tightens through collagen fibre tightening and there is new cell growth in just a few sessions.

However, for those who prefer tried and tested solutions, Dr Teh said the most commonly done anti-ageing face treatments are the wrinkle busting treatments of botox and the 3D facelift effect from voluminising fillers.

Botox is suitable for almost any woman, especially for those just starting to show their age, he said.

Dr Teh told YourHealth that he believes in preventive botox to stop permanent wrinkles from forming in the first place.

"Most of our mothers would have a few wrinkles by now, with some of them created by bringing us up!" he joked.