News Archives - Medshield Movement

It’s Men’s Health Month. Here’s What You Need To Know

June is Men’s Health Month in South Africa, an important time to draw attention to men’s health and create awareness around preventable health problems, encourage early detection and provide treatment for male-related health conditions.

Men’s Health Month serves as a reminder to get yourself checked, get tested and to make small changes to live a healthier lifestyle that help to prevent health-related issues.

The Silent Health Crisis

In 1920, the life expectancy gender gap between men and women was only one year, with females living longer. By 2017, men had been dying approximately five years sooner than women. Men have a higher death rate for most leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

Suicide affects more men than women, read more here. Generally, men are employed in jobs that can be high risk to their health and well-being when things go wrong, such as mining and construction.  These factors contribute heavily to men having a shorter life expectancy.

Small Changes Can Help

Men’s Health Month serves as a reminder to book your medical check-ups, seek help and to make small lifestyle changes that improve bodies for the better. “Just like taking the car in for an oil change or a service, men also need to take themselves to the doctor’s office to make sure everything is running smoothly,” says David Gremillion of the Men’s Health Network.

Eating healthier and exercising regularly have also been shown to significantly reduce the chance of developing lifestyle diseases and stress. For more information on hacks to reduce salt intake, read here and for healthy vegetable recipes click here.

Our #MedshieldMovement Resource Hub is filled with information to help you lead a healthier lifestyle. However, we always recommend consulting a healthcare professional for check-ups and medical advice.

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10 Signs of Dementia to Look Out for

June is Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month and, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, worldwide, 50-million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. No one should face this alone and to help raise awareness, we explore what Alzheimer’s is and the signs of dementia that you can look out for in yourself or your loved ones.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities that are serious enough to interfere with one’s daily life. This brain disease causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or a way to slow its progression, there are treatments that may help to alleviate symptoms. However, studies and experts recommend living a healthy lifestyle to help reduce your risk.

Alzheimer’s has been linked to cardiovascular disease, while other studies show links to depression and living a sedentary lifestyle. There is evidence to suggest that rates of dementia are lower in people who remain mentally and socially active throughout their lives. However, it is important to note that the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown.

If you are looking for exercise and healthy eating motivation, visit our Resource Hub and check out the available ClickFit programmes to help get you started!

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs and symptoms to look out for that may suggest a need for medical attention. If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Speak to your family or support system and schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.

10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life: One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the early stage, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same questions repeatedly and needing to rely more and more on memory aids.
  2. Planning and problem-solving challenges: Some people living with dementia may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
  3. Familiar tasks become difficult: People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete tasks they do regularly. Sometimes they may have trouble driving to a familiar location, organizing a grocery list or remembering the rules of a favourite game.
  4. Confusion about time or places: This includes losing track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. People may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately, and may forget where they are or how they got there.
  5. Issues with spatial relationships or visuals: Having vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. This may lead to difficulty with balance or trouble reading. This could include problems with judging distance and determining colour or contrast, causing issues with driving.
  6. Word worries: This can include issues relating to conversations i.e. having no idea how to continue or repeating yourself. It may also include a struggle with vocabulary, trouble naming a familiar object or using the wrong name for an everyday object.
  7. Withdrawal from social activities: Including work, this withdrawal may be the result of changes in the ability to hold or follow a conversation and thus avoidance of social situations.
  8. Misplacing items: An inability to retrace footsteps and placing items in strange places is a common sign of Alzheimer’s. This can manifest in accusations of others for stealing one’s belongings as you are unable to find them.
  9. A change in judgement: Individuals may experience changes in judgement or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money or pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
  10. Moodiness: Because of all the potential aforementioned symptoms, people may become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily sparked at home, with friends or when out of their comfort zone.

Should you be experiencing any of the symptoms listed, it is always advisable to have a professional provide an accurate diagnosis. Visit our Medshield Network to locate a doctor or expert in your area today.

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Bong’musa Mthembu Could Break World Record at Nedbank Runified Ultramarathon

Can he break the world record? That will be the question on everyone’s lips when Medshield Member Bong’musa Mthembu lines up at the start of the Nedbank Runified: Breaking Barriers 50km World Record attempt in Gqeberha on Sunday, 23 May.

The 3x Comrades Marathon champion and 2019 Two Oceans Marathon winner is in fine racing form and could cause an upset, should he take the victory over top male contenders that include Ketema Negasa from Ethiopia,  Shadrack Kiptoo Kimaiyo of Kenya and South Africa’s Phillimon Mathiba.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the current 50km ultra-distance record for men stands at 02:43:38, set by Thompson Magawana during the Two Oceans Ultramarathon in 1988. The race starts at Marine Drive, with race entrants having to complete the 10km course loop five times in their quest to claim victory.

The total cash prize for the winner is a handsome R100 000, with R150 000 each awarded to the man and woman who sets a new world record in their respective categories.

Medshield wishes Bong’musa the best of luck for race day, with full support as he puts one foot in front of the other in the pursuit of world record glory.

 

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Pirates 21K Race Powered by Medshield Goes Virtual in 2021

You just can’t keep a good race down! In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and in support of efforts to reduce infection numbers, this year the Pirates 21K Powered by Medshield, Joburg’s toughest and most anticipated half-marathon, will be a virtual one.

Unlike years gone by, where racers collectively gathered at a designated date and time, runners now have the luxury of choosing any Saturday or Sunday during the month of February before national curfew, to take on the challenge.

The circular route starts at Pirates Club, Braeside Road in Greenside and heads to the top of Northcliff Hill. The first half of the race has three challenging hills, starting after only one kilometre and then undulating with two more big climbs. The last peak is the King of the Mountain point at about 14km. The downhill after that is fast and fun with one last stinger before arriving back at Pirates Club.

Entry into the 2021 race is R120 and all potential runners are required to submit their entries before Thursday, 4 February 2021. Running clubs and individuals are all invited to lace up their trainers then put their strength, stamina and endurance to the test. Race packs can be collected from 8-10 am on any Saturday or Sunday in February from the Pirates Club, with those who register before 29 January receiving a free T-shirt, special edition medal and goodie bag.

Spot prizes will be awarded throughout February, along with a R5000 cash prize for the running club with the most entries, along with other fantastic giveaways.

To register, go to http://www.entrytickets.co.za/pirates21 or contact the Race Director for any questions and queries at racedirector@piratesroadrunning.co.za.

Follow the following social media pages to stay up to date with the latest news and race developments:

Pirates 21K

Facebook: @pirates21k

Instagram: @pirates21km

Twitter: @pirates21km

Medshield Medical Scheme:

All platforms: @medshieldsa

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Stay Loving Food with Amy Hoppy’s New Cookbook

If you were of the mindset that all plates lead to unhealthy eating this festive season, Medshield Ambassador Amy Hoppy and her new cookbook, Love Food are about to send those beliefs packing on a one-horse open sleigh. Love Food is Amy’s latest collection of pro-health recipes that teach people how to enjoy all their traditional favourite foods, along with a few new additions, by simply adapting ingredients to allergy-free alternatives.

Inspired by her own food intolerances, Love Food takes all palates into consideration, paying careful attention to recipes that are dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free and vegan; meal types regularly left out or an afterthought on everyday menus. From energising smoothies and summery salads to festive feasts and dreamy desserts, with each flip of a page, you will discover delicious recipes for any occasion. Each meal is super simple to perfect and prepare and can fit into any schedule, even in the midst of holiday madness.

Whether you are cooking for a group or a party of one, voracious appetites are all taken care of thanks to the healthy spreads inside Love Food. Available at select Clicks, Woolworths and Checkers stores nationwide.

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If you’re ready to get serious about health, nutrition and fitness but need a gentle nudge in the right direction, then the Medshield Movement Connect Show is the perfect place to start. Hosted by medical professional, Dr Fezile Mkhize, the 30-minute Medshield podcast aims to be a positive voice in your day, covering diverse and important topics from across the world of fitness and wellness.

The podcast opens a conversation about the importance of self-care. Each episode, Dr Mkhize will be joined by a celebrity guest or subject matter expert, where through deep conversation, they address all fitness, nutrition and medicine topics, as well as tackle the most pressing health-related questions. What sets The Medshield Movement Connect Show apart is the sharing of personal experiences by guests, who open up to Dr Mkhize about their journeys and offer firsthand perspectives – sometimes funny, sometimes heartfelt – on how to break bad behaviours to achieve self-elevation, body transformation and bring you one step closer to becoming your best self.

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Movember: Changing the Face of Men’s Health

By now you’ve probably heard of the Movember Moment, where each November, men around the world collectively grow a moustache to shine a spotlight on the importance of men’s health. Over the last few years, the ‘Movember Mo’ has risen to become the male equivalent of the breast cancer pink ribbon, reminding men that an annual check-up could save their life, or that of someone they love.

Since 2003, the campaign has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world. These projects have sought to educate millions of men and women on male-specific diseases that often go undiscussed, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

But what are these diseases? What do they entail and what can men do to stay one step ahead when it comes to dealing with these illnesses?

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces seminal fluid. It is the most common cancer affecting South African men. There are often no symptoms experienced during the early stages of prostate cancer, which is why screening is incredibly important for early detection.

Men who do experience symptoms may notice:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

If detected early, the disease is treatable with a 98% chance of survival beyond 5 years. While the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, specifically for men 45 and over, it can also affect younger men. And if you have a brother or father with prostate cancer in their history, it is advisable to have a check-up as soon as possible.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles, usually manifesting as a lump in the scrotum, the loose sack of skin behind the penis. Men can get cancer in one or both testicles. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men under the age of 40 and has a higher chance of developing in men with abnormal testicle development, an undescended testicle or a family history of the cancer.

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • A lump or enlargement in either testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
  • Back pain

At greater than 95%, the odds of survival for men is a fantastic statistic, but this is dependent on seeking medical advice, early detection testing and treatment. Men should consult a doctor if they detect any pain, swelling or lumps in their testicles and groin area, especially if these signs and symptoms last longer than two weeks.

Mental Health

Mental health refers to the cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being of people. It is all about how we think, feel and behave. Negative feelings of self and life can lead to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. Declining mental health in men is a current global concern, responsible for 75% of male suicides in South Africa alone.

Examples of signs and symptoms include:

  • Depressed thoughts
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Suicidal thoughts

Differentiating poor mental health from sporadic negative feelings isn’t always easy. In this case, the persistence of negative thoughts is the first sign of a potential mental health disorder, in which case, seeking out a psychologist or mental health professional for diagnosis is essential for monitoring and the correct treatment.

At Medshield Medical Scheme, the health of all our members is, and always will be, of utmost importance. We hope that men will translate the knowledge we’ve shared into action and be proactive towards their future well-being. This is why Movember exists and why being aware of the key health issues in men matters.

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Achieving the extraordinary is more than just a moment. The life of Bong’Musa Mthembu, a proud Medshield member and three-time Comrades Marathon winner, shows that greatness can come from adversity if you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Medshield will be #BackingBongmusa as he goes for his third straight Comrades Marathon win and fourth overall.

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#BackingBongmusa – The Bricklayer Who Laid His Own Foundation for Comrades Success

In the early hours of a Saturday morning, atop a green hill in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Bong’musa Mthembu looks out onto the horizon. The sun is just coming up. He sits quietly, small-framed and unassuming. At first glance, he looks like just another young man taking in the view, not an ultramarathon runner known around the world for being a three-time Comrades Marathon champion and seven-time gold medal winner. But that’s exactly who he is, having won the ultimate human race in 2014, 2017 and 2018.

For the past few months, Bong’musa has been preparing for the biggest feat of his career, the Comrades Marathon triple crown, a title bestowed upon those rare few who manage to win the race three times back to back. Earlier this year, he added to his racing honours by winning the men’s ultra-leg of the 2019 Two Oceans Marathon in an impressive time of 3:08:40 – a race he jokes was merely meant as part of his training programme, but that he unintentionally ended up winning

While the tale of his rise to the top is the stuff of legend, the story of his life has not been without its share of hardships and tragedies. Born in a rural township of eMpulelweni in Bulwer, he experienced the death of his father in 1997 at the age of 16. His mother then raised him and his eight siblings alone and the family struggled to make ends meet, where Bong’musa says some nights they went to bed without food.

Upon finishing matric in 2002, there was no money for him to study at university, so Bong’musa set out to find work, giving up the dream of following in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher. After being jobless for six months, he eventually found a job as a bricklayer and began providing for his family.

After a few years in construction, he became a professional runner and went on to win his first Comrades Marathon in 2014. But the celebration was short-lived when his girlfriend of 12 years unexpectedly died, leaving him alone to raise their infant son. Heartbroken and laden with grief, Bong’musa was unable to complete the 2015 Comrades Marathon, pulling out of the race long before the finish line.

Months of inactivity followed, a period in which he contemplated hanging up his running shoes for good. Yet, as he explains, there was a voice inside that refused to allow him to give up on professional athletics. As a result, Bong’musa returned to the Comrades Marathon in 2016, finishing third among 20 000 entrants.

Today, he stands as the reigning Comrades Marathon champion, now going for his fourth win and the coveted triple crown accolade. Bong’musa is Medshield’s new Brand Ambassador, a shining example of what it means to be positively shaped by experience, and how we are inspired by our members. He shares his early beginnings and his thoughts with us ahead of the 2019 Comrades Marathon.

Q: Bong’musa, as an adult people know you as one of the world’s top ultradistance runners. Did you play sport as a child?

A: Yes, in Grade 10 I played soccer. In rural areas, there is no variety of sport in school so this was all we had. I was very good at soccer, at any given position. I was striker, middle fielder, defender, even a goalkeeper.

Q: Did you have dreams at that stage of being a professional soccer player?

A: Definitely. Growing up I would see on TV that you could make a living from soccer. That was how the dream started. But nobody was coming to the rural areas to scout soccer players and I wanted to find something I could do for myself. That’s how I found running. I trained myself. I didn’t know about pace and body balance then. Knowledge wasn’t there, but I think the hunger and passion are what drove me.

Q: Tell us about your first professional race.

A: In 2005 I ran the Pietermaritzburg marathon, now called the Postnet Marathon and I won. It was unexpected. I just wanted to see how the guys in the front run. I stuck with them until it was just me and two guys ahead. From 27km of the 42km race, I took the lead up until the finish. From there I was approached by big clubs like Mr price, Nedbank and Harmony Gold. That was when I saw that something could come of this.

Q: When did you decide to run the Comrades Marathon?

A: I became aware of the Comrades Marathon because Willie Mtolo, one of the guys from my township won it. My first Comrades was in 2006. It was the worst ever race of my life, but I was excited to run it. It wasn’t about winning the Comrades, it was about finishing it. I was so proud of myself. It felt like I had won something. That’s where the real work began because I never looked back.

Q: You’ve won the Comrades three times, and are now going for the triple crown. How are you planning to run this race differently?

A: I’m not chasing anybody’s record. I’m chasing my dream. I’m going to run my own race. But it’s important to know who’s behind me, who’s with me, but not ever lose my strategy. I will be ready to face any challenge my competitor brings to me. You have to be confident and that’s the most important to me right now.

Q: You have experienced success and loss in your life. What has that taught you?

A: Don’t ever forget who you are. Don’t ever forget where you from and be proud of where you are from. I’m not ashamed to say I’m from a rural township. My father taught me to be proud of your roots, no matter how successful you become. His words have stayed with me.

Medshield will be #BackingBongmusa in the 2019 Comrades Marathon as he attempts to win the race for the third consecutive year and achieve the triple crown. Follow his journey on our social media pages and be part of the #BackingBongmusa movement.

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