The wisdom of the barber

Much of the gossip and all the knowledge of a neighbourhood flows through the local shopkeepers, none more so than the hairdressers and barbers, where customers are most likely to have an extended conversation.

The two nuggets of information from my haircut last week?

I already knew this: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If the body doesn’t get food within a couple of hours of waking up, it reasons that no more food may be forthcoming, therefore everything should be stored as fat for later.

The other one: according to another customer who is involved with high finance, the sharemarket’s heading for another fall, and this month would be a good time to move your superannuation out of most shares, into blue chip or other investments. And it must be true, because this guy saw the GFC coming.

Hmm. I’m not totally convinced, but on the other hand, if I don’t adjust my super, and it drops, I’ll be kicking myself.


In the comments of a previous post was mention of superfoods.

There appears to have been a recent reluctance from dieticians to use the term because of its manipulation by food marketeers, with the EU banning its use unless it can be proven.

However this page from Kraft Foods flags their top ten (none of which, I think, they make or sell):

  • Oats — I regularly have oats in my breakfast
  • Yoghurt — not regularly. I used to, but kind of went off it when I reduced my dairy intake last year. (Update: though come to think of it, we often have frozen yoghurt)
  • Blueberries — not regularly
  • Spinach — yep, it’s a green that the kids don’t mind eating, so it’s a staple in our house
  • Nuts — yep, I’ve been trying to snack on these a bit more recently
  • Soy beans — not really, though I have switched to soy milk on my breakfast cereal; does that count?
  • Tomato — certainly cooked into pasta sauces. Sometimes on sandwiches
  • Citrus fruits — not as often as I should
  • Sardines and oily fish — ditto
  • Rosemary and other herbs — not particularly often

What others are worth the bother?

The health check

Apparently there have been some alarming results from the workplace health checks underway at the moment.

Victorian workers have been given a scare by a State Government-run health program which has found a high percentage donโ€™t exercise enough with a number of people asked to see a doctor within 24 hours.

We’ve had ours on Friday (everybody opted-in, I think), and we seem to be a pretty healthy workplace.

At least, nobody’s been carted off in an ambulance.

My own results were all okay, with one exception.

Some of the points are self-assessment; others like cholesterol were checked by the nurse on the spot. I’ve summarised the take-home brochure, and my results below.


2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables (per day) should be your target

I’m on 3 serves of fruit, and 2 of vegetables, so need to increase my vegetable intake. It was noted that a variety is good. I probably eat more spinach leaves than most, as I know the kids will chow them down.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how achievable 5 serves of vegies per day is for me, but I can try.


I barely drink (perhaps a one standard drink per month if I’m lucky), and the nurse decided this was closer to no alcohol of the three options on the questionnaire.

I’ve never drunk a lot; it’s reduced even more since the cluster headaches arrived on the scene, as alcohol can help induce them (though just at the moment they’re not around).

Phsyical activity

Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all days

I might not play sport, but I do a fair bit of walking. It’s generally three 30 minute walks a week with the kids, and one or two 60+ minute walks with Marita and her dog on the weekends. Add to that the shorter walks to/from the train each weekday (12 minutes x 2 x 5, though no doubt that doesn’t have the same benefits of the longer walks), that’s 270-330 minutes of walking per week, or at least 38 minutes a day.

So I think that’s fine.


There is no safe level of smoking

No problemo. Never smoked, sure as hell not about to start.

Body shape

Normal — Men: 94 cm or less. Women: 80 cm or less

I’m 86 cm, have been since I was a skinny yoof. Do have a little bit of a pot belly, but nothing major.

Blood pressure

Normal — Less than 120/80

The brochure explains that the first value is systolic — the pressure in the arteries as your heart squeezes blood out during each beat. The other is diastolic — the pressure as your heart relaxes before the next beat.

Mine’s a little high: 113/83. On this basis there’s a recommendation to review it when I next see my doctor, but the nurse emphasised that there’s no real problem.

This seems higher than usual for me. Normally when I give blood it’s lower — it was 117/76 the last time I noted it in my blog. In fact this time round the nurse thought it might be unusual and did an average out of four readings.


Normal — Total cholesterol 5.5 or less, HDL cholesterol 1.0 or more

Mine is 4.8 total, and 1.8 HDL, so that’s good.

Diabetes risk

Diabetes risk score — low risk: 5 or less. Medium risk 6-14. High risk 15 or more
Random blood glucose levels — normal: less than 6.5. High 6.5 or more

My diabetes risk score is 2 points for my age, 3 points for my sex (that would be male), and 3 points because someone in my family has it — my Dad has type 2. So 8 points makes me a medium risk for diabetes, and worth reviewing with my doctor at some stage.

My blood glucose level was 5.4, in the normal range.

Overall then

I’ll enquire about blood pressure and diabetes risk, the former isn’t a big problem at present, and the latter I can’t really do much about other than keep up the exercise and improve the diet.

I suppose there’s no big surprises for me in all this, but in terms of preventative health measures, I can see how this kind of far-reaching basic health check might help others to think about their lifestyle choices and modify them if possible.

And of course it’s only a fairly superficial check. I’ve still got headaches, Bowen Belly (much less so recently) and other minor ailments which hit me from time to time.

Anybody else do the check? Any surprises?