Tag Archives: Osteoporosis



Have you ever yearned after being a ballet dancer – that is often the case in growing up and mothers often dutifully take their children to ballet classes as I did for my three children until the tummy aches occur before lessons or with competing interests they can’t fit it into their busy schedules.

But there are some children who feel they have missed out  Or feel they want to rekindle that yearning and as adults they find a studio to reconnect or even start as a beginner.  Moreover, there are significant number of middle – aged adults who decide to join ballet classes and reap the physical and mental benefits of this challenging dance form.

I remember my daughter and friends who dance at any opportunity  often attended a well known studio ‘Pineapple’ in Convent Garden. They have classes for a wide variety of different types of dance classes.

women who do ballet over 50

L to R These women are all keen ballet dancers, or use ballet movements to stay fit and active –-these ladies are aged 50-68yrs

Subsequently  I came across an ex-ballerina from Sadlers Wells Ballet company in an acupuncture class as she wanted to learn to treat common injuries. She was teaching middle – aged pupils at Pineapple and was proud of the fact that she had a pupil of 76yrs!

Isabel McMeekan was principal dance at the Royal Ballet now runs classes for adults including Assoluta class for the over 60’s.  This is a unique class specifically created for 60 year olds and over, involving gentle stretching, core work, barre work and centre practice.



Hence, I was not shocked when a professional colleague told me she had just enrolled for regular ballet classes. As we talked I could appreciate the positive health benefits of maintaining flexibility and bone density well into your later years to stall the onset of osteoporosis and could also ward off dementia. That’s as well as improving your figure, looks and confidence, relieving stress — and maybe even helping your love life.

We know that about 9 percent of adults age 65 and older report having problems with balance. Poor balance can be a contributing factor to falling, which can result in broken bones and hospital admissions.

Hence, because it is well recognised that:-

The single most serious threat that older people face is falling

Good balance is essential to being able to control and maintain your body’s position while moving and remaining still. Good balance helps you:

• Walk without staggering
• Arise from chairs without falling
• Climb stairs without tripping

You need good balance to help you stay independent and carry out daily chores and activities. Problems with sense of balance are experienced by many people as they age.

Inevitably practising ballet is going to be invaluable in addressing maintaining good balance.

My story of joining an adult ballet class

I did ballet as a child until about the age of 12 when transitioning to secondary school and puberty meant focussing on other things in life. It wasn’t until 9 years ago, in my late 30s, when I joined an adult ballet class, that my love of ballet was reignited! The combination of dance to classical music is unique to ballet, and though I have tried and have enjoyed many other activities (yoga, ballroom, Zumba and flamenco amongst many other things), ballet is what I have stuck at with a passion for the last 9 years! Certainly the movements and positions we get into remind me of my childhood, and the music makes me feel nostalgic and emotional. Perhaps it is all this emotion combined with the fact that I’ve had a seriously good work out keeps me so addicted to ballet!
Music is an essential part of ballet, and through ballet I have learnt to love the piano again too. I found I was enjoying the music so much at the class, I would go home to bang out the tune immediately on the piano! Memories of my old piano teacher came flooding back…and I have since made contact with her through email. These two pastimes have brought me much joy and satisfaction in recent years, I feel my childhood has returned to me in middle age!



You may feel this is something you thought was too late to start but there is a chance out there and with the added bonus of physical and mental health benefits.










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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Training and Advice


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What better way of eating tomatoes but by picking them straight from the vine and immediately devouring them especially when they are grown without any chemical intervention. The next best is slicing them and topping them with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil, light seasoning and eating them as a starter or snack. image Anyone can grow tomatoes on a windowsill, on a balcony or in a garden and after careful nurturing you also can have that pleasure. When I bought my plants I was advised by an elderly couple who were buying a plant each to put on their windowsill. I was surprised when I ended up with a red variety and a yellow variety. But research showed me that the yellow variety is richer in antioxidants than the red. image Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red colour of many tomatoes. A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes. This is because the lycopene in deep red tomatoes is mostly trans-lycopene, and the lycopene in orange/tangerine tomatoes is mostly tetra-cis-lycopene. In a recent study, this tetra-cis form of lycopene turned out to be more efficiently absorbed by the study participants. image

I didn’t realise the antioxidant protection as being important for bone health, but according to a study carried out whereby Lycopene was withdrawn from postmenopausal women’s diet for 4 weeks and after this short period of time there were increased signs of oxidative stress in their bones and unwanted changes in their bone tissue implying that tomato lycopene (and other tomato antioxidants) may have a special role to play in preventing osteoporosis.


Intake of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health. Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, tomato extracts have been shown to help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood – a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis. Dietary intake of tomatoes, consumption of tomato extracts, and supplementation with tomato phytonutrients (like lycopene) have all been shown to improve the profile of fats in our bloodstream. Specifically, tomato intake has been shown to result in decreased total cholesterol, decreased LDL cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels. It’s also been shown to decrease accumulation of cholesterol molecules inside of macrophage cells. (Macrophage cells are a type of white blood cell that gets called into action when oxidative stress in the bloodstream gets too high, and the activity of macrophages—including their accumulation of cholesterol—is a prerequisite for development of atherosclerosis.)

imageAnti-Cancer Benefits

Tomatoes have repeatedly been show to provide us with anti-cancer benefits. The track record for tomatoes as a cancer-protective food should not be surprising, since there is a very large amount of research on tomato antioxidants and a more limited but still important amount of research on tomato anti-inflammatory nutrients. Risk for many cancer types starts out with chronic oxidative stress and chronic unwanted inflammation. For this reason, foods that provide us with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support are often foods that show cancer prevention properties.

image Prostate cancer is by far the best-researched type of cancer in relationship to tomato intake. The jury verdict here is clear: tomatoes can definitely help lower risk of prostate cancer in men. One key tomato nutrient that has received special focus in prostate cancer prevention is alpha-tomatine. Alpha-tomatine is a saponin phytonutrient and it’s shown the ability to alter metabolic activity in developing prostate cancer cells. It’s also been shown to trigger programmed cell death (apoptosis) in prostate cancer cells that have already been fully formed. Research on alpha-tomatine has also been conducted for non-small cell lung cancer, with similar findings. Along with prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer are the two best-studied areas involving tomatoes and cancer risk. Research on tomatoes and breast cancer risk has largely focused on the carotenoid lycopene, and there is fairly well documented risk reduction for breast cancer in association with lycopene intake.

In multiple studies other health benefits associated when tomatoes included in the diet include reduced risk of some neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease). Tomato-containing diets have also been linked in a few studies with reduced risk of obesity and age-related macular degeneration.
And it could boost the skins ability to protect itself against UV rays.

I think that covers many of the dreaded diseases we all fear so tomatoes eaten raw or cooked in many different ways are a must in our diet.
That’s why before leaving my garden to return to London I harvested the ripe tomatoes and those I didn’t dry in the sun I roasted in the oven with garlic, fresh basil, seasoning then whizzed the mixture in a food mixer, stored in the freezer to make a sauce ready for soups and sauces to welcome me on my return.

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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Training and Advice


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Falls Awareness


Falls Awareness Week, 2013

Theme; Healthy Feet 

This week we were sitting in the sun having a nice cup of coffee and the phone rang. My husband answered and it was Burton Alan ( named after his birthplace to indicate which Alan) someone he had come across at the Builder’s  Merchant  when ordering gravel several years ago and they had kept in touch since.  He is now 74 years of age and a few years earlier he had bought some land and single- handedly started  building his own four bedroomed detached house ( having constructed a Wooden chalet to live in whilst it was being built). Considering he had been a Chemical Engineer specialising in water purification  this was no mean feat. He had made great progress,  the roof was completed and he was working on the  interior finishes (nearly finished in his mind but for me there seemed a lot to do). 
Last month one evening he had gone Line Dancing  in the village hall. On leaving, the outer door of the Hall  had slammed back on him and he had fallen. He was helped up, got to the car and drove home. After a restless night he felt he should go to the local hospital as the leg was very painful and paracetamol was not working even with a tot of whiskey! When he got there he had fractured his hip and was admitted to have surgery to have the femur pinned.
 This was why he had phoned as he was now home from hospital and the convalescent clinic after 3 weeks and needed a little job doing. When we had visited him soon after surgery he was not yet walking  but was sitting up in bed drawing his electrical diagrams so we weren’t surprised he was backing ‘home’ in the chalet as he was anxious to get back to his  almost finished house. Now Alan is not the most organised and tidiest of people and when we arrived the land where  the house and chalet stood was a building site and by no means in any order pipes, equipment,plastic buckets etc strewn everywhere and to get to the chalet it was through this detritus and walking through long grass concealing even more hazards. His car was parked at the end of the path for him to use to go to the shop in the next village. As we walked along we cleared visible objects to one side and found him sitting on the veranda surrounded by paperwork, wires,tools various bits of furniture including a new sofa he had recently bought from someone at the Line Dancing group!! We sat down and over a cup of tea tried to talk about the practicalities of staying in this situation but as if he didn’t hear  he merely veered the subject back to how he could finish the house and was working out the amount of voltage the EDF ( electricity board) needed to supply to the house, taking into account the length of the cable and resistance in Ohms it would produce. ( a test on our knowledge of basic physics) The job he wanted my husband to do was to fill in a hole over a pipe in the path through the long grass leading to the house. After  we wandered around looking for a shovel, pick axe to loosen the hardened aggregate  and empty the wheelbarrow full of various tools my husband went off under his supervision to fill in the hole!!!
During this time I tried to discuss other options and discuss falls prevention, probably best managed by staying with relatives. He said the physiotherapist had visited earlier and  he was puzzled as to  why the hospital physiotherapist had recommended walking as much as possible but this domiciliary physiotherapist had recommended doing static exercises and very little walking. No mention of falls assessment !  We did our best to make sensible suggestions but his parting words were ‘thank you for coming over to do that I must take you out for a meal sometime and I’ll be in touch.
I wrote this as an extreme example of how difficult it is to make people aware of hazards not only for themselves but for those around them. I remember when I used to take up the rugs in my mothers house knowing full well as soon as I turned my back she would put them down. Do all parents teach their children to put their toys away. A blind friend of mine was obsessional about counting toys in and out of the toy box and also told me her worst nightmare was walking down a street with black bags on the footpath as no way could she see them even the outline ( bear that in mind when you put your bags out)
The irony of this tale is that Line Dancing is a good way of improving balance and strengthening leg muscles! 
Hence, falls awareness is for everyone whatever the age and every parent should teach their children this from the word go. I am sure everyone has a tale to tell of a fall that should not have happened.  Do you put salt on the path outside your home  in icy weather? Do you put something to one side or away if it is in the way even if it is not your property or do you just step over it?Do you check your elderly or disabled relatives home for hazards and tactfully remove them? Many people especially in West London have low VitaminD and a high percentage of elderly people  have osteoporosis both conditions indicate a greater risk of fracture and delayed healing. 
Sometimes it is difficult to change someone’s ways but it is worth a try, it may simply be replacing a light bulb, supplying a cordless phone, fitting grab rails in the bathroom  or taking away a mat or tidying an electric cable. 
Everyone can be at risk of having a fall, but older adults are more vulnerable than others. This is mainly due to long-term health conditions that can increase the chances of a fall.
Other groups who are particularly at risk are young children and people whose job involves working at heights.
Falls are a common but often overlooked source of injury and sometimes death. In 2009 in England and Wales, there were 3,593 deaths as a result of falls.
Around 30% of adults who are over 65 and living at home will experience at least one fall a year. This rises to 50% of adults over 80 who are either at home or in residential care.
Most falls do not result in serious injury. However, 20% of older adults will require medical attention for a fall and 5% will experience a serious injury, such as a broken bone.
Falls can also have an adverse psychological impact on elderly people. For example, after having a fall a person can lose confidence, become withdrawn and may feel as if they have lost their independence.
Falls and accidents seldom “just happen.” But there are many simple things that older people can do to prevent falls, and their potentially devastating consequences aswell as
taking  care of your health by exercising and   making sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D.
How Can I Prevent Falling?
At any age, people can make changes to lower their risk of falling. 
Some tips to help prevent falls outdoors are:
Use a walking stick
Wear rubber-soled shoes so you don’t slip
Walk on grass when pavements are uneven or slippery
Put salt or kitty litter on icy paths
Some ways to help prevent falls indoors are:
Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors
Wear low-heeled shoes
Do not walk in socks, stockings, or slippers
Be sure rugs have skid-proof backs or are tacked to the floor
Be sure stairs are well lit and have rails on both sides
Put grab bars on bathroom walls near bath, shower, and toilet
Use a nonskid bath mat in the shower or bath
Keep a torch  next to your bed
Use a sturdy stepstool with a handrail and wide steps
Add more lights in rooms
Buy a cordless phone so that you don’t have to rush to the phone when it rings and so that you can call for help if you fall.
You can also do exercises to improve your balance. While holding the back of a chair, sink, or counter:
Stand on one leg at a time for a minute and then slowly increase the time. Try to balance with your eyes closed or without holding on.
Stand on your toes for a count of 10, and then rock back on your heels for a count of 10.
Make a big circle to the left with your hips, and then to the right. Do not move your shoulders or feet. Repeat five times.
 Ealing has been proactive and has a falls clinic and for many years we have therapists who visit the home to carry out a falls assessment and often it is easier for them 
to give advise rather than relatives. If you feel this would be helpful attend the events held in Ealing next week or contact your surgery I you have a concern about yourself or someone you know . Also look out for events and help from ageuk  which supports these events and they originally set up the falls assessment team.?
posted by Dr Bayer




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